Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Clean House Is A Happy House

Today as I sat, exhausted from a day of busy house/baby work, folding diapers I realized something, something kind of important to me. I finally, after all these months, feel like I'm living up to my roll as "wife" and mother. I don't know if I've just gotten the hang of things or if moving into a bigger space, even if it's not my own home yet, has alleviated the claustrophobic depression I was feeling in the condo. Or maybe spending some hours in the sun these past few weeks has really made me that much more capable, I wouldn't be surprised; it's been a long winter. Whatever it is I'm surprising myself more every day as I take on the cleaning, feedings, diaper changes, nap times, laundry and more, that used to exhaust me before I'd even finished a portion of what needed to get done that day.

Example? I've made my bed for at least 7 days in a row. That's impressive right? Maybe you have always made your bed every day. Good for you! I haven't. Bed making always seemed so ridiculous to me because I was just going to get in bed again that night. I'd go through phases where I'd make on occasion and when I was single I often made my bed, but I was never much of a messy sleeper so it was simply a matter of pulling the corner of my blankets up and putting pretty pillows out. Mr. Bear is NOT a neat sleeper and kicks the blankets every which way. This means that to make the bed I have to untangle the maze of sheets and comforters, readjust & fluff the pillows, and start from the very beginning (all the bed items pulled off the bed) every time. But having a neat and tidy bed feels good I've realized and what's more I don't feel like my bedroom should have to be a place that the door is closed to. Having a "made" bed IS important after all but it is a task that is easily skipped over when there are millions of other things to do. ANYWAY, my point is, I'm finding the energy to do the things that aren't always at the top of my "to do" list and for that I deserve a drink. Or two.

Perhaps a big contribution to this whole "successful" feeling is that I'm THIS CLOSE to feeling like I can say we've got a Baby Bear who sleeps through the night. I wholly underestimated her when it came to bedtime and nights without nursing. We did it without screaming for hours, though tears WERE involved (aren't a few of them inevitable when you have a tired, cranky baby?), and what's more I learned a lot about my relationship with my daughter. The first night she went down easily, as usual, but woke just a couple hours later in tears. I let her fuss for a bit to see if she was just searching for her binky and would go back down on her own. The Bear went in after a few minutes and oh boy did that piss her off. He tried to pick her up to calm her down but she wasn't having any of that. So I went in, I sang to her and held her hand, patted her back, assured her that she just needed to sleep and we were right there for her and she quieted down. The second night was easier and she only had to hear my voice from the doorway before she fell to sleep again. The third night she slept all the way through until 5 AM the next day. Last night was the same.

All that stress and all of the tears I shed over my insecurity in this situation and what I really needed to do was listen to my own mommy instincts. I don't doubt that we will have plenty of rough nights, no one ever sleeps perfectly all the time (and if they do I want to learn their tricks!) but if we can make it through this week I'll consider it an accomplished milestone.

Now I must return to my productive day; I have diapers in the wash, diapers sitting in the sun, wool drying, and about 3 more loads of wash that are nagging at me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Up In the Night

When I became a mother this instinct I never knew I had kicked in. Not just an instinct to be maternal but an instinct to be PERFECT. I want to be the perfect mother, so much that it consumes my thoughts at night. But....I'm too tired to be perfect. I know, parenting is exhausting, babies wake in the night, shit happens and you have to get used to it. I know all of this. And I'm as used to lack of sleep as a person can get. I've spent the last 8 months waking anywhere from 1 to 5 times a night (or more!) and every morning I get up, and make breakfast, and play, and give naps and do laundry, and pick up baskets of toys 50 million times and by the time night hits I'm so tired. So so tired. But I can't sleep because I know that I'll only close my eyes and a little Baby Bear will cry for her mama and I'll have to get up again. Then I'll nurse and snuggle and crawl out of bed so quietly to put her back in her bed and as soon as I close my eyes again it's been two hours and she's crying once more. Basically I'm sleep traumatized.

I admit, not every night is this way. I probably get one night of good sleep (only waking once before 5 AM) a week. The rest...not so good. Finally last night I just kept her in bed with me because I couldn't imagine opening my eyes one more time to get her out of her bed. And she does well when she can have a big comfy bed and a boob at her disposal all night long. If you were to see her sleeping with me you'd smile and "awwww" at us snuggled up like two little peas in a pod.

Only I don't feel snuggled. I feel trapped after about 2 hours of sleep. Baby Bear is wiggly, oh my, and likes to wedge herself up between my arm and my chest, feet propped on my tummy, with her hands planted firmly on my face or breast proclaiming to the world that I am her possession, oh yes, and she loves me so, and look LOOK I can eat all night long if I want! See that! Who needs a binky when there is a mama close by. So it's safe to say that at the end of the night I've been pushed to the edge of the bed (sometimes my bottom is hanging OFF the bed) and my back and neck ache like they did when I was pregnant. YES! It's like she's trying to crawl back into her womb when we sleep together, that's how close she tries to get. So I have a big 18 lb. baby attached to my front side and it is killing me. I love napping with her but all night is just.too.much.

So what do I do? Continue getting up with the hopes that she will figure it out on her own? Let her sleep with us even though I hurt in the morning? Maybe I'll just get used to the pain? Try to rock her back to sleep without nursing and hope she'll stop waking? Or.....do I move her to another room and refuse to pick her up until at least 5 AM? Part of me feels like we will both be happier if she learns to sleep all night without waking. But part of me doubts that she will calm down if I don't pick her up and feed her. And the waking will still happen every night only this time I'll have to go in and try to soothe her without picking her up, or just let her cry, and she'll never get better and I'll still be exhausted and emotionally drained at the same time. SERIOUSLY!

Is it supposed to be this hard to make a decision? I have a wonderful, happy, beautiful, funny baby. A baby who loves to sleep, so long as she can wake to nurse every 2-3 hours. I always thought babies who didn't sleep were difficult babies all the time. She isn't. She's wonderful. High energy yes, but wonderful and happy. I don't want that to change. I need answers. I need help.

Is there a sleep fairy who can come and grant me 3 sleep wishes? I only need one. I wish to be perfect with, or without, sleep.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Swim Suit (un)Ready

Ahhh Summer! How I've missed you. I feel like I've said that before. Probably because I say it EVERY year. I love the warm weather. love.love.love.LOVE!!! Over the past month Baby Bear and I have found every excuse to go outside when the sun has been shining, even just a little. Saturday we went for a walk to the park by the house and she enjoyed some time on the swings and I even took her down the slide (Mama is too big!). Last night Mr. Bear bought Baby a little blow up pool that had a big crab sun cover and this afternoon I took her outside for a swim. She loved it. LOVED! I loved being out in the sun too and was thrilled when I came in to see some pink on my cheeks. It feels like it's been so long! Baby Bear entertained herself the whole time, splashing and babbling while I sat next to the pool and watched/enjoyed the sun on my skin. It was so perfect that I hope to do it a couple more times this week, if the weather allows.

*Baby Bear sporting her cute swimming suit from daddy (she was just a little lump when he picked it out for her!)

In other, more tragic, news Mr. Bear and I have decided that TOGETHER we will start a new "diet" and workout plan. In the past I've said that I'll watch what I eat (but I don't) and he just doesn't eat anything so I'm stuck trying to do dinner alone which results in shitty meals and an everlasting belly pooch. Out diet isn't anything fancy. We just have pre-written meals and every day I write down what we will eat and that is exactly what we do. We also drink at least 8 glasses of water and do increased amounts of cardio/weights every.single.day. Well, maybe we'll get one day off.

I'm halfway through my first day and pretty much would kill a cow for some sugar and a Dr. Pepper. I've done my weight/resistance training off of some videos online. Basically I have no stomach muscles and I'm really out of shape. When I started the video I thought, "there is no way this can be an actual work out". I changed my mind when I tried to walk up the stairs an hour later. It was a humbling experience to say the least. I have to wonder how I went from a woman who could hop on the elliptical trainer and do 45 minutes of intense aerobic training like it was no big deal to this lump of fat that feels awkward trying to do one lunge. One little baby made me this way? It's really sad and, as I said a moment ago, incredibly humbling.

So here's to saying goodbye to these last 40 lbs of unwanted baby weight and HELLO! to being thin enough to find designer jeans in my size at The Rack. Oh, and in shape too. By the end of the summer I'm going to have a toddling baby to keep up with and I don't want her to be ashamed of me. Maybe in a couple months I'll be able to post a picture of me in a pool WITH my Bear. HAHAHAHA....but seriously.

Friday, May 14, 2010

8 months (WTH!?!)

In a few days my little darling will be 8 months old. I don't understand how this could have happened! I told her that if she continued to grow older I would ground her for life. She obviously isn't intimidated by my threats because she grows and changes every single day.

Right after she turned 7 months her two bottom teeth popped in. One day we were saying how white her gums were looking and the next morning *BAM* there they were. The surprising thing is that she had been in the best mood that week and slept like an angel (an angel that wakes up only two times!) the night before. I am sad to say goodbye to the baby gum smile days but at least this new smile is cute too!

*here is a bath picture shortly after her teeth came in. You can kind of see them poking out. Sweetness.

Lately she has really found her voice and jabbers LOUDLY all the time. I'm having difficulty getting a video of it where she doesn't start to cry, because she see's my phone and wants to have it for herself, but I'm working on it. She's always been talkative at home but more quiet in new places while she stares at everyone but these days it takes a lot to keep her quiet. We go out to dinner and she hollars and growls while all the tables stare at us. She also throws all her toys on the floor. Her most favorite game.

It seems like just yesterday I was stressed because she was well past 6 months and had no interest in eating anything other than mama's milk. Now the little piggy will eat any food I give her. Well, so long as it's pureed. She doesn't chew at all so we've been unsuccessful in getting her to take thick table foods without gagging and refusing to try again. But she isn't picky otherwise. Apples, oatmeal, & avacado is one of her favorite breakfast treats. Carrots used to be the fav but she I don't love the way the come out so I don't give them more than once a week usually. She loves lentils and rice, spinach, potatoes, squash, corn, zucchini, yams, sweet potatoes....the only food she has refused so far is green beans, which is funny because they are my favorite and I craved them all the time during my pregnancy. I probably ate green beans 3 times a week all Summer long.

She has also been learning all kinds of new tricks and if she likes you a lot she will perform, but never on command. She loves peek-a-boo and is getting really good. She has learned to hold the blanket over her face for a few seconds and make us wait, and then do lots of quick peeks in a row to get a really fun reaction. She waves "hi" and it is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen. She LOVES doggies and is very good at being "so soft" when she pets them. She will do the sign for doggie if they are around and I remind her what it is. She likes that sign because it's pretty easy to wack her leg with her hand and of course she enjoys the cheers from everyone in the room. She dances to music, sings softly when she's tired (the only time she ever uses a quiet voice), plays games on my Iphone, and gives the biggest yummiest kisses EVER (but only if she's in the mood for lovin). She isn't really close to crawling yet but has started to lunge to get where she wants to be. Right now she is climbing onto my lap trying to get the computer so I guess I will have to finish up.

She doesn't sleep through the night, or anything close to it, but she looks awfully cute when she falls asleep in my bed. I'm creating a monster, I know. Her thing these days is to hold her little feet and then she can finally catch some zzzz's. The picture is terrible because it was very dark and I only had my Iphone to edit with...but seriously, how cute is she!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Journey to Mamahood

When I found out I was pregnant I was scared. Crazy scared. I didn't know if I would be a good mama to that little being. I was afraid I wouldn't be what this child needed. I was excited, don't get me wrong, but that doesn't mean I didn't feel fear. I had just spent the last 4 years of my life thinking about no one but myself. I was still adjusting to life in a committed relationship. You know, one where the man I was with actually admitted to being with me, who fought to keep me by his side. I wasn't sure I deserved his love let alone the love of an innocent human. Lucky for us, hormone filled, women we have 9 months to gain the confidence we need for the beautiful day when we become a mother for the first time. Or the second, third, fourth, etc.

*2 months pregnant with The Bear in L.A.

*on vacation with The Bear, 30+ weeks pregnant

After the first 24 hours of contractions I knew that I was ready to have my child. My daughter. After the second 24 hours I was begging my body to do what was necessary to give birth. I lacked the grace I had always hoped to have during birth. After throwing up for the 4th time I seem to remember wondering how I was going to make it to pushing. And how would I find the strength when that time came.

How silly it was of me to question myself. I should have had faith in my abilities because when it had to be done I didn't give up. And I had the most beautiful, perfect, amazing baby girl to show for it. I would live those pain filled days a thousand times over again. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically. It would take many weeks before I could feel comfortable again but, oh my, being a mother was heaven. Even being a mother in pain. When she was placed in my arms the world stopped. The hospital room was filled with lights and people but all I could see, all I could hear, was my child. I put my hands on her and forgot the tears of the past few days.

I've spent the last 8 months loving her. Absorbing her perfect baby energy. Teaching her all I know (all that a baby can understand anyway, and some that she can't). Talking, laughing, crying with her. And you know what? I'm an awesome mama. I can say that. I might not love all the things about myself but I love being a mother. And I've poured my heart and soul into it. It seems to have paid off because I have a beautiful and funny daughter who stops grocery store traffic with her chubby cheeks and precious smile.

*Baby Bear, 6 months old

Those days of fear? When I didn't know if I could do it? If i would be any good at it? Well, they're mostly gone. Sometimes I still think about having a teenage daughter and I wonder how I'll help her understand how important it is to be good, smart, & respectful (of others and of herself). I hope I'll have another moment where it just clicks.

*Baby Bear & her mama on Valentines, 5 months old

A Happy Happy Birthday to You From Me!

Today is Mr. Bear's 32nd birthday. *cough* OLD *cough cough*. I just wanted to say publicly how much I love him. How happy I am to be with him. How grateful I am for all the hard work he does to provide our family with a beautiful home, clothing, food, cars to drive. Everything. He is amazing. I only hope some day our daughter will meet a man who is half of the man her father is. Someone who will love her the way he loves me. I am very very VERY lucky.

I love you my Angry Bear! Thank you for knowing you loved me, from the very beginning. I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I know I had a wonderful time spending it with you.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sleep Tight

My sweet daughter is a wreck without her sleep. If she doesn't nap well or if she becomes overtired she is a snotty mess of tears, eye rubbing, and general hysterics. As I type she is buried beneath my blankets, snuggled into my pillows, her little hand clutching my shirt, snoozing away in my bed. I dared to put her in her bed when she wanted to nap next to mama and she quite literally had a melt down. I tried to let her cry a bit and then re-binky her, which usually wears her out so she falls right to sleep, but alas she sobbed even louder and craned her neck searching for my arms. I couldn't deny her. After just a moment of sobs and snuggles in my bed she fell fast asleep. Although she sleeps just fine at night in her own bed there is something about napping in a big soft bed with me by her side. I don't suppose I can blame her. I enjoy napping amongst soft feathery down myself. A hard cold mini mattress doesn't quite compare. *this image is her asleep in my parents bed the day we moved from the condo. She needed to nap but her bed was in transit. She left sweaty head marks on my dad's pillow. Sweetness.

The little imp loves to sleep but is terrible at it, unfortunately. Just when I think maybe she's getting better she will have an awful night where she wakes every two hours. It isn't that she is difficult to put down at night. She just has a hard time staying asleep without waking for her binky, nursies, or just some warm snuggles. Last night was heaven though. She went down with minimal tears around 8ish (after her first bath sitting up on her own. She LOVED that!) and didn't make a peep before Mr. Bear and I turned in for the night (usually I have to go in to her at least once). We talked a bit in bed, still not a stir from her bed a foot or so away. Hours later I woke from an unnerving, reoccurring dream wherein I am stopped driving down a long road by a group of young kids. They demand I step out of the car and when I do I realize they have guns and are deciding if they should kill me or not. Usually I escape but it is never easy and I wake very upset and restless.

Anyway, after I woke I noticed that there was, errr, some discomfort in my chest and I checked the time. 2 AM. I checked the baby to make sure she was breathing (she was) and tried to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned and checked on her a few more times hoping she'd just wake up and nurse so I could go back to sleep. Finally well after 3 AM she peeped just a bit and I practically jumped out of bed to get her. She barely latched on before drifting back to sleep and I had to put her back to bed feeling only the smallest bit relieved. I tossed and turned for another hour before finally falling asleep myself. I was happy when she woke at 6 AM crying out for food. As is our morning custom I let her stay in bed with me and she chatted herself into dreamland sleeping until 10 AM. It was lovely.

I want to hope that she'll sleep so well again tonight (this time I'll be prepared with my pump set up in the other room if I wake) but it never happens two nights in a row. In fact she'll probably wake every hour just to make up for it. Who knows, one of these days maybe she'll surprise me. I'm used to no sleep so when it happens it happens. I never thought I'd adjust but now exhausted is just normal to me. Don't tell Mr. Bear that not waking to nurse will be something I truly miss. She's growing so fast that I don't want to encourage her to grow any faster. My silly, sweet, sweet baby girl.


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