Tuesday, December 28, 2010

3 Months - The Age of Eternal Optimism

Last night my Willow slept through the entire night without a single peep. I feel renewed and almost like I've weathered part of the parenting storm that washes away so many others for so much longer. Even if she is a total bear tonight and is up and down a million times I will think positively about this morning and how there will be more and more mornings like it coming up just around the corner. The impossible has become possible. I know she can do it, and that thought fills me with happiness.

So far, this age is my absolute favorite. I know that will change as she develops and we discover other new ages that come with exciting advancements, but for the moment, three months is the cat's pajamas. It's not all roses and sunshine, but I'm old enough now to realize that nothing ever is. The teething fairy has stopped by and left us with a bucket of drool and an uncontrollable urge to chew, chew, chew! Fingers are a favorite - mine, hers, Ryan's... it doesn't really matter who the fingers belong to, what's important is the texture. We've tried to move her to toys and teething rings, but obviously we have yet to understand that fingers are the only way to go which she has made quite clear by effectively tossing each and every other item we've attempted to get her interested in to the side and grabbing again for FINGERS! We've soldiered on with some sparingly used baby Tylenol and quite a bit of walking the floors of our house while swaying/bouncing/calming and assuring her that this feeling won't last forever.

She has also made great strides in mobility and is able to turn on her side in both directions and will most likely be rolling over easily before too long. I can feel how strong she is getting and our forays into tummy time have started to go much better and have been building up her increasingly stronger neck muscles. I'm incredibly proud, especially considering that "tummy time" for many weeks was basically a giant failure that went a little something like this:

1. Place baby on her back on a flat, blanketed surface.
2. Turn her over onto her stomach and prop her up slightly on her elbows.
3. Listen to baby scream while she face-plants into the floor.

We did not have the most auspicious start, but these recent weeks have brought on a new, vigorous baby that has a lot more patience for new experiences. Of course, I am extremely grateful because I love watching her improve and I have the pleasure these days of seeing that almost every day. It's pretty much the best thing ever.

To add even further positivity to our world, Willow has become a bucketful of smiles lately, too. She even has ventured close to giving us a laugh a few times. She is especially enamored with her Daddy these days, and he gets a big smile almost every time he looks her direction. And I don't have to be too jealous because I also get a good number of big gummy smiles each day. I'll admit that I will definitely miss her toothless grin when those teeth start coming in. It's just so cute.

So all in all, I really feel quite optimistic these days about our life. Having a baby has been a pretty stressful experience for some of the early days, but it is so encouraging to reach this point where you suddenly feel like it truly is possible! You can live with this little person every day for the rest of their young lives and then continue to worry about them every day for the rest of yours. It's overwhelming for sure and I found it a bit hard to handle at first. But, for the very first time since giving birth I can honestly see not only how we will be able to manage parenting Willow, but also how it might be possible to have another one one of these days. I know, I never thought I'd say it either - but, Gasp! I actually think there's a remote possibility I'd do it again someday. Just maybe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


In 2003 I moved to Chicago in search of a music career and a much needed change of scenery. I grew up in Indiana and had seen about as much of it as I thought I needed for a while, so I headed to the Windy City with the intention of making it big. I suppose looking back I never thought that the happiness I was hoping for would be trumped by something much different and much better. Instead of becoming the musician I wanted to be, I surpassed those dreams by marrying the most wonderful man and becoming a mother to a perfect little girl named Willow.

She came about in the usual way -

1. girl meets boy.
2. they fall in love.
3. they get themselves hitched.
4. In due time they decide to create a genetic combination of themselves that they then raise for the rest of their lives.

(Or something like that.)

She was every bit a planned baby that we were happy to welcome on 9/23/2010. Although 8 days late, she entered this world with much enthusiasm and her almost immediate love for communicating to us in high screechy squeaks garnered her her very first nick-name: Mouse. She's pretty incredible, and I'm already really proud to be her mom.

So, I am currently a stay-at-home mom and am really enjoying the challenges of life with a 10 week old baby. That's also a load of bologna because this job is seriously hard, yo. I never really fathomed how difficult the first six weeks would be, and I'm not sure that anything could have prepared me for it, really. One thing I have definitely learned thus far is that you can dispense as much advice to your pregnant friends and loved ones as you want, but no amount of talking can ever really prepare a person for how it feels to be a brand new, sleep-deprived, completely unhinged parent to a squawking ball of adorable fury. It is an experience that I do not feel will be equaled in emotional growth for me anytime soon. But it was also an incredible time of burgeoning lifelong feelings that surprise you with their intensity - the love I have for Willow surpasses any kind of love I've ever felt. It's amazing and a bit unnerving, but every bit wonderful.

My husband, Ryan, has also been wonderful, and I count myself lucky for having him as a partner in this life. He is forever challenging me to grow and learn and although he can be charmingly pushy about it sometimes, I always appreciate that he wants me to better myself everyday. That is the kind of person that everyone should want to be with for life, someone that pushes you to be your best and loves you when you sometimes fail. We are truly happily married and I try to always remember how rare that is. Also, he is devastatingly funny one moment and completely insane the next and although I would usually much rather fly under the radar, I find that I am pulled out of my shell often by his antics - which, in the end, I think is a very good thing. :) As a Dad, Ryan is top notch and he's really taken it on himself to take frequent responsibility for Willow and to be sure that he is staying involved in all the many intricate processes that constitute her life. We've had our rare moments of conflict only when the sleep had dwindled to a seriously low number of hours, and he has really made an effort to understand my feelings and to support me. Which I totally appreciate. I mean, seriously, it's awesome.

But that's not to say that I have not had challenges since I left my job and took up employment at The Chamberlain House, Inc. I can definitely sympathize with moms who begin to feel a bit undefined when they first begin the mom journey. I felt a bit unanchored during those first few weeks. Nothing about your life is the same as it was and I found myself really reeling from the sleep deprivation and very stressed. Without the familiars of my life or schedule I had a chance to reset myself and reprogram my own behaviors, and it was strange to me. On top of all that, I had trouble feeling like I was worthy of staying home, too. I worried that the Husband would resent me, that I wouldn't do enough to warrant a free ride. But then, I head-checked myself and was reminded that he would never do that to me. We discussed this at length and had decided together that this was the best possible course for our family at this moment and so there would be no reason for him to harbor any bad feelings about it. We were at peace with the choice, so I needed to be at peace with the responsibilities that are now mine and to stop feeling guilty for imaginary crimes.

And so far, I think I'm kicking ass. I have completely gotten into the groove of mothering and have honestly become pretty confident with the current set of tasks. Willow is beyond amazing, and I try every day to absorb all of her quirks and accomplishments. She is seriously growing like a mutant weed or something and it's crazy awesome! All of that has made the days really rewarding. I feel like I'm truly succeeding as she succeeds and I totally get where all those crazy stage moms get their complexes from - it's addicting to watch your child win at life! Not that I plan to go all Toddler.s and Tiara.s on you guys, but I do understand now how it must feel for parents that are faced with watching their child make bad decisions or stumble and how you always want them to have accolades and congratulations over regrets and possible police records. I mean, come on - could you want anything but Academy Awards and Nobel Prizes for this kid?

Didn't I mention that she's perfect? :) Holy cow, we're lucky people to be able to call her ours.

And so I come to the point: This blog is meant to be a place for me to retain some personal sanity in the face of all the changes and new routines yet to come so I plan to document my experiences, share my interests, and perhaps display some art (maybe some of mine, but lots of other people's for sure). I want this to be a place for remembering what makes me the person I am and also to reflect on what will affect me in the future. I can already look back now and see how far we've already come, but it is truly humbling to look forward to the enormity of the journey that lies ahead and to realize that you've only just begun it.

So, here's to the glorious, rocky road that surely lies ahead - I look forward to sharing it with you.