Tuesday, April 26, 2016

39 weeks in, 39 weeks out

Oh my darling Fiona Ruth. What an addition to the world you are. 38 weeks and 6 days ago you were born after I had been pregnant with you for 38 weeks and 6 days.

We named you Fiona* because to us it sounds strong, like a Celtic warrior, and you had overcome so much in the womb. Little did we know you would come out with a rebel yell and rail against all injustice - both real or perceived - for seven long months.

You have no trouble making yourself known, girl! For your first three months you were either asleep or spitting mad. For the few fleeting moments that you were both awake and happy we would call the rest of the family over to enjoy it before it passed.

But we got into a rhythm during those first months. You did most of your sleeping at night, which was great. I remember saying "You can get through anything if you have sleep!" a couple times. I suppose that was some sort of sick foreshadowing.

This might be my favorite picture now. Me lovingly swaddling you in the blanket I made just for you. Your cute little nose, and your swirl of hair. And there's the little scab on your head where the midwife tried to attach your monitor while you were being born. She had to try three times cause you kept spinning your head around. We should have known... 
Also, two minutes before this picture was taken you pooped in my hand. ;) Love youuuuuu.

When you were four months old you had a few bad nights while we were on a trip. I thought it was a growth spurt so I fed you, then fed you again, and again, and again,... and maybe again - you lose track after a while. I just wanted to get through the trip, so I met your demands as they came. Then you cried for eight hours during the drive back, and something inside of Mommy snapped.

This is postpartum. Real enough for ya?

We both spiraled. Your unrest and misery feeding off my anger and exhaustion and my doubts and insecurities as a mom feeding off your unpleasantness and contrariness. I studied you like a book, trying to get to know you. But I didn't have a clue who you were anymore. When I would lay you down, I didn't know if you would sleep for two hours or two minutes. What would get you to sleep one night wouldn't work the next. Daddy and I were constantly conferencing on what worked to get you back to sleep. 
   "Did you give her the elephant?"
   "No, I just laid my hand on her chest"
   "Did she take her pacifier?"
   "Yeah, but then she pulled it out. That was the last one. They're all behind the crib now."


At this point you were five months old and sometimes waking up 10-12 times a night. Six at least. And through the day you would get SO MAD after only an hour and a half that you were taking 4-5 mini naps every day. And I never knew if any of those would work.

From October to February I never slept for longer than two hours.

I was too exhausted to make good decisions. I completely lost any intuition I might have had as a mom. I wasn't coping, and I absolutely should have gone to the doctor. But when you're in it you just keep thinking tomorrow will be better.

I would hold you at night and just cry all over you. Daddy would pray for us, cause I just couldn't. I was too angry. Not at you, just that this was my life. That I couldn't hack it when other moms could. That I didn't have the help I thought I deserved. That God didn't seem to be listening to me. And that no matter what I did, it was never enough for you. Lies, most of it.

After several months of this we made some major changes with your sleep. I put you on a rigid eating and napping schedule (gasp!), we took away your pacifier cold turkey (yikes!), and we started Ferber-style sleep training (horrors!). And, oh honey, you were a new woman. Yeah, it was a tough transition for a few days, but you're so much happier and just a delight to be around. You end each feeding by smiling not screaming and arching your back. You smile at everyone and have the best laugh. You wake up happy and well rested, and so does Mommy! We're down to one or two quick feedings at night, and, girl, I can do one or two!

You feel things so deeply, little one, and that's a good thing! Live life the whole way! We also named you Ruth after one of my favorite Bible ladies. She was loyal, kind, tenacious, hard working, selfless, brave, and faithful, and we pray that for you too, dear.

"The dark times" are already fading from my memory, and as one of my favorite internet mamas, Bunmi Laditan, says about the dark times, "I won't say they make me stronger, but they do make me softer and maybe that's even better." I'm excited to move on with you, Bugga-Boo. I just wanted you to know why there are empty pages in your baby book and not as many pictures of you. For every minute I didn't spend recording your first months I was holding you and comforting you. We were attached to each other almost constantly. I sang Adele's Make You Feel My Love (which is really by Bob Dylan) to you many nights through tears. It's my love song to you, Baby.

The beautiful newborn photos are by Jess Harbold. Thanks, friend!

*Fiona basically just means "white girl", but nearly all the Celtic girls' names do, so what are you gonna do... I've known I wanted to name you Ruth from the beginning, though, and that carries more than enough meaning for me.