Archives

On Breastfeeding

** Please note: I am pro-breastfeeding, but I understand there are multiple reasons why a woman is unable to or chooses not to breastfeed. All thoughts and opinions in this post are in regards to me and my child only. They are NOT a comment on you, your baby, or your situation. **

Growing up, my mother would often reminisce about breastfeeding me as an infant. She loved it and seemed to have a romantic view of how beautiful the experience was. It inspired something inside of me and I knew from a young age that I, too, would breastfeed my children. Of course, I didn’t know then that 1) having children was not a given and 2) neither is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is hard. Let me acknowledge that. It is hard, hard, hard, especially in the beginning. It is not always, sometimes not often, the beautiful picture my mom painted. It can be messy. It can be frustrating. And it can be HARD.

And yet, I knew I had to try. I wholeheartedly believe that breastfeeding is the right thing for my babies. For most babies. It has benefits for both Baby and Mom that formula cannot provide. (Side note: I do not believe formula is the devil. I recently read a book that seemed to make that argument and I couldn’t finish it, it upset me so much. If you want or need to give your baby formula, do it! Don’t feel guilty about it. I know not a single formula-fed baby who is any worse the wear for it.) I feared failure when it came to breastfeeding. I feared having one more reason to hate my body (which I surely would, if it failed me and my child in yet another way). But I was determined and committed too. Partly for financial reasons and partly because I did believe in the importance of breastfeeding, I vowed to stop at (almost) nothing to make the breastfeeding thing successful.

Thankfully, it all worked out and I breastfed Cupcake until she was a year old. I would have breastfed longer, except we were ready to start trying to make another baby and my periods had not yet returned. (No surprise there. Go figure.) I am now breastfeeding Skittle and, as far as I can tell, things are going just as well — better, really — for us.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I talk about breastfeeding a lot. My mom hears about it. My friends hear about it. My cousin hears about it. My husband certainly hears me complain about it. I discuss it so much not only because I’m passionate about it, but because right now, I spend five to seven hours  (or more?) of my day with a baby at the boob. So I guess it’s only natural. A lot of my day, every day, is devoted to it. Monitoring intake. Monitoring output. Isn’t that the mark of a having a new baby in your home? Even when it’s not your first?

I am often asked if breastfeeding is easier the second time. I can’t speak for others, but it has been for me. A bit like riding a bike, or so the cliche goes. You worry you won’t remember how to do it, but low and behold, you do. It’s been some time since I last did this (about two years since I weaned Cupcake) and yet, holding a baby in the crossover or cradle hold, helping her to find the nipple, positioning Skittle on the Boppy to allow me to simultaneously eat dinner and check my e-mail…it’s all come naturally. Sigh. Of. Relief.

I suppose some of the ease of this is because I have more confidence this second time. I am able to do it because I know I can. I did it once before, after all. This time, I was less stressed in trying to get Skittle to latch that on that first day in the hospital.  Less concerned when she would sometimes only eat for a few minutes. I didn’t fumble in trying to hold her in the right position. I didn’t need the help of a nurse or lactation consultant. I just figured it out on my own and didn’t question my ability to do so.

That’s part of why it was so easy. I think the rest of it can be contributed to having a baby who just knows what to do and has from the beginning. I don’t know if it was the natural birth or the luck of the draw, but Skittle has been a champion nurser from the very start. She latched on within the first couple hours after birth within minutes of me trying and has been eating well (and pooping and peeing well, too) ever since.

And yet, every baby and every situation is different and there still have been a few surprises this time. Such as:

  • With Cupcake, I did not find breastfeeding very fun in the beginning. In fact, I detested it. It was unbearably painful (I had thrush, which really did threaten my resolve to breastfeed for the long haul). It took too much time. I always felt unsure of myself. It was just not very enjoyable at all and, indeed, it was a long time before it became that way. But with Skittle, I have enjoyed it from the beginning. With the exception of a few long days of sore nipples (which could be contributed to my large nips and Skittle’s tiny mouth), it has been nothing short of wonderful and relaxing and easy. Which was unexpected and lovely. I’m so thankful for that.
  • I have successfully learned how to breastfeed in public without using a nursing cover. I have never hesitated to nurse my babies in public places, but now I can do it without the burden of covering up. Some people figure this out with their first babies, but not me. I tried to hide myself as much as possible with Cupcake. But not with Skittle. No, she has dined on Mama’s booby everywhere from a friend’s house during a party to a restaurant to the airport to the movie theater so I could watch About Time to Starbucks during a meet ‘n’ greet with a blogging friend (you know who you are! xoxo!), and never once have I gotten a funny or nasty look from those around me, as I always feared I would. What a nice surprise.
  • I have worried about my milk supply much more than I ever did with Cupcake. I think this is the result, once again, of knowing too much. Since Cupcake’s birth, I have been diagnosed with PCOS (by default) and I know now that women with PCOS often suffer from low milk supply. I had no problems with supply while breastfeeding Cupcake, but that hasn’t stopped me from obsessing over it now. I am a stay-at-home mom, but I pump every day in order to maintain my supply — even though I probably don’t need to. Skittle will be eight weeks old tomorrow and I already have over 100 bags of milk (5-8 ounces each) in our freezer. Now that I’ve typed that out, I realize how ridiculous I sound. I’ve gone overboard, haven’t I? Way, way overboard. Imagine that. Me, going overboard. Shocking, isn’t it?

So clearly, regardless of how “easy” it has been so far, I am always able to find something to worry about. I’m good at that. But right now, I know that regardless of my supply (which is probably perfectly adequate), it is enough for Skittle. Cupcake’s pediatrician used to joke that I must make cream instead of milk because Cupcake grew so fast. By the time she was two months old, she had gained five pounds. Babies should double their birth weight by the time they turn six months. Cupcake did it in half that time.

And so it seems that Skittle is on track to do the same. At two weeks old, she was already a pound above her birth weight. She lost 10 ounces after birth (as every baby does, give or take a few ounces) and, so in the span of ten days, she actually gained a pound and a half. Amazing! I don’t know how much she has gained since then (her 2-month appointment is scheduled for next week), but I do know that she’s a different baby now. She doesn’t look like a newborn anymore. She is all chub and smiles. In just three weeks, she went from this:

IMG_0010

To this:

IMG_2469

So she’s growing. Obviously. She’s growing and thriving and that’s all that matters. Proof that my boobs are enough. That I’m enough. I guess.

I guess.

No matter what, there’s always that bit of doubt, isn’t there?

One kid or two or ten, there’s always that doubt.

But doubt or no doubt, I will go on breastfeeding. I’m proud that I’ve been able to do it. Do it when it’s easy and do it when it’s hard and do it when it felt impossible. And I’m thankful that I have a baby who can do it and boobs that can do it and a situation that allows it.

Finally, my body has done something right.

And here again, I have another reason to love it.

Advertisements

The Transition

I am often asked what it’s been like for us going from one child to two. It’s a relief to say the transition has been so much easier than I thought it would be. I was prepared for all hell to break loose. It has not. I was expecting meltdowns from Skittle, Cupcake and I, all at once, on a regular basis. But, with the exception of one day in which Honey was away on business, the only meltdowns have been from Cupcake and I can handle that. Usually.

We did work very hard while I was pregnant to make the transition as smooth as possible. I stocked the freezer with meals and baked goods so I wouldn’t need to do much cooking for a while. (And even though we’ve eaten several of the things we made, our freezer is still so full that we can hardly fit anything else into it.) I stocked our pantry with the basics like peanut butter and pasta and with snacks like dried fruit and crackers so that I wouldn’t need to do much grocery shopping, either. I got ahead on my ‘to do’ list and started shopping for Christmas and my daughter’s birthday early. I made a commitment not to do anything that would overwhelm me in these early months and to be willing to let things like housework go if I was just too tired or stressed. And we talked with Cupcake a lot about what she could expect from a baby (lots of crying, pooping, and eating) and gave her a baby doll to take care of while Mommy cares for Skittle. It has worked like a charm.

But really? I think most of the ease of this transition is due to luck. Skittle is a happy baby. She cries when hungry. That’s it. She eats for 15-45 minutes and then she’s done, usually for another two or three hours. She sleeps, coos, observes, and kicks around in between. We’ve had a couple difficult nights, but I usually am able to get to bed by midnight and never later than 2 a.m. I only ever have to awake once to breastfeed and, on those rare nights when Skittle doesn’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, she will then sleep until 7 or 8 a.m. Like I said…luck. It seems too good to be true, I know. And I expect that it is. It won’t always be this easy, will it now? At some point, a growth spurt, or sleep regression, or teething is going to hit and I’m going to be in for a rude awakening. But right this minute, I feel like I could practically handle this with a blindfold on and my hands tied around my back. It’s been wonderful.

It also helps that Cupcake is great at independent play (and therefore doesn’t need me to play with her constantly) and adores her little sister. She’s had a few extra tantrums over the last few weeks and I imagine that is her way of adjusting and expressing her discomfort. But she never takes it out on Skittle. She hugs her, holds her, kisses her and, when Skittle fusses, she says, “Ohhhh, what’s wrong, baby? Why you upset? Don’t cry. It’s okay.” And the other day, I asked her what makes her happy. Her response: “Daddy and Baby Sister.” So sweet. And that makes my job so much easier.

In the end, the hardest part of the transition has been managing my exhaustion. I may not get up as often as many parents with new babies, but I’m still tired. I don’t get to always sleep when the baby does because I have a toddler who needs me. And though I’m usually successful at it, I can’t always coordinate Skittle’s naps with Cupcake’s afternoon nap. And I could go to bed early, but I usually don’t because I want to spend the evenings with my husband. So there are days when I get a total of four or five hours of sleep. It’s hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I still have more energy now than I ever did while pregnant.

Like I said, I know it won’t always be like this. I remember Cupcake’s first year very well. Getting her into a nap routine was one of the most difficult parenting tasks I’ve encountered. So was getting through the teething. I remember days and days of feeling like I was treading water, barely able to get anything done (including resting!) because Cupcake would just fuss and cry all day long. For weeks. I expect those times are just around the corner for Skittle.

But right now? I’m enjoying this. I love my girls. I love being their mother. I love being a mother. The last six weeks have been easy peasy. A piece of delicious cake.

Which, coincidentally, I’ve had way too much of lately. Cake, that is.

Oh, how sweet life is!

The Nursery: Complete

I had a few requests to see photographs of the nursery before Skittle was born. I wasn’t ready to post the photos then, but the nursery is now, officially and finally and wonderfully, complete and so here is that post that was in-waiting.

Before I ever conceived Cupcake, when she was not yet even a mere possibility, I knew that I wanted my baby to have a nursery with a teddy bear theme. I have always loved teddy bears and had a small collection that I wanted to display. Also, teddies are childish and sweet without screaming “BABY!”…lend themselves well to colors other than pastel pink, blue, yellow, and green (we went with shades of brown and dark red)…and are not a theme you will find in every baby’s nursery around the country. So teddy bears it was for Cupcake and we recycled the theme for Skittle, but for  a few, personal changes…

IMG_0505

a view from the doorway, complete with our little “mother hen” (our small family dog Junebug, who likes to check on Skittle on a regular basis)

a view from the crib

a view from the crib

One of my favorite parts of the room is the collage above the crib:

IMG_0496 IMG_0495

Every part of this collage was selected with care. Maternity photos. Newborn photos. A crown because Skittle was born the same year as a royal baby (and if you know me, you know how cool I think this is). A small British flag because one of Skittle’s middle names was inspired by our trip to London exactly one year before her birth. The words Hope and Faith because, without these things, I would not have made it through the last two years. An owl because we had an owl theme for our gender reveal party. A quote from Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years:”

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid. I have loved you
For a thousand years.
I’ll love you for a thousand more.
And all along, I believed I would find you.
Time has brought your heart to me.

A rainbow, because Skittle is my rainbow baby, and butterflies, in memory of Teddy Graham. And also, a few things I made by hand:

Notice the little butterfly and owl added to the letters...

Notice the little butterfly and owl added to the letters…

The owl, teddy, butterfly, and maple leaf (because she was born in the autumn) buttons all have a special meaning....

The owls, teddy, butterflies, and maple leaf (because she was born in the autumn) buttons all have a special meaning….

I had to add a teddy somewhere in the collage!

I had to add a teddy somewhere in the collage!

And those weren’t the only things I made for the nursery. When Cupcake was still in utero, we bought a house just two months before she came along. I hardly had time to prepare a nursery, not to mention actually do craft projects to decorate it. For Skittle, I wanted as many homemade things as I had time for. And it was the perfect way to pass the time (all those long days of worry) and build excitement and anticipation for all that lay on the horizon. So, I created this:

a toy box, that will most likely be damaged beyond repair within a few short months

a toy box, that will most likely be damaged beyond repair within a few short months

and this:

name blocks (they have photos and her birthdate on the other sides)

name blocks (they have photos and her birthdate on the other sides)

and this:

a box to hold burp rags

a box to hold burp rags

And finally, a few of my other favorite details:

a wooden pull toy purchased at F.A.O Schwartz in NYC on one of Cupcake's first vacations

a wooden pull toy purchased at F.A.O Schwartz in NYC while on one of Cupcake’s first vacations

a glass teddy that was given to me as a gift when I was very small

a glass teddy that was given to me as a gift when I was very small

a replica of the calla lily that was in the bouquet at our gender reveal party...also, the inspiration for one of Skittle's middle names

a replica of the calla lily that was in the bouquet at our gender reveal party…also, the inspiration for one of Skittle’s middle names

a teddy made for me by a high school friend and given to me while pregnant with Cupcake

a teddy made for me by a high school friend and given to me while pregnant with Cupcake

All in all, the nursery was a labor of love. It was a lot of work and cost more money than planned, but the effort, time, and expense was small compared to the joy it brought me to pull it all together and imagine the day when I could rock Skittle to sleep in that comfy, cozy chair.

I am so happy with the end result. I love that room. Cupcake spent the first two years of her life there. And Skittle probably will too. It will be a sad day when we move on and have to leave this house, and that precious baby room, behind. What happiness that room has seen.

What wonder.

What love.

Cuteness Overload

Skittle is a month old now and her CD of newborn photos finally arrived in the mail last week. Sadly, I wasn’t quite as pleased with them as I was with my maternity photos (which still make me sigh with how beautiful they are). But nevertheless, they are lovely. And as I told our photographer, they perfectly capture Skittle’s preciousness and the love we have for her.

So without further ado, please forgive me for this cuteness overload… (I’m sorry. I know I’m going overboard with all the photos. I promise I’ll stop soon! Really!)

IMG_0233IMG_0283IMG_0248AIMG_0348IMG_0222

I love, love, love lace. And I think it’s perfect for Skittle’s old-fashioned and feminine name:

IMG_0314A IMG_0324

My friend Leigh, who acted as my doula during my labor and delivery, made this hat for Skittle:

IMG_0269And because her nursery has a teddy bear theme (upcoming post about that):

IMG_0362

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I couldn’t resist this one:

IMG_0429

A butterfly, in memory of our Teddy Graham:

IMG_0296 IMG_0276

Because she’s an October baby and was approximately the size of a pumpkin at birth…and now must live with the not-so-original nickname of “Pumpkin:”

IMG_0462

Asleep on the blanket I made for her:

IMG_0338

All those long months of TTC, I would dream of this, a baby sleeping so sweetly on my chest. And now I have Skittle, who would do this all day long if I let her:

IMG_0539

No matter whether we call her by her legal name or “Pumpkin” (as I call her) or “Flipper” (as my husband does), on this blog she will always be known as “Skittle.” So this one is for all of you:

Has anyone realized that Skittle is my rainbow baby and the Skittles slogan is "taste the rainbow"? I wish I could say I was that clever and planned it that way...but no. I just realized the connection this week. It's pretty perfect, though, isn't it?!

Has anyone realized that Skittle is my rainbow baby and the Skittles slogan is “taste the rainbow”? I wish I could say I was that clever and planned it that way…but no. I just realized the connection this week. It’s pretty perfect, though, isn’t it?!

Reflections at 1 Month

Today, my Skittle is one month old. It was one month ago that I screamed for an epidural that came too late. One month ago that I pushed a beautiful, 8-pound squishy ball of baby from my womb and into this world. One month ago that another dream came true. How is that even possible? As a mother, I am always reminded how quickly time does indeed pass. How fleeting every moment is.

I have spent much of the last month reflecting upon our journey to get here. I have not taken any of what I have for granted, have not wished for anything else but exactly what I have. I have cherished and treasured every gassy smile, every midnight cuddle, every dreamy giggle, every tiny baby sneeze, every time Skittle rests her soft head of hair against my chest and drifts off into a sleep full of whimpers and sighs.

And yet, it can be so bittersweet.

I’m lucky in that pregnancy usually doesn’t take much of a physical toll on me. But emotionally? It’s hard. I know you all understand when I say that I live in constant fear for nine-plus months.  Every day of every month of my pregnancy is spent white-knuckling it, gritting my teeth, just trying to make it safely to the end. And yet, in many ways, I love it. The excitement, the wonder, the joy, the preparations. The baby kicks, the ultrasounds, the growth of my belly. The new ways I find to love and respect my body. The hopes, the dreams, all the photographs of our future that unfold in my head and heart. I love that. All of it. And now, I miss it.

There is a saying I stumbled upon not long ago:

“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside of me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.” (Erma Bombeck)

And while I did not spend one moment of my pregnancy wishing it away, I do understand what is being said here. Pregnancy, and every little baby, is a miracle. I feel something magical happening inside of me when I’m expecting. Every moment of those nine months feels miraculous.

And of course, every day with Skittle alive and well and smiling at me in my arms is a miracle of its own…but it’s a different kind of miracle. And I become very melancholy when I realize that, every morning, Skittle and Cupcake wake up one day older. They are getting bigger and, with each second that passes, I am drifting farther and farther away from the tiny, miraculous way their lives began.

There is still pregnancy paraphernalia dotted around our house: Two boxes of maternity clothes awaiting their transfer to storage. A body pillow in the corner of our bedroom. My pregnancy scrapbook, four pages away from completion. Maternity photos that I’ve displayed like artwork around our house. The protein bars and shakes that I stocked up on to combat preeclampsia. As I look at it all, I feel pensive. I let out a little sigh. I try to shake the sadness. Sad because those pregnancy days are hard, but they’re beautiful too. And now they’re over. And as an infertile, there is no guarantee that I will ever experience them again. With each pregnancy, I have to wonder if it’s the last. I’m not ready to be done. There are more siblings I want for my daughters. More babies I want to birth. We will try again, in a year or so. But a part of me always has to be prepared to accept that I am allowed only a limited number of miracles and perhaps this pregnancy was my last one. It makes the end harder.

And there’s something else.

I have learned that grief is a windy road with lots of pit stops, u-turns, and dead ends and, unexpectedly, our Teddy Graham has been on my mind more over these last four weeks than he has since the early days of my pregnancy. I have cried for him a handful of times. I can’t say for sure why that is. Maybe it’s the hormones. But having Skittle here in flesh and blood has reminded me of all that I missed out on with Teddy. I get to hold Skittle and watch her grow and change and learn and explore. But Teddy never got that chance. A whole life of possibilities was lost in my miscarriage. This is not something new I’ve learned just recently, but the thought has become vividly raw since Skittle’s birth.

Of course, I would never wish for things to have happened differently now that I have my precious Skittle. As I conceived Skittle just one month (almost to the day) after my unfulfilled Teddy Graham due date, it technically would have been possible for Teddy and Skittle to coexist…but the likelihood of it is next to none. Not only because of irregular (i.e. nonexistent) menstrual cycles being my norm, but because the chances of my letting Honey put his dingdong into my hoo ha only a month after the theoretical delivery of TG would be less than zero. Less. Than. Zero. And yet, if things could be different — if, somehow, I could be holding both Teddy and Skittle today — that’s what I would choose.

I miss Teddy now more than (almost) ever.

But I am not sorry that I ever conceived him, or carried him, or loved him. In fact, it is because of him that I am able to love Skittle so thoroughly. Surely, I would have loved her with all that I had regardless of who or what came before her. But I know and understand and have more now than I would have without infertility and loss. The depths of my love, the intensity of my relief, the strength of my gratitude and joy, is all because of the journey I took to get here, and more specifically, all because of what I lost along the way.

Maybe I’m romanticizing my experience. And again, I could blame it on the hormones. But truly, I think it’s my way of coping. I need there to be a reason for all of the pain I endured. I need to believe that our Teddy was only ever meant to be with us a short time and that, in the end, everything worked out in the most beautiful, perfect way for all of us. Because to think that there woulda/coulda/shoulda been another beautiful, whole, perfect little soul here with us… To think that someone is missing from our lives and forever will be… To think that my child died… That, if things had gone a different way, Skittle would never have come to be… It is almost too much to bear. So I hate that Teddy Graham had to be a sacrificial lamb. I wish there could have been a different, and yet similar, ending. But I am thankful for the sacrifice nevertheless. I have to be…for how else do I make sense of it all?

So yeah…I’ve done a lot of thinking these last few weeks. Thinking and reflecting and crying and sighing. And I’m not sorry for what I’ve gone through. I can say that now that I’ve made it to the other side (a year ago, I would have sung a different tune). In fact, there’s been beauty in the sadness of it. And there’s a certain sense of loss and grief in knowing it has come to an end. I have finished one journey. I am starting another.

So I am now able to appreciate all of the ups and downs of trying to build a family. I have perspective. I can see that the greatness of my struggle has made me a better mother and, hopefully, a better person. And yet, as I look ahead, I am so afraid of going through all of this again. I think I’ve made it very clear to all of you: I am ever so grateful for my two healthy, beautiful girls. But I know our family is not complete. We are not done trying. It’s not over yet. And who knows what we will encounter on the next journey? This one was harder than the last. Will the next one only be harder than this? It is frightening to think of all the horrible possibilities that could lie in wait for us. I am thankful for what my infertility and miscarriage has given me, but good God, I’d rather not go through it a third time.

But I guess that’s another post for another day for another blog for another year.

IMG_0035

Three Weeks, Revisited

** You can read my first ever blog post, the sad version of this one, the one that inspired this post’s title, here. And please be warned…today’s post will be full of baby photos.**

Do you know what can happen in the span of three weeks? Let me tell you…

In three weeks’ time, you can wrap up all the baby preparations that you have spent nearly nine months toiling away at. Review the maternity photos you had taken and marvel at how beautiful they are. Watch the rise and fall of your blood pressure as though it is an Olympic sport that you have bet your life savings upon.  You can endure non-stress tests and blood tests and ultrasounds. You can worry about hypertension and preeclampsia and big babies and breech babies. You can relax during a prenatal massage and stock  your freezer with waffles and casseroles and homemade bread that one day you will hopefully enjoy while holding your newborn in your arms. You can celebrate making it to full term and yet know that even that milestone is no guarantee. Your baby could still leave at any time, with no warning. It only takes a second for a dream to end. You learned that a long time ago, but this time, in this three weeks, you have reason to hope for a different ending.

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." -- 1 Samuel 1:27

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him.” — 1 Samuel 1:27

My girls

My two beautiful girls, each a miracle in their own right

Or…

In the span of three weeks, you can hope that any day now will be The Day. The day your water breaks. The day labor starts. The day your baby comes. You can start doing nipple massage and acupressure and drinking red raspberry leaf tea three times each day to get things going. You can hope each Braxton Hicks is the start of the real thing. You can see your doctor twice a week and suffer through more non-stress tests and feel the sting of disappointment each time you are told your cervix is not making much progress. You can worry your baby is not moving enough and have a panic attack one morning when she doesn’t move at all. You can see your baby on ultrasound multiple times and be told she is getting very big and that she’s head-down each time…until one time, four days after your due date, she is not. She is breech. And you can panic and you can cry and then you prepare for a c-section. And four hours before they cut you open, you can discover your baby has flipped once again and prepare for an induction instead. And then, finally, after hours of intense labor, after a call for an epidural that comes too late, you can push your baby into this world, hear her first cry, and hold her against you. You can feel her flesh and warmth, know she is finally real, and say these words over and over: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, God. Thank you. It is the only prayer you can — or will — say for days and days. And you can weep just at the sight of your baby, so thankful are you for her existence and her health and her perfection.

Daddy's little girl

one of Daddy’s little girls

I had lots of fun playing with my fancy camera for these shots!

I had lots of fun playing with my fancy camera for these shots!

Or…

In just three short weeks, your child can be born in the middle of the night before the doctor arrives and into the hands of your nurses and you can once again be reminded that there is such a thing as love at first sight. Your husband can cry on your shoulder and you can sob in relief and gratitude. You can introduce your baby to her big sister who keeps saying, “Baby come out of mommy’s tummy!” and then introduce her to friends, her grandparents, your sister, and the world. You can leave the hospital in your new minivan and sit in the backseat so you can watch your baby breathing. You can spend the first two nights at home holding your child because she won’t sleep in the bassinet. You can watch your older daughter blossom as a big sister, exhibiting gentleness, understanding, and tenderness that you never knew she had. You can have your newborn baptized and take her to the park and the mall and Halloween celebrations and out to eat just so everyone can see how beautiful she is. You can get weepy at the thought of SIDS and still be so thankful for all the time she spends sleeping. You can take over a thousand photos in those three little weeks and, every day, you can just feel the total power and weight of your blessing. And you can promise her, over and over, that you will love her and protect her forevermore.

Dressed for her baptism on 10/20/13.

Dressed for her baptism on 10/20/13.

Call me creepy...but I love to watch her sleep. :)

Call me creepy…but I love to watch her sleep. 🙂

It was on this day, three weeks ago, that one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received was placed into my arms. Even though my husband’s new job is turning out not to be all that we hoped for, it’s possible that these have still been the best three weeks of my life. In some ways, it is hard to fathom that it’s only been three measly weeks because it feels as if Skittle has been making her way to us for much longer. That she has been a part of this family, a part of my life, since the beginning of time. And in other ways…it still feels unreal. It is so hard to believe when I wake up in the middle of the night that I need not pause to wait for a kick within my womb. That I only must roll over and reach into the bassinet to know my baby is breathing, that she is alive and well.

Every day, even on the ones when I am so sleep deprived that I can’t form a coherent sentence and I call my baby by the wrong name, I am just so thankful for what I have. Two daughters. I am humbled by it. I don’t know why I get to have them and so many other deserving women don’t. I think of you who are in the trenches every day. And I will never take for granted the miracles that my babies truly are.

And one last photo, just because today is Halloween…

Wishing you all a safe and sweet Halloween!

Wishing you all a safe and sweet Halloween!

The Fear: It Continues

I am not surprised by this. That is, by the fear. By its failure to cease.

I have been here before, after all. I have prayed in desperation for a child, I have believed that child may never come to be, I have worried through nine months of pregnancy when she did finally come into being, and I have fretted over her health and safety in the early months of her life. So I am not surprised that I am here again, afraid that Skittle may be gone at any moment, but it still leaves me exhausted, wishing I had a different way of handling things.

The fears now are different, of course. I don’t have to count fetal kicks every hour. I don’t worry about cord accidents and placental abruptions. I don’t envision every way the delivery of a baby can go wrong. Instead, I mostly obsess over SIDS — the silent, unpredictable killer of healthy babies. I worry that Skittle will stop breathing while she’s sleeping and so am I. Or that I’ll turn my back and won’t notice that her chest has stopped moving. I worry that I’ll always be too late in coming to her rescue.

To combat my fears, I have done my research. Of course, Skittle sleeps on her back. In a bassinet next to our bed. With a fan blowing, no matter how cold it is outside. We don’t overheat the bedroom and, as soon as breastfeeding is well-established, we will offer a pacifier. I know that I am doing all I can to avoid SIDS, making use of every tool that even has the slightest link to SIDS prevention. But it’s still not enough to keep the anxiety at bay. I still worry.

And sometimes, I still panic too. Like when Skittle was asleep in the bassinet the other night while I was getting ready for bed and pumping my milk and suddenly I was overwhelmed with a fear that she had stopped breathing while in the bedroom alone. I had to stop mid-pump to go check on her. And a week ago, she she seemed to be gasping for breath in her sleep just for a few quick seconds and, once I knew she was okay, I couldn’t quit crying because I realized how vulnerable she still is. And just last night, I had to shake her awake because I couldn’t feel her breathing through her swaddle.

Most of the time I’m okay, but sometimes it can get very, very bad.

And this is just the beginning. I know from my obsessive research that the greatest risk of SIDS is between 2-4 months and so I know with certainty that my fear and anxiety will peak at that time. After six months, the risk becomes negligible and so will become my level of worry. That’s the good news…there is an end to this daily rise and fall of fear. As a mother, I will always worry about my children, but once Skittle reaches the age of six months, I need not be constantly afraid that she might die at any given moment.

The other good news: I don’t have to wonder every second of every day. There’s no hoping that and worrying whether Skittle is okay. All I have to do is look at her, touch her, hear her rhythmic breathing to know she is. That makes this kind of fear a bit less painful.

And I know these days will pass fast, and I don’t want to wish them away because Skittle will never be this small again. I love and cherish her tinyness, her curled newborn body, the simplicity of her needs…but I do look forward to that day, down the road, when I can breath a little easier again and won’t be consumed by this fear every damn day.

Ahhhh, can you even imagine that a day such as that can exist?