Where to Begin

I'm ashamed that I have recently let this documentary of Merrill's first year go by without photos and stories. With each day that passes, I realize I'm yet another day behind in keeping up with how quickly she's changing...and that I'm not doing her justice by postponing it simply because it's overwhelming to try to catch up.

Every day, I intend to dedicate time to this. Every day, I decide I'd rather play in the floor for ten more minutes, dance to one more song, take a walk that's longer than I'd planned for, and the laptop never quite makes its way to my lap.

I'll get there. In the meantime, at the very least, I can post a photo.


Four Months & Counting

So. Merrill is four months old. Four months old and then some, to be precise.


I'm not sure how this happened. I look at her and I have moments where I still see her wearing two t-shirts and a tiny cap, wrapped in two blankets to keep her wee little four pound body warm. I also have moments where I see her stretched out in front of me, all 24 and a half inches of her, all fourteen pounds, and I am so proud and so enamored with who she's becoming.

She has three different octopus toys, and she is obsessed with each of them. Each of them evoke the biggest grins, the loudest squeals, and the most hysterical facial expressions. She hates to take naps during the day, but she is the most amazing nighttime baby. She makes tiny contented noises as she takes her bottle, and she wraps her hands tightly around our fingers as she drinks it. She loves her changing table, and to be naked is pure bliss. Bathtime is calm time, as she stares up at us with a look of sheer content.

There is nothing greater than the sweet smile she gives as she sees our faces peek over the edge of her crib in the morning, and when she is still half asleep and tucks her face into our shoulders for a quick snuggle, it's enough to make our hearts melt. She will turn towards any television showing a football game, and stare wide-eyed at what she sees.

She is beginning to roll around, and we have a tiny glimpse of what life will be like once she becomes mobile. She will not take a pacifier except in the most dire circumstances, and only occasionally we will catch her finding her thumb to nibble on. Her hair sticks straight up after she has a bath, her eyelashes are long, and her lips are still the same pouty ones she had when she entered our lives and changed them forever.

She is my baby, my heart, my world. She is everything I ever wanted, and all of the things I never knew I could have. She is a surprise every day, something new to behold, and each morning when I wake up to her, I know she is the reason I was put on this earth. I miss her when she's asleep, and I yearn for the moment she wakes up again so I can be with her again. I tell her everything, and she has quickly become my most trusted confidante.

She's it. She's all of it.


When You Assume

When I was in high school, I had a boss that used to say "When you assume, you make an ass of you and me" - and I'm reminded of that now as I realize how inaccurate all of my assumptions regarding parenthood really were.

I never thought I'd want to move to the suburbs. I love our trendy neighborhood with our eclectic house and couldn't fathom leaving it to have a typical home in a typical subdivision behind the typical shopping center. Now we find ourselves beginning the process of finding a new home and putting ours on the market. Somewhere along the way over the past four months, we've determined that it's more important to be near a Target, new schools and child friendly chain restaurants. My family lives in a suburb north of where we are now, and it makes more sense to be near them..Merrill's pediatrician is in the same suburb, etc., and so the logic goes.

I always thought having a child meant some changes in your world, but that as a whole you simply had a third person in your midst as you went about your normal routines. Shopping trips would only mean the addition of a stroller, dinner reservations would be for three instead of two, and travel would simply require a second suitcase. Oh, if I only knew how wrong that theory would prove. Even the most mundane tasks such as personal hygiene, cooking, and cleaning become small feats to achieve.

The world I created in my head while I was pregnant included a marriage that would only be enhanced and strengthened once this sweet little baby entered into it. While it is empowering to look at your partner and know you've joined together to create a life, and that you're working together to shape a person's identity, it's also terrifying and paralyzing at times. I've felt more fear than I thought possible in respect to how our relationship may suffer as a result of putting our needs on the back burner and having our bond become an afterthought at times. There is far less time for "we". The conversations revolve around her needs and milestones and the interaction becomes a series of tag-team events. Fatigued bodies and fried minds lead to little in the way of quality communication and affection. It's easy to forget that our love for each other is what got us here in the first place - and it's all too important that we maintain what we have. From the time we began dating, we never really had to work at anything - the relationship flowed smoothly, and falling in love was easy. Things progressed at a comfortable pace, and conflicts simply didn't exist. The realization that we are now in a place of needing to stick together and work at maintaining our bond is unsettling at times.

There are also things I assumed I'd feel that are inaccurate only in the sense that I didn't fathom how deeply they'd go. I knew I'd feel protective towards this baby, and I knew I'd do everything in my power to ensure her safety and happiness. I didn't anticipate how fierce and raw the emotions would be. I never saw it coming...never predicted the intensity of my feelings for her and never prepared myself to be stripped down to the bare bones.

The past four months have been a roller coaster of emotional and physical upheaval...and it's been the most amazing, unreal, and magical ride of my life.


An Open Letter

Since I've had Merrill, I've been incredibly humbled on a multitude of levels. I've been put in my place more times than I can count, have seen the error of my ways, and have learned - perhaps too well - how to say I'm sorry.

I apologize to any mother I ever judged. I never understood how difficult it is to get yourself and a newborn together and out the door without looking as though you've been dragged behind the back of a car for several miles. I could never quite comprehend why it was so hard to get dressed in something other than sweats and a tank top, or why a ponytail is the hairstyle of choice. Now I do. I do.

I'm sorry that since I became a mother, I'm not a very good friend. Girls, I love you - and I want to call/email/visit more than you know - but when Mer takes a nap, it's all I can do to keep myself from exploding as I try to brush my teeth, shower, eat, do laundry, pay bills, download pictures, clean the house, make a grocery list, etc...all before she wakes up again. I'm sorry that more often than not, keeping up with my friends falls to the bottom of that list.

I give a very intense apology to my body - the one that I always took for granted before I got pregnant, and the one that will never be the same again. I took advantage of you, and I'm sorry. You received the brunt of the brutality associated with pregnancy, from the sickness to the aches and pains - and you certainly lost the war of delivery. Since then, I haven't treated you very well - what with my poor diet and lack of exercise (apparently walking the halls with a cranky baby doesn't count as exercise, and cheese doesn't count as a balanced meal) but I assure you, I appreciate you, I miss you, and I vow to get you back again.

Honey, you deserve the most apologetic words of all - and you know it, even if you won't admit it - which is just one more reason you deserve it. You've been the most amazing husband and now you're an amazing father - and I probably don't tell you enough. I'm sorry for the days I act like a martyr, and I'm sorry that there are days I make you feel like a second-rate player in this show. I know I am over the top at times, and a complete hot mess at others, and even though I know I won't ever be perfect, I'm glad you're ok with that.

Lastly, and most importantly....I'm sorry, Merrill. I'm sorry that I've had moments where I've had hot tears falling on your sweet head as I try to rock you to sleep. I'm sorry we couldn't make breastfeeding work. I'm sorry you had such uncomfortable tummy issues early on, and I'm sorry I waited so long before trusting my instincts and switching you to soy formula to make them go away. I'm sorry I have been so tired at times that I don't make any sense. I'm sorry that as much as I wish I could be perfect, I have fallen short on many occasions. I want to be your everything, and I want to give you the best there possibly is...and while it may not always be enough, I hope you'll always understand how much I love you. How very, very much I love you.


The Long and the Short of It

What's been going on around here lately, the short version:

  • Fell into the tub trying to hang towels on the towel rack. Cursed.
  • Packed maternity clothes, pump parts, and baby clothes that no longer fit the chunk. Cried.
  • Booked too many plans for the month. Collapsed.
  • Played with Merrill. Smiled.
And now, if you have any interest in being bored out of your mind....

What's been going on around here lately, the long version:

  • I love our shower. It was one of the things about our house that I loved most when we bought it, and one of the things we get the most compliments on. It's an enormous shower/tub combo, built into a raised section of our bathroom with tile surrounding it. It has an oversized overhead rain faucet. It's glorious. That being said, as much as I love it for the shower, I hate it for the tub. The huge shower I love so much translates into a tub I can't take a bubble bath in, because I can't touch the foot of it with my toes...so I slide. Since it's built into the raised section, it sits so low that you have to lean down into it...meaning it's a bitch to clean. Now I have one more reason to despise it...it's impossible to bathe a baby in. Not a good thing when you're trying to wrangle a slippery wiggly infant. Also not a good thing when you're leaning over the step, trying to hang towels on the towel rack...balance lost, momentum gained.

  • I decided to pack up my maternity clothes and the various items from my pregnancy, such as vitamins, books, stretch mark creams, etc...as well as the clothes that don't fit Merrill any more (a shockingly large amount) and the breast pump & parts since that is no longer a part of our routine. It hit me with enormous force that I am no longer pregnant, that I have a three month old, and that she is a formula fed baby. I'm still trying to write about my feelings concerning breastfeeding and our experience with it, and I haven't been able to find the right words. For now, let's just say it still gets me. Packing up these items and putting them in the attic served as a glaring reminder that time is flying past me in leaps and bounds, and I'm simply standing with my mouth hanging open, watching it rush past me. Every time I look at Merrill's sweet face, and realize that she's not a tiny newborn any more - and beyond that, no longer being carried in my womb - I am amazed at how much the past three months have changed our lives, and I can't even remember life without her.

  • We've been going nonstop lately, what with a family vacation, my mother-in-law visiting for a week, my husband's best friend from college surprising him with a weekend visit, a trip to Mississippi to visit my grandparents, my nephew's birthday party, one of my best friends from high school coming to town....the list goes on and on. I've overextended us physically and mentally, and Merrill has been a trooper...but it's time for us to slow down and relax.

  • There's not a long version of this one. The short one speaks volumes.


What to Expect When You're Expecting

While I was pregnant, I read a lot about birth plans and how very important it was to know what you had in mind for your labor and delivery. Every book I opened and every website I visited made me feel that if I didn't have a plan going in, I. Was. A. Failure. It baffled me. All I could come up with was that I had no control over the situation, nature would pretty much determine the course of events for me, and aside from knowing that drugs would most DEFINITELY be a part of it, I didn't have any sort of notions as to how it would or should go.

As it turned out, I was right. Developing HELLP syndrome at 35 weeks and delivering via emergency c-section pretty much took any preferences I may have had regarding childbirth and threw them out the window. It was wholly unexpected and entirely out of my hands...and while not what I envisioned, I couldn't be happier with my experience.

I've heard of women who get truly upset when birth doesn't go the way they wanted - a c-section when a natural birth was desired, an epidural that doesn't take place due to time constraints, etc. I've had people ask me how I feel about Merrill's birth, whether I'm upset that I didn't get to experience labor and a natural delivery....and I don't know how to answer what seems like a fully loaded question. I didn't have a single contraction, never went into labor, and never got to push. These are all things that in theory, I'd like to experience at some point in my life. However, our experience resulted in a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby - so why shouldn't that be the ideal scenario?

I think I spent the entire pregnancy thinking about the end result - but I never really thought about how we'd get there, so for me that wasn't really the point. The point was that no matter how our baby was brought into the world, it was the right way as long as everything turned out okay. And unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt, it did.



Merrill's two month checkup was yesterday - we'll avoid discussing the trauma of her shots, since the entire family would prefer to forget the tears shed.

She is 11 lbs. 8 ozs and 21 inches long - which seems enormous to me - until a friend reminded me that some newborns are that big. Regardless, it's amazing to look at this baby and remember how tiny she was when she was born.

She can almost hold her head up by herself, and she loves to sit and look out the window. She's mesmerized by birds, smiles whenever she hears her dad's voice, and pouts when she's not being held. She makes sweet little cooing sounds whenever she hears certain songs, and she squeaks herself to sleep at night. There are a million other little tiny things she's doing, and I'm desperate to remember them all - because it's all happening so fast.

I rarely get things done during the day, and that's ok. I'm tired, and that's ok too. I desperately need a haircut, I hardly wear makeup anymore, and I live in comfy clothes...but it's all ok.

Because of her.