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.


Beach Bound, Baby!

We are leaving for the beach tomorrow, and in all my life I've never experienced anything as trying as attempting to pack for myself (only 4 lbs. away from my pre-pregnancy weight but oh my LANDS, why do my pre-pregnancy clothes still not fit??), my husband (he'd wear the same shorts all week if I let him but yet he's strangely particular about what gets put into the suitcase for him), and an infant - an infant that weighs less than 10 lbs. and still somehow manages to require quadruple her body weight in clothes, diapers, wipes, formula, blankets, burp cloths and equipment that we will probably never even need.

It wasn't the packing itself that made me crazy...it was the packing while having Mer strapped to me in her sling - since she refuses to be separated from me if we are in the same place at the same time. It's an excellent reminder of what it was like to carry all that extra weight around, and an excellent refresher course on back pain - but to be able to simply lower my head and smell her sweetness, while kissing the top of her head....yeah. It works.

I imagine the week will consist merely of slapping a clean diaper on her when needed, feeding her when she gets righteously pissed off, and snuggling three deep in the bed instead of having her sleep next to us in the bassinette. Oh, and outfits - lots of outfits - since the child has a wardrobe larger than mine and is rapidly growing out of her clothes. I'm thinking wardrobe changes three times daily should do the trick.


Little Sunshine

When I read this, I silently handed the laptop to my husband with the "you have to see this" look on my face he has learned to interpret as such. It is such a succinct and true account of what it's been like to adapt to life with a newborn.

We spent the weekend in Indiana with my husband's family, where Mer Mer got to meet her great-grandpa for the first time and where we enjoyed time spent in the hot tub, glasses of wine for me and beers for him...while family members took turns passing Mer around like a football. Now that we're home, she's very loudly insistent that she be held constantly, in keeping with the past few days - which makes things like laundry, lunch, and a shower near impossible.

With this cuteness as your playmate, who needs food or cleanliness?


The Rainbow Connection

As much as I'd like to skip down the path of "motherhood is perfect" and letting myself live in a world of unicorns made of cotton candy and magical golden kittens, I do have to address the other side. Because although life with this baby is in fact amazing and soul-fortifying to the point of ridiculousness, there are times and pieces that are scary and painful and emotionally exhausting. It's scary to admit them to myself, much less the handful of people that may actually read this - but it's also scary to pretend they don't exist, and it's impossible to float through a trying day without accepting that things aren't always perfect.

I try to remain confident in my decisions regarding the care of Merrill - I try to trust my gut and attempt to feel good about how well I'm handling things - but I occasionally become paralyzed with fear that I'm doing something wrong. There are going to be people who judge me and disagree with me and it will take a thick skin to handle the criticism - much thicker skin than I find myself possessing so far. There is something so devastating about hearing someone tell you that you aren't doing a good enough job, and the feeling of being so utterly deflated while having to force yourself to cope is overwhelming.

I am extraordinarily blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with Merrill as long as I want - at least, that's the situation as it currently stands. We are in a position that allows us to maintain things financially, even without the boost a second income would certainly provide. Until I've made the decision regarding whether or not I'd like to be a stay at home mom indefinitely, I'm able to spend time with my adorable daughter and enjoy every minute of her. I am lucky, and I get it. I'm also envious of my husband for being able to go to work every day, to spend time doing something that requires mental stimulation, to have conversations with people, etc. I feel myself rapidly slipping into a neat little category, where I'm losing my edge and becoming far less multi-dimensional.

I experience guilt on a level I never knew existed - knowing I can't be perfect but beating myself up for it even as I know I shouldn't. I find myself constantly working on acceptance of self, taking things far too outside of my control and attempting to control them anyway. I question whether I'm good enough for her, whether I'm truly doing everything I can, whether it's enough.

Having a baby is empowering and scary and has stripped me down to the bare bones. It has made me stronger, allowing me to keep going long after I think I can't....and it has made me weaker, causing me to feel fear and worry on a level I didn't know existed. It's a constant test that provides constant rewards, and it's an ongoing challenge that provides ongoing bliss. It is not always perfect, and it's not always magical - but at the end of the day, every single dark part is so completely lit by the joy she brings...making it all worthwhile.


Be Careful What You Wish For

Today is my 31st birthday, and Merrill gave me poop. Literally. At 5am, as I opened her diaper to change her, she chose that exact moment to let it fly. It got on me, on her, on the changing table, the walls, the bed, and the floor.

And I couldn't have cared less.


This Little Piggy

It's hard for me to find the place where the paranoia of being a new mother ends and the trusting of your gut instincts begins. As much as I don't want to be "that" mother, the one that panics over every little thing and ends up staring wild-eyed at the computer screen with google results so terrifying I want to throw the computer out in the yard for the dogs to use as a chew toy, I also don't want to be the kind of mother that would ever ignore a potentially bad situation until it is too late.

I decided to take Merrill to the doctor to get peace of mind about the drama surrounding the lack of poopy diapers and the increase in her discomfort. My main question was concerning the type of formula she's on, and whether that's the best choice for her. There is nothing greater than hearing a trusted professional tell you that everything is ok and this too shall pass - no pun intended.

In non-bowel related news, this piglet weighs 8 lbs. 6 ozs. - an increase that caused the nurse to weigh her three times and the doctor to do a double take when he saw her chart. Maybe it's the extra calories from her Karo syrup-laden bottles.