On March 5, 2012, I was in labor in our living room, craving pineapple and fretting over who would let the dog outside if we indeed went to the hospital. A mere eight hours later, Suzianne came flying out into the world. Life–and my understanding of the importance of great stitch-work–would never be the same.
As you know, the first seven months were rough. Not for Suzianne, thankfully, just for me. I simply could not shake the feeling that everything I was doing was wrong. That taking care of an infant was a challenge I simply was not cut out for. Facebook posts from others served as a constant reminder that being a new mom was so fun (snuggle time!) and easy (playdates! weddings! road trips!) for everyone else but me.
From the worry that I would never figure out the logistics of leaving the house, to the fear of a public meltdown I could not stop, to challenges with breastfeeding and my tiny body giving out at inopportune moments. I still get breathless when I think about it.
One thing I did rock out though: cross country air travel. Like a boss.
I now realize that it is laughable, how seriously I took the whole thing. So what if your baby’s prolonged nap, or lack thereof, makes you late to your doctors appointment? So what if she melts down at a restaurant–then on the street and on the train? So what if your kitchen is a mess? Oh, Lord, last summer, every time folks tried to tell me “calm down” or “that is just what babies do,” I would just cry.
Just one year later, those anxieties feel a world away. I am myself again–mentally and physically. Though both of those transitions took so much longer than I’d imagined.
For Suzianne, one year on earth has brought her from blob-of-amazing-cheeks to a toddling, tiny human.
Once they hit six months, the cognitive, social and emotional developments come on fast and strong. This month, Suzianne began pointing at objects, holding up books for us to read, and responding to requests (where is your baby doll? do you want milk? where is Georgia?). In fact, her first words, “baby” and possibly “Georgia,” were just this week.
We celebrated her one year like anyone would in the presence of Granny Sue Sue: with a fabulous dinner at The Palm, complete with flower arrangements, party favors and a sash.
But the thing I thought was the most brilliant was the floor covering:
Granny Sue Sue can throw a party. Anyone of my friends from Elementary and High School can vouch for that! It’s been so fun having Suzianne and her Granny only one mile apart. What a blessing.
Our girl is growing fast. She’ll be walking before we know it. And talking. Lord help us!
Suzianne, we are so grateful for you. We thank God daily that you are healthy, happy and curious. I also thank God my hormones finally leveled out so that you can I can actually enjoy each other. You are perfect in every way, my love. It is an honor to be your momma.
This month, it became quite clear that I birthed a giant person. I’m not sure how I created this incredibly long and lean creature, but I’m feeling pretty accomplished.
She towers above other babies her age. In fact, I’m pretty sure she could ride a roller coaster today. I was 13 years old before I could do that.
This month, it also became clear that felt, paper and cardboard are more exciting than the 30,000 toys her daddy has purchased for her.
FELT: If you don’t own a set of felt fruit and root veggies, your child is missing out. Suzianne goes through spurts where she plays with this stuff for days on end.
Even when presented with a new, loud toy. Even on Christmas morning! This child prefers the basket o’ hand-crafted felt that our dear friend Krissi gave to her when she was a few months old. Thanks, Krissi! Sometimes we love you for this gift, sometimes we curse you.
PAPER: Suzianne loves everything about books and could spend all day flipping through them, pulling them off shelves and nibbling at their corners. A good book currently is the best “soothing” toy we can offer her.
She’s got a thing for these tabbed DK books, that my friend Nicole introduced us to. I highly recommend them all. Baby Bonus: they apparently make effective teething mechanisms.
CARDBOARD: when Team Newman receives an especially large box, we play with it like this:
When Melissa-the-awesome-nanny gets hold of the same box, it turns into this:
Yes, Dave’s nickname for Suzianne for the past six months or so has been “Tiny.” Not so sure how accurate that name is now, but it’s still cute.
And finally, this month, Suzianne began experimenting with kneeling, pulling herself up on furniture, and standing. You’ll find her like this a lot:
In the meantime, watch her grow! Take a scroll through the Month-by-Month archives.
This month, Suzianne shed her infant-ness and became a little person.
She was quite busy during her 10th month on Earth, breaking in three new teeth and discovering many new things about herself. This month, Suzianne:
Found her voice (it’s loud) and began communicating her preferences–via high-pitch squeals–for fun things like daddy, Melissa-the-awesome-nanny, chasing Georgia, Bluegrass music, bath time, Vegas showgirls and guacamole:
Oh, and she’s got some dislikes, too, such as getting dressed, teething, having her fingernails trimmed, and new toys that make too much noise:
She also hates Santa:
This month, she’s started to realize her physical abilities like crawling! and standing with assistance!, as well as limitations, like standing on her own.
Ooo! We even had our first projectile vomiting episode! Lucky for us, it was following a very scary choking episode (She turned purple, ya’ll. It was horrible. But she’s clearly got a rockstar esophagus that knows how to take care of business.) at a nice restaurant in San Diego in front of lots of strangers; lucky for you, I did not get a photo of it. BUT I do have this five minutes later picture, where Suzianne is the happiest baby on the block and could not care less that our table, her stroller and her daddy’s jacket now smell like throw up:
The best part about month 10 is Suzianne’s self-established sleeping routine. She now puts herself to sleep for her 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. naps. Even better: she puts herself to sleep each night at 7 p.m. and sleeps (most nights) until 6 a.m. It’s LOVELY and worth every one of those heartbreaking four or five nights of “crying it out.”
Suzianne continues to be a very chill child who is always happy, unless she’s tired, teething or hungry. Or hungry, but refusing to eat. Or has had the iPhone she was about to eat taken away from her. Or thinks you are trying trick her into taking a nap. She’s also very smart and observant like her father. And a very chatty, loud-talking, crazy person, like me.
Now that my hormones have leveled out, I can honestly say being Suzianne’s momma is a privilege and joy–and I’m thankful for every single moment.
Watch her grow! Take a scroll through the Month-by-Month archives.
Suzianne’s ninth month brought with it several firsts that gave Dave and me pause:
1. The little girl giggle. Dave was playing with her the other day and this little girl laugh came out. Not a baby one, a little girl one. It was crazy.
2. The peek around. She very aware of her surroundings these days. She’s learning that something interesting is always happening and she’s gonna peep it out, no matter what you’re trying to get her to focus on:
3. The red-headed temper. Ours is an extremely happy baby, who rarely cries. But lately, she’s not a fan of us taking things from her that she’s deemed fit to gnaw on. Apparently, iPhones are TASTY, and mommas who take them from you are EVIL.
4. Mobility. She’s not yet crawling forward, but this week she has become a speed demon backwards and sideways. It’s fun to watch, because she’s like a whole new baby when she’s backing up all over the place. So cool to watch her set her sights on something and then work to reach it.
5. Standing. It’s also odd to see her standing up. Not on her own, of course; but to see her lean-standing is still crazy.
It occurs to me that, in my mind, she’s still a little baby. In reality, she’s well on her way to becoming a little girl.
Watch her grow! Take a scroll through the Month-by-Month archives.
I don’t feel guilty when I think about the first seven months of Suzianne’s life, just sad.
Seven whole months with her were wasted on my postpartum depression. It’s not my fault and there is nothing I did wrong, but it still breaks my heart.
It started March 6, the day after Suzianne was born. Before they send you home with the tiny version of your spouse you just made, they make you sit through this class about how to diaper, bathe and generally keep your baby alive. All the other new moms were sitting on pillows, looking attentive. I sat on my pillow and cried. Hard.
I remember the pit in my stomach each evening as “the night shift” approached. Many new moms refer to night feeding as “snuggle time” on their Facebook pages; it was not snuggly for me. It was simply sleep deprivation. Around 7 p.m., my mind would begin to process the “night dread” — I knew what time it was without even looking at the clock.
For three months worth of night feedings, I ate grapes, counted the windows in the office building next door (43) and wondered if I would ever sleep again. I did not enjoy this “special time together” as so many other moms seem to. I didn’t even enjoy weekends.
In those first few weeks, when it came to breastfeeding, I experienced overwhelming anxiety and anguish. Knowing that I was only able to produce enough milk for the moment, and not enough to store away for later, like so many of my friends could. Even when I was pumping 15 ounces a day, she needed more, and I had to supplement 10 ounces of her milk with formula. That felt like a failure to me. My friend Olivia (who breastfed her baby for 12 whole months) reassured me that I was awesome, then sighed, and said, “There’s nothing like pumping breastmilk to put a specific measurement of ounces on a woman’s worth.”
In April, from my perch on a sitz bath, I called my best friend and bawled as I told her I was a horrible mother. That I didn’t know what I was doing and felt like it was not fair to Suzianne. “I’m not good at this,” I kept repeating. She listened and told me I was a wonderful mother, that Suzianne loved me and all would be okay. Four more months would pass before I believed her.
In May, my back went out. I remember laying in the bed, not being able to lift Suzianne or play on the floor with her. For some reason, I was convinced that those few days of little interaction with me were scarring her for life. I laid on my pillow and cried.
In July, I went back to work; the hormones started to level out and I began to feel like myself again. Until I stopped breastfeeding. Just like my friend Beth warned me about, my hormones went through another insane shift ALL OVER AGAIN. It was like when you are trying to rewind “Smash” on your DVR, and you push the button a little too hard and you have to watch a scene with “Ellis” again… again. Just awful.
In September, when we were in Hawaii (hard life, yeah?), I finally figured out my hormones were still whack. Here I was, five months after Suzianne was born, and still getting emotional and exhausted by trivial things, like not having a white onesie and corresponding bunny for the six month photo. But it was being away from her for a week–and being really, really relieved about the break–that led me to the conclusion that I remained a little off. I felt a little better once I acknowledged it, but I couldn’t shake the fog. So, I sat at the pool overlooking the Pacific and cried.
In October, I went with mom to a GNC store and asked the guy, “Do you have anything for postpartum issues? He said, “Sure!” and escorted me to the menopause supplement section.
I said, “No, no. Not menopause hormones, ‘just had a baby hormones.'”
He said, “Your problem is that you stopped taking your prenatal vitamin after you had the baby, amiright?”
Me, “Yes, but this is hormonal, not vitamin related.”
Him, “It’s the vitamins. Take these for two weeks and bring them back if you don’t feel better. I swear.”
I do feel better. Thank you, GNC guy.
From March 6 to mid-October, my head was cloudy and my heart was heavy nearly every day.
I don’t know if it is the vitamins, the perfect San Diego weather, or my hormones finally leveling out, but I’m feeling normal now.
Proof: Thanksgiving week we spent seven straight days with Suzianne in Nashville and I never lost my mind. I never one got flustered or upset about anything baby-related (I did get emotional the last night there, but that is only because I really miss my Nashville friends).
Holiday travel with an infant and no baby-sitter was just the test I needed and I passed like a boss.
I’m me again. I have always liked me, so I’m really excited about that.
Dave and I spend more time with our baby than most families are able to. It’s a luxury I do not take for granted (this time). It’s fun to finally feel and experience those new mom warm fuzzies that I’m always reading about on Facebook. I, too, could spend a full hour just starring at Suzianne! She’s remarkable! I didn’t feel this way until recently–there was too much hormonal clutter in the way.
Moving to California has brought with it a most awesome gift: a second chance at spending quality time with my infant. I don’t deserve this do-over, but I’m grateful and am soaking in every moment.