baby

Expansion

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” 

Albert Einstein 

34 week bump

Too many times to count, I have accidentally woken my daughter because I like to watch her sleep.

And she is a light sleeper. One creak of the century-old floors and she stirs.

I have never learned my lesson.

When she was a baby, my check-ins were like a compulsion fueled by nerves and the settling of a very heavy love across my heart.

Getting her back to sleep was a slow process then, as it is now. My precious few minutes of uninterrupted time interrupted by my own anxiety and addiction.

I am addicted to her sweetness. To Giovanna in still life, my daughter at rest, her skin shining with fleeting purity. Perfect innocence eventually and inevitably covered by years on this planet.

By the grace of the universe, I am going to have another baby soon. A delicate and helpless creature sent from the heavens. The ultimate responsibility and joy. The reality of it squeezes my heart and sometimes my throat.

I’ve spent the last several months preparing. Today I am less than six weeks from my due date. I have entered the homestretch of pregnancy. The intensity mounts along with the downward pressure of a tiny human rooting herself into this earth.

I can feel her. A person living between my heart and my pelvis. She elbows me in the hips and kicks me in the ribs and wedges herself into awkward positions, small but sturdy bones prodding my side body. Bones knit from my own flesh and blood.

She rests in water, folded and floating. She fills me with warmth, with the truth of who I am and the miracles happening within me, the miracles happening every day.

I wonder how I will be with this next one. Will I be so desperate for a break that I will let her sleep? Will I chill out and trust in the universe? Will I have as much energy as I did with my first? If I don’t have the energy, will I look until I find it?

I can feel my heart expanding. Exploding. Life growing, family growing, love growing.

The best part? My people, my husband and my stepson and my daughter, could not be more excited. And it makes me feel good and special that our baby lives within the context of my body. That they tickle my belly when they want to tickle the baby and they kiss me when they want to kiss her.

Oh, Motherhood. My challenge, my privilege. You’re about to change my life again. Bring it on.

Big Brother’s Wish for Baby

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Dear Baby,

I hope you learn the abc.

I hope you aren’t afraid of the [dark].

I hope you love your family.

I hope you get good at games.

I hope you laugh at your mom and dad.

I hope you never forget your friends and family.

I hope you ignore mean kids.

I hope you become a [great builder].

I hope you respect [true] love.

I hope you grow to [be a tall girl].

Love,

Emile

Your Brother

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Come On Universe, Let’s Do 2014

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What are you leaving in 2013 and what are you moving towards in 2014?

My sister-in-law posed this question on Facebook, and it inspired me to to think carefully about what I want for the New Year.

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In a nutshell, I am leaving behind…

distraction
self-doubt
fear of scarcity

And moving towards…

greater discipline
stronger intuition
incredible productivity
unprecedented creativity

A lot of great things happened in 2013. I published articles with several well known websites. My blog traffic hit a new peak. Herbal Philosophy was featured in New Beauty Spa+ magazine and on Gilt City, and is now available on Amazon Fresh. I sold more tea than ever. I traveled to California, Oregon, NYC and within this beautiful state of Washington. I got pregnant with my second daughter. I wrote fiction and non-fiction. I sent query letters. I got acceptances and rejections. I put myself out there. I exercised and I took care of myself. I spent time with my beloved family and friends, both near and far. I opened my eyes to a beauty I’d once taken for granted. I got inspired. Over and over and over again.

I want more of all of this for 2014. And then some.

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I want to go to bed at a consistent hour so that I can jump out of bed in the morning rather than hide behind my eye covers. I want to witness more sunrises from my desk. I want to write in the mornings. I want to manifest greatness rather than fear it. I want more time with friends in real life and less time online. I want more presence with my children and less screen time. I want to eat more whole foods and less processed foods. I want a cleaner house but I want to spend less time cleaning (Come on, universe! Anything is possible. I believe!). I want more mindfulness and less mindlessness. I want to be proactive rather than reactive. I want to worry less because I will trust the universe and my intuition more. I want balance and clarity and progress.

Ask and you shall receive.

I want to…

think less, meditate more
worry less, enjoy more
iPhone less, read more
shop (online) less, journal more
procrastinate less, finish more
Facebook less, focus more
fight less, love more

Perhaps most of all?

I want less censorship, and more wild and free and abundant creativity.

What are you leaving in 2013 and moving towards in 2014?

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What do little girls dream about?

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Every night before she goes to bed she wants to know what we’re going to do when we wake up.

And after breakfast?

Go to school? See Grammy? Have a play date? Go to the park?

And after that?

Sometimes we discuss what she’s going to dream about. Anything so that she doesn’t have to go to bed just yet.

This morning she asked me what I dreamt about.

I told her I dreamt of her in a ballet outfit. Because I did. She emptied the contents of her drawers in search of the pink leotard and slippers.

She danced for me.

She told me she dreamt about butterflies and rainbows and princesses.

I hope she did. I really hope she did.

Preparing for A Big Change

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My nephew, Connor. The (current) youngest member of my family. 

Does change make you nervous or excited?

A brand new member will join the Robinson family in February.

Everything will change.

No longer will I be able to hide out in my office while the older two play. That much was apparent yesterday while visiting with Baby Cousin Connor, five months old and as cute and as giggly as they come. (See above.)

No longer will our queen bed have space for a squirmy little girl.

No longer will I steal away to my daughter’s (abandoned) twin bed when I’m not sleeping well.

No longer will sleep be something I expect.

No longer will I have 9 uninterrupted hours on most weeks while Giovanna is at preschool.

No longer will I have the freedom for girl’s nights and three hour plays.

No longer will sweet and feisty Gigi be the baby of the family.

No longer will the strapping, blue-eyed Connor be the youngest of the grandkids.

No longer will we the Robinsons be a family of four, but a family of five.

Babies up the ante. They love us and challenge us in unforeseen ways.

I try not to dwell on impending change because I know I will adapt. We will adapt. The existence we currently occupy will no longer exist on its own, but rather as a layer beneath a new family.

Accepting change means we must learn to let go. Of old homes. Old relationships. Old dynamics. Old jobs. Old friends. Old habits. Old possessions. Old priorities.

Though life unfolds slowly and carefully while we’re in it, the memories become mere flashes. In retrospect we can sense the momentum of time. Giovanna’s babyhood came and went and I don’t know what I did with all of those days. But I do know I savored them.

Pregnant Daddy

Daddy & Daughter

It’s not just a coincidence anymore.

I was at home in Seattle, four months pregnant and hobbling to the bathroom because my lower back was all cinched up and compressed and angry. My husband James, across the country on a business trip, texted me, I’m gimping around New York like an old man. He had briefly mentioned lower back pain before his trip, when my own back started acting up. I suppose the long plane ride didn’t help. Or maybe that didn’t matter. We suffer when our loved ones suffer, right? Many of the pains associated with pregnancy happen on the physical plane. So whose to say he wasn’t literally feeling my pain? After all, back problems are not normal for this man.

He has also gained weight and complained of having to pee often.

When I can’t sleep, I lay in bed patiently, sometimes for hours. Not tossing or turning as much as thinking. Writing things in my head (like this) and replaying the day, digesting my existence. When a certain three year-old wedges herself between us I have extra motivation to remain still, eye covers on and ear plugs in. James, also wearing ear plugs and eye covers, has no way of knowing whether I am awake or asleep. Yet my pregnancy insomnia keeps him from sleeping. Maybe not immediately, but after I am awake for a while, or awake for a few nights in a row, he’s awake too.

There’s a name for it. Couvade Syndrome aka sympathetic pregnancy. But I call it love.

Occasionally Neurotic, Always Sweet

Little Mama

I never want to forget what she’s like right now. Three years, nine months. Feisty. Nurturing. Occasionally neurotic. Always sweet.

She calls me little mama and tells me “I love you all day” at random intervals. She takes great pleasure in rubbing cocoa butter on my burgeoning belly. She thinks she might have a baby in her own tummy. She takes her baby dolls into the bath with her. She doesn’t like to wear pants or socks.  She adores her grandmothers. She has best friends, and might I say, she has excellent taste in friends. She likes to wear her hair in a singular braid. She doesn’t like pony tails on top of her head. She wants to read Cinderella every night at bedtime. She wants to learn to read. She eats green smoothie popsicles in abundance, but not green smoothies. She loves salad with olive oil and nutritional yeast, but not any other salad. She prefers her lentil soup cold. She hates “broken” food. She loves hot dogs without the bun and macaroni and cheese and every kind of fruit. She is religious about taking her gummies (vitamins). She doesn’t nap, but she goes to bed early. She loves to swing at the playground. She is very adept at using the DVD player and the iPad and the iPhone. Sometimes she won’t let me kiss her. She climbs into our bed on a nightly basis, and I’m glad to see her though I don’t know what’s going to happen when baby sister arrives. She knows her way around the library. She’s not crazy about swimming lessons. She can run very fast. She doesn’t like to sit while she’s eating, or ever. She always wants to know “what happens next?” to the point that I often have to map out the entire week for her. If we’re in the car for a long time, she says, “it’s taking longer!” She asks so many questions, especially at bedtime. She makes a gentle humming sound when she’s filled with delight that fills my heart with joy. She never stops moving. She never stops reminding me that life is beautiful.

Meet Baby

Ultrasound baby girl

The night before the ultrasound I fell asleep easily, but when I awoke for my nightly bathroom trip I couldn’t find dreamland again. I laid there in my bed, I moved to an empty bed, I returned to my bed, crowded with my love and my snuggly daughter, and I tried to relax. I prayed for sleep. I meditated. I thought too many thoughts.

The first look into my womb loomed before me and my body made it clear that I harbored some underlying anxiety. Meanwhile, sweet little baby kicked and prodded me as baby usually does at night.

I’m okay, Mama. I’m healthy and happy in here. Stop worrying and start sleeping.

And I whispered.

Mama loves you so much, baby.

From the beginning of this pregnancy, I believed I was growing a girl. Actually, before I got pregnant, I thought I would have another girl. I even saved every stitch of girl clothing while selling off the bulkier baby items like our frilly pink swing and beloved bouncer.

But I also doubted this intuition. I wondered if it was desire for a girl and not a girl herself.

I held my precious baby nephew, a boy who brings tears to my eyes every time I see him or think of him and I knew how special it would be to raise a little man. I thought of my cousin’s boys and their gentle dispositions and how the 3 year old calls me “Mama Lucy” which melts my heart every time. I remembered my own baby brother, a boy whom I wanted to be a girl until he showed up in my house and my 6 year old self found there was never a more perfect baby. And I thought of Emile when I met him, 2 years old and as cute and lovable as his daddy.

I found a boy name I loved. My sister wanted to send me all of her boy clothes. Everyone who offered an opinion, save for three girlfriends, told me this baby would be a boy.

But I couldn’t shake my image of a girl to share big sister’s pale lavender bedroom. Two little caramel girls in the matching white beds my own big sister and I once shared. I don’t know if I would call it a longing as much as an unavoidable knowing.

It turns out there was a reason for that.

We’re having a girl. A baby girl!!

Giovanna, who had already convinced herself she would have a sister, didn’t bat an eye. “Grammy, I told you it was a girl!” she said to my mom who’d been trying to prepare her for either gender. Meanwhile, the baby’s daddy looked a bit shocked as he believed all those crazy kicks to be the work of a tiny but strong boy.

It turns out boys aren’t the only strong ones.

Baby bump!

Baby Kicks

Baby bump!

There’s nothing like it.

I felt the first unmistakable kick at 15 weeks. I won’t forget it because it happened on my husband’s birthday. Little baby giving daddy the best present of all–a tiny hello. I felt something distinct a few weeks prior but it was so slight, the baby so small, I couldn’t be 100% sure.

Baby, at approximately 5.5 inches long and 18 weeks gestation, no longer leaves any room for doubt. This child must have inherited daddy’s strong legs and arms because I am continually shocked at the pokes and jabs this itty bitty person is capable of.

At first I felt it only while laying down or sitting still at my computer. But this week I noticed movement at the playground. This morning I felt flutters at yoga. When Giovanna awakens in the middle of the night and I search for a path back to dreamland, baby wakes up, too, and has a party in my belly. I like to think baby wants to keep me company in those wee hours, baby wants to make his or her presence known.

I’m here, mama. Mama! I’m here. Right here. And there. See?

The more I feel baby, the harder it is to think about anything else. Will baby be a soccer player or a gymnast or a dancer or a runner? Will baby ever sit still? If baby is a bouncing boy, how will I handle his hyperactivity with ease? If baby is a girl, will she be best friends with her sister?

Is baby okay? Does baby have enough room? My belly doesn’t seem big enough to house such a robust baby. During my third trimester of my first pregnancy I don’t remember Gigi kicking me in the ribs or making me uncomfortable in the way that other mothers feel. But I also don’t remember this much movement in the first half of the second trimester. So will this baby kick the shit out of me?

I’d be okay with that. Every kick brings a smile to my inner-self and every somersault infuses the moment with all-consuming gratitude. This movement in my belly reminds me of the miracle unfolding within me. These dances make me want to dance, too.

Playing in the mud.

Patience

Playing in the mud.

We’re late for something and she won’t put her shoes on. I’m starving and I have to pee and I am carrying a hot bag of food and she won’t climb out of the car. She’s “stuck.” And did I mention I’m starving and I have to pee and I’m pregnant? She’s in the bath and she won’t let me wash her hair. It’s getting later and she won’t stay in her bed.

Mothering a three year-old makes me crazy occasionally. I only have so much patience in a day. I can only say “let’s go” and “come on” and “PLEASE?” so many times before the venom creeps into my voice. I hate how my voice sounds when I’m angry. I’ve heard it on videotape. I make myself cringe. Worse than chunky fingernails on a crusty old chalkboard.

Yet I can’t always stop myself. It’s like an evil witch jumps in and takes over when I’ve reached the end of my mommy stripes, like I have a split personality. Sweet and kind and fun-loving mama versus impatient and annoyed and irritated mother. But no matter what, both of those personalities belong to me. Though it feels like I don’t have control, I do. I must. I am accountable.

Tonight, Giovanna wouldn’t settle in her bed. She repeatedly slid out to find books and toys and distractions. Every time I caught her, I reminded her to get back in bed and she complied. Eventually I had to go into her room and scold her for disobeying. I was fed up and stressed out because she skipped her nap despite my best efforts. I worried that the longer she kept herself up, the harder it would become for her to slip into dreamland. I knew my voice had turned rotten but I didn’t know how else to make her stop. She started to cry. Real tears, real sadness. So I kissed her and held her and told her how much I love her, though I am fairly certain a mother cannot express her love in words.

As she fell asleep soon after that, she cried out. It was just one cry and it didn’t last long and it was followed immediately by sleep, but it left me feeling guilty. I tip toed into her room and kissed her again and laid my hand upon her resting belly. I wished she could awaken just for a moment, so that she could hear my apology. I prayed for her sweet dreams. And I prayed for myself.

Every time Gigi has a tantrum over something silly, I can’t help it, I think it’s my fault. Perhaps if I were more level-headed and less likely to lose my patience over the inconsequential then she would be, too. Sometimes I get it right and it doesn’t matter how far we are from home when she decides to get mud all over her pants (see photo above), I laugh and I deal with it. It all depends on my state of mind when it happens–another reason to care for my mental health first.

Recently I have found that when I’m getting close to the edge but I haven’t tumbled over it yet, talking to myself seems to help. Don’t freak out. It won’t help anything. Walk away. Take the deepest breath you can fathom.

I’m sharing this because it’s something I’m working on, something I believe to be important for my family and myself. I want to have more patience. It’s got to exist somewhere inside of me that I have yet to find. If you have any tips or tricks, please share.

I can do it.