Tag Archives: Letting go

Oh What a Year…

Hard to believe her first birthday party has already come and gone!
Hard to believe her first birthday party has already come and gone!

I am sitting in the carnage of a first birthday party. The living room is strewn with presents and bits of wrapping paper. Cards are scattered across the floor, each animal picture carefully kissed and then thrown to the carpet. Somehow the scary stuffed dog that talked to me in the darkness found her way back home.

It reminds me a bit of Christmas and how my dad likes to leave the mess in the front room for days. I get it now. Some messes slow down time.

Two more days until E is officially one. A year ago I prepared for battle. With leaking fluid and a ticking clock, I knew it was just a matter of time before she arrived. I dragged my feet in hopes I could avoid induction. I napped and ate pizza and timed contractions. I cried when the rhythm slowed each time I got into the shower. I cried again when they told me Pitocin was in the cards.

We ate the same pizza at her birthday party yesterday. I had wanted to throw a small celebration at home, but it grew bigger than our little house, so we headed to the park instead. The weather gods were on our side, a glorious spring day outdoors, trees blooming and sun shining bright. I handed her over to her adoring fans despite my desire to hold her close and never let go.

I also walked her home for a few more sweet, sleepy moments on our own.
I also walked her home for a few more sweet, sleepy moments on our own.

It hit me yesterday, as I strolled her to her party (another attempt to slow down time); I have no choice but to share her with the world. With each coming year, she will be more independent. She is not mine to keep forever. I sobbed a deep and unexpected sob as I typed those last words.

This year has been so precious. Ours and (mostly) ours alone. Hours of cuddles and milk, kisses and books, walks and doggies, giggles and sweet time spent curled up together in bed. When I think of all the letting go my parents have had to do with me and my siblings, I begin to wonder if they love(d) us with that same intensity. I know they must and then my heart aches for them and for me and for all parents and all people who deeply love the children in their lives.

Sometimes I worry myself to tears over what would happen if I died without leaving E a lasting impression of what she means to me. Luckily she will always have my words. I print these posts and put them in her baby book just in case the internet disappears but somehow her baby book survives (turns out moms worry about every eventuality).

I am just beginning to grasp the enormity of it all. This past year has ripped me inside out. Gratitude and awe does not even begin to describe it.

One year.

365 days of wild emotion.

I think I will leave the party mess a little longer.

Letting Go of a Darn Good Year

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I like this picture because I see both my old and new selves in it– plus my beloved little attachment.

Sometimes when I lie in bed next to E, I still cannot believe she is mine. Everything I went through to get her here and somehow it is already a blur. Sure, my hips still creak and my body aches in new (and unexciting) ways, but mostly, I am the same.

For a brief second, without her in a store, I forget I am a mom. I feel so light without a carrier or a stroller or a diaper bag attached to me. Then suddenly I think of her and feel naked, like the people around me should be able to see such an important part of me, like they are not actually looking at me if they cannot see her too. When this feeling hits, I miss her terribly.

I imagine this sense of connection changes over the years. I often go days, if not weeks, without talking to my mom. I doubt I still define her in the same way I once did, no matter how much she loves me. Yet, for now, E defines me. I eat, sleep, and live around her schedule. Simple acts like learning how to point excite me so much that I must call her dad into the room.

I am entirely her mother, yet I am also the same person I was in 2013 and 2012 and… I always imagined motherhood was this threshold into adulthood that would change me completely. Before E was born, I worried I would never be the same. Yet, here I am, the same person with just a different focus than before.

2014 has been the most vulnerable, challenging, and wonderful year of my life. I almost don’t want to let this year go, as though I could snuggle in it forever. If only. Life keeps marching on and all I can do is hope 2015 will take its time and be as kind, or at the very least, as wondrous.

Every ounce of me is grateful to have a year I do not want to let go. I know not everyone is as lucky. Regardless of your year, I wish you the happiest of New Years because it is a chance to begin again, whether down the same beautiful path or an entirely new one.

What I did not expect about “better” sleep…

Our much happier sleeper this morning!
Our much happier sleeper this morning!

For the last couple months, I have craved a more consistent sleep routine with E. Co-sleeping served us well for nearly half a year, but she got to the point where I could no longer escape from bed after putting her down in the evening. This caused her bedtime to creep back later and later as she would reawaken when I would try to get out of bed without her. I dreaded nighttime because it meant hours of repeated attempts and usually ended with me so tired I would just give up and go to sleep with her, leaving zero adult time in the evenings and taking away valuable sleep from her routine.

I knew as soon as we had our new place, I would have to start new systems, but I really dreaded the crib and crying it out. Friends had shared both the horrors of dealing with screaming (and vomiting) babies for several hours on end as well as the amazing leaps in sleep duration. It would be our last resort. Instead, I read up on the Montessori bed, and as I already shared, it was magic for naps, but not for bedtime.

Then a friend recommended The No Cry Sleep Solution. While I am still waiting for our copy to arrive, I was able to glean enough from descriptions on the internet to get the point that repeated action is the key. For the past couple days, I have kept our day and sleep routine exactly the same. We wake-up, eat breakfast, nap, have lunch, take a long walk (getting outside is also supposed to help), nap, go through our dinner rituals, get cleaned up, and start the bedtime steps as soon as she shows the slightest sign of being tired, (even if that means 7PM!). We use the same vocabulary, pull out her comforting blankets and toys, and then lie her down to nurse over and over with the same words until she goes to sleep.

I had heard recommendations of repetition in the past, but I had always felt like my attempts were enough. I would give up after a half hour or so, and allow her to come hang out with the grownups until she seemed tired enough to start the process again. Last night, I did not give up. For two hours, I repeated the steps, over and over, putting her little squirmy body back into her bed until finally, at 10PM she was asleep in her own space and I was able to go downstairs and sit in front of the fireplace with my husband.

I realize it is still a little early to declare sweet victory, but for us, it felt like it. She slept three whole hours in her own bed AT NIGHT. This earned her an entire extra hour of sleep and did not require me to stay in bed with her like usual. From what I have read, if I continue this unrelenting repetition, the amount of time spent getting her to sleep should decrease, and I can already tell from the consistency of her naps over the last week we have made some real progress in getting her to sleep in her own space.

What I did not expect, however, is how difficult it would be for us. Both my husband and I debated carrying her into our room when it was time for us to go to sleep last night. We could not wrap our minds around the idea of not sleeping with her after so many months of falling asleep with her between us. Still, we resisted the urge in hopes it would buy her more sleep than usual. For an entire hour, I lay awake in bed, unable to drift away without the warmth of her little body next to me.

When she awoke screaming around 1AM, we both jumped out of bed, relieved and eager to have our little beast back with us. I guess we will eventually have to work on encouraging her to stay sleeping in her own bed when she awakens, but for now, it is exciting to think I may have my evenings back to myself, even if I find myself missing her next to me when it is time to go to sleep.

Parenting is funny. We want so much for ourselves and our children, but often we are the ones dependent on old habits. I would never take back co-sleeping and the special bond it has created or the extra sleep it bought us in those first crazy months, but I also recognize it is time to do a little letting go for her good and mine. I just have to remind myself the benefits are worth the twinges of pain.