Monday, July 21, 2014

Cora and Ruby

I am almost three weeks into parenting two kids thing now, and I can safely say that I am quite terrified for tomorrow, when my amazing husband will be going back to work.

I've been trying to find a few minutes to post for more than a week and it always feels impossible.  At the moment Nick and Cora are at the grocery store, while I rock Ruby in her vibrating chair with my left foot, snuggle the cat and type at the same time. Impressive mostly because she usually only likes to sleep in my arms or in the sling.  And not quite as impressive as yesterday, when I swept and mopped one-handed while nursing her in the sling, but still.  And Cora was napping at the moment.... But I am learning to give myself high-fives whenever I can, considering that I am definitely getting taken down a few rungs pretty regularly, and I need a little boost to get through the rest of today on the four hours of sleep that are fueling me.

I've been wanting to post pictures, and write about the cuteness of Ruby's sleepy smiles and laughs, or about the amazing and shocking things she is so precociously doing.  (Oh, she's sleep-laughing right now, in between pirate-eyed peeks at me through her little left eye!  So cute!) 

But we'll see.... lowering my expectations for myself is the most reasonable thing to expect right now.

So instead of the post with reflections on the birth... perhaps I'll just offer a sweet little glimpse of Cora's little love fest with her new sister. 


She's been pretty sweet and mostly very gentle with her.  She is always asking to hold her, by holding up her hands to me.  When I ask if she wants to hold Ruby she answers, "Kay," with a smile.  But most of the time she will shy away when I actually try to put the baby in her lap.  Lately she's been getting a little braver, and actually holding her sister for a few seconds before she starts wanting to escape.  And I managed to finally capture the sweetness on camera. 

I am smitten with these girls.



We'll see how I feel about them by the end of the week, after a few days of being the stay-at-home parent alone once again.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Welcome Ruby Elizabeth!

Ruby was born on Tuesday, July 1st at 6:21 pm.  7 lbs, 14 ounces, and 20 inches of strawberry blonde girl.  She was born in our guest room in a birthing tub on a crazy hot 97 degree day, after a fast and very intense labor.  For those impressed with a natural unmedicated birth, I will be the first to say that for much of the labor I definitely questioned that decision.

But, oh, am I happy now.

Cora has been quite a lovely big sister.  Although she seemed excited to talk about "Baby Ruby" when she was inside me, I often wondered if she just thought that we called my big belly a baby.  I wasn't sure how surprised she would see to finally meet this little sister we'd been telling her about face-to face.  But she surprised me by not acting too surprised at all.  She came running into the birthing room to check out her new sister.

Shhhhhh.



Getting a closer look.




The last couple days have had a couple ups and downs for Cora.  While she seems excited about Ruby, and wants to kiss her and touch her, we have to make sure to watch very closely, since she isn't very careful and can get a little bit rough.  She's also had a few outbursts that are likely related to the changes around here.

Ruby and I have been snuggled up in bed for the past three days, with Ruby demanding to nurse constantly, and Cora wanting to lay on me and "help."  

Cora was very excited to celebrate Ruby's birth day with a little party, complete with her favorite song, "Happy Birthday!" and its must-have accompaniment: cake.


She's still singing "Happy Birthday" over here.  She was very excited that Ruby gave her a Frozen coloring book.


Cuddling with Daddy and "holding" her sister.


Being a great helper and putting on Ruby's socks.


Some glimpses of our newest girl.


I expect she'll be giving this look to Cora quite a lot.

For now, we are taking some time to settle into this new family of four, cuddle in at home and actually get some time to rest, recover and get used to the newest member of our family.  So far the differences between Cora and Ruby's introductions have been fairly dramatic.  But there is no doubt that as we were with Miss Cora, we are indeed, in love.

I will share more of her birth story and my thoughts as I have time to process them.  In the meantime, I am going to continue enjoying my new baby girl.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Waiting

Today I read an achingly beautiful article, that like most things it seems these days, had me weeping.

I am at the tail end of this long, long pregnancy, at last.  While with Cora I did not yet feel ready when she surprised us by coming just after 37 weeks, now I am waiting, waiting, waiting. 

I am still a week shy of my due date, but already to a time when I thought I'd be snuggled in with my baby, not still noticing the daily expansion of my surprisingly round belly.

Each day I wake up wondering if it will be today.  And I go to bed at night, only to wake the next morning (and several times through the night) with the same thoughts.

To read this article today finally gave some shape to the way I've been feeling.  Moody and weepy, short-tempered and sentimental.  Impatient and still afraid...  Feeling incapable of doing anything of value, and still feeling an urgent need to cling to and appreciate the little moments that make up these days.

I am standing on the precipice of waiting for my life to change, yet again.  There really is no comparison for the changes that becoming a mother effects.  No other transition I have gone through that has shifted and formed me, or changed me down to my very being.  Yet here I am, about to become a mother again.  Is that really right?  Am I becoming a mother once again?  It feels like it to me.

I know what it is to be Cora's mother so far.  But what do I know about this new baby?  I know her sweet bumpy hiccups, soft kicks and long stretches.  I know that she likes to kick her big sister, and sometimes tries to hide when another hand tries to sneak in and feel her movements.  I know that she has been in there for what feels like eternity, and that carrying her has seemed to bring my life to a stand-still.  I've been to a large extent off my feet for about four months now, wondering how my body and my sanity would make it to the end.  I've been feeling so much guilt for not having the same energy for my Cora Bean, missing out on the spring and most of the summer, and staying inside watching way too much television.  It has felt so long and so lonely, and honestly, so very hard.

It's so hard to believe that this phase will soon come to an end.  And even harder to believe that a new phase will begin.

In the meantime, I find my moments of real joy in the snuggles that I get with my lovely little three-year old.  I climb into my bed in between bed-time and nap-time and she happily follows me in for the sweetest of embraces and a few giggles.  Those moments are what are carrying me through.

And there are those moments when I realize (although still in a kind of disbelief) that I will soon be creating new moments of a joy with an entirely new person, a person that I will somehow love as much as I love my Cora.

It's in those moments that I know that this waiting is worthwhile.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Mother's Day... What Makes a Mom

On this Mother's Day, as I am given the rare sweet opportunity to sleep in until 8:30 and eat a beautiful breakfast made by my awesome husband, I am reflecting with love on the ones that make motherhood so special to me.

My own mumma, who is the best inspiration and one of the most incredible blessings in my life.

Photograph by Shon Taylor

To my sweet little girl Cora, who changed my life and made me a mama, too.  Being her mother is the hardest, and most exquisitely wonderful thing in my life.

Photograph by Owls Eye Photography

And to my new sweet little baby girl, for now so small and wiggly, who is slowing me down and turning my life into what feels like a long waiting game... I can't wait to welcome you into our lives.

Photograph by Owls Eye Photography

Happy Mother's Day.

To see the beautiful project by Megan at Owls Eye Photography, please see "What Makes a Mom."  Thank you Megan, for the gorgeous photographs!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Eggs


Seeing your kids have a blast on holidays is something that is hard to match. And this year Cora finally got into the excitement and had a great time.

We kept it pretty low key.  We started by making Eggs Benedict.  Cora really must be my daughter, because she ate every bite, proclaiming "nummy!" after most of them.  And for those that know about Cora's eating habits, eating every bite of anything is considered an accomplishment around here.

Then the fun began, as Cora ran around the front yard looking for Easter eggs. 



Seeing her get so excited to find each one, then hold them up to show us before running around for more was pretty amazing.  Especially because seeing her on her own two feet is still such an incredible thing to witness.




When she discovered that each egg actually held a piece of candy, she was pretty thrilled.  So she spent a few minutes eating every little chocolate egg she could find.


The rest of our day will be pretty low-key.  We'll be staying at home, and getting outside a little to take advantage of the snippets of sunshine that seem to be peeking through.  Happy Easter.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bittersweet

The other night I had a big realization.  It hit me as I was lying in the guest bed, trying to sleep (after  being lovingly kicked out of bed due to my marathon pregnancy-induced snoring sessions).  For the past couple months the days and weeks have been moving in slow motion.  Let me tell you, this pregnancy has been really rough on me, and having another two and a half months or so to go has been seeming like eternity.  But somehow that night, alone in bed, it dawned on me that I only had another couple months of being a mama to just Cora. 

Suddenly, the rest of this pregnancy felt like it would fly by in a flash, and I began to cry.  I mean, I really cried.  For probably an hour or so.  I felt like my heart was being pulled from my chest and that I was actually mourning a loss.  Of course I know that I am not going to be losing Cora when her little sister arrives, but somehow it felt that way right then.

For more than three years now, this little girl has been my entire life.  Everything I do revolves around her.  Most of the time it feels like everything I am revolves around her.  The life I lived before she was born seems so alien to me now.  My days and nights are of course different.  But even my thoughts, my conversations and my friends are different.  Everything in my life centers around the fact that I am Cora's mom, and that I spend my days and nights with this little girl.


And now I am realizing that that will all be changing.  I won't just be Cora's mom anymore.  I will have someone else there to share my focus, my energy, my thoughts, my attention and my love.

And somehow, the idea of sharing those things, despite how excited we are to welcome the new little one into our lives, felt like an enormous loss: a loss of the era of us as a twosome.

Little Sister, patiently waiting for her chance to get out.


As morning arrived, I found that much of my sadness had dissipated.  But my realization has pushed me to put things into perspective.  Even though this pregnancy isn't getting much easier, I am getting back the desire to soak up the rest of the moments that Cora and I get to share as a pair.  I am starting to release the guilt (and subsequent depression) I've been dealing with as I've become less mobile and have not been able to be as active and involved with Cora as I would like.  I am working on being more present in our moments together, and not allowing myself to be stuck in the self-pity I've been building.

I am trying to enjoy the last months we have before the baby arrives.  Even though the days still feel long and I feel like I will be pregnant forever, I know that it won't really last.  I know that very soon we will be a family of four, and I am looking forward to expanding our lives with our mysterious impending arrival.  But I am acknowledging all the same that growth is bittersweet.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Third Heart Day

Three years ago today, my baby got the chance to start her life.  At the crack of dawn, she was whisked away to a wonderful surgeon who used his skills to fix her faulty little heart.

In the 11-1/2 weeks leading up to that day, there was so much fear.  So much worry, so much stress.  So many decisions to make.  So many bittersweet moments of loving this tiny girl, all the while knowing that there was a chance that her life would be cut short.

I remember taking photos of her intact white chest, knowing that it'd be the last time I'd see it unmarred by the surgeon's marks.  I knew that it would be a scar that she would carry forever, if she were to make it out of this surgery. 


These days her scar is faint and white.  If you ask her about it, she'll gladly lift up her shirt to show you her scar.  It's funny, because I have always felt like I should have a matching scar myself.  I guess I do, although mine is invisible and more metaphorical.  That process definitely marked me with my own permanent scars.  But my scar is in my mind and in my memories.

 

Sometimes those days seem like just yesterday.  It only takes a second to bring back that feeling of fear, and to feel the tears start to fill my eyes.

But, you know what?  We aren't there anymore.  Today I watch my big girl run around her Grammie's house, dancing and singing and reading books.  She has no memory of those days of fear.  And they are fading more and more into the background of our life together.  We know how very much we have to look forward to with this wonderful little girl.

And so today, on the THIRD anniversary of Cora's open heart surgery, I am purely and simply grateful.  Grateful for all the moments we've shared together since that day.  Grateful for all the ways that she makes our lives better.  Grateful that there are so many people who love her like we do.

We love you, Cora.  Happy Heart Day!