and then there were two.

i swear that this blog is more than letters to my son.

i don't know how it happened, really, that i stopped doing anything.  i mean, i do, i guess, if i really think about it.  since he turned five months old and we brought him to california, julian kind of... stopped sleeping. 

that's not fair.  he slept.  but only in short stretches, and only in the middle of the big bed [what we call OUR bed], and only with my boob in his mouth.  and so one morning, around 3am, after i had thrown a pacifier across the room and then felt so terrible about it i started sobbing, i decided we needed to give sleep training a shot.  something i told myself i would never need to do.

and so the past few weeks has gone something like - fighting to put the baby down, crying because the baby is crying, staring at the baby monitor wondering what to do since he's rolled over in his sleep, crying in bed because i miss the baby sleeping in our bed, and then remembering that now he's sleeping at 7pm and in his own crib i can do grown up things again.  so every night from 7-11pm, philip and i try to squeeze in an entire adult life.  we drink wine, we sit outside by the fire pit, we watch GIRLS, we eat dinner.  it's kind of amazing, actually.  but one thing i haven't done with those spare evenings is blog.

but now philip is traveling for work, as we knew he would do when we moved back out to denver.  even though i was 100% aware that this was going to happen, a pretty big part of me didn't think it actually would.  and so last night when he put julian down for bed, i cried.  and then i dropped him off at the airport and i cried some more, and i took this picture like it was his first day of school or something.

i'm bummed out he will gone four days a week [though this week it will be five].  but even more than missing him is how terrified i am to be alone with julian.  i mean, we fare well all day.  but then philip finishes with work and hangs with the baby.  and i can cook, i can shower, i can just take a break from singing THREE LITTLE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED.  but now it's like i'm a single mama, and it scares me a little.  what if i need a break?  what if i have a meltdown?  what if i forget the words to hoppity-hop?

but after i sucked it up and drove away from terminal west, i remembered my word of the year.  gratitude.  and i decided to start listing everything i was grateful for.

grateful that philip has a job, a great job really, that allows me to stay with julian and be a full time mama and creative type.
grateful this job is so awesome i don't have to put the monkey in daycare. 
grateful that this job is so so awesome that we are able to renovate our house into the house we've always wanted it to be.
grateful that we are staying with my mom during this renovation, so even though philip is gone i still have my own mama around to help.
grateful that i have such a good baby that spending a week alone with him really isn't that big of a deal.
grateful that philip moved us to colorado when i knew it was the right place for us to be, even knowing he'd have to travel.
grateful we still have our kitties so my bed is less lonely tonight.
grateful that the three of us spent a lovely sunday together, soaking in the sun and walking around cherry creek.

my list went on and on and on.  i listed as many things as i could.  and by the time i got home, i didn't feel so sad anymore.  because i married the best man i ever could find, and he gave me the sweetest baby i could have asked for, and even though i'm on my own for a couple days my life is so overflowing with all of the greatest things that it. is. okay.

so here's to the dad in my family once again - the dad that does everything for his family, even if it means spending some time away from them.

hurricane baby.

for someone planning a natural birth, i did surprisingly little worrying about, you know, the actual birth part.  i took the class, held the ice cubes, found my happy place, practiced the breathing, bought the exercise ball.  by in the end, i just knew deep down that pushing out a tiny human would work itself out and that no matter what i did i would not be able to control my birth.

instead, i wisely spent the last weeks of my pregnancy absolutely horrified of those first few postpartum weeks.  controllable crying? bleeding nipples? no sleep? unbearable pain to poop? gauze underwear? no, no, no, no, no.  this would not do.  i was paranoid of 'catching' postpartum depressing, as if it was something i could wisely avoid with placental supplements and hand washing.  as much as i loved reading birth stories, i read every postpartum blog post and article i could get my swollen fingers on.  ten essentials to get you through your baby's first six weekswhat no one told me about postpartumwhy you'll be the happiest and saddest in your life after birth!  i figured knowledge was power and ventured into the motherhood tunnel with as much information about the darkness as i could find.

and just like pregnancy, i had some but not all of those postpartum experiences i read about.  a few were just as bad as i had braced myself for, while others were nothing to write home about.  but there was one very troubling thing that happened postpartum that i absolutely did NOT read anything about beforehand - and it was far and away the hardest part of the healing process.  and i'm still in the healing mode.

postpartum is hard on your relationship with your partner.

like, really hard.

and just like any other symptom of the pregnancy experience, there are varying degrees of 'hard.'  for me, this meant those first three postpartum months were the most difficult of my marriage.

i don't really blog about my relationship with PI, because it's the most personal and close-to-my-heart thing in my life, plus, you know, privacy.  but what i'll say is that we aren't fighters.  we are best friends, we are absolutely evenly matched and see eye-to-eye on nearly everything, and where we don't fight we have intelligent discussion and debate.  there is the occasional  B   I   G  fight, complete with yelling, but these are few and far between.  we don't go to bed angry.  we don't hold grudges or keep things inside.  we discuss, we get to the root of the issue, and then we move on.

but postpartum was like hurricane katina for our relationship.  we knew a storm was coming, that it would be something to weather, but we had no idea just how difficult it would be.

my mom said it best to me [as moms always do], as she stroked my hair and tears wet my cheeks.  she was at a conference and the keynote speaker had everyone stand up.  reach your arms up high, she instructed.  as high as they can go.  business people all around had their arms stretched towards the ceiling.  great, she said.  now - reach higher.  

to me, that's it felt like in the thick of it.  when i was running two hour increments of sleep at a time.  when my nipples were raw from baby sucks.  when all i wanted was for someone to burp the baby so i could go back to sleep.  when feeding the cats in the morning for me was the most romantic gesture i could think of.  when i was putting so much effort into taking care of someone else i could hardly take care of myself.  that's when you have to take care of your relationship too.  to close the door to the nursery when the baby is screaming so he can get some uninterrupted sleep, too.  to make a pot of hot coffee for him who can drink caffeine.  to remember that as hard as it is to be alone with the baby all day, it's harder to be away from the baby all day. 

to reach higher.  and it's not easy.  at times there will literally be someone sleeping between you in bed.  i say all this not to scare people of postpartum the way i was scared, but to let you know that the storm will pass.  a few bumps in the road does not mean your marriage is doomed.  it doesn't mean it was a mistake to have that squishy little baby.  it means that, just as your body has to adjust, everything else in your life has to adjust - and yes, this does include your relationship. 

but like any storm, it will ease up.  it doesn't go on forever.  just like all the postpartum-newborny stuff, each week is a little better.  each month will feel like a new year.  and then, you'll get a babysitter, you'll laugh, you'll have a kiss that feels like the first you ever had, and you'll remember how much you love each other that you made that squishy little baby in the first place.

the thing i learned is that yes, your partner is trying just as hard as you.  even if it doesn't feel like it.  everyone is always giving 100%, because that's what it is to be a parent.  each of you will have different responsibilities, but that doesn't make yours more important than theirs.  but more importantly than that - just as your baby won't take care of himself, your relationship won't take care of itself.  you have to baby it, work at it.

and suddenly... there were three in the bed and the little one said...
[photo by hogger + co]
but we took care of our relationship.  we have adjusted to life's new routines and made changes where we needed to.  the worst part of our storm has passed.  the sun is shining on us once again.  and it's as bright as it's ever been.

to the dad in my house.

here's to the dad in my house.

the dad that works.  hard.  the dad that makes sure his son and his wife have everything they want - not just everything they need.  baby books, swaddle blankets, pacifiers, nursing bras, all in the quantity wanted and needed without an argument.  the dad that wakes up and kisses his son on the forehead before he leaves to work to make sure his son has a good life.  the dad that picks up his son just as soon as he walks in the door, holds him so his wife can shower, can cook, can sleep. 

here's to the dad that happily took the before-midnight or after-4:30am shift with bottle in hand.  the dad that reads to his son every night.  the dad who happily changes the dirtiest of diapers, the dad who would change more of them if it could, if it meant him being home more.  the dad that encourages his wife to go out, to take a class here and there, get coffee with her friends when she can, to work when the opportunity arises, because he can handle the baby alone.  the dad that wants to handle the baby alone so they can bond.  the dad that holds his wife's hand and rubs her back and feeds her encouragement and ginger ale through twenty hours of natural labor.  the dad who was calm, even as his wife's water broke on his tile floor. 

the dad that was too worried to be around his son when he had a cold, knowing it would kill him if he even gave that little baby so much as a sniffle. the dad that worries as much as his wife, but doesn't let it show.  the dad that can take care of things - when his wife is losing it, she's had enough, she's sleep deprived and the baby is crying and she's worried about breastfeeding - he can say, here, let me take the baby, and quiet him immediately.  the dad that holds up swaddle blankets in public so his wife can breastfeed because she just insists on it.  the dad that walks blocks away to move the car closer in the rain so his son doesn't get cold.  the dad that can walk around with a burp cloth on his shoulder and spit up stains on his shirt without the blink of an eye.  the dad that's not afraid to tell his son he loves him, to hug him, to kiss him. 

here's to the dad who sets the best example for his son.  who is the best dad imaginable, who is the best husband imaginable, who is the best man imaginable.

to the dad who is just doing his best, and we know it, and fall in love with him more every day.