Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life is Long

I turn forty today and I think I'm ok with it. Naturally I've been taking stock lately and thinking about all those years. The fact is, I'm happier than I've ever been and that makes getting older a lot easier. Not that I like the sound of forty - I don't. There are implications to that number. It's comes with a lot of negative hype that's hard to shake.

When I was younger, I assumed life at forty would be life with all the fun sucked out. I could have never imagined what lay ahead of me. In short, I figured some things out and I found love. I should say, I found love and then I figured some things out. Love is the best and most important thing that has ever happened to me. I never knew how deep and layered and complicated love would be. Or how the hard parts would make it better. Or how love could actually give birth to new life. Last night Nicole and I, after an exhausting day-long road trip, decided to take Jonah out for a stroller ride. We needed two things: to get Jonah some fresh air and to get us some take-out for dinner. As we sat outside the restaurant waiting for our order, I held Jonah and he squeezed my neck with his little arms and put his head down on my shoulder. It was a beautiful night and I felt so happy, so thankful. I met the love of my life and she loves me back. We made Jonah and he is the greatest thing in the world. I have good health and good food to eat and a nice place to live and a fun job and great friends.

I remember sitting in my dear friend Debbie's kitchen some 20 years ago, worrying aloud about some relationship turmoil and the state of my crazy family. At the time I remember feeling like my life was such a mess. Like things were so screwed up and would never be right. She said "Matthew, don't worry. Life is long." She was right. It is long and it is good. Happy Birthday to me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Milestone alert!

Jonah rolled over today! Matthew saw it first when he mercifully took Jonah out into the living room after the baby woke up at 5 a.m. (!!!) today, letting me sleep a bit longer. I first heard the news of the rollover when Matthew brought Jonah back to me a little while later when Jonah was ready to eat again. When I got up, I put Jonah on the floor and watched him all morning. He kept rolling from his back to his side, but didn't seem to be able to make it any farther. Then, we went out for a while this morning, met some other stay-at-home moms and did some baby yoga. Then, it was home for a nap (for both of us). After the nap, I put Jonah down on the floor on his back, and within seconds, he did it! He rolled quickly from back to side and then with one more push he was over on his belly, looking happy and very pleased with himself. Jonah is already a very active little boy. I'm sure this is just the beginning. Oh, and he turns 5 months old tomorrow! ~ Nicole

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My fabulous Saturday night

6:16 p.m. Jonah looks sleepy. Change diaper. Strip down to just onesie and socks for bed.
6:26 p.m. Lie in bed reading "Time for Bed" and "Good Night Moon." Jonah acts hungry toward end of second book. Skim last few pages and start nursing.
6:45 p.m. Jonah is holding his feet, ala happy baby yoga pose, smiling and rocking. Does not seem sleepy. Rubs face once in a while so I know he is tired.
6:46 p.m. Move to rocker to nurse on other side. Jonah seems less sleepy than before.
6:56 p.m. Move back to bed. Try to nurse Jonah to sleep. No cigar.
6:57 p.m. Jonah spits up on his onesie.
6:58 p.m. Change Jonah into footy pajamas. Put in Ergo carrier and head out for a walk.
7:17 p.m. Jonah asleep in carrier.
7:30 p.m. Carefully unload Jonah. Swaddle him - badly. Swaddle him again. He fights it and cries. Hold him, pat his back, sing to him. His eyes are wide open and he's looking around the bedroom.
7:35 p.m. Take him to rocker. Undo top of swaddle. Nurse him some more.
7:40 p.m. Jonah is asleep. Redo swaddle. Again, he fights it, wakes up.
7:45 p.m. Back in carrier. Back outside.
7:46 p.m. Jonah spits up, but just a little. I wipe it off and keep walking.
7:48 p.m. Spits up again. A lot!
7:52 p.m. Back home. Change Jonah into new pajamas.
8:00 p.m. Call Matthew, who is working, in desperation. Tell him I'm tempted to just keep Jonah up until he gets home.
8:05 p.m. I put Jonah on the bed and feed the cats. Jonah cries. The cats cry. I cry.
8:10 p.m. Jonah is in bouncy seat. I'm drinking chamomile tea. Jonah fusses. Then cries. I just look at him.
8:11 p.m. Back in carrier. Back outside. Jonah cries up and down several streets. People stare at me. I can't remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror and wonder what's going on with my hair. People are walking to their Saturday night activities, dressed nicely, carrying bottles of wine, flowers. High heels click on the sidewalk. I hear every sound.
8:22 p.m. Jonah quiets but is still awake. He rubs his face on his hands, my chest.
8:40 p.m. Jonah is asleep. I walk a little more for good measure.
8:50 p.m. Slowly and carefully unload Jonah from carrier into swaddle. I do the swaddle as fast as possible. Jonah fusses and cries. I pat his back, sway, sing. His head droops. He lifts it up. It droops again.
8:56 p.m. I slowly lower him into his cradle.
8:57 p.m. Matthew sends me a text saying he'll be home soon.
9:00 p.m. I pour myself more tea. As I'm about to sip, Jonah cries. I pick him up, pat his back, sway, shush him. He drifts off. I lower him back down.
9:05 p.m. Look in mirror. Examine lines in my forehead. Consider going right to bed. Decide to finish tea.
9:37 p.m. Jonah sleeps. The cats sleep. I will sleep ... soon.
~ Nicole

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Perhaps this poem should be our new mantra . . .

By Elsa Haas

Why does the baby cry?
(Dressed in his brand-new, powder blue, flame-retardant pajamas)
Why does the baby cry?
(Freshly laundered, recently fed, newly changed, just burped, and provided with a night-light)
Why does the baby cry?
(In his safety-sealed crib
All smoke detectors in working order
Temperature medically adjusted by thermostat
Baby monitor on
Emergency numbers in the speed-dial
Loving parents at the ready)
Why, oh WHY does the baby cry?

The baby cries
In the jungle or on the savannah
The baby cries
As the marauding beasts edge forward
The baby cries
For protection
The baby cries
To signal his tribe
The baby cries
(Hearing no heartbeat
Touching no warm skin
Mouthing no soft breast
Breathing no shared breath)
The baby cries
Alone in the wilderness

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother Love

OK, so Matthew and I are both beat. Like dead tired. Me because I wake up repeatedly each night with Jonah and Matthew because he was out late partying last night. As for the partying, that's another story altogether, but the point is we decided to turn in early tonight. Like 8. So, now it's 9, and both Matthew and Jonah are fast asleep, and the house is quiet and peaceful, and I should be sleeping, but I realized I just couldn't end the day without writing a little something for Mother's Day.

I had my first Mother's Day today. It got off to a bit of a rocky start (a little something related to the partying story, but, again, I digress), but then quickly smoothed over into a very lovely day. After I napped with Jonah, Matthew retrieved the boy when he woke up so I could stay in bed a bit longer. When I got up, Matthew fixed breakfast for me, including scones he baked himself. Nice touch. Then, he gave me my gifts. A framed photo of my beautiful baby and a DVD of a slide show of photos of Jonah over the four months since his birth, set to a couple of Jonah's favorite songs from his "You are my little bird" CD. Of course, from the first image, I was a gonner, tears streaming down my face. It was so beautiful and sweet. Jonah loved watching it, too, I think.

In the middle of the day, we took Jonah out in his new stroller (yay, we finally got a lightweight stroller we can take travelling!) down to the farmers' market in Dupont Circle. Jonah snoozed a bit on the way home. Clearly, he likes the new ride. We picked up some yummy olive bread and tapenade to take with us to our friends' house, where we gathered this afternoon with several other young families to celebrate Mother's Day. It was great. We chatted with our friends about our kids, our work, politics and ate some yummy food. Jonah and another baby were the youngest kids, at four months old, and the oldest was 2 1/2. At around 6, Jonah started getting squawky. When he gets tired, he sometimes gets a burst of energy and starts squeeking and yelling. He's not crying, but he's vocalizing and it's very cute and he seems quite delighted with himself. Around 6:30, we knew it was time to head home. I sat in back with Jonah since there was a very real possibility he'd have a meltdown if we missed his sleepytime "window" and he got overtired, but he was quite cute and smiley in the car, even giggling at me now and then.

Sometimes, I still can't believe I'm a mother. Of course, I can't help but think about my own mother today. I remember quite vividly the last Mother's Day I spent with her. She was sick and my sister was living far away from all of us. My sister and I hatched a plan for all of us to be together and surprise my parents with Dani's arrival. I have a photo from that day, not of my mother, but of me and Dani curled up together on my parents' couch. It was a nice Mother's Day. Ever since then, Dani and I have made a point to wish each other a Happy Mother's Day in some way, as a way of remembering Mom. But, this year, for me, it was different. It was better. Mother's Day took on a new happiness for me. This morning, when Matthew and I were getting Jonah ready in the stroller in front of our house, a small group of people walked by. A young woman looked at Matthew and Jonah on the sidewalk, and then up at me on the top of the steps. "Happy Mother's Day," she said, looking right at me. "Thanks!" I yelled. I thought that was very nice. Very cool. We called Matthew's mom during our walk. "Happy Mother's Day," I told her. "Happy Mother's Day to you, too," she said, adding, "Don't you just love hearing that?" Indeed, I do. Of course, I talked to my dad today. He wished me Happy Mother's Day and said, "It's nice to say that." I knew what he meant. It's nice to say that again. And, I said, "It's nice to hear it."

To all the mothers, past, present and future: Happy Mother's Day! ~ Nicole

Friday, May 2, 2008

More today than yesterday

Not in a million years would I have imagined myself doing the following: Baking oatmeal cookies while singing and dancing along to "Reggae Playground" on the Putamayo Kids CD for the entertainment of Jonah, who smiles and giggles at me from his Baby Einstein Exersaucer, his favorite new toy, as I await the arrival of my playgroup of moms from my birthing class and their babies, all right around Jonah's age. I guess I had a burst of energy after taking three naps yesterday (while Jonah napped) in a desperate attempt to catch up on some sleep. Here are the cookies to prove it. Full disclosure: Cookies not from scratch.


The phone rings as I am changing Jonah's very poopy diaper . . . for the second time in five minutes. It's Matthew.
"Chip called and he and Gina were wondering if we wanted to meet them for dinner at Mixtec."
"Hmm." I pause. I want to go, but I also want to keep Jonah on track with his bedtime routine. "I don't think we should. It sounds fun and I'd like to, but I want to give this bedtime thing a little more time to work. Maybe we can try going out next week."
"OK," Matthew says, and we hang up.
Suddenly, I have visions of yummy chicken salad with avocado and delicious cilantro dressing. I look outside. It's still very warm and very sunny and people are strolling the sidewalks. I look at my now freshly-diapered baby, smiling up at me, cheerful as ever despite having no real afternoon nap. Chip and Gina have a 16-month-old daughter, Eloisa, and will totally understand if Jonah is cranky or we have to bail mid-dinner.
I pick up the phone.
"I changed my mind," I tell Matthew. "If we can't go out with our friends who have a kid, who can we go out with?"
"Excellent point," he says.
I look at Jonah. "Yaaaayyyy!" I say to him. He beams at me.


Nursing Jonah to sleep. In his blue footless jammies, he is curled in my lap. The fan hums. In the glow of the night light, we rock. He kicks one leg up and down like he is kickstarting a motorcycle. "Kicky leg," I whisper. "Shhhh." Gradually, his movements slow. His hand drifts slowly up and down, up and down, sometimes grasping my shirt, other times his fingers lightly brushing me as he nurses. His eyes are still open but he is in another world, relaxing, getting sleepy. After a time, he drifts off to sleep, no longer nursing, but his mouth still makes a soft sucking motion in his sleep. He is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. He squeaks and I think he will wake up, but he sighs and sleeps. I can't believe that I could ever love him more than I do right now. But, I remember thinking that just yesterday, or maybe earlier today, and right now, I do indeed love him even more than that. ~ Nicole