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Friday, November 30, 2007

We have the best friends!

A draft of this entry has been sitting on our blogger site for some time now, waiting for me to finish it. As I told a friend, I have a "to-do" list sitting on my desk that nothing is getting crossed off of... entirely frustrating until I forget about it, which I attempt to do frequently!


We have the best friends. Since Maya's birth, so many of our friends and family have brought us food, prepared meals, cleaned, offered to occupy Ella for periods of time.


Mindy, Emerson & Charissa




Meredith & Beckett





Emilie, Reed, Jason & Rosalyn
Recently, Emilie came to visit on a day that Suzanne had to be at work during the afternoon and evening. She had worked all day then picked up her kids and came to our house with an armload of food. She was the most calming whirlwind I've witnessed. She took her two kids (3 and 9 months) and Ella by storm. I have no idea how she managed to do it.... she prepared and dished out meals for me, herself, Skyler and Ella (getting them to eat veggies and all), as well as making sure that Reed got his bottle! She took all 3 kids upstairs to play, fed them dinner, got them all in and out the tub and dressed for bed. I sat in the chair with Maya completely dazed, amazed and thankful for her presence. She remained completely calm and relaxed through the whole evening. Reed must have tasted everything on our floor, but Emilie managed to get it all back out of his mouth before it became dangerous. Skyler and Ella were all over the house and and testing their 3 year old independences out, all while Emilie managed to referee with ease and patience. I am most appreciative (and still in awe).




Skyler, Reed & Ella




Emilie threw them all in the tub!! Woohoo!


A couple of nights after that, Mindy and Charissa came and brought dinner. When they asked, "O.K. what can we do to help out?" Suzanne responded with, "Nothing, the house is clean and laundry folded. Why? Does it look like something needs to be done?"
I mentioned jokingly that our microwave was a complete mess and they took it very seriously. Charissa scoured that thing for 20 minutes. I'm not sure what she finished the job with but I think she left us with a self cleaning microwave. It hasn't been dirty since. I never thought our friends would be coming over to clean our appliances.
Anyhow, I could tell story after story because the people in our lives have offered themselves and their resources again and again. We are grateful and humbled at the abundance of friendship and love we are blessed with.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Missing In Action

People who faithfully check this blog are probably wondering why we have disappeared off the face of the earth. The answer is simply put, but really very complicated in reality: sleep deprivation. Think for a moment of how it feels to be tired, really tired, profoundly tired and to fall into the cocoon of your bed and to drift, ah, so peacefully, to slip down that slide into sleep and then - BAM! Crying baby. Feed her, get her settled, kiss those 2 hours goodbye, climb under the covers, sleep - oh the intoxicating slumber, and then - BAM!! Crying baby.


Okay so most of you know exactly. And I am exaggerating a bit. Maya is actually a really good sleeper. She usually will sleep 4 hour stints in the night. The problem is that she doesn't like to go to bed until about 11:30 pm. This is very, VERY late for two tired moms. When Ella pulled this trick on us as a newborn at least we could sleep late into the morning. Now we have Ella calling cheerfully through her monitor "Momma? Momma!" each morning by seven.


It feels incredibly impossible in some moments. You would think it would be a cinch with two of us. It isn't. Sandi still has to pump one side every feeding and then Maya needs to be given a bottle after the breast with every feeding. That makes roughly 10 dirty pump/bottle paraphernalia to fill the sink along with the other incredibly sneaky dirty dishes that keep ending up in there. Then there all those clothes that have the audacity to need to be washed, folded and -imagine this!- put away. If that weren't enough, we have a three foot tall cyclone going through the house and touching everything with snotty hands and relocating it somewhere new (usually the floor). There's the corn stove to fill, the wood stove to stoke, and those pesky bills to be paid. And we won't even get into cleaning litter boxes or opening mail!


But in actuality, Maya went to bed for the night at 8 pm tonight with Sandi close behind her. My mom came up and played with Ella (and Maya who loves to be on the floor with her big sister) for a couple of hours to give Sandi a break while I was at work this afternoon. Mindy dropped off bunch of yummy food, I managed to get a huge to-do list done while wearing Maya during Ella's nap this afternoon, and I think Ella and I are finally over our third cold in 6 weeks. I am working to remind myself to enjoy this time, especially since we love Christmastime, to relish the verge of a smile on Maya's lips when she looks up at me, to love Ella 1,000 times more when she tells us that she is not Ella but actually Snow White and to please call her such, and to remember to tell Sandi how proud I am of her and what an incredible job she is doing giving up her body to our baby to nourish her (side note: I don't feel too badly about this sacrifice since she now fits back into her pre-pregnancy jeans - jeans, no less! That took me months!).

Love to all. We are thankful to all of you.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nobody Told Me...

Tia, Ella & Maya

Momma & Ella Romping on the Couch


An Evening of Lounging


Big Smiles



Gramma & Maya


Hanging out with Mommy

Nobody told me just how much fun we'd be having when we came home from the hospital. Let's see.... a very rambunctious 3 year old who appears to be jealous of the shared attention and testing every limit out there (even the ones we've yet to set).... night time gas attacks that keep Maya uncomfortable and the rest of us awake walking the floors trying not to fall asleep (I remember this with Ella, but for some reason, it was easier then - at least that's how I remember it).... incessantly sore and voluptuous boobs (that part's not so bad for the short term).... a nipple that she is banned from until it heals (I won't go into details).... a perineum that is getting better but still makes me nervous on trips to the bathroom (again, will omit the details).... a house that needs constant picking up after the hurricane that is Ella runs through.... and now to add to the list, mastitis. Oh yes, two days of fever, aches, chills, sleeping, hot packs and pumping to get rid of the infection. Boy! Am I ever having fun. Eating is a part time job. A few nights ago, I went to bed as most people do when it gets dark. I eat after Maya feeds so that I'll make more milk (like most nursing moms do). Before I got up for the next day, I had consumed a large slice of turkey pot pie, a Bagel Central bagel loaded with cream cheese, a banana, a large glass of soy milk, a glass of orange juice, two waffles doused in syrup, several strawberries and 3 1/2 liters of water. Who knew we were feeding a bear??

Oh, and the roller coaster ride of hormonal shifts that produce the daily sobbing session... definitely one of the most fun parts of the postpartum period. I seem to be coming out of that as the mastitis is subsiding. All in all, I'm dealing with each minute as it comes. Honestly, I have to say that despite it all (and even though I'm still in the middle of it), I would never trade this experience. It is rich and abundant. It touches just about every emotion in each day. I feel very much alive even in the moments where all I want is to lay my head on a pillow. It's exhausting and exhilarating. It saps me and then fills me back up.

I am blessed by the joy of being a parent. I am humbled at the feet of these beings that chose to be part of our lives. I would not trade a second. And now my eyes are filled again....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

10 days old


Getting ready for bed



Running to take part in the diaper change



Momma's Baby & Little Helper

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. It is surprisingly meaningful to write down my thoughts and stories and know that people are witnessing these snapshots of our lives. I think people actually just come back for the photos. And a special thank you to all who comment (Emilie and Jeanine you know who you are) because I am a person who loves feedback.
Oh, we've had a few bipolar days riding the highs of the highs of our new family member to the undeniable lows and overwhelmed minutes and sometimes hours. I said to my mom that Ella is like the Energizer Bunny on crack lately so for two overtired parents to keep up with the likes of her (not to mention the mess she makes) is no small feat. Ella and I had yucky colds (which made her hyper and me barely able to function). I think if anyone out there is looking for a new form of torture they should give the newborn baby- sick mother combo a try. Even worse, Maya has had some congestion and has been unsettled from her symptoms. Hopefully, this is the worst it will get for her. It will be a miracle if she doesn't get the full blown cold since it's almost impossible to keep Ella and her snotty hands away from Maya. We wash her hands, she promptly swipes them under her nose and then runs up "Hi, Baby Maya" and tries to pry her hands into Maya's mouth. Luckily, Sandi is healthy, albeit on the tired side of life, and she keeps pumping her good immunity into Maya every 3- 4 hours in the form of breastmilk.
I cannot express how appreciative I am of the people around us. Today, we ate a yummy veggie pie for lunch that Mindy made for us. The last couple of days we've been devouring bagels and cream cheese Mindy and Charissa brought us because Sandi said she was craving them as a middle of the night snack. Tonight for dinner we ate a delicious multi-course meal that Emilie made (and her husband dropped off on his way to school this morning). We had soup, salad, bread, muffins, and a scrumptious apple blueberry pie! (Emilie, true to form, even sent homemade croutons and fresh dill garnish for the soup- this is mom of two who works full time!) Oh, my goodness. Sandi said every time I come home I have a present in my hand that someone has sent home for one or both of the girls. Last night, Patti, my mother-in-love, bought us a cozy new recliner to have in our living room to snuggle up with the baby and took us out to dinner. Then today, she took Ella out for a couple of hours for lunch so we could have some peace in the house to get some stuff done. I am telling you- we have got it good!! Want all this? Have a baby!
Okay, I'll leave you with one Ella funny. Okay, actually two. I have no idea where, but Ella has picked up the expression "Sor-ry!" You know the two syllable, sarcastic sounding form of an apology? It is lovely.
Second: Ella was pretending she was a baby cat (in popular circles thought of as a kitten) the other day when I was putting her down for her nap. She wanted me to be the momma cat so we played with this for a while. I rubbed her back with my "paw" and I kneaded her belly with my "claws." I even pretended to give her a big lap up the side of the head. This produced countless giggles and shrieks. Then I told her I was going to take a "cat nap" in my cat bed while she took one in hers. She said, "Momma, we're not really cats." (We're not?) I said, "We were just pretending to be cats, right?" She replied, "No, Momma. We're real people."

A little late... Halloween Pics


Amir, Ella & Brev at Gramma's House



The Polar Bear and the Zebra



And what's a polar bear and zebra to do without a baby zebra?


2 day old zebra

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Here Come the Pics!

In a thousand words, you cannot convey what you can capture in a picture.




Maya's first night. She didn't sleep for about 5 hours after she was born. I think this must have been what our faces looked like, too. I got a cold sore after giving up that night's rest (Ella: "Momma, what is that on your nose?" Me: "It's a cold sore." Ella: scrunching up her face, "Take it off." I wish.)



Coming home.



Ella says, "I don't want to call her Pete. I want to call her Maya."


Peaking with one eye




Giving kisses (and hopefully not her recently acquired second cold of the month.)


Here we are - 6 days in. It is wonderful to be home after a truly spoiled trip to Beals Island. We ate turkey dinners, garden grown veggies and, yes, hold the jealousy- lobster. We took home as much food as we could carry (Patti teases saying she'll know when we've eaten it all because we'll come back. All the while, she is packing the food and saying, "What else will you take?"). We brought home enough veggies for me to make Sandi a yummy chicken pot pie (I don't know why this is the nursing mom's special but I ate it for weeks after Ella was born.), we had lobster salad (seriously, she sent the lobster meat all picked out), pasta with crabmeat sauce - all of which means LESS COOKING FOR ME! Thank you to my mother-in-love for all that and all the Beals family for making our trip so welcoming and special (especially to Baby Brevan who was last seen looking longingly at our van as we pulled away, saying "ga-ga" (his name for Ella) with such a sweet sadness it makes your heart break.)

Yesterday, my mom and Kathryn came to help us with our somewhat chaotic transition home. They have both been amazing and hats off to my mom who took care of Ella for two nights while we were in the hospital. Thanks Mom! Today, we had visits from Mindy, Charissa and Emerson as well as Emilie, Sam and the kids. It felt like the completion of a circle to have our closest friends welcome us home. Mindy and Charissa brought us a dappling Willow tree and Mindy helped plant it in the yard with Maya's placenta (sorry if it grosses you out but it's really cool- it is incredibly nutrient rich). This led to one of those things you hear yourself saying that when you stop and pause, you think, huh? I was running outside to bring the placenta to Mindy and I yelled in the kitchen to Sandi, "Will you stir the cabbage and hand me the placenta?" Our family friend, Diane, came and helped out this morning, lending a much needed second set of hands to me while Sandi slept. People have sent flowers, brought gifts for Maya and Ella, and friends are bringing food. We cannot thank you enough. Ella has thrived in all these visits.

The other day when we were getting ready to leave. Sandi had gotten Maya fed and settled into her car seat, all buckled up and ready for lift-off when she remembered that she hadn't changed her diaper. She said as much, and Ella went running over, saying, "Don't worry! I'll check it!" and then she rummaged through Maya's blankets in an attempt to check.

Today when Sandi was nursing, Ella looked down at her very formal, sleeveless, pink, tu-tu-like, incredibly appropriate for November, Princess dress and said, very seriously, "I'm all out of milk." Then, when I put her to bed tonight, she asked me if I was going to keep an eye on the baby while she slept. Apparently, she wants to make sure Maya is covered while she is off-duty.

We were snuggled up as I tucked her into bed and she told me: "I love the baby, you love me and Mommy loves you." I told her Mommy loved her too and that I loved Mommy and the baby loved us all. It struck me that a family truly has so little to do with your blood. Your bonds are made by the love and devotion you share, the way your hearts wind around each other like branches of a willow, entwined, bonded and certain. I breathed in the smell of Ella- of Vicks Vapor Rub, baby shampoo and innocence and I thought about how Maya did not come from me but I helped create her and she knows me- I can tell in the way she settles in my arms, the relax of her energy when our eyes meet, the promise of all the hugs and cuddles and moments to come. What could mean family more surely than that?

And in that beautiful moment, when my heart was expanding and the universe opened up and allowed me to understand, I told Ella that I loved her. She responded with a fart. (At least she said, "Excuse me.")

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Our first family photo


This is one of many photos- we haven't had time to put them on yet. For more photos you can see the ones our beloved friend Emilie took on her blog at http://www.manhartfamily.blogspot.com/

We were discharged from the hospital yesterday and headed for Beals Island where we can rest and recuperate (and be taken care of) by the Carver clan. It has truly been a magical ride since Monday night. I counted 22 visitors we had on Tuesday in the hospital- we were surrounded by the people we love. My mom and my sister, Kathryn, and our niece Michaela all stayed at our house with Ella on Tuesday night so when we came home from the hospital Wednesday, our house was full of fun and exuberance. Ella came running out when we pulled in and the first thing she said was, "Where is the baby?" She is doing such a great job in her new roll as big sister.

Ella had a wonderful Halloween here on Beals Island (again, photos to follow). It is such a special and wonderful place to come and she can trick-or-treat to family members' homes. She ate too much chocolate, stayed up 2 hours too late and still wanted to go on more "trips" when it was time to stop, but this was her most enjoyed Halloween yet.

Brevan, her 1 1/2 year old cousin, calls Ella "ga-ga." He has started to call Maya, "baby ga-ga." How cute is that?

I said to Sandi yesterday that I was struck by how prepared we were for Maya's arrival - the clothes were washed, the crib together, the baby gear stowed for immediate use. I had worked out the mechanics of handling two children, of stretching my multi-tasking skills to new levels and strategizing ways to develop more patience. We were ready. What I hadn't figured on, what has blown me away, is how at three days old we can't imagine life without her, how her little tiny body has an energy and a presence like a comet, how our hearts are expanded now to be a family of four as though we always were. I wake up in the morning with a humming excitement that Maya is here, in this world, in our lives, and that the world is already enriched by her spirit.