Slow Down, Mama

This evening, I left work and headed to pick up Annie. She was with my family at my sister’s softball game, and I was going to get her there early so she wouldn’t be out in the heat long. I got there a little after the game started, and she was content, drinking her milk, just peering at those around her. I sat down next to her and said, “Hi, baby.” She turned to me, and I picked her up. She laughed and put both of her tiny hands on my face. My sweet daughter, who I’d missed all day, had missed me, too. Any stress I’d felt at work quickly faded, and we were content.

We loaded up and started the forty-five minute drive home. Annie was restless and cried, loudly, from the moment I put her in her car seat. I needed to get home, so I could unload the dishwasher, start dinner, pick up the house, feed Annie again. Instead, I pulled over and got Annie out of her seat. She looked so relieved that I had come to rescue her! She needed me. We sat in the driver’s seat, and she gnawed on the steering wheel and laughed at the cute baby in the mirror. We sat there for about ten minutes, and when I put her back in her seat, she fussed a little, but quickly calmed down and fell asleep.

I work full-time, and at 5:00, I switch gears. I put my remaining energy into being a good mama and a good wife. Those last five or so hours of the day is what I have with my family during the week, and I try to make the most of it. At the end of the day, I’m tired. And I sometimes feel like I haven’t done enough. My kitchen floor desperately needs mopped, and the laundry is piling up (how is it so endless?). However – not always, but usually – I have loved. I have loved my husband and I have loved my girl by taking care of them the best way I know how. Tonight, that meant pulling over and holding my baby for a few minutes before we hit the ground running again.

Annie has taught me so much already. Every once in a while, she gives me a gentle reminder to slow down. And then she rewards me with her lopsided smile.Thank you for that, lovie.

P.S. I have ideas on a post on being a working mother rolling around in my head, but surprise – haven’t found time to put it together! But for now, I’ll leave you with this: I really believe we’re all working mothers, whether you are away from your baby forty hours a week, or if you’ve taken on the full-time job of raising your baby. I think both ways can be so hard. So whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing the best you can, you’re doing a good job.

Dear Baby: Week 21

Dear Baby,
Hi, my love. You are five months old today. Five months! How is that possible? You weigh about 11 and a half pounds and have grown to about 23 inches in length. Your hair is coming back in, a little bit lighter than it was when you were born. You have the prettiest brown eyes, and even though they’re very dark (like mine!), they sure sparkle when you see your daddy.
Sometime in the last few weeks – maybe it happened overnight, it was so sudden – my newborn baby has disappeared. You’re turning into such a big girl with the sweetest disposition. You rolled over from your back to tummy last weekend, and we were so excited and proud of you! You smile and kick your legs when you get excited about something. You get excited about a lot of things: tickles, our faces, your bottle.
You’re very curious and alert. You get bored after playing on the floor for a while, and you let us know about it! I just carry you around the house on my hip, doing everything one-handed, and you’re perfectly content to watch me cook dinner and sort laundry. But outside, oh, man. Outside is your favorite place. Anywhere outside! Looking at the dogs, gardening with Daddy, rocking on the front porch.
You’re a joy all day. As long as you get your naps, of course. I love seeing your smile and hearing you talk. Right now, though, I think my favorite time of day is bedtime. Not because I’m ready for you to sleep, but because that’s become a sweet way to end a crazy day. You’ll rest your hand on my cheek, snuggle up, and drift off with the most content look on your face for a while before we transfer you to your bed. Before I close your door every night, I tell you, “love you more than life,” and I mean it.
Love,
Mama

Dear Baby: Week Ten

Dear Baby,
You’re ten weeks old today. Your first ten weeks have been the very best of my life, and I bet it somehow gets even better from here. At your two month check-up, you were 21.5 inches and 8 pounds and 5 ounces. You’re still a dainty little thing, and I love it. Your tiny features are the prettiest, and your little personality is starting to shine through a bit. You have been trying to smile and laugh for a couple of weeks now, and just in the last two days, you seem to have gotten a small hold on it. For a week now, you’ve slept through the night (!!!), which is amazing. Good job, lovie! When you wake up in the morning, you stretch your tiny limbs as far as they’ll go, and then you smile the biggest smile at me while my heart bursts into a million pieces. Every time. Right now, you love your play mat, and have started to reach for the toys hanging above you. It’s so much fun to watch you play and learn. Most mornings, we haven’t even made it out of our jammies before it’s time to play. This evening, I took you outside to watch Daddy work in the garden. You were so alert and were taking it all in; the sky, the trees, the sound of the birds. I’m so proud of you, of every move you make. Watching you grow is so good. And so fast! I want to freeze this time, but I’m also so excited for you to develop and interact with us a bit more. We love you a little more every day, sweet girl.

Love, Mama

An Open Letter to Those Who Currently Do Not Have Small Children

This letter is to those who currently do not have small children, possibly falling under one of the following categories:
Single and ready to mingle
Newly married and obliviously blissful
Married for a while without kids
Basically: single/dating/married folks who would maybe, possibly like to one day have children
Dear One or More of the Above,
One day, you may like to become a parent. Recently, I’ve been blessed by becoming Mama to a little angel baby named Annie. She is my heart, my world, my everything. And seeing my husband become a father is pure joy. Really, parenthood is the best thing ever.
During pregnancy, people were always telling us all these negative things, like: “Your lives will never be the same. You won’t be able to do the things you used to do or want to do because of that baby.” First of all, hey, you Negative Nancy! Enough! Second of all, it turns out they were sort of right. Great.
But it’s not quite what you think. Yes, before you have children, you should go to late movies, go out to eat, travel the world, whatever. You can do these things with small children, but it gets a bit more complicated. It takes me an extra hour to get ready to leave the house, and then Annie will still probably decide she needs a new diaper right before leaving, so traveling the world may be a bit much right now.
So do all those things and enjoy those bits of freedom – but most of all, I am here to tell you that first and foremost, before your little bundle of joy arrives, you need to SLEEP ALL THE TIME. SLEEP, my friends! That is what you cannot do when you have a baby, and that is what you’ll miss the most. I promise. And ladies, if you plan to be a nursing mama for any amount of time, go ahead and sleep a little extra. Your little angel baby will wake up hungry every two hours for a while. Around the clock. No matter what. That means you may get an hour or so of sleep in between, if you can even fall asleep. Annie now takes a bottle, so Adam can help feed her, which is awesome. However, even by taking turns during the night, it’s still tough to get more than 3 or  4 hours of sleep at a time. I may even grab a nap during the day, totaling about 6 or 7 hours, which is swell. But I can’t remember what it’s like to sleep through the night, and from what they say, it will be several months before that happens again. I took it all for granted, those nights of sleeping for ten hours straight. Ahh, bliss.
So, friends, if you want to have children one day, please know good, solid rest will no longer be a part of your life. However, it is so worth it. You’ll love your little one so much it hurts your sleepy heart, and when she finally goes to sleep, you may even skip that precious cat nap. You’ll want to pick her up and cuddle her because you miss her. You’ll stay awake and stare at her sweet face. Then you’ll kick yourself a couple of hours later when she wakes up and you’ve still not slept. Still worth it, because – newborn sleep smiles, y’all. Nothing better.  

Dear Baby: Week One

Annie: 9 days old

Dear Baby,
You’re here, my girl. And you’re perfection. I knew you would be, but I wasn’t at all prepared for it. It hit me so hard, in the very best way, the second we met you.
You’re just over a week old. It gets a tiny bit easier day by day, this parenting thing. Thank you for being so patient with us. We’re learning. The first 24 hours of your life were a big, happy, tired, blur. You were born in the afternoon, and once all of our family members left for the evening, it was just you and me and Daddy, all alone in our hospital room. I hadn’t slept in over 36 hours, but I still couldn’t sleep at all that first night. Every time you made a peep, I was up to comfort you. If you were too quiet, I was up to make sure you were still breathing. I wanted to hold you all night, but I was too afraid to fall asleep with you in my arms. Just before seven o’clock, the sunlight peeked through the window, and I breathed a sigh of relief. We had made it through your first night, and I thought, “We can do this.” I should have rested then, once the doctors and nurses and other family members were there to help us take care of you, but I couldn’t stop staring at your tiny, lovely features.
Since then, we’ve gotten better at taking care of you. Daddy loves to cuddle you. I love to kiss your cheeks. With each diaper change, every-two-hour feeding session, the rocking, the consoling—with those things come a cuddle, a newborn “grin,” your sweet voice, and the way you nestle into one of us as you fall asleep. Those are the golden moments, my girl. We love you.
Love,
Mama

Dear Baby: Week 35

Tiny pink things for the hospital bag. 
Dear Baby,
Hello, lovebug. We arrived at week 35 yesterday. 35 weeks, my girl! I can’t believe it. I thought this pregnancy would drag on, but it’s really flown by. Daddy and I have been busy, busy, busy – working hard to get things ready for your arrival! Your nursery is finished and ready for you to live in. I hope you love it as much as I do. You have your own shelf in the bathroom. I even cleared out a space in the kitchen just for your bottles. We’ve had baby showers to celebrate your upcoming arrival given by people who love us, and love you by extension. Your dresser is full of the cutest tiny little duds. Thanks to your Aunt Mary, you have more clothes and Daddy and me combined! I think we’ll have to have daily fashion shows so you can wear your cutest outfits at least once before outgrowing them. Our hospital bags are packed and ready to go. I’m hoping you stay in there and grow at least two or three more weeks, but just in case you decide to arrive early, we’re ready.
Daddy and I are so ready to meet you. We cannot wait to see your face; see whose nose and eyes you have, your complexion, and see how much hair is there just waiting for a bow to perch on top of your head. We cannot wait to kiss your chubby cheeks and hear your sweet voice. Most of all, we cannot wait to cuddle you to pieces.
So, we have your “things” ready, and we’re ready to love on you. Aside from that, I hope we’re ready to take good care of you. I’m nervous about lots of little things. What if I can’t tell why you’re crying, or if you’re warm enough? Please bear with us while we learn how to take the very best care of you. We will try our hardest to make sure you are always healthy and happy and loved beyond measure, even if we just have to figure it out as we go. We adore you so fully already, and we cannot wait to meet you. Very soon!
Love,
Mama

California: Highway 1

During the second part of our week in California, Adam and I took a couple of days to ourselves to explore a bit of the coastal region. We went to the Muir Woods, passed through San Francisco, visited Santa Cruz, and spent an afternoon in Monterey. It was actually our favorite part of the vacation, because we had some time to relax. We spent a whole evening in our hotel room, eating pizza in bed and watching TV for three solid hours. We’d never do that at home, but what’s a vacation without a little rest and relaxation, right? Especially after three days of Disneyland, it was really nice for this mama-to-be to have some down time. We drove down highway 1, which runs right along the coast. I’m really glad we took the time to see the Pacific Ocean, even if it wasn’t quite beach weather. Here are some pictures from those last two days!

 ^^If you know Adam, you know he doesn’t like cities or crowds, so he loved being out here.
 ^^So pretty!
 ^^The trail we took had a pretty creek running alongside it. 
 ^^These photos don’t really do this area justice. 
 ^^Our first look at the ocean in Santa Cruz.
 ^^Adam desperately wanted to jump off those cliffs. Nope.
 ^^They surrounded the water. Very tempting.
 ^^Just my cute husband.
^^Monterey Bay, home to lots and lots of sailboats.
 ^^Annie’s first trip to the ocean. 🙂

The Happiest Place on Earth

We went to Disneyland! And it was glorious. Aside from a few minor mishaps, like a crazy shuttle driver and a trip to Urgent Care for the two little ones, we had a great time. It was a lot of fun to watch Beau, our three year old nephew, see his favorite characters in person and ride Goofy’s rollercoaster six times in a row. Paige, our niece, is just over a year old, but she did so well and enjoyed meeting the characters, too! Here are a few pictures–we made some good memories. I also shared a few pictures on my Instagram while we were on the trip!

 ^^Beau’s first ride, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Orbiter. He was so excited.
^^Adam was in the car in front of them, and Beau enjoyed ramming into the back of him. Ha!
^^Giving Pluto a high-five. 
 ^^Paige checking out Minnie’s nose. 🙂 
 ^^It took a minute to convince him, but then Beau had a fun dance party with Minnie.
 ^^Oh, my heart. So precious.
 ^^Cinderella’s castle, all decked out for the holidays.
 ^^Sweet gals in the teacups at the Mad Tea Party.
^^And of course we rode Dumbo. Classic Disneyland!

Dear Baby: Week Thirty

Annabelle Jane, 12/16/13
Dear Baby,
Hi, lovebug. We are almost thirty weeks into this journey! How has it gone by so quickly? I’m starting to creep into anxious-mode. It’s definitely something I need to work on, but you’ll learn this about me. Please bear with me when I get a little overly nervous about things. I hope you’re content growing in my belly for a few more weeks, but just in case you decide you want to make your grand entrance a little early, I’ve gone into overdrive when it comes to preparation.
I have multiple lists, for everything you can imagine. I went shopping today for things to put in our hospital bags. Daddy and I are staying up way too late to install your new ceiling fan, because I insisted that it has to be done tonight. I have counted how many onesies you own in each size so far to make sure you have enough.
All this sounds a little bit crazy, but we are having such a fun time making things just so for your arrival. Your Granny keeps telling me that babies just need love and diapers. I know you don’t need some of the things I’m worrying about, but I want to create a special space for you, and we hope you love it.
I can’t wait to meet you, but it’s also really special to have you with me all the time. You’re like my little sidekick. You’re pretty active, especially when I’m busy, and you give me a little nudge here and there to make sure I don’t forget about you. You’ve discovered a spot in my ribcage that’s a little uncomfortable, but for some reason, you must think it’s rather cozy. J
We’re winding down to the last few weeks, and we’re getting more excited and more nervous every day. We can’t wait to love on you and read to you and experience life through your eyes. Stay in there and grow a little longer, and we’ll see you in a few weeks.
Love,
Mama
P.S. A lot of bloggers do “Dear Baby” letters, but I think my favorite series is written by Elise Blaha Cripe. She continued hers after her baby was born, and I plan to do the same. Go read them; they’re lovely.