Just Write: Breathe

I’m having a hard time posting here. I want to write and post more about our day-to-day and the projects I’m working on. But, to tell you the honest truth, it’s because I’ve been struggling with some anxiety. I’ve always had anxiety even as a child. I think growing up with a stutter didn’t help my anxiety but I’ve managed to push through all these years, relatively unscathed. These past few weeks have been a bit different though. Maybe because I’m older, maybe because I have another little person to look after and not just myself. My anxiety got so high,  I struggled through a couple of panic attacks last week and the week before. I feel weird putting all of this out there, but I didn’t want to hide it and keep on blogging like everything was fine and dandy. I want to be open and not only express and document the positive aspects of my life in this space, but talk about the very personal aspects as well. Make sure to be “keeping it real.”  I am feeling better now. After a trip to several doctors, I have a plan in place and plenty of help in family and friends to get me feeling less anxious.I’m eager to move forward and write about the projects I’m working on and what Ellie is up to, but I really felt like I’d be lying if I didn’t post about what’s been at the forefront of my life these days, this anxiety and maybe even a little bit of depression.  Anxiety is a tough thing to deal with, maybe the toughest thing I’ve dealt with thus far. But, every day, I remind myself to breathe in and breathe out… and continue on the best I can.

* quietly joining back in with Just Write.

Just Write: Let’s Play

My toddler is starting to play. Just the other day I noticed her take one of her little Ostheimer animals and move it up the little treehouse play-stand I have set up on her table. Then she took the other animals and set them on top of one of her playsilks, all of them lying down as if they were sleeping. She moved several more animals up and down the ladder of the play-stand and made a little sing-song as she worked, dadadaa-dadadaa. She was actually playing. It was a neat thing to watch. My baby was turning into a playful child right before my eyes. Of course she has been “playing” for quite some time,wrapping her Pink Baby in blankets, pushing her stroller around, moving stuffed animals from place to place; but it’s never truly looked like “imaginary play” before this week. I get a little giddy thinking about play. I’ve spent so many of my adult years studying play in young children and watching many children play in many different early childhood settings. I love what play, especially what imaginary play can bring to a child. The joy, the excitement, the drama, the understanding of the world around them. I can vividly remember playing myself, as a child. reenacting stories I read about early settlers or Native Americans. Pretending to be sea lions or dogs or Mothers or witches or horses. Nothing was off-limits and my play would continue on and on throughout the days and evenings.

The importance of play has stuck with me after my own experiences as a child, my experiences as a preschool teacher and my graduate studies in early education. I want Ellie to have a rich childhood full of imaginary play. I want her to have a passion for life and learning and I really think that staying playful and allowing her the chance to really play will keep her excited about learning and the world around her. Seeing the small glimpses of real “play” makes me excited for the fairy tales we will read and the puppet shows we may have, the hundreds of songs that she may make up for her imaginary scenarios and the stories she may tell me when she’s deeply invested in her own playful worlds. I hear Plato’s words ringing in my ears, “Life must be lived as PLAY”. My daughter has just begun her playful journey reminding me to play more in everyday life too.

– Joining Heather for Just Write: an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. 

(and a little side thank you to Jenn at baby by the sea for inspiring me to write a little bit about the joys of play.

Toddler Teeth

Long nights. The pain of new teeth coming in disturb my already very light sleeper. She whimpers and rolls closer to me, sometimes needing Mama’s milk to settle her body again. The days can be a whirlwind of emotions. Happy to paint but only with a paintbrush. Angry when the finger paints go back into the drawer, even though not a finger would touch them two seconds before. She wants to be close to me but bats my hand away when I try to gently brush her bangs out of her face. It’s hard, this dance we do when things get rough. I want so badly to take the uncomfortableness away, to cuddle her up or enjoy our day, but she has fight in her. She wants all of me and to be left alone at the same time. I carry my weepy girl upstairs. She wants her Pink Baby and her Bunny and her Napping Blanket. I get them as she sits on the bed waiting for me in all her sweet toddler glory. She scrunches her jaw and pats her cheek where those molars are breaking through. I give her a gentle glance and she curls up with me, nursing to sleep. An early nap time for this growing girl.

sleepy baby

 

* It’s been awhile but my goodness that felt good. Joining Heather today with JUST WRITE, “an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments”.

The Check-up

Prompt 18/30 seeking solace

 

She was seeking solace in my shoulder-blade. Burying her head deep down into Mama’s sweater, capturing my familiar scent, to ease her anxieties that the doctor was producing with all of the pokes and prodding.

I talked her through the examination.

“She’s going to look in your ears now. Okay. All done.”

She grabbed onto my body even tighter though when the stethoscope was placed on her bare skin. Her anxieties building and Mama’s embrace no longer keeping her confident. Tears poured from her eyes when the nurse stuck her with the needle and I had to shush in her ear to calm her little body down. I put on my brave mother face for her. Quieted down my own quick heartbeat. Used an even tone. But secretly, I was seeking solace too. Away from these strong maternal emotions I was feeling to protect my little one.  Her face beat red from crying. I held her with gentle stability. She held onto me and I held tight back.  It’s so difficult to be so young and not understand the what’s and why’s. I brought her home and cuddled her close. Laughing again and smiling again, it was but an experience she hopefully will not hold onto. And another experience in my book of tough moments of motherhood.

 

– joining in the daily writing with Write Alm’s November Prompts and Heather’s Just Write!

Just Write: A Quick Visit

Today I drove past my best friend’s childhood home. I stopped at the stop sign, turned left and then swung a right, right past the blue and white two-story home. The grass in front was well-tended just like it had been when Lauren lived there and that little tree in front was already turning color with autumn approaching.. Memories flooded back in an instant. I can see my mom dropping me off here for a slumber party. I wave her away as Lauren opens the front door smiling, a container of Carnation malt in her hand, ready for making ice cream soda’s. I see Lauren and I sitting in her cool, black Jetta, parked in the driveway of her house, angsty, emotional teenagers listening to Jewel’s Adrienne. Our seats laid back and the moon roof open. I can see us tumbling out the front door, a gaggle of young bodies dressed in Halloween costumes, ready for candy collecting. I see the stretch limo sidled up to the driveway. Girls in gowns and boys in tuxes eager for Prom and the rest of our lives.

It’s funny how a quick drive past a childhood home can conjure up so many memories and feelings. I connected with Lauren today after passing by her home. Texted her. Told her I missed her and the days of our youth. She texted back. I miss you tooIt would be nice to go back… maybe for just a quick visit? 

-joining Heather for Just Write (“an exercise in free-writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments”).

Just Write: This Beautiful Child Who Does Not Nap

we snuggle up together, she curls into my body and starts nursing, one hand draped to her side, the other softly caressing my chest. The hum of the fan calms both our bodies. It’s cool lying on the clean, cotton sheets. I have ocean music playing. Tunes to unwind and help little ones sleep. The wind blows the shutters open above our heads and a bright sun-gleam shines onto her face. I stare at my baby girl lovingly. She smiles at me between sucks. Her heavy, sleepy eyes perk open clearly and she pops off, flips over, smirks at me with a twinkle in her eyes and crawls quickly off the bed. A quick, lovely, peaceful moment… but unfortunately, no nap today.

wiggling feet

i refuse to nap, but i am cute

 

-joining in with Just Write today (I had written this last week but didn’t get a chance to post it. Now that I’m posting, I have a sleeping, sick baby curled up next to me).

Just Write: My Tribe

I have this tribe of Mama’s who have gotten me through the most trying days and nights with my baby. They support and guide me while I navigate nursing my active twelve month old, they give me advice when I’m anxious, pick me up when I’m feeling low and encourage my healthy living habits. They are the most phenomenal group of women that I have never met.  They are writers, artists, engineers, stay-at-home-moms, professionals from all walks of life. We’ve never met and yet I feel like they are my dearest friends, my support group, my sisterhood.

It was a blog that started all of this. I stumbled upon it one sleepy night while nursing Ellie back to sleep. A blog about “waiting it out”. A blog about accepting that some babies just don’t sleep through the night and that was okay. A blog about following the lead and needs of the child. No crying it out, just waiting it out. I loved every word Sarah wrote and I started eagerly following her blog. Post after post resonated with me. The respect and tenderness in each of her posts were so genuine and real. This was the mother I was trying to be to Ellie, this was the way I was parenting as well. The Nurshable blog touched so many sleepy mothers, a Facebook group was created and then sister groups stemming from that. Mothers from all over the globe, coming together to talk about waiting it out with their children. Supporting each other, helping each other, learning from each other, lovingly, with respect and adoration for each other. Months of visiting these groups and I am now a solid part of the community. I talk with these Mothers daily. I have their phone numbers and they have mine. Women I have never met but a camaraderie that grows and grows.

A tribe is so important in this motherhood journey and I am thankful every day for the support I have in these women. We don’t need to meet each other to feel so connected (although it would be lovely to meet many of them). We are connected through our passion to parent gently and we are connected through the support we give to one another every day. They remind me to breathe in and out and smile. And I in turn remind them.

-joining Heather for Just Write!

Just Write: She Turns One…

In five days my baby will turn a year old. I’m stunned (like all first time parents, I’m sure) at how quickly a year went by. Between preparations for this weekend’s birthday party and keeping a very active almost one year old busy, I’m finding that in those quiet moments my mind keeps wandering to the day I went into labor, the day I gave birth to my darling girl. This birthday isn’t just about celebrating a baby growing older but about a couple changing through the team-work of labor and love and turning into the family they are today.

The birth is blurry in  my head. I think that’s why I never told Ellie’s birth story here. I remember tiny bits and pieces; needing Jeff to be a constant all 20 + hours, feeling the warm water of the hospital shower rain down on my belly and back, easing some of the pain and being conscious of whether or not that damn IV stuck in my hand was getting wet. I remember leaning on a ball, the same ball a new Daddy would bounce his infant to sleep on. I was moving a lot. Up on the bed, squatting on the toilet, resting in the shower and back to the ball again. I don’t remember the pain, although  the photos our doula took suggests there was plenty of pain to go around. I do remember the surge of power I got when the midwife exclaimed I had reached 10 centimeters. The women in the room wanted me to push two times, each time, but I had insisted on pushing three times. I wanted that baby out. I remember lots of people in the hospital room at the end. A male nurse propped up against the wall with equipment. They thought Ellie may have swallowed merconium and as a precaution, specialized help was there at the ready. When she finally came out it was instant relief for my body and a flurry of activity. When she was checked over quickly and given the okay, her brand new, little body was placed on my chest. My body swollen from hours of the hardest work I had ever conquered and a steady stream of IV fluid was already doing what it was made to do, warm up that little creature lying there. I can picture the sweaty curls on Jeff’s forehead as he looked into my eyes as not just my husband but a father. I do remember that. My husband had in seconds changed before my very eyes into a father. Ellie was born on her due date at 9:59pm. And what I clearly remember is after the excitement died down, after I was stitched up, after the doula said her goodbyes and my own Mother got to meet her first daughter’s first daughter; it was dark and warm in that hospital room. Jeff had passed out for the night on the couch next to the bed. My Mom with tears in her eyes gave me a kiss on the head and one for her granddaughter too before leaving for the evening. After all was said and done, I laid there with Eloise, breathing ever so quietly and spent that first night holding her in my arms and memorizing her face, her breath, her smell. I was exhausted and the happiest I had ever felt in my life. I fell asleep with my new little baby safely sleeping on my chest. The nurses would leave us alone until morning. What a magical night that was in the hospital, this new little life I had created and pushed out, sleeping on my chest…

labor

pushing

shes here

a daddy

im a mother

And now she’s turning one. Like the labor I endured, this first year has been hard work, sometimes harder than I anticipated. With our new roles as mother and father, Jeff and I have supported each other through sleepless nights and milestones of every kind. And like that first night in the hospital, I’ve had euphoric moments with this little one. The first smile, connecting through  breastfeeding, waking up to her sweet face every morning. This year has been magical and tiresome, exhilarating and anxiety-producing, wonderful and marvelous and frustrating and emotional. My baby turns one in five days, I will celebrate her and hold her close and I will remember that night in the hospital, when I became the most important thing I will ever be… her mother.

-joining in with a special birthday edition of  JUST WRITE this week.

Just Write : Teething Sucks

Hand in her mouth, her little fingers come out all red and slimy. Drooling since she was three months old, we thought her teeth would come in quickly. But here we are almost ten months old and no teeth. But they are certainly coming. Tonight was rough. You could tell she was tired, blood shot eyes, yawning, her body wanting to let go and fall asleep, but those gums were just so sore. She would grab my face and gnaw on my jaw. Her gums were hurting her and even my jaw bone was not helping. I brought my sleepy girl back downstairs and tried to rub some teething gel onto her sore gums. She doesn’t want anyone else’s fingers in her mouth but her own so she turns away and the gel spreads to her lips instead. She’s fussy and fidgety and I try my best to be patient and calm as I try to get her to sleep hours after her regular bedtime. We nurse, we rock, we walk around the house. She wants so badly to fall asleep but she’s focusing on those sore gums and flips around in my arms. I hold her and hum a quiet song, rubbing her legs and trying to get her little nine month old body to relax. I sit in the rocker and offer her milk. She cuddles into my body, the body that once held her inside so safe. I’m still her safe, cozy place. I hum her sleepy song and she nurses, fading quickly this time. I pet her warm head, stroking the little threads of baby hair off her forehead. Her body relaxes and as she nurses she rests her hand on my breast. It breaks my heart to see her uncomfortable or in pain. But this is part of growing and so I try to help her by being there. I fear this tough teething night is only the beginning of teeth time woes. There will be more late nights and sore gummy tears, but Mama will be here to hold her when she needs it, to help her get to sleep again and again. I am her safe place. She’s sleeping now. Her head on my chest and her hand on my heart.

*joining Heather and many other writers for Just Write.

Just Write: Our evening walk

It’s five o’clock.

Daddy is done with work. The dogs can sense the end of the day. They peel themselves off the couch, stretch, yawn and shake off the long naps they take every day. They know it’s time for a walk. A “W”, as we call it. Don’t say the “w” word too loud or Linus will start getting too excited.

Daddy puts his shoes on. He smiles at us and asks about our day. He asks but he really already knows most of what our day entailed. He sits at his desk peeking out at us through the baby gate. We can hear him take his calls. We can see him writing and thinking hard. We like him home with us. Even if he’s in that back office most of the day. He’s accessible and we like that.

He straps the Ergo carrier to his chest as I get the dogs leashes on. Charlotte the french bulldog prances around as I jingle the leash closer to her. She runs away in excitement and I yell at her to come. I end up walking over to her… always. Linus the shepherd comes right over. This afternoon walk is the highlight of his day. The morning walk is just for sniffing and leaving his scent every which way, but this one is usually longer and faster paced. He starts panting at the thought of getting out. I pat him on the head as I clip his leash into place, knowing how much he enjoys getting out. Both dogs move quickly to the door. Ellie is loaded into the carrier. She kicks her legs in amusement at the regular scene. I give her a quick kiss. I give Daddy a quick kiss. We head out.

We walk. We talk. We talk about our days. We talk about finances. We talk about my parents and his. We talk about us as new parents. We talk about weekend plans and gardening and dreams of owning a farm. We talk and relate. Ellie listens to her parents enjoying each others company. She hears us discuss important topics every night and she hears us chat about the day-to-day. Sometimes we tickle her feet and play peekaboo. Sometimes we talk just to her, tell her what we see as we walk by the big park. The neighborhood dogs are off leash chasing balls. We point out the doggies and wave to our neighbors. Sometimes we walk so far and talk so much, Ellie cuddles in close to Daddy’s chest and drifts off to sleep for the remainder of the walk. While she sleeps we talk about how beautiful she is and how lucky we are to have her as our own.

The air is cool and a little bit salty. It’s breezy and it’s getting close to dinner time. We make our way home. Linus is reluctant to head back. He could walk for miles. Charlotte is eager for her dog food dinner.   We make it back home. I take the leashes off the dogs and set them on the rack in the laundry room. They settle in for the night. Daddy unbuckles the carrier and sits quietly down in the big chair. A sleeping baby still on his chest. It was a good walk… our evening walk.

– linking up with Heather for JUST WRITE.