December 24, 2012

Wren's Birth Story

At this time last year I was snuggling a sweet little newborn - fresh from heaven. As Wren has turned one now, I suppose it is as good a time as any to share her birth story.

It was such a special experience for us as a family. We decided to have a home birth for a number of reasons - the biggest of which being that while Ellie's birth experience was powerful, it also felt a lot like a battle. Having an unmedicated birth in the hospital system was difficult and I was constantly having to fight hospital protocol and the doctor's preferences in order to have the birth I knew was right for me and my baby. With the second baby I had more confidence in my ability to birth and stronger feelings about being allowed to labor and deliver in whatever way was most comfortable. I felt strongly that approaching my birth in this way would bring about the best results for myself and my child. So we went with a home birth midwife the second time around and it was the best choice we could have made! Finally I had a care provider who trusted me and my body, who was personally invested in us and took the time to develop a real relationship with my family. She trusted my ability to bring forth my baby, and she was trained to be the guardian over that process - to be there in case anything went wrong. Our prenatal visits were all at home and each time she came I felt calm, healthy, and reassured about my ability to bring our baby into the world.

Ellie was born six days past her EDD, so while I had a lot of anxiety in the week before Wren's birth (feeling that every day could be THE day), by the time December 21st came and went I was done with the mental battle and feeling more patient - ready to wait for her however long it might take. I assumed she'd be a few days over, just like her sister. On December 22nd I took Ellie to our favorite spot in Ft. Tryon Park and watched her run and play in the sunshine on a surprisingly warm day for that time of year. I was feeling very nostalgic, knowing that it could possibly be the last time she and I would be together as just she and I. Knowing that our world would change in the coming days. We walked home for nap time and I had an appointment with Cara, the midwife, that afternoon.

I had been having a lot of warm-up contractions during Wren's pregnancy - something I didn't experience at all the first time around. While Cara was attempting to measure my stomach, I had another one. They were pretty frequent (especially with all the walking I did, and running after Ellie) but not at all painful and I had started not to notice them as much anymore. The midwife left around 4:30 and my friend Leslie came over. At some point during my time chatting with Leslie, I became aware that these warm-up contractions were coming more frequently. I mentally took note of it, but somehow didn't think it was a possibility that I was in labor until I found myself having a hard time paying attention to what Leslie was saying during these waves. I would be conversing with her and would just stop to blow out a little air and say, "wow, these are starting to feel real." I suppose it was around 5:40pm when I turned to her and said, "I think I could be in labor."

Well, Leslie immediately freaked out. Not in a bad way. She was just so excited to be in the room with a woman going into labor. She started saying, "What should I do? Do you want me to go home? Should I stay?" I laughed and told her to stick around until Joe got home. Knowing he was on the subway, I didn't want to be left alone with Ellie. You never know how quickly labor can change, after all. And I thought it would be fun to pass the time with such a good friend. So I called Joe as he was just getting off the train, told him I was in labor and that he should skip the errands he was planning on running in our neighborhood. He arrived home right at 6pm and Leslie took off, promising to return my library book and wishing me luck with the delivery.

At 6:15 I called Cara (who had just arrived home to the lower east side) and she was surprised to be hearing from me so soon after seeing me. I told her it wasn't intense yet, but that I was definitely in early labor. She said to keep her updated. I called my friend Bea as well, who was going to be present as the doula. She had just arrived at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and was a bit worried about how to see the Christmas train show and still arrive in time for the birth.

Knowing that I was in early labor, I thought that we'd have time to make dinner and get Ellie in bed before things really kicked into gear. I had flexibly planned that she would be in our apartment when Wren was born and since this was an evening labor, I thought she could sleep in her bed and wake up to a new baby sister in the morning. However, true to my baby birthing history, things picked up rather quickly and I found myself completely bothered by her presence. She could tell something was up and was pretty clingy. I remember leaning over the dresser to breathe through a contraction and Ellie wrapping herself around my leg. "This is not going to work," I told Joe. So he called our friend Iris to come get her.

The moment that Iris left with my firstborn, labor with the second child kicked into a higher gear. It was only 6:45, but I was already calling Cara back to check in again. I wasn't overwhelmed by pain and felt strangely calm (very different from Ellie's labor), but the contractions were easily 3-4 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds to a minute. Cara listened on the other end of the phone while I had a couple contractions. While I wasn't yet vocalizing through them, she said she would start to make her way toward us. I felt reassured and while Joe readied the birthing pool in the living room, I headed to the bathroom to take a soak in the tub.

There were candles burning and it was such a nice familiar atmosphere. There were many sleepless nights when I was pregnant with Wren that I would escape to that nice deep bathtub to relax. The warm water calmed my nerves and I felt a lot of peace focusing on the candlelight and breathing deeply. Joe started up the I-tunes "birth mix" - a collection of soft music that we had fallen asleep to for a couple months leading up to the birth. Everything was so familiar, so quiet and so calm that I felt very much relaxed and free of fear. Joe came into the bathroom occasionally to check on me and he gave me a priesthood blessing. (mormon speak for a prayer offered while hands are placed on a person's head) It was soothing and I felt full of strength and confidence, ready for the work that lay ahead.

I decided I didn't want to be in the tub when Bea and Cara arrived (also I was worried about slowing the labor down by getting into the water so early) so I got out and tried to labor a bit in the girls' bedroom. It was at this point that I felt worried that the midwife had not yet arrived. Joe called her again and she said she was right outside our apartment, just finding a parking space. I instantly felt relieved knowing how close she was and continued pacing around the room, stopping to lean against something when a contraction came along. It was probably around 7:30 when Cara came into the room, sitting down in a chair near to where I was standing. She watched me have a contraction and then gently asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing well, feeling excited and maybe a little nervous that I had called her too soon. It was a strange position to be in because I was aware of how close the contractions were, but I didn't have the fear or urgency I experienced during Ellie's birth. In fact, between waves I could come completely out of the birthing head space and talk just like normal. I was lighthearted and felt that maybe this meant delivery was not as close as I had once thought. Cara reassured me that labor with the second child is very different from that with the first and that many women find it easier to relax and joke around between contractions with their second child.

At the tail end of one of the contractions I remember saying, "Bea had better hurry up if she wants to see a baby born tonight." She arrived around 8pm and Cara went to move her car (I guess she had been parked in a loading zone or something). I tried to labor in a couple different positions in the girls' room, but found that I really just wanted to get back in the bathtub. So Bea and Joe helped me in and I got right back into my most comfortable pattern.

Between contractions I looked like this:

And during contractions I looked like this:

And so it went for about an hour, I guess. At some point while I was in the tub I started to move into transition. The birth experience becomes a lot less detailed here for me. I don't remember times or benchmarks. I do remember catching occasional lyrics drifting in from the living room:

Don't hang on. Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

All I can do is keep breathing

I remember it being very quiet. Not only were the people attending me at this time quiet and peaceful, but I myself was very much focused inward. I didn't feel the need to communicate the pain to everyone the way I did when Ellie was born. I just went deeper and deeper within myself. At some point while Cara was gone I was surprised to feel a real downward motion. At the end of a pretty intense contraction I almost felt like pushing. This was surprising to me and I remember thinking, "I don't feel like dying yet, so it can't possibly be time for the baby to come." Cara came back and Bea told her what I had said about feeling an urge to push. Cara was skeptical that I could really be so close, but after watching and listening through another contraction I heard her say to Joe and Bea, "Yeah, she is close." Then there was some movement as she left the bathroom and returned with her instruments in order to be ready for delivery.

I didn't say anything to anyone during this time. I just stayed deep within my own thoughts and relaxed as much as I could. I welcomed the contractions and saw each one as progress. And I continually rehearsed in my mind the birthing affirmations I had written for myself a few days before. Bea was pouring warm water down my back and snapping the occasional photo. I remember thinking that I might try moving to the birthing tub, but decided to just stay put. There was a series of of four or five intense contractions and I thought to myself, "I don't know if I can do this much longer." (I was making a fair amount of noise during those last waves) Somehow I thought I might still have hours to go and worried that I would lose my composure if I had to endure many more contractions at that level of intensity.

It's at this point that I came out of my trance and looked Cara in the eyes. "I don't want to be here anymore," I said/whined.  "I don't know where I want to be, just not here." She looked back at me and said calmly and casually, "Well, stand up and see where you want to go." I stood up and immediately my water broke. I had a split second to register the surprise when suddenly I was pushing. Joe had been helping me up out of the tub and now I reached around his neck and hung my body weight against him as I pushed with the contraction. I was shocked that it was already time to push this baby out. I couldn't believe how quickly it was happening. It was 9:14 at this point. During the contractions I would literally hang from Joe (poor man had quite a back ache from it) and push as my feet came off the bottom of the tub.

I should mention at this point that I was making a lot of noise during contractions. But I wasn't worried about it. I guess I was conscious about how much I was yelling in Joe's ear, but with each yell I felt like I was expressing the power that it takes to get this baby out.

I asked Bea to keep pouring water down my back as it helped relieve the burning sensation. Suddenly after one contraction the burning wasn't nearly as bad. "Oh no," I said, "she went back in didn't she?" Cara and Bea both sounded surprised by my statement. No, they said. She hadn't gone back in. Her head was out. This was hard for me to comprehend, because with Ellie her whole self came out after 45 min of pushing. I cried a little bit and said, "You mean I still have to push out her body?" The women were very reassuring, however and said that with the next contraction it would be easy to push out her body. I could vaguely feel her head between my thighs and it was a strange sensation indeed. The next contraction came and out came Wren! 

I sat back down in the tub and was handed the slimiest, slipperiest little bundle. It was over. It had only taken three contractions. Six minutes from the time my water broke until she was born. I was ecstatic.
I don't remember what I noticed first about her - her giant cheeks or head full of hair. She was beautiful and I was so very happy to meet her. I felt so proud of myself and excited to share my sweet little one with the loving people crowded into that tiny bathroom in NYC.
I was hesitant to deliver the placenta, but was losing a fair amount of blood so after trying to convince me a number of times, Cara pretty much forced me to deliver it and get to bed where she could assess my condition. I came close to losing consciousness on the way to bed, but came right back when my head hit the pillow. Then Wren was brought to me (Joe had been taking care of her in the other room while I rinsed off and got into bed) and we spent the next long while bonding as a family. I nursed her, cuddled her and looked in disbelief at the perfect baby who had been born within the walls of our own home. Cara gave me a stitch or two, did the newborn exam and cleaned up her supplies while Bea cooked us dinner.

I had called the midwife at 6:15 in the evening, delivered a baby at 9:20 and by 10:45 the three of us were tucked into bed - fed and happily resting as Bea and Cara slipped out the front door. It was absolutely everything I could have hoped for. The childbirth of my dreams. And I am so glad that we thought to ask questions, to pray and ponder and make a decision that felt right for our family. After having this home birth experience I could never imagine going back to the hospital, unless there was a medical necessity. Joe and I both feel that this was a transforming experience for our family and we are so very happy with the way it turned out.
Joe and I are always happy to discuss our home birth experience, so if you've got any questions, leave them in the comments or ask me in person. I'd be glad to tell you more. Thanks for reading, friends. And the happiest of birthdays to my sweet little Wren. Photos of her one year old shin-dig as well as Christmas goings on to post here soon!

Can you tell December is a little busy for us?

December 18, 2012

Ellie turns 3

Oh my sweet girl - you are three years old now! It hasn't come as much of a surprise, you've seemed closer to three than two for most of the year. Older, more verbal, more mature than many people would expect a two year old to be. Three definitely fits you. But it's difficult for me to reconcile the girl you are today with the tiny baby who turned me into a mother just three short years ago.

Time is a tricky thing. Perhaps it's not as linear as we think. In some ways it feels I have been your mother forever. And yet the years move by quickly and you grow and change at an astounding rate. You are precocious - intelligent and witty and definitely headstrong. You have a caring heart and are quick to notice when someone's feelings are hurt. I often find myself lost in your deep brown eyes, so full of wonder and curiosity. Your eyes go on forever and I don't know if you realize the power of your stare. There are times I can see into your heart and sense that you are searching mine with your pure, unfaltering gaze.

We have our power struggles to be sure. You love to make messes and find yourself conveniently tired when it's time to clean up. You have a bit of a television addiction. I'll take the blame for this one, but not too much blame. I doubt it will hurt your long term development. In fact, I don't know that you'd be using the word "hypothesis" had you not spent so much time with your best friend, PBS. You sneak out of bed constantly to ask for a better hug and kiss, to insist that you must go to the bathroom - we know you are playing tricks on us. And you know that we are desperate to get you to lay there quietly without waking your sister.

Ellie, you are simply all of the best things in the world walking around in one tiny body. You are happiness and enthusiasm and unadulterated joy. I marvel at you, shake my head at you, try my best to love you and teach you. I hope you will read this one day and know how very much I loved your two year old self and how my love for you continues to grow just as quickly as you do.

P.S. I'm not the only one who loves you, by the way. Today I spied your dad coming home with you from the Science Center. He was wearing your tiara and carried you on his shoulders all the way up the stairs. That man will do anything to see you smile.

And for history's sake, here are some photos of the birthday celebration:

We brought cupcakes to Ellie's preschool.
Talk about a proud parent moment.
Is there anything cuter than preschoolers covered in icing?
Joe and Wren snuggling just might compare.

This year Ellie's birthday theme was PINK. She wanted a pink cake with pink candles so we just went for it. She helped me make the pale pink frosting, then she wore her outrageously pink sequined pants and Joe and I hung pink streamers in the dining room the night before. It was a lot of pink for my taste, but I think she really liked it.
We even had a virtual birthday party with Ellie's BFF June-bug and Bea and Olive.
That's why she's sitting on the dining room table in the middle of the living room.
Happily our first ever cyber party was a smashing success!
Reading a card from Great-Grandma.
Ellie treasures the cards people send her and has been known to take them to preschool.
She usually shows the card to her teacher and then stows it safely in her cubby during class.
Also, Grandma Hardie, I hope you notice the socks you sent.
She insisted on wearing them right way and changed into all three pairs throughout the day!
She is stunned into silence as she realizes she is the owner of her very own train set!
Happy Birthday to my darling three year old girl.
Just for fun, take a look at how much she has grown.

December 6, 2012

A little reaction...

Looks like someone is allergic to amoxicillin.
That would have been good to know before we used it to treat her ear infection.
And yes, it is head to toe. Poor baby.
Ellie is really curious as to how her sister became "polka dotted."
Even the spots won't keep her down, though. Wren is a girl on the move.
Six independent steps and counting...
I think we've got ourselves a walker!
For my next post - another bit on medication, but no hives in that story.

November 7, 2012

Hope for my Daughters

She dressed in red, white and blue, brought appropriate reading materials, and charmed the woman at the front of the line with her rendition of the word indivisible.  We felt like civic-minded parents - taking our daughters along to vote.  We marveled at the thought that last time we voted for president we had no children at all!

And all day I've been thinking of things I want to teach them - hopes I have for them, specifically when it comes to this whole election process.  I'm writing it here, in part so that I can work on practicing now what I plan to preach to them in coming years.

Advice for my (hopefully) civic-minded daughters:

- Realize that you will learn much more by listening to someone who thinks differently than you will by hearing your own opinions endlessly re-iterated.
- Seek to understand more than you seek to be right.
- In fact, leave being right out of the equation completely, my dears.  It's a tempting, but damaging approach to life.
- Have the confidence to express your own ideas, the humility to say "I don't know" and the courage to change your mind.
- Make the world a better place.  Applaud and appreciate the efforts of all those who seek to do the same - even if their approach is vastly different from what you would choose.
- Respect all of the various viewpoints out there.  They may not be important to you, but they are important to someone.  (This goes for your politically apathetic friends as well.  Believe me, you will at times need respite from the deluge of opinions)
- Don't you ever demean or belittle anyone!  Public figure or personal acquaintance, it makes no difference.  People are people and Mom won't stand for bullying in any form.  Be kind my sweet girls; always be kind.
- Be aware of the limitations of each option.  There is no magic bullet, no perfect person, no secret recipe. 
- Foster a belief in the innate goodness of your fellow man.  Feed your optimism for the future - it's the only way we can continue on.
- I would prefer if you didn't automatically vote straight party line every time, but if that's your choice I will take my own advice and respect your decision.
- Listen, listen, listen.  More than you talk.  (It's hard and I'm terrible at it, but I think it makes for quality minds)
- Give people the benefit of the doubt and return love for hurt and criticism.  This may be the only way you have friends left at the end of a campaign.
- When you find something you believe in, tuck it close within your heart and live as true to it as you possibly can.  Just don't let it get in the way of practicing the principles listed above.
- Don't spit into the wind or eat yellow snow.  Do wear your seat belt.  Everything else will work itself out.

I am grateful to my friends who have shown an ability to express their own views articulately and sincerely.  I am grateful for people who are fair-minded and understanding and able to consider a different approach.  I appreciate the quiet voters and the people who love family and friends more than political affiliation.  I am grateful for my own liberties.  And I am grateful for the bright future I hope to help build for my children.

P.S. I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my candidacy for President in 2016.  I'll be heading up the party of Hearts, Unicorns and Warm Fluffy Feelings.

November 6, 2012

All We Need is Love - a gushing note that makes little sense

I drive away from my counseling appointment one morning, feeling so refreshed and excited about new discoveries I've been making.  Michael Jackson sings "Pretty Young Thing" on the radio and I crank it up, dancing as I head out of town.

I pass a pierced young woman with pink hair embracing her tattooed love on the sidewalk.

A few blocks later a lone elderly man in glasses quietly holds a sign. "Pray for the end of abortion" His eyes steadfast and full of loving concern.  In a community where his prayer is none too popular.

I think of the people who work in the clinic across the street from where he is standing - imagining the love and compassion with which they greet those who pass through the door.

Light streams down from the clouds, yellow leaves roll off the windshield and I think to myself:

There are so many ways to love in the world

These days I see love in those around me.  And it feels right to search for this.  The actions of others might look very different from the way I show my love - but I do not feel threatened by that.  In fact, I raise my face to the sky and say, "Thank you God.  Thank you for showing me love in a way that is different from my own"

I went on a little love-trip in my mind (in the absence of any recreational drugs, this was surprising for me, too) as I marveled at the different ways of being and how there is love in all of them.  I am grateful for diversity and curiosity and questions and the wonder these things bring to my life.

Speaking of leaves and love and life experience,
I forced my girls into a pile of leaves because I deemed it a necessary photo op of a happy childhood.
I don't recall loving piles of leaves as a kid and apparently Wren doesn't either.
Wren tried to enjoy the leaves,
but that effort was short lived.
A whole bunch of love from us to you.

October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Joe and I have a bit of a tradition when it comes to Halloween - one year on and one year off.  Last year we were definitely on.  This year is much more low key, but we still like to keep it festive.  Here we are as bank robbers, a sack of money, and a handsome teller who didn't stand a chance.
Let me point out a couple things:
1. I am fully aware that Ellie will look back on family photos and wonder why the h*#@
we made her wear a paper bag.  Never a princess or a fairy - every year she is but a cog in the machine that is the Hardie Family Costume.
2. Two kids later and I'm still rocking the leggings for Halloween - I think we can all agree this is a big win.
3. Is there anything cuter than a baby in a mask?
How about a baby in a mask who can....stand up by herself!
Thank you, Ellie for being such a good sport.  You worked that bag!
And thanks for sticking your finger in your nose at just the right moment.
This is family photo album gold.

Happy Halloween everyone!  Let us not forget that last year Halloween marked the beginning of a series of events that caused a major decline in the quality of life at the Hardie household.  Here's hoping that the curse on our house is broken after one year's time.  Muuuahh-haaa-haa-haa

October 24, 2012

Pulse Check

Ellie contemplates her morning smoothie.
Boy, does she look wrecked.

Remember how my last post was all about finding meaning in the loss, and it wrapped up with a nice sweet statement about a butterfly?  Well, a lot of life has happened since then.  And life can be awfully hard to boil down into a few words for a blog post.  So I'll just go a little stream of consciousness for a while:

The day after the big 6 month milestone, I was an absolute disaster.  Could not stop crying to save my life.  Finally had to break down and ask for help from the sweet women around me.  Women I didn't yet know well enough to let them see all the cracks, to feel comfortable with them seeing me so broken.  But like it or not - I couldn't hold it together anymore.

So they came, they took my children for the day while I slept and cried on the couch with an intensity that rivaled that very first night when my world came tumbling down.  Such a release was just what I needed for so many feelings and anxieties that had built up since moving here.   And then I took a deep breath and thought, "OK - moving on.  Time to get back to normal life."

Had a trip to the city recently.  It was great to see friends - so very wonderful.  And exciting to have so many photo shoots.  But taking a work trip with kids and without a husband is a recipe for disaster.  (as is sleep deprivation, the ill-timed menstrual experience, 7 friends in a 1 bedroom apartment for 9 days, and the observation of what would have been Mom's 43rd birthday)

Well.  When I write it out like that - it's no wonder I was a mess.  I wanted so badly for this trip to fix all of my woes.  Wanted the familiarity of friends and neighborhoods to cure my pain.  Instead I cried on the phone to Joe - like a kid at summer camp.  "I want to come home."  

That need to come home - it's such a recurring theme in my heart.
Wanting to be taken care of.
Wanting to feel safe.

It wasn't until midway through my NYC trip that I realized - Oh, I'm still depressed.  I prefer to talk about my depression in the past tense.  Something I experienced and left behind.  But it's not so.

In the time since my last post I've had multiple trips in and out of this gloom.  I haven't written because I keep waiting for it to be over.  I like to tell a story with a moral.  I like to know the end.  It's difficult to chronicle my life on the blog because it doesn't translate so well into these black and white words.  It's gray right now. Constantly shifting.  I feel as though I don't move along the same linear track as the people around me.  It's a little disconcerting, but I'm learning to accept it.

I'm trying to just be.

Still, my mind is never quiet.  I'm constantly composing in my head.  Searching for the meaning in this experience.  Sometimes words too raw to share here spill onto the pages of my journal.  Sometimes laughter wells up at the sight of my girls.  Sometimes tears follow my happiest thoughts. Everything is poignant these days.

I still have a sense of humor, too - it's just not as funny to other people these days.  Even in my deepest despair however, I think I am hilarious.

There are lots of things I want to write about:
 - the way that this grief has changed me - in ways I don't want to forget or forsake when the fog of sadness is lifted
- that you should never send a depressed girl to Target because all she can commit to is brownie mix and candles
- the flexible and unsteady nature of my faith.  The feeling that this experience completely hollowed out all of the things I had built up to be my belief system.  The way that this stripping process felt so meaningful at first, so full of promise that God would fill me with something better - but now it just feels empty.
- how hard it can be to wait on God
- how freeing it is to love without judgement
- how good it feels to talk kindly to myself (I hope everyone reading this practices a gentle inner dialogue)
- how kind and long-suffering my dear Joe continues to be
- all the books I've started and stopped.  (as much as I believe in the cause, I just can't read about the impending doom of climate change - not right now)
- when am I going to write that post about how to help a grieving friend?  I guess when I figure out how to define that exactly.
- that giving up cooking was the best choice I made for my mental health.  Who knew baked chicken nuggets and green beans from a microwave bag could be so good for you?
- the way it feels so good to give up all those unimportant things.  My list of important things (though it changes daily) is so much shorter than it once was.

Well, I guess I've written it all down now.  Sorry that it's not pretty or coherent or rife with meaning.  But it means something to me.  I think one of the reasons we suffer is so that one day we can occupy a comfortable place for someone else who is suffering.  I'm leaving these words here tonight (against my better judgement to hold the delete key), as a testament to the process I am going through to become that kind of person.  The path is murky and confusing as hell to navigate.  But I think that's where I am - and I haven't given up on the person I could become on the other side of this grief.

Also, please don't send the rescue teams after me.  The house is clean, the kids are clean and fed and snuggled and read to.  I am functioning - just differently than I used to.  Definitely more honestly than I ever have.  It might look like a cry for help, but it's not.  Just a desire to let you see me as I am.
(photographic proof of the well being of my lovies)

October 2, 2012

I took this photograph on the way home from blueberry picking this summer.  As we drove by these fields of sunflowers, I actually lost my breath.  It was like a dream.  A miracle.  A bit of magic.  How blessed I am to live in this world - to experience such beauty.

Today marks 6 months since Mom's passing.

Yesterday I got weepy in Wal-Mart (why does that place feel so much like home?) It was the laundry aisle that did me in. 

In the evening I gave myself a short cry in bed, followed by a nap while Joe played with the girls.

Today I saw a beautiful butterfly that struggled fiercely in the wind to fly above me for a long moment.  The way it beat its wings, was swept up by the wind, and fluttered back, determined to stay within my gaze - I could have sworn it was her.

When I see something truly beautiful, I sigh with sadness.  It's a shame she can't be here to see this.

Then I wonder vaguely if she can see all this.  If somehow she sees more than I can know.

That thought passes without an answer - just the sense that wondering is enough.

My heart holds so many things.  Sadness and hope and relief and regret and acceptance.  Today, though.  Today I feel wonder and gratitude for my butterfly.

September 28, 2012

Wren at 9 months

I blinked and it happened.  My sweet little bird is 9 months old!  She does a lot of growing on the sly, you see - not much fanfare for her milestones as they happen.  One day she was a sweet snuggly infant, and suddenly she's a ton of personality shoved into a tiny body, keeping up with all of us like it's no big deal.

It's hard to explain.  She just carves out a place for herself - doesn't need us to do it for her.  These photos say so much about the fireball she is becoming.
The sweet, traditional photo.  Thanks, Wren - this one is frame-worthy.
The worried look.  I'm telling you, she was born with it.
She loves to play peek-a-boo!
And she loves any attention from her sister.
Even if it's harsh fashion advice.
That bow's not really working on your head.
Even if it's just to serve as her pillow.
Especially if she actually let's her play along.
At 9 months old Wren:
- claps and babbles all the time (mama, baba, dada, a wide variety of hissing noises)
- crawls, climbs, and generally tumbles about
- has 8 teeth (holy cow, that's a lot)
- is a bit of a bruiser.  Seriously, the girl can takes serious hits without so much as a whimper
- hates baby food but enjoys the finer delicacies of canned vegetables, beans and cheerios
- chugs formula like a boss
- hulks out every time I put her in the car seat (contortions, hissing, spitting - the works)
- laughs more for Ellie than anyone else
- actually eats books.  Gnaws the spines, shreds the pages - it's barbaric
- is flirting with stranger anxiety (dear Lord, don't let it last)
- crawls up to me for the express purpose of biting
- smiles very easily 
- starts every morning with a sweet hug around the neck (and a good 5 min chew on the crib)

Did you catch the recurring theme here?
 I really think she's part piranha.
Are you sure these blocks are solid wood?
P.S. She has a fabulous physique.
And she loves to bury her face in that pillow.
P.P.S.  5 minutes after our photo shoot she got her hands on one of Ellie's markers.
You got a problem with that?