A Deep Exhale

Yesterday Em and I had a busy and stressful (for me) day. We had a follow up appointment with an orthopedist concerning Em’s hips. Being that she was a frank breech baby she was born with a risk of having hip dysplasia. For that reason, she was given an ultrasound on her hips at 6 weeks old and 3 months old.

We had a bit of a scare about her hips when she was six weeks old which left me a bit traumatized. You can read the back story here.

Our appointment was way across town which meant trekking across the city in the cold. I felt tense but breathed deeply and Em handled it like a champ.

We got there a half hour early. I know people say once you have a kid you’re always late but I haven’t found that (yet). Being late for something makes me SO anxious that I’m usually ridiculously early, even with my baby. I’m not saying this is a good thing. It’s just what always happens!

Being so early made me panic a bit wondering what the heck we would do for a half hour; however, The Hospital for Special Surgery happens to be amazing and very child-friendly. 

There was a woman playing ukulele in the waiting area! She asked for requests and gave Em her own show. She sang Itsy Bitsy Spider and I’m a Little Teapot. Em was entranced and so was I. When she sang “You Are My Sunshine” and changed the words of the first verse to be happier (like I do) I cried.

We got called in early and met with the lovely doctor who said Em’s hips looked great but they would do an x-ray just to be sure. When I asked how safe an x-ray was he explained it would be the same amount of radiation as a plane ride to California. We did that plane ride with Em so using that analogy soothed my worries.

We went across the hallway to get her x-ray and Em said “hi!” to everyone we saw. The receptionist. The 10 year old boy wearing headphones and watching a show on his phone. The mom waiting with him. The technician who walked by. She also pulled out my ponytail, snuggled into me tight and kept kissing me. Did she know I was scared? I don’t know. But she made me feel better.

As for the x-ray, I consider it a miracle moment. She laid perfectly still as we sang the ABC’s. It was shockingly easy as pie!

In the end we got confirmation that Em’s hips are developing normally and we don’t need to go back. I’m more relieved that I can explain here. The only way I could describe it is that Em having hip problems has been weighing on me since I was pregnant and learned she was breech. Now it feels like that weight is released and I am ten pounds lighter.

When we got home, I was physically and emotionally SPENT. My back was killing me from wearing 21 pound Em in the carrier all afternoon. I rolled out my mat. I rolled out Em’s mat, and this video is what happened.

I just want to say I’m so grateful for my healthy, sweet, social, communicative girl. My heart explodes every single day and I’m a way better person because of her.

Mom Hair

Today I got back from a nice afternoon out with Emmy. I thought I was pretty put together. Then I saw myself in the mirror.

You see, Emily loves holding onto my hair. Every single time I hold her she grabs a piece. It’s almost like my hair is the equivalent of a security blanket for her. So I guess at some point she grabbed a chunk of hair out of my pony tail and held tight. I somehow didn’t notice that I had a large strangly piece of hair and continued on my merry way.

I guess this is my “mom hair.”

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See What’s in Front of You

I’ve learned a whole lot in my first year of motherhood, and there’s one big lesson I want to share.  I’m learning to see what’s in front of me rather than getting carried away with my worries.

This past year with each big change in Emily’s development I found myself getting overwhelmed and even scared. A few milestones that stand out in my mind are switching her from her bassinet to her crib, introducing her to solid foods, giving her supplemental formula, and teaching her to fall asleep on her own through sleep training.  All of these changes seem small in hindsight but seemed insurmountable at the time.

I found myself becoming obsessed with the BEST way to do things. I told myself if I made the “wrong” decision I would cause serious damage to Emily. I’m not kidding when I say I would run away to crazy places in my mind.

The thing is when I look back I see that even if I did things differently, Emily would be totally fine.  There’s really no best way to do things. What’s most important is really seeing the human being in front of me rather than getting caught up in the “shoulds” of parenting.

Case in point the latest “problem” I’ve been pondering. In the past month or so Emily has gotten into the habit of falling asleep while drinking her last bottle of the evening. For a few days I found myself in a dark cloud of worry while I gave her that last bottle. I would tell myself, this is a very bad habit. I would tell myself, this needs to stop ASAP. I would run the phrase, “You should always put your baby down awake” over and over in my mind and convince myself I was somehow failing. I would feel shame.

Then tonight as I held Emily in my arms while she drank her bottle, she played with my hair and her eyes began to close. I looked down at her sweet serene face and I thought- SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. Right there in my arms was my sweet baby girl playing with my hair and falling asleep in my arms. I mean, she still fits in my arms. How amazing is that?

I reminded myself that the beauty of that moment was fleeting. Emily won’t always fall asleep in her mama’s arms and want to play with her mama’s hair. This was a moment for me to cherish NOT a moment for me to run away with fear, worry and shame.

If I push aside all of the “shoulds.” If I stop comparing myself and my child to other moms and children. If I really sit down and feel what my instinct is telling me, I know we are okay. I know when the time is right we will take the bottle away. I also know Emily is a capable human being who can fall asleep on her own just fine when we decide to make that change. She’s okay. She’s more than okay.

Moms and dads out there- please hear me when I say this. SEE WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU. See what’s there today and try not to get carried away with the tomorrows. I know how easy it is to fear that you’re somehow failing or doing things wrong. But if you can pause, breathe and see the human being in front of you, you’ll remember that nothing else really matters except that deep love you feel inside. Enjoy the little moments of today because they pass by and become the big moments of tomorrow.

You’re doing great. Just keep on seeing what’s in front of you.

 

 

 

Get out!

Today while Emily was napping the contractor who has been working on our apartment came by. He wanted to check on the floor he had recently fixed in Emily’s room. He had given me no advanced warning. When I told him she was napping in there he said, “I’ll be quiet.” I paused a moment in disbelief and said, “No. Sorry. She needs to sleep.”

He’s a very nice man and certainly didn’t mean to piss me off, but come on!

What strikes me most when I reflect on this now is the fire I had inside of me in that moment when he said, “I’ll be quiet.” I pictured Emily taking a serene nap and a man she doesn’t know suddenly entering her room. No way! My internal mama bear instinct was screaming “GET OUT!” I didn’t say this to him, but I was definitely thinking it.

Mama bear instinct is real. This past year I’ve been stuck by how loud it is and how protective I feel of Emily. I never knew I could feel this way about another human being! In the past a weak point of mine has been creating clear boundaries with others. My need to people please often came before my ability to take care of my own needs. That’s not the case with Emily. I have no problem saying NO if it’s not in her best interest.

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care lately. I’ve been reimagining what it looks like and how it feels. I’ve been asking myself- what if I were to offer myself the same love, attention and respect I offer to Emily every day? Today I’m thinking that sometimes the ultimate act of self-care may be to just say,”GET OUT!”

 

 

 

A Baby’s Best Friend

In honor of Emily’s first birthday I put together a video of pictures and videos of her first year. It was difficult, to say the least! Digital photos gave me the advantage of having countless visual memories (and tears as I looked through them), and the disadvantage of being extremely overwhelmed! It’s pretty much impossible to edit down adorable memories as a mama.

I was able to find a few themes to organize the video. One was Emily and her best friend, our five year old dog (and first baby), Romeo.

I’ll be honest with you- Romeo is the best dog in the world. He’s the chillest dog I’ve ever met. He has not once barked when someone has rung the doorbell. His tail has two speeds- slow or medium, and he reserves those tail wags for very special occasions. He’s sensible, sweet and patient. Even though he sleeps most of the day, he is always game to play with his friends in the park or go for a ride in the car and go on an adventure. I’ve always loved him with all my heart, but seeing how sweet he is with our baby girl makes me appreciate him even more. In honor of Emily’s first birthday and her best friend, Romeo here’s Emily and her best friend through the year.