9 things I learned from my 9 month old

Today Emily has officially lived in this world as long as she lived in my belly. It feels like such a special milestone! In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d share some things she’s taught me in just 39 short weeks.

1) NOTICE THE DETAILS.

I remember at her 6 month check up we were waiting in the pediatrician’s office. I was not present at all feeling totally anxious about what was coming- her vaccines. Then I noticed Emily staring up at something and saw the adorable elephant wallpaper. It calmed me down immediately and brought me back the moment. I wouldn’t have seen it had she not shown me. She points out details like this to me every single day.

2) A SMILE GOES A LONG WAY.

Every morning Emily and I bring Romeo to the park, and every morning she smiles at the people she sees. I see how her smile makes people light up. You really never know how you can change somebody’s day by really seeing them and smiling.

3) WAKE UP HAPPY & GRATEFUL.

It’s amazing to see how happy Emily is when she wakes up in the morning. She is full of enthusiasm and ready to begin another day in this new world. I strive to wake up with as much passion as she does each day.

4) EVERY TIME YOU SEE SOMEONE YOU LOVE, IT IS A BLESSING.

One of my favorite things to witness is how Emily lights up and shouts “HI!” and waves when her daddy gets home. Sometimes even after he’s been home a while she will play, look up at him and with a big smile say “HI!” and then continue playing. Her genuine excitement to see the people she loves is a good reminder that we are blessed to have amazing people in our lives.

5) BE COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE.

The only thing I can be sure of as a parent is that everything is always going to change. Emily keeps me on my toes (as she should) and just when I think I’ve figured it all out, she shows me I haven’t. This is true in all of life. Being alive means moving and shifting based on what is happening in the moment. Life would be pretty boring if things stayed in our comfort zone all the time.

6) FOOD IS FUN.

Introducing Emily to the wide world of food has made me appreciate how much delicious food grows from the Earth. I find myself getting excited thinking of all the fruits and vegetables I can introduce to her. I forgot how many there were until it was time to show her!

7) MUSIC HEALS.

Sometimes all it takes to get Emily to smile is to sing a song. And sometimes all it takes for me to get out of a bad mood is to put on a favorite album while we play. Music has the power to shift energy fast.

8) KEEP TRYING AND IT WILL HAPPEN.

It’s been really fun watching Emily learn new skills like crawling, pulling herself up to stand or climbing up a few steps. She works at each new skill day after day, trying it in new ways. When something doesn’t work, she just tries again. Even a fall or a bump only stops her momentarily. After a good hug she’s ready to go back at it!

9) THIS WORLD IS A WONDROUS PLACE

Seeing the world through Emily’s eyes reminds me again and again that this planet is full of beauty and miracles. From the changing seasons to the kindness of strangers to the love that swells in my heart, all of this I see clearer now that my daughter is in this world.

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Holding Emmy in the position she was in my belly, “frank breech”. 

Yoga on a Crowded Mat (VIDEO)

I have so much fun making these videos, and this one is my favorite by far! I love how my dog Romeo spontaneously joined in on the fun. This practice included forward bends, hip openers, Rhodesian Ridgeback kisses, and dog/baby bonding. The end is the best. It seems both dog and baby enjoy the sound of OM!

Self Care: It’s not just getting a manicure.

I was recently listening to Deb Flashenberg’s podcast Birth|Yoga|Babies. She was talking to Hunter Clarke-Fields about mindful parenting. When they talked about the importance of self-care Hunter said, “And I don’t mean just going out to get a manicure.” She went on to explain that self-care as a parent means listening to yourself and paying attention to your needs. She talked about taking a few minutes EVERY DAY to sit down, follow your breath, and tune inward. *Light bulb moment!*

This comment really resonated with me because I find I’ve misinterpreted what it means to practice self-care as a stay at home mom. My idea of self-care has been to pretty much forget about myself all week, and then on the weekend take an hour or so to do something alone like get a manicure, go to a yoga class, get a haircut or get a massage. While all of these activities are fabulous and have their place, I have found that getting out for that hour or so wasn’t really reinvigorating me.

When I heard Hunter Clark-Fields talk about self-care as a daily practice it made sense. While it’s not always realistic for me to sit down quietly for 5-10 minutes and meditate alone, I do find there are parts of the day where I can slow down and tune inward. For example, when I am nursing or giving Emily a bottle before her naps and bedtime there is a calm and quiet I can plug into.

The last few days I have taken those quiet moment opportunities to close my eyes, tune into my breathing, and scan my body to see how I’m feeling. While this seems like such a simple thing to do, it has made a big difference in my mindset and perspective. I realize  I don’t need to “suck it up” and forget about myself all week. If I even take a few minutes to really breathe and cue into how I’m feeling, I can reenergize and be more present.

 

 

Yoga with a baby on the move!

Now here’s where it gets really interesting- yoga with baby on the move! For me, this is the ultimate yoga practice. I try to find balance by doing poses on both sides whenever possible, and sometimes that just isn’t possible! This a perfect metaphor for motherhood. I feel like I’m constantly trying to find balance. Balance between flexibility and structure, self care and baby care, play time and work time. Sometimes I’m successful and other times not. Either way this little guru reminds me to BE HERE NOW. And that’s the whole point of it; yoga is now.

“To wean or not to wean?” That is the emotional question.

When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Despite a few challenges early on such as figuring out how to hold the baby in the right position and some latch issues on one side, it has been a relatively smooth journey. That is, until recently.

My goal was to exclusively breastfeed for six months, but in the back of my mind I thought I’d make it to a year. So when Emily turned six months and I wasn’t ready to stop, I kept on going. At that point I thought, “Why not go for the full year? I’ve got this!” Recently though as Emily was nearing her 8 month birthday I felt a shift inside of me. Breastfeeding exclusively for four more months felt very overwhelming.

I felt a noticeable shift when I attended a good friend’s baby shower. I had been excited all week to have a Sunday out on my own as I had been craving a little bit of freedom. Then, halfway through the shower I felt that uncomfortable engorged feeling that other breastfeeding moms are most definitely familiar with. I realized that even though I could plan a day out for myself, my body couldn’t give me that same freedom. I felt myself get angry that I had to isolate myself and go in a bathroom stall or go out to my car to pump. I hate pumping!

Being my baby’s single source of nourishment, besides the solid foods she is now eating, began to feel like a lot of pressure. I felt like I wanted to introduce some formula to free myself up just a little bit. This brought with it immense guilt, sadness and confusion. So I denied those feelings for a while.

Then I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I spoke with a friend and realized that the reason I was so emotional about introducing formula was deeper than I thought. It was the first of many steps where Emily would begin to pull away from me. First I grew her in my womb and we were one. Then she was lifted into this world and I nourished her through breastfeeding. Now it was time for us to take even more space from each other. Was I ready for that?

While my gut told me formula was the right step for us, my mom guilt told me it was wrong. All the “breast is best” messages weighed over me and I felt I should suck it up and continue, or else I would be a bad mom. Despite this, when I sat quietly and listened to myself I knew it was what I wanted to do.

I cried when I gave Emily her first bottle of formula. Meanwhile she oohed an aahed, smiled and laughed. She loved holding the bottle on her own. She was totally up for the shift, it me who was having the difficulty.

We’ve now reached a nice balance where we do a few bottles of formula a day, and the rest of the feedings I nurse. I find that because I listened to myself and took these steps, now when I am nursing her I am more present. I also treasure the moments when she is having a bottle. Often she holds the bottle while chatting to herself. We look at each other and smile while she drinks her bottle across the living room or in her stroller while we are out and about. I’m still there, just a bit further away. I guess that is what motherhood is, right?

This change- which was so hard and felt so monumental to me at the beginning- feels so good now. I’m feeling some freedom, she’s feeling some freedom, and we’re happy. I really can’t ask for anything more.

I’m learning that I can’t let fear, guilt or external pressure stop me from doing what’s best for my daughter. And sometimes, doing what is best for me, is what is best for her. As Wayne Dyer said so beautifully, “Your children will see what you’re all about by what you live rather than what you say.” If Emily sees me respecting myself, she will ultimately respect herself too. That is my greatest wish for her.

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NYC, I love you.

NYC is an amazing place. It’s vibrant, alive, and always on the move. Whatever you love to do, you can do it here. Whatever you want to see, you can see it here. I love living here and feel so blessed that this is where we are raising Emily. She sees all kinds of people, places (and dogs!) every single day. This includes many friendly and kind people; it also includes some angry and mean ones.
 
This morning we walked out of our building with Romeo on the way to the park. The air smelled like Fall and it was the perfect morning. Within seconds we heard the honking of a horn. This is not something uncommon to hear, especially at 8:30am during rush hour. Within seconds of that though we heard a man right next to me yelling, “Stop putting your hand on that horn in MY neighborhood you f*ckin’ sh*thead!” He went on to throw out multiple f bombs, telling about HIS neighborhood. Yikes, man!
 
I said to him, “Can you please stop cursing in front of my daughter?” as I held Emily’s ears. He didn’t hear me- probably a good thing- because who knows how he would have responded. He was totally seething with anger and even starting running towards to person honking their horn.
 
How ironic is it that this man was so angry about a horn honking in “his” neighborhood while he polluted the air of my neighborhood with his anger?
 
Anyway, it got me thinking. As Emily grows just as she’s going to meet and see many kind, loving people; she’s also going to meet and see people like that man. I wonder how I’ll handle it. What matter most I think is being present and handling each situation with kindness and grace whenever possible.
 
By the way- right after the incident of the angry man Emily watched about fifteen dogs running and playing freely in Riverside Park. She had front row seats to a REAL “dog party” like in one of her favorite books “Go Dog. Go!”
 
I love NYC. Even when a meanie tries to ruin our morning.