Thicker Than Water

Over the weekend, my older brother D and his girlfriend E drove down from Wisconsin to visit. The last time my brother saw Nellie was in March when she was about 8 weeks old. It’s always nice to have members of my family come to visit me, but the visits go by so quickly that once they leave, it’s almost surreal. Like it’s hard to believe they were actually here. But of course, they were here.

Whenever a family member of mine visits and then leaves, I find myself looking around at the aftermath and feeling wistful & sad. A glimpse of a Chinese food takeout box brings back memories of the night we sat around the table laughing and eating. The leftover chili that my brother made reminds me of the three of us watching the Miss America pageant on TV and making fun of it for two hours. I think about our trips to Starbucks, and E pushing D into a huge pile of snow at Rock City.
It brings to mind the old quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened”.
I always forget how refreshing it is to be around my blood relatives. I love my in-laws and they are family to me but there’s just something about surrounding yourself with people who have known you since birth. People who share your DNA. People who fit into a place in your heart and soul like only those you’ve grown up with can. I’m an odd person. I have an odd sense of humor and when I’m with my family, it’s like I make a little more sense than usual. I only get to see my blood relatives once a year – if I’m lucky – so I cherish the time we get to spend together.

I find myself looking back and feeling happy that it happened, but sad at the same time because I know it’s going to be months before we get to have fun times and make new memories again. It’s harder since I’ve had a child. I want my father and my brother to be a part of her life as her other family – Josh’s family – are. I want them to be around for her birthdays, for holidays.. And just because. I haven’t mentioned my mother, and that’s because she and I have a pretty strained and complicated relationship. She lives in Chattanooga but as I said before, our relationship isn’t great. Maybe another day when I have a lot of emotional energy & the fortitude to go into it, I will. Let’s just say I don’t crave her company like I do my other family which is frustrating, because she lives so close.

I have my family here in my husband, I do have a blood relative here, of course… And that’s my Nellie. My daughter. She’s more a part of me than any other person on the face of the planet. She possesses a piece of my heart and more than just a little bit of my soul. When I get to feeling sad, or lonely, or longing for my Northern relatives all I have to do is look into those eyes, gaze upon the chin dimple that she inherited from me and realize that she is my blood. She’s my everything. I still miss my other family members terribly, but she helps soothe the sting quite a bit.

My Heart.

Baby Steps

While I was on my way to work yesterday, Josh texted me to let me know that my Nellie, the babe who spent 9 months in my womb and has spent 10 months outside, had taken two whole unassisted steps.

My heart. My babe. She’s almost a toddler. Never in my life have I felt so fiercely proud.  It seems sometimes I might burst from the inside out from the pride… Never in my life have I felt so out of control of time, of life; so desperate to just freeze these moments to cherish them just a little bit longer. Pleading with time to stop careening forward with such alarming speed… Motherhood is simultaneously the most beautiful and most painful thing I’ve ever gone through. Every day, that baby grows apart from me, and into her own little person. Every day, I lose her just a little bit more. As she takes her first wobbly steps, she has no idea that in her little hands, she holds my heart. My soul. The very essence of my being. She never will know, will never be able to fully grasp the gravity of that unless she has children of her own one day.. Then, and only then will she understand how bittersweet and frightening loving a child and watching them grow is.

I know that I have to learn to let her fall, to let her land hard and learn her lessons so next time, she will do differently. Sometimes we have to hurt to understand the mistakes that caused the pain.

Yes, I have to learn how to take a deep breath, let go of her hands, and let her toddle farther into the journey that is her life… But the thing she doesn’t know yet  is that I will always, always be standing just behind her… Ready to catch her if she falls. I can’t help it. That’s just… Motherhood.

Shoes, and A Vote (for Nellie)!

Nellie wonders what the hell these strange new devices are on her feet, and plots to conquer & destroy them.

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VOTE FOR NELLIE!
Nellie made it to the finals in this week’s cute baby contest on Parents.com. In just a day she went from rank #594 to rank #51! Please take just a second and vote for my cutie pie:
http://photos.parents.com/category/vote/photo/586081

There is a catchpa word verification that you must complete to have your vote count, so please make sure you do that.

Nellie (and I) thank you bunches!

Sigh

I hear you wake on the monitor. A coo, at first, followed by fussing. I lay in bed, waiting to see if you put yourself back to sleep.

You do not. I look at my clock to check on the time.

3:38. I have to be up in two hours. I get out of bed, and I sigh.

I make my way into your room. You’re on your back, and your pacifier is beside you. I roll you to your side and put the pacifier back in your mouth. I give you your stuffed fox and wait to see if sleep takes you.

It doesn’t. You roll back, look at me and whine. You’re not going back down without a fight. I pick you up from your crib, and I sigh.
I carry you over to the glider, sit, and begin gliding back and forth. It makes a soft whooshing noise in the darkness of your room. You begin to squirm and cry. I stand up and start bouncing you and you quiet down. I sigh as you fight me.

Bouncing always puts you to sleep. You struggle a bit more before your limbs begin to hang, your tiny hand no longer flailing about and seeking something to grab. I sit back down with you in the glider and we rock.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh; accompanying the sound of the air conditioning running in the apartment. I sit and rock you, waiting for the right time to put you down and head back to sleep.

And suddenly…. you sigh. A sigh of perfect contentment and love. You snuggle your face against my chest and you succumb fully to sleep. I cannot make out your face in the dark but I look down at you anyway. I’m suddenly hyper-aware of you; the weight of your body against mine. The way your pajamas feel against my skin… I find your hand and kiss it. You sigh softly again, and I realize that this is but a fleeting moment as time hurtles by us with breakneck speed. I have waited for the day when you no longer cry out in the middle of the night needing comfort because it will mean a full night’s sleep, and I realize that soon, those days will be here and this evening will be but a tiny drop of water in an ocean of time, and memories. When I am old, and you are grown, will I remember the whoosh of the glider, the hum of the air? Will I remember the warmth of you, the way you felt in my arms on this night? Will I remember the sound of you breathing in and out, the feel of your fingers curling through my hair as you fell asleep?

I sigh. This time with tears in my eyes and I hold you close. I am taken by the urge to hold you until the sun comes up, until I am forced to wake you for the day…. To hold you forever. But we both need our sleep, so I rise from the glider and settle you back down into the bed that you were once so small in. The bed that you grow into more and more each day. I look down at my baby, (it seems like yesterday just came into this world), and I say a silent thank you for coming into my life and making me your mother.

It’s all about these fleeting moments in time.

‘Cuz She’s Got…

My friend Michelle blogged recently about how her son Liam has sprouted this little personality, seemingly overnight. I got to thinking about Nellie and how her personality has evolved and emerged in the last few months. I had always anticipated her as being mellow and easy-going because she was never very active in the womb. To an extent, I was right. When we’re out with her she just sits back and watches the world. Her big eyes just drink in the sights, the faces of the people she meets, the colors that the world has to offer. When people talk to her, she almost always gives them a smile. Not a big, open-mouthed grin (those are saved for her favorite people) but a smile and people comment on how easily she goes to folks she doesn’t know.


Nellie has recently begun to emit this low, gutteral, growling/grunting noise. The first time she did it I was convinced she was pooping, because it was so close to her “poopnoise” but when I checked her diaper repeatedly it was dry as a bone. She kept doing it, and I figured it was just one of those weird baby things. Either that, or she was turning into some prehistoric beast.

Another thing that she will do is pull her pacifier out of her mouth and then blow raspberries on it and it looks and sounds like she’s playing it as a trumpet. When you pick her up and she is facing you, her hands immediately go onto your face. She examines you silently, her eyes poring over the details of your features and then she likes to rake her nails down your cheeks and pull on your lower lip until you scream.

Nellie loves my hair and she is lightning-quick when it comes to pulling it. Before I can react, her little fingers whip out and grab hold of either side of my head and she pulls me like you would a horse’s reins. I started making a game of lightly shaking my hair over her face and she would giggle. I stopped when she snatched a handful of my curls and tugged so hard I thought blood was going to come out of my head.

Nellie can sit unassisted now. It, like every other milestone she’s achieved, seemed like it happened overnight. One day she couldn’t sit and then one day, she could. She can also stand if she’s leaning back against something, or if you are holding her hands and helping her balance. There aren’t any signs of actual words yet and I suspect she’s going to be a mover before she’s a talker.

In the past two months, I feel like the post partum fog has finally lifted. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Nellie before about two months ago. I just feel like I’ve finally gotten into this whole “Mom Groove” and have really become confident in myself as a mother. The other day at work, I was looking at a picture of her and I began to cry because I was just hit with this sudden and overwhelming sense of missing her. My heart was filled with longing and I just wanted to hold her in my arms and snuggle my nose into her neck and smell her sweet baby scent.

This girl.. This girl is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, the greatest thing that I’ve ever done. She’s growing so fast. This year has gone by so quickly it’s terrifying. We packed away her swing in favor of an Exersaucer. We said “bye bye” to her bath seat, and hello to her “big girl” tub (a yellow Munchkin duck; she’s not quite ready for the actual tub yet). Her newborn and 3 month clothes are packed away and she’s almost grown out of her 6 month clothes.

Yes… My girl is growing up faster than I can keep up with. Every day with her is precious, because every day is a step closer to her needing us less and less.

This post has gotten really long, so I leave you with some recent pictures of the love of my life, just two weeks shy of 7 months old.



Nellie Rose – 6 Months Old

Nellie..

My sweet, darling, baby daughter.

Today is your 6 month birthday. At 4:15 PM, exactly 6 months ago today you were born into this world and my life changed forever. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that you’ve been in our lives for half a year already, because it’s gone by so quickly it seems like you were born just yesterday. You have changed and grown so much it’s mind-blowing. The past 6 months have not been easy. They have not always been pretty. They have been challenging, wonderful, amazing, frustrating… But they have all been worth it.

You have become the center of mine and your daddy’s universe. You fill our hearts with joy and love, and we cannot wait to see what each day as your parents will bring. We love to creep into your crib to wake you in the mornings because you greet us with such excitement and happiness. Nellie, right now you are doing some awesome things! You have TWO teeth. You eat rice cereal and baby food. You love sweet potatoes, green beans, and carrots the best. You don’t like peaches or pears. You’ve taken to sticking your tongue out and blowing raspberries when you get excited. You can roll from your back to your belly, and from your belly to your back. You can sit up by yourself for about a minute before you topple over. If I let you grab onto the edge of a couch, or the ottoman you can stand while holding it for maybe thirty seconds before your little legs give out from under you.

You love your stuffed animals, Fox and McCracken. You laugh, and it’s the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard. It’s getting easier and easier to send you into a fit of giggles. The easiest way to go about doing so is to tickle you under your armpits, or blow raspberries at you. You had me doubled over laughing at Target the other day!

You know your name, and you’ve begun reaching for the people you want to see a little. It’s more like an outstretched arm and a lean, but we call it reaching. You get little tastes of everything we have, and anytime you see a soda can you flip out and think that it belongs to you.

Nellie Rose, this time last year I didn’t even know if you were a little girl or a little boy. I knew that I loved you with all of my heart. Thank you for making the past 6 months of my life amazing, hectic and joyful. Thank you for being my daughter. I am so proud, so honored, and so happy to be your mommy.


Sticking your tongue out at me
You and your daddy



Such a big girl.

Beautiful you, through the months

Happy Half Birthday, Nellie Rose.

This Love

My daughter woke up screaming tonight after being asleep for less than an hour. When I say screaming, I mean she was screaming so loudly it was hurting my ears. I rescued her from her crib, gave her some teething tablets just in case she’s cutting more teeth, and here I sit.. Waiting for her to be asleep enough for me to put her back down.

I am exhausted.

I’m running on about 5 hours of sleep.
I was so tired today I could barely function. I almost fell asleep on several different occasions.

And as I gaze down at my daughter, who is cuddled up in my arms and breathing deeply I realize something.

I would hold this child all through the night if she needed me to.
I would become delirious from sleep deprivation if it meant I was there for her when she was in pain, sad, or scared.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for this baby.

Nothing.

A (Nellie) Rose By Any Other Name…

In the (nearly) 6 months that Nellie’s been here, we have come up with many.. many nicknames for her, most of which make no sense. Here are a few of them that actually include her name:

  • Nellie Bug
  • Nellie Bean (daddy made this one up)
  • Nellie Belly (or Nellie Wit Da Belly)
  • Nellie Belle
Then there are ones that, I think, are pretty typical:
  • Bunny
  • Booger
  • Baby Girl
  • Boo Boo
Then there are ones that have evolved from those:
  • Lady Boogerton
  • Booger Shoes (and I sing her a song to the tune of ‘Boogie Shoes’: “I wanna put on, mah mah mah mah mah Booger Shoes! Just Booger Boo Boo!”. Yes, I’m crazy.)
  • Booger Butt
  • Booger Bunny
  • Sugar Booger, which got shortened to “Shoog Boog”)
Then there are ones that.. Well, are a little weird:
  • Lady BaBa (I made this one up b/c she loves when I sing her “Bad Romance”)
  • Pee Diaper, which evolved into Pee Dipe, which then morphed into Pee Dipey, P. Dipey for short. (like P. Diddy. I will sing to her to the tune of ‘Tik Tok’, “I wake up in the mornin’, and I got a P. Dipey!”)
  • Hobbit (this is because she’s short, has fat rolls, curly hair and eats a lot)
  • Lady Hobbit
  • Cranker
  • Very Angry Badger (“The Badge”)
  • Chub a Lub (to the tune of ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’, when they say ‘jitterbug’: “Chub a lub! Oh Nellie Chub a Lub!”)

Yeah.. I sing a lot of weirdo songs to my kid.

So… How about you? What are some of the nicknames you’ve given your LO?

Absence

Today was my mother in law’s day to watch Nellie while I worked and while Josh slept (he works nights for the time being). She called me yesterday to let me know that her daughter had invited her and my father in law over to their house to celebrate her husband’s birthday, and that they were going to eat around 5:00. The drive to my sister in law’s house takes about 45 minutes, so I wouldn’t be off work in time to pick up Nellie. My mother in law wanted to know if it was okay if they took Nellie with them, and brought her back by the apartment when they were done.

I said of course, have a good time.

I got home and spent a little time with my husband, and once he had gone I informed my Twitter friends not to expect to hear from me for the duration of the evening. I finally got my hands on a copy of Dead in the Family and was going to spend any spare time I had reading it as I’d been eyeballing it all day at work after it was given to me. I settled in on the couch and began to read. I devoured the first twenty pages relatively quickly when I felt compelled to put the book down.

I looked around my apartment. It was silent, save for the whir and hum of the dishwasher. It’s nothing new for me to be sitting in silence in the daytime in our home; generally on weekends when Josh works I’ll put Nellie down to nap and just chill out while they are both asleep. But this time it was different…. This was the first time since my daughter was born that I was utterly alone in this apartment without the presence of my husband or daughter.

I was inspired by Sookie’s love for coffee, and brewed myself a pot. I settled back onto the couch, opened my book and immediately put it back down. I wrapped my hands around my mug and gazed around thoughtfully. I realized that in both my husband and daughter’s absence, this place feels completely different. It sounds completely different. Even though they are quiet while asleep, their presence buzzes; they are there, and I can tell it. It’s something that I never noticed until they weren’t around. I feel Nellie’s absence specifically; I’m used to Josh not being here in the evenings but not her. She is always here with me.

It’s not a bad thing, perse but it’s definitely.. Off. Something is amiss in the apartment.. The chubby, giggling, curly-headed essence of my daughter is not here and it feels weird.

I felt compelled to blog about this while the feeling was still fresh in my mind. Even now as I type, I am listening to and feeling the empty space that she normally occupies.

Needless to say, while I enjoy the spare time to relax and not worry about tending to someone else’s needs, I am thoroughly looking forward to when she is returned to me and I can give her a big hug, and a kiss.

She has filled an absence that I never even knew was there..

Love Is All You Need

Nellie and mommy have the same favorite band.

(Dear Prudence) won’t you come out to play?


All You Need….

Is Love.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy.

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It’s easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

Nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love (All together, now!)
All you need is love. (Everybody!)
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need (love is all you need)
(love is all you need) (love is all you need)
(love is all you need) Yesterday (love is all you need)
(love is all you need) (love is all you need)