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Sunday
Oct062013

Exactly her

Today I was cleaning up the house and unearthed some remnants from the time in my life when we were trying to become parents.

The log where I tracked my temperature, my ovulation predictor kit results, and my periods.

The notes I wrote to myself during an exercise I did in counseling, which I attended for awhile after my ectopic pregnancy.

The stacks of information we gathered from adoption agencies.

The vision board I made, daring to let the universe know my hopes and dreams.

Now that I can hold my child in my arms so readily, it seems like such a different life. That life when I was consumed by the process of becoming (and repeatedly failing to become) a mother. In many ways it feelsso far away now, yet at the same time it's still very fresh in my mind. I still relate deeply with others I meet who are in the midst of their own struggle. And I still feel a fresh pang of hurt and anger whenever I witness a pregnant woman being utterly ungrateful for her blessing. Even though, in retrospect, our journey to parenthood was much less bumpy than it could have been, I still relate more to the people who have towork hard and wait long to realize their dreams of having chlidren than I do to the people who come by it easily.

I tell Mo daily how happy and lucky we are to have her. And I often tell her how much we wanted her, how hard we worked for her, how long we waited. It may seem like I'm giving her a lot to live up to, but the truth is her mere existence is enough to satisfy our hopes and dreams for her life. 

I still think I would have rather skipped all the stupid shit I went through to become a mom. But it is interesting to think about how all these factors had to line up perfectly, the exact timing had to occur, the exact egg and sperm had to meet, the exact events had to happen in the exact order to result in my Mo. My exact Mo. No other series of events would have lead to having exactly her in my life. And to end up with her, I can definitely say it was all worth it.

Sunday
Sep292013

I'm not a bad mom

I hear this phrase a lot: "I'm a bad mom." It's usually followed with something rather innocuous like, "I let my kid have candy today" or "I haven't bathed my baby in a week." Those things don't make you a bad mom, they make you human. There is enough vicious judgment and vitriol aimed at mothers, so I make a point of not adding to it, not even toward myself. Sometimes I catch myself using that phrase, but usually I'm careful not to. I don't want to give anyone any ammunition, and I don't want my baby to hear me say it. I don't want her to think I really am a bad mom, or that it's ok to criticize ourselves so harshly.

That doesn't mean I don't sometimes feel like a bad mom. The other morning Moselle fell off our bed. She FELL OFF OUR BED! And it was completely my fault, and I felt horrible. I really did feel like I had momentarily failed as a mother. But all mothers, and fathers too, have those momentary failures, and as long as we're working to do our best for our children, these slip ups and moments of weakness don't make us bad

I am a good mother. I know I am, I know I absolutely am. But it was still nice to get this little note from our server at lunch today:

I'm pretty sure it was in response to the fact that I (discreetly) nursed Mo during lunch, but not nursing her wouldn't make me a bad mom. And there are thousands of other things that make me a good mom. So I dedicate this note to all the good mommies in the world!

Keep it up ladies.

That's Mo giving you a round of applause.

Sunday
Sep152013

"Mo"nthly Photo - Eight

Two thirds. We are two thirds of the way to Mo's first birthday. Sometimes I still have the "I have a newborn" mentality, and then I remember no, I have an eight month old. I've been a mom for eight months, I've been back at work for almost seven months, I've been taking Mo to daycare for over three months, she's been eating solid foods for two months. It doesn't seem real.

8 months. 18 pounds. 8 ounces. 28 inches. We used very unofficial methods to get those measurements, but it's still fun.

I've alluded before to the fact that Mo is a really good baby, but I want to elaborate. I don't do it as a point of pride, because I can only take a small amount of credit for that. Mostly, we're just extremely lucky. Everyone who meets her comments on how good she is. Her daycare is always raving, and the people who babysit her can't believe it. Yesterday we saw a friend who we haven't seen since she was born, and the friend said, "If I was guaranteed to have a baby as good as her, I'd have another one." In a way it makes sense. Both Mike and I were supposedly extremely easy babies, so I some of it may be genetic. And maybe a small part of it is our approach to parenthood. But mostly I just think we hit the baby jackpot. Mo is an amazing sleeper and napper; she has become a good eater; she's so content in any situation; she rarely cries or even fusses; and she has such a happy, smiley demeanor. 

The other day my sister was talking about our kids, her son being the one that was born less than two hours before Mo. Will is an amazing kid, but he's a bit finnicky. As Em says, "You can't just throw him into new situations. You have to ease him in." I think she described Mo's nature best when she was comparing the two babies: "You can throw Mo in a lake, and she's like 'Oh hey, I'm in a lake.' You dip Will's big toe in a puddle and he gets pissed."

Of course now I just jinxed myself...

Mo has grown up a lot in the last month. She recently learned to clap, which, no joke, is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I die every time she does it. She holds her hands a little to left of center and primarily moves her left hand to hit her right. It's so cute, you'd die too. She has also waved a few times. It's not consistent yet, but I think she's figuring out that waving is a greeting and a farewell.

Last weekend we switched Mo over to a convertible car seat. She was getting too heavy to lug around in her infant carrier, and she was officially big enough for a "big girl" seat, so we made the transition. I thought she'd look tiny in those giant seats, but she didn't. And it made me sad. She really is growing up.

She's also big enough to ride in the shopping cart, which is crazy. Mike brought her grocery shopping not too long ago and left her in her carrier, and she hated it. She was bored and wanted to look around and interact. So next time he sat her in the cart, and yep, no problem, she's basically a teenager.

She really wants to crawl, but hasn't quite figured it out. Which is fine by me! We've talked about what we need to do to babyproof, but we haven't actually done anything. So I'm ok with her getting on her knees or toes and rocking back and forth and moving her legs, as long as she doesn't figure out how to coordinate her arms with the legs just yet.

Mo started taking a pacifier a few weeks ago. She always rejected them, and then suddenly, one day, she loved them. It's still weird to see her with one.

 

Happy to report I'm still her favorite. One of these days I won't be able to say that, so I'm milking it for all it's worth. When I walk in the room, she lights up and gets agitated if I don't snatch her up right away. I love that. It's my favorite feeling. We have so much fun together. 

The other day she missed a nap, and when I was feeding her before bedtime, she fell asleep. There was a time when she would ONLY sleep on us and wouldn't sleep anywhere else. But she has been taking all naps and sleeping at night in her crib for many months, so it was a real treat to watch her sleep in my arms for awhile.

All in all, it's been an amazing month. I can't believe my tiny baby is gone and I do miss her, but every stage has been so much fun as she keeps getting bigger and smarter.

Just as a bonus, here's my daughter in a ridiculously huge flower headband. I don't own a single hair bow or headband for her, but I put my niece's on her the other day, expecting it to look silly. And darn it if she isn't adorable even with a giant plant on her head!

 

Wednesday
Sep112013

Late night check in

For five months after Mo was born, we slept on her schedule. Then we got her to sleep on our schedule. And for two glorious months I slept like a champ. I would go to bed soon after her, read a few pages, then fall deep asleep all night long. After years of insomnia, nine months of pregnancy (aka: uncomfortable, restless sleep), and five months of newborn sleep, it was wonderful. But insomnia has slowly slipped back into my life, and here I am, awake when I should be asleep. So I thought I'd write through some updates on motherhood.

First of all, I love it. I really love it, and I literally snuggle Mo each night and say a quiet, sincere thank you for her. I could go on and on about what a spectacular girl she is (no seriously, we're spoiled, she's the best), but I won't. Not right now anyway.

Instead, an update on being a working mother: it's really hard. My feelings are nothing new, working mothers have felt these feelings for as long as there has been working mothers. Feelings like, there's never enough of me to go around. I put in so much energy all day at work that I'm exhausted at home. And I want to give what little time and energy is left to the few precious hours I get with Mo, so I do nothing else. I don't socialize, I don't get involved in the community, I don't actually do things. I'm not a good sister, daughter or friend. And forget keeping up on the house! (Thank God for Mike. It's common to say that men help women with household chores, but the truth in our relationship is that I'm the one helping him.) 

The daycare stuff makes it hard, too. If I have to leave her somewhere for nine hours a day, can't it be a situation that makes it as easy as possible? Why does there have to be drama? Why does there have to be reason to question things? 

I still fantasize about quitting my job. Or reducing my hours. Neither of which is an option, but I fantasize nonetheless. I like to work and I like my job, but I wish I could do it in 20 hours a week instead of 40. One improvement is that I don't obsessively check in every day. At first I did, I thought about her constantly and wondered about her every activity. Now I know she's happy and comfortable there, and I get absorbed in work, and I don't obsess so much.

Another update? How about breastfeeding. If you've been reading since her birth you'll remember Mo had a difficult time nursing at first. The first few weeks were, well they were just really hard. And then they started to get better. And then even better. And now it's so easy that I don't want to stop. A lot of people look at the fact that I'm still breast feeding at 8 months and say, "Good for you." But the truth is, it's not a heroic act at all. It's easy for us.

In the mornings I bring her into bed and she nurses while we both slowly wake up. When I get home from work, she nurses while I catch up on Facebook. And before bed, she nurses while we quiet down for the night. Easy. What makes it a little difficult is the pumping. I've got it down to a pretty smooth routine, and I reduced to only once a day to save my sanity, but I still hate the inconvenience. Thankfully we have A LOT of frozen milk, so even though my supply is dipping and I'm only pumping 4-8 ounces a day (compared to the 12-15 she eats during the day), she still gets plenty of breast milk.

OK, time to try to sleep again. Mo will be waking me up in no time.

Sunday
Sep082013

Daycare update

I want to write about more interesting things, like how Mo learned to clap today, but I need to get this out of my head so I can get over it.

When I left off, our daycare provider, MB, had misunderstood what we were doing with food for Mo. She thought we weren't feeding her solids at all, and she thought our doctor hadn't given us any information on how to feed our child. I corrected her, of course, but found it very frustrating that she didn't seem to be listening to me.

Last week Tuesday I emailed MB to let her know that we were on board with feeding Mo purees at daycare, no problem, and that we'd start bringing some in when she turns 8 months old. I also mentioned that we were not frustrated by the food issue in particuar, but by feeling that "the state" was overruling our decisions and instincts as parents. I then asked what we might expect going forward as far as state regulations for daycares, so that we can be better prepared.

MB called me that night, but it was just as I was putting Mo to bed so I didn't answer and never got a chance to call her back. I also didn't listen to her voicemail (I often don't listen to voicemails right away because I assume they just say "call me back" and I plan to do that anyway). I then saw MB the next morning and we chatted for a bit, and we seemed to be on the same page as far as what Mo will be eating. I also found an email from her, one she had sent after I didn't answer her call but before I talked to her, that laid out a few things we can expect at daycare in the future (eg: when she will start napping in the big kid room, when she will start sitting at the lunch table instead of a high chair, etc). 

So I thought everything was fine and all was resolved.

Then Saturday I was listening to old voicemails so I could delete them, and I heard the one she had left me earlier in the week.

And I. Was. Pissed.

It was a three minute message that expressed how frustrated she was with the situation. Not with us, but with our doctor. Because she's been in daycare for 20 years, and she's never had a doctor say not to give baby food to a baby. And frankly, she's shocked that the doctor would tell us that. And as far as what to expect in the future, she doesn't know what to tell me because our doctor should have gone over all of this with us a long time ago. 

I listened to it several times and played it for a few other people. I mean, really? After all this, after I told her several times, both in writing and verbally, that our doctor never told us NOT to give her baby food and that we ARE feeding her purees (among other things), she still doesn't get it? AND! AND!!! Our doctor is supposed to tell us what to expect in the future? I wasn't referring to what we're supposed to feed her or how she is supposed to be developing. I was asking about what to expect as far as state regulations at daycare. I reread my email to make sure that was clear, and sure enough. I even asked if there was somewhere I could read the regulations the state has for licensed daycares. So either she thinks it's our doctor's job to tell us that, or she totally misunderstood me. Again.

Not to mention, the message had a very condescending tone. Everyone else picked up on it more than I did. I was so focused on that fact that she's not listening to me, but others noticed the message had a bit of a I-know-what-I'm-doing-and-you're-clueless-new-parents vibe. 

I stewed and raged about that message for a whole day. I vented to Mike, my sister and my mom. I wrote a draft of a nasty email (that I didn't send). Then I cooled down a bit and thought it might be better to just talk to her. But every time we talk, I feel like she's not listening. She's responding to what she thinks I'm going to say, and doesn't listen to what I actually say. Plus I just wanted to put this whole thing to rest. I wanted to make a few things very clear (and I wanted a written record, let's be honest), so I emailed her earlier today. 

I basically said that I got her message and it was obvious that there was some major misunderstanding or miscommunication. I said I wanted to move on from the food issue, but that I needed to clear a few things up first. And then I included these four bullet points:

 

  1. Our doctor did not tell us not to give her baby food. She just said we can give her other things. Not “don’t give her baby food” but rather “it’s ok to give her other things, too.”
  2. She gets purees at home, but also other things, and she does fine with all of them. 
  3. When I asked about what to expect for the future, I did not mean in regards to food or her general development. I meant in regards to state regulations. You suggested that our doctor should be educating us on what to expect, and as far as her development, she is. But it’s not her job to tell us about state regulations for daycares, and that is what I was asking for. It’s our job to be informed, and that’s why we were asking you for information.
  4. We are not asking you to do anything you are not allowed to do, so we will happily provide purees for you to feed her at daycare.

 

In response, she wrote, "Sounds good. Thx."

So I guess that's it. Hopefully she heard me this time.

I'm still not sure how a simple conversation about food escalated like this, but I blame it on poor communication. I'll own my part in it, but when I go back and read my emails, I think I'm pretty damn clear. And what I said verbally, as far as I can remember, was basically the same stuff I said in writing. 

So, what to do from here? As it relates to food, we're sending some purees with her starting tomorrow, so that should satisfy that issue. As for everything else, I'm not sure. We're still exploring other options.

I feel bad about the idea of pulling Mo out of a place she knows and likes just because adults can't resolve their issues. And we spent SO much time and energy finding a good daycare in the first place, that I don't want to do it all over again. Yet... does it need to be this frustrating? Could there be a better way? 

Maybe.

Mo Tries Food: A Photo Series

Banana:

Sweet Potatoes:

Pickle:

Broccoli:

Green Pepper:

Avocado:

MumMum teething cracker:

Poached Apple:

Buzz Lightyear:

 

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