Tag Archives: Baby

Maybe Co-Sleeping is Just as Much about Us…

More often than not, she is the little boss around here... thank goodness for naps!
Thank goodness the boss *usually* falls asleep on the job a couple times a day.

E. is napping in our bed. My fingers move quickly because I never know how long I have until she awakens. Some days I get hours, others minutes. The result is an inability to focus. Do I work on my novel? Do I blog? Do I catch up on sleep?

Undoubtedly, her eyes will open when I have settled into a rhythm on my own. I have learned to save everything we can do together, like eating and cleaning, for when she is awake. Generally, I cannot bring myself to nap. Time alone is worth the occasional deprivation.

This is possibly the hardest lesson of early parenthood. Everything cannot be done. Must prioritize. As much as I love yoga, it has become a once-a-week activity. Today my husband watched E. while I went to class. Tears streamed down my face as I lay in Savasana, thoughts of growing old and E. caring for me instead of the other way around. Life, cyclical and gone in a blink.

Back home, I cuddled her to sleep in our bed, lingering an extra twenty minutes, minutes I could have had to myself but were too sweet to give up. Choosing to sleep in the same space has been on my mind a lot lately. As with anything, not everyone gets it.

Sometimes I question our choice, too, on hard nights, when she cannot sleep and I am stuck beside her for hours to keep her calm. Then I remember like everything before, this will pass. The alternative would require “sleep training,” and I am just not willing to let her scream for long. Some babies go down with less of a fight and E. is called Little Beast for good reason.

Most importantly, when it works, co-sleeping is a beautiful part of our life. Moments together, close, savoring now. We don’t worry she will be in our bed forever. We know the time will come when either we will encourage her into her own space, or she will say “Peace, y’all.” Seeing as how she demands to feed herself already, I have a feeling she will be asking for a “big girl bed” sooner than we expect.

A recent parenting piece in the Washington Post struck a chord. Sometimes the path of less stress is better for everyone. Maybe we could teach E. to sleep on her own with a few nights of intense “training,” but for what? So I would have to get up to comfort her instead of just rolling over? So we could sleep without her in our bed? The truth, co-sleeping is just as much for us as it is for her. We crave the connection, too, her sweet little body curled between us.

When it consistently stops working we will find a solution. Until then, I am happy to watch her nap all snuggled in our bed while I sit in my big, brown chair and steal some minutes for myself to write. Nothing lasts forever. Part of me wishes it would. I cannot help but think back to all the nights I lay awake in bed, pregnant, talking to her in my belly as she twirled about. I already loved her intensely then.

The night we stop sleeping next to E. will be a bittersweet one.

Month Seven: Changing the Meaning of Home

We said goodbye to our first little home as a family this month, good thing the path ahead is so exciting.
We said goodbye to our first home as a family this month, good thing the path ahead is worthwhile…

It has been two weeks since we moved. Despite my excitement about our new adventure, I also had my worries. I did not know if two bedrooms would be enough. I was concerned we would miss our privacy. I feared I would somehow feel rootless, or homeless in a nontraditional sense, without an entire house to ourselves. Most of all, I did not want our little family to lose the intimacy of those precious moments shared just the three of us.

To my great relief, our first two weeks have made any trade-offs unimportant. So far, I do not miss a single item stuffed into our 1,500 cubic feet of storage, (and, yes, we used all 15 feet of vertical space thanks to my clever cousin-in-law). Nor do I lament the loss of the many items I gave away or sold. Life feels simpler with less. And, as it turns out, everyone else is so busy with daily routines that our little family of three is still a little family of three, just operating within a bigger family unit.

The bigger family unit is by far the best part. Household responsibilities are shared and I no longer spend my days obsessively cleaning. Instead, I write every second I can while she is asleep, trade nights on the dinner making, and generally can find someone eager to hold her for a few minutes when I need a break. As I made and cleaned dinner beside my sisters the other night, I felt at home in a soul-nurturing kind of way. When I got back from yoga on a different night and my husband was hanging out in the kitchen while one of my sister’s bounced the baby, another sister made dinner, and my nephew ate at the counter, there was this feeling of community I had missed in my solo days staying at home.

I feel so incredibly blessed to be with my family, in whatever setting life provides. Even if this is just a temporary arrangement, I am trying to make the absolute most of it. I have already realized my call to be a stay-at-home mom is not about baking or cleaning or decorating (which I know can be fulfilling for many). Instead it is about getting to be present for my daughter while also having the opportunity to pursue a piece of myself that would otherwise be lost in a 9 to 5 life.

This month, I decided to dedicate my middle grade fiction novel to E. Somehow, knowing she will someday read it, I am more motivated to craft characters I would want a 10 or 11 year-old to idolize, and in turn, feel much more inspired to finish it. Writing a novel for my daughter is pretty much the coolest project I have ever worked on. After all, she is the most important audience I will ever have.

Month seven has been about so much change, but I can tell it is the good kind because it has all just happened. Nothing has been forced. The house sold, we moved, each step has followed naturally by just putting one foot in front of the other. E. is changing every day, too. She is crawling, teething, chattering, climbing over pillows. As cliche as it sounds, she has shown me home is wherever I am with family.

Celebrating Five Years of Marriage WITH Baby

Last weekend we celebrated our anniversary in North Lake Tahoe and brought along the baby. I know what you’re thinking. Not too romantic. However, we took a page out of a friend’s book, and invited the in-laws.

The result?

Weekend getaway bliss!

We got a couple hours to ourselves, enjoyed the sunset and live music on the lake, then took back over the baby watching so grandma and grandpa could have their fun. In fact, it worked out so well, we are now hoping to pair up with other couples to take weekend trips and trade the baby-watching duties for a couple hours apiece. That way, we get the best of both worlds, family and couple time.

A big shout-out to the Hyatt Regency at Incline Village in North Lake Tahoe for being so family friendly. Even though we reserved our rooms on Hotwire, we were still treated well, which is not always the case with some hotels when booked at a discount. If you’re interested in replicating our deal, check out Hotwire in Incline Village, the Hyatt is the only 4-star hotel with 100% positive feedback, so you can pretty much know which hotel you’re getting before you book. Our rate was even better once we clicked, so head over and check it out!

So much fun introducing E. to the lake for the first time!
So much fun introducing E. to the lake for the first time…
Dad loved dipping her toes in the cold water and her laughter confirmed she did too.
Dad loved dipping her toes in the cold water and her laughter confirmed she did too.

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Such a wonderful way to celebrate five years married, together as a new family.
Such a wonderful way to celebrate five years married, together as a new family.
Grandma and grandpa were such a huge help. We got plenty of time alone and as a family of three, then enjoyed breakfast together as a big family before we took off Sunday morning.
Grandma and grandpa were such a huge help. We got plenty of time alone and just the three of us, then enjoyed breakfast together as a big family before we took off.
Co-sleeping also made a huge difference for traveling, E. fell asleep easily between mom and dad despite the different environment. We're excited for more travel adventures soon!
Co-sleeping also made a huge difference for traveling, E. fell asleep easily between mom and dad despite the different environment. We are excited for more travel adventures soon!

Month Six: Little Beast

Yes, we even jumped on the amber teething necklace wagon and I have to say, she hasn't woke up screaming since.
Yes, we even jumped on the amber teething necklace wagon and I have to say, she hasn’t woken up screaming since. Love these local, hand-crafted beauties with unique gemstones.

Earlier this week as I lay in bed in a futile attempt to get Eloise down for a nap, I felt her first tooth. The sharp little edge poked my finger and sure enough, a tiny glint of white sparkled on her gums. After nights of restless sleep and uncharacteristic fussing, I suddenly had proof of her hard work. I called my husband, my mom, texted my dad and my mother-in-law.

I had no idea a tooth could be so exciting.

Month six has been a wild month. She is starting to move across the living room, crawling, scooting, rolling at a turtle’s pace. I turn around and then magically she is somewhere else, as if all that slow stuff in front of Mom is just a ruse. Our decision to co-sleep is either the best idea because she is suddenly awake ten times a night and I don’t have to move from bed, or the not-so-best idea because now she is awake ten times a night. Who knows.

I blame the teeth.

Forget naps.

Besides the tooth and the movement, my other favorite change this month is how she is warming up to other people. She stretches her body away from me to be held by visitors, her whole body wiggling with excitement. I love watching her bond with others, especially her daddy. Da, da, da, da, da just so happens to be her newest sounds. Oh yes, and food, I also love watching her eat, contemplating each new taste with a puzzled but self-satisfied expression.

Month six is like a whole new little person has joined us, awake, thinking, growling, particular. The other months we could sense her personality, but now the shy smiles and sideways glances, the feisty kicks and excited squeals, the determined focus on that one toy she just can’t reach, each show us wider glimpses of the little girl she will become. People keep telling us we’re just getting to the fun stuff. I can definitely see what they mean.

I think we might be witnessing the end of those cute monthly stickers.
I think we might be witnessing the end of those cute monthly stickers and the beginning of a much more active stage of life… She is definitely proving she deserves her nickname, Little Beast.

Marriage: The Importance of Being After Baby

Becoming a family of three has changed our lives for the better, but it is easy to overlook the importance of time spent just the two of us.
Becoming a family of three has changed our lives for the better, but it is easy to overlook the importance of time spent just the two of us.

As I kid, I cringed at the thought of being relegated to the domestic sphere. I thought I needed to be out in the big world to be happy. Success came from external achievements, not from the quiet life of hearth and home. Maybe I will need those things again one day, but for now, I am enjoying a simpler season as a mom and wife.

I throw in the word wife because it is so easy to become wrapped up in motherhood to the point of forgetting I used to prioritize my marriage as my number one family commitment. Now, it is easy to put our relationship on the bottom of the to-do list with the assumption that more than a decade together is enough to keep things stable.

While I am confident we have the foundation to weather a little less attention, I also recognize the importance of continuing to put work into our relationship. Not a day goes by where I am unaware of the sacrifices my husband makes marching off into the world to make sure we have what we need to live. While I get more than enough time with our baby girl, he often does not.

Accordingly, I have consciously sought to lessen my husband’s domestic workload. As a result, the division of labor in our house has taken on a decidedly more gendered tone. The kitchen and indoor tasks are principally my domain. The little girl version of myself would cry sexism, but the adult version recognizes it is a natural division of labor when one parent works outside the home. I don’t do everything, but I do more.

Even so, maintaining our marriage is more than just doing. In the beginning of my time at home, I made the mistake of thinking doing was the secret. I made his breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I stopped asking him to unload the dishwasher. I went out of my way to do whatever I could to make his limited time at home inclusive of more baby interaction. What I lost sight of was the being. In the midst of doing, doing, doing, I forgot to stop and be with my husband.

Thankfully it did not take long to realize what was missing. Now, on those nights I am lucky enough to get Eloise to sleep early enough that I still have energy left, I no longer do anything. Maybe the dishes will be dirty in the morning. Maybe the living room will be scattered with toys. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that my husband and I get to hang out for a bit before going to sleep.

We used to take pictures together all the time, now I have to remind myself to turn the camera away from our child once in a while and capture us too.
We used to take pictures together all the time, now I have to remind myself to turn the camera away from our child and capture us too.

In the last weeks before Eloise was born, I mourned the perceived loss of our early years together as a couple. After more than a decade of uninterrupted attention, I feared we would forget the deep love we had shared alone for all those years. I didn’t worry we would end up not loving each other, I just worried there would not be enough time to appreciate one another in the same way. While I was right about there being less time, there is also something deeper between us.

I will never forget the first time Alex held me in his arms after Eloise was born. I am not talking about sex, this isn’t that kind of blog. I am talking about the most intense intimacy I have ever experienced. Giving birth beat the bejesus out of me. After weeks of the worst sleep deprivation, my body hurt beyond any of my expectations, and I felt the complete opposite of beautiful. Still, I managed to put the baby down and let Alex hold me instead.

Tears streamed down my face as I let him love me, appreciate me. I felt beautiful for the first time in weeks, wanted beyond any feeling I had ever experienced before. We had made it through the craziest adventure of our life, her birth, and now we were bonded by shared flesh, a living, breathing being with each of our genes, asleep in the other room. It was more powerful than the moment we looked at each other in the hospital and realized both our hearts had been removed and put inside that little six-pound person. It was a love my pregnant self could not mourn. I was so relieved.

Still, that moment disappeared into months of nightly screaming, more sleep deprivation, and all the other trials early parenthood brings. It once again became easy to spend those quiet moments quickly cleaning the house or attending to my other needs, like a moment to read my email or write a blog or God knows what else. However, something was missing, and I remembered not to forget my closest friend, my husband.

It is often easier to do than be, but I believe being is the secret to a sustainable, happy marriage. You have to stop, look, listen, touch, even if it means something else is not getting done. I know I will need this reminder again and again in the busy years to come.