Monday, March 22, 2010

One year old

Dear Lucy,

Today is your birthday! I thought I would be a crying mess today, but it was actually a happy, lighthearted day. It was drizzling, so we had to change all our plans. We ended up spending the day in the community center playroom.

After Daddy and Karima came home from work, we sang Happy Birthday and let you eat a whole chocolate muffin.

We had some tender moments today...when I nursed you down for your nap, I thought of all our sleepy daytime nursings throughout the year. I remembered those marathon five hour naps last summer, and a few months after that when you kept trying to practice crawling while staying latched on. After you fell asleep, I stayed next to you in bed, staring at your cheeks (still as round as the day you were born!) and taking a million pictures.

And then tonight, when I nursed you to sleep for the night, I cried while singing the lullabies that I sang to you in your newborn weeks. I remember that those lullabies made me cry then, too, when I was just so blown away by my motherlove for you, and the sudden understanding of my mom's motherlove for me.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year already since I gave birth to you. You still feel like my baby (and always will), but you’re also starting to feel more like a kid. Every now and then, I catch glimpses of what it will be like when you’re old enough to be my funny fairy friend. I am nostalgic for your babyhood, but this is the most fun age so far. You’re just such a delightful; you make me laugh every day. I want to put you, the way you are at this exact moment, into a time capsule so I’ll always remember just how silly and wonderful you are as you turn 1. These are the funny things you do that make you you.

When we nurse, you pop off and paw at my chest while grinning and cooing. I say, “oh, you’re a funny guy, huh?” and paw back at your chest while you cackle at me.

You go running towards the front door when you hear Daddy’s keys in the lock. Then while he takes his coat off and settles in, you stand right underneath him, smiling up at him with joy.

When I make our lunch smoothies, you always ask me to pick you up so you can watch. You hide your head against my shoulder while the blender is whirring. Then you steal my peanut butter spoon and lick it happily while I have lunch.

You love dancing! You stand at the baby gate in front of the stereo and look at me expectantly until I turn on the radio. Your favorite songs to dance to are Bad Romance and anything by the Clash. Sometimes when Daddy comes home from work, we put on music and all dance together. When Karima is around she joins in, too.

You always charm people in the elevators. When the doors open, you shriek “eeeee!” and grin. You’re really just happy to hear the bing, but people think you’re talking to them and just love it.

When you hear me put a youtube video on, you know I’m going to wrap you on my back. You come running over and hold your arms out so I can get the wrap around them. While I’m wrapping you, you lean your head on my shoulder so you can get a better view of the video.

You love talking on the phone. Whenever I’m talking to someone, you demand to talk, too. I put it on speakerphone and you walk away holding the phone, grinning and yelling “ah! Aaah!” You and Grammi have whole conversations of saying “ah” back and forth to each other. You just started holding anything you find to your ear and saying, “ah?” like it’s a phone.

Your favorite game is still peek-a-boo. You hold a shirt up to your face, or behind your head (you don't quite get that the point is to cover your face), and giggle quietly while I say “where’s Lucy?” When I find you, you crack up.

For months now, you’ve thought sneezing is the funniest thing in the world. Whenever you sneeze, you get a gleam in your eye and then pretend sneeze for another minute. You like pretending to cough, too. I've probably spent whole hours of the last year pretending to sneeze and cough at you.

This year has been such a journey for me, and I’m so thrilled to be journeying with you. I love you so much!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Remembering this night, a year ago

For the last few days, my fellow moms from birth class have been posting updates on Facebook about what they were doing a year ago. "This time last year, I was howling and writhing in pain!" This time last year, I was 29 hours into labor..."

As Tim was going to sleep tonight, I asked him how he was feeling exactly a year ago. He said, "aaaaaaaaaah!" I wonder what Lucy was feeling?

And I've been thinking about it, too. How can you not? So, this time last year, labor was really tough and I was ready to make it stop. For the last hour, I had been laying in the tub by candlelight and listening to Pachelbel's Canon recorded over ocean waves. I tried to drift in and out of sleep between contractions while my amazing doula fanned my face with a lavender-scented fan. My doula, Kate, decided it was time to try something else to move labor along, so she encouraged me to get up and get dressed. I remember trying to make my wet, scraggly hair look cute (I'm so vain!) even though I could barely focus on anything except the intensity of the contractions. Kate and Tim found me some clothes and dragged me down the stairs and outside to the street.

(The only pictures we have from the hard part of labor are blurry. It's fitting, I guess, since my memory of them is so blurry and distorted. )

I walked up and down the block, pausing during contractions to lean on the fence around the hedges, rock back and forth, and moan. I tried walking with one foot on the curb and one in the street to help the baby descend. We kept walking past a man and a woman with a little dog. On our last pass by them, the woman said, "Good luck!" to me and I found it so encouraging. She had an accent, and it reminded me that THIS, labor and birthing, is something that women all over the world can understand in each other, even without words.

Now, a year later, I'm sitting on the couch in the living room. Tim and Lucy are in bed already, but I wanted to stay up and write. I just opened the window behind me, so I can feel the night air on my skin like I did a year ago, as I labored on the sidewalks of Astoria. I had no idea at the time how much harder it would get, and then, how suddenly awesome!

Getting ready for a lady baby

The photo application on my laptop has a feature that shows you what pictures you uploaded exactly 12 months ago. When I see them, I'm always transported right back to my life when the photos were taken. It knocks me off balance a little bit. How can it seem like they were 10 years ago, and only yesterday at the same time?

Twelve months ago, I was so busy getting ready for our lady baby to be born. A few weeks earlier, we found out that our lady baby was breech. I was horrified because I knew if she stayed breech, I would be forced into a c-section. Tim and I tried every idea we could find to turn Lucy around. We talked to her, telling her to turn around. I told her “Dochenka, povernis,” just in case she spoke Russian instead of English. We played Beethoven and whale sounds for her at the lower part of my stomach. I laid upside down on our rickety, Bargain Stop ironing board leaned against the bed. We even burned mugwart incense near my pinky toes (a baby-turning method from Chinese medicine.)

Whenever we lit the incense, Lucy tried her best to turn head-down. We could see her lumping and bumping around, but she always got half way around and then slid back to breech.

Finally we tried our last resort, an external version at the hospital. It was terrifying and painful, but it worked. Lucy was head-down, and I could continue preparing for our home birth!

And prepare we did. (You know me!) I had list upon list of things to do.

We scrubbed the house.

We practiced setting up the birth pool.

I made lists of all the food I might want to eat during labor, with notes of exactly where it was and how to prepare it, for our labor support people. I thought it was hysterical that I had a "placenta" section in my recipe binder.

Grammi came to stay with us.

And a little while later, Paddy came, too.

We did a trial run of Lucy's birthday cake. As it would turn out, I wouldn't manage to make the cake during labor (Grammi and Paddy handled it). Who would have thought that a woman in labor would have better things to do than bake? The cake that Grammi and Paddy ended up making was almost the only thing I ate for the first few days after giving birth.

We made meals to stock the freezer.

And I just rested. I loved leaning back on the couch with my feet up, watching lady baby roll around in my stomach. She was so active at the end, always sliding her elbows across my skin, or trying to stretch her limbs so my whole belly stuck out.

Every night, I laid down in bed and rubbed lotion on my belly. In the glow of the salt lamp, I massaged lady baby's body under my skin, and sang “dochenka” to her. I always wondered if it would be our last night of just the two of us, under the same skin, and I wanted to treasure it.

I was so ready to give birth. I was so ready to meet my daughter. And then finally, exactly one year ago, I woke up with contractions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fun times

Yesterday I made Lucy laugh so hard she threw up. I'm not sure if that makes me an awesome mom or an awful one!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 17

A year ago today was my due date. The date that I had two countdown widgets for. The date that was my reference point, my guiding star, for almost a year. I know it will always be a day I remember.

Now that we're closing in on the end of Lucy's first year, I'm feeling so wistful and nostalgic. I want to write down everything, save everything, remember everything. Every time I lay down in bed to nurse Lucy, I think of the things I want to record. My thoughts about Lucy, the things that make her smile, our private jokes. I have a whole Microsoft Word document full of blog drafts that I can't post because I keep on thinking of things I want to add to them. I've never been much of a recorder before. I've always liked the idea of journals, but would write in them for a few weeks before forgetting them under my bed or in a drawer. But this feels different. This year is too important to ever forget. Could I forget it though? I remember being a little girl, and singing the hymn, "Does a mother forget her baby? Or a woman, the child within her womb?" I didn't know what that meant until this year. Of course I can't forget this year, but I'm still so scared of the details slipping between my fingers.

I talked (cried!) to my mom tonight on the phone about this nostalgia. She said of course I'm feeling like this. She said that motherhood is just so big and life-changing that no one can convey it's magnitude. It's true.

I feel like this year was such a special and magical time that it's hard to let go of. I cried every day for the first week after Lucy's birth, because I didn't want her to be a day older. I didn't want to get farther away from the time that she was inside me, and that I birthed her and became her mother. I remember sitting on the couch with my mom one night when Lucy was a few days old. Lucy was finally asleep in my arms after a marathon nursing session. I cried to my mom, telling her that I just didn't want Lucy to ever get any older, that I wanted her to stay my tiny baby forever. My mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I know, I feel that way about you, too." I'm not so hormonal now as I was right after Lucy's birth, but I feel just as sentimental and teary. How can it be that just a year ago, Lucy wasn't even in the world? And now she's so here, so herself, and I'm such a different me. We're such a we.

Budding Russian Gymnast

Today Lucy did a summersault for the first time. She was so pleased with herself! She rolled all over the bed, laughing and shrieking. That’s one of my favorite things about her—she's so rambunctious. I like that she's not a sweet, dainty baby. Instead, she's gutsy and funny and outspoken. Can you tell that I secretly want her to be the kind of 14 year old who dyes her hair green and plays guitar in an all-girl band?