I won’t do this every week, but here’s another Flashback Friday – Eliza’s One Month letter from back in August of 2011. (I posted Liv’s last week.) One thing I’ve realized lately how little I remember of my pregnancy with Eliza. Thankfully, even if hardly remember carrying her (sorry, kid), I do remember caring for her, with the help of these letters.
I’m writing this letter during your 6th week. That is more than a month. Part of me is tempted to feel guilty about being “late” on writing this but to tell you the truth, there have been times in the last few weeks when I probably could have gotten it done, and I chose not to. Instead, I’ve filled that time with things like rest and hanging out with your dad. I was thinking about all of this on the beach (yes, we took you to the beach for a week when you were SIX WEEKS OLD!) and it occurred to me that it is really silly to feel stressed and a little guilty for not having your letter done when I’m the one who chose to write them in the first place. Then I decided that this revelation is actually something worth sharing with you.
Eliza, don’t hold yourself hostage to self-imposed expectations. Goals are good and discipline is important, but if the things you’re committed to are things like “finish the laundry by dinner on Monday” and “try one new recipe every two weeks” and “floss daily”, give yourself some grace if you have trouble meeting them every now and then. (I’m kidding about the floss thing, Papa the Periodontist will know if you aren’t flossing regularly, just remember that…when you have teeth.)
It’s hard for me to believe that we’ve already made it past the one-month mark with you! In the weeks before you were born, I felt a little bit nervous about what this month would look like. Our first few weeks with your older sister were probably the first time in my life that I felt really pushed to the end of myself, and I was worried about how I would handle feeling that way again with TWO babies to love. Thankfully (and it really is with a true sense of deep gratitude that I say this), our first month with you has been SO MUCH EASIER. It was still an adjustment to bring you home, for sure. But, for the most part, you’ve been good at all the things newborns are supposed to be good at, namely eating and sleeping.
That being said, we haven’t been without our glitches. You tend to prefer to poop with your diaper off and several times I’ve ended up with several articles of clothing between us covered in your curry-colored poo (that looks like a gorgeous acrylic paint, by the way). Then there was the time you pooped all over as your dad let in some visitors and then projectile vomited up and over my arm onto my bare foot as soon as I carried you into the room to meet them. Your timing is superb.
My two self-centered, “gimme-gimme” prayers about you before you were born were that you wouldn’t be born face up like your sister (self-preservation) and that you’d be a good nurser. You were delivered in 3 pushes during one contraction, and you nursed almost immediately after birth without a problem. Prayers answered! One of my hopes (different than a prayer; less serious in my book) was that you wouldn’t have issues with your bilirubin levels, and that we wouldn’t have to take you to the doctor several times during your first week home. Unfortunately, your levels were high and you didn’t poop for days, so we ended up at the doctor’s office twice in the first few weeks once again. Even this wasn’t so bad though, because I’d been through it all before with your sister. All in all, my hopes for your birth and first few weeks were easily met.
I hoped and prayed for things that I wanted to avoid but I didn’t foresee a difficulty we did end up facing-terrible, horrible, 14-day colds. Liv started it, then passed it to your dad and me. I started to feel a tickle in my throat during labor and by the time we left the hospital, our noses were running like faucets. We worked hard to keep our hands clean to avoid passing it on to you, and it worked! After hearing that your Uncle Danny picked it up while visiting and then passed it on to your Aunt Kathi who then passed it on to your Grandpa as they all helped her move to Chicago, I was even more impressed with your little immune system. This cold was clearly very contagious and was no joke-during each feeding I’d end up blowing my nose and sanitizing my hands several times. You didn’t get sick, and we were shocked and thankful. (Incidentally, your Grandma and Aunt Claire stayed with us and helped for your first week home, and somehow they didn’t get sick either.)
A friend once (actually, several times) described the first 6 weeks with a baby as boot camp. She also said that she thought God timed babies’ first smiles perfectly-after about 6 weeks of boot camp, this demanding, squirmy, sleep disturbance suddenly looks up at mom or dad and gives a big, goofy grin. You’re a little smiling prodigy, and have been recognizing the three of us since before you were a month old. I realize that most parents insist that their children smile when they clearly aren’t capable of it, but there’s a difference between your sleepy, gassy “smiles” and the way you look at me and your dad and your sister when we’re cooing in your face. The other day, you were in your car seat and Liv came over to help put in your “yeyyow pasthi” (yellow paci), and you looked straight at her, focused for a minute, then smiled like the cutest little goober I’ve ever seen. Watching you two smile at each other gave me heart palpitations, in a good way.
I feel like a lot of this letter is actually more about me than you, and I think some of that is because we’re still getting to know you. This is one thing I learned through your sister that makes my relationship with you a little bit easier-I knew we’d have to get to know each other. It’s a surprising thing, as a mother, to give birth and have your newborn child placed on your chest expecting to see an old friend and realizing that instead you’ve delivered a stranger. I felt a little panicked about this with your sister but this time around I’m more patient. I know that through the feeding and the changing and the rocking and everything in between, we’ll get to know each other deeply in no time. I’m enjoying that process.
As I think back on this month, what I keep coming back to is how shockingly smooth it’s been. Your sister was a more difficult newborn, but became a delightful baby. You’ve been a wonderful newborn and we have no reason to think you won’t but just fun as you continue to learn and grow. We are a family of four, and now that you’ve joined us, I spend more of my day feeding children and changing diapers than anything else. That sounds so mundane but the truth is, with you two in our lives I feel more myself than I ever have. Our lives are full, and Eliza, they are full because you are in them.
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