Selah was born 15 days ago. I had grand illusions of writing more in these past 2+ weeks than I have, but typing out just how many days we've been doing this family of four thing (only 15?!) gently reminds me that I'm still in transition/survival mode.
So, hi. I'm glad to be here. I've missed this space. I have a Real Food Friday post ready for tomorrow, but then I can't guarantee when I'll be back. I'm planning on soon because this place is my therapy.
My body is recovering much better/faster than I thought it would. I attribute this to mostly good nutrition + eating grassfed gelatin nearly every day.
I love getting out for walks with Selah in the Ergo, but the highlight for me was last night. Nolan wanted to "go for a run," and Tim was holding Selah, so my little buddy and I went running around our neighborhood. We both had a blast, and so far, I haven't "paid for it" like I thought I might.
I don't really have a specific plan for getting back into exercise, but so far, Nolan has it covered. He loves to go for bike rides, runs, and walks. He sits in the stroller because although I could put Selah in there, he says the stroller is "his." I go with it because as a toddler with a new sibling, there's not much he can call his own that can't be claimed by someone else at any moment. Sometimes this means I push him in the stroller and carry Selah in the Ergo. So far, I see no need to sign up for a gym membership.
I do still have to say no to things I'd rather say yes to because I need the sleep. Sleep deprivation is no joke, and I know I need to take care of myself for no other reason than I want to be present for my family.
I am still spending some time in the kitchen when I can because it's so life-giving to me, reading (blogs and Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted), getting out because we all need it, and holing up at home because we all need that, too.
I am clinging to spending time with people who I can easily say,"hey, I have to go lay down," or "hey, I'm so tired I'm having trouble putting a sentence together." I'm finding that I have quite a few of those people in my life, and I feel lucky and also happy that at least in some ways, I'm a little more forth-coming with my needs and a little more confident than I felt after the birth of my first child. I feel like I'm growing up along with my children, like we are all learning from and for each other. I am tired, tired, but they along with their amazing father are my treasures, and tired or not, I know this life is so good.
I will drink it up. That and coffee. Oh, sweet coffee.
I've been wanting to post Selah's birth story since it happened on August 6th, but I've been a little preoccupied . One week from holding my daughter for the first time, here is a "quick" version for those who might be interested.
The night before my Selah girl's arrival, I told some friends I thought she would never come. That's how it feels sometimes.
I woke up to a strong contraction at 6 the next morning. No big deal; I've been having contractions for months (?), and I wasn't too hopeful that this was "it." When they persisted, I started timing them. Ten minutes apart, sometimes a closer. Hmmmm...
6:45 am- I really wanted to make a good breakfast. I got to work making coconut flour- based zucchini bread and slow-cooked zucchini, to be served with eggs, heirloom tomatoes, and goat cheese. And coffee with cream, of course. Always coffee.
7:00 am-I informed Tim what was going on out of perceived necessity- he was sleeping on the couch (something he often did toward the end to allow me the best possible chance to spread out and sleep comfortably) and even though I was trying not to make too much noise, I wasn't as successful as I hoped. But I was having regular, strong contractions, and I NEEDED to make breakfast!
7:15 am- I texted two dear friends to inform them about what was going on and invite them for breakfast.
8:00 am- I contacted my doula. I knew she wasn't able to come until 11:30 due to a mandatory deposition at her day job. No big deal.
8:15 am- One of my friends was able to come over (I think it was around this time?). We talked and cooked, and she ended up finishing the cooking while I stopped for contractions. I ended up taking my plate upstairs to eat in the bath because contractions were getting stronger, and I thought the tub might soften the pain, as it did during my labor with Nolan.
I stopped timing contractions, and just took them as they came. Faster and stronger. Tim took over without me asking him, arranged Nolan's pick-up time, made any other appropriate phone calls or texts, and told me when we thought we should leave for the hospital.
Nolan was uncharacteristically uninterested in me, a HUGE gift. Although I felt sad that we couldn't spend the time over breakfast that I wanted to that morning, I knew we'd be reunited soon and he'd be thrilled to spend the day with his Pop-Pop.
10:10 am- we left for the hospital, stopping for contractions on the way to the car.
10:20 am- Tim and I walked to triage slowly, stopping for many contractions. I could not fathom sitting in a wheel chair for any length of time. I was convinced I was traumatizing first-time pregnant mamas, but there wasn't anything I could do. Selah was COMING, and all I could do was live in that.
Full disclosure: Phrases like, "I don't think I can do this" came out of my mouth many times.
10:30 am- We check in. The woman at the desk seems unimpressed with my current situation, but since I've been to triage many times during this pregnancy (false labor and lots of non-stress tests), a nurse who knows and likes me gets a crew together immediately.
I get "checked." I've already determined that if progress isn't to my liking, I NEED drugs.
The team tells me to move to a delivery bed, but I. CAN'T MOVE.
The team waits for me to comply while my hero husband rescues me and pulls me onto the appropriate bed.
A lot of pain. A lot of coaching. A lot of feeling overwhelmed and almost completely out of control.
11:00 am. My Selah girl is born. We lie skin-to-skin for at least 45 minutes, and I am still in some pain, but it doesn't matter because she is here. Just when I thought she'd never come.
Selah Marie, 19.5 inches long, 7 lb. 2.3 ounces (my nurse told me I should own that .3 because I pushed it out. Ha!), cherished, loved, and treasured.
This holding what I have loosely thing is a continual practice.
Definitely not a once and done "this is what I'm going to do, that's final, I've got it down, moving on" type of decisions.
It reminds me of my yoga practice (which I'm now feeling a little anxious to get back into. I do some prenatal yoga, but it's not quite the same. Any locals have affordable ideas for a mama in need of regular yoga, including childcare?).
Sometimes it's several times in one moment that I have to consciously determine whether I'm doing what I can on my part and then let the rest go. I have to open my hands, sometimes physically to let this trusting parts of my life that I cannot control to someone or something else happen.
Y'all, I want to control parts of my life that I can't, even though I don't really know how they are going to turn out best. I don't like that in-between discomfort that comes with letting life unravel. I want the comfort of knowing.
I don't know when my Selah girl is going to show up. I want to tell her any day but one, because I don't know how her being born then will effect others' feelings. I want to control her birth and I how other people feel about it.
My sweet niece was born yesterday to one of my favorite people in the world. She sleeps 1,450 miles away, and I don't know when I'm going to get to snuggle her.
I've been spending quite a bit of time researching Noonday, wondering if it's the right fit for me and my family. There's only so far I can go until I get the answers I need, and the one or two people who are assigned to answer them for me are currently occupied with other things.
Yesterday, I found out that one of my dearest, kindred-spirit-type friends is moving 1,600 miles away in less than 3 weeks.
Y'all. I can't control any of that, and it's hard.
I can keep playing my own part and opening up my hands, even when I have to pry them open (several times in one moment).
I will. I'm going to practice that.
I have to believe that there are beautiful things to be had in
practicing openness, not shutting down
doing the best I can with what is mine to control
look for reasons to be grateful
for parts of life I don't love right now.
That is the hope I am holding onto.
I am awake when I shouldn't be and slept way too few hours last night (tonight?).
So I write.
So I look at the nights when I can't sleep (and there doesn't seem to be a particular pattern to these nights) as practice for those when I am up feeding/changing/snuggling Selah while my boys sleep. I am practicing for the next day, when I still have people, events, and appointments I've said yes to. I still have a son who needs and deserves my attention. I am practicing for the days when I will need to accept or even ask for help or say no or ask for a rain check more often than feels comfortable.
I am gathering up my resources- blogs I can check in with during the wee hours of the morning and tools to make not-sleeping almost, and maybe even actually, enjoyable.
I am treating myself to the kombucha I bought to split with Nolan after a patience-stretching experience at the grocery store. (I'll probably drink his share, but that just means I get to buy another one, right?)
I am reveling in the growing family that I adore. The house picked up by my husband while Nolan splashed in the bathtub and pretended to make me coffee and soup. The promise of a green smoothie and coffee in a few hours and the quiet that comes with being awake while the rest of my world sleeps.
Maybe practicing today will make the upcoming onslaught of sleeplessness a little more manageable. And if not, at least I've found some beauty in this time.
My favorite festival is Rodale's Organic Apple Festival. We went (with a sick baby) and loved it, as expected.
It happened on the first official day of fall and...although I no longer think I have a favorite season (it used to be fall) because living with Nolan is like living out every thing with fresh eyes and so much more is beautiful now...fall is already really, really good over here.
The season just kind of spilled out of that first day.
We did all get sick, one after another, but we went on an impromptu apple-picking trip. It was an off time, so we had the play area all to ourselves, almost the whole place to ourselves (with the exception of employees). We fed goats and chickens and tried apple cider donuts for the very first time.
My husband made apple sauce while Nolan and I slept and it. is. DELICIOUS.
I made this apple pie smoothie (making a few substitutions based on what I had available) which I had to wrestle from Nolan. (Really. Every time I tried to take a sip, he tried to pull it away from me. )
Tim introduced me to the simple but incredible dessert that is thin slices of fresh apple cooked in butter. (I will be eating those every day until I am tired of them.) (Maybe I'll try cooking in coconut oil, too?)
The "baby" (he's not so much baby any more) and I have been getting longer stretches of sleep- usually 4 to 5 hours in a row each night, which translates into a lot more joy for both of us. I have been laughing so much and so hard lately and crying some happy tears. I like that.
This little boy is a the joy of my life.
I know. This is news to you, right?
Sometimes, I start feeling like what I'm doing (with him, being his mom and all of that) doesn't matter because he won't remember. Of course, I can feel that way if I choose, but those thoughts aren't founded in truth, exactly.
What is it about somebody remembering something or not remembering that makes us (maybe not you, but sometimes me) think it is a good gauge for what is worth doing? Nolan will not remember what is going on in his life right now, but he will be loved (albeit imperfectly) during his most formative years. At his core, (I hope) he will know he is loved unconditionally. With that perspective, feelings of worthlessness don't really make sense.
I fill other roles, but
I am Nolan's mother.
There are so many ways to parent. I just keep attempting to learn. Keep thinking and paying attention, keep talking and listening.
Today, I was caretaker to one of Nolan's birthday buddies (we have two sets of friends who each had a son the same day Nolan was born) in addition to my usual little rascal.
In the beginning, I was breaking up every entanglement (the other boy is significantly smaller than Nolan)...but as I was observing them, I noticed that this is just how they did things. The being on top of one another, the grabbing of a toy, and then grabbing it back. The touching of faces and pulling of hair (although that got a little iffy sometimes).
I watched them, and I played with them, but I stopped intervening on every.single. thing. They didn't need that from me.
Several months ago, I learned that Nolan enjoys most things I would find scary or a little too rough. Most times, he thinks they are hysterical.
Being the mother of a little boy has been quite the learning process for me. I imagine it always will be.
We traveled just over 1,000 miles to celebrate the birth of a marriage.
Not just any marriage.
Well, of course it was the kind that would have us driving a thousand miles with a baby.
We arrived early to explore the town and spend extra time with the queen of my heart.
(So glad we did.)
Since arriving home, we've been recovering, yoga-ing, writing, eating, kind of- sort of getting back into a routine...and not really sleeping.
I've been extra sensitive lately and a little angsty, and I think the lack of adequate sleep just might be the culprit.
Today he is 9 months old.
If you look closely, you might be able to see evidence that he loves to feed himself.
(That's peaches, pancakes, and yogurt adorning his face, shirt, and body...and maybe a little in his stomach.)
He also loves water and bubbles (which helps with after-breakfast clean-up), the color red, "reading" to himself, wheels, electronics, climbing, his tunnel, and just generally being a crazy little boy.
He's cheerful even when woken up too early, and I think his favorite food is a toss-up between watermelon and banana.
My baby is 9 months old- so much and so little time all at once.
There are still nights when I take to food like some take to beer or books or cups of tea. I'm not really (physically) hungry, but I'm eating because there is a need to relax, to let go, to numb out a little (or a lot).
The next morning, I often feel inclined to stock up on doughnuts to drown out feelings of having "messed up." I want to numb out again...but I don't.
I don't because there's this boy with this face that melts me even on my tiredest, most difficult days. He is depending on me to live life with him. He needs me not to be numb so that we can play in the dirt and explore the yard and get our hands dirty and splash almost all of the water out of the tub while we both laugh about how much fun this is.
I like to try new things and explore places, but I think that everything is scary to me the first time I do it.
This boy? There is very little fear in him. I've seen him do a face plant in both his tub and his baby pool, and each time, he is right back to playing as soon as he gets over the shock of it. He loves the stairs and although we let him climb them (assisted), he's now interested in going down them. He loves to wrestle and wants to go everywhere and touch everything. He just go,go,goes, with no qualms about falling or whether he will succeed. (You might be getting a small taste of why I can't be "numbed out" during the day.)
I really do believe he is the most adventurous parts of his daddy and me combined, and I love that about him. And I know, I know, that life with him will have me swallowing my fears over and over because I don't want to crush that spirit. I don't want to miss out.
Being his mama is like seeing my heart beat outside of my chest. It's an invitation to a wild and precious life.
As many would when honored with an invitation from a very special person, I accept.
I wrote my last post early Mothers Day morning, coffee by my side and the rest of my family sleeping upstairs.
I didn't post it the same day because it was Mothers Day. I wasn't sure I wanted to publish a post that was all, "hey! look at me being a mom!" on the same day. Because we get it. I'm a mom. Everything has changed. (Except I will continue to write about it because everything has changed and I NEED to keep writing.)
I packed our schedules too full that day. Church and lunch and dinner and hours away with not enough of time for my baby boy to recharge.
Nolan loves to be around people, but he needs to be away from them to re-energize. (Hanging out with his Mama and Daddy counts as "alone.") By the time we arrived at my in-law's, Nolan was in and out of miserable. He needed to decompress. He needed to get away and watch the cars go by and maybe pick some grass.
But everyone wanted to see his sweet face (who can blame them?), so we all acknowledged he was grumpy and tried to work with his current state of being anyway.
I struggle sometimes with what to do when I know I can fix things for him. I know him so well, of course. We've become buddies over these last few months. He knows I will laugh when he tries to give me "kisses," and he trusts me.
(Ahem. He trusts me to take care of him, which includes not packing his schedule too full...)
He needs other people, too.
I don't want to smother him. I don't want to do anything to cripple who he is and how he develops. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I love it, but I worry sometimes that he can get too much mommy time.
I know he's only 6 months old, but I'm coming across the "what to do when there is no right answer" conundrum. Which is pretty much the same as, "I could always find something to worry about from now until the rest of my life because I am responsible for this little life...and. REALLY. I could always find something to worry about before he was born."
Over and over, I go back to my old stand-by of doing the best I can in the moment. Sometimes it is enough and sometimes the moment lets me know I need to change a few things, educate myself, or just pull him into my arms and hold him tight.
I originally called The Social Eater my "courage project." Because stepping out and actually acting on something that really lights me up inside felt scary. Who knows what will happen, if I fail, if anything will come of it? Who knows if I can make a positive, measurable difference in a world FULL of broken spots?
But now, my project feels normal. I mean, yes, it does take effort and planning, but it's what I do now, this chasing my passion thing. It's not scary at all (anymore); it's just a part of my life right now.
It's a part that I'm still so excited to share and live; that magic hasn't worn off. The magic of encouraging words hasn't worn off, either. (Encourage: to give courage. Thank you to every one of you who have done that for me.) They still propel me forward, so I hope I haven't given the impression that those words aren't still so meaningful to me.
I'm just saying that the part of trying new big and little things that is scariest for me is the first part.
This weekend, I made bread from scratch. I've baked bread before, but usually the quick bread kind (like banana bread or chocolate chip pumpkin) or the kind I can leave in my bread maker and move on. But this kind was all me and no sugar for the yeast to grow on. I was nervous, but I did it. It was good, in fact. So good that it's almost gone.
My husband and I also cooked beans from scratch. It's easy, and I'm not sure why I haven't done it before other than trying new things, even little new things, is scary for me. Oh, and it takes some effort.
Almost every single new Nolan thing is a little scary. The first time I took him in the car by myself. The first time I was alone with him for an extended period of time. The first long outing. The first non-pureed food. The first time I told somebody "no" because it was best for him.
Choices that seem so big turn out to be not so scary, but they're still big. They still add up.