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.