Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Strangers

When we went for our very first ultrasound, at eight weeks, the goal was to see a heartbeat. At that point, we'd been cautiously excited for a month, thinking about the possibility of a baby, but not wanting to get too excited, either (I swear, during that month, I heard more miscarriage stories, without even TRYING, than I heard in my entire life leading up to that point). When the image came up on the screen of the little white blob with the little flickering heartbeat, I swear something chemical happened in my brain. I mean it, I was instantly in love with that blob. The tech printed pictures for us and I sat in the car, all the way home, staring at them like the Mirror of Erised.

When Grace was born, it took me a little while to realize I'd had no such moment in the delivery room. I was excited and overwhelmed and it was all a bit much to take in, and when I get like that, I'm the type to just keep moving and not stop and take everything in. The moment they laid her on my stomach, I was stroking her and trying to see if she looked like anyone, taking in the fact that we'd really had a girl, that she was really here, but there was no, "oh my god this is my child" moment. There just...wasn't.

And that moment didn't really come in a big bang. I think it does for a lot of people, and it was sort of hard that it didn't for me. It was a gradual thing. I kept staring at her, trying to figure her out- what did she want? (she wanted to yell, oh how she wanted to yell...) what did she need? what the HELL was I doing? But the rush of instant love? It's hard to say it out loud, but it wasn't there.

I have a friend who had the same thing happen. She told me that rather than instantly loving her daughters, she fell in love with them. And that's what happened with Grace. One night, at 3am, when I was up for aprpoximately the fiftieth time, I found her with her little lip curled out and her eyes puffy with sleep and I wanted to spend the rest of my life squeezing her. Sometimes I catch her right as she's waking up, before she starts to cry, and just as she's opening her eyes, she has that look on her face like she's still shocked to find herself out in the world, and I scoop her up before she can cry and bury my face in her neck and kiss her all over.

I think a lot of the same people who have instant-mommy love say they feel like they've known their kids forever. In a lot of ways, I feel like I have a different baby every single day. I've figured out a few things- she loves baths for about seven minutes, and then she HATES them, I am her favorite pacifier, she likes having her feet out in the breeze as opposed to having them covered, and that cowlick on top of her head isn't going anywhere. The more I get to know her, the more I love her, but there's so much about her I haven't figured out yet. (For the record, I also think there's a lot that she hasn't made up her mind about yet, either.) It's the hardest part of all of this, having this little piece of you that you don't really know. Admitting that is hard, but it's also the truth. Just because we dont' all instantly know and love our babies doesn't mean we love them any less. It's just not what you always hear about.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today's Question

Is there a new parent in America who doesn't spend weeks with that crappy Billy Joel song "River of Dreams" running through their head?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas??

It really does not feel like Christmas.

Ok. As an adult, it rarely feels like Christmas. I don't get the same feeling I did as a little kid. It's usually more stressful, and not as exciting. But this year? my GOD. The days just blur together and today feels like any other day, viewed through the fog of profound sleep deprivation and raging hormones. Sure, we had our big Christms Eve celebration with my family last night, and went to Stephen's mom's house today (and left the camera there with all our adordable pictures of Gracie that haven't been uploaded yet which also prevented us from taking any more pictures today, SOB). We got some really cute stuff for Gracie, and some relatives got to meet her for the first time. But honestly, it is all such a blur. I worry a little bit that her first Christmas wasn't really anything special, because I worry that I'll be sad about it later. At the same time, she won't remember, and at this point, we're just getting through the days without driving off the road or forgetting to eat (which, seriously, when you're breastfeeding? I can't imagine forgetting to eat. I'm worse than I was when I was pregnant, all I want to do is eat).

Sooo, it's all okay, right? I won't regret this all being such a blur?

Of course I will. Just like I regret not enjoying pregnancy more, just like I regret not taking more pictures in the delivery room and not enjoying more of that (I mean, I did enjoy that, I had the world's greatest epidural, but it was all happening in the middle of the night and I was so overwhelmed, it's all, you got it, a blur), I will regret all of this being a blur. I also won't remember it the way it really is. I was saying to Stephen today, it's only been two and a half weeks. In our lives, that's just a blip. It only feels like an eternity because we're so overwhelmed and undersleeped and it's all so goddamn hard right now. In six months when she's more mobile and doesn't sleep as much and starts getting into everything, we'll long for the newborn days when all she did was eat, sleep, cry, and poop, and I will be all melodramatic and sentimental about my squooshy little newborn. I won't remember this the way it really is, just like I had to go back and reread all my other entries to remember how much I truly hated pregnancy. It took me just days to forget how much my back hurt and how tired I was and how I never slept then, either, except I wasn't doing anything worthwhile, I was just awake and staring at the ceiling every night.

I guess that's how kids get siblings. It must be, because there's been lots of only child talk around this house lately.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Wisdom of Donna

Donna put in her blog recently that when you have kids, the years go by fast, but the days can be so slow. I mentioned that to Stephen and he said, "Really? I feel like all the days go by fast. It seems like it's always night and time to NOT go to sleep."

True that.

But I think a lot of it is having milestones whiz by. I mean, normally, a year will go by quickly, but when you have things actually happening, it makes it go by so much faster. Like, you can't tell how fast you're going in a plane because you're way up in the air, but when you come in for a landing and see everything go by, you realize you're really moving?

I can't believe Gracie is here. When I was pregnant, I thought I would be pregnant forever. I remember going to Baby Center and looking at "your baby this week" and seeing all the weird embryo pictures and feeling like my baby would NEVER look like a baby. I remember going for early ultrasounds and there was just nothing to see except the little flickering heartbeat. Then her arms and legs started moving, and eventually she looked like a little person. I felt like I would be on monthly appointments forever, and then I was going every two weeks, and then every week, and then she was here. And it feels like a week ago that I looked at the pee stick and saw the shadow of a second pink line and could not believe it was happening at all.

I really hated being pregnant. It was uncomfortable and I didn't feel good and all the hormones made me SO crabby. I knew I would miss a few things- I really, really loved my bump. I loved when she would move around, especially when she would stick her feet out and make right angles on my stomach. So I knew I would miss those things,and wow, I really do. I didn't expect to miss the anticipation. I miss the feeling that something really big was just around the corner. Which is ridiculous, because now that she's here, there's ALWAYS someting big right around the corner. Somehow it's not the same, though. It's a lot like I felt right after the wedding- I hated wedding planning so much, but when it was over, I was sad because I'd never have that pre-wedding anticipation ever again. Now I'll never have that pre-mommy anticipation again, and even though now I get to be mommy and I shouldn't think about it that way, I get sad sometimes. If we do have more kids (the jury is still out, as our little treasure sits next to me in a comatose-like sleep, after being awake ALL NIGHT LONG), there will be nine months of anticipation again, but it won't be the same. Everything changed when she came, before we were...us. And now we're mom and dad. And that is amazing and overwhelming and we are so, so, so, SO lucky and happy, and it's not that I miss just being us, exactly. I miss getting ready to be mom and dad.

This is all really ridiculous and I should delete this whole post instead of hitting publish, but I'm feeling like showing the world just how hormonal I really am, I guess.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shhh....

Don't look now, but Gracie is actually sitting in a bouncy seat, sucking on a paci, and not screaming like I'm killing her. Granted, she keeps spitting the paci out and then screaming with rage over the loss of said paci, but progress is progress.

Speaking of progress, there's basically none on the sleep front. She's awake more and more during the day, yet this doesn't translate to sleep overnight. I am not sure if someone is slipping her crystal meth, or if I am secretly smoking crack and nobody is telling me and it's getting into my breastmilk? I really don't know. I know it makes no sense that she'd have these great quiet alert periods during the day and not sleep more at night.

It's really frustrating. I mean, DUH. But it is. I feel like I talk to people who say, "Oh, my baby didn't sleep that well at first either." But then I tell them about Gracie, and they say, "...Oh." I genuinely don't know what we're doing wrong. We try having a routine. We try not picking her up immediately when we know she's clean and dry and fed, we try picking her up right away, we try putting her down asleep, we try putting her down drowsy. Weissbluth and Babywise are mysteriously silent on this topic- their books tell you what to do to have the Perfect Baby, but they don't tell you what to do when their ideas don't work. And obviously we're doing SOMETHING wrong, but I don't know what that might be. Twelve years of pediatric nursing (in one form or another) are totally unhelpful on this topic. All I know is, we have a baby that won't sleep, we're totally exhausted, and it's hard to not feel like it's my fault.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sleeeeeep

My number one fear about becoming a parent was the sleep deprivation. This was not even a close call. I love my sleep. I live to sleep. I am also aware of how stupid it is to say someone "slept like a baby" when we all know babies live to sleep only when you have energy and want to do things and then want to be up all night long eating and crying and pooping.

The only childcare books I bought were related to sleep and breastfeeding. The breastfeeding book didn't help much- we still ended up needing a lactation consultant. The sleep books, well, I kind of knew they wouldn't work, because they don't talk about what you're supposed to do when their methods don't instantly work.

Grace...she doesn't like to sleep. She's sleeping right now, of course, because it throws off the entire evening schedule and so why WOULDN'T she sleep right now? But let's recap:

Night One: Up all night screaming. I kept her in the room rather than sending her to the nursery because I was worried about starting up w/breastfeeding. If I had it to do over again, I would've sent her to the nursery, asked them to bring her to me two or three times during the night and/or pumped that night, and gotten some sleep. I didn't do that. She was up all night long. Stephen and I took shifts.

Night Two: Up all night screaming. We had come home that day, because I was just not feeling like the hospital was all that helpful. The jury is still out on the wisdom of that decision. Live and learn. So she was up all night screaming. Stephen and I took shifts. Stephen = superstar. I can hardly even explain.

Night Three: Up all night screaming (noticing a pattern here?). This is where Kathy starts to lose her freaking mind. Also by now, breastfeeding is a trainwreck and we're coping with that as well. Stephen and I take shifts but at this point, Stephen is carrying the team.

Night Four: My mom came over during the day and let us take a two-hour nap. my god, HEAVEN. That night, I was pumping the whole night and not nursing, plus Gracie got a little formula too (yuck...). She...oh my god. she SLEPT. She really, really slept! Two hour stretches! then she slept from 3am til close to 7am. It was truly heaven on earth. We woke up on friday absolutely giddy.

Night Five: A close second. No. Just...second. She did sleep 2.5 hours from 11-1:30, but she loses points for being wide awake for half an hour after her 3am feed (which Stephen took, and hung in like a champa nd stayed with her until she fell asleep again, promptly ruining his night of sleep and making sure he was up for two more hours). She lost another point for taking in a four-hour stretch from 6ish til 10am. It would've KILLED her to do that during the night? REALLY?

I have no idea what tonight will bring. She had a really long, really great alert period during the day, which is what I thought gave us such a great night on thursday, but now she's in the midst of a HUUUGE nap that looks like it's going to totally throw our evening off schedule. Hopefully she wakes up soon, especially because I was GOING to take advantage of this and take a nap, but Princess Grace has NO interest in sleeping her in pack n play and will only nap on her boppy lounger, which means I must sit next to her wide awake, lest she startle herself off the pillow and fracture her skull. That would be awful, and also incredibly awkward, since SOMEONE should know better...

I knew I would not cope well with the sleep deprivation, but in my defense, she's an exceptionally tough baby. I mean, of COURSE, this is the same baby who got herself all scrunched down and wouldn't let them get half the ultrasound images they needed at her 20week scan, most significantly hiding her lower spine. But still. I am tired.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grace-E

So. I have a daughter. How about that.



Princess Grace is currently having her hearing screened, which should be interesting because she has thoroughly confused her days and nights and was JUST passing out when they came to get her. She has decided she must be held at all times, preferably in a position to nurse should the mood strike her. She may only want two or three sucks, but by GOD she better get them when she wants them.

Her entry into the world was not at all what I expected. The parts I expected to be the worst were the easiest, relatively speaking, and the parts I expected to be difficult but tolerable were truly awful. I'll just leave it at that. The only thing that happened exactly as expected was the significant amount of time I spent puking.

We are utterly exhausted at this point, between laboring all night long and then having Gracie up all night the following night. It's not unusual for babies to have days and nights mixed up, and I sort of expected this because she had a tendency to be really active at night. Plus, she is my kid. I wouldn't be shocked if Mason pulled up in front of the house in a blue Nissan to take her to Taco Bell. (Liam and Brendan are working a shift w/Mary Ugly, so they can't go on the run.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

oh my god, YOU GUYS.

When I'm not pregnant anymore???

Stephen and I will have a BABY. OUR OWN BABY. Who lives with us. ALL THE TIME!

and in order for me to not be pregnant? I...oh my god, you guys, it's almost too awful...I have to give birth to a baby.

A baby which, by yesterday's ultrasound, is estimated to weigh 8lbs, 4oz (which was a bit of a slap in the face after the doctor guessed "ohhh, probably seven pounds. her explanation for the discrepancy? "Well. You ARE tall, it's hard to guess when women are tall.") A baby whose head is measuring a full two weeks ahead of the rest of its body, in true Kathy AND Stephen fashion. (we need big heads to hold in our big brains. not because we have borderline hydrocephalus or anything like that.)

I just thought I would tell all of you about that, because I know that *I* was shocked to realize it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Digging to China

So, my little chickpea seems to be conflicted.

On the one hand, s/he is really loving kicking me in the ribs and keeping me up all night and compressing my bladder to the size of a thimble.

On the other hand, s/he appears to have a strong desire to dig a very deep hole. Through my cervix. Or, barring that, my tailbone.

It is uncomfortable and scratchy and kind of creepy, to be honest. I'm still quite sure I'll still go to the doctor tomorrow and get another talk about post-date ultrasounds and nonstress tests and indcution, but it does make me hope that maybe the kid will make an appearance sometime before Christmas.

On a totally unrelated note, I am seriously hating the following:

-the weather. (duh.)
-those Luna commercials with the people singing Halleluna
-trying to think of Christmas gifts for people
-the way I keep waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and unable to sleep for hours on end
-the way I keep waking up in the middle of the night because Rosie is howling or scratching at the closet door or generally acting like a senile old fool
-that Beyonce song