Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
When I was a kid, I believed that my mother LOVED being the mommy. She seemed happy, peaceful, calm. She kissed our boo-boos and celebrated our victories, no matter how small; she had the wisdom we needed when we needed it; she knew how to balance the everyday activities with a few great adventures; she and Daddy always had time and energy for us without teaching us to think the world revolved around us.
In short, she did her job brilliantly (as Dad did his, but this blog is about being the mommy). And I believed she loved every minute of it.
Now I believe that she loved *almost* every minute of it. (She has confirmed that this is true.)
Being the mommy is hard...and I've only been the mommy for three-and-a-half weeks. After a particularly long day this week, I sought the advice of two friends who are great moms and wise women. Am I ill-suited for this job, I asked in my email, or have you too felt overwhelmed and exhausted and totally thrilled--all at once? Maybe I'm a nut case. Or maybe I'm a typical new mom.
One of them confessed to crying for hours non-stop the first few weeks of her son's life because she couldn't console him or entertain him. She didn't know what to do and was pretty sure that she was going to be a total disaster of a mother. The other one guessed that at the end of the day, when Jason walks in the door, sometimes I want to throw Hadley into his arms and run. "That does NOT make you a bad mommy," she wrote. "It makes you normal."
So it turns out that at the very least, three of us on this planet have felt this strange combination of utter exhilaration and sheer exhaustion. Just knowing that I am not alone in this experience somehow made it a little easier. Even if I'm a nut job, I have company.
With my friends' help--and some much-needed soul-searching--I've realized that I can love Hadley wildly and deeply, and I can love being her mom, but I don't have to love every task related to being a mom. For example, I'd trade middle-of-the-night feedings for a sack of moldy pickles any day of the week. Because moldy pickles don't poop while nursing. In my bed. At 2 a.m.
Truth is, I shouldn't be surprised that this experience is difficult. When I think of the things in my life that are most rewarding and true and good--my faith, my marriage, my family, my close friendships, my years at Davidson--I see that they are also the things that require(d) the most time and energy and commitment.
So I've resolved to cut myself some slack. Hadley is a content, healthy, expressive, funny baby. We'll have good days and bad days, and that's okay.
But I do hope that Hadley grows up believing that her mommy loved every minute of being a mommy...at least until she has babies of her own. When she calls to ask if, when she was a newborn, I felt this crazy combination of utter exhilaration and sheer exhaustion, I'll show her this post. "Yes, Hadley," I'll say. "You're not a nut job. You're the mommy."
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Hadley had her two-week check-up this week, and she not only gained back the weight she lost after her birth, but she added two ounces, so she weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds, 5 ounces. We were waking her to feed her every three hours, even at night, but the doc said that we can let her feed on-demand at night now. (That makes her mommy very happy.)
But during the day, we're trying to figure out a schedule, so I still wake her to nurse if she's been sleeping for more than about three-and-a-half hours. Hadley, however, loves to sleep, and this video is testament to the hilarity of waking Hadley.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Very early in my pregnancy, Jason and I went bowling with our friends Jenny and Brian Brown and their three kids--Hays and Molly, who are four-year-old twins, and Carson, who is two. I am not a particularly good bowler, and I'm not a particularly enthusiastic bowler, but that night, I had a blast watching Hays and Molly have a blast. Every knocked-down pin was a victory, worthy of a dance of joy and a round of high-fives. I remember thinking about how much more fun bowling was with enthusiastic, first-time bowlers, and I got a little flutter of excitement in my stomach for all of the things that we'd get to experience for the first time (again) with Hadley.
Admittedly, we're a long way from bowling, but we've had a series of firsts in our house that make Jason and me want to do the dance of joy and share a round of high-fives.
1. Hadley FINALLY slept in her bassinet for the first time three nights ago. She's still a little skeptical and would prefer to be held all night, but it felt wonderful for all three of us to sleep--at the same time.
2. Hadley enjoyed her first days with a real belly button. Her umbilical stump fell off on Saturday, which is good because now she can enjoy some "tummy time" and exercise those neck muscles.
3. And finally, Hadley starred in her first video clip. Drum roll please...
Monday, May 11, 2009
Since Hadley's arrival eight days ago, Jason and I have spent a lot of time just staring at her in pure awe...and trying to figure out where in the world she got that hair. Everyone in the hospital--every nurse, every doctor, every guest--talked about her hair. Truly. No exceptions. Even the pediatrician said, "I know you must hear this a lot, but that hair is awesome."
It's quite a source of amusement around here, too. Her granddaddy (my dad) pats it down; her grandma (who we call "Mumsie") and I spike it up because we think it appeals to her inner rock star. Jason rubs it in circles, so it has a slightly wind-swept look.
Where did it come from? The color and abundance make us think of Auntie Crystal's baby pictures; the cowlicks are definitely from Daddy; and she might have even gotten the gene that made my hair look woodstock-esque (not nearly so cool as Hadley's) when I was born. The hair is perhaps her most defining feature right now, but it has also prompted us to guess the genetic backgrounds for her other features. So, in no apparent order, here are our unscientific conclusions:
Eyes: They're kind of dark blue with a bit of gray, but we'll see if they change. We think the gray might come from Grandpa Al, and the shape is definitely more like Grandma Sandy and Jason than like mine.
Nose, cheeks and chin: All Mommy. Heaven help her.
Mouth: We don't know, but it sure is cute--heart-shaped and red. My mom keeps asking, "Are you putting lipstick on this child?" (No, Mom.)
Feet: Daddy all the way. (Sorry, Hadley.) Her feet and toes are long, long, long. My dad swears that she tried to grab his finger with her toes a few days ago. I have this mental image of Hadley hanging one day from the chandelier in the dining room by her toes.
Hands: Daddy again. Like her toes, her fingers are long and thin. Maybe she'll play the piano (or the banjo. I vote for the banjo).
Ears: Let's hope they're not like Uncle Graham's when he was a kid. If they are, she'll need all the hair she can grow to cover them up. Right now, they're a little elfin and definitely adorable.
Disposition: The best of her mommy and her daddy. She's pretty laid back and even-keel (for a newborn), like Jason, but she also loves affection, like yours truly.
I love to imagine what it will be like when Hadley is a bit older, and she says or does something that points directly to a particular member of her gene pool. Maybe she'll laugh like Auntie Crystal or smile her daddy's smile. And I suppose that one day, when she's much older, she'll say or do something that points directly to a particular member of her gene pool and she'll be horrified. ("Oh my gosh! I sound like my mother!" she'll think.) But we have a while to go before that happens. For now, we're happily watching Hadley grow into her own little person--with a little help from two families who come together in this nine-pound wonder.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
For months leading up to Hadley's birth, I worried about what we'd name her. Would we get it just right? After all, her name would be the first indicator of her identity--how would we know what to call her when we didn't even know her? It doesn't help that many of the baby name books warn about the dire consequences of a poorly chosen name, like parents-to-be need any more stress.
Every time we tried out a name, I'd try to think like a mean seven-year-old: What kinds of nicknames would Scrappy the Playground Bully figure out? But more importantly, what kind of legacy would her name give to her? I wanted to tie her to the community of people who love her, who loved her before she took a breath.
Hadley is my godmother's maiden name and her thirtysomething daughter's first name. My godmother, who I still call Aunt Sue, is a vivacious, generous, funny woman; nobody can tell a story like my Aunt Sue. And her Hadley is a warm, happy woman who inherited her mother's quick wit and charm.
Hadley also happens to be the name of Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I don't love the "first wife" bit, but the tie to Hemingway appeals to me, I admit. I really wanted a literary name, but so many writers are angst-filled and tragedy-prone, it's tricky. (For a while I thought about naming our baby Charlotte, but I wondered if people would associate her more with E.B. White's spider than with Charlotte Bronte. And then, of course, we have the problem of Charlotte Bronte's relatively unhappy life...)
Jane is my maternal grandmother's first name. Grandma died in September, a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant. She was a gentle spirit who found great joy in her grandchildren. I still remember how she seemed just as excited about our annual Easter egg hunt as the six of us were. She would have been over the moon if she could have met Hadley.
Jason loved the name Hadley Jane from the start...and now that she's here, I can't imagine her being anyone else. Jason refers to her sometimes as "the Hadster," which just makes me think about Saturday Night Live in the '90s ("Hadster, Had-a-rooney, Hadalicious..."--remember that guy?). But she hasn't objected yet.
So once we had Hadley, we needed a name for this blog. I'm a sucker for an alliteration, so I first thought about "Happy with Hadley." But happy just describes a state of being, and we're doing far more than just being. We're dancing and singing and laughing at her funny faces; we're imagining how much fun it will be to take her to the park and read her books and introduce her to our family and friends. Those are all actions, so we needed an adverb. (Nerd Alert, I know, I know.) We're doing all of these things happily, so the blog became "Happily with Hadley."
Two names, one week. We're on a roll.