Last opportunity to blog

It’s 10 pm on October 10th as I write this. Tomorrow, my in-laws will arrive to stay with us for a few days to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday on the 13th. So, this is my last chance to have a moment to myself to gather some thoughts.

Just as I have been every single day for nearly the past two years now, I am so incredibly grateful. I live in gratitude day in and day out. I think that possibly one of the best parts about being an older mother is that I know how precious each moment is. Every diaper change, every early morning feeding, every laugh, hug, tear, and tantrum is something to be cherished. Time may be going by faster than I’d like, but my saving grace is living in the moment and savoring every bit of it. I hope my husband is, too. Sometimes, I fear I may be nagging him with my constant admonitions to put down his mobile phone and play with our daughter! I know he’s crazy about her (as she is him) but somehow, I don’t think he’s got the same urgency about “sucking the marrow out of life” that I do. I wouldn’t want him to ever look back on this time and think that he didn’t give it his all or enjoy it as much as he should. Chores, be damned! There’s a little girl who needs every ounce of attention and love we have right now. At this moment, we are the world to her… and as everyone knows, it won’t be this way forever. I want us to take advantage of this amazing blessing as much as we can.

Our little love bug is getting cuter and funnier by the day. She does things to make us laugh all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever known a baby to laugh so much. (Is it wrong that I secretly take credit for this?) I do believe, without making a judgment regarding anyone who does it differently, that my staying home with her — my loving being a mother in every aspect — my calm demeanor and my own sense of humor have a lot to do with the reason she is so relaxed and delightful. There is no doubt that she is one happy baby! And every smile feels like a personal triumph. It feels like I’ve more than done my job, but rather like I’ve answered a higher calling. Being a mom is who I was always meant to be. I have honestly never been so happy (or sleep deprived) in my life!

I just re-read that paragraph and I don’t mean to say that my child is perfect or never screams at the top of her lungs for… well, who knows why they scream?! She throws tantrums daily; tears stream down her cheeks at the slightest provocation: diaper change, the putting on of socks (!), if I’m a moment late to feed her after she’s already in her high chair. You name it. But she’s also super quick to laugh and smile and forget it all. I have become something of an expert at getting her to go from screaming to belly laughing in a matter of seconds. Hmm. I guess I am kind of feeling like SuperMom these days!

We’re having a family party for her on Sunday. There’ll be about 20 people, including her two Godfathers. I’ve hired a photographer to document it all so that I can enjoy the party myself without having to worry. I hope it goes off without a hitch (I’m thinking about you here, Mom.) Let’s just pray everyone behaves and remembers that my baby girl is the star of the day. Having said that, I still cannot believe she’s turning one! The other night I watched the videos from the night she was born. In some ways, it feels like a million years ago, yet in other ways, it seems like it just happened. I’m resisting the thought of her being a toddler. My father says she can’t be a toddler until she’s walking or “toddling” so… I think I’ll go with that convenient definition for now.

I love my little girl in a way and to a depth that is impossible to describe. I can hardly comprehend it myself. She holds my very life in her tiny, precious hands — mine, and my husband’s… and probably my father’s, too. As always, I truly hope she knows how much she is loved… although, I suspect that she won’t fully grasp how we all feel until she has a little one of her own someday. I look forward to being the kind of grandmother to her child that I always wished I had. Happy Birthday, baby girl. Daddy and I are so in love with you.

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She’s almost ONE!

I must have fallen into the rabbit hole as soon as I gave birth because this (nearly) year has gone by so incredibly fast. The other day when I asked my husband if he could believe our baby girl is about to turn one… he looked stunned (although, of course we know she is and we talk about it all the time). He said, “I remember the day she was born like it was five minutes ago!” and then this faraway look came over his face. Yep. It’s insane how everything pre-baby seemed like f-o-r-e-v-e-r and everything post baby is super time-warped. People can say, “It goes by so fast!” until they are blue in the face, but until you experience it, you – my friend – have no idea.

Our little angel, who used to be so calm and mellow, has turned the proverbial developmental corner and now screams (I mean SCREAMS) the split second she doesn’t get exactly what she wants. And what she wants is often completely arbitrary — or at least, it’s a mystery to us. A few days ago, she was happily playing in her play area in the den. She decided to crawl around and when she arrived at her playpen (which was blocking access to the kitchen) she screamed bloody murder! Two seconds before, she’d been a smiling, happy little muffin (that’s what I’ve been calling her these days). My nicknames go through phases… and I find that they spill over to people I love. So now I call my husband “Muffin” too!

She’s doing so many amazing things (well, to me, they’re amazing!) and I’m such a proud Mommy. She can stand and sit like a champ and can also “cruise” or walk, holding onto furniture. A few times, I’ve seen her stand completely on her own and I’m convinced she’ll be walking by her birthday – squeal! She is so cute that I find it really, really difficult to give her soft kisses. I tend to give big loud kisses and squeeze her all over. I have to fight the urge to just bite chunks of cute baby all the time. Okay, I know that must sound odd, but I’m sure I’m not the only one… right?

We’re planning a small, family only, get together for her on her actual birthday. And, I have to say, this is the first party in my life that I’m actually excited about planning. I don’t think I paid this much attention to my wedding – lol. Yesterday, I was reading a baby article to my hubby as he was washing our dishes (yay, me!) and it said something about toddler behavior. Naturally, we’ve come across the word “toddler” a million times, but neither one of us was sure when exactly toddlerhood began. So, I googled it and it turns out that the official toddler era is from 12 to 36 months. When the realization sunk in that our little bundle of preciousness only had another month of being a BABY, it was just too much to take. Mommy & Daddy had a little pity party for ourselves. We have so loved her babyhood and aren’t even close to ready to say goodbye. I can’t believe she’s going to be a toddler now. This whole growing up thing sure is painful… for the parents!

Baby Update – 5 months

I’ve been reading baby updates on other blogs and it’s high time I write one myself – just to keep tabs on where our precious girl is now.

The sleep training went well until she got sick (boo!) so, now that she’s weathered her first baby illness, we’re starting all over again. Oh, joy. I really shouldn’t complain, though, because she seems to be sleeping for much longer stretches than other babies her age anyway. If I could just get her to stop waking up (usually screaming) at 5 am, that would be great.

*She is feeding a lot more during the day now, since we’re weaning her from nighttime feeds – except for one dream feed when I go to sleep.

*Her clothing size is anywhere from 6 to 9 months… PJs closer to 9 months.

*She’s 15 lbs. and 24 1/4″ in height according to her last visit. Not very tall, but has LOVELY chubs in all the right places. She is such a hugable, squeezable size!

*Loves story time right before naps & going to bed at night. When Dad is home, story reading privileges go to him. I think all three of us love that!

*She can sit up pretty much on her own either on the couch or in her playpen (which we just started using yesterday). Currently, she loves sucking on anything that comes near her mouth. Stuffed animals with tags are her favorite. She is also enjoying her Sofie the Giraffe teether.

*She’s been teething for a while, but no teeth have cut through the gums yet.

*Yesterday, I saw her roll over for the first time. Apparently, she only likes rolling on her right side and I absolutely cannot make her roll onto her left side. She can’t crawl yet and doesn’t like it when I place her on her belly to try. We figure, she’ll just crawl when she’s ready.

*She loves her baths! Her favorite thing to do is kick really hard with her feet so that the bathwater splashes whoever is giving her a bath! She smiles and laughs… and loves to watch water being poured onto her belly. I think she’s a water-baby like her mama. We bought her her first pair of swimming diapers and I can’t wait to see her swim this Summer.

*She is really chatty and enjoys blowing raspberries at any opportunity. We blow them on her tummy frequently just to hear her tinkling laughter!

*So far, I don’t think she’s met a person she didn’t like. In an instant, she’ll flash her ear-to-ear grin and showcase her charming personality. Seriously. People everywhere just fall in love with her and seem to go out of their way to tell us that she’s unusually sweet and calm. (She is pretty patient. We haven’t taken her out much, but never has there been a public tantrum.)

*She’s independent and happy to play on her own with her toys without constant interaction. I do try to interact with her nearly all the time because I think she learns more and I want her to know I’m paying attention, but I’ve also observed that she is totally content whether I do so or not.

*Her eye color hasn’t settled in yet. Her eyes change from swampy green to grey. In a certain light, they look hazel. I can’t wait to see what color they become! Her hair is light brown, with the slightest reddish hue, and golden blonde pieces. She is a beauty!

*She loves when we make up funny words and exaggerate their pronunciation. Daddy likes “speaking Italian” to her, which basically consists of him listing foods: spaghetti, cannelloni, ravioli, etc. but the way he says them by stretching out the vowels, “Cannellooooooni” makes her giggle with glee. In fact, we have so many made-uo words, I’ll just die if she says one before a “real” word! Hahaha.

*This week, she was able to self-propel in her walker (a pink Cadillac). I was amazed and realized that we’ll have to buy the gates for our home much sooner than I expected.

Okay, that’s it for now… I’m sure there’s a lot more to memorialize, but this is all I can come up with for now. Next weekend is Easter and I want so badly to put her back into the little lamb costume she hated at Halloween. Who knows? She may just have needed some time to get used to the idea.

My heart grows a little every day to accommodate all the love I have for her!

Yeah, get out of my way.

Lucky for you that I haven’t been able to blog about all my trials & tribulations with sleep, lack thereof, and the ever-so-controversial subject of sleep training. I blame sheer exhaustion, followed by a very inconveniently timed, week-long head cold for the lack of expansion on this matter.

Suffice it to say that sleep-training (and I suspect just about any parenting issue) is a very delicate topic, in that everyone has an opinion and, in most cases, people aren’t the least bit shy about offering unsolicited advice. A friend of my father’s suggested that as a vegan, (which, technically, I am not, since I eat eggs) my breastmilk may not have enough protein in it and that my child is waking up out of hunger. Anyone who sees my chubby little cherub couldn’t possibly think she was ever hungry! Anyway, there have been a whole host of suggestions, from rice cereal before bedtime to keeping her up until midnight. (Gasp! I can’t even imagine how miserable she would be.)

I also made the mistake of mentioning that I was going to start sleep training on my Facebook page and, wow, was I unprepared for the onslaught of comments. Mainly the comments were of the “your baby is too young” or “parents of babies don’t get sleep and you won’t either” variety. Those who said I would never be able to do it are still on my silent shit list. (Hey, don’t blame me if you never bothered to train your brat, okay?) The funny thing was that most of the supportive comments came in private messages, parents confessing they, too, were at their wits’ end and employed some modified form of cry-it-out to finally get their tots to sleep. Other new mothers messaged me and said they were waiting to hear my results before they tried it on their own.

Well, a good eight days later, I had [what I think are] very impressive results to report. Our little angel is now sleeping NINE consecutive hours and sometimes up to twelve per night, in addition to taking two daytime naps totaling three hours. Do you know how HUGE a victory this is!?!?! I am thrilled beyond words. And, no, it wasn’t easy… but I stuck to the program because I believed in the greater good. I knew my family, my baby, and I would all benefit from more sleep. Not only is she a happier baby when she’s awake, but she’s more alert, responsive, and is learning new skills at a faster pace. I couldn’t be any happier. I do still wake her up for a so-called “dream feed” right before I go to sleep, just to ensure she doesn’t wake up due to hunger. I don’t mind doing that, although, I’m toying with the idea of dropping the dream feed to see how well she can cope.

Today, I posted my results on FB and there has been a resounding silence. I wonder what all the naysayers think about my success? It reminded me of that quote from George Bernard Shaw, “People who say something cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it.”

February 2nd

Just a quick post today to remember a year ago today when the doctor officially gave me the news that I was pregnant! (“Seriously pregnant!” were his exact words.) Since then, I have been happier and more consistently grateful than any other time in my life.

I was just changing Sammy’s diaper and told her that even though she’s in the body of a 3 1/2 month old adorable baby, that I see her soul. And I love her. And I thanked her again for choosing us.

I’ve always loved this song from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and I used to sing it thinking about my husband, and today, I discovered, it also perfectly fits my daughter!

January 25th

A year ago today, I was nervously waiting for a phone call from my fertility doctor. I had had an egg retrieval procedure on January 20, 2012, with approximately 8 or 9 eggs retrieved. The surviving eggs had been fertilized and allowed to grow into three-day blastocysts. They had then been sent to the lab for chromosomal testing. A day five transfer had been planned, and the doctor was to call me if we didn’t have any viable embryos to transfer – so that I wouldn’t bother to show up at the clinic. The call never came… although, curiously, I barely allowed myself to believe it wasn’t some sort of mistake. Right up until he walked into the exam room, I thought my phone might still ring.

The doctor didn’t exactly look happy, but I knew he had to have good news. I had been praying so hard for two embryos to make it! He told me that they tested two batches together, the one from my second IVF and this, current, third IVF procedure. Then he told me that out of all the embryos tested, there was one normal embryo. I remember saying, “Well, it just takes one, right?” “That’s right,” he confirmed. Then later he would tell me, without my asking, that the normal embryo was embryo #10 and that it was a female embryo.

My husband was instantly thrilled. “We always wanted a girl!” he exclaimed with genuine excitement. I had never imagined myself having a daughter… but suddenly, it felt very real. All I wanted was for our one miracle embryo to take hold.

I remember how scared I was that something would go wrong during the transfer and they’d drop my invisible miracle on the floor or that something else would happen to prevent her from implanting. I remember Clair de Lune playing during the moment of transfer. I remember eating pineapple for five days straight afterwards because I read that it helped implantation. I remember my husband thinking the transfer automatically meant pregnancy. (He would tell anyone and everyone “my wife is pregnant” and at first, I thought he was just being supportive!)

I remember those horrible, cheap pregnancy test strips from China that – day after day – cruelly failed to pick up any HCG. I remember sobbing uncontrollably the day before my follow-up appointment because all the tests kept coming up negative… and I knew in my heart, I wasn’t ready to face the alternative choices that would have been before me.

I also remember the evening before my blood work, February 1, 2012, at approximately 7 pm, when I made the fateful decision to use the “expensive” pregnancy test… that gave me the result that would change my life forever. Pregnant. Two strong pink lines. My eyes still fill with tears whenever I think about it (even now, as my three month old daughter lies next to me, babbling at her toys). I remember jumping up and down with joy. I remember the doctor calling me to confirm the blood test results and telling me that I was very pregnant – whatever that meant – I was ecstatic to hear it!

This day will always be special to me, and I’ve decided I will celebrate every year by listening to Clair de Lune by Debussy and just taking a moment to remember. I’ve had a couple of big miracles in my life and their anniversaries are sealed in my heart.

Dreams do come true. Miracles do happen. What is impossible now, may very well become possible in just a split second. Things worth remembering.

2012 in Review

When I look back over this year and contemplate how much my life has transformed – and in exactly the ways I prayed and hoped it would – I am in awe and tearfully grateful.

Every year for the past I-don’t-know-how-many-years I would wish for the same thing — to have a baby and start our family in earnest. Each long year that passed with my dream unfulfilled left scars on my soul, scars that I now carry with pride and great appreciation. The multitude of experiences, the hope, the grief, the anxiety, all came together to form the alchemy of what is now my deep and abiding happiness. Just as carbon under extreme pressure yields nature’s strongest substance, and to many its most beautiful, so the emotions converge in the crucible of the soul to make us stronger and more beautiful for having endured such a difficult path to motherhood.

When I look at my daughter, everything unimportant melts away, and all I feel is pure bliss, peace, gratitude, and love. I would go through everything a thousand times over just to end up with her again. The world is such a different place for me now, and I have her to thank for that. She teaches me every day how precious and miraculous life is and how love is the only thing that has ever mattered.

To all the mothers and mothers-to-be, now and in the future, I wish you not only a happy new year, but also the ability to see the spectacular beauty in it all.

 

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