Monday, November 14, 2016

Zero Gravity

Little Sawyer is 4 months old! I feel like that is a huge accomplishment. She is healthy (praise the Lord as we know there are NO gaurantees), she is happy (most of the time!), and she is well loved.  It is truly a great privilege and pleasure to be able to be there to see every milestone and new skill, to set the tone for what her days look like, and to just get to know her after all the years of wondering what she would be like! When she smiles "it feels like glitter is exploding inside of me!!!!!" (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend anyone?) She's gone from basically being a feral animal, snorting and sniffing to find where her food is to getting "more like a real human" (my nephew) every day and it's the COOLEST thing.

But you know what? Someone asked me if it felt like "just yesterday" she was born. And I said "nope!!!" It's felt like a lifetime? Not in a bad way, but this has been a huge paradigm shift in my life and it's wonderful but it DOES take some getting used to thats for sure! It's like learning to exist in a world without gravity. All the elements of your preexisting life are there but with one major difference that effects everything single thing you do.

So let's dive in, before these memories fade. The beginning, it was, to borrow a phrase...

It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times.

I wasn't prepared for how difficult my recovery from giving birth would be. I really think I was so terrified during pregnancy of things going sideways that I didn't really think about giving birth or after very much? Like at all?! Like I was genuinely surprised to have a baby in my house when we got home. Excited, yes. But also surprised! What the heck, self! I was just so concerned with every doctor visit and so on that I would just think about what the next one thing was. I didn't want to get so attached just incase. I'd waited so long my mindset was "I'll believe this when I see it". Well, it happened! She arrived and NOT on schedule (read her birth story for that, well, story).  For a really long time it felt like a bowling ball had been ripped out of me and it was hard to sit or stand. It felt like my tailbone was broken (I think it was severely bruised). So many stitches! And super hard. And I didn't love it. And neither did she. And it wasn't working. And I prayed about it and God gave me a DIRECT answer and our whole fam bam is way happier. Phew! He cares about us and the details of our lives and I'm SO thankful for that!

Another thing I wasn't prepared for was the amount of "company" we had in those early days. I know it's customary for people to come over and see the baby. But man I felt so crazy, so gross, so in physical pain I wish I would have rested more and just let it be. I was so psycho about feeding the baby, making main floor guest ready, making myself presentable, trying to organize the whole day into fitting around when whoever was coming. I know no one who came to see us would have cared, they just wanted to bring us food and encourage us. I legitimately felt crazy the first month. So much anger. So much crying. Yikes. People would ask "is she sleeping though the night?" (No. And she never will). They would say "when is her bedtime?" (Also never. The answer is never.) Also "are you getting any sleep?" (NO!!!) Even if she does sleep I still can't sleep. I'm busy poking her and mentally WILLING her to stay alive with all my might 24/7. That is exhausting. But nope, still can't sleep. Also the first month we were trying to get her to gain enough weight, which meant waking her from day naps to eat. SHE WOULDN'T WAKE UP THEN but yet somehow she NEVER SLEPT. How those two conflicting stories are both 100 percent true, I'll never know. I guess she never slept at times when I also could sleep, that was her whole mantra. "I'll use all of my cunning to keep mom awake at all times."And no, "tickling her foot" or "changing her diaper" did not wake her up. So yeah, if one more person had told me to tickle her darn foot they were also getting punched along with anyone talking about breastfeeding or sleeping through the night. I'm getting so riled up now thinking about it all!

So the first weeks were basically stressing over her eating and gaining weight, doctors appointments, visitors, crying, punching, rage, insanity from no sleep (I was getting double vision ), pain and discomfort down south... getting mom neck and shoulder (I mean seriously, this is a thing!) But the first few weeks felt like an eternity. I told that to the pediatrician and they looked concerned. But when you're not really sleeping, time does seem a lot longer, I mean, right?!?! I was like come on, this CAN'T be the first time you've heard this Doc!

After four weeks--Ted went back to work. I was both sad and glad. I needed to assert my dominance and confidence at this mothering business. You know what they say about having two cooks in the kitchen. But also having two sets of hands for so long was amazing. I love that we are both competent with our baby. I'm proud of Ted. He was hands on from the start and we have all those first memories of all three of us!!!  But getting into our rhythm just me and was good for all of us.  The newness was wearing off for everyone and we started to see glimmerings of a new normal. I would worry though, worry I wasn't doing enough for her mental development, having enough of a schedule, fending off these "evil bad habits" so many people talk in letting your baby nap on you, not making them sleep in their crib, not making them cry it out at the ripe old age of 6 weeks. NOT MAKING THEM CONFORM TO YOUR STRICT SCHEDULE BECAUSE WHY DID YOU HAVE A BABY IF NOT TO PUT THEM IMMEDIATELY ON A STRICT SCHEDULE!!! The second month (and third month) were about gaining the confidence to get to know my baby and what works for her. She's not ever gonna sleep 12 hours in a row. Deal with it, Babywise! If I make her go to bed at 7pm she will not "sleep longer". She will be awake at midnight and ready to PARTY!!!

I really struggled in the fear department (and many days I still do).  I had so many fears the first few months--I feared that she'd never be a "happy" baby. I feared I'd never be able to put her down and cook or clean or walk to the bathroom. I feared we would never have an "easy" coexistence. I feared she hated me sometimes! (I think that had more to do with the weaning than it did with her actually hating me...I hope? haha). I feared she would NEVER sleep through the night and that I would NEVER sleep even if she was sleeping. I feared I would never want to have another baby because I wasn't strong enough to do this. How could one tiny baby make me doubt everything so much?!

Have you ever heard baby's first 100 days of life called "100 Days of Darkness"? It is called that for a reason! But oh, the pay off. If you just hang in gets WAY BETTER. I mean, I know there is an ebb and flow to this whole thing but if you just brace for impact and find a way to survive the early days without *actually* punching anyone....

With time those specific fears have slowly retreated. She is so happy and can often play on her mat or play quilt for a long time! She literally grins and beams at me now.  BEAMS. And laughs. She thinks I'm funny! Phew!!! And I'd say she loves me! Some days are really hard and some days fly by in a haze of easy togetherness--playing, learning, loving, life. And everyday is SO GOOD, even the days that are hard.

And the difficult first days are just a drop in the bucket compared to a whole life of her! And the first days are so precious. I'm so so so thankful every day I get the opportunity to experience all these things, even when it's hard. And every screaming session, every diaper change, every snuggle, every time she fell asleep on me...that's how we bonded. That's how she knew if she needed something I was her person (well, and Ted!) And when I read other mom's accounts of reflux and milk allergies and colic and so on, I! Our little gal is easy in comparison! I love that she needs me. And she has NO IDEA how very much I needed her!

When we first got her home from the hospital she was so so so small. We were so tired and I didn't realize then how scared.  Even though I knew I was going to have a baby at some point I was in shock. Frazzled. Nerves raw.  I remember just sitting down on the same spot on the couch where a few days before I was timing contractions and calling the doctor, holding her and kissing her cute little cheeks over and over and telling her how much I loved her. I felt like I loved her so much it physically hurt, like I had a stomach ache with how strong the feelings were. The feelings were so big they threatened to burn me up and eat me alive--but those feelings are good because they keep you going when you have nothing left but love to give. They get you through the first days. You're willing to physically fight a bear or lift a car or WHATEVER. You channel those feelings to get you out of bed, to hold her tight when everyone is sleeping but you (because she slept the best right up next to you), to try feeding her again even though the pain is too much, to take a deep breath and try to explain the unexplainable to your husband (how you can be so blissed out and content and full of rage and angry at the same time). You take those feelings and you run on pure adrenaline for as long as you can. God gives you enough, even when you think you have nothing left, you find just enough. Even when I worry I'm not enough for her, God reassures me that just being me and doing my best is QUITE enough for Sawyer.

The moment she was born, I was reborn too. I'm a new person even though I'm still the old me. So we're learning this together. She's physically young and I'm new to being her mom. Every fiber of me is thankful to be on this journey and I can't wait to keep telling our story. I love you Sawyer Jean, and thank you for making me a mom! It's the best gig I ever had.