Monday, January 19, 2009

2 Months

Today Stella had her two-month doctor's appointment, and it wasn't just our imagination that she's a healthy growing girl. She's now 24 inches long and 12 lbs, 4 oz. Here's a little before/after image of how much she's grown in probably about 6 weeks:

Stella sleeping on Tyler's chest at about 2 weeks old

Stella sleeping on Tyler's chest today (one day shy of 8 weeks)

These eight weeks have passed by so quickly; Stella smiles and coos, is more or less settled into a night routine and has helped us know when she's gassy or overtired. And she still loves baths, as you can tell from the little bathing beauty below:

Bath time with Stella

And a few other recent favorites:

I can't help but laugh a little at these major frowns

Stella and Daddy couldn't quite coordinate their expressions

Me and Stella, chilling on the couch

Monday, January 12, 2009

A year ends, a year begins...

I'd be lying if I said it was all smiles and roses here at the 4964 17th Ave. And, I'd be lying if I said having a baby is easy. In fact, the last couple of weeks have convinced me of one thing: If I ever talk to a parent who says that they don't think they'd be able to do a Round the World trip because it would be "too hard," then I will be left with little choice by to remove my white-satin, gentleman's riding glove and slap them across the face. Because, in comparison to six weeks of sleep deprivation and crying babies, having stomach amoebas while trapped on a toilet-free boat floating down the Nile is easy.

Sleep deprivation and screaming babies will break the strongest man. And, being snowed in for roughly a week and a half doesn't help. Neither does me coming down with food poisoning shortly after the New Year. It always comes back to my stomach.

But, to be fair, I'd also be lying if I painted the last couple weeks as entirely doom and gloom. That's not a fair portrait either. Despite the best attempts by mother nature, Christmas actually ended up being a pleasant low-key affair with my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law coming into town to surprise them. Sadly, my brother had to leave early Christmas morning, but I was still happy for Stella to finally get the opportunity to meet her aunt and uncle. And it was nice to have the family together for the holidays, albeit briefly.

Stella meets Uncle Travy. She likes him so much already, she's already dressing like him.

Several days later, and after the snow finally relented, Stella got to meet some more relatives: Her great-Grandma Gloria, great-Aunt Debby and great-Cousin Nolan, all of who we had originally intended to spend Christmas Eve with but were unable to because of the weather.

Stella meets great-Grandma Gloria. Hopefully, later this year, she will get to meet her other great-Grandparents in Illinois and Texas.

New Years itself was pretty much a normal night for the three of us. Well, except we managed to stay up till midnight watching a James Bond film and toasted in '09 with a glass of sparkling wine before retiring to bed by 12:30.

Cheers! Happy New Years, Stella!

Then, the new year brought the visit of Grandpa Bob and Grandma Dixie (or as Sarah's step-brother, Brent, suggested they be called "G-Daddy" and "G-Mama). While the visit was over too quick, it was still great that Stella got the opportunity to meet another set of Grandparents. And, after being snowed in for so long, it was nice to have some visitors again.

Grandpa Bob tries his hand at soothing Stella by bouncing on the yoga ball.

Finally, last week, we had a reunion with our Centering group from the Mid-wife clinic where we had the chance to be introduced to all the other babies including Cleo and Jayan. It was good to see everyone from the class again, meet the babies, and especially it was nice to commiserate with all the other new parents and realize that they are all going through the same struggles and sleepless nights.

So, in closing: Yeah, having Stella in our lives is tiring and challenging. But, is it worth it? Definitely! Need proof? I now present this Stella Moment of Zen™...

More Christmas photos.
More Stella photos, including New Years and great-grandma's visit.
Still more photos, including Bob and Dixie's visit.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Musings on Motherhood (with video!)

It's been a long time since I've posted on Strange and Benevolent, but the new year seems a natural time to reflect and take stock. Tyler and I have had several big years since we've been together: we got married in 2005, travelled the world in 2007, and spent 2008 being pregnant and having Stella. Of course, this year had a few other noteworthy events (like buying a home), but it seemed that the bulk of our time and energies--especially as of late--were put towards the little person we now know as Stella.

Stella's been with us now for a little over five weeks. Seeing Stella for the first time was one of the most amazing moments of my life so far--I'm tearing up now just writing the words. Since that time, I've gotten no more than three hours of sleep at a time, strengthened my arms from all the holding/lifting/rocking, shed a few tears of exhaustion, and relished in the moments of getting to know this new little person. When I used to see babies I thought they were cute but didn't think too much about them as individuals. But Stella seems like such a little person to me. The whole non-verbal thing makes getting to know each other a little more challenging (we're still having a lot of one-sided conversations), but even when I try and see who she resembles, I just see her.

I think that was her message from the start. We were joking that being my daughter she'd probably show up a little early or right on time, but, no, she decided to wait a few days and show up on her own time. She may have fingers like mine and Tyler's skin tone, but she's definitely her own person. Stella loves baths and "naked time" on her changing table and has her own cries for "I'm wet," "I'm hungry," "Pay attention to me," and the "oh-wee-oh-wee-oh" cry of last resort that usually is a sign of about two ensuing hours of fussiness.

My answer to how motherhood is going depends a lot on how much sleep I've had the past few days. Not enough, I'll say, "It's amazing, but exhausting." After a few good days, I'm more likely to respond "It's tiring, but amazing." (Apparently my second answer is closer to my immediate emotion at the time.) Motherhood has been filled with love, for Stella, for Tyler, and it's even provided opportunities to connect with our own families (new grandparents, uncles and aunts) around her birth. My mom came and stayed with us for nine days after Stella was born, and it was amazing to realize that we spent more time together then than we had for years. And I got a chance to learn from her--which was a blessing since I think she was such a wonderful mother.

I won't sugarcoat the whole experience, though. Motherhood also has plenty of frustration, tedium, and moments of self-doubt. Fears that she's sick, that we're doing something wrong, that we're doing something that's going to work in the short-term but come back to haunt us in the future, that we're terrible parents. I wouldn't want to fumble through this with anyone other than Tyler, though. Another joy of this whole experience has been to see him grow into his role as father. Tyler's loving, silly and playful with Stella--she's lucky to have such an amazing father. And I'm fortunate, as always, to have him by my side our life together.

It's probably proof that Tyler and I have entered parenthood full force, because we decided to buy a small digital video camera to capture Stella moments like this:

Happy new year, everyone!