7 months of lovin on a rainbow!

IMG_3824At 7 months this little girl is on the move! Not in a crawling-sort-of-way but in a roll-wherever-I-want-to-go way. She has gotten pretty fast about it so I have to keep a close eye on her! Time to baby proof the house!

As Cami has so much better control over her body and movements, it’s increasingly difficult to take decent photos of this little wiggle worm!

IMG_3914So I’ll try to add props to occupy her attention while I snap a few fast shots…and who doesn’t want a priceless portrait of their 7 month old eating a shoe? 😉 At least I was able to capture this photo on my phone:

IMG_4168This month Cami seems to be losing her babyness. She is still all cheeks and chunky thigh rolls but she’s not “take-home-size” anymore. She’s getting big and squirmy and eager to explore her world! The days of her falling asleep in my arms and just cuddling for hours seem to be at an end. She still loves to be held and alertly likes to observe the world around her from this position, but she has this annoying One Arm Push off where she twists her body away from me to see what is going on.

She is eating more and more “human” food although I haven’t braved giving her anything that doesn’t come already pureed in a jar. But she greatly enjoys sucking on pickles if I let her! With this onset of human food, we have necessarily increased her intake of prunes!

IMG_3840I think prunes will be a consistent part of her diet for the near future until her gut gets used to moving those solids out!

Oh the joys of parenthood. When did my life become about bowel movements?!

We are slowly trying to transition Cami to a bed but the transition has been rough. I’ll be honest, the last week I haven’t felt up to fighting the battle so she’s been sleeping in her swing for naps and still in her bouncer over night. The success so far has been a few naps on her back but she never seems to last longer than 20 minutes. Sleeping so long in swings and bouncers where she is semi-cuddled by the fabric of the device, I think, leaves her feeling vulnerable and exposed laying on her back. She’ll sleep for a few minutes and then flare her arms reflexively as if startled, and wake herself. Sigh. She’s a lot of work.

Lately Cami has been waking up in the middle of the night wanting to hold my hand. Seriously. Cutest thing. I’ll roll over and drape my arm off the bed and give her my hand, which she will grab with both of her hands and immediately fall back asleep. The problem is, when I pull my hand away to go back to sleep myself, there’s a 50% chance she’ll wake up and cry again until I relinquish my hand back into her possession. I’d fall asleep like this if draping my arm off the bed wasn’t so akimbo and uncomfortable, sending prickles down to my wrist as the blood flow  is cut off. Last night Cami woke up so many times demanding the soothing comfort of my hand that eventually I had to just let her “cry it out.” I don’t mind a holding-hands-session a couple times a night…but not every hour!

Collaborating with other moms of infants, I am aware we have created and reinforced the habits that make Cami a high maintenance baby. For example, most babies her age and even younger soothe themselves to sleep! But our insistence on Cami sleeping in our room and not in her own quiet domain lead to us taking 30 minutes to over an hour at times to get Cami to sleep for the night! We do this EVERY night. And if I’m being honest, it’s wearing me thin. Especially since, despite Chad’s best efforts, Cami demands me each night! She will wail until I take her in my arms, where she will immediately calm down! Subsequently reinforcing me as the primary soother.

Cami seems to have a homing device for me. Anytime anyone else takes her she immediately swings around until she sees me to reassure herself she’s ok. This habit is coming with the onset of stranger anxiety. So doesn’t that seem like perfect timing to hire a new nanny?! Haha. Well, we are hiring a new nanny to come two days a week. She starts beginning of March. I’m hopeful Cami, aka, little Momma’s Girl, will warm up to her and that this nanny will be able to stick it out through, what is bound to be, a rough transition.

I would not describe Cami as hard or difficult. She is quick to smile and giggle and is generally pretty happy and goes-with-the-flow. But she IS, as I mentioned, high maintenance. It is SO HARD to manage our anxiety that dictates what likely seem to be intense measures in our efforts to not repeat fate and lose Cami to SIDS like Charlie. These efforts stretch sanity to the limit. And I’ll be honest, many days lately I feel like I’m on the brink of losing it. I am exhausted ALL the time and am lamenting my conviction to eschew caffeinated fixes…except dark chocolate which I consume in copious amounts!

Cami is my shadow, my hip buddy, my constant companion and I love her soo much! It feels weird and wrong whenever she’s not with me. But I have seriously got to make some changes if I am going to mentally survive! I can’t get anything done (hence this 7 month update is a couple weeks late!) The slow cooker is my best friend and my husband’s whirwind clean-ups each night are priceless helps! And poor sweet Hailee is so great, understanding, and inclusive of Cami but I worry her brain is turning to mush with all the screentime I give her as I manage her sister! I hate that my vocabulary with Hailee consists largely of “no!” and “not right now!” I am over-indulging Cami and neglecting Hailee and most everything else in my life and am left with zero reserves at the end of the day.

I feel horrible having these struggles because I asked for this. I begged for the chance to have another baby. So I am trying to suck it up and be grateful that I have another exhausting day to navigate with my girls! And please believe me, I am soo grateful!

This experience of raising a rainbow embodies holding polar emotions simultaneously: fear and happiness, exhaustion and gratitude, grief and hope, faith and doubt, depression and elation, etc.

Wow, how did this 7 month update end up being this long rant? Sorry!

In conclusion, Cami is doing great. She is thriving and continues to bring us so much joy. No it’s not all sunshine and balloons and unicorns but I’ll take this messiness everyday I can! Because rainbows also shine during rainstorms, not just after the rain stops.IMG_4180PS: I really enjoyed this podcast and felt myself shouting “Amen!” to many of the points made about the challenges of parenthood: http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/paradox-modern-parenthood

If you have 50 minutes, it’d a good listen. 🙂

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Baby Steps

I feel slightly bipolar. Honestly. Enough that I am genuinely monitoring my symptoms. I know I’m not evidencing my first hypomanic episode, but am rather navigating a storm of hormones, needs, desires, and complex emotions that tossed into the day-to-day mundacity are all giving me huge mood swings! One minute I feel GREAT, so happy, enthusiastic, grateful and ready to take on the world. The next minute I feel like crying, I’m angry, depressed and feel like I’m suffocating. Poor Chad. I think he finds me very unpredictable.

In those energized moments, I am not sure where all the energy is coming from. It could be that I prepared myself emotionally and built up this big momentum to return to work and then, BAM, the next day, literally, I’m back to staying home full time (with the small exception of the weekly eating disorders group I run) and all that energy now has nowhere to go. It could also be that 22 months after Charlie died I am finally returning to myself and able to tap into happiness that I haven’t felt in almost two years.  It could be both those things or something else completely. Whatever the cause, I feel this bubbling torment of energy and ambition that has no anchor or direction. I feel this passion but I’m not sure for what. It feels a little bit like an identity crisis. I’m swirling with thoughts about what I want to do with my career (research, teach, go back to my previous job at Center for Change, stay where I am at the BYU Counseling Center, write a book, secure public speaking venues, save the world?); and myself personally (train for a triathlon, learn more about nutrition, document my kids’ lives more, remodel my house, read thought provoking/inspiring books, commit to being a vegetarian that eats fish, figure out all the hype about meditation, get better at photography, take a trip?) For a long time now I’ve been in Mommy mode and while I love my kids more than I can express, there is a latent Anna inside demanding to be acknowledged, valued, and expressed.

IMG_4102But I am in so many ways paralyzed by fear. I feel like having Cami has opened a deluge of trauma work I didn’t anticipate but need to process. I struggled a lot with memories and nightmares frequently in the first few months of her life. I am happy those have largely subsided now. I am also happy that I’m not taking a million photos to memorialize her life after her “inevitable” death, or listening to certain inspirational songs with the thought that they’d make a good soundtrack to the funeral slideshow of Cami’s life. I am happy that I no longer expect her to die. I think this indicates I’ve done a lot of the trauma work I need to…but it’s always there. Whether subdued or flaring, I am always terrified I’ll lose Cami like we lost Charlie.

A perfect example of this paralyzation happened this week. Context: Chad and I need a vacation. Badly. We haven’t gone anywhere in a year and the daily grind is literally making me want to crawl out of my skin. We have a long weekend next week with Presidents Day and we thought it’d be wonderful to go to California or Arizona and visit family. We used to travel quite impulsively and frequently. Charlie was 6 weeks old when he went on his first plane trip. Now, it’s totally different. We debate, we ruminate, we fantasize, we anticipate, we procrastinate, we almost hit the purchase button for tickets, and THEN the fear floods in and we…don’t buy the tickets.

We traveled after losing Charlie but not since having Cami. We haven’t traveled with an infant since that horrible fateful trip to Kauai. And while I know logically traveling isn’t what killed Charlie, the association is still there and I feel it and fear it deeply.

I have a complete new found admiration for people who have gone through traumatic things and go on to live their lives again; even confront the things that caused the trauma in the first place. Like people who get in horrible car accidents but get behind the wheel again. Or people who nearly drown but get in the water again. Each choice, each step to live again requires intense bravery! I can’t find words to articulate how messy and scary it all is! I know this is redundant and I talked about this recently, but it’s still present for me.

That ONE full day of work required bravery I didn’t know I needed and had to dig deep to find in order to make it through those 8 hours. I know that emotionally/psychologically/intellectually I need to work, but I feel literally sick to my stomach at the idea of finding another stranger (nanny) to take care of my little ones. Even leaving the kids with Chad requires bravery. Each day requires my bravery. And some days I’m stronger than others. I’m trying to be compassionate about those moments where I let fear win but also challenge myself so it doesn’t continue to run my life. I’ve got to confront it more or I’m going to continue to be a swirling mass of bipolar emotions. And I will challenge myself, in the small steps and choices I make each day. I’m going to pursue that simple, yet profound CURE from What About Bob: Baby steps!