Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sophie is herself

I can't believe how she grows. She now pulls herself up on anything and everything, clearly proud of herself. She crawls quickly and stands confidently and her laugh has been known to melt an entire household in mere seconds. She is becoming aware that she can *do* things and watching her do these things can keep me mesmerized for hours. Sometimes I look at her and just can't believe my eyes. She is my daughter. Holy crap.

When she was a newborn (or, as I like to say, when she was little) people would say she looked like me, or like Ron. I would sometimes gaze down at her and be amazed to see my tiny self, the one from pictures, gazing back. Every now and then she would give me a certain expression and I would startle at how it resembled my dad. All of this was fun, amazing, insanely beautiful, but it is changing now. These days, although it is clear she is my daughter, I must say that when I see her I do not see a mini-me or a half-Jamie or a small Ron. I see a Sophie. She is definitely herself, and I definitely love her with every molecule of my being.

She is also a miracle.

I can't say that I dreamed of having a baby since I was very little because that would be a lie. I wasn't that sort of child. I could not have cared less about future weddings or future families. I had something like universal vision and thought mostly of big picture stuff. I devoured books. I wanted to make poor people less poor and sick people well. I raged against military recruiters in rural schools. I hated Disney.

Don't get me wrong, I had important relationships and was far from a hermit, but I was not exactly mainstream either. My point is, I hadn't given much thought to marriage or children, except to say that I was pretty sure if I decided to enter the antiquated ritual of marriage I would keep my own name.

Ah, young ideals.

Anyway, then I settled down, fell in love, got married, all that wonderful stuff. My husband came with two beautiful daughters who I adopted as my own without hesitation. And we decided to have a child of our own. So we tried. And tried. And tried. Almost a decade later, I gave up. A hundred negative pregnancy tests later, I gave up. Tests, tears, hope and then much despair later, I gave up. And after I gave up, began to close that chapter and look to the next, I became pregnant.

Which proves that even when one loses hope, miracles can still happen. It's true. I watch one every morning as I sit sipping my coffee with a satisfied, grateful grin on my face and absolute wonderment that it could all be real.


Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27, 2012

Sophie is just over seven months now. If it's possible for the time to have gone simultaneously slow and fast, then it did. Seems like only yesterday or maybe years ago that she was a little larval human, basically immobile, jerky, wailing. Now she pulls herself up on anything and everything while roaring in one of her favorite baby dialects. Her two bottom front teeth are beginning to come in, but so far this doesn't seem to bother her much. She seems much more troubled by the fact that she can't yet return to a sitting or crawling position from standing. This *really* pisses her off.

I am still overwhelmed by the amount of information concerning child-rearing that exists out there for anyone even halfway interested in learning. I'm sure parents even a generation ago where not as swamped with contradictory evidence about what is best for babies and children in general. I'm not sure what is worse, following the advice of Dr. Spock, or hearing the advice of thirty such doctors, all who claim to have the answer. I still mostly follow my gut, and pick and choose out of the wealth of information that which makes the most sense to me.

Although there is a school of thought that preaches against it, we still co-sleep, and so far it is working well for us. Most days we are all as well rested as one with an infant can be. I have been exclusively breastfeeding, although now we are beginning to introduce solids (mostly sweet potatoes, carrots and other orange veggies). We sometimes use cloth diapers, sometimes disposable, depending on what activities the week holds. Disposable has been winning lately. We are doing vaccinations, even though I wonder about the sheer number of them these days. Despite that concern, the fact that she doesn't have to fear polio is pretty convincing to me about their effectiveness. I find both Waldorf and Montessori education techniques appealing, although there are some fairly big differences when it comes to reading and mathematics. I'm also considering homeschooling, but I don't know if we will be able to afford for me to be out of work for eighteen years. I have not completely ruled out public school, but it is low on the list right now. All I know is whatever educational approach I choose, I need to stick with it for the long haul in order for it to be effective and for Sophie to avoid the stress of extreme culture shock.

Anyway, I document this mostly for Sophie's benefit, so she'll have some idea of what it was like for her family in her early years -- the joys and struggles we faced. These are the choices I struggle with now. I'm sure it was different for my parents and I'm sure it will be different for her. But it's the progression of things these days, in the US, in 2012. For me. (I suppose there are many parents who don't struggle with these particular concerns. Maybe it's just my questioning, need-to-know nature.)

Whatever. She grows healthy and strong and I'm the happiest I've ever been, I believe. Our house overflows with love. Even with texting, eye-rolling teenagers! I call that a good start.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3, 2012

Sophie loves to make noises. From her mouth, testing her voice, and in any other way she is able. She loves to scrape her fingernails on different surfaces to see the sound it makes, and she shakes every object she picks up to see if it makes noise. She loves banging things together, and is quite pleased with herself when she gets a strong sound going from something.

She remains fascinated by Lucy, who is very patient with her. Lucy is truly a remarkable dog. She allows Sophie to explore her fur, ears, nose and paws and doesn't move except to lick Sophie's forehead or sniff her face. Eliana is also patient but seems to enjoy taunting Sophie with her flicking tail. Sophie is really peeved by Eliana's tail, and most times if she sees Eliana's tail flicking anywhere near her, she yells at it and puts up a rather noisy fuss until I move her or the cat. It's adorable, really.

Sophie woke up at 4am crying (I suspect she was a smidge gassy and uncomfortable) so we are both going to be tired today. Hopefully we can squeeze in a longer than usual nap. I'm still finishing up Festival stuff but, God willing, I should be done, completely done, by the end of the week. After that, Sophie and I are going to take a week's vacation down to Bisbee to visit my mom and some friends. Bobbi and Maggie will be there, and I'm extremely excited for Sophie and Maggie to meet. Plus, I can't wait to snuggle that Maggie! I've seen so many photos of her, I feel I know her. (Bobbi is one of my best friends from High School, and she had her baby exactly two months before I had Sophie. We have really re-bonded over babies and birthing, and I am very grateful to have them both in my life.

Here's hoping a long nap is in my not-distant future!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Intensity

Sophie definitely has a bit of my temperament. She is a happy, curious child, but she is also intense. I'm not even sure intense is the right word, but she could never be mistaken for laid back or easy-going. I find it amazing that this is so obvious even from this age. So much seems to just be hard-wired in there.

I just hope she doesn't worry the way I did. It's taken me 38 years to get to where I am now, a much tempered down, relaxed version of a completely neurotic, worried woman. Maybe I can pass on some of the coping skills I have learned (finally) to deal with my overly active imagination and hyper-empathy. Maybe she has just enough of Ron's temperament to stay in the present -- something at which he is exceedingly good and at which I, until recently, have failed miserably.


I also hope I can help her find some level of peace with her place in the Universe. That's what has helped me. Feeling some sense of, I don't know, spirituality. To let go and let God, as my grandmother says. I really didn't get how to do that until the last year or so. That whether or not this life is all we have, it's all we know right now, and it is to be enjoyed. To be kind, but that you can be kind without feeling you have to save everyone.

I just finished reading this book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, by Anne Lamott. Excellent book. In one entry she tells about this story of a home or school for autistic children who were so far on the severe end of the spectrum that they couldn't walk. She says they tied a rope across the room and found that the children could walk by holding on to the rope. Then they made it just a string, then just a piece of fishing wire, and the children could still walk. If they took it away, they couldn't. So finally she says they cut up the fishing wire and gave each child a small piece and with it, they were able to walk. An amazing story, and one she uses to illustrate her faith a bit. I love that image. It's taken me my entire life to find my little piece of fishing wire. I hope I can help Sophie find hers early on.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Point of This

I have been taking Sophie out and about more lately, which seems to be very good for both of us. She loves seeing new things and I love getting out of the house for a bit. I take her in the Ergo carrier, and she never, ever fusses. Seems being strapped next to her mama keeps her feeling pretty safe and content.

Wait. Before I mention any more about my daily life with Sophie, I should take a minute to clear something up. I've decided to start blogging again, at least for a while, in order to document these early years with Sophie, for Sophie to have when she gets older. Also, to perhaps connect with the experiences of other parents of infants out there (or memories of this time). So unlike most of my blogging history, I have a pretty clear purpose for writing.

If you have followed me for any amount of time on my old blog, you will remember I also have two wonderful, beautiful, kind daughters who are teenagers now. I did not have the privilege of giving birth to them, as they came with my husband from his previous marriage, but they are my kids regardless and I have never bothered to add a 'step' before 'daughter' because I don't feel anything other than a mother's love for them.  I have written about them and my experiences with them many times over the years, but now that they are teenagers, I feel I need to respect their right to privacy concerning the details of our lives together. For this reason and because of this blog's specific purpose, I will mostly leave them out. However, they are an active and joyful part of my life and I love them dearly.They are also very good big sisters to Sophie, whom they adore. We call Carina 'Big' and Jamie 'BigBig.' They are delighted to have a wee little sister (even though Jamie asked over and over for a big brother. I told her time and again that was impossible, but she persists to this day.)

So, there you have it. This blog is going to be about Sophie's early years, mostly. If that bores you, you can skip my feed. I have so many thoughts in my head these days, thanks to this new perspective of seeing the world through a baby human's eyes, that I feel compelled to put it all down. If I don't, it's possible my brain could explode, and I just don't have the time to clean up any more messes these days.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24, 2012

She is just so damned beautiful. That's the problem. I had planned to go to sleep early tonight because I'm so exhausted these days I can't form simple sentences, but instead I had to lie here and stare at her until my eyes watered. She has that effect on people, I think. I get the feeling she always will, too. This one, she is positively mesmerizing.


Overall, we had a nice, relaxing Saturday, but it was definitely on the gross side of warm which made everything feel more frustrating than it needed to be. Spring is supposed to be beautiful -- crisp and fresh, you know -- but Arizona decided it was gonna ratchet up the heat a notch or two, and probably as a result of this combined with my general fatigue, I ended up walking around half the day wondering what smelled so funky weird before I realized it was me. Yeah, I know, gross, but that's the kind of day it was.

Anyway, despite having to break down and turn on the AC, we enjoyed a pleasant day of family banter, playing with Sophie and napping as much as we wanted. Jamie, Carina and I even took Sophie to the grocery store for the first time. Maybe because she was so enthralled by all the novelty or maybe because I had her in the Ergo baby carrier, she seemed to really enjoy the trip and didn't fuss once, although she seemed a bit put out that we couldn't stop to examine things for longer periods of time. I had held off taking her anywhere in public until now because I had such fear of illness entering her little, unprepared body, but she seems to have weathered a house full of sick people very well, so I decided it was most likely safe. (Of course that didn't stop me from silently steering clear of actual people as we walked through the aisles. I'm neurotic like that and it can't be helped.)


Which brings me to one of the frightening things about parenthood: the fear for their safety never really goes away. Ever. You just learn to manage it, I guess. When Jamie came down with the flu, I remember I had such dark, worried thoughts as I listened to her cough and imagined the spittle flying from one room right into Sophie's mouth. I mean, I hardly slept a wink out of fear that this nasty flu would come steal my baby away during the night. And it was right in the middle of one of these dark nights and darker thoughts that I realized I had to make peace with this fear, because it was a life partner now. I told myself that this is the Universe telling you there is something precious and worthwhile in your life and to pay attention to it and love it and be grateful for it and in the meantime push the worry to the back of your mind as far as you can, because it's going to be a long road, lady.

So I love her and enjoy her and am grateful every day for her mesmerizing spirit, and I try to keep my worry in the far recesses of my mind as much as possible. From what I can tell so far, she seems to be a curious, happy, somewhat intense child who is eager to explore the world around her.

And now it's time for her mom to get some sleep, so maybe, just maybe, she can give her a nice tour somewhere tomorrow without smelling funky and having remembered to brush her teeth and wear proper clothes. One can hope, anyway.


Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23, 2012

It is just before bed and I am drowsy and content, with my wee one sleeping quietly beside me. She appears to be feeling much better today and I was tired of being cooped up, so we got out of the house. We started with a nice journey to the park with my aunt and then stopped for a visit with an old friend who was home with her newborn baby. These excursions did much for both our spirits. I don't think she fussed once all day, probably because she was so busy taking in all the novelty.

I continue to be amazed at how quickly she grows. She is very close to crawling and these days moves quickly across the floor like a soldier on the battlefield. She stops briefly, strikes a pose as she decides where to turn next, then continues on her way. Makes me wish we lived somewhere that would allow her to explore farther without me having to pick her up and point her in a less dangerous or painful direction.

She has also taken to examining her hands with a renewed zeal. Once her favorite playthings (second only to her toes -- when she gets one of those bad boys in her mouth, she's in heaven), she is now even more enamored with them because she seems suddenly aware she can make them move. She turns a hand toward her and moves each finger one at a time, as though she is giving the "come hither" wave to whomever is watching. It's the damned cutest thing. Even better, whenever she focuses intently on something, her face transforms into all-cheek mode. It's almost too much to bear, the cuteness.

It's funny, I can't wait for the next stage of her growth, yet I know I'll miss each one as it passes. I wouldn't want it any other way though.It's a little of what being human is all about.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Spring Celebration

Sophie Dawn is 6 months old today. To celebrate, I strapped her on my back and we walked Lucy around the neighborhood. The air was all warm honeysuckle and orange blossom. The three of us lapped up this small drink of Spring like thirsty sailors. Although I was a little sad that her first forays out into nature weren't more beautiful than our run down neighborhood, I remain grateful that she has eyes with which to see the world -- both good and bad -- and that we are free to take this walk together during what for so many other modern mothers is a work day. Every now and then during our walk, she hummed, a sweet little voice in my ear, and I swear, I almost died right there from the sheer joy of it.

I don't know what I did to deserve such a blessing, but I'm forever grateful.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Memo From A Fugue State

March came in like a lion, quickly tackled us, and has spent all month gnawing on our innards. Or at least that's how it feels to this tired mother. Everyone in the household has been ill with some variation of the flu except me. The house sounds like a sanitorium and everyone is cranky and tired, even the baby. Or maybe I should say, especially the baby. I am back to the level of tired I felt when she was a newborn and I swear I'm one lost nap away from my eyes simply rolling, red and glassy, out of my skull as I collapse on the floor.

Despite this fatigue -- or maybe because of it -- I have taken to reading every book pertaining to babies that I can get my hands on. I've always had an obsessive need to know everything about anything I turn my attention to, and now that I am raising this tiny human (while simultaneously raising two teenagers -- talk about perspective!), this need to know everything is stronger than ever. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a consensus on how to grow a healthy, happy, thriving human being. After all those hours of reading, I feel no wiser or more sure of the path I am taking. I am left with my visceral inclinations: to show her unconditional love, take everything else on a case-by-case basis, and try not to forget that I can't be much use to anyone if I neglect myself. I hope that's enough. Even as the tears of fatigue roll down my face, I can honestly say I have never felt such great joy. There is no way to describe this love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Perspective: I Have It

Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed by all that is on my plate. I spend each day in a multitasking whirlwind of insanity, yet I can never keep up. This will not change until sometime in March, and even then, I might be freed of some work responsibilities, but I will gain some worries, as I venture into the frightening world of freelancing. In short, it is all I can do to keep my head above water each day, and the future holds no promise of security.

And then I read a short update from my friend Anna. The cancer has spread to her lungs.

Suddenly, my worries seemed so small, so manufactured. All my concerns drifted into one: hope for my friend.

I may have more to do than I can manage, but at any point I can choose to simplify my life. I can choose to make changes that will make my life easier. It might not be simple or easy to do, but I could if it came to that. Right now, Anna does not have that same liberty. She cannot just choose to not have cancer. She has to fight for her life.

And so, at least for today while I am still blessed with this perspective, I will do Anna the service of not fretting so much about all the things I think I have to do. I will be grateful for my health and my options. And I will put all that extra energy I was using to worry into doing what I can to help my friend in her fight.

Many thanks to the power of perspective.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

TWENTY TWELVE

Wow. It's been a year since I last updated my blog. Been spending too much time working, being pregnant, having a baby . . . stuff like that, I guess. Also, perhaps a smidge too much time on Facebook. Butwhat'reyagonnado?

Anyway, Last year I made a whole slew of resolutions which, looking back, seem funny to me. I don't think I did one of them. Good intentions, path to hell, you know. So this year I'm not resolving anything. I'm going to fly by the seat of my pants and see where that takes me. I might set some goals, probably should, but I'm definitely not making them public this time. Besides, if I've learned one, no wait - three things - from 2011, it's 1) you really can't know what the universe has in store for you from one moment to the next, 2) actions count for more than thoughts most times and 3) every day can be a new year if you want it to be. 

Today I think I'll finish my coffee, watch my baby (who is currently trying to roll over on her floor mat, which would be a first), and try to get some work done. That's enough for now.

Happy New year, everyone.