Brand new people are funny. We embrace them, love them, and care for them... but most of all, we are absolutely fascinated by them. From their minute limbs and appendages to their, at times, adult-like flatulence ... It is truly mystifying how they grow.
Why is that?
Babies are logically small humans. They are small because it would be terribly inconvenient to give birth to a full grown person (the mere thought of is entirely shudder inducing, I assure you).
Logically, they make sense. They grow and develop, every day they are different from who they were yesterday. A tooth is bigger, a leg is stronger, and eyes light up brighter than they did yesterday. I act like this is amazing. That no other baby has ever travelled this journey of growing up before mine. No baby has ever yelled "Maaaaaaamaaaaaa" when she's sad, or wants food. No baby has learned to give sloppy, wet 'kisses' before mine did. And no baby most certainly has ever pulled herself up on furniture, proudly welding her free hand in a very obvious demonstration of her new found skill. These things have been pioneered this month by my child and it feels like no one has ever done them before.
This is motherhood for me. Daily focus on my girl. My first, my muse. Every day I'm so confused, glad, delighted and sad that she's growing so fast. Happy Nine months of survival and overwhelming love to us.
I think this counts as week two? 1-7 would be week one (nailed it) so 8-14 is two...
Consider the decision made. Its week two and so I've documented more of 2015.
Still blowing the dust off my poor, neglected camera so bear with me. I tried my hand at manual focus (with a baby. because I'm an idiot.) and it completely shows in a few of these but somehow I like the dimension. Mistakes don't have to be bad. This blog is for me, anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm stoked you're here reading this. But its still comforting to know that creativity is entirely subjective.
I, for instance, have never seen stretched earlobes that made me go "whoa, can't handle all that style up in here". I'm usually more like "you could fit a baby CARROT IN YOUR EARLOBE. what the heck." But I appreciate that someone out there loves it. What a diverse bunch we are.
With that small nugget of thought from my brain at way-too-early-o'clock in the morning, I give you 2/52. A portrait of my daughter in the second week of 2015.
New notebooks, sharpening a pencil for the first time, painting walls, rearranging furniture... even moving. God knows I've done that enough times.
Perhaps I coped with the constant upheaval of my youth by deciding to glean what was positive about all that change. A chance to start over.
The further I move through life, I realise that we take more and more with us wherever we make our 'fresh start'. For instance, I now have a child. Basically a permanent fixture in who I choose to be from here on... which is really cool. I suppose I just now understand why people say "Enjoy being young!" and "You have so much ahead of you... endless possibilities!"
So cheers to the possibility that I might get a full nights sleep this year. Happy 2015.
For whatever you find within your grasp, do it as best as you possibly can. So says P in front of our printer, tricky devil.
With that, I give you my first week of the 52 project. Again. Because last year I didn't get beyond week 2 or 3. So lets aim for week 5 this time, shall we?
It's not because I heard a gunshot or wrapped my car around a tree or anything..
My kid is apparently allergic to bananas (wtf? bananas?)
Her histamine reaction was a little too drastic to ignore and I don't own any Benadryl, having absolutely no family history -and therefore no knowledge, really- of allergies. I was told by the nurses' hotline, who I called about the hives, to call 911 and get some help to be safe.
No matter how much I consciously and intellectually knew that P was going to be fine... tears still stung my eyes and the air I tried to breathe caught in my throat, waiting for me to try and swallow. Every day I'm afraid of something terrible happening. That those I love so dearly will be hurt or taken from me. Dialling the numbers and asking for an ambulance was the realisation of the ghoulish thoughts that plague my mind on a daily basis. Its kept me awake. My trembling voice sputtering out my address... the whole thing. So today, even though it was okay, today was like my worst nightmare had come to life.
This feeling of dread, the constant fear of dramatically tragic things happening at any moment, I'm told this is something called anxiety. It hasn't really been a major player in my life I think, but as I'm writing this I'm reminded of how terrified I was to drive after a major car accident I was in. How I only ever saw flashes of crashing and dying. The impact so seared my memory it would be impossible to forget how it felt to be so thoroughly out of control. Sometimes the flashes happened even outside of cars.
Then I had a baby. I watched out for post-partum depression because I know it strikes those who have a history of depression... but it never really came. I honestly felt fine for a good few months. But eventually I couldn't fall asleep again (my insomnia was cured by pregnancy *insert smiley face*) for the worries and the heaviness in my chest and the constant lump in my throat. I dread going to bed because I have to wade through a thick bog of my own worst fears: tragic loss, pain and loneliness, just to reach slumber.
From some of the reading I've done... it seems that this is somewhat normal for women who have babies but they're not exactly fresh off the press. Whether it is to do with the hormones from altering the breastfeeding to incorporate solid food (Thank you Cup Of Jo for talking openly about that sort of thing), or if its just my body chemistry at this stage... regardless of what exactly is the cause, something has happened.
I will call this an introduction to a world that I hope I never need to visit again. I feel that what happened around a week ago was a real anxiety attack. I know just like I knew I was in labour. If you have to ask "is this it?" it probably isn't. But this was it. Like someone turned down the speed of my heart by half a beat and my hands and feet felt numb... tingly. A 100 pound bag of bricks lay on my chest, inhibiting my ability to draw breath. I pulled in air as best I could like I had just run a few sets of stairs, but I was actually lying down unable to move.
Being out of control in that way... my own body somehow turning against me, it was... it IS terrifying. Truthfully, it frightens me now just to think of it happening again. I'm desperately hoping that it won't. Maybe that is why I am writing this down. Some kind of outlet so my mind has a distraction other than stirring up my entire body into a heart attack like frenzy.
Its working, I think. So bear with me, internet.
I'll get real therapy, I'm sure. But for now, I want to sleep. So I had to get this out in front of me.
I hope if anyone reading this has ever experienced, or is experiencing post-partum (or any kind I guess) anxiety... find some sort of comfort or validation that someone else is right in the middle of it too. I want to talk about it. Its part of my post baby body. Like my shorter hair cut and the extra skin around my midsection. Also my weak, popping knees. There are a lot of things that still continue to heal after one gives birth. Some of them annoying, unhelpful, unavoidable... Others are treatable. This is one of them, I believe.
Because darkness cannot overcome light.
Light is not happiness and rainbows.
Its not the power of positive thinking.
It is honesty.
It is opening up a window to see what really is.
So I'm letting the light in... you might see some dirty dishes lying around.
It seems ironic, doesn't it? That as soon as my baby begins to sleep for (knock on wood oh please don't let this jinx it) longer stretches that could be described as *gasp* sleeping through the night; it is I who can't seem to shut my eyes and drift away. So many things zoom past the back of my lids in those twilight (er- midnight) hours. And I have a confession:
I'm think afraid of absolutely everything.
Nope, now that I just thought about aliens I'm kind of also terrified of them.
I've heard this is the mantra of motherhood... That once you have a baby you become this pile of pyjama pants and worry. And while I don't particularly have anything against pyjama pants, I feel that I'm just better served by no pants at all. Then again, the scurrying frantically to clothe my lower half that happens when I buzz someone in downstairs on short notice is as inconvenient as it is entertaining for you to envisage right now. So possibly I should rethink the pyjama pants. But oh boy do I have the worry down pat.
I'm wondering for parents of older children... does this ever go away? Is there a magical age where you stop worrying so much? When you have a second baby does the worry compound or is it the same?
Worry is one thing, but then there is the alien thing... I'm just afraid of everything. Fear and worry. Like a stack of bricks a mile high pressing down on the very middle of my chest making me catch my breath and swallow a hundred times to get rid of the lump in my throat. Google says this is anxiety, but what does one do to fix it? I don't think I'm so acute that I experience 'attacks'? My anxiety is lower in degree... but stretches over such a wide variety of subjects. Cars, bridges, the middle east, poison, someone stealing my baby, SIDS...
See, immediately people who don't experience a lot of actual anxiety will put together a list of reasons why, rationally, I shouldn't be so afraid of any of those things. Statistics, safety measures and just plain geography put them in the 'extremely highly unlikely to happen' category. But for those who experience, even a little, true anxiety... you've already prepared your own very similar list. Reasons why you should not be as terrified as you are, lying in bed, desperate for rest. I spend most of the emotional and mental energy I'm given every day overriding my fear and getting in a moving vehicle, crossing a bridge, and enjoying my baby. I muster as much will as I can to force out the damning possibilities. Because I'm being stupid. My daughter is happy, healthy and I won't fall in front of a bus.
Its not that I don't have the facts... I have them. I just have to wilfully use them on myself constantly.
Here is the thing: All that energy I use to evict the stupid fear... that energy was meant for remembering what day it is, or emptying the dishwasher, or cleaning the bathroom. I need everything I have in my brain to keep functioning effectively. But I don't. There are wide gaping holes where I should have more to give... but I just haven't got it. I slump down on the couch because I'm tired. Because I don't sleep well. Because there is so much that I didn't do today.
Somehow, though, after I've admitted all this in writing, I feel marginally better. I looked outside my window and there is some sun peeking through... the day is getting a little brighter... I'm having a new bed delivered today, finishing planning my darling friend's baby shower (which is Sunday...waaaaaaat!?) and doing my diaper laundry. Which, as weird as it sounds, really always relaxes me...
Apologies for no new pictures. I currently have no way to charge my own camera because moving countries... wait, that happened almost a year ago. Adding to list: get Canadian camera charger.
I haven't written in awhile, because frankly, everything is on repeat. Feed. Hug. Change. Kiss. Laundry. Snuggle. Clean some things. I constantly need to look at the bottom of my screen for todays date but that is pretty impressive because there were/are times when I can't even tell you the current month if I'm not given enough time to ponder. It is October which basically means its Christmas. We are suffering from terrible whiplash for all that's happened in these past 6 months. Reece has got his permanent residency, his drivers license, we became parents, we bought and sold two cars (major eye-roll). I have tried to keep up with some things that make me feel human, an individual, rather than a one stop living breathing 24/7 supermarket. So I pick up my sewing machine or my knitting needles here and there and try to stay sane. Also I try not make a huge mess. Unfortunately without much success.
We have gained good friends... and suddenly lost a dear one as well. There is a different type of grief when you're too far away to do anything. To say anything. Because it doesn't feel real. It won't feel real until one day when we visit SA again and everyone is together except for one. A piece is missing. Then the final link connects. Loss is no longer suspended or pending like the restaurant tip on a credit card bill. But until then, I think we both just feel mystified. Nothing changes for us. And that makes me feel guilty... and guilty is like breathing for moms. So look at me go.
So meet with your friends. Take lots of pictures. Eat dinner together more often. Because you have no idea how much time you really have on the clock. Also because babies grow so fast. Sometimes videos you take in the morning make you reminiscent in the afternoon. Its craziness.
Following the heaviness of my pondering, allow offer some cute pictures of Piper (5 months) and Everett (17 months), her long time bestie and the giver of arguably the most adorable hugs. Thanks Katrina Massey for the pics, once again. You nailed it.
And then some of her post-thanksgiving-mashed-potatoes. Apparently they weren't sufficient, but the table made a nice top up.