Saturday, December 29, 2012



A few things I hope I always remember about your infancy, that no picture or video can capture:
  • Those moments when I'm laying down to feed you while playing on my phone; you are suddenly still and quiet and I assume you fell asleep, only to look down to see you flashing me the biggest grin with a nipple hanging out of your mouth.  Priceless.

  • Your sounds.  You make this creaky door sound whenever you're concentrating, or when we touch your nose, or when you're trying to get something into your mouth.  After you sneeze you let out a long drawn-out sigh.  After you yawn, you make a beautiful cooing sounds that reminds me of singing.  Even when these sounds wake me up at midnight (and 1am, 3am, 5am...) I can't mind, because they are so sweet. 
  •  The smell of your newborn head.  Before I had you, I heard people go on about how good babies smell - I thought they were talking about baby oils and freshly laundered onesies.  Now I know better - there is a perfume you exude that is uniquely yours and totally intoxicating to me.  Pheromones, I guess?  Whatever it is, you smell better than anything in the world.  I love to lean close to you first thing in the morning and smell your fresh baby breath too.  I guess all the wonderful good smells that come out of you compensate for the diaper "events" that are not too pleasant.
  • The look on your face when we hold up the water pitcher during bath time.  Your eyebrows draw together in intense concentration, your mouth falls open, you reach out your arms and make the creaky door sound until you can get your hands on it.  

  • Your poo face, a look of utmost seriousness.  Which is always accompanied by about 15 minutes of hard, LOUD grunting and straining.  I would especially like to remember the day I took you to Kohl's, which was extremely crowded, and you grunted up and down aisles the whole time.  Heads turned, eyebrows were raised, an old lady asked me if you were okay.  I tried my best not to die laughing, but I kind of failed.  (With that said, the moment I would like most to NOT remember is that diaper blowout while IN the Baby Hawk, on our way into Joanns.  Not our finest mother-daughter moment.) Edit: As I was writing this she was simultaneously experiencing the MOST MASSIVE DIAPER BLOWOUT OF ALL TIME OMG which I had to take a break and clean up.  Showing me who's boss, I suppose.
 I know you're probably not incredibly unique - I mean, you ARE, as a person, but most of the things you are doing now have probably been done by all other babies since the dawn of time.  I don't know if it's my total inexperience with babies before you came along, or your particular combination of quirks and the style with which you deliver them, but I find you to be the most fascinating, adorable, entertaining individual I've ever met.  I wish I had started writing some of these things down earlier - I'm sure there are plenty of moments that I've forgotten during the first couple months of new-mom delirium. 

I love you - and I don't want to forget a second of your delicious babyness.


Monday, December 24, 2012

By the Light of the Moon

Let me start by saying: I love my husband more than I could possibly put to words.  He is truly my better half and his love for me and our family inspires me every day.

With that said, it must be acknowledged that we come from drastically different cultural backgrounds, and that fact is never more apparent than around the holidays.  All that sense of "Christmasness" that I get.... which involves decorations, carols, ridiculous amounts of delicious food, cards, potlucks, gift exchanges, classic movies, silly hats, eggnog, family.... you know what I mean?  The "spirit" of Christmas, I guess you can call it.  It's an extremely American phenomenon.  My husband didn't grow up with any of the same traditions, and for a multitude of personal reasons finds very little cause to be festive around this time of year.

I still partake in Christmas festivities with my family and at work, but at home?  Not so much.  Sure, we turn on Christmas music now and then.  We went shopping for gifts for his parents.  Our only decorations are Christmas cards that friends have sent that I stuck up on the fridge.  I watched Love, Actually mostly by myself this afternoon.  But that whole vibe of peaceful sweet Christmas wonderfulness just isn't there.

Tonight?  Tonight we went to my parent's house, ate, opened gifts, and I had a great time.  We were home early, by 6pm.  My husband retired to the computer, his parents dozed in front of the TV, that's all.  Nothing special.  And I was resigned to it.

But then Amaliya wouldn't sleep, due to a late nap and maybe some teething issues.  I took her into the bedroom, closed the door, sat in the rocker with her, and read her the Polar Express (which she seemed to enjoy!)  We laid down in bed together where I intended to nurse her to sleep, but she was too awake and too happy.  Instead we sang every Christmas song I could think of - I sang, she cooed and grinned, snuggled up close and grabbed my face with both hands.  It was, quite honestly, the highlight of my holiday season.

Caroling in the darkness
I'm excited for all that the future holds with my little family, but one of the greatest things I think will be developing our own traditions.  I can't wait until next Christmas when she's old enough to care - both her dad and I agree that, whatever our personal hangups and incompatibilities, we have to do everything we can to make the holidays a special time for her growing up. Innocence is a wonderful thing, and there's nothing quite like that feeling of pure faith and belief in magic.  I'll do anything to give her that experience.

In the meantime, I have my daughter to thank for making my Christmas one of the best ever.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Amaliya at 20 Weeks

I meant to do these updates every four weeks, but somehow week 16 came and went without me finding the time to write!  I blame school, which is finally done for the quarter (I start another class in just a couple weeks, but let's not talk about that, shall we?)

Weight:  12lbs 7oz (18th percentile)
Height: 24.5 inches (43rd percentile)
Head circumference: 41cm (55th percentile)

Amaliya Likes:  Music and dancing, watching her daddy talk (he's a hand-talker, and his gestures just crack her up!), bath time, putting everything in her mouth, "standing" up while we hold her hands (her legs are ridiculously strong), being held up so she's taller than us, sitting on our laps during meals and watching us eat, her grandmas, faces (she loves reaching out to touch our lips, noses, eyes), watching us cook, watching just about anything in motion really, and being outside.

Terrible picture, but LOOK how long her hair is when it's wet!  It's insane.  She also has her daddy's ears  :-D
Amaliya Dislikes:  Getting dressed after bath time, sitting in her high chair, not being able to see people, being left to play by herself, sleeping in past 6am, being awake past 6pm, wearing socks. 

Feeding: I'm back at work 5 days a week now, and let me just say, pumping breast milk for her is not as complicated as I thought it would be, but WAY more annoying than I anticipated.  It's very much a mental block - sitting in the storage room amidst the dust and Christmas decorations and spider traps, exposing myself while listening to a meeting in the conference room across the hall, and trying to "relax."  Right.  But anyway, for now it's working.  The schedule goes something like:

5:30 - 6:30am - I give her a solid feeding, and then top her off before I rush out the door to work.  If she's been up every few hours to eat all night, she's not very hungry.
9am - 4oz bottle
11-12pm - I come home for lunch and breastfeed.  Usually I just keep her on the breast until she falls asleep for her afternoon nap.
2pm - 4oz bottle
4pm - Breastfeed
5:30-6:30 - She gets a bath and I usually breastfeed to distract her while I detangle and comb out her hair (ridiculous).  I then top her off right before she goes to bed.

She usually eats a couple times during the night as well, depending on how often she's up, and how restless.  Feeding her is a lot less time-consuming these days;  she only takes 5-10 minutes to eat instead of 20-30.  I'm still planning to exclusively breastfeed for 6-months before we start solids.  The pediatrician told us that we can start adding a bit of rice cereal to her bottles, but I'm inclined to skip that step - I don't like the idea of empty calories.  We'll start her slowly on more nutritious solids soon enough, probably in late January.

Sleeping:  Oh dear.  Remember how in her 12 week update I was boasting about what a great sleeper she is?  Yeah.  I should have kept my big mouth shut.  Pretty much right after that her sleep went epically to shit.  I'm going to do a separate post just on her nighttime issues, so I won't get into it too much now.  Over the last couple of days things have slightly improved, so we'll see what happens...

I'm pretty sure she got dressed in the dark here - there's no other explanation for why she's rocking a sherpa hat and Saturday Night Fever pants simultaneously.
Another bold fashion statement.
What's new?: So much!  All of a sudden, my tiny baby girl seems ginormous and incredibly independent.  She has awesome head and neck control so I can just throw her up on my hip and carry her around.  She reaches out to grab everything, and everything goes directly into her mouth.  She's discovered how to stick out her tongue and blow raspberries, and to make a super high-pitched pterodactyl-esque shrieking sound.  She babbles - lots of "gah"s and "bah"s and "goo"s.  If I stand her up on a soft surface, like the bed, and hold her hands, she can stand up by herself.  She laughs, not often and usually at very unexpected things, but it is the most beautiful sound. She's almost ALMOST rolling over from back to front.

The biggest change is how hyper-aware of her environment she is now.  She no longer tolerates being left on her playmat or sitting in the high chair while we get stuff done.  She wants to be close to the action.  Especially when one of us is in the kitchen making something, she's not happy unless someone is holding her up so she can see what's happening on the stove/sink/counter.  She watches intently when someone enters or leaves a room.  She's having the beginnings of separation anxiety - if she can't see or hear me, she's fine being held by anyone; as soon as she sees me though, she starts crying until I come hold her.   Gone are the naps in the Baby Hawk while we go out for coffee and grocery shopping - she can't stop staring at people walking by, she's fascinated by cars - I doubt she blinks, let alone close her eyes long enough to sleep.  The world is just far too interesting to miss a moment.

And Mom?  I'm fine, really.  The sleep deprivation is taking a toll and going back to work has been a major adjustment, but... so it goes.  I'm excited for the holidays but equally excited for it to be OVER.  I'm looking forward to February - as troubling and stressful as it will be to send my sweet beastie girl to daycare, I'm anxious to take the plunge and finally establish a routine.  I'm still counting my blessings every day for this loud, willful, introverted, serious, joyful, curious, adaptable, gorgeous little person whose personality becomes a bit more intricate every day.  I can't imagine my life without her.  I CAN imagine my life with more sleep though.  One day at a time  :-)

I love her so.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



I've written you letters before but none have been typed, or put out there for the Internet to read.  This one is, because to be perfectly honest.... I'm a mess, and I need an outlet. I had everything so together for the first four months of your life.  My hormones were stable, my stress was managed, I felt like a rockstar most of the time for taking care of a you, and your dad, and a house, and training for races, and going to grad school.

Then work happened - 40 hours a week that I have to be away from you.  House guests (your grandparents) arrived at about the same time.  Three classes remained to be completed.  And you, my dear sweet girl, you who were sleeping 8-9 hours at a stretch from your second week on earth, you have stopped sleeping.  Not entirely, of course, but you are waking up every 2-3 hours all night long. My foundation is starting to crack.

I am not taking great care of myself right now, I'll admit.  I'm still running many, many miles each week -  it's not optional, my mental health depends on it -  but I don't have time for the complementary stuff like weights and stretching that enable my body to run long and feel good.  I'm not drinking enough water to compensate for running and breastfeeding, but water consumption cuts into coffee consumption and, sadly, coffee triumphs most of the time.  I either don't eat enough, or I eat way too much of all the wrong things.  I can't nap when you nap, because I'm too anxious about everything that's not being done.

I often find myself angry - inexplicably angry at just about everything. Angry at our financial situation that demands that I have to work a full-time job (and likely always will); Angry that our guests have taken over your room so you have to sleep in the pack and play in our walk-in closet;  Angry that I have to come home from work and make dinner for a bunch of people instead of spending alone time with you; Angry that my breaks at work and rare free moments at home are spent hooked up to a breast pump like a dairy cow;  Angry that I have to take herbal supplements just to be able to produce enough milk to keep up, and they make me feel bloated and nauseous;  Angry that I ran a half marathon two weeks ago but have been too tired and busy taking care of everyone that I can't feel any joy in the accomplishment;  Angry that I have to share you with anyone, even your father and loving grandparents.

Angry that, what was one of the best periods of my life, has become one of the worst seemingly overnight.

Except, of course, that it's not the worst.  Not even close.  I am writing this lying on my side, with you tucked into my right arm, tummy to tummy. You are passed out, milk-drunk, mouth open, gently breathing.  I came home on my lunch break just to have this moment with you, to suck up your love and warmth and baby smell. I try and steal moments like this with you a few times a day.  Sometimes they come at 5am, when you wake up far too early but oh-so-happy, and I bring you into bed with us.  You squeak and squirm until you catch sight of the alarm clock and stare at it - motionless, transfixed - while I doze, until it goes off at 5:42.

Sometimes they come at 3am, when I hear you crying in the closet and go in to pick you up.  You're not really awake, not particularly hungry, but you want to nurse and cuddle and be wrapped up in arms for a while, just because.  It's like you want to be sure I'm still there, and of course I am and always will be.

Sometimes they come when I get home from work, snatch you from your grandma, and retreat to the bedroom to spend a few minutes alone with you.  I hold you up high and walk around so you can see the artwork on the walls.  Occasionally I dance with you and sing you all my favorite Broadway songs with some of the words changed ("Don't Cry For Me, Amaliya").  Lately we lay on our backs, side by side, while I try and convince you to roll over.  You try so hard, and get so frustrated, until you catch my eye and we smile at each other.  Rolling over is important, no doubt, but no need to rush these milestones; they're piling up too fast as it is.

Mothering is hard.  Trying to do it all, be it all, have it all, fulfill multiple conflicting roles without losing myself or a single moment with you is.... impossible?  Maybe.  I guess I want to write you this letter because you might be in a similar position one day.  Feeling despair.  Trying your best and coming up short.  Angry at the world for making your best efforts seem like a waste.  You'll likely be in good company - women have faced this issue for hundreds of years and likely will for hundreds more.  I want you to know that you'll be okay.  I'll be okay too.

And I will try to be less angry, because anger interferes with my overwhelming sense of gratitude for your presence in my life.  When I embrace the gratitude, and dismiss the anger, I am happy that I have a good job to go to.  Proud that I can demonstrate for you that a woman can express herself through a career and other passions without sacrificing her identity as wife and mother.  I'm more than happy to stuff myself with fenugreek and lock myself in a dusty storage room to pump breastmilk for you, because being able to bond with you through breastfeeding is a privilege that I do not take for granted.  I am glad that your grandparents have been able to spend time with you, and that I haven't had to deposit you into the arms of strangers at daycare just yet.  I don't mind at all when my evenings are spent cooking and doing laundry and endlessly ENDLESSLY washing bottles and pumping supplies, because it's all part of keeping our household together and our family strong, and you deserve to grow up in a stable, functional, loving environment.  The night-wakings, the hysterical overtired screams, the soul-crushing exhaustion... it's all fleeting, and none of it matters too much.  Soon these bad times will be in the past, and so will the days of you gnawing on my shoulder and sweetly sleeping on my chest.

I can't be mad that life continues to intrude on our time together.  This IS our life.  It's going to be messy, fractured, full of missed opportunities and lost moments and bittersweet feelings.  What matters is the love that is the reason for our struggles.  Your dad and I love you enough to make any sacrifice necessary; you love us enough to forgive us for all our many failings.  As for the rest, it's all a matter of embracing, adjusting, and moving forward.

<3  Mama