Saturday and a Whole Chapter

My super awesome hubs sent me out for some “me time” this morning and, guys, I actually read a whole chapter in that book I mentioned in my last post! Not only that, but I got a giant latte and sat by a lake for an hour. You can do a lot in an hour and a half when you never get alone time. 

What did I DO with all my free time before Nahum? I recall being bored, yet never getting anything done…I sure took that for granted! 

Parenting Expectations v. Reality

Free Time 

One of the baby gifts that I received was a novel for me to read during free time on my mat leave. “What a thoughtful gift!” I said. I tucked it into my newborn survival kit basket along with other useless items like my Sudoku book and journal. HAAAAAA! Want to know how much reading I have done in my “free time”? One page. Yes. A single page. One needs two free hands to read a book, and I am lucky if I have even one most times (I am typing this entire post with only my thumb while trapped under a cranky, sort-of napping baby, if you were wondering). 

I really envisioned myself keeping up this blog at least on a weekly basis, entertaining with cute and meaningful anecdotes about our family adventures. Again, I say HA! 


My Patience

Before having Nahum, I pictured me serenely tending to his every cherubic whimper, avoiding crying fits due to my natural patience, which welled out of unending love.  Surely those other frazzled moms didn’t appreciate their little miracles like I did. How hard could it be to keep one’s cool with a newborn? Well, let me tell you a thing or two about sleep deprivation. The reality is that I didn’t sleep for about 3 days straight, starting the day I went into labour. And that was just the beginning. Add in the breastfeeding agony I experienced, and a newborn that only wanted to sleep ON someone for about 5 weeks…let’s just say I was a wreck only a few days in. I distinctly remember calling my tiny, adorable, screaming human an “arsehole” during more than one middle of the night feed. Mom of the year, here! 
Things I Would Never Do

I’m sure I could write a book on this point. I gave him a pacifier 3 nights in, I bed-shared for 2.5 months, I nearly abandoned breastfeeding because it almost killed me (prior to this, I thought formula was evil), I didn’t let Danny help in the early months because I thought there was a “right” way of doing everything (my way, of course), and I currently allow my baby to nap in my arms (and sometimes attached to my boob) for anywhere between 3-5 hours of every day because it is the only damn way he will sleep longer than 25-35 minutes, making him a cranky mess. I am sure the list of abandoned I-would-nevers will only continue to grow. 
Accepting Help

I thought I would be better at this, but I felt the need to be involved in every moment of Nahum’s day, especially near the start. It didn’t take me long to learn, though. Soon I was almost tossing my little cranky football into the hands of whoever came in the door. “Wanna hold a baby? Okay, good, here you go.” Bottom line: ACCEPT THE HELP. When you get as little of it as me, it is priceless. 
Sleep

I used to look at exhausted parents and wonder what the big deal was. It couldn’t be as bad as they thought it was. Yeahhhhh. Take it from a lifelong sufferer of insomnia, there is no exhaustion like that of new parenthood. Truly. With insomnia, you can still lay in bed, eyes closed, your body resting, even if that rest is incomplete. When you are breastfeeding an infant who struggles to latch, you have to be FULLY AWAKE every time that baby calls, which could be every hour (or less). I remember the first time I got a full two hours of sleep in a row; I was so happy! Same goes for the first dream I had a few weeks in; I had been sleeping such short stretches that I didn’t even dream for a while. Even now on good nights, I only get about 5 hours of very broken sleep since, now that the immediate exhaustion is gone, my motherflipping insomnia is back. 

Difficulty 
I thought it would be easier. It sounds naive but there it is. There is not one easy thing about parenting. I think if I had a baby who slept through the night, I would probably be much better at it all, but someone who is running on empty is, well, running on empty. 

I left Nahum with Danny after bedtime last night for a few hours to spend time with friends. One of them was in shock that it was only the third time I had ever left Nahum for any length of time. The thing is, we have no family nearby, and most friends have their own kids to see to. How would I leave? And I swear our bedtime routine is the only reason Nahum sleeps at all at night, so we can’t just cart him around with us either. Between Danny working full time, a baby who only takes meaningful naps in my arms, and bedtime, I am housebound most of the time and that is hard! Friends say I shouldn’t worry so much about naps, but it is easy to say when it isn’t their baby who screams until they are purple when they are overtired. I digress…
Getting Things Done

This one is almost as funny as my expectations about free time. I guess I assumed babies just slept when they were tired. I really thought I would be keeping a tidy house and getting dinner on the table every day. Hi-lar-i-ous. Did I mention that my baby basically only naps in my arms? It’s not for lack of trying other things. Babywearing, the swing, the crib, the car…none of it works. I try every. single. day. On a great day, Nahum takes his first nap in his crib and I manage breakfast alone and get a chore started. On a bad day, which is most of them, I am trapped under a baby for literally hours, and only usually after a lot of nap-fighting, which boils down to screaming. Needless to say, the laundry is heaping, the kitchen is a mess, and everything is coated in dust. Today is a good day; I washed a load of clothing, swept the kitchen, and even managed to eat 3 meals between lap naps!

………..

I came into this with rose coloured glasses, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I feel trapped and frustrated, one of Nahum’s big, gummy smiles has a way of making it all okay. These hard days are also precious; he’ll never need me as much as this again, and I dare say I will miss it soon enough. 

You Never Forget

Two days ago, I had Nahum napping for a little while in his swing (I usually let him do that once a day so I can get a thing or two done while still keeping an eye on him). The doorbell rang and I answered it, talking for about 20 minutes with the inspector who had come to look at our renovations (swing still in sight). As soon as he had gone, I went to check on Nahum. Something about the light on his skin sparked a worry in me; I though he looked pale. “I’m being silly,” I thought. I touched his arm and it was cool. Panicked, I lifted his arm and it was limp, flopping back into his lap. I lost my mind in that moment. The poor guy was so out of sorts when I yanked him out of the swing, convinced he was gone. He blinked up at me, sleepy, while I covered him in kisses and held him close. My stomach was in my shoes and my heart was beating out of my chest.

Somehow, I haven’t found myself being over cautious or worrying more than is normal with Nahum, but this experience was terrifying. His cool skin and sleeping face were Haven’s all of a sudden. You just never forget holding your baby who has died. I don’t think I could survive doing so again.

Edit: Just a note to say Nahum was totally fine! It was just my overactive imagination and awful memories that made me so afraid. :) 

The Things I Miss

I have always been shy about my singing voice, even though I love to sing. I’m really not sure when that set in or why, but I remember feeling very exposed as a child when someone caught me singing. Then I married someone with an excellent voice, who can pick out and sing all kinds of harmonies, who writes songs, who knows music quite well…and I became self conscious about him hearing it too, though he has always encouraged me to sing with him. 

I remember being pregnant with Haven and singing all the time to her. I sang as I washed all of her little clothes, as I organized her room, and throughout the day. I knew she could hear my voice in there, and I knew even my self consciousness would not get in the way of me singing to her when she came. Even now, I find some of my favourites from then to be a bit haunting, because I associate those songs with her and that time.

In my pregnancy with Nahum, it took me a long time to feel connected to him as a person. To let myself attach was frightening, because I felt the closer I allowed myself to get to him, the greater the agony when he was taken away, and I really did believe he would die until I saw him being held up in front of me when he came out. To be honest, I did very little bonding with him until that moment; I didn’t sing much to him other than a couple songs here and there toward the end. Now that he is here, though, I sing to him every day. Some of our favorites include Nature Boy (Nat King Cole), The Skye Boat Song (Stevenson’s lyrics), Ode to a Broken Heart (The Once), You’re My Best Friend (Queen), 1234 (Feist), You Are My Sunshine, and He Knows My Name and Amazing Grace (I sang these two to him a fair bit while pregnant, so I figure he might remember them). Well, and you know, the classics too! Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, ABC, and Patty-Cake. 

After our songs this morning, he curled up in my arms with his nummy, little hand reached up to touch the skin on my chest (he always does this, so sweet!), and fell asleep. Looking down at him, I suddenly had a familiar pang in my heart. I feel it when I remember that I missed countless moments like this with Haven. Which songs would have been our favourites? Would she be singing them to Nahum now? I remember her Auntie Nancy rocking her in the hospital; she told me afterward that she had been singing her a song. Knowing that still breaks my heart. I was almost afraid to touch her when they gave her to me, and I hadn’t thought to sing to her then.

Today might be a weepy one.

Some Baby Clothes Should Be Illegal

Seriously. They are way too cute!

Nahum has outgrown these little pants now, but THEY HAD MICE WITH EARS ON EACH KNEE!

On the topic of clothing, we packed up all of his newborn clothes a week and a half ago. All of those little onesies, some of which had been baggy on him at first, went into a box that will soon live in the basement. His tiny newborn diapers were tucked in on top, packed in hopes that someday there will be a wee brother or sister who can wear them. 

I set aside the outfit Nahum wore home from the hospital. The tiny skinny pants, the toque, the itty bitty shoes. With a smile, I imagined showing his future wife, or his kids pulling it out in wonder (“dad was that small once?!”). How odd to be a mom sometimes! How odd to imagine the future now; kids fill it with such possibility. 

Nahum has been wearing the gender neutral items I bought for Haven before I knew she was a girl (and some from after; I’m not much into frills). It’s bittersweet, but honestly more on the sweet side than expected. I smile when I see him rocking a particularly cute onesie, especially since I had once packed it away, not knowing if I would ever have a baby to fill it again. He is really a ray of sunshine!

That’s probably enough baby clothes talk for one day. I could go on. ;) 

He’s Actually Here

We’re visiting family, so I’m sharing a bed with Nahum. He is passed out next to me after a middle of the night feed, belly pumping in and out and I’m thinking about all of those ultrasounds where we would watch for breathing movements and I wouldn’t dare to imagine seeing them on the outside. It’s quiet moments like these when I think to myself, “he is actually here!” Danny and I have moments together at least a few times a week where we look at each other and say the same. I wonder when it’ll stop being a novelty and sink in that the little person we longed for and dreamed of is actually with us, hopefully forever.

The newborn stage is beyond hard (I smile a little, knowing there is no word adequate to describe just how so!), but I find myself getting a little wistful at its passing all the same. Nahum had his first shots two days ago and all yesterday was so snuggly, curling up on my chest to sleep like when he was brand new. I knew I could have put him down to nap, but I couldn’t help but hold him near, breathing in his baby smell, stroking his soft skin and hair. Someday, I’ll long for this time again, no matter how hard, so I make sure to soak it in as much as possible. 

We came through so much and I almost forget sometimes because of the necessary busyness of caring for our little man. But lately, as he grows in independence and my hands are more often free, I find my mind wandering to our Haven, forever a baby. I think of how proud she would be of her little bro, how she would help fetch things for me as I nursed him, how she would be extra snuggly with us, missing the time when she was our only. I think too of our second baby, and ponder for a moment that our family could be complete with three right now had all my babies lived. I know there is no guarantee we would have spaced them this way and all that, but it’s a fancy I give in to from time to time.

And back to sleep. Goodness knows I need some! Though I am trying to avoid bed sharing with Nahum, I secretly love it, because we sleep so well and I enjoy having him near. He is actually here! 

Life With Nahum: 8 Weeks

It seems that Nahum has really come into his own in the past week or two. Suddenly my baby who needed to be up 24/7 is now content for short periods by himself on the floor or in his bed. I couldn’t get him to sleep in his pack and play bassinet at all a few weeks ago, but I transitioned him into it with almost zero fuss this past week. It is wonderful to have a bit of independence from each other, but sad, because it means he is growing up. We will never be that close again. It’s amazing to think that, from the moment they come out of you, they are forever growing away from you. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be mom to a 5 year old or a 20 year old, needing you less and less. Wonderful and heartbreaking! 

My good friend, Nancy (yes, birth partner Nancy!), paid for postpartum doula sessions for me (awesome gift!), and I had the doula in today to give me an extra set of hands so I could get my house in order (and shower and eat real food!) It’s awesome, especially as a breastfeeding mama, to have moments where you remember that you are your own person, not just a milk machine/jungle gym/set of arms. Though, when I left Nahum at home with Danny for the first time (only time so far), I felt like there was a part of my body missing. 

Speaking of breastfeeding, things are SO MUCH BETTER! I don’t know the day it happened, but sometime last week I finally stopped hating breastfeeding. It took us 8 hard weeks and so much pain and frustration to reach this point, overcoming more than our share of obstacles, but I am so happy that we got the help we needed and stuck with it. We reached healthy gains when we were under  the gun, beat mastitis and other horrible mystery pain, revised and recovered from a tongue tie and lip tie, learned to latch better together, weaned off the shield, figured out my weirdo nipples, healed those mangled weirdo nipples, adjusted to my crazy letdowns, and, most importantly, we have reached PAIN FREE NURSING!!! I no longer have nursing aversion and I have even caught myself enjoying  it a few times (I cannot believe I can say that!) I wanted to quit every single day for about 6.5 weeks, but things got better and rapidly so! I feel like I fell down a hole and crawled out not too long ago. It just consumed every moment of every day, either the feeding itself, or trying to work on ways to improve the feeding so I wouldn’t be in pain. Now I feel that I have a bit of my life back. I feed Nahum on demand, no more pumping, no more timed feedings. Wonderful. 
Mr. Nahum is growing and changing so quickly. He found his hands about a week or two ago and now he grabs at everything (like my hair – ouch!) and is constantly eating them. And the drool! He is a drool factory now, so I am forever mopping it off of him or me. Best of all is how social he is becoming. His big grins and little laughs make my heart explode. We have a few little games that we play (airplane finger that ends in a “boop boop” on his nose, and “did you eat my tiny baby?”). He is really starting to get his own little personality and it is fun! He even has a “word” that he “says” all the time…”uh guh.” I can’t even. 

Nahum is growing physically too; at his 7 week checkup, he was in the 11th percentile for weight (slim Jim!) but off the charts for height in the 99.9th percentile. I didn’t know what the doctor meant by “off the charts” until I looked st the graph she printed and the dot that represented him was literally higher than the highest line – off the chart! Father’s Day was special. I was so excited to be able to celebrate with Danny. When you lose a child, you grieve twice; for yourself, and for your partner. So being able to add some sweetness to a day that was so painful the last two years was really awesome. We celebrated a day early; I made a yummy breakfast for Danny and gave him a print of the photo above for his office. We ordered pizza and got in some nice family snuggles too! The next day at church, all of the dads were called up and all the kids gave them each a $5 Tim Horton’s gift card. I tucked one into Nahum’s arms and brought him up to Danny. It did my heart good to see him being recognized as a dad at long last. 

And that is it for now!