Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve at the Roberts'

It's party town over here!  Caleb and I both have colds and it's kind of the pits.  Thankfully, Little Pickle hasn't caught it, and is foot-loose and fancy-free.  See?

Don't you wish you could lounge in a buzzing bed with toys hanging overhead?  I do.  I like to think Alice just knows she is livin' the life.

After the many Christmas festivities (and I do mean "many" -- over 5 days solely dedicated to Christmas partying), I guess life said, "Hey, Caleb and Julie.  You can't handle this.  Here's a cold to prove it."  Before the cold fully struck Caleb, he was able to go to the grocery store and kindly buy many medicinal supplies for his sickly wife.  So, in effort to make sickness somewhat interesting (and perhaps cute), I made a get-well-soon station that looks like this:
The bottle is for nasal-rinsing (gross, but effective), the vitamin C is to swallow and swallow and swallow and come as close to overdosing without actually overdosing as you can, and the lemons, raw honey, cayenne, ginger, and garlic (not pictured) are for a tasty medicinal tea that I like to call "Thai Tea" because, well, it tastes Thai-ish.  Not only does it boost your immune system, it feels amazing. You know what else is amazing?  Instant, nature-made popsicles on a sore throat.

Pop some grapes in the freezer and you have the most deliciously soothing sick-treat there is.  Grapes aren't the healthiest fruit but, hey, it feels wonderful.

By now you've probably put together that our New Year's Eve is festive and cheery.  Caleb can't contain himself.

Sorry for the bad lighting. Sickly settings just aren't bright places.

On the bright side, I've got old faithful to amuse me.  Lotion kleenexes and Little House on the Prairie.
I grew up watching this sappy show and you know what?  I love it.  Sue me for my nostalgia-kick.

Quote of the night:
Caleb: Honey, it's New Year's Eve.
Me:  Oh, YEAH!

P.S.  Notice the increase in pictures?  I became Blackberry-phone-savvy (sort of).  So maybe my blog will never be the same... for the better.  Hooray!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

People are real and so are labor pains.

This seems like it's coming out of nowhere, but do I care?  Nah.

1.  Giving birth to a human being opened my eyes.  I began to look at the people around me -- at the grocery store, at church, in stand-still traffic -- and I realized that the earth is swarming with people.  Each of these people were brought into the world by a mom who felt contractions, experienced the most pain a human could experience, and in the end -- by some miracle -- out came that person.

2.  Seriously.

3.  This brings me to my main point.  Not until I had a child did I realize the complete sacrifice it is.  And, yes, they certainly consume your life once their sweet selves are actually in the world, but when they're sealed inside your body, that's an entirely different story.  A life is inside of you, and you are nourishing this life, carrying it, feeling it, constantly living with it.  It effects all of you: your sleep, your eating habits, your puking habits, your body, your mind, your emotions, your wardrobe.  Then the scariest, most exciting day comes: labor.  The center of your body is tightening and releasing -- you feel it in every nerve.  The contractions start small and slowly grow and grow until you are so concentrated on what used to be the natural, thoughtless movements of your body -- you think through every breath, measuring it.  You think through the lean of your body, trying to bend to the most tolerable position.  You think through each step, each pause, every slight movement, and you feel every part of your body.  "Pain" becomes a feeling and an emotion and it's all that consumes you -- that and the thought of the sweet baby that will soon be in your arms.  It builds and builds and when you think it can't get worse, it does.  Yet somehow you pull through it until a little, crying bundle is placed in your arms and it needs you more than it needs anyone in the world.

4.  Okay, that's impressive.  Way to go, all moms across the universe.

5.  And maybe THIS is my main point.  Because of my eye-opening experience and my understanding of what it means to bodily-house and bear a child, the 2 following things just make my neck twitch a little, my lip curl a little, and my left-over baby belly bounce a little (<-- gross, funny, and only half-true):
Hearing, "Oh, my sister is pregnant.  They find out the sex of the baby in a couple months.  Pretty cool."  Pretty cool?!  Your sister is a super-hero, okay.  You should be passed out on the floor by how  impressed you are that the life inside of her is actually a boy or a girl.  You should be in awe that your sister is WITH CHILD.
And, secondly, the Facebook status.  An aunt or uncle or friend or acquaintance has every right to be excited about their friend/relative going into labor -- by all means, make a status.  But when the status is something like, "The baby will be here in a few hours!! Hooray!!"  I can't help but think, "IS THE MOTHER ALIVE?!?!"  Where are the updates about the mom?  Your sister-in-law feels like she's riding the wings of death, and all you can think about is the awesome, adorable baby that she and her husband and all those doctors are working so hard to bring into the world.  Have some respect for the almost-dead.

And I think that just about covers it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life Lately

(New 1-month- AND 2-month-old pictures coming soon!)

Alice is smiling at us!  It breaks my little mommy heart every time she looks at me and smiles.  What could be better than that little bean who grew inside you for 9 months, takes your sleep for 2 months, and requires your every moment, finally "seeing" you for the first time?  It's not uncommon for my eyes to water with happy almost-tears when we're smiling at each other. Yesterday, as Caleb and I were standing over her, smiling like giddy fools, she let out a happy squeal!  Ah, the cuteness could kill.

So we've reached the responsive smiling milestone, and I have to be honest, I'm impatient for more milestones to start popping up.  I can't count how many times moms have said, "Oh, this is the best age," "I love this age," "I wish they could stay this age forever."  Of course I love tiny 2-month Alice, but really?  She can't sleep through the night, she likes to eat every 3 hours, when she cries we play guessing games to see what's wrong, and her new little digestive system makes her gassy and angry.  Call me a bad mom, but I am looking forward to her being just a few months older -- then maybe the guessing games won't be as common and she'll be just a little less needy.  There's nothing better than being needed, but it makes sense to me that a mom with more sleep and a baby whose digestive system is more mature would make life a little more stable. 

But Alice has been a trooper this past week or so.  About a week ago, my sister got married (hooray!), and with all of the wedding events/family in town, we had somewhere to go almost everyday.  Alice rocked those first few days, but as it got later in the week, she made it very clear to us that she was confused and very unhappy with how unpredictable life had become.  She chose the rehearsal dinner to introduce us to her loudest screams and longest cries... poor baby.  We learned our lesson, and brought her entire nursery with us to the wedding the next day!  Her bouncer, sound machine, monitor, pacie, and a dark room had her set for success (and her grandma to take care of her, of course).  She made it through the wedding like a champ.  I never thought that events could be such a big deal... infants are kind of a big deal and they're very good at carrying that "big deal" into every situation of life.  It's a good thing you're cute, kid!  But I guess it's worth it. :)

That's as exciting of an update there is right now.  Alice is the best little girl -- she tolerates long outtings, is patient in practicing nursing (yes, I'm pumping less and less! AMAZING), and is sleeping longer and longer through the night.  Oh, and let's not forget that she loves smiling so much that she'll sometimes stop mid-feeding just to smile for a few minutes.  And for me, the days are running together and getting out of the house couldn't be more glorious. 

Caleb and I are dreaming of a date night.  This dream might become reality very soon... Alice can live without me for a few hours, right?  Maybe.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Turn the tears off, I said not another peep, listen to me: I'm a mom. Period.

Today is the day I officially felt like a nutcase mom.

It was Alice's and my first outing with just the two of us -- we were going to pick up milk from our favorite farmer.  Hearing my daughter whimper in the backseat while I'm stuck in the front seat is a new, rather uncomfortable feeling.  I figured the whimpers were likely due to evil sun-blinding (I still remember that feeling as a kid), so at a stoplight, I reached into the back seat to drape a blanket over her carseat.  Only a few seconds had gone by when the light turned green and the car behind me gave a big HONK.  It was rather startling, and in the midst of my awkward position and rush to get my child comfortable, my mouth instinctually opened and I heard myself yell, "Deal with it, I've got a baby in this car!!" 


It was an eye-opening moment.  A scary moment.  I'm a mom, and I'm going to do weird, momish things that I thought I would never do.  I'm going to say weird, momish things I thought I'd never say.  Yes, I could probably ask my friends and sisters to notify me when they see the mom flowing out of me.  I could try really, really hard to avoid weird phrases and colloquialisms.  I could even avoid stores like TJ Maxx and New York and Company.  But in the end, it's unavoidable -- I am going to, for the sake of my child, scold cars who can't even hear me.  Lesson learned.  Lesson heartily learned, world.  And when one day I look at Alice's crayon art all over the wall and call her "young lady," I'll learn that lesson all over again.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life as a new mom

Welcome to my first blog post!  Here we go.

I didn’t expect to start everyday around 11am, but with a squirmy wormy who wakes you up throughout the night with screaming demands of a full belly, waving goodbye to mornings is just how life has been for the past 4 weeks (I can’t believe my baby is a month old!).

With that said, it is now noon, so I’ve really gotten a jump on the day, having already sat down to write! ;) Anyway, I’m here to share my life as a new mom -- what I expected, what I didn’t expect, and all experiences therein.

Unexpected: Emotions
I’ve never been a person who has enjoyed being subjected to her emotions. However, soon after giving birth, floods of emotions did not simply come and go but they immediately became a part of me. Learning how to respond to these emotions is something I’m still doing, but there is so much to figure out in this huge, new stage of life! I have a baby to love and a husband to love, a home to take care of and welcome people into, dinner to fix, errands to run (those errands have only happened in the evening when daddy is home), and a smile to put on my face in the midst of all the newness. As an overly-analytical thinker, I am slow to adjust to the complexities of any life change, but babies don’t wait on your time, and being thrust into a world of fast-paced change just puts my emotions running into a blur of, “How do I do this, how do I WANT to do this, can I do it how I want, when do I say no, when do I say yes,” and any other number of thoughts/feelings. And speaking of feelings, some are stronger than others…

Expected: Mother Bear
Yup. I’m a protective mother bear and it’s kind of annoying. Before having a child, I always stood back in awe of the mothers who could simply let their baby be passed around, messed with, talked to at different levels of loud-ness, and generally just messed with. I would think to myself, “Am I going to have a magical feeling of freedom come over me when I’m a mom, that allows me to thrust my precious baby into the hands of other people?” Because, by all appearances, most mothers experienced this magical feeling. That magical feeling didn’t come. At all. I am learning to let my little baby be handed off and “let go of,” literally and figuratively (even if I don't especially love the way she’s being handled). Generally, I operate best in small groups of people and, not surprisingly, that applies to how I handle my baby being handled… when there’s a small group, I’m calm and things feel in control. When there’s a large group and she’s being passed, bounced, adjusted, and touched, I often want to jump up, grab Alice, and run -- ridiculous but true. Some people just don’t handle your baby the way you would. It’s not necessary to be completely willy nilly, easy breezy, “whatever goes” -- but to some extent, I want to be more laid back with my child. This, I’m sure, will get extraordinarily easier with every child I have.

Unexpected: Expectations
So I knew I would have expectations. People besides mom have expectations for baby! Who knew, right? I’ve quickly learned that my expectations need to be thrown out the window, as I am subjected to the wills of an unpredictable, rather irrational baby. But as a first-time mom, people seem to think you need to be told how things must be done. I know I need help (so much help!), but I also know I must figure things out on my own. Advice from strangers, family, friends, is a constant that I’m learning how to respond to. New mommies require patience from all corners of life -- I myself need patience toward Alice and toward friends, and I also need the patience of others, as new mom and dad figure all of this out. Every couple is different and every baby is different, and learning how we as a family operate is a new adventure -- expectations just get in the way of how life is supposed to fall into place.

Expected and unexpected: Feeding
I knew that nursing Alice would be a time-consuming activity that would take some adjustment. However, Alice came out of the womb with a tiny body and a tiny mouth whose strength is not enough to suck at the breast, requiring her to bottle-feed. I never expected to be attached to a machine, pumping every-other hour throughout the day. It is time-consuming and exhausting. Every two or three hours, I stop whatever I’m doing, clean the pump pieces, sit next to the pump, and think about the things I would be doing, had pumping not been a requirement. Not only is it an interruption to my day, but it necessarily must be coordinated into my schedule -- pumping with a fussy baby next to you, and hands too busy to calm her, is no fun. I try to get pumping out of the way while Alice is napping, but that obviously doesn’t always work. Not to mention, I must coordinate the timing of guest’s arrival to when I need to pump next. It also creates extra dishes to wash in our dishwasher-less kitchen, with all of the bottles that need attention. All in all, it’s no fun, and I look forward to when Alice is able to nurse in the completely organic way it’s “supposed” to be. I do try to always create an environment for her that is as if I am breastfeeding -- if we’re out in public, I seek a place that’s as private as possible, if daddy is home, we sit near daddy and talk while she sucks away at her bottle, if guests are over, we retreat to her nursery. Mommy-baby feeding time is so important, so even though it’s not as I expected, I try to make it as close to the “real thing” as possible. And I know that Alice’s little body will thank me for it someday, too!

Unexpected: Abounding love for my husband
I read in one woman’s blog that her love for her husband grew after the birth of their first child. This struck me, and I wondered if I would discover it to be true for me, as well. Um, it was so true, and how could it not be true?! Watching your husband care for your little baby as he gently changes her diaper and rubs her belly to calm her. Hearing him talk sweetly to her. Simply watching him be dad is -- excuse my sappiness -- the most precious thing ever. When he comes home from work, I know that he has worked for us, and that makes the simple pleasure of serving him dinner an utter joy. Because of this tiny, helpless baby, we are growing as a couple and it is marvelous! Difficult at times, mind you, but altogether marvelous.

Having a baby is work, but absolutely the most enjoyable, rewarding work there is. I already can’t wait to have more! She grows and changes everyday, and my love for her grows, too. I love getting to know her little personality and watching her hilarious expressions. She is so dependent on me, which is somehow the most endearing thing of all.

I know I have plenty more expectations hiding behind the corners of my mind, and I’m sure to discover them as she grows and, in turn, I grow. Taking care of this sweet little person is the greatest blessing God could give. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them! I want our quiver to be packed.