June 29, 2010

109 days later

I am mother to an almost 4 month old baby girl. What? The past four months have literally been the craziest, longest, shortest, most trying, changing, self evaluating of my life. And, of course, I have not had the time to blog. How in the world do I compact the last 109 days in words?

I LOVE being a mom. It is so freaking hard and I still love it. And it's nothing like I thought it would be. There is nothing like motherhood to show you how much you need to change and how much you, in fact, do NOT have things together.

Our hospital visit is a wonderful blur of a memory to me.  I was told that the hospital stay kind of sucked, but I absolutely loved it.  Despite being in some pain, everything was ethereal - the nurses were kind, Drew was a champ and Jolie was, well, very real.  Drew and I were exhausted and undeniably elated.  Those two days may become some of the sweetest in my memory.  

We came home to a clean house (thank you, Renata!) and an overwhelming sense of responsibility.  What would I do with this little, helpless baby with no nurses around and Drew soon returning to work?  The first week was a challenge, and that's an understatement.  We had a bout with jaundice, nursing issues and then a car accident to top off the first 7 days of Jolie's life.  I'm pretty sure I've never cried more in a 7 day period - ever.  The next 2 weeks were a recovery period; though there were some nights I felt like I couldn't do it anymore.  I remember the first time I felt angry at Jolie and the first time (of many) I lamented, I never want to do this again!  Why did we think this was a good idea?! as I cried my eyes out and Drew gently assured me that it could only go up from there.  People asked me if I liked being a mom and sometimes, I lied when I said yes.  Sweet Jolie was in the world and I was her mom, but it was harder than I thought...and my heart was heavier than I expected.  Drew always reminded me that all first time moms go through all this muck and that I wasn't weird.  In retrospect, the late nights really did take their toll on me.  Though, even in the late night feedings, I was given grace in the form of a sweet, sleeping baby, her stomach full, diaper changed and needs met.  Sometimes I would just sit in the dark and hold Jolie while she slept, taking my time to hold her close and smell her before putting her back in the cradle.  Mmm, yes, those were sweet times.

Things started getting better once I began implementing a routine with Jolie.  Drew and I decided before Jolie was born to give Babywise a try.  I know it's super controversial, but it's principles worked wonderfully for us.  Jolie began daily cycles of eating, awake time and naps.  The first 6 weeks were pretty challenging.  Jolie's little body had to get used to eating and sleeping, plus she was learning the difference between night and day.  By week 8 though, we were averaging 6 hours of nighttime sleep and we both began to know what to expect during the day.  Now, at 15 weeks, Jolie sleeps 10-11 hours every night - and so do I, thank goodness.  I know Babywise and routines are not for everyone, but they worked wonders for my sanity.  I received a ton of practical advice from Chrissy S. (thank you, thank you!), and since then have joined a forum with other Babywise moms.  

Jolie has been exclusively breastfed since day 1 and, with the exception of maybe 4 bottles of formula, has continued to do so.  I love nursing!  That may sound weird, but I do.  We're coming in to 4 months and going strong; and since we had such a rough start, I am proud of both of us! :)  I'm hoping to continue for her first year; we'll see how it goes.

Right around week 8, Jolie began to smile!  I definitely cried.  We discovered she has a trademark dimple like me, just a little higher on her face.  She crinkles her nose when she is happy, too, and I'm not sure where she got that from.  Smiling babies are wonderful.  Motherhood began to feel rewarding!  Nowadays, Jolie smiles most of the day and coos and chit chats with me regularly.  She is a little social butterfly already, sometimes interrupting a nursing session to look up at me and babble.  She even wakes in the morning happy and cooing away!

We started off with nicknames immediately, shortening Jolie to Jo a lot of the time.  I began calling her Jolie Girl, which has still stuck.  Drew trademarked Jolie Bug early on and, surprisingly, that is her most common nickname!  Jolie Bug inspired Jo Bug, Little Bug, The Bug, Bug...and with different activities, Water Bug and Bed Bug.  She is The Bug.  Drew also dubbed Jo's pajamas "P Jo's" (instead of PJs). :)

Jolie's entering such a fun stage of life!  She really likes looking at books and loves her bouncy chair.  She is very interested in words more than pictures; she likes contrast.  Funny enough, her favorite things to look at are our Chinese scroll and her panda bear dangling toy.  Proof of her heritage? :)

I can honestly say that now, 109 days later, I am having fun.  I love spending the day with Jolie and getting to experience her little milestones.  I know she's growing up fast and we're already talking about her being mobile and throwing tantrums...and I've already cried over her wedding day.  Oh my.  

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He fills my life with good things...
Let all that I am praise the Lord.

Psalm 103


becomingjolie said...

What is Babywise? I'm interested.

What you went through is so normal. I should no, since I obsessively read mom blogs like it's my job (I don't get it either, don't worry.) Have you ever read dooce.com or sundrymounring.com? They both talk about how difficult their first children were and the ups and downs of motherhood. Their honesty is refreshing and it made me realize that it's completely normal for you to feel.... I don't know. confused? stressed? angry? freaking out? with your children as infants.

You two seem like great parents! And Drew is right. It only goes up from here.

Well, until they're teenagers. Then, good luck. :)

becomingjolie said...

ahem. Also, I sometimes I make painfully embarrassing typos like "I should no." Definitely meant "I should know."

jfn said...


Kimberly said...

I highly recommend a website that I sometimes blogstalk: http://napmom.blogspot.com/

She is the wife of someone I went to high school with, and I find her to be refreshingly down to earth. Also, she is amazing at finding clever and interesting activities for her kids (and she has an interesting way of writing). She recently had a baby, and she was also feeling a bit blue after... I hear it's normal, Drea, so don't worry!

I wish you the best and I'm so glad you're feeling better. I had never heard of Babywise until your post, and now I'll be reading about it. Thanks for keeping the blogosphere updated with the latest news of your journey. Best regards, Kim Janes

Kristen said...

Great post! We're getting so close to meeting our own little girl and I swing back and forth between crazy excitement and crazy panic multiple times a day! So often new parents make it look easy and completely fulfilling from day one, and that's really hard to aspire to! Hearing honest, real experiences makes my expectations for those first few months feel much more manageable- I know we can't be perfect, but we can try our best!

Andrea said...

Jolie & Kim, Babywise is a book series written by the Ezzos who are super controversial. You can google Ezzo or Babywise and find a lot of trash talk. I read the book and used the principles, which is basically a routine for baby (eat, awake time, naps throughout the day) which leads to quicker sleeping through the night. I think people don't like it because it involves some crying it out early and teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own (with no rocking or pacifier). For me, it's been great. Jolie goes down on her own; I put her in her crib wide awake and she just goes to sleep.

Kristen, exciting news! I can't wait to see pictures of your little daughter...we'll have to have a mommy date :) And honestly, motherhood only goes UP and UP; you can do it!

Jessi said...

Reading this makes me happy :) Parenting really is THE BEST thing ever. I love hearing other mothers' gushing over their little ones.

I'm interested in the Babywise book... I'm a very routine-oriented person myself...I think I may check it out.

Glad to hear you guys are doing so well!