Christmas Decor-ing…with a Six Week Old Infant

I’ve been attempting now since Saturday to get my Christmas decorations out around our new house. Being the first year in our new home, I’ve had in my mind what the house was going to look like, how it was going feel..even what it would smell like.

Butttttttttt…

Try doing that with a six week old infant.

 

THE BEST LAID PLANS

I intended to get everything out and positioned and decorated yesterday. But then, Jon came home early from work due to the weather, so the babysitting plans I’d made were called off and I still had a hair appointment and errands to run. So, my morning of house decorating turned into errand-running. By the time I got home, Jon’s Mom was at our house loving Elle and then offered to bring over dinner (hell yes!) so I pulled out the Christmas bins and began creating the chaos of Christmas decorating, only to be interrupted by wails and the general baby whatnot. And then, the discovery of a mouse who has evidently made his home in my Christmas storage area.

Sa-weet.

So, needless to say, I abandoned my plans of getting everything decorated over the weekend or even yesterday for that matter, because I knew TODAY would be different.

Last night, Jon and I were sitting in the upstairs living room watching TV and Jon took one look at my 7 foot tall, pre lit, Norwegian pine and said “Ummm,” (this is how many Jon-statements begin when he knows he’s about to say something to throw me for a loop).

“Ummm, maybe we SHOULD get a real tree. That one’s pretty ratty looking.”

YES. Yes it is.

For those of you not keeping track at home, I have wanted to have this as a tradition for our little family, but Jon wasn’t necessarily on board or convinced it was a worthwhile endeavor. But, yesterday he took one look at my fake-as-Target tree and I see a trip to the Christmas tree farm in our very near future!

Anyway, TODAY would be different. I was going to spend the day decorating my house. This, of course, after a mini photo shoot with my girl and a quick Kinect Biggest Loser 20-minute workout. Of course today was the day.

Except that girlfriend Elle didn’t get the memo. She doesn’t understand the tradition that we’re starting together, and therefore, whimpered and wailed at various intervals throughout the day.

I had to run errands, so she napped in the car some, but otherwise, she cat napped for five minutes at a time and didn’t allow me much time to decorate the house.

So, I celebrated Day FOUR of Christmas decorating with an infant with the better part of a bottle of cheap wine…which is going to be my undoing as the baby cries begin again!

 

Good night friends!

Hemangioma

he·man·gi·o·ma/hiˌmanjēˈōmə/

Noun: A benign tumor of blood vessels.

 

Today was Elle’s six-week doctor’s appointment with Dr. Haddad, who I very much trust and enjoy. I figured she was getting shots – I was wrong, just one shot, the second of three Hep-B vaccines – and from reading up online, that she would just get a general once-over to make sure she was developing properly.

And, that is what happened.

When she got the shot, she cried a cry I hadn’t heard before and it broke my heart (though I did not cry). It was a cry of pain, that she was hurt…and I was glad to know that she doesn’t cry like that for us…only when she’s hungry or got a wet diaper.

My only question for the doctor was regarding the spot on Elle’s forehead, above her left eye, that he said at week one that was a stork bite and would fade away.

However, it has progressively gotten redder and even purplish at some parts and it seems to have gotten slightly larger over time. And then, it started getting puffy.

And while I figure that it’s fine – truth be told, I don’t really notice it on her until someone points it out or asks what it is – I wanted to ask the doctor.

Turns out, it’s a Hemangioma or ‘Strawberry’.

It will continue to get bigger over the next many months, then it will stop growing and then it will fade over time. Some research says 50% are gone by age 5 and nearly 100% fade by the age of 10. However, the doctor today told me it would be gone by the time she was 2. Either way, my only concern was that it wasn’t something serious to worry about and that it wouldn’t be something that, when she comes to be ready for school, that she would get made fun of for having.

From what he told me and what I’ve read, I don’t have that to worry about and if she were to still have it when school time comes around, they can laser remove it and do some other things to remove it without leaving any scarring at all…which is also good to know.

Some people – I will not name names – of our extended family seem to be dwelling on it and are being a little bit rotten with what they’ve said. Like “Well, I hope she doesn’t have it forever” or “You need to get that taken care of”. As though we haven’t consulted our physician. As though we don’t see her and make sure she’s safe and happy and healthy EVERY. DAY. Isn’t family supposed to be supportive? I’m learning that’s not always the case…

I recognize I may be sensitive on this particular item, but when I say ‘oh, the doctor says it’s a stork bite and will go away’ and you continue to harp on the topic…that bothers me. And I’ve got relatively thick skin…

I did ask the doctor for one thing, though, when we were discussing the hemangioma (which, by the way, the doctor’s daughter also had one and it was gone by the age of two) and that was: Can you give me some words to use when people say “What happened to her head?” or “What is that?” or “Will it go away?” and he was adamant and awesome in his response:

“You tell them that the doctor said it’s a mark from birth, nothing to worry about and it will go away by the time she is two.”

I smiled.

He was serious and re-iterated this statement again. I think having had a daughter with the same thing made him quite prepared with those words, but I liked that he really knew what I meant when I asked that question.

In wrapping this post up, I almost just typed ‘of course I wish that Elle’s perfection fit into other people’s views of perfection’ and realized that if I said that out loud, I’d vomit. I want Elle to be JUST EXACTLY who she is. She’s got a birthmark that’s more red and more prominent than others…but it’s who she IS. Baby, she was born this way (to quote Lady Gaga). She is perfect just like she is…and whether this fades on its own, we make a decision to medically intervene to help it fade, or just let her live with it, we’ll do that with her very best interests at heart to help her be EXACTLY who she is…and perfect at that.

 

Dear God, Why Do My Inner Thighs Hurt?

So, it is now six weeks after delivering our fabulous baby girl. And she’s great.

My body, on the other hand…it’s amazing how all of a sudden you realize what a demand pregnancy and delivery put on your body. Ok, maybe not all of a sudden, but I appreciate my pre-pregnant body in a way that I can’t quite capture.

Oh, but I’ll try.

I can no longer get up off the couch or out of a chair easily. It’s not like I’m uber-chubby right now or anything. I just have. no. abs. And it turns out, I had them before (despite what I may have thought!). Seriously, going without doing ANY crunches paired with the fact that your abdominal wall is sort of ripped apart during pregnancy, they are not what they once were.

So, my inner thighs hurt, I have decided, because I have to use THEM to get up out of a chair, in and out of the car, etc., instead of using my abs. I need to make a concerted effort for this to change because my inner thighs, while certainly in need of the workout, are CONSTANTLY sore.

I Google’d this information and found this link about abs. But the article wanted me to learn about anatomy before telling me how to make my abs come back together and work in a way that makes the rest of my body ache less…and I’m not interested in anatomy so much as I am, well, having abs again.

Anyway, I’ve come to my own medical conclusion that this is why my inner thighs hurt. These are the things that NO ONE TELLS YOU and would be helpful to know about, just as a general heads up.

 

Little Socks

Another quick thought I wanted to be sure to capture…

 

I made it my goal to catch up on laundry yesterday. I have pretty much accomplished this feat and have been carting folded laundry and matched socks up from the laundry room throughout the day yesterday.

As Jon and I were preparing to head out for drinks last night, I saw something on the floor, out of the corner of my eye.

It was a pair of Elle’s socks that must have fell off the top of the pile of clean clothes, balled up into their one-inch diameter size, with little bows to boot.

And once I realized what they were, and that they weren’t doing any harm, I left them there for a few more trips up and down the stairs…and every time I saw them let myself smile a little bit, because it feels so good to have a home where little socks can be found on the floor.

So today, I’m thankful for little socks and for the little girl who wears them.

Traditions

I found myself thinking about traditions yesterday. With the mass of people about to descend on our house in a few short hours, I realized that this isn’t the tradition that will exist for Elle’s whole life (quite simply, it’s not sustainable and I’d be crazy to try to attempt this very often). But, I started contemplating traditions – the ones I know and the ones I want to begin as our family of three matures and grows.

In my contemplative state yesterday, I began reflecting on the traditions that I remember that have faded from my life, and the ones that still exist, along with the ones I want to create for Elle. And I realized that traditions and the way they change each year, the way they sometimes come to an end, that really that’s what is preparing us for losing — people, places, things.

Take the tradition that my Mom and Dad had for YEARS: heading out as a family to buy the fresh cut Christmas tree. I remember doing that fondly now — and I’m sure in my bitchy teenage years that I wasn’t as fond of the Christmas tree farm as my memory maintains, but still…we always went out, my Mom, Dad and brother and chose a tree.

And one year – not terribly long ago – we opted not to. It was a mess my parents didn’t want to have to care for, it was a weekend that it would be difficult to get everyone together in between school and games and sports and social life. And it was easier to set up an artificial tree. And with losing that tradition of the fresh cut tree, some other traditions were lost in a domino effect: decorating the tree together, remembering ornaments as we pulled them from the box, listening to a retelling of the history of the construction paper bell I made at Dandelion Day Care, jockeying for the best spots on the tree. Now, it’s a battle to get the tree decorated at my parents house and seems to take ages…until my Dad finally breaks down and just does it or my Mom coerces Trevor into doing it.

But I remember it warmly, the shopping for just the right tree, the hand saws at the tree farm, the standing in line to get the tree wrapped with that twine or plastic stuff…and it remains a tradition of my youth.

But it faded from my life and in some ways, I think, things like that loss prepare us for the bigger losses in life. Because I’m still sad that we don’t go out for the day anymore, but not as sad as losing people or friends…but losing that tradition taught me how to lose and how to appreciate that these traditions every existed in my life.

This struck me as I wondered how I would know if any of the traditions I want to start (and those that will come to exist organically in our lives) would be things that would be meaningful, that would continue to happen year after year. And I realized that it didn’t matter, because when the traditions fade, the memories don’t.

I also remember Thanksgiving’s up at Clear Lake with my grandparents and my Mom’s sisters, my cousins, uncles, and all our dogs. I remember the way the fireplace was lit and roaring one particular year, and I fell asleep after dinner on the floor in front of the fireplace. I was warm and safe and cozy and full and tired and for years after that, I’d lie down in front of the fireplace to try to feel all those things again. But it never happened, all those great feelings at once. But I keep sitting in front of fireplaces on Thanksgiving because it makes me remember all the good things about this holiday.It’s my own little tradition. And that feeling – I’d love for someone else to capture it, too.

So, I’m staring at my first season of traditions with my daughter. On the docket?

Thanksgiving in our own home with ALL of our family – and both the fireplaces lit and warm.

A fresh Christmas tree from the farm, cut down with a hand saw.

Decorating Christmas cookies and inviting over our friends to help (Andrea, Devyn and Drew – this means YOU!) and enjoy the day.

And even if these traditions cease at some point, even if next year Thanksgiving ends up being just the three of us, I’ll make sure to spend some time in front of the fireplace. If we don’t end up decorating cookies with friends, we’ll decorate them ourselves and give them to our friends. And some day, I’m confident I’ll look back at all the things that became traditions in our lives – the ones that happened on purpose and the ones that didn’t – and be glad that at the very least, I tried to pass on the powerful memories of my youth to my daughter, too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

“You’re a Parent Now”

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and we’re hosting our families this year. It’ll be a packed house, but I’m looking forward to the house feeling warm and overflowing with all sorts of people and stories and noises and, well, love.

That’s not to say that preparing for having nearly 40 people in our home has been without its planning. I have a timing list prepared, I have my needs list, I have had a shopping plan for the three days leading into the holiday so that I get the things I need, when I need them, without compromising refrigerator space. It’s quite the production.

This morning, however, as I was running around the house getting things together and Jon was feeding Elle, I asked if he wanted to see if my Mom would watch her tonight and that we could go out for drinks.

His response?

“Why?”

“Um, because it’s the night before Thanksgiving and that’s what people do.”

“Oh. Well, you’re a parent now, do you really think you need to go out tonight?”

I laughed. Of course I really think we should go out. I think being a parent makes it all the more important that you still find time to do things as YOU and as a COUPLE and not just as PARENTS. I feel like I can be all those things at the same time, but I can’t do all of them well, if I only commit to doing one of them.

Besides, grandparents need time to spoil their grandchildren properly and that just can’t happen with Mom and Dad in the room (at least not in my experience).

Anyway, needless to say that cooler heads prevailed and we are, in fact, going to head out for dinner and drinks tonight with Rick and Jen and maybe even Bob and Molly, too.

So, today, I’m thankful for good friends and family — and being myself and a parent all at the same time.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve captured what I’m thankful for this year:

Sesame Street Morning

It’s going by so quickly, the life of Elle.

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment (more about that in a moment) for my first check-up after delivery. I got up and got ready and Jon – who is unfortunately still laid off, but fortunately still a full-time Dad – was downstairs with Elle.

And I wish that I’d captured on video the exchange I heard as I stood at the top of the stairs, thinking I really needed to dry my hair.

She was cooing and gurgling in her too-cute-for-words voice and Jon was talking to her about…frankly, I don’t remember what.

And I walked downstairs to head to the car and saw that the two of them were watching Elmo and Sesame Street.

I know the day will come when I have had enough Elmo and enough Sesame Street, but that day is far off and yesterday morning, it made my heart literally grow to see them watching my old classic standby.

When I got home in the afternoon, I asked Jon, “Sesame Street, huh?” and his response?

“Yeah, she really liked it!”

How does that NOT make your heart grow bigger?

~~~~~~~~

I had my six-week check-up with Dr. Ahmad yesterday.

Evidently, the ‘wound’ still is not completely healed so I’m to take it easy (ha, right!) and I told him about the awful-ness of my B.M. situation, so he wrote me a prescription for that, too.

I also got a new prescription for birth control. I didn’t debate at all which method to go on…I really like the ease and convenience of the NuvaRing…so, back to that prescription I go. While I dislike very much taking medicine all the time, I also would dislike very much being pregnant again right now (not that I’m cleared for any of that action anyway – my ‘wound’ is still on the mend). So, it seems the birth control is the preferred method of not being pregnant. There you have it.

~~~~~~~~~

Several weeks ago I determined that hauling our newborn baby around town to all the holiday festivities that would be on the list was NOT something I wanted to do. Instead, I wanted to host Thanksgiving at OUR house and have everyone come to us.

I did this knowing that my Mom’s family doesn’t really get together on Thanksgiving anymore (Christmas extravaganza instead) and that my Dad’s side is a manageable size, too. I also hedged on the assumption that Jon’s extended family wouldn’t want to come to our house (why, I don’t know. I throw a fabulous party!). I figured there would be a handful of us scattered about and have a very laid back, casual Thanksgiving. And it will be all of those things.

Only, we’ll be having a very laid back, casual Thanksgiving for 40 people!

Oops.

First Love

My brother used to date this girl, April. He was going to school at Central Michigan and so was she, and they seemed to have all the ups and downs that you have when you’re a freshman in college and off on your own for the first time.

April and Trevor dated on and off for, well, I don’t even know how long. She was around on random weekends and stayed at my parents’ house when Trevor was there, too.

I tried really hard (ok, not THAT hard, but pretty hard) to make friends. I wanted her to like me and think I was funny. I don’t think she did. Trevor wanted me to like her, too.

And I watched how toxic they became, after awhile, for each other.

But honestly, it was drama that I’d had myself and I think more than anything I just was trying to save my little brother from going through the same heartaches that I had gone through.

Alas, friends, you cannot stop heartache any more than I could stop a train by standing in its tracks.

April and Trevor stopped officially dating a long time ago. They’d see each other every now and then, meet for a drink, meet for lunch. It always bothered me, quite honestly, when Trevor would sheepishly admit he’d been ‘to Novi’ (where April was) or when he wouldn’t tell me who he was spending time with. I always knew it was April.

A few years ago, Trevor began dating Ashley and they’ve been on and off for awhile now. April has remained a looming remembrance in Trevor’s life – if for no other reason than she is, looking back, his first real love.

I tell you all of this because…

Well, because April died on Thursday. She had a brain aneurysm at the age of 23 and died.

My brother told me she was in the hospital after having a brain aneurysm. Now, I am not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that there are a miraculous few who may have an aneurysm in their brain and survive. I also knew enough by the look on the face and the slouch of his shoulders that she was not the miracle we look for.

I won’t pretend now that this tragedy has hit her family and friends that she was the top of my Christmas card list — but my heart aches for her family. My heart aches for the people that knew her — truly knew her. But more than all of that, my heart aches for my brother.

My Mom’s comment to me was, “There’s something with my children and losing their first loves.”

Unfortunately, there is.

So, I told Trevor what I’d been told.

This is something you will get around, you will not ever get over this. This will remain a huge boulder in your life.

Deal with this in inches, not in miles.

April’s memorial service is tomorrow and I’m unable to go. Quite honestly, I don’t know how her parents can handle this. I’ve not wrapped my mind around the enormity of it all…the fragility of life. The fact that her mother could not have done anything to stop her death, even if she’d tried.

That terrifies me.

Like I said, you can’t stop heartache, no matter how hard you try.

Muffin Top

It’s not like I was an uber-skinny before I got pregnant. I wasn’t even in that great of shape. I would say that prior to peeing on that stick, I wasn’t feeling that great about the condition I had allowed my body to get itself into. I was pushing the boundaries of my size-12 jeans…but I could find a way to loving my body when I needed to.

But then, I got pregnant. I stopped drinking and ate a little bit better than normal. And I swear, I lost weight that first two months. And then, as cataloged here, I gained weight but not much. And as we know, I don’t make a habit of weighing myself. But, I’d guess I’m pretty close to pre-baby weight and if I’d eat just a smidge better, I’d probably be able to drop below that mark. I’ve been doing some running and more walking, but not much in the way of a dedicated workout program.

But today, I put on my size 12 jeans, buttoned them (sweet relief) and could still breathe. Success, right?

Wrong.

Why was so MUCH of my mid-section finding its way over the edge of my jeans? Ick. Ok, so I am not in a position to wear too-clingy shirts. Fine, I’m only verging on five weeks post-baby so that’s ok. Right? But…still. I am only briefly looking at my body in the mirror when I get out of the shower or after I’ve dressed myself. I’m just not loving my body right now.

Which brings me to…I need to get there. I need to get to a place where I feel better about myself and my body. I want to do that not only as a mother, but also for me. I don’t think it’s good to not feel positive about your body – and I want to set an example…for Elle, for who knows who else. And, I also don’t want to go out and wonder if people are thinking ‘wow, she really let herself go’ (don’t deny it, we all think that about people who, well, frankly HAVE let themselves go, especially after a baby).

Why do we women do this to ourselves? For me, it’s about how I feel about myself. I’m obviously not an uber-skinny in my size 12’s – I’m thisclose to plus-size and if I were a model, I WOULD be plus size (six sizes ago). But, I want to be proud of myself, my brain and my body. I want Jon to find me attractive still and not be put off by any ick I pick up along the way.

And yet, sitting at home all day long makes it hard to not raid the cupboards for a sweet treat or to just continue to fill my mouth with food. I’m trying and I hope to catalog here my sweet success in getting below my size 12 pants and gaining just a LITTLE more confidence in the way I look in my jeans.

So, down with the muffins…and the muffin top!

 

Month One of Motherhood

Elle is one month old today (which brings up my confusion over 1 month versus four weeks old…but as I told a friend, if you have only four weeks in a month, times 12 months, you only end up with 48 weeks, and we all know there’s 52 weeks in a year…).

Anyway, I digress already. My baby is one month old!! How crazy is that?! It’s crazy, people. I’m a MOM to a ONE MONTH OLD baby girl!!

In the first month of motherhood, I’ve learned:

…greater respect for my friends who have been parents for years before me.

…greater respect for my mother, especially last night when it struck me that there will be times when I try so hard to do the best/right/fun thing for Elle and she’ll hate it (or me, by proxy).

…not to be grossed out when baby poop ends up in random spots on my person.

…that you really can keep yourself up listening for breathing.

…bucking the system (I lay Elle to sleep on her stomach sometimes!!) is frightening.

…SIDS was invented to do nothing more than increase the guilt felt by normal, well-adjusted mothers and fathers everywhere.

…my baby’s coos and grunts are funny and lovely and one of my favorite parts of the days these days.

…it’s one of the great treats of timing and fate to have girlfriends who are in the same proverbial ‘boat’ with infants of their own.

…Huggies are better diapers for us than Pampers – they fit around her legs better than the Pampers do.

…Amazon.com orders of diapers and other essentials are all I need.

…I thought I needed to have EVERY thing for baby and that I’d be some type of invalid after I had the baby…I’m glad to get out of the house and look for those ‘excuse purchases’ to get out of the house and see what’s going on in the world.

…I have a vested interest in my local community now and I really am enjoying the path I’m starting down to positively impact my daughter’s life in the community in which she’ll (likely) grow up.

…Having a committed partner in the parenting trip is essential and I’m grateful for the way Jon just steps up and into hanging out with his baby girl.

…Other people and things, while remaining important, don’t hold a candle to devoting time and energy to my baby.

…Online blogs, facebook, and sites like snapfish and shutterfly are life savers. And amazon. I can do most things from my desk at home, which rocks (except for that need of human contact that I have).

~~~~~~~~

In four weeks, I’ve learned that Elle is a gassy baby (she’ll be glad I’m capturing this for all the world to know, some day). I’ve learned that she has come to like baths, that she likes pressure on her belly, that she dislikes burping (though this leads to the need for pressure on her belly), that she is a lazy-ass eater, falling asleep through every feeding, then waking up shortly after she realizes you’ve been fooled into putting her into her bassinet and being PISSED OFF that she’s not still eating. She forgets she’s eating a lot of the time, which leads to her leaking formula EVERYWHERE.

Most recently, she’s getting better at knowing that it’s day when it’s day and night when it’s night. She is more alert and likes looking around at things, likes her activity mat (though I think there’s not enough entertaining toys on the thing, personally, but that’s just my revelation).

I find it difficult, trying to capture pictures of her every day or close to it.

And it’s incredible how much she’s changed and how I thought she looked JUST like Jon at first and now, as I get to know her, how she looks, well, like HER.

And while it’s early yet in this journey and it’s contrary to what you hear, I feel like Jon and I’s relationship has grown better and stronger since she came into the world.

Anyway, it’s just crazy that it’s been a month with her in our lives. I just feel like she was meant to be here and that I was born to do this Mom thing. Loving it.

Happy Birthday, Elle!