On Friday Mike and I made a whirlwind trip to see my family.
We got up at 6:30, fed Maggie, showered, and packed an insane amount of stuff in the car for a day trip. We hit the road at 8:00, drove 175 miles, stopped at my grandparents, hopped back in the car to go to my Dad’s, and then went to see my Aunt Sue and Uncle Mike before getting back in the car and coming back to Pittsburgh. We even had a few more possible stops, but the timing just didn’t work out.
The drive there was uneventful, but coming back it poured down rain so hard that the wipers were useless. The fog over the mountains was so thick that we drove at 15-20 mph in some spots. There were fallen leaves all over the roads . . .in some spots you couldn’t even tell where the road was because it was so dark and foggy and rainy and the leaves covered up the reflective strips that had been guiding us. It took us 4 hours to get back to Pittsburgh, about an hour and 15 minutes more than usual. We got home at almost midnight, exhausted.
Was it worth it?
I have some really awesome friends. Online and in real life.
(Thanks, by the way, for all of your encouraging words and support after my last post!)
Maggie has gotten so many awesome gifts from our family and friends . . .books, clothes, toys, and so much more! And it means a lot to Mike and I that people take the time out of their busy lives to pick out or make something special for our little girl.
I’ve always admired people who are crafty. I think it’s because my mother was one of those people . . .she could crochet, quilt, and paint (folk art and tole painting). It seemed like any craft she would try, she would excel at. I’ve always wished that I would have inherited that from her.
My craft of choice has always been counted cross-stitch. The picture of baskets on the wall behind Michele and I in my last post is actually a cross-stitch that I was working on for my mother; she passed away before I finished it and was able to give it to her. I’ve always loved cross-stitch; it was therapeutic for me and gave me something to do while watching TV. But to me, it’s not much of a craft. It doesn’t take much talent or creativity . . .all you have to do is know how to count and make sure the right color gets to the right place.
Other crafts are different. Like crochet and knitting. You start with nothing but yarn and needles, and viola . . you have a blanket, or a sweater, or whatever. You’re making something out of nothing. Now that is awesome.
My Aunt Margie and my grandmother both made blankets for Maggie (and if I wasn’t so lazy I’d go take pictures of them, but they’re both upstairs and I’m downstairs . . .and tired).
And yesterday Maggie got a beautiful blanket in the mail from Therese! She tried it out last night when she was sleeping in her Daddy’s arms, and I think she likes it!
How sweet! It’s so soft and so cozy!
And TheAngelForever had sent Maggie a box of goodies and had included washcloths that she made–I took a picture of them this morning before Maggie got her bath.
I’ve used these washcloths every time I’ve given Maggie a bath since they arrived–they’re so incredibly soft!
I know Mike has never understood how I’ve connected with people online that I’ve “met” through blogging. He doesn’t quite understand how you can form any kind of connection with someone that you haven’t met in person, or (in some cases) have never even talked to on the phone. But as cards and gifts for Maggie came in the mail, he would ask who they were from when he didn’t recognize the name. And each time, I’d explain that the person was a blogging friend. I think he’s starting to undertand that you can create relationships with people through blogging. That others care enough about us and were so happy for us that they took the time to send us a card, or go to a store and buy something for Maggie, or order something online and have it sent to us, or–like my craftier friends–take the time to make something for her.
So thank you . . . those of you that are friends in real life, and those of you that I’ve never met and yet I feel like I know so well. You’ve showered us with all kinds of well wishes, and gifts, and love . . and we’re forever grateful!
I think it’s time to get back to being a “real” blogger. I spent the past 10 or 11 months writing almost exclusively about being pregnant, and then, since her birth, Maggie. Everything was happyhappyjoyjoy.
I loved being pregnant. I loved every minute of it. During the times early on when I felt sick to the last few days when I started to get uncomfortable, I really couldn’t complain. I had difficulty getting pregnant and staying pregnant, so every moment of my pregnancy with Maggie was cherished and never taken for granted. Throughout that time, I learned that it’s not all about ME anymore. I was carrying a life, a precious life, inside of me, and my discomfort ceased to matter. I would have done whatever it would have taken to carry her to term and make sure she was healthy, regardless of how it affected me.
And now that she’s here, it’s easy to write about the wonders and joys of having a beautiful, healthy baby. It’s easy to post pictures of her, to document her milestones, to capture the essence of her NOW, before she changes and grows with the passage of time.
It’s not as easy to write about everything else. It’s not as easy to admit to the changes in my life since Maggie’s birth that aren’t positive, or that I haven’t reacted positively to.
It’s easier to post a picture of a happy baby.
(Even one who is losing her hair in weird patches. Why can’t it ALL just fall out at once and be done with it? It didn’t start falling out until the day I made an appointment to have her pictures taken . . .c’mon kiddo, we’ve got a deadline on the hair loss situation here!)
Anyhow, the bottom line is that I’ve struggled a lot in the past six weeks. More than I expected to. More than I’ve let on to ANYONE, except Mike, because, well, he has to deal with me on a daily basis. It hasn’t had anything to do with being capable as a parent; it’s not that kind of struggle. It’s more of me being an emotional, mental, and physical wreck.
It’s never been so severe that I thought it was post-partum depression. I’m still healing–in a lot of ways–and I expected a certain amount of recovery. And I know that a lot of what I’ve experienced over the past month and a half can be attributed to hormones. I guess I just never realized that hormones can be so . . .powerful.
There have been days that I basically curled up in a ball on the couch with Maggie in the bouncy on the floor next to me for hours at a time. There have been other days where I’ve been a whirlwind of accomplishment–successfully juggling taking care of Maggie with everything else that needs to get done and feeling on top of the world about how capable I am of doing it ALL.
I never thought that the highs would be so high, or that the lows would be so . . .low.
A friend of mine said to me once that she went through what she called a “mourning period” after the birth of her first child. She mourned for the way her life used to be. Independence. Spontaneity. Freedom. They were all gone. She was responsible for another life. Would always think about someone else first. When she said that to me, I first thought “how selfish”. Now I think I have a better understanding of what she meant. And it’s not about being selfish, it’s more about adjusting to the changes that come along with having a baby.
I am not “just myself” anymore. Mike and I aren’t “just a couple” anymore. We’re a package deal. And that package is now high maintenance. Is always at the forefront of our thoughts. Is always our number one priority. Our “go with the flow” lifestyle is a lot more structured than it ever was before. And that’s not a bad thing; it’s just an adjustment.
I’ve always been one to make a decisions quickly and to move on, confident in my choice. But now some of the decisions I have to make don’t affect just me, or just Mike and I. I can’t just adopt my “devil may care” attitude and laugh it off if the decision is the wrong one, shrug my shoulders, and carry on. Because now Maggie factors in, and my decisions will affect her too, and us as a family unit.
[Sorry to be so vague, but I have reasons for not being more specific.]
To complicate things, I’ve never been one to readily admit to a struggle. It’s always been easier for me to play it up that everything’s rosy and that I have everything under control. It’s rare that I would go to someone, even a close friend, and admit that I need any kind of help.
But today, I called a friend. One that I’ve been meaning to call for weeks. One that I haven’t talked to in a few months.
And, somehow, without me asking, and–I think–without her knowing, she helped me.
After talking to her, just having a conversation catching up on each other’s lives and hearing about her experiences after having her son, I feel so much better about some of the things that have been bothering me. I feel . . .refreshed, for lack of a better word. I feel like I can cope a little better, and make some decisions that need to be made with a little more confidence.
Michele has always had that effect . . .she gives me perspective. Always at a time when I need it most.
And she makes me laugh. Always at a time when I need it most.
Michele and I posing as iguanas (inside joke!) 2 years ago when she came to visit for a weekend.
When Mike and I first got home from the hospital with Maggie, we decided to sleep on the couches downstairs to make things easier. I wasn’t supposed to be running up and down the stairs a lot, plus our bed is really high and would be hard for me to get into and out of (many many times) during the night.
It worked out really well, especially once it was determined that Maggie had reflux and we put her in her bouncy seat to sleep. She was sleeping within arm’s reach at night and checking on her consisted of rolling over and hanging my head off the edge of the couch.
It worked out so well that we were reluctant to move back upstairs. We had a good thing going and were kind of lazy about switching things up. Other than 2 short naps, I didn’t sleep in my bed for a month! Last Friday, we decided to bite the bullet. Maggie slept in the bouncy seat next to the bed, and all through the weekend she would sleep about 4 to 5 hours at a stretch during the night. The cats were glad to have us back in our bed, and it was nice to be able to stretch out and feel somewhat like a normal human being again.
Last night Maggie fell asleep downstairs around 9:30 or so, woke up to eat at 10:30 and fell back asleep a little while later. We carried her upstairs around midnight, and put her in her crib. She had been in it before during the day, but had only slept there for half an hour. Mike and I spent an anxious half hour or so staring at the monitor, but eventually fell asleep. She woke up at 2:30 to eat, then fell back asleep until 6:00. After I fed her at 6:00, I laid her down and sat in the chair peering over the crib and watched her put herself to sleep. She slept until almost 9:00.
I think we’re on the way to getting into a rhythm and finding a routine that works for all of us. We’re definitely headed in the right direction!
Somehow, my baby is one month old already.
She’s now 11 lbs 2 oz and 23 inches long. She has meltdowns for a few hours each evening, but has been sleeping really well once she’s able to fall asleep. There have been a few nights this week where she’s slept for 9 or 10 hours and only woke up to eat–she certainly doesn’t miss a meal! She still doesn’t sleep much at all during the day unless we go out somewhere (but I’ll gladly take that over the alternative–I’d rather be up all day than all night!). The doctor was amazed yesterday when we told her that there was one day this week where she was up from 4AM to 10PM with only 3 little 15 minute naps. It seems like we’re heading in the right direction towards getting into some kind of routine–hopefully we can make that happen before I go back to work in just a few short weeks.
She’s more and more alert with each passing day, and recognizes our faces and voices. I love how she’s able to follow us with her eyes and how much she smiles at us. She really seems to like the toys that hang over her swing and her bouncy seat and smiles at them as they move around. Tummy time is not really a favorite activity of hers, but she does like to be held up to your shoulder (as long as it’s in between feedings and you’re not trying to burp her–she doesn’t like any interruptions during meal times!) and can push herself away with her hands and then move her head from side to side, so we’ll keep trying to make the transition so that she learns to do that while on her belly.
Her personality is so much more defined now than it was a week ago, or even a few days ago. It’s so amazing to watch!
I had always thought that when it came to picking names for our children that Mike and I would always tend towards a more “traditional” name for a boy and something “different” for a girl. I’m not sure why I had thought that. Maybe it’s because I subconsciously thought that a boy with a more traditional name would be taken more seriously later on in life, and that that kind of thing didn’t really matter for a girl (not the most progressive thinking on my part, I know). Or maybe it was because Mike has a more traditional name and mine was different. My name is odd enough that I was in college before I met someone with the same name as me. Since then, I’ve run into a few people that share the same name as me, but it’s still not very common. When we’re out in a crowd and someone yells “Mike”, you can look around and see 5 guys named Mike looking around to see if someone’s calling them. I’ve never had that experience with my name–if someone yells it, they’re calling out for, well, me.
When I got pregnant this time, it took Mike and I awhile before we had The Name Discussion. The time before that, we had been discussing names and then we lost the baby, so I think we were a little hesitant to give a name to a child we might never meet. Although that’s how our cat got his name–Mike’s favorite boy name was Forrest, which I couldn’t stand. When we got a kitten 2 months after I miscarried, I immediately suggested Forrest, knowing that if we used that name for the cat, it would be out of the running should I ever become pregnant again. For awhile we even referred to him as Forrest the Cat, Not the Kid. Certainly nothing to joke about, but it helped me to deal with everything that had transpired–I always turn to humor, it’s just that sometimes it’s a rather dark humor. Now we just call him Forrest, or Forrest the Cat, or F the C. As a side note, he’s adjusted rather well to Maggie’s presence in the house. He’s calmed down considerably, although he’s still really playful.
Once we did start talking about names, there wasn’t a girl’s name that we could agree upon without any reservations. Out of all of the names we had discussed in the past, none was perfect.
A few months before Maggie was born, Mike and I were talking about names one day and one of us suggested using one or both of our mothers’ names as a way to honor them. Mike’s mother was named Margaret, but went by Peg or Peggy. My mother’s name was Cynthia, and always went by Cindy. Since we had always discussed more “non-traditional” girl names, it had not even occurred to us up to that point to use their names. I immediately vetoed Cynthia/Cindy. I felt that I would have trouble with calling our little girl by my mother’s name–it just didn’t seem right to me. I also didn’t want to put my grandparents or father in that position either. Using the name Margaret was a different situation. No one ever called Mike’s mother Margaret; it was always Peg. So even though we had agreed on Margaret as a first name, it was still a little too stuffy for us to use all the time, so we decided on Maggie as a nickname. One of my mother’s very good friends was named Maggie, so by calling our little girl that, I still felt that we were honoring my mother, just in a different way.
Today, I found out that the Margaret connection goes a little deeper, this time on my father’s side of the family. My great-aunt Margie (whose given name is Margaret, but I had totally forgotten that until I was writing out her name to send her a birth announcement; she was always “Aunt Margie” to me) sent me a card that arrived in the mail today. She wrote a letter to us and mentioned that she loves the name Margaret (after all, it’s her name too!) and also included some details on that side of the family that I had never known, or maybe never paid attention to in the past. It turns out that my great-great-grandmother’s name was Margaret Ann and my great-great-great-grandmother’s name was Margaret Elizabeth.
I’m thinking that we definitely made the right choice by choosing a name that’s more traditional, and more rooted in family. Margaret is the perfect name for our perfect little girl.