Less than 3 hours old
There have been so many times when I wanted to write about my baby, my journey of motherhood, the beautiful times, the difficult times. But things got in the way. The baby woke up from a nap or was sleeping on me leaving me with just one hand to type. I worried that no one besides me would care about what I had to say, so why type it up for public consumption. Things were too personal to write to have attached to my name and all of Google to find. So I didn't write. And then I felt guilty for not writing. And then I felt that too much time had passed, so the first blog post I wrote after the long hiatus had better be good. Well, forget it. I'm letting all that go. If I want to write something I'm going to write it. And it if takes a few days before I finish it and hit publish, so be it. And if no one but me finds it riveting, so be it.
Rather than recap the last three amazing months in their entirety, I'll list some things about new motherhood and my baby girl that I hope I never forget. That I'm afraid I will forget if I don't write them down.
I thought Savannah was tired. She was crying and fussy. It was dark out. She had nursed, but was uncharacteristically wide awake. I swaddled her and cradled her in my arms. I rocked and sang to her, hoping it would put her to sleep because I, too was painfully exhausted. Instead, she stopped crying and just stared into my eyes, listening to me sing for AN HOUR. She didn't cry once; didn't make a sound; just gazed into my eyes; her gaze never wavered; it was incredible and exhausting. I sang Summertime, The Very Thought of You, Cheek to Cheek, Someone to Watch Over Me, Yesterday, over and over and over, wishing she would just fall asleep. Through stinging, tired eyes, a sore back and neck, I decided to savor the beauty of this connection because these tender moments don't last forever. Even though it felt like an eternity...
I remember the moment I learned the true meaning of trust. One of the moms I follow on Twitter had mentioned showering with her baby since she was a newborn. I was curious because it seemed so much easier and quicker than getting the bath all set up. After asking a few questions about logistics, we decided to give it a go. But of course I worried: I was worried that the intensity of the water and loudness of the shower in general would totally spook my 5 week old daughter. I worried that I would drop her. I thought about the best way to get her all soapy and had a plan in my mind for how it would all unfold efficiently. I anticipated 2-3 minutes of baby screams.
Instead, when Rob handed to Savannah to me while I was in the shower, she didn't make a sound. I cradled her in my left arm, securely holding onto one of her thighs in case she got slippery. She just looked up at me, unfazed by the commotion of the shower. How exciting! One thing I didn't plan for was the mist that was created when the water bounced off our our bodies. Teeny tiny beads of water collected on her face as it ricocheted off of us. I worried that the water would get in her eyes and bother her. She didn't care. She just kept her eyes on me the entire time. She had no reason to be afraid. She trusted me. She was with me so she was okay.
During the early days especially, if I was awake, I was staring lovingly at my baby. Like, deep intense, motherly staring. Often this staring occurred while Savannah was nursing, which gave me insane muscle spasms in my neck from looking down, but that's besides the point.
Rob went back to work after two weeks of being home with us, and it was just me and the baby all day long. She slept a lot. I stared at her. When she was awake, I often kept my face close to hers so she could see it clearly (brand new babies can only see about a foot in front of them). My eyes were pretty much on her all day minus the 10 minutes in the morning I would lay her in her crib so I could brush my teeth, get dressed and go to the bathroom. I became the willing victim of severe Baby Tunnel Vision.
One night when Rob came home from work, he looked HUGE to me. I had spent so much time staring so closely at my new baby's tiny face, that the size of a grown man's head was shocking to me. When he leaned in to kiss me, all I saw were his gigantic pores and individual beard hairs. He just seemed like a caricatured version of himself and it was almost grotesque to me. It was quite a weird experience and a perception that stuck around for a while. One morning we were having some lovey dovey time, and I kissed him and then marveled, "You look so old." He responded, "You look so young." He's a good husband.
Nothing prepared me for all the crying. MY crying that is. I was a weeping willow those first few weeks. I cried and cried over how amazing and adorable my daughter was. I marveled at how I created life and with that thought came the waterworks. My husband wasn't immune either. I caught him gazing at her in bed one morning and he appeared to have a tear in his eye. "Are you okay?" "She's just so cute," he blubbered.
I cried the night her umbilical cord stump fell off. Yeah, yeah, yeah, gross, whatever. I sobbed. "We have to have another baby. She's growing up so fast." She was two weeks old at the time, haha.
With the crazy hormone surge of pregnancy and giving birth comes the time when the hormones start to level off. My moods were a series of ups and downs for a while there. One night, I was astonished at how quickly I was losing the baby weight (most of it is water weight after all, so the first 35 pounds just fell off within 3-4 weeks). I still had 15 pounds to lose, but I looked at my new body in the mirror, a body that had carried life, and I said to my husband, "If this is my new body and it never goes back to normal, I'm totally fine with this." And I meant it. I felt great about myself. Fast forward a week later, and I'm sobbing about my stretch marks and squishy, malleable tummy in the shower.
I guess I want to remember these moments of intense emotion because those early weeks were just that. INTENSE. I never felt like more of a human, like more of a citizen of the ecosystem, like more of a female than during the weeks after giving birth. It made me realize the importance of motherhood and the privilege it is to witness a human grow up and shape part of their lives. This close introspection also made the sad and angry feelings that cropped up that much more exacerbated. And that's okay.
I read Dr. Sears' The Baby Book when I was pregnant, which introduced me to the idea of attachment parenting. I also read The Happiest Baby on the Block, which basically echoed the idea that you should hold your baby as much as possible during their first 3 months in order to create a womb-like environment. This will promote bonding, prevent crying, and encourage later independence because the initial foundation of trust between parent and child has been established. This idea really resonated with me.
When she was around 2 weeks old, I started to wear Savannah when we took walks, either in a Moby Wrap or Lillebaby carrier. She loved it and would fall asleep instantly, as opposed to her near-constant crying in her stroller. I loved it because I knew it was comforting for her to hear my heartbeat like she was used to; because I loved any excuse to snuggle her; because it didn't hurt my back like carrying her in my arms did; because it gave me freedom to use my arms; because she looked so silly being all tiny in a ginormous stroller.
Anyways, the memory I want to savor is how she would wake up after napping in the carrier. She would rocket her head off of my chest with the frowniest face I could ever imagine and take a huge, deep breath. Her eyes would still be closed, her lower lip completely rolled over and frowning, and she would look so disheveled because after all that time on my chest, she'd have sweat in her hair and on her face. Then she'd bang her head back on my chest just as hard and slowly open her eyes. Total, 100% old-man-style grumpy, hangover face. LOVE IT. Don't see it as much anymore now that she's usually in her stroller :(
There are many amazing things about breastfeeding. Someone needs to come up with the perfect onomatopoeia-spelling for the amazing *chomp* sound a hungry baby makes when they first start eating. That sound is just hilarious and satisfying. Baby sighs similar to those inspired in adults by Nutella or a heavily umami-laden savory sauce are music to my ears. Those sighs come after the *chomp* but before the adorable massaging. Yes, Savvy massages, slaps, scratches and strokes my boob and chest while she's eating. It's so freaking adorable.
Within the last month or so, Savannah discovered her hands and she's become able to grab things that interest her. The number one cutest thing she does with her hands is scratching her head because she does it in a way that only a 12 week old would. When you think about how you scratch something, you might press firmly with your first two fingers and move back and forth with your wrist. You probably don't use your thumb. Maybe you only use your ring finger for a small itch.
Whatever, you probably never thought of the way you scratch something. I never did either until I saw how differently Savvy scratches. All of her fingers move in unison and her arm stays completely steady. She just opens and closes her fist like a rhythmic claw. Open, close, open, close, open, close.