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!


Betsy said...

She is just beautiful.

Sarah, I like the honesty in this post. Those first weeks as a parent are exhilirating and impossible all at the same time. It gets easier - and better - every day.

Cindy Cooper said...

Sarah, she's really wonderful!

As you've discovered the first few months are miraculous but trying. But the good stuff, how much you fall in love with Stella and stuff like that, just gets better. And after a few weeks of a month or so, you'll get to experience the increasing wonderfulness on a full night's sleep.

You and Tyler are doing a great job! Hang in there.

Raliegh & Mary said...

What a beautiful little girl! Just wait until the day comes when she wants to go shopping! Our Love to you in this time of happiness!

Emily said...

I can't wait to meet her (even if the little bugger doesn't let you get much sleep)! xoxo