Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Another mother was telling me how when her 4 month old son was having difficulty calming down her great-aunt who has never had children told her to take him for a walk in the garden to help him settle. So she's holding him, bouncing up and down up the garden walk, both she and her son freezing as it starts to rain and suddenly it dawns on her that she has just blindly taken advice of a woman who has not only has no hands-on experience with babies, but made an active choice NOT to have any.
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
So Eloise and I are flying to Paris tomorrow - at 6:40 am. Just the two of us. Me and a 5 month old baby. Who screams. A lot. That sound you just heard? That would be the sound of the brick that just fell out of my butt hitting the ground.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Last week I went out for the first time in what felt like ages. Some of the women I have met in our baby groups and I decided to put the kids to bed and rush out to a late night café for a drink leaving the babies in the care of the men folk. It’s funny how taking on this new role as Eloise’s mother has made me appreciate the smaller things. Like being able to walk out of my house not just without a baby, but without a nursing bra on. I got to wear a top that was in no way conducive to breastfeeding, plenty of perfume and eye-shadow.
I was so excited for a little adult time. Walking out of my house at night, heels clicking on the pavement. Cute purse replacing the bulky changing bag. Finally some freedom from the adorable beast. And what do we talk about once we’re there? The color of our babies’ poo. What times they woke up in the night. How often they spat-up on us. So sure. It will be awhile before I’ll be able to talk about much else. Awhile before I can actually “escape”. My job is my daughter and the breaks are few and far between. But despite the fact we only spoke about our kids in some capacity or another, it was so invigorating to get out of the house. Good for the soul. And sure it was only 2 hours. And I only had one glass of wine. Before Eloise it would have been 6 hours and 8 glasses. But this was so much more rewarding. I’ve never worked harder in my life (20 weeks slave labor) for one glass of Malbec.
Although I do feel bad that we loudly swapped war stories about giving birth and only afterwards did I notice the pregnant woman with her parents at the table next to us. Hope we didn’t scare her too much, but we all decided it was better that she know what’s coming!
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
I’m quite happy spending large portions of my day pulling funny faces, making animal noises, shaking my body like a scarecrow – as long as it makes her laugh. (The scarecrow move kills at our house by the way).
I can jiggle and rock until she rests her head in the crook of my neck and those pink-rimmed little eyes finally shut. Give her a big mama bear hug when she’s upset and whisper in her ear how much I love her.
But I also knew there would be aspects of Motherhood I would not excel at and the biggest one is accepting Fatherhood and its importance in my our baby’s life.
For the majority of my upbringing it was just me, my mother and my sister. Even before my parents got divorced it was a bit of a tag-team parenting style from what I can gather and I rarely saw my mom and dad parent together. My mother did an incredible job raising my sister and me (warning – gross maternal bias about to be uttered in the next 4 seconds) – one of us has devoted 2 years of her life to serve the Peace Corps in Mozambique and lives each day with compassion and integrity and the other one made a baby so cute and edible there are talks of putting her on the Tour d’Argent menu. I think somewhere along the way though I picked up the idea that parenting is a job that should really be done alone. No need to confer major decisions or deal with your kid playing you and your partner off each other. One family, under Mom.
I realized I felt this way when I would fantasize about my future children and never once was there a father in the picture. So when the Frenchman and I decided to have kids I made a point to force him into my mental picture. And I thought that once Eloise was born I would instantly feel that we were a family. Not so.
For a long time I think I kind of felt like a single mother. Having had more experience with children I naturally took the lead in the first few weeks. The Frenchman quickly learned the baby ropes though and by the time she was a month I thought, we’re a family now, right? But I knew deep down I still felt like this parenting gig was mine and mine alone.
And it’s not that the Frenchman is a deadbeat dad by any stretch of the imagination. He LOVES our baby. Adores her. She is his raison d’etre and he continues to be amazed by her beauty and her strength. But it is me that stays up for 40 minutes at 3am feeding her. It is me that takes her to the doctor for her shots. Me that gets vomited on all day. Me that puts her to sleep. Takes her to play group each day. Dances around to make her laugh. Well – until the weekend that is.
Which is all normal. I am of course the one who is at home during the week getting my government maternity pay (that doesn’t cover the rent) to make sure my child flourishes under my watch. My partner of course goes off every weekday to make sure we can pay the rent, occasionally spoil the baby and not starve.
But as the months dragged on I still didn’t feel that family unity that I was expecting. I Still felt that Eloise and I were one unit and the Frenchman an occasional plus one. Until a few weeks ago. 16 weeks after Eloise was born. I was nursing her in her room before bed. Dim lights, Buena Vista Social club playing softly in the background. In walked Eloise’s father, smiling at the two women in his life. Eloise unlatched herself from my breast to turn and look at her Daddy. He came closer and knelt next to us. She then reached out her tiny hand and began to stroke her father’s bearded face. Slowly. Deliberately. She smiled and then turned back to nurse. And there we were.
Friday, 27 November 2009
But there it was: Pregnant in plain blue letters on the test. I remember by heart racing and I started to shake as I came out of the bathroom and told the Frenchman - Je suis enceinte. His face was priceless - cartoon bug eyes come to mind. It's funny that we were both so shocked since this was after all the result we were after.
We boarded the flight giddy and bewildered, trying to make sense of it all. I watched Wall-E and cried. When we got to Chicago we had the taxi stop a few blocks away from my parent's place. We went into a Walgreen's to buy another test. After hugs and hellos I took the second test. Yup. Still knocked up.
We couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell my mother and her husband in person - living in a country without any relatives it was pure luck that we were in a position to let family know we were having a baby face to face.
My mom had prepared a mini-Thanksgiving meal for us a week early. I asked if we could all go round the table and say what we're thankful for.
Heart racing once again. I'm thankful that the Frenchman and I are going to make you grandparents.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
In a couple of weeks Eloise and I will be traveling on our own to Paris to begin our Christmas holiday. After Paris where we'll join Eloise's grandma and her aunt, we will be driving down to Eloise's paternal grandparents where the rest of the family will meet up for baby's first Christmas. There will be A LOT of people. More aunts and uncles. Many many great aunts and uncles. Great-grandparents. Second cousins.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
When I first met you you were purple and warm and not a little angry looking at what you’d just been through. The first thing I was taken by was your ear. I thought it had something wrong with it. Your aunt Claire noticed it too. Like it hadn’t completely formed. The midwife said that you were fine, that’s just how ears looked. And then I saw that your ear was perfect and I was amazed that you and I managed to work together to form such a perfect listening device.
I think back to that mad purple little person and cannot believe how far you’ve come in just 4 months. You unknowingly say Mama. Although it’s more of a continual call: Mamamamamaaaaa. You are reaching and grabbing for whatever you can get your spit soaked little hands on. Hands that not only used to flail about without purpose but hands that you didn’t even know existed until a few weeks ago. You recognize your father and me. Perhaps not as your parents yet, but you’ve seen us enough to know that we’re rather important people in your life and you are not a fan of being apart from either of us for too long. Well, ditto kid.
You love to stand. You often get frustrated lying down and I have to spend large portions of my day helping you to stand on your own two feet. You puff out your chest and wobble your head in excitement and pride. I get glimpses of the young girl you will become when you are standing and it makes my heart simultaneously break and swell twice its size.
One of my favorite things this month has been watching your relationship with your father unfold. For the first time the other day I held you in my arms and you screamed as soon as your father walked out of your sight. Your father beamed, “Is that for me?” Usually it’s the other way around. I’ve never seen anyone so excited to hear a crying baby. The best part of his day is coming home and seeing you smile as soon as you see his face. You’ve managed to nearly bring him to tears on a couple of occasions. This is no small feat. The last time your father cried was when he was 7 and his puppy died. I however cried 2 hours ago reading you Arthur’s Thanksgiving.
People love to compliment you. I’ve been told how beautiful you are, how strong you are, how flexible you are. I’ve had strangers compliment your sense of fashion (I’ll take credit for that one thankyouverymuch) and have been told that you’re going to be a talker. People compliment your eyes, your hair, your smile. They even compliment your toes. Personally I think it’s just because they don’t know you like I do.
Yes, you are beautiful and strong. Yes your smile can make grown men weep. But you are also stubborn and demanding. You are impatient and loud. You like to fart and spit-up. And I wouldn’t have you any other way.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
When she first wakes up in the morning, she babbles. First she talks to the bars in her crib, then she moves onto the curtains that are now lit by the rising sun, she gets loudest when she engages my collection of colorful scarves hanging on the wardrobe across from her crib. During this time I am slowly waking, listening to her get more and more vocal as she greets her friends in our room. Then I get up and her face moves from the scarves to me, a big gummy grin and bright eyes wide. I bring her into bed with me and lie her down. She immediately starts opening and closing her mouth like a baby bird - hungry and waiting. I slide in next to her, pull her towards me and fill her mouth with engorged boob - her favorite.
She falls asleep in my lap after eating lunch. Warm and satiated. Peaceful. She cat naps. When her eyes open she smiles at seeing me and tilts her head towards me. A real little flirt.
When he comes home from work, she looks for him when she hears his voice and as soon as he comes in the room she beams. Daddy's home! I say. She ignores me - at this moment she only has eyes for her father.
After the middle of the night feed, I put her back in her crib. I lie there in the dark and listen to first him and then her fall back asleep. Their heavy breathing, one deep and one shallow, fill the room. This is my lullaby.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Friends with more than one child tell me to take advantage of these easy days, where I can lavish all my attention on my only child and I am more than happy doing so.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
As soon as that pee stick turns blue you spend the rest of your gestation period anxiously waiting its beautiful bloody end with a gorgeous baby. Which is why I find it kind of strange that I have certain moments where I miss being pregnant. I miss having an excuse for being fat. I miss being treated like precious cargo. I miss wondering what my baby will look like (for the record Eloise, I am very pleasantly surprised).
Friday, 23 October 2009
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
...if by wonderland you mean an amusement park that a small child has run around in causing havoc and irreparable damage.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
I came across this picture of my mother and me when I was about 5 months old:
And then this one of Eloise:
It took me a minute to realize it was my daughter and not me. But on further inspection it is so great to see the many differences between us. I cannot wait to watch her grow into her own little person.