back to work

12 July 2014

Meeting Alice changed everything. All the seemingly trite things people say are true- you never know such love until you have a child, there is nothing better than becoming a parent, etc. All true. The world feels clearer- priorities sharper- and all I want to do with my time is be her mom. I want to give her every ounce of my ability and I want to learn how to love her. I don't want to miss a smile or a chance to smother my kisses into her deliciously chubby, smooshy cheeks. How was I to know this was how I would feel? It was impossible to know. It is all so much better and harder and more beautiful than I could possibly have imagined.

I did not know, so here we are with the reality of returning to work. The tearing has begun. I must admit that every day has been both better and worse than anticipated. I am clinging to the better as I bear through the worse.
A poster made by some of my students.
Alice and I have both done a significant amount of crying this week. There was the crying in anticipation of going back to work, which included the teary walk out of the house on Wednesday morning. Then there was the crying in the driveway that night after Alice had screamed much of the commute home. Thursday was the worst. Pulled over on 93S, 40 minutes from home, sobbing with my baby in the backseat? The. Worst. Alice is not a fan of commuting. The drive home that night was similarly traumatic. Friday we took a turn for the better though- she slept the entire drive to and just barely held it together the entire drive fro. And now, with three days of experience, I have a few acquired soothing tricks up my sleeve. We'll see how long they last, but I'm holding out hope that we've turned a corner. It feels like downright child abuse to stay buckled in as your child cries so forcefully she has coughing fits and spits up. I cannot do it. We will become far too familiar with the interstate's breakdown lane.

But the better- I'm struggling to keep it at the forefront- is so immense. My coworkers' support. A new boss who encourages me that it will be difficult but it will get better and to take it one day at a time. The gift of having Alice at work with me to smooth the transition- nothing has been said about the pack-n-play I set up in my office or my near-constant Moby wrap fashion statement. AND free babysitting is just a parking lot away, so that once I do let her go for a few hours at a time, I can still nurse her and see her whenever my heart needs. AND a husband who cooks dinner and does the dishes and washes the cloth diapers. These are HUGE things. Huge. Much to be thankful for.
View from my desk | A rearranged office | A baby is my favorite thing to wear
Here is the rub: ultimately I know that working, no matter the flexibility of my position and the support of my coworkers and hubby, means I cannot be the mom I wish so desperately I could be for Alice. A singularly focused, unstressed, totally present momma. As long as I work, I will need to navigate the balance and accept the tearing and turn away from her trusting gaze. It is what it is. I have much to be thankful for, but I cannot help but feel the loss of my unfettered days with this piece of me.

In a teary moment this week, attempting to communicate how it feels to commute with a crying babe, the only way I could think to describe it was "she came from my body." To ignore her needs, to hear her crying that she wants my full attention, is heartbreaking. In a way I have never known. She came from my body.

As they say, you never know such love until you have a child. Parenting is the best and the hardest.


another month has come and gone

08 July 2014

 "I look at my daughter's open and shining face. In her mind there are no old jobs, old hurts, or old grudges. No gossip or fretting. Not the debris of dashed hopes or unrealized plans. Nothing hounding her. Nothing to prove. No list on the refrigerator. There is just immediacy, honesty, and perfection. Somehow she trusts that everything she needs will be provided here and now. If I could muster just a tiny bit of her colossal faith that everything is, and will be, okay, I could live differently." 
-from Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller

+ The voice! Every day she uses her voice a little more and a little more creatively. There are sing-song-y qualities, chatter sounds, yelps for attention, and giggles that'll stop your heart. On sleepy or quiet days I miss her little sounds. On mornings when all she wants is to hang out, giggle and chat, I can't imagine time spent in any better way than with this awesome, tiny person.

+ About once a week, baby turns mystically into a fountain. Mid-feed she'll pull off, tilt her head back, and before I can recognize the signs, I hear recently ingested breast milk splashing on the floor and soaking all nearby clothing and upholstery. She's a pretty matter of fact and low key kiddo, so she takes it in stride and doesn't even cry a peep.

+ Last Monday, June 30, we had a busy afternoon and evening. 8PM rolled around and our sweet girl had not been given a lick of time in the arms of her daddy. While she nursed she caught his eye. He walked away, she stopped eating and started crying. He came back and she calmed down. He left and she lost it. Back in his arms, she cooed and smiled, looking directly into his eyes. Suddenly we realized- she missed Jake. Until that moment, Jake confessed, he didn't know if she knew him or recognized his voice. Since then, there has been no denying it- she loves her daddy and if she doesn't get her time with him, she feels the loss.

+ Twice in 8 weeks, baby has shown off her powerful digestive system whilst I was changing her. The first time was in the wee hours of the morning. Her legs were lifted for a wiping when #2 was suddenly pelting the face of her Vermont teddy bear 4 feet away in a basket. Several weeks later, on the rushed morning of my cousin's fiance's wedding shower, the wall and baseboard trim just to the left of the aforementioned teddy got acquainted with the mustard liquid too. Hilarious? Yes. Messy and sloppy and utterly surprising? Absolutely. Did I ever think I'd clean newborn poo off the face of a teddy bear with wet wipes at 2AM? No, I did not see that one coming.

+ On multiple occasions in the last week, this little babe has slept right through her middle-of-the-night feeding. The difference between a 3 hour stretch of sleep and a 6 hour stretch? Exponential. And then last night, on her last night before she was suddenly 2 months old, she slept for a whopping 8 hours. In all honesty, I foresee missing our midnight moments if she outgrows them all together. I cherish the bleary-eyed cuddles. I'm hoping she still wants them too, just occasionally at least.


family portrait

30 June 2014

We celebrated our third wedding anniversary last Thursday. It was our first date since the birth of our babe and Alice's first date with her Auntie. As can be expected, I was all sorts of anxious, self conscious, and second guessing. I was feeling exhausted and frantic as I got ready, fed Alice, and pumped, all seemingly simultaneously. But then, it was lovely. Since he wasn't lugging the carseat, Jake opened the car door for me. He told me I was beautiful and made me laugh the whole way to Duckworth's Bistro in Gloucester. Our server was kind and complimentary and wanted to see iPhone pictures of our new babe. At the end of the evening she sent our dessert to the table with a celebratory candle. And Alice and Auntie had a sweet evening together too. All in all- a hitch free evening. Who'd have thought?

It certainly feels like we've been married for more than three little years. So much has happened! We've added a puppy to our duo, bought an abode, adopted another pup, and then we fell in love with our little girl. And those are just the big things- the showstoppers. In between there have been long drives and hikes in the woods, home renovations and church membership, family illness and grad school, job changes and trips to the farmer's market. All the days that string into the life we have built together.

Then, we celebrated my cousin's wedding on Saturday. At one point I was feeding Alice while watching my niece and sister sway and tiptoe across the dance floor like interpretive dancing ballerinas. Later in the evening I ate wedding cake with Jake as my uncle, cousin and Alice swayed together to a slow song. Partying with family is my favorite kind of party.

My sister took these family portraits that night. Jake is wearing his wedding suit. Three big little years have flown by. 

I am endlessly grateful for how we have grown together and been challenged to be better people for one another and now for our daughter too. I want to continue growing together, moving together, shifting and sifting through together. This is only the beginning.

A song that Hannah sang and played at our wedding:

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