At 3 1/2 months, our sweet girl is now up to 12 pounds, 6 ounces and measures in at 24 1/2 inches long. She's still in the 50th percentile for weight and the 90th percentile for height. She's learning lots of new tricks, including assisted standing and lifting her head up. We have entire conversations of baby babble, and Thea smiles and laughs the entire time. In fact, this these three things are what she wants to do pretty much all the time.
Yes, all the time. Instead of sleeping.
Over the past two weeks, her daytime sleep has pretty much disappeared. I'm not exactly sure what happened. She had been sleeping just fine, usually in her pack-n-play. I tried to start having her nap in her crib, and it went great for a few days. After a few minutes, she fell asleep easily, and slept soundly for several hours. And then, something clicked, and she has fought sleep wildly ever since.
At this point, both day and night, she will pretty much only sleep while being held. As soon as she is put down, she wakes up and won't settle back down again. I have been able to get her to fall asleep on her own, but she wakes herself up every 15 minutes or so. She doesn't want to be swaddled, but she still has this jerk reflex that kicks in every few minutes and wakes her up. She is addicted to her pacifier and freaks out when it falls out of her mouth. She's not satisfied sucking on her hand and can't seem to find her thumb very well. By the end of the day, her eyes are red, she's very irritable, and she is obviously over-stimulated and sleep deprived. And now it's even harder to get her to fall asleep at night - usually, she won't fall asleep until 10 or 11 pm. We tried tonight to get her to go down earlier (starting at 6:30 pm), with no success. She was so close to falling asleep, but fought it for three hours.
I want my girl to get the sleep she obviously needs so very badly, but I'm not sure what else to do. Although John is willing to try it, I can't bear to let her cry it out.
I have a garden in my backyard. The more time I spend in it, the more beautiful it becomes. Not because of the hard work, the weeding, cleaning, raking, the tasks and the sweat, but because I no longer view it as separate from me. From inside the garden, I no longer view it critically from arm's length as flawed, as less than perfect.
-From Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller
I am currently rereading (for the third time) Karen Maezen Miller’s book Momma Zen. One of the chapters – Tending Garden – is about the inevitable weathering of a relationship that occurs when partners become parents and the necessary work required to sustain the union. The analogy used in this chapter - comparing a marriage to a garden - immediately resonated with me.
Thirteen weeks after Thea's birth, I am witnessing changes in my own marriage. In so many ways, our relationship is deeper, richer, more complex. Traveling through my pregnancy together – and the three year journey that brought us to our daughter - wove our lives together tightly, and brought us new levels of trust, hope, understanding, and intimacy.
And yet, with a new person in our lives – a tiny girl for which we are entirely responsible - our relationship has changed. We are working to establish a rhythm that allows us to take care of each other as well as our daughter – to nurture not only our family, but also our individual passions and requirements for solitary space. And while these have been tough to balance, finding time and energy to cultivate our relationship as a couple has been even more challenging.
Since the night we were married, John and I have ended our days by pausing before sleep to appreciate the acts of love that the other has shown during the day. Often times, it’s just the simple things that we speak of – a lingering kiss during the bustle of the evening, preparing a meal, enjoying an evening stroll together. We often mention the chores that the other has done, particularly the more unpleasant ones.
Then Thea arrived. In the early days, with our world turned upside down, the lines between day and night blurred. Often, there was no bedtime – every few hours, one of us would pass our daughter into the other’s arms and collapse from sheer exhaustion. Out of our routine and out of rhythm, our nightly ritual was lost.
We’ve since reestablished this daily gesture, though some nights our appreciations are whispered, with eyes closed, spoken quickly as we drift of for a few hours of sleep.
I believe that pausing for a few moments each night to reflect on the ways that John has nurtured me, our family, and our relationship during that day helps to remind me that we are in this together, that this garden is ours to tend together – that we are this garden. The irony is that recounting these tangible acts helps me to focus less
on the “work” that goes into building and maintaining our life together
and more on the fruits of our labor – the living, evolving entity that
is us.It helps me to release any built-up frustration by reminding me that we both contribute to our marriage. And though what we each bring is different, what we offer is equally necessary and valuable.
How do you nurture your relationship amid the day-to-day responsibilities of living? How does your garden grow?
This week, Thea has come down with her first cold. Surprisingly, I've been fairly relaxed about the whole thing. And, with her first cold have come other firsts - first solo rectal thermometer temperature check, first experience with infant saline nasal drops, and first dose of baby pain reliever.
Since my sick little girl needs lots of extra snuggling, I may not be posting much this week.
Today, she stayed in her pj's all day - simply because that's what I like to do when I'm sick.
Here she is letting me know that even though she feels icky, it's all going to be alright :
My deepest thanks goes to all of you who responded to my "connection" post - for for engaging in dialogue, for listening, for simply making yourself known. Your presence means so much to me.
I always love to find out who is reading, and I never stop being amazed that people take the time to witness my journey and to offer words of kindness, encouragement, support, and hope. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about your stories too - to discover how our stories intersect, to be challenged, to be inspired, to feel the warmth of community.
I too have tried to be less of an observer and more of a contributer. I've tried to be less self-conscious and more courageous. I've tried to worry less about saying just the right thing and focus more on just saying something.
So, thank you for leaving your footprints - and by doing so, encouraging me to leave mine.
Since Thea's birth nearly 11 weeks ago, my heart has swelled - not only with love for my daughter and husband, but also with months and years of stagnant emotions that were finally forcing their way to the surface of my consciousness. My mind has been racing, trying to process all of the thoughts and feelings that I had turned away from during my pregnancy, when I was too fragile and tired and fearful to do anything but get through the day-to-day.
So, now, I find myself full to the brim with all of these thoughts - of our long journey to today, of my pregnancy and Thea's birth, of my experiences as a new mother - as well as of my continuing task of discovering my dreams and passions, my journey of self-definition, and my struggle to build self-confidence, overcome my fears, and explore my creative energy.
[And yes, that giant run-on sentence is exactly how my brain feels most days.]
I've started dozens of posts only to watch them sit unfinished. I have ideas for dozens more that I haven't even begun. I'm learning to accept that I may not be able to fully form and write about these thoughts - at least not for a good while.
And then, like magic, I stumbled across the weblogs of several fantastic women who are writing about exactly the things my soul had been sifting through. I read their words, nodding my head, whispering, "yes, that's it." I am grateful for their honesty, for their willingness to share about these things that so often remain tucked away inside, for their gift of placing words together so beautifully.
So, because these women have so eloquently given a voice to these thoughts, I'll point you in their direction so you can experience this magic for yourself:
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about writing. I've been thinking about the power of words - of being able to witness and share in the journeys of others as well as the importance of documenting my own story. Over the past two years, I've written about my own experiences of babyloss. And I've also compiled quite a lengthy list of blogs that I read regularly.
I read the blogs of people I know well, the blogs of people I know a little, the blogs of people I'd like to know better, and the blogs of total strangers who - other than a statistic on their site meter - will probably never even know it's me who's been there.
As I read, I'm aware of how I'm often simply a silent observer. It feels a bit strange to me to be peering into the lives of people and not making myself known. Most of the time, I want to comment, but I get held back by a lack of time or energy or by being so tired that I'm not able to string together a coherent thought. Sometimes, the authors' posts are so beautiful, moving, or inspiring that I feel like my own words are flimsy and pale in comparison. Often, a post has gotten me all stirred up inside, but I haven't really had time to process and connect with my reaction, and therefore, I'm not really sure what response to type. Sometimes I feel too shy or insecure to make myself known to a stranger.
Just this past week, the amazing Mel, author of the Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters blog, wrote about how she sees blogging as a conversation. She wrote about the importance of honoring the stories that are told and of acknowledging that a voice is heard. She wrote about listening. Mel writes:
Even when you don't have something to add, when you can't find the
words to respond, I hope this year that it becomes socially acceptable
and understood to simply write the phrase "I am listening"
and post the comment under your name. What does this do? Sometimes, it
helps to know that your words were read. That someone didn't click on
and click off of your blog without processing your words. Sometimes it
simply feels good to know that you're not alone, even if the other
person doesn't have a solution or deep comfort. Some people may think
this is lazy; a comment not worth the effort to leave or receive. But I
think it can be very powerful to know that someone listened even if
they have nothing to respond with in return.
I couldn't agree more.
So, I'm challenging myself to "delurk" - to make myself known - to offer a few words, even if they seem inadequate.