Sunday, April 7, 2013

The birth story

Week 41, 2 days: Of course she came late. In retrospect it’s very fitting. Let me preface this by saying that this entry is coming to you from a dirty house with an un-showered mom, a husband who’s bored and a baby who is currently stirring in her sleep as we wait with baited breath in hopes she keeps those peepers closed. Obviously my priorities are out of order. You’re welcome.

Alyssa took some amazing pictures that documented and captured very real and very beautiful moments of this experience. If I was braver I would post them. But I'm not. Also, I feel like so many of the photos were so personal and I want to keep them that way.

So here’s the whole story…

Let me preface this by saying birth is pretty gory. And I’m not just talking about the ahem baby coming out of the vagina part. Hollywood has tricked us all. I can honestly say that even after many childbirth classes, dozens of books and countless stories from friends, I thought that I would be the one. You know, the one who goes to the hospital in wedges and jeans and a cute shirt covering her very nice basketball baby belly. I know I was delusional. At no time during my pregnancy did I look cute…at all. But I think clinging to that Hollywood version of birth was some sort of mental defense, blinding me with ignorance, which is after all bliss, right?

So birth…we’ve been lied to. It’s not glamorous. I’m sure there are women out there (who may as well be mythical creatures) who go to the hospital in heels and jeans, instead of flip flops and yoga pants, but I was not one of them. I could barely be bothered to put on a bra. In fact it wasn’t even a bra. It was a bra-like article of clothing, simply because I thought that’s what I would be wearing when I gave birth in the water like I had planned. My dignity had long gone out the door before I reached the hospital. I was contracting on the toilet with three fairly new friends (Gina, Alyssa and Breia) for what seemed like hours before I got to the hospital. Nothing like baptism by fire, right guys? Labor brings women together though. There’s an instant camaraderie when one of your own is going through an experience that only women share.

I’d like to quickly add that I had also felt lied to by the other end of spectrum. Hollywood makes birth seem glamorous and you can get through it in half an hour with a few good pushes and well-timed screams. Enter a snort in derision here. Not true. However, there are the “horror” stories on that other side of that coin. The ones that make you think this is going to be the worst, most painful experience of your life and you might as well get the drugs or a schedule a c-section because you do not want to feel this. Of course it’s painful. You’re pushing something big out of something small. That’s a given. And most labors are long. But you can do anything hard for one day. My soapbox: educate yourself. If nothing else, do your research. I think we researched what kind of blu-ray player we wanted more thoroughly than we did about our different birth options (until we finally clued into the fact that this is something very important). If you choose to schedule a c-section, great. Just know the pros and cons. If you birth at home, great. Be aware of the risks and benefits. No matter what, education, education, education.

Shameless plug: Watch “The Business of Being Born” on Netflix. Of course it’s skewed to one perspective. Keep that in mind. But it will change your life- it did mine. Or at the very least, it’ll make you think.

Okay, onto the good stuff.

Thursday, Sept 27th: I had been having contractions that were consistently inconsistent. They were manageable, bearable and even a little exciting. I had an appointment scheduled with my midwife, but since the contractions were getting a little stronger, Andy drove me and we went together. Kathrine checked me and I was still only dilated to 2.5cm and about 60% effaced. She kept saying that my cervix was soft and very favorable (which meant nothing to me until I googled it), but of course I could only focus on the numbers and they weren’t what I wanted to hear. That evening the contractions were getting stronger and closer together. We timed them at about 15 minutes apart and I couldn’t even sleep through some of them. It felt like this was it. Maybe Friday would be the day that she finally came (she was, after all, almost a week late).

Friday, Sept 28th: Andy didn’t go into work. The contractions had subsided slightly but we were both on edge. We walked around to see if we could get them going, but by the afternoon they had pretty much disappeared. I was a little disappointed. I kept wishing that they would come back stronger and more regular. That night they did just that and I was immediately regretting my wish. The contractions were about 10 minutes apart and while I could talk through them, they were quite uncomfortable, even bordering on painful. I called my midwife to keep her updated and let her know that it didn’t seem like the baby was moving very much after the contractions so we met her at the hospital for an NST (non-stress test) to make sure Lyla was moving and thriving. She was a rockstar baby. She had a nice strong heartbeat. I had some contractions at the hospital and Kathrine gave me some medicine to sleep through them. It didn’t work. By the time we got home, the contractions had gotten stronger and more regular, but since I was so drowsy from the medicine, I couldn’t breathe or concentrate through them which I think made them more painful. This was night two without much sleep or food, as my appetite had disappeared.
Saturday, Sept. 29th: “Here we go again.” That was my thought going into Saturday. Friday night had ended much like Thursday with consistent contractions that stopped around 3 am. I was so drained by Saturday. I felt like Lyla was never going to come out and I understood why people have scheduled C-sections. There wouldn’t be any waiting. There wouldn’t be any disappointment in seemingly useless contractions.
Saturday morning, Alyssa and Gina came over. I had been keeping them updated with my progress as Gina was going to be my doula and Alyssa was going to be our birth photographer. Gina brought some aromatherapy which actually calmed me down and it was nice to be able to talk to them and get my morale back up a little bit. They talked us into going to the zoo with them. I was anxious about having contractions in public, but at the same time, I was easily convinced by them that I needed to get out and not focus on the labor. Maybe a change of scenery was just what I needed. So off to the zoo we went.

Andy and I purchased a membership and it was exciting to think that soon we’ll be able to take Lyla there to see all the animals (this was of course an after-thought, because while we were purchasing the membership I was whtie-knuckling the ledge of the counter for a contraction). The whole time we were there I was having consistent contractions.  I’m sure we looked ridiculous, but I was past the point of caring, uh, two days ago. After we had been there for a few hours, it was time to go home. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was so exhausted from the walking and the contractions. Saturday night was….surprise…the same as Thursday and Friday. The contractions had stopped again around 4 am and I felt so tired and so defeated. There was no way I could have this baby. Lyla was going to be an only child….for sure.

Andy asking if I'm okay while at the zoo. Yeah, sure, buddy.

Sunday, Sept 30th: Sunday morning we decided to stay home from church to see if we could get some rest (because we were so hoping she would be coming that evening). I informed Gina and Alyssa that my contractions had stopped Saturday night (or rather very early Sunday morning) and that they were feeling weaker and further apart. Alyssa suggested that I see a chiropractor from their ward. She asked him if I could see him after their church services and he (blessedly!) agreed. Andy and I drove down to meet Gina and Alyssa at Dan’s office. As soon as he saw me walk in, he could tell that my pelvis wasn’t aligned and that was probably hindering the baby from fully dropping into the birth canal. He adjusted me and almost immediately the contractions got stronger and closer together. He was an answer to our prayers, literally. In hindsight, had we not seen him, I would have no doubt had a C-section because no matter how efficient the contractions were, she would have never dropped.
That evening around 7 or 8, Gina, Alyssa and Breia came over to help me through the strong contractions because as great at Andy had been through the whole process, his skills were lacking. They were with me through every contraction. They were so amazing and I still feel so indebted to them. They stayed with me the whole night and into the morning, sacrificing their own sleep to help me through contractions every couple minutes. This whole time I was keeping in touch with Kathrine, letting her know that the contractions were getting closer and closer and stronger and stronger. She suggested I take a bath. I did and it lasted about 10 minutes. The bath was not helping. At 5 am, Alyssa woke Andy up (he went to sleep around 1:30am to get some rest) and told him that we were almost ready to go to the hospital.  We left around 6:30am and at that point I was sure this baby was coming out fast because contractions were two minutes apart and STRONG!
Going through contractions at home. Everyone was so supportive.

In our parking garage we have a speed bump right in front of the entrance/exit doors. Andy had been practicing going over it since March. He had gotten quite good at driving over it smoothly. But on this lovely morning of October 1st, I told him to floor it and get me to the hospital. Surprisingly, even though I was in pain, so far the labor had been a lot less dramatic than I had imagined. Movies and TV always depict this hysterical, screaming woman and while I certainly felt like the pain deserved that kind of reaction, it wasn’t my natural instinct. And in four days of labor and birthing a baby, I didn’t swear at Andy once…at least not out loud.

The good news is that the hospital is only 2.5 miles from our apartment and only really takes about 10 minutes to get there. The bad news is that the road is riddled with potholes. Not fun. I was sure it couldn’t get any worse than this. And now as I write this, I can hardly believe that I actually thought it couldn’t get worse. It’s laughable. Oh you poor, na├»ve girl…buckle up, you’re in for a very rough time.

It was exciting to arrive at the hospital. Of course we parked on the opposite wing and it was quite a journey to get to the maternity ward…pay no attention to the contracting woman in a wheel chair people! I was so relieved when I saw Kathrine’s face on the 6th floor—the maternity floor. I was a little unnerved that I had to give them a urine sample and get on the scale for a weight check. This hardly seemed like the time, but procedures are procedures.  So the infamous cervix check was next- I was sure I must have be dilated to a 9. Even this far into labor, I was still thinking I’d be the exception. I’d be the woman that gets to the hospital and gives birth within the first hour. I’m so convinced these delusions are defense mechanisms because if I knew exactly what I was in for, oh boy….I’m not sure what would have happened.

I was at a 3.5 and I couldn’t be admitted unless I was at a 4. Cue defeat.

My midwife suggested that I walk around the hospital grounds to try and dilate more. So off to the hospital gardens we went, jumping and lunging there and back again. It was horrendous. Luckily Alyssa, Breia and Gina were there with us every step of the way. After nearly an hour of walking, interspersed with lunges, we made it to the cafeteria. Katherine, my midwife, was adamant that I eat something. Apparently labor takes a lot of energy or something. But everything looked stomach- churning. I settled on some V8 drink and vitamin water. Still can’t drink them to this day.

I had had enough. I wanted to get checked, admitted, and cut open. I did get checked. I was barely at a 4. I did get admitted. But my midwife insisted that we talk before I got cut open. Party pooper. She said my uterus was so exhausted from contracting for 4 days that even though the baby had finally dropped (thank you chiropractor Dan!), the muscles were so weak they couldn’t move the baby down to put pressure on the cervix to make it dilate. Listening to someone talk about this stuff a year ago would have really grossed me out. Not so anymore.

I had two options.

#1: Go home and rest (ha!) and wait until I dilate further.

#2: Get an epidural so my body could get rest. An epidural would also slow the contractions down a little so my uterus could get a break.

After 4 days of prodromal labor, option 2 please!

Side note: Prodromal labor is NOT to be confused with false labor. I got really annoyed whenever I would tell people Lyla’s birth story and they’d say something stupid about how common false labor is and how it’s okay, all first time moms experience it. Prodromal labor IS early labor with contractions that range from mild to painful that never culminates into a birth for various reasons (like a uterus tired of trying to fit the baby into the pelvis when the baby isn’t engaged yet).

An epidural was not in my birth plan. I wanted to be all “I am she-woman, hear me roar” and do an all -natural water birth at the hospital with my midwife. We had practiced the correct breathing and focusing exercises for months. But I was a week and half past due, so I wasn’t too upset that nothing was going to plan. It had all been blown out of the water 9 days prior when September 22nd passed me by.

Honestly, getting the epidural was the worst part. I was having contractions every 60 seconds and then the dumb anesthesiologist (who was man and couldn’t possibly have the sympathy required to calm a laboring woman) tells me to sit up, hug a pillow, lean forward and hold still. Oh yeah? I’d like to see you do this while the insides of your body feel like they are being gripped in a vice. And to top it off, he had to do it twice because he hit a blood vessel the first time. Idiot. Apparently if you stick a needle in my back the wrong way, I hold a grudge. Go figure. I'm sure he deals with hundreds of hysterical women all the time, so I guess I should appreciate his efficiency. But he really could have been nicer about the whole thing.

While the experience of getting and epidural was pretty awful, the epidural itself was exactly what I needed. I napped almost immediately after receiving it and when I woke up, I was dilated to 7cm and my water broke a few minutes later. My body needed that rest so badly.

Because I was so on board with having a natural birth, I didn’t push the epidural button when it ran out. I felt really strongly that if I could feel the contractions during transition and during the pushing stage, I could work with the natural instinct of my body, thereby not pushing for longer than necessary. And while I remember it all being painful, it’s mostly a blur. I’m pretty sure I was transported into another world during those last couple hours. I ended up pushing for about an hour, which isn’t too bad for a first baby (or so I’m told). During the pushing stage, I finally understood why it’s called labor. It is seriously hard work. It’s so exhausting. The next day, my arms and legs were so sore (and those were not the parts of me I was expecting to be sore!) from holding up my legs to push. Apparently I needed some extra motivation, so they moved a mirror down there. I thought I’d be really horrified of the goings on of birthing a baby, but it was really pretty surreal. I mean, that was my baby that I was finally seeing!

Andy says that I started hemorrhaging quite a bit so a nurse was pushing on my stomach to get the baby out faster. Honestly, I have no recollection of that, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that it happened.
When Lyla finally arrived at 8:13pm on October 1st, she was all squishy and cone-headed, but she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She didn’t cry because she had swallowed some meconium during labor, but we knew this and were prepared to not be worried when we didn’t hear that magical first baby cry. The nurses were so fast and in a matter of seconds she cried….loud. It was awesome. We also discovered that she had a knot in her umbilical cord. My midwife told us that it’s pretty rare and it’s a symbol of perseverance and luck.
The umbilical cord
 Since she was 10 days late, I was certain that she was going to tip the scales at 20 pounds or something. Okay, not 20, but you can imagine my relief when she weighed in at 6lbs 15oz.

Newborn Lyla
 As soon as Lyla was out I felt normal! I got up out of the hospital bed 30 minutes later and I told Andy that I wanted to run a marathon. I’m sure it was the adrenaline talking, but it felt so good to be ME again.

We took her home after two blissful nights in the hospital with nurses to answer all my paranoid concerns and a cafeteria that prepared and delivered our meals. That was when the real labor began. Sigh. Now that is hard work. But it’s the best kind.
I feel like the end of this story is pretty anti-climatic. Everyone says "oh, labor is this and labor is that." It's all people talk about. No one talks about bringing the baby home and what life is like. Maybe people are too exhausted to talk about it. Maybe no one would have siblings if people talked about it because let me tell you, THAT is the hard part about having a baby. Anyway, I always felt the end of Lyla's birth story ended upbruptly. But I realized, just now, that it's because her being born isn't the climax of the story. It's just the beginning. Cue cheesy music. El fin.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Has it really been half a year?!

This is no April Fool's joke- Lyla, as of April 1st, is officially on the downward slope to her first birthday. How did this happen so fast? I have no idea.

Judging by the emerging personality traits we've witness and the things she's learning and loving, here are 10 professions she would excel at:

1. A scientist.

I can one-arm carry her. True story. She won't have it any other way. She loves LOVES to look around at everything. I think her brain is going a mile a minute. She's on her way to being a baby Einstein. This picture was taken after she got done chewing on the plastic that you put around Easter eggs. Baby Einstein indeed.

2. An athlete.

She has started to army crawl. I wish I had photographic evidence of this, but you're just going to have to take my word for it. Look out books and DVDs, Lyla's coming for you. In fact, yesterday she was going after Toby (who was very nice and let her catch him). We officially have one of those houses- you know, where everything is two feet above the ground and I will have said good-bye to all my decorating efforts.
 Those cords in the background have been been taken care of, and the outlet has been properly covered.

Blurry due to the army crawl movement.

3. A food critic.

She eats purees in her high chair. So far we've discovered that she loves squash, green beans, sweet potatoes and carrots. Pears and prunes are so-so. Peas are absolute garbage. As an avid lover of peas, I'm hoping I can convince her to change her mind sometime in the future. But for now, she's following after her dad and shuns them completely.

 Green beans

4. A professor.

She talks...a lot. The baby coo-ing is gone and weird, foreign Lyla language has taken its place. I think I must have taken a course or two sometime during my life because I can tell exactly what she's wanting or needing.
This video was taken about a month and a half ago, before the cooing was long gone. My mom has entitled this video "Lyla's vocalization...from both ends." You have to turn it up and listen closely. Ten years from now, Lyla is going to kill me for posting this.

5. An actress.

She whines. As all parents know, this high-pitched, drawn out, half-effort sound is far different from a cry and it's all show. This girl seems to be quite dramatic.

6. A bungee-jumper (is there such a thing as a professional one?)

She has a jumper-roo. Her chubby little legs just bounce her chubby little body up and down, up and down. It seems like she has a real baby toy and she's very interactive with it. It also doesn't hurt that she can spend a good 15-20 minutes playing in it happily, giving me enough time to take a shower (and maybe even shave my legs)!

7. A sleep technologist.

 She's sleeping from 8pm-4am, and then from 4:20-7:20ish. Which if you were here with newborn-3 months old Lyla, you'd know that we've finally FINALLY hit the jackpot. For a mostly breastfed baby, I think she's doing pretty great. And when she does have those nights where sleep is just not sticking, I convince myself it's because she's so smart and she can't stop analyzing all the new things she learned that day.

8. A professional gamer (I'd cry if this really happened)

She plays games with us. Lyla has taught herself peek-a-boo. She pulls clothes or blankets or burp rags over her face, flails her arms and legs and grunts and then pulls the offending fabric from her face and then looks at you and smiles. When I finally caught on to what she was doing, she smiled and laughed and then gave me a look that said, "It's about time you figured it out mom. I've been trying to show you this cool peek-a-boo game all day." Now it's more an equal participation game where we hide our faces from each other.

She also loves it when we count to three and then throw her up in the air on three.

9. A comedian.

She laughs. She really laughs. We are still trying to figure out her sense of humor. She laughs at the weirdest things and it's never the same thing twice.

10. A model.

She poses for the camera. She is such a ham with a myriad of facial expressions.

 Blue Steel. Zoolander anyone?

 Easter Sunday dress. It actually lasted through all of church- no untimely blow-outs!
 Coloring Easter eggs. I have a feeling next year will be more successful.
 First Easter basket. The Easter bunny really delivered this year.
 Daddy favorite onesie
Happy six months!

 During the last few months, her personality has really started to shine. She's funny. She's determined. She's kind. She's smart. She's loving. She's amazing.

Up next: her birth story. Six months later, I finally feel like I'm at a good mental state where I can write about, look at, and post pictures about the most intense experience of our lives thus far. I will have it up by this weekend. I promise.

Friday, February 1, 2013

And Ode to Lyla

First and foremost- Happy 4 months to my baby girl!

Being that this is the third blog post in a week and half, I've come to the realization that this is how I'm documenting motherhood. I'm definitely not a scrapbooker and all my photos of her are STILL on my iPhone, so Lyla will have to settle for sifting through my inane ramblings for her childhood memories. Sorry kid.

Some fun things I've learned about Lyla in our 4 months together:

1. She's stubborn (wonder where she got that, Andy). Or I guess since she's just a baby, I should call it strong-willed. She most definitely has a mind of her own. I dread the teenage years.

2. She's determined. With every milestone she's reached thus far (rolling from back to tummy, tummy to back, grabbing objects, "talking") she gets it done in one day. She tries all day and by the end, she can do it. She does not know how to quit. It's pretty cool to see her figure out how to use her body and her mind to figure out these new skills. However, she still has not mastered the art of sleeping through the night. I wish her work ethic during the day carried into the night. I can't win 'em all I guess. The rolling over was/is especially exciting even if it's making diaper changes increasingly difficult (and then you add all the grabbing....oh boy).
Figuring out how to grab (and hold) toys on the tray

3. She has pretty eyes. This is a weird and probably biased statement to make, but I swear she has the prettiest eyes I've ever seen. She has gigantic (like Disney princess gigantic) eyes framed by the longest, fullest set of eye lashes that she uses to bat at her prey and all of a sudden you're doing her bidding. I have no idea where she got those, but she will never ever need mascara. Ugh, I can't even think about the day when she'll want to wear make-up. Time, just stop, please.
Pretty eyes
4. She and Toby are good buddies. He likes to lay down by her and she likes to pet (read: grab and pull) his soft fur. He takes it like a champ. Of course we try to show her to how to be gentle, but I think she's a few years away from that concept.

Story time with Toby and daddy
Toby giving her good morning kisses (he's the blurry thing on the right)

5. She loves beats (any music, really) but she especially loves various rhythms. I've even looked up youtube videos on how to beat box. Me attempting to beat box or singing a certain part of a certain Sir-Mix-A-Lot song gets her laughing almost every time (go ahead, judge away- but I'd do almost anything to get her to laugh and rapping "Baby Got Back" is not even a blip on my radar). Bonus for me: new skill. I bet that will look good on a resume.

6. She loves the sounds "bee-boo" and "ah-coo" and "chee-choo." Smile guaranteed every time. She also loves when we unwrap her swaddle in the morning and exclaim, "Good morning! You're freeeeeeee!"

7. Lyla loves to talk. She just goes on and on and on about something or other. I'm sure it's a great story she's telling me and I let her know how amazing it is.

8. Lyla loves this rhyme we made up: Lyla loves to learn. Lyla loves to laugh. Lyla is so lovely, I say on her behalf. Lyla loves to flirt. Lyla loves to smile. But Lyla does not like to nap. She cries for quite a while.

I think she likes it because it's true. All of it. Especially the part about hating naps.

9. She hates her car seat--screams, cries, wiggles. But doesn't every kid? I'm just adding this so she can look back and be grateful that we took her anywhere. Ha.

10. She loves it when you kiss her feet. I don't know if this literalism is going to turn into something metaphorical in a few years, but yeah. When she wakes up grumpy from her naps, all we need to do is kiss her little chubby baby feet.

A few pictures of our happy girl (and yes, I realize these are all of her smiling or almost smiling- let it be known that she has a generally good disposition, but she can throw a tantram like the best of them. I have pictures of her screaming too. But let's live in fantasy world for a moment where only happy babies exist):

Here's lookin' at you, kid.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Some thoughts after a sleepless night

Motherhood is a strange thing. It's almost another dimension that suspends time, skews perspectives, and alters reality. My days, which are filled with scrubbing poop off clothes, dishes, singing Disney songs, and doing exercises that use Lyla as resistance weight, seem to drag on and on...and on. They are endless and slow but simultaneously passing me by--I can rarely (and by rarely, I  mean one time above never) do dishes, make dinner, clean up, and fold laundry all in one day.

All I can concentrate on is my pretty, pretty baby (allow me to gloat--I'm a first time mom) and my laundry list of things to do. And then we get an invite to go out with friends and I crash into real-life reality and realize that there IS a world outside of our overpriced apartment. Even when we go out with Lyla, she takes all my focus because she's a time bomb.  "Is she going to freak out?" "When's the last time she ate?" "Oh man, did she just poop HERE?!" "Quick! Where's the burp rag?!"

I feel like we're inside this plastic bubble and if you can't pop the bubble, you don't exist. Anyway, reality comes knocking and she carries with her a gigantic mirror that shows me my split ends, t-shirts with spit-up, and fading yoga pants and I ask myself, "How the heck did it come to this?"

Then I look at Lyla. She looks at me with her big gummy smile and I realize it doesn't really matter how it came to "this." "This" is being a mom. It's the most difficult thing I've ever done or ever become, but I love it (or when the sleepless nights are many and the naps are few, I love her). And while I have no illusions that some women can do it all (homemade dinner, reupholster the couch, paint their nails, dust) in skinny jeans, a really good (but uncomfortable) bra and some seriously cute wedges, I can't. At least, not yet. Maybe next month. Ha! Maybe when time stands still in the alternate universe of Motherhood.

I always pictured myself as a career women. When you graduate with an advertising degree, you certainly don't picture "this." My life, which was headed down the trajectory I planned, took a sharp left at the corner of Priorities and Reality. Circumstances change. People change. I change (or rather, I am changing).

And here I am. A mother. With a little baby girl who is 4 months old today. Can you believe that? I really, really, can't. How is it possible that she's already growing up so fast and yet my days seem to go by so slowly? Does every mother experience this paradox?

The picture I painted of my life is changing (the setting is colder--thank you Minnesota, the colors--so much brighter due to that gummy, chubby smile, and the characters are new friends who I love) and I think it's going to be my greatest masterpiece yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So I had a baby....

I feel like it might the be understatement of my life to say, "A lot has changed since I last updated..." I haven't even finished my very belated (two years) Europe posts, and now I'm about 13 months behind on the most eventful, life-changing year.

I also feel like it might be the second understatement of my life to say, "I had a baby."

Yes, I did and the pregnancy and labor was a rollercoaster I was hoping to get off, but as it turns out, parenting is no picnic in the park. For those of you that care, I am currently working on typing up Lyla's whole birth story. Closing in on five months later, I can finally revist the best and worst day(s) ever. I'm happy that I did record a lot of my feelings and thoughts throughout my pregnancy and Andy even started writing down the events of her birth so we wouldn't forget all the details. I know the feelings have begun to fade, but I'm nowhere near the "it wasn't' so bad. I couldn't definitely do this again!" phase.

It was beautiful and miraculous and humbling and I was surprised at how strong I was and I was surprised with how moving the whole experience turned out to be. I know that seems like a given that having a baby would be "moving," but I had no clue how much it would impact my sense of person. I learned that the process of birth is beautiful and I would love to be part of it again as a doula or some other facet. That being said, it sucked. It was hard and painful and exhausting. I'm going to need a few years to relive that experience.

Anyway, before I start blathering on about various sentimentalities (which are valid), let me give you a run-down of what's been going on in the Berg household.

1. We moved to Minneapolis, MN in March of 2012. Andy got a job as business analyst (whatever that is) at Target and he works at the headquarter office about 3 blocks from our downtown apartment.

2. We had a baby girl. Lyla Juliet Berg was born on October 1, 2012. She was 11 days late for anyone counting--I know I was! She weighed in at 6 lbs, 15 oz and she was 20 inches long. She had a knot in her umbilical cord. My midwife told us that it meant she would be a mover and a shaker, and boy was she right! This kid is crazy.
Here she is, all swollen and weird-looking, but give her a break...she just passed through the birth canal, which I imagine, is a troubling and traumatic feat for someone so little.

3. My mom, who is a new grandma, stayed with us the month of October. Thank goodness! The first nights home from the hospital were so rough. I think I cried more than Lyla. My mom was the only one who could get her to sleep and she saved my sanity.

4.Lyla was Rapunzel from "Tangled" for Halloween. And yes, I realized before we dressed her up how ridiculous it was that we even got her a costume. But apparently I've become a sentimental sap and wanted to see my baby all dressed up for her first Halloween.
5. Lyla got blessed on October 28, 2012 and almost every one of our family members were able to share it with us. My parents and sisters were there along with Andy's parents. Our good friends Alyssa & Derek (and kids), Breia & Mike, and Gina were there too. It was so awesome. Andy did a great job.

6. We flew to Washington for Christmas. Airplane travel is tricky and I express my apologies to all the people I cursed at (in my head) that had crying babies on the flights I took. Lyla was a trooper for the most part. We brought Toby too, so we had our hands full. Lyla was an angel in Washington and slept for 6-7 hour stretches at night. I was tempted to permanently move in with my parents if it meant more (and consistent) sleep for me. Sleep deprivation is not my friend. The airplane ride home was a beast. We were up circling the Minneapolis airport for an additional 30 minutes and Lyla had had it. She was done. She was screaming. We got the looks. We got the eye rolls. And I got mad. I mean, contrary to my previous, non-parent opinion about crying babies on a plane, I just wanted to backhand the people glaring at us. Get a private jet if you hate my crying baby so much. Geez, people.

7. Lyla is growing so fast! I had no idea what people meant when they said, "they won't be this little for long." No kidding. On those nights that I got 2 hours of sleep total, it seemed like she would never grow up. But now, as she's changing and reaching big milestones (she can now rollover from back to tummy and she's teething)I realize just how fast I'm losing my newborn baby girl. She's going to be a real little person the next time I blink.

8. Parenting is no joke. I would like to call everyone out who say things like, "she's just stolen our hearts" or "we couldn't be happier" or "being a parent is the best thing I've ever done." I know I'm going to be under all sorts of bad mommy judgement here, but I just can't deal with the faux-ease of raising a baby that so many people put on.

It's so hard! And honestly, maybe it was the baby blues or maybe I'm just not a "baby person," but the first 2 months of Lyla's life was probably the worst of mine. I think I was in shock for half of that time. You just had a baby. You're adjusting to your new role as parent. You're figuring out what that roll entails, while getting no sleep, learning how to nurse, and basically changing every facet of your life that you knew before virtually overnight. No more running to the store to grab something quick. No more spontaneity. No more. No more. No more.

Yes, it's a blessing to have a baby. Yes, looking back, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Yes, I'm so in love with Lyla. But man, I could use more sleep. I could use more adult conversations. I could use a few nights out to be ALONE. No one ever tells you that staying home with a newborn is lonely, boring and simultaneously exhausting. No one talks about the frustration you feel with your baby because you have no idea what they want, regardless of the countless parenting books and youtube videos you've seen on baby languages and "caring for your newborn." No one ever says that you'll be chained to this baby for the next year as you are their sole source of food. No one can even begin to explain how lack of sleep affects your sensibilities when there is a baby crying nonstop.

Giving birth is a cake walk compared to living with a newborn.

I'm think I'm going to write a book about the cold, hard truth of living with a baby. You mothers who have more than one little one running around at home, you're my heroes. I don't know how you do it. I know I'll adjust and figure it out. I'm pretty sure I'm a slow learner regarding this baby stuff. And I'm pretty sure it has to do with that fact that it has just been Andy and me for 6 years, doing whatever we wanted, going where ever we wanted, being so wrapped up in ourselves--so this experience of becoming a parent has been an eye-opener.

One of my resolutions, aside from losing the baby weight, eating better, yada, yada, yada, is to be more patient with Lyla. After 4 months of being a stay-at-home mom, I'm finally starting to understand her. I'm seeing her personality. And she's amazing. But those thoughts are not the first to come to my mind when she's screaming from being overtired because she refuses to nap or when she wakes up multiple times in the middle of the night, like a nightmare from those difficult newborn days.

Also, everyone and every book has advice (unsolicited or not) about raising a baby. Vaccinate, don't vaccinate. Let them cry it out. Pick them up to soothe them. Don't put lotion on their virgin skin. Record all the wet and poopy diapers. Wake them up if they've been napping too long. Nurse every few hours. Nurse on demand. Do tummy time for 40 minutes every day. Honestly, it's all exhausting and people should mind their own business. This is my baby and I will raise them how I see fit. Why do we feel the right to judge people about how they choose to take care of their children? It's one thing if you notice negligence or something harmful being done, but other than that, stay of out it people. Does anyone out there agree?? Or have I become too calloused too quickly??

So now that I've reigned hell-fire and judgement upon myself, I'll continue with more mundane things:

9. We got family pictures taken. Alyssa did a fantastic job and made all of us look pretty good, even this mom who has baby weight to loose and needs to get in shape! I was hesitant to get pictures taken so soon after Lyla's birth (8 weeks, I guess that's not really "so soon"), but I realized it was more about getting a record of our new little family. She and her mom also took some amazing newborn photos of Lyla that I will post as soon as I get them loaded on the computer (someone hold me to that!)

10. We went to the zoo on Saturday. It was our first voluntary outing with Lyla. We actually choose to take her out someplace FOR her, FOR fun. It was the first time I actually felt like a real parent. We carried her and strolled her and backpacked her through the zoo. She loved looking at all the surroundings. It was really fun and I finally understood what all the fuss was about being a parent and how fun it is to do things with your kid. As she gets older (which will happen soooo fast) it'll be more fun too. I can/can't wait until she's more interactive with her surroundings. Andy and I are just dying to take her to Disney World. Hopefully we'll be able to take her in a couple years. That's the dream anyway.

11. The biggest change I've experienced in the last few months is that I talk about baby poop. Like all the time. Color, consistency, frequency-- you name it. And I like talking about it. It's interesting to me. And important! I have no idea what universe I've stepped into, but I'm pretty sure anyone that's had a baby can relate. I also like talking about Lyla. Lyla this, Lyla that. She's my whole world, the good and the bad and I can hear how annoying I've become, but I can't bring myself to care. Is this what being a new parent is???? If it is, I'm fitting in quite nicely. I am happy to say that, although I always talk about my cute and beautiful baby and her poop, I haven't taken her to the doctor every week of her life, like I was pretty sure was going to happen. I'm a worrier and being a mom has definitely brought that little personality flaw out one hundred fold. But I've managed to keep my cool and not overreact every time she drools or poops. I even kept my cool when she got her first fever, her first cold and her first cough. Yay me.

Some more random pictures:
New Year's Even outfit

Story time

Oscar the Octupus..They are good friends

Getting some thunder thighs

Loves the Bumbo seat

She has gigantic cartoon eyes. I love them, no matter how disproportionate they are.