Love, Mommy

Letters, thoughts and musings for my girls

Thunderstorms & Bouncy Balls

Saturday April 27, 2013 started out nasty.  It was overcast and humid, but I was a barrel full of energy.  I was two days shy of 38 weeks pregnant and, for the first time in weeks, felt fabulous.  I woke up bright and early with Caitlin and let Paul sleep in.  We went together to get some coffee, then came home and she helped me get some laundry and dishes done.  We pulled out some plain white bibs and markers and got to decorating bibs for your arrival.  3 days prior, I’d been to the doctor and he surprisingly announced me as 3-4 centimeters dilated.  I’d been having plenty of contractions and back pain, but today was pain free.  Today was going to be a fun day and I was going to get things done!  Turns out you had other plans.

At about 1 that afternoon, your father decided he wanted to take his new car offroading.  He’d only be 30 minutes away and Caitlin and I had plenty to do to keep each other entertained.  Your sister decided she was up for a rousing game of bouncy ball.  You know those tiny rubber bouncy balls often given away in party bags?  We had a ton of them and Caitlin loved bouncing them against the front door and walls, then having us both dart hysterically around trying to catch them.  After about 30 minutes of this, I was feeling some contractions.  It wasn’t any different than what I’d already felt, so I grabbed some water and kept playing.  After 30 more minutes, I was having to stop and rest and was feeling quite regular contractions in my back. 

Your dad came home by about 5 and my contractions were definitely 10 minutes apart and fairly strong by then.  We ordered some dinner and finished packing bags before I called the doctor, who told us to come in.  By this time, it was pouring rain and a real mess outside.  It took us an hour to get to your grandparents’ house to drop off your sister, then another hour and a half to get to the hospital.  It was really flooding, electricity was out in various parts of the city, and we passed a number of stranded cars on the way in.  The nurses were all late for shift change and everything was fairly eerie.

When we got there, I was checked and was 4 cm and only 50% effaced and my contractions had slowed.  I was certain we were going to have to go back home, which was a nightmare given the weather.  So we walked for half an hour and waited for my doctor.  Two hours later, I was a solid 5 cm and 100% effaced, so Dr. Schnider decided to keep us.  This was about 11 PM and I knew we were in for a long night.  He broke my water for me at about midnight and, even though my contractions were few and far between, I had progressed quite slowly to 7 cm.  And then, by about 2 AM, I stalled.  Right there at 7, water broken, fully effaced and hanging out.  I had received the epidural as we expected things to move quickly and painfully from there, but no such luck.  By about 5 AM, we amped up some pitocin and got it all moving.  You were born quickly at 7:06 AM on April 28.

I was crazy tired and I couldn’t feel my legs at all (too much epidural!), but you seemed so tiny.  You were two weeks early and I was scared that maybe you weren’t quite ready, but then you started crying and curled up right on my chest.  You weighed exactly the same as your sister at full term- 6 lbs 15 oz- and were 19 inches.  You nursed like a champ right away and cried very little.  That first night, I remember sleeping with you in my arms or on my chest because it was the only place you and I were both comfortable, whether the nurses liked it or not.

You’re 10 weeks old now as I write this and have nearly doubled your birth weight (you’re hovering at about 12 lbs now).  It amazes me how quickly you’ve grown and thrived, particularly as I was so concerned about your growth in the beginning.

You’re my little smiley baby, my little bit that gurgles back at me when I talk to you.  You stare in awe at your sister and her at you, and I adore you with all that I am. 

I’m still not sure if I love or hate that stupid bouncy ball.

 

Love,

Mommy

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Mini Me

Dear C-

From nearly your very first breath, I was hearing how very much you resemble your father. You undoubtedly have his clear blue eyes (which is great, because they’re stunning!), but you also had his rounder face and similar profile. However, as you get a little older, not only do you start to look a little more like me, but there is no question that you are your mother’s daughter. At 2.5, you display so many characteristics similar to my own and I quite regularly feel like I’m dealing with a mini me. Here are a couple of things that we already have in common:
1. You LOVE to read. You might very well outgrow this some and that’s ok, but I never did. I read a little from my book of choice nearly every day and you do too. You quite often would rather sit quietly and read a book instead of jumping in the middle of the activities.
2. You’re a watcher. It is very uncommon for you to jump into the common childhood fray of running, jumping, and playing without thoroughly evaluating your surroundings. I watch you as you watch other children, evaluate every scenario and only then cautiously decide to join in. Even once in full play mode, you will regularly check to make sure your father or I am near. I was like this as a girl and am still like this today. I like to plan and have as much information as possible before committing to an action.
3. You’re a bit antisocial. And I don’t mean this in a bad way, but you aren’t one to follow the leader if you don’t want to. By that same token, you show little interest in being the leader. You are very comfortable doing whatever it is that you want to do and others can partake or not as they choose. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is just like your mommy.
4. You love chocolate, having your toenails painted, a well fitting ‘pretty dress’ and good accessories. I am fully aware that these are all things that can change over time, but for now….it gives us plenty in common!
It’s fascinating to watch you grow and change every day, to develop your own personality, but still see the similarities between us (and, yes, sometimes your father too!). I could not be happier to have the most wonderful little mini me.

C and mommy

Love,

Mommy

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Girl’s Weekend

Dear Caitlin,

Your daddy was out of town last weekend and I had you all to myself.  I was eager to plan some fun things to do with you, spend some quality time and I think we had a pretty good time!

Saturday morning started out slow and lazy.  We watched a little TV, had some breakfast, read some books.  You ‘helped’ me put on my makeup and used one of my makeup brushes as your magic wand.  Afterwards, we headed over for our first trip to the library.  You absolutely love books, but I was a little worried about a toddler in the library….running, screaming, etc. and I quite honestly have limited energy to chase you these days.  But you loved it!  In fact, my plan had been to spend about an hour there, then head off to a park somewhere to let you run off some energy, but you refused to leave and we stayed well into lunch time. 

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We brought home five ‘new’ books for your enjoyment.  We came home, had some breakfast tacos for lunch, then cuddled for awhile (since you refused to nap).  We went to try a new frozen custard place, where you insisted on using your fingers since it was so thick. 

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We spent the rest of the afternoon playing outside on the swings, slide, playing soccer.  And, lastly, pulled out the fingerpaints and let you make your own creation.  Clean up is always fun too….a good hose down in the backyard. 

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The day was rounded out with some pizza and Tangled, a new favorite of yours.

I know that the specific activities of last weekend will fade over time.  I also know, though, that the feelings of joy that I felt as your mother that weekend will not.  I revel in the times where we can take our time, enjoy each other’s company, and not worry about a single thing except having fun.  No rush to get out the door, get dressed, get in the bathtub….and you are so much happier when you have a little control over your daily activities (just like your mommy!).  Anyway, I had a wonderful time with you last weekend and look forward to making so many more memories as you grow.

 

Love,

Mommy

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Hello Baby

Dear N,

As I sit here at nearly 31 weeks along, I can feel you punching and rolling and squirming inside of me.  It is different this time than it was with your sister.  With Caitlin, I had no idea what was coming my way and thus no idea how to properly prepare for it.  With you soon to make your arrival, I feel much more prepared and incredibly joyous.  For this time, I know ahead of time what not to take for granted, what moments to treasure and those not worth rushing.  I know to take a deep breath and shake it out when your cries wake me and to know that this, too, shall pass.  Because the next day, you will honor me with a gummy grin, or a tightly held finger, or a first step.  Thanks to your sister, I know now the joy that is coming my way and cannot wait to meet you.  I might’ve shed a tiny private tear when your Nana offered to host a celebratory shower for you.  I didn’t do this because I wanted a shower, but because I’ve known from the very moment I found out about your existence how incredibly special you are.  And, admittedly, second pregnancies get a little neglected by others since they’re not quite as novel, but you, dear, are novel.  You are wonderful, unique and deserving of a celebration.

I cannot wait to meet you.

 

Love,

Mommy

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My Daughters’ Mother

As a mother, the pressure to be all that our daughters need weighs heavily upon us.  Or, perhaps more accurately, the need to teach our daughters how to be a woman we admire is ever pressing.  Perhaps it is not that these expectations are set by our daughters, but by ourselves.

There are so many things that I want for my daughter.  And I have no doubt that, even without me, she would grow into a fantastic and amazing young woman.  Yet it is my responsibility to teach her what I can, show her how to overcome and succeed, smile through her tears, and learn to love.  How do I do that when the list is so long?

  1.  Strength.  I want my daughter to be strong, to know that she has the ability deep within her to overcome the most difficult of circumstances.  It is up to me to show her that anything is possible and that she does not have to be fearful when she stumbles.
  2. Ambition.  My daughter’s passions are her choice, but I want her to pursue them with ambition, with an understanding that she can reach her goals and for the stars.  While our interests may vary, I hope to show her this through a successful career of my own.
  3. Humor.  Sometimes life deals you bad cards.  Even in the worst of situations, sometimes with a little time, there can be humor, or something worth smiling about.  This is a difficult one for me to learn and perhaps a difficult one for me to teach, but I will endeavor to smile more, to laugh more, and to show my daughter the sharp wit that I hold so dear.
  4. Humility.  My daughter is awesome.  Period.  However, it is not awesome if the whole world knows it.  She is and will be amazing, but it is up to me to teach her how to be humble.  To be grateful for what we have and who we are, but to remember those that are less fortunate and to think outside of herself.
  5. Love.  She will develop the ability to love, I would hope, without any guidance from me.  I want her to know the love of a mother and a child and to be able to revel in that love, feel that love from deep within, because she had a mother that taught it to her.  I want it to be her default because she knows and felt nothing else.  I want to show her how to love a partner through the love that I have for her father.  That a marriage is a partnership with give and take, sacrifice and hard work, but that the pay off and reward is worth all that you put into it and more.  That love is respectful and kind, warm and passionate, constant and sustaining.
  6. Tolerance and Acceptance.  My daughter is and will be beautiful inside and out, regardless of perceived flaws by her or others.  There will always be something that she will not like about herself that will always be beautiful in its own way.  Without perceived flaw, she would not be who she becomes.  I want her to know that it is often this flaw that will set her apart, that will make her who she is, and that it is ok.  Additionally, that others will have these flaws as well.  That people will be different, that they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds, but they are all beautiful in some way.  Difference is not wrong, it is necessary and right.  It is my job to teach this to her through acceptance of my own flaws, confidence and comfort in my own skin, and tolerance and love of others.

There is a never-ending list, it seems, of things that I feel my daughter needs to know.  In addition to these large life altering things, I want to be the mother that introduces her to some of the little things: the feel of wet grass on her feet when she runs through a sprinkler, the joy and awe she feels on Christmas morning, the way really good chocolate will melt on your tongue, the girly giddiness of her first pedicure, the fear and excitement when she slides behind the wheel of her first car, her first puppy love, the silly release in watching terrible movies while eating butter soaked popcorn.  And so, so many more.

The pressure to be this woman that I feel my daughter needs is daunting, but there is also joy.  Seeing her personality emerge, teaching her the important (and not so important) things in life is rewarding, and, dare I say it, often fun.  And, ultimately, there is nothing so important.

 

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Redefining Supermom

In my regular quest for fantastic parenting articles, blogs and pieces, I came across one in particular that really got me thinking.  In this piece, the author stated that there are very clearly two types of mothers: supermoms that have spotless homes, gourmet meals, scheduled extracurriculars and a flawless appearance and then ‘other’ mothers that are throwing together haphazard meals, forget the regular schedule, and mismatch their own and their kids’ shoes on the way out the door.  Admittedly, I did not finish this particular article, because I could not get past the gagging and nausea that had overwhelmed me about a third of the way through, but, days later, I cannot get past the annoyance of this misguided and untrue classification.  What, really, defines a supermom?

I do believe that there is an idolized image of the supermom and that many of us have her sitting on our shoulder throughout the day.  She is fit because she works out every day, her hair is perfectly coiffed without a strand astray, her apron is pressed while she concocts yet another gourmet meal, and her children are well behaved angels.  She’s authoritative when necessary, but still manages to bring homemade cookies to the PTA meeting.  She is successful in her job, makes love to her husband every night and has the cleanest home on the block.  And she has energy to spare.  Do we, as women and mothers, honestly believe that there are two types of mothers and that this is one of them?  Newsflash- this woman does not really exist.  You may think she does, but trust me, she does not.  So why do we continue perpetuating the image and, by extension, a mother’s guilt for not measuring up?

I recommend that we redefine what it means to be a supermom.  We must work hard every day to be the kinds of mothers our children need us to be.  This supermom puts her children’s needs above her own, provides a safe and nurturing environment, ensures proper nutrition, encourages young minds to open and blossom, and teaches lessons in wrong, right and shades of gray.  She encourages her children to believe in themselves, to empathize with others and to think independently.  She does not need to do this in an immaculate home, or with matching shoes on, or over a gourmet meal.  She may choose to do so, but these are certainly not prerequisites for supermom status.

I think it’s time we knock that old supermom off of our shoulders.  Not everyone is a supermom, but it is a status that should be attainable.  And it’s certainly a status that should be defined by real moms and encouraged by all moms.  It is not the job of a mother to classify other mothers, nor to set unrealistic and unreachable goals for herself or others.  It is her job to be a better mother today than she was yesterday and be the best supermom that she can be.

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Bonding with Baby

When I got married over three years ago, I knew that children would be in our future.  I’m not sure why that is, considering I don’t particularly care for children as a whole.  They’re messy, loud, and tend to be inappropriate a good portion of the time.  Going into our marriage, I also knew that there was a good chance that physically having my own children might medically be difficult for me.  So a year into it, we decided to give it a try and, lo and behold, it turns out it wasn’t so medically difficult at all.  After we heard the heartbeat for the first time, we told the world about our impending arrival.  From that very moment and for the next seven months, we repeatedly heard things like “This will change your life”, “You’ll fall in love when that baby is placed in your arms”, “It’ll be love at first sight”, and other moderately nauseating and redundant platitudes.  My pregnancy was fairly easy, as was (gasp!) my delivery.  So, imagine my shock and guilt when my daughter was placed in my arms for the first time and I didn’t feel those things.  I wasn’t immediately in love, immediately bonded, or immediately changed.  I was confused.  And I wish someone had told me ahead of time that this was OK.  Why did I feel this way?

I was unrecognizable.  I knew how to be pre-baby me.  I had a job, a husband and a thriving social life.  I was independent and fun.  I’d learned how to be pregnant me.  I’d grown accustomed to saying things like “Oh, I’m fine, just a little tired!”, “She’s kicking up a storm”, and “Please pass the French fries.”  I’d learned how to play the baby card as needed and knew this tiny being as intimately as one person can know another.  But when she arrived, I realized with striking clarity that I was no longer either one of those people.  Physically, I was sore, cracked and stitched in unmentionable places.  I felt like a deflated balloon, was shocked at the sense of physical emptiness that was left, and had a body that had an entirely new shape (and not an altogether pleasant one!).  Emotionally, I could no longer be independent, nor was I particularly fun.  I was on maternity leave, so could not identify with being an employee and so many things that had defined my marriage suddenly changed with the entrance of this new person.  Who was this new me?  And how was I supposed to reconcile myself?

She was unrecognizable.  Throughout my pregnancy, my husband and I would marvel at the regular email updates received discussing the ‘status’ of our unborn fetus.  “Oh, she’s the size of a grape/orange/watermelon this week!” we’d exclaim.  I knew when she developmentally should be forming fingernails, or eyelashes, or fingerprints.  I learned her habits- she slept best when I slept on my left side, when she could hear the shower pattering against my swollen belly, or when I waddled back and forth on the treadmill.  I knew when she had the hiccups, that chocolate riled her up and that she loved to stretch out as much as she could with her hands above her head.  But when she entered the world, none of these things really mattered anymore.  It didn’t matter how I slept, or when I showered and I certainly couldn’t feel her tiny hands stretching above her head anymore.  We were no longer one, but two.  The separation and the realization that this was a tiny human that either had or would develop her own preferences and habits floored me.  Who was this little person?

Instinctual overload.  As soon as she was quite literally born, I reached down to hold her.  Did I plan this all along?  No way.  In fact, logic tells me that I would’ve preferred her clean and bundled.  But nope, that is not how it went down.  I took her because she was MINE.  I was terrified of breastfeeding prior to her arrival, but we did it immediately because that is what I felt like I should do and what my body seemed to require.  It’s complete garbage when mothers say you will instinctually know what a cry means.  Sure, when she was 6 months, I knew if she was crying for food, or out of pain, or just for attention.  But those first couple of weeks?  No idea, just crying.  But I held her, or changed her, or fed her because that’s what you’re supposed to do, or what my instincts said to do.  When she tensed up and kicked her little legs, I massaged her belly and pulled out the gas drops.  When she got too worked up to eat, I’d lay her on my chest skin to skin until she calmed down.  There was no faulting my instinct, but did I do it immediately because “it was love at first sight”?  No.  I did it because I felt it was the right/appropriate/motherly thing to do.

One morning, I walked into her room to scoop her out of her crib to start the never-ending monotonous cycle that was our routine in those early days.  I was tired, hungry and I’m sure my personal hygiene was questionable.  I looked down at her and she smiled at me in recognition as if to say “Hey, it’s you again!  Wow, what a night we had, huh? “.  And I loved her, I was bonded to her, unconditionally and without fail.  It was because of who she was, who she had made me, and who we were together.  It was a bond that was built, not a bond that was automatic.  And there’s no guilt in that.

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