Having a baby tilted the axis of my world. I don’t intend for this to become a “mommy blog,” but at the moment my baby is pretty central to everything. If I want to be honest about living with an open heart and write about that, then I have to own up to the fact the she’s got a monopoly on my heart right now (and my brain and my time and my boobs…). It won’t be that way forever, but to be true to where I am right now most of my writing here will probably be more about life with a baby than usual.
Mama and Baby (c) Open Hearted
Two Weeks In – March 27
Making it through one day at a time. I look at the clock and chunks of time fly by. Last time it was 10 am. Now it’s 3 pm. I’m still in my pajamas, baby is still in her pajamas. I made myself a poor excuse for a lunch and did the dishes. Huge victory. We had some snuggle time in the morning. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll keep going like this day after day. On demand nursing, means on demand. You never know when what you think might be a three or four hour break during a nap, dissolves into feedings every forty-five minutes.
I’m a mama. I’m actually a mother now. Somehow it feels perfectly natural and totally foreign all at the same time. At moments I panic. I have to do this every day? Keep a tiny human being alive? Feed her, change her, respond to her cries, wake up when she needs to eat, change another diaper moments after I’ve put on a clean one? How do I do this? And find time to do one thing for myself? And work? And talk to my husband? It’s so much right now. I’m overwhelmed. She needs everything from me. I freely give everything too as overwhelmed as I feel. I look into her sweet little almond shaped eyes and I’m high in the clouds. The little nose, long tiny fingers, frog-like feet, perfectly round head, soft fine hair, and the smell. Oh the smell of her newborn head. I’m drunk on it. It’s like falling in love for the first time on some psychedelic drug that amplifies every feeling and emotion.
The general sleep deprivation is pretty tough though. I try not to calculate how much actual sleep I get – or don’t get – in a night. It makes it easier to gloss over it. The postpartum pain is a bitch too. I hurt in places I was unaware of before delivering a baby. I hope it goes away. I need to walk. I want to be outside in the sun. I want to do yoga without worrying about tearing my stitches.
I wonder, how will I do this again tomorrow? And the next day and the one after that? Right now we’re making it through day by day. We’re doing whatever we need to do to get through this one day. That’s good enough, even if it means watching everything on Netflix. Or laying on the couch all day alternating between feedings and naps.
Today’s our first day at home without H. The little one and I dropped him off at the shuttle stop early this morning in the rain. I slept horribly last night. She was awake every hour and in between feedings she was grumbling. My maternal instincts are in over drive. I’m alert and wide awake at the slightest arm twitch or raspy breath. Then this morning she refused to nap. In the past few days I’ve gotten a good two hour chunk of time first thing in the morning. Today was only 45 minutes and after the grueling night we had I felt jipped, cheated. I know she has no control over her sleeping and eating schedules right now, but I’m strapped in to that ride no matter how hard or crazy-making it gets. Today has been tough. At the third feeding, with no sleepy droopy baby eyes in sight I started crying when she cried again. My whole day hinges around this tiny little being who is only beginning to learn how to be in this world.
I can fix all of her problems right now. This is the only time in her life when I’ll be able to soothe her, comfort her, no matter what troubles her. Her problems are simple, wet diaper, hunger, need for comfort. As she gets older and her feelings get hurt by a friend, she feels disappointed in not achieving something she’d hoped for, her heart gets broken, all I can do is offer to stand next to her. I won’t be able to take her troubles or tears away.
I love that I can cuddle her and she still fits in the space between my chest and hips. She’s grown so much and I know this phase won’t last very long. I love the smell of her head. The unearthly softness of her hair and cheeks. The sweet smiles she makes as she falls asleep. And oh my good the sweetness of her milk breath. I could watch her for hours on end, just sleep and breathe and coo and take in the world around her. She changes every day and I try to appreciate each moment as much as I can. I know they won’t last long. She officially grew out of the newborn size diapers and her first onesies. It’s hard to know we can never go back, only forward.
I’m also grateful for an incredibly supportive partner. H has taken on so many more chores around the house. I love to watch him love that little girl. He dotes on her and can’t stop kissing the top of her head. He also loves that she prefers getting burped by him. He changes diapers all the time. And most importantly he listens to me and comforts me when the hormones and the hardness of this period of time get the best of me. He’s my better half, the last piece that completes the puzzle and I couldn’t do this without him.
(c) Open Hearted
I’m a mama. On March 13 at 2:18 pm our beautiful daughter was born 7 lb 10 oz and 21 inches. After 24 hours of labor I pushed this teeny little being out of my body. The doctor and nurse told me most women push for a few hours, and I thought no way she’s coming in an hour. I opened my eyes during the last push and all I could see was the back of this tiny, fuzzy little head. A noise escaped my throat that I’d never heard before. It was a cry of raw, pure, joy. In that moment I became a mama. This was my little baby. Our family was now three forever after. The doctor placed her on my chest for a moment and she felt warm and squashy. I held her inches from my face. I can’t even remember H standing next to me and looking on us both. I wish I’d looked up and memorized his expression.
He coached me through labor brilliantly. He did everything I needed and it was hard for him to see me in so much pain. He got tears in his eyes and he watched our little girl welcomed into the light of our world. He took such good care of me and hesitated before going over with the baby when she went to get cleaned off. I’ve never seen anything as wonderful as a new dad taking in every little detail of his new daughter. Her dark brown hair, almond shaped puffy eyes, pink skin, teeny nose, and long froggy-like hands and fingers.
Then the nurse brought her back over to me inthe hospital bed and I snuggled her on my chest. We made a flurry of phone calls and texts to let everyone know she was here. I kept her in my arms the whole time. The sun was streaming through the window on an unusually beautiful San Francisco afternoon. We became parents that day. I felt reborn myself. Parts of me came alive that had never woken up before. Parts I didn’t even know I had. I felt a deep and profound love down to the toes of my soul. I instantly loved this little baby with more than everything I had in my heart. She was perfect. When I laid eyes on her she didn’t feel familiar, but my first thought was, of course. Of course this is our baby. This little one chose us. My heart was ripped wide open.
I hope to write down a more in depth birth story soon, but I’m too tired to do it now.
I’m tired of hiding.
I spend so much time covering up. Thinking and rethinking the words I want to say. Weighing their potential outcome. Measuring whether they’re valuable. Talking myself out of saying anything at all. It’s too much work this not being enough. What shape am I forcing myself into and for what? For fitting in, for avoiding awkward situations, for looking acceptable to the outside world, so that I am indeed accepted as me. That’s not me though the filtered facade I put out there.
I hide my wit, my sense of humor, my goofiness. I hide my deep feelings and sensitivity, playing un-phased all the time. I hide my fears, faking strong. I hide my worries, to appear to have it all together.
I’m so done with maintaining appearances. I can’t do it anymore. But why then is it a thing so deeply ingrained in me. I can’t possibly separate from it without ripping out the other vital systems that keep me going. It’s become such a part of me there will be this gaping hole without.
I hide in the shadows. Out of view, out of judgment. Those who stay in the shadows get judged all the same though. We end up being judged by what we withhold.
I want to show myself, be myself, just as I am. Not scared but brave, owning my story, my voice, my self. Not apologizing for it, just living it. It’s too fucking tiring to try any other way.
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.
– Pathways by Rainer Maria Rilke
Well my brain has picked up and moved out. Beyond getting through the regular motions of my day there is nothing going on upstairs right now… I’ve gotten sick of staring down blank pages and empty computer screens. By the time I muster up the mental power needed to put a few words down I’m so exhausted with the effort that my pregnant body shuts down and instanap. I fall asleep with my laptop balancing on my belly. I’m trying to accept that it’s where I’m at today, as hard as it is.
While I wait for my mind and my ability to write anything at all to come back at least I get to look at cute baby stuff. That helps a bit.
This stuffed bunny has a nice story. When my mom was pregnant with me she bought a stuffed animal the very day she heard my heartbeat. She had a funny feeling about the bear when she saw him sitting on the shelf at the toy store. On her way home, she couldn’t even tuck him all the way in the shopping bag. She left his head peeking out. Mr. Bear became my most beloved toy when I was young. Of all the stuffed animals I had I picked him out especially.
Back to this little bunny… My mom bought him at a bookstore over the summer on a whim. When she saw him she had the same funny feeling she had when she first saw Mr. Bear. She decided she had to buy the rabbit for her future grandchild. My husband and I hadn’t mentioned that we were even thinking about having a baby. My dad of course told her it was crazy and that she shouldn’t pressure us into having kids and so on. But she bought the bunny, vowing she’d stash him away for whenever we did decide to have a baby. It turns out that I was five weeks pregnant the day she bought him. My mom’s intuition is uncanny.
Things that come in size tiny are also pretty adorable. It’s still hard to imagine that we will be putting these little booties on teeny feet that are already growing.
I love goodreads, probably because I’m an obsessive list maker. Goodreads lets you keep track of books you’ve read, want to read, and are currently reading. (I can even scan book bar codes from my iPhone to add to my lists thanks to their app!) This was the first year that I’ve kept track of all the books I’ve read and my total count is 41 this year! I’m a little bit proud. I’ll try to finish four more before the end of December and make it an even 45.
Rediscovering the San Francisco Public Library had a lot to do with the number of books I devoured. Until this year, I hadn’t visited a library since college. I forgot how libraries open my heart wide with the possibility. The smell, the beautiful architecture, the plastic covers on the hard backs, the wooden slab tables with green Banker’s Lamps at each seat. When we moved this summer, we moved within walking distance to our neighborhood branch. I had no more excuses. I’d dragged my feet about getting a library card because I was happy to support our local bookstores. We have at least five in walking distance. One of things I love most about San Francisco is the number of independent bookstores there are.
There was a problem though. Every once in a while I’d buy a book that looked great at the outset, only to find out 100 pages in that I wasn’t really going to love this one. Since I’d bought it, I would dutifully press on making myself read page after page. Eventually I’d stay away from reading altogether to avoid the drudgery of slogging through a book that just wasn’t for me. The only reward was the relief of being done with it.
I discovered a beautiful thing when I started visiting my library. I don’t have to read books I don’t like. After I’ve given a book a fair chance I can slip it through the book return slot without an ounce of guilt. I can also request books from any library in the system – some 2.2 million books – and have them put on hold and delivered to my local branch. ALL FOR FREE. Unbelievable.
Ink and paper books make my heart beat faster. Whenever I check out a book from the library that I absolutely love, I’ll buy it to add to my bookshelf at home.
(c) Open Hearted