Warmth

With wonder and awe glistening in her eyes

She reaches out her hand to feel the warmth

Of a sunbeam upon her skin

Then she looks up at me

Her face bright with a satisfied grin

I smile back at her to let her know

How proud I am that she is exploring her world

She is my sweet, curious, mischievous,

Fiery, sunshine-y, girl

With wonder and awe glistening in my eyes

I reach out my hand to feel the warmth

Of the top of her head upon my skin

Then she looks up at me

Her face bright with a satisfied grin

And I feel the warm glow of her love

Again.

And again.

The joy of discovering a sunbeam! (or tapping into newly discovered superpowers, whichever you prefer)

 

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Being a Mommy: 1 Year

This year has flown by so fast! I feel like I’ve blinked and my sweet girl is now a year old. As we prepare for her first birthday party with friends and family, I can’t help but think about how far we’ve come this first year, how much she’s grown, and how much she’s changed the world around us already.

I love this little girl so fiercely.

I have all the things to put together a book for Hannah for her first year. I’m just not sure when I’m going to find time. So much goes to the wayside as it is, because everyday with her is an adventure since she’s turned mobile. If it weren’t for Henry, I’d be pulling my hair out. He’s such a great dad with her. But even with his help, I rarely can meet deadlines these days and a lot of my work goes unfinished. I have to get better with this time management stuff, and I will as time goes on. It’s just a challenge to work from home right now with this cuteness in my face. I find I don’t want to miss a single thing.

In January, right between 9 and 10 months old, she learned to pull herself up and crawl within the same day. It’s like it suddenly clicked for her and she was unstoppable.

At 11 months, she began standing independently and started to climb up on small boxes and small toys.

Now, at 12 months old, she’s so close to walking on her own. When she’s standing, I’ll grab her hand and she’ll start walking forward. I think she’s not confident enough to stride out on her own, and that’s okay. I’m amazed at how much she moves, when just a few months ago she was still fairly sedentary.

Hannah absolutely loves books and loves being read to. She can say “hi” and wave to a person she sees. She says “numnum” when hungry, “yum” when she likes something she’s eating. She says “mama mom” when she needs me, she says, “dadada” when she wants her daddy. She growls when she’s frustrated and when she’s excited she lets out this pterodactyl yell that’s pretty hilarious.

And that smile! When she giggles, the rest of the world disappears. She loves it when I make faces at her or play peak a boo. The rolling giggles are the absolute best.  I would act a fool the rest of my days to hear those giggles.

Watching her learn and absorb information is wonderful. She focuses so hard sometimes and I can see the gears turning as she tries to figure things out. How does milk flow from a bottle? How do I get at the thing in the jar? How do I put this thing in this other thing? I love it. Total sponge-y goodness.

She eats great, she plays hard, she laughs a lot. At her 1 year check up, the doctor said she’s doing amazing.

I love being a mommy to this little girl. It truly has been the most amazing year of my life, and I’m so grateful for every single moment. The best part is, we get to experience so much more together!

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My Beautiful Child: Poetry

My heart, my soul, wandering around
A miracle, a magical love I have found
Or maybe you found and rescued me
A gift, a reminder of who I could be

When I first met you, I was so very scared
Feeling so woefully unprepared
To guide and protect you from all that can harm
Yet nurture your happy uniqueness and charm

I’ve seen cruelty in this world with my skin
The downsides and darkness of being human
I would spare you all pain, if only I could
Instead I will help you to seek out the good

You’re a beacon of light in a world going dark
And will always be, constantly, making your mark
In your eyes I have found the truly divine
Some days I still can’t believe that you’re mine

I learn everyday what love really means
In big things and little, the moments between
Being your mommy is the best gift of all
Whether you’re big or whether you’re small

Here’s to a lifetime of laughing and growing
With so many places you need to be going
A million adventures ahead to pursue
My sweet baby girl, there’s only one you

 

Happy 1 Year Birthday, my sweet girl!

Being a Mommy: 7 Months In

So apparently my preconceived notions of finding time each month to write eloquently about my perfect child were shattered. The last time I posted in here, Hannah was about 2 months old. 5 months have passed… whoosh! It seems time flies at a super speed pace when caring for a child. I’ve learned so much about her and myself in this time. This will be long, but I’ve got to update the best I can.

Month 3: 

I didn’t update at month 3 because it felt a bit like a chore rather than something I would enjoy. And the moment I skipped a month, I skipped 5.

Have you ever traveled with an infant? Don’t do it if you don’t have to. We drove from Ohio to Washington, D.C. with our 3 month old. Truthfully, Hannah was really amazing considering she was stuck in a car seat for hours at a time instead of in her comfy home. We had no real urgent accidents or incidents though. Our normal 6 hour trip took us almost 9 because of stops to feed, change, and snuggle. She was a trooper and went with the flow. We were exhausted, but it was worth it to see family and have them give her love for the very first time.

At the time, the trip felt a bit like a nightmare because it was all so new and we were fumbling to just seem like we had our crap together. Looking back on it now with about 4 months of time to think, it really wasn’t as bad as it seemed in the moment. We’re preparing to take Hannah back to D.C. for the holidays and I think everything will work out better now that we have had the experience.

Month 4: 

Early teething, what a joy (sarcasm). Two little raised, reddened bumps appeared suddenly on the bottom row of gums. I wasn’t surprised when she started teething early. I was born with teeth. When we took her for her 4 month check up, the doctor expected that her teeth would burst right through any day. We’re on month 7 and those little buggers still haven’t come through. It has caused her a great deal of pain and that’s hard to watch and manage.

At 4 months it was like this little shift happened with her. Hannah jumped into automatic sponge mode. Suddenly, she loved bath time, she loved putting everything into her mouth, she loved watching faces, and she would sometimes really get the giggles for no real reason. My heart melts so hard when she giggles.

I started working again, getting back into the swing of picking up clients again and the physical aspects of being a photographer. The first wedding I photographed after having a kid was fun, just physically draining. While yes, I worried a great deal about being away from her, I love that I have a career that only keeps me away for a day or for hours so I can work from home on the rest.

Months 5&6:

At 5 months, Hannah began getting excited when she recognized familiar songs and stories. She loved sitting with her Daddy at his desk watching videos with him or watching him work. Work began to pick up for me and so she got to spend a lot of bonding time with him.

Food was a new thing for her at 6 months. She loved trying new things. She loved being in her chair and playing with the straps. She loved eating her bib. Her thirst for new experiences was apparent as she laughed and smiled and babbled more every day. She really enjoyed baby oatmeal and grandpa’s homemade applesauce.

Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, we found this house to rent with close family members. We’d been looking for a place and were getting frustrated with not being able to find something we needed for all of us with plenty of space. But then, a friend of a friend posted something on Facebook, we asked questions, and BOOM, suddenly we’re moving into a house! And Hannah will have her own bedroom. What an overwhelming, positive thought, to know she’ll have her own safe space and that we can provide that for her.

So the big adventure, especially during month 6, was trying to pack up our apartment we’d been living in for almost 4 years. This transition was hard for us in a lot of ways as it was riddled with uncertainty, doubt, and a smidgen of chaos. Change is never easy, but having a child prepared me for the changes in some sense. In a year, I’d already seen so much change, so the change of surroundings was a bit easier to navigate than I’d thought.

Month 7: 

Hannah was a trooper with the move. It took her a day or two to get used to sleeping in her own bedroom with new noises and lights and people around, but she adapted quickly. We have been here a week and she’s sleeping 10-12 hours a night, she eats very well, plays so hard, and laughs a lot. I’m so proud of her and how easily she has acclimated to a whole new environment. She’s done better than I have, to tell the truth.

She loves screens so much already and is so smart. Super Why is her favorite TV show. Seriously, she brightens up and giggles and coos when it comes on. She’ll play with her toys and watch TV independently for an hour or more before she gets fussy for attention. I love that she’s independent in so many ways, but knows we’ll be there for her with snuggles and love at any time. She actually gets mad if people are too in her face for too long. Who can really blame her? I love love love her little personality.

Hannah tries to type on my computer when I have her in my lap because she sees me doing it. She looks at me with her head tilted back because that’s how I look at her when she’s super close, under my glasses. She says “mamamamama” over and over again. I know she doesn’t know what she’s saying, but boy does my heart grow 3 sizes every time I hear her say it. She bounces and stands with support, she can sit for long periods of time without falling over, she loves her toes and, while on her back, will hoist them above her head and move them while watching with fascination.

I’m starting to anticipate multiple teeth coming through all at once. The chewing and the drool are so out of control.

Most of all, she’s loved by so many people. That’s exactly what I wanted for her and she has it. It feels like a miracle.

Where I am now:

I had no idea that I would love being a mother this much, even though I’d always wanted a child of my own. It’s one of those feelings you just can’t feel until you feel it. This feeling is bittersweet as time goes so quickly and the moments are here and gone in a blink of an eye. I try to enjoy each and every moment I can with her.

I remember how she felt in my arms when she was born. She was tiny and so dependent on me. I was constantly worried that I would fail her somehow. Watching her grow is the greatest gift I could have ever been given because it has helped me grow too.

I will and do still worry. A lot. About everything. But living in the moment with her keeps me from reflecting on a shattered past or an uncertain future too much. Living in the moment keeps me going, keeps me focused, keeps me dedicated to providing a life for my family that we’re all happy with. And while sometimes it gets to be so hard trying to balance it all that I collapse from exhaustion or break down in tears, I try to keep in mind that it gets crazier than it is now. I keep in mind that I have an incredible, sweet daughter who depends on me to be strong for her. I pull up my mommy panties and do the things I need to do to keep my daughter happy, no matter how I am feeling in the moment.

Because I’m a mommy and that’s what mommies do.

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Hannah Joy- 6 months and full of personality!

Being a Mommy: Month Two

Every single day, I excitedly watch as Hannah grows. I can’t believe it’s already been two months! What a crazy journey it’s been so far. Time goes by so quickly with a child.

A lot has changed in such a short amount of time.

I can’t really remember what a full night of sleep looks or feels like. Showering or getting out of the house for an hour feels like a vacation. A day hasn’t gone by in the past month without a daily baptism in spit up or baby pee. A big change is that I find myself looking forward to time with other adults like a lonely happy puppy waiting for a person to come home from work. I find myself extremely disappointed when that adult time doesn’t pan out. That’s new for me, as before having baby I was a self-proclaimed professional hermit. Cancelled plans were awesome back then because it meant more time to myself. Now I miss people and try not to take it personally when someone cancels plans. Weird.

Yet the whole adventure so far has been really incredible. I wouldn’t trade one single moment of the life I have now for the life I had before. Love from this little person has transformed me in ways I never thought possible. My gratitude level is high these days.

Hannah has started smiling in response to facial expressions. One little smile from this baby girl and my heart melts down into a puddle that leaks from my eyes. Every single moment where sleep or sanity is sacrificed becomes totally worth it when her eyes connect with mine and a huge grin takes over her face. It’s even better when she lets out her new little giggle.

Seriously though, she’s a relatively easy baby. Month one was all about trial and error and getting to know each other through bonding. That month included a lot of tears from both of us and I imagine the rest of her life will be full of trial and error. Month two has been all about snuggles, discovery, and getting through each day trying to keep baby as happy as possible, which, as it turns out, has not been too difficult. Hannah has spent more time awake each day lately and she’ll play independently on the floor, cooing and “talking” to her toys. Her favorite is this giraffe that lights up and plays lullabies. She will stare at it while she kicks the air happily for up to an hour. The rest of the time, she’s happy being fed, being held so she can watch faces, or sleeping.

Thankfully, we have babysitters we trust. The relationship with the significant other is just as important to me now as it was before baby girl arrived, and so we’ve been able to go out twice without baby in the past two months. I feel rather fortunate about the gift of trusted friendships that give us that much needed reprieve from 24/7 baby life.

We’ve found a crazy little balance in our home. Some things get done and some things do not. Some things can wait until tomorrow. Each moment of today with Hannah is precious and more important than anything else.

Hannah Joy- 2 months old! She looks a lot like her Daddy, but I see my family in there too. 🙂 We made a cute kid.

I’m also lucky to have a baby that loves to see her reflection in my camera lens! She’s fascinated by it and I’ve managed to get some really amazing photos of her from day 1. As a photographer, I love having a baby who loves being photographed. 🙂

Being a Mommy: Month One

Hannah Joy was born March 25, 2016. It was a natural childbirth that made me feel like a total warrior woman. I’ll never forget the experience for as long as I live. As a result, I’ve come to love my body in a way I never have before. Hannah aspirated fluid during delivery, so we stayed in the hospital an extra day. She has shown how much of a fighter she is, by gaining a huge appetite and growing everyday. Hannah is a tough little cookie. My, how the past month has flown by already. Tomorrow she will be one month old.

I am lucky to have a few moments (sporadically, over time) to write this while my little girl is sleeping peacefully, a rare occurrence these days. A million other things are the priority as my ordinary hobbies take a backseat to a certain repetitive cycle of baby care and self care that has dictated my life. Feedings, snugglings, diaper changes, bath time, cleaning, laundry, pumping, washing pump attachments and bottles, feeding myself with something that doesn’t come from a box, a freezer, or a drive thru, trying to sleep (yeah, right), showering when I can, doctor’s appointments, visits from friends and family, shopping for baby things or groceries- all on repeat. Life has changed drastically from the way things used to be.

In fact, as I sit here, writing this, I’ve come to realize that I’m a total mess in a way I’ve never been before. I smell like dried spit up, breast milk, pee (not mine), and sweat. It’s gross, but it’s the truth. I try to braid my long hair to keep it out of the newly grabbing hands of a one month old (a lesson I learned the hard way) and random tendrils are hanging loose and tangled, part of it sticking up on the side. Yesterday I put on mascara for the first time in two months because I went to meet with a photo client. Today it is smudged under my eyes and down part of one cheek. I went to the store to get diapers this way. I’m a total mess.

But I’m a totally smitten new mommy. Behind my tired, day-old-mascara-smudged eyes is a glow of pure, unadulterated happiness. I look at this little girl and I’m in awe of the fact that she lived inside of me for 8 1/2 months. She’s so perfect and so very much becoming her own little self already. It’s getting easier to figure out what will keep her happy as I decipher her different types of cries. She coos and grunts and the faces she makes keep me laughing and joyful. I sing to her as she falls asleep and read to her after bath time. She loves being on her belly as she pushes her head up and from side to side trying to take in the world around her. She even rolled over from her belly to her back for the first time, just the other day. I’m filled with a sense of pride and a sense of overwhelming love that often moves me to tears. Being a mom, something I never thought I’d experience, is such a beautiful thing. I see the blessings in every day love.

Sometimes, it’s hard. I’ll admit it. I’m sure it will get even harder. I’m not a fan of only getting 2 hours of sleep some nights. Before baby, I couldn’t survive without a minimum of 8 hours so I’m not sure how I function on so little sleep now. But I am a fan of the nights she’ll sleep for 4 hours, get up to eat, and then sleep a few more. Those nights are rare, but they do happen. During the day, the “sleep when she sleeps” philosophy is a joke. There’s just too much to do in order to maintain even some semblance of order in my home and mind for that to happen. When she’s not sleeping, she wants to be held always. She even sometimes won’t sleep unless she’s being held. The second I put her down, she starts to fuss and cry. Not always, but often. That in itself can be exhausting and hard on my back. Thank goodness for the baby swing. I don’t know what I’d do without that thing. “Me” time is a novelty I sometimes miss from my pre-mommy days. I’m so very lucky to have a significant other who pitches in by cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, feeding her, holding her, and staying up with her to give me the occasional brief nap. Honestly the hard times seem minor compared to the joys we find in the successes.

We’re finding the balance, slowly but surely.

That’s why I’m here, writing a blog post about being a mommy. It’s for myself, to remind me later what it all was like in the first month as everything changes and she grows so quickly.

Finding time to chronicle the journey and be myself is just as important as giving her the world.

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Hannah Joy- the most perfect thing I’ve ever created 

Raising a Daughter: Hopes and Fears

After years of being told by doctors that I wouldn’t conceive or carry a child of my own, I’m happy to say that, at 34 years old, I’m 7 months pregnant. We found out in December that we’re having a girl. My entire life has been twisted and turned upside down. Change is not something that is or ever has been easy for me. Now, everything is going to be different than I’d planned. I get it. Life is always what happens when we’re busy making other plans. While it will be amazing to be a mom (something I thought I’d never get to experience), I’m also terrified on so many levels. My dreams are haunted with a variety of insecurities, driven by hormones and a brain preparing to launch into “mom mode”.

People are well meaning in their advice when it comes to mom worries. I get a lot of “worrying is normal when you’re a mom and a sign of being a good parent.” I hate that my brain ruminates on certain things almost to the point of obsession. I feel insane sometimes with worry, and rather than feel normal, I’m scared, uncertain, afraid. Underneath the worries of how I’ll care for my daughter financially, how I’ll make sure she has medical care, a good education, opportunities I never had, etc., are the worries of raising a mentally sound daughter in a world that is harsh, cruel, and mean. How do I raise her up to love herself and value herself if I still have a difficult time with that for myself? How do I help her socialize when I mistrust the world so much? How do I give her a good, healthy example, let her be true to who she is, and protect her from the evils of the world without overly protecting her or, worse, alienating her? How do I stay true to my beliefs while instilling in her that she can discover her own way, her own path?

There was so much violence and anger in my childhood that I worry it will spill out of me and onto her in some way, even though I’m not a violent or angry person generally. I’ve been known to spiral out of control with rage, sadness, or desperation, though it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had an episode. I worry that certain milestones in her life will trigger certain things within my mind and will influence my actions somehow. I worry that she will inherit a genetic disposition toward anxiety, depression, addiction, or other mental illnesses that run in my family. These are all things I take so seriously.

My greatest hope is that she will never have to endure the things I had to endure. I hope that no evil person takes advantage of her sweet soul to gain access to her body. I hope that she will never know physical, emotional, or mental manipulation or violation. Ever. I also hope that she will be better, do better, and want better for her life than I ever thought myself deserving of. I try desperately not to project too much onto a little life that I haven’t met yet, but it helps to think of how loved, cherished, and protected she will be. This little girl is coming into a world where there are no preconceived notions of who she should be. Rather we’re all anxiously awaiting to see who she WILL be so we can help her to cultivate the best version of herself.

I know without hesitation that she will have my love. The overwhelming love already bubbles up into my throat and into the tears that flow down my face at times. Recently a friend told me, “She already has more than you ever had as a child.” That made me cry because of the truth involved. I was not loved by my parents. I was used, abused, hated, resented, degraded, and treated like an inconvenience the majority of the time. This little girl will not experience or know that feeling. Not with me protecting her, guiding her, and loving her daily the best way I know how.

In the end, no matter what my insecurities or fears may be, I know that by trying my best, she will know happiness. I know that I will sometimes fail to reach my own expectations. I know that I am imperfect and sometimes (oftentimes) a mess. All I can do is try my best to be a person that my daughter can be proud to call “Mom”.

Somehow I know that it will be good enough, that I will be good enough and strong enough to deserve this rare and precious gift of love.

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The force is strong with this little one. (Me at 28 Weeks)