We ate lentil loaf and salad and I would have gone to bed feeling great if it hadn’t been for the chocolate and chocolate and chocolate consumed after dinner. All four of us played Catan. Dad and I finished some cryptic crosswords. I went running in my new leggings. We walked to Starbucks on Xmas day. I’d claim this is the first time it’s happened, but actually it has happened once before in 2007 in Vancouver, BC. We walked around the lake. We drank hot cocoa and ate vegan donuts. We drove to Mukilteo and had a real Xmas dinner with friends and their family. My mum and I went to my local yoga studio on Xmas eve and Mika and I slept in on Xmas morning. For brunch Ivan made everyone tofu scramble with beans and hashbrowns. Having my mum and dad here felt like the best xmas present ever.
I took some photos, but definitely not enough. And I have the same song in my head as last year.
So Oma has been here for 2 weeks now and it is so so good. Like, ‘how will i manage without her’ sort of good. She has pretty much just assumed the role of chief baby holder and book reader, which has pretty much made me redundant (except for feeding every 3 hours).
But seriously, having more grownups than children in the house makes for a much easier life. And with a grownup like Oma who will willingly change diapers, multitask with an infant in her arms, forgo a shower or two for the greater good and read Dora the Explorer over and over again to the chattiest 3.5 year old, life almost feels luxurious.
I have been enjoying weekly massages (maximizing my insurance benefits), time alone, time with just Mika, some time with just Ivan and even my first postpartum run. NONE of this would happen so easily without Oma here. So things are good.
Teo is getting bigger and stronger and it is SO INSANE how cute he is. Ivan loves being out with him alone because in any other circumstance he would never have so many women approaching him in public
Our days are full but not busy. We walk, we explore, we drink coffee and eat donuts, we go to a dance class or the gym, we read so many books.
In an effort to make Christmas about ‘more than just presents’, I made a little ‘Christmas Jar’ for Mika to open each morning. I made her a christmas tree out of cardboard and drew numbers on it from 1-25 and then in her jar i leave her a little star sticker, a tiny piece of chocolate and an activity for each day. The activities are usually low key, like ‘read a christmas story with oma!’ or ‘choose a toy from my bedroom to donate’ or ‘drink hot cocoa after dinner’, but it has been so fun to watch her jump out of bed each morning and open her jar.
Here’s a few pictures from lately.
After overthinking it a bit, I’ve realised that many traditions are just sort of born out of doing the same thing this year that we did last year without much thought. So when Mika said ‘christmas can’t be here yet cause we haven’t cut down our tree!’ it became so that a tradition would be to cut down a tree (so long as we are in a place where we can do this) and of course we had to go to the same place we happened to go to last year. Two years in a row? Tradition!
But so much more awesome cause, well, Oma and Teo are here! (And also because M is at an age where decorating the tree is apparently SUPER exciting. Last year she didn’t care about this much).
And Mika had a chat with Santa. I’m not sure what they talked about, cause when I asked her about it she went all shy and said she couldn’t remember. But later this evening she ran up to me and said ‘Mama, wasn’t it so exciting that I got to see Santa today?!’
Today you are 31 days old.
I can’t believe we’ve been staring at your beautiful face for an entire month. (Read: I can’t believe I haven’t had more than 3 hours sleep in a row for an entire month.) Ha, but no – also I can’t believe how much bigger you feel in my arms already, and how tiny you still look when I see people holding you.
But here we are, back to ‘normal’ life cause your papa has now gone back to work and so it is just you and me and your amazing big sister. (Quite honestly it blows my mind how much this girl loves you. You’re a lucky boy.) And what does normal life look like? It is a midnight, a 230am, a 530am and a 7am wake up with you. It is lying in bed trying to catch one extra hour sleep between 730 and 830am while your papa makes oatmeal for your sister. It is Mika suddenly taking full charge of herself and running in to wake me up at 830am to proudly show me her choice of clothing for the day. Sometimes it is kissing your sister and papa goodbye as they go off to school and work respectively. And then we hang out at home and I watch your gorgeous face when you’re awake and I try to do other things when you’re asleep (if you let me put you down). And sometimes it is the three of us heading out to paint playground or a dance studio or the open gymnastics. And somehow everything just keeps going.
I had one of my favourite ‘duh’ moment realisations the other day. One of those ‘this is IT’ moments. One of those ‘life happens while you’re busy making plans’ sort of moments. One of the best things about first time parenthood is the complete naivety. When Mika was about 6 weeks old I wrote that she was now sleeping like 5-8 hours at night! I remember thinking ‘woohoo! this is it! we’ve made it!’ and then it wasn’t until after many many more sleepless and sleep-full nights I realised that the only thing we can be sure of it that things will change. For better or for worse or just different – things will change.
This makes second-time parenthood a little bit easier and also a little bit sadder. But what it sort of makes me think about is that I don’t want to be living in my head waiting for it to ‘get easier’. Cause it sort of won’t. It will just get different. And so instead of trying hard to make it easier, or waiting for it to get easier, I find myself accepting it for what it is and enjoying these moments that will not last: the sleepless nights, your erratic newborn breathing, the sweet smell of your breath, soothing you with breastmilk, feeling like i’m covered in breastmilk all.the.time, how you sleep on me all day long, the quiet moments when you’re awake and we stare at each other for the longest time, your jerky baby movements…all of these things will pass.
But every day I feel like I am getting to know you a little bit more and I love every second of it. Your papa and I can’t quite believe how lucky we are.
I feel like I need to get in here and write SOMETHING down because my gosh everything is flying by so quickly. It is a very odd feeling because on the one hand, my life has slowed down considerably. I have barely left the house, barely done much more than nurse, shower, eat, attempt to sleep, watch movies and listen to podcasts. Which sounds glorious no? But then on the other hand I feel like a part of me is still in Mika’s world and that world hasn’t slowed down much at all.
I suppose it’s perfectly commonsense for it to all feel so much easier the second time round.
But since I haven’t had more than 2 hours sleep in a row for the past almost 3 weeks (the rather seriously less-glorious part about it all), I’m going to use bullet points to get out things I wanna remember, because i am considerably less coherent with such little sleep.
- The support we’ve received has been so ridiculously amazing. Ridiculous because sometimes when I think about it I just can’t even believe it. And it’s weird that it can be hard to accept help and support, no? There is a part of my brain that I have to tell to shut up when it starts thinking ‘i can totally do it all’ or wondering how I can ever repay our friends here for their kindness. I’m not even kidding when I say that we have had enough meals and baking and alcohol being delivered to us over the past 2 weeks that we have barely had to think about cooking our own dinners.
- Teo has gained a full pound! Nursing is a breeze for him and he is on the boob pretty much every hour or two around the clock. I had quite forgotten about the pain of milk coming in though, and on day 3-4 I was in tears. Thankfully it has all eased down a bit now and despite feeling like I’m sorta always just covered in milk, things are going very well.
- He is a very easy baby…EXCEPT for the fact that he cannot sleep on his back. Which is a pretty big fact. And has meant that Ivan and I have been taking ‘sleeping shifts’ since he was born because we cannot put him to sleep in his bassinet. He doesn’t cry and whine on his back, he just throws up on his back which is very sad to watch. BUT we had a doctor’s checkup today and it seems as though there is some sort of custom upright sleeping contraption for babies with this very problem and so we will be getting him fitted for one ASAP. And hopefully our lives will be a tiny bit less sleep deprived. (And our arms a little bit more free).
- So he spits up A LOT. Which is something Mika never really did. So that’s different.
- He is so tiny that he doesn’t really fit any 0-3 month clothing! We had to go out and buy a bunch of preemie onesies and some ‘under 7lbs’ stuff for him to wear.
- He is so so so cute. Ivan and I could stare at him for hours. He has the tiniest lips and they make the cutest little expressions. He smiles a LOT which, considering babies don’t really smile at this age, means he is just VERY gassy. (but the smiles are very cute).
- Everyone asks after Mika. And so far our only response is that she is (naturally) the most wonderful big sister you could imagine. Before he was born, she would often do this baby talk stuff and it drove me mental. ‘Goo goo ga ga i’m a baby’ and all that. But now, nothing. Now she is helpful and kind and responsible (as far as a 3.5 year old can be) and everything is very natural and obvious to her. I think she was heading out to a playground with Ivan and I told her I wished I could go too, and she said sweetly ‘but Teo needs you mama, he needs milk and you are tired because he kept you up all night’ and it breaks my heart a little bit that she is so rational and wonderful about it all.
- The hospital bill?! Woah. Not something I guess I want to remember, but to all my NZ friends, yes, it really does cost that much here to have a baby. And the real crazy thing? That as soon as baby is out of me, he gets his own bills! And so we have bills arriving for him already from his stay in the hospital! It’s nuts. Thankfully our insurance WILL cover a lot of it, I don’t think we would end up paying more than 20% of the total – it’s all very confusing and there are many factors to it, but yes it is NUTS. Considering that in NZ we never saw a SINGLE bill for anything relating to Mika’s birth. Not the prenatal care or the birth or the stay at the birth centre or the incredible follow-up post her birth. I’m sorry America, but something doesn’t feel right about it all.
And here are all the pictures. Because there cannot be enough. (And I WILL get around to taking photos of him with a real camera.) Mateo Parker Paul Cruz: