Thursday, November 20, 2014

That Holiday Feeling

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The second we turn our calendars to November, the holiday season invades our lives. It sneaks its way into every activity we do, preoccupies our thoughts, and spreads to every place we go until its presence cannot be ignored. I don't mean for this to sound like it's a bad thing, but I believe that "spread" is literally the single best way to describe what happens with holiday cheer. There is nothing as contagious or as prevalent. Halloween comes and goes, and then suddenly, we just feel cozy. Just think about it: bundling up in layers, walking through crisp cool air, feeling hot chocolate-soaked marshmallows melt in your mouth, smelling all of your favorite family recipes waiting for you to gobble them up (pun slightly intended).

But for me, this feeling we all get this time of year has another layer to it now. Wow. That's the only way I know how to describe it. Just wow. I'm just absolutely bewildered by how much life has changed since the 2013 holiday season. Not so much life, I suppose. My life is pretty similar. I go to work, I try to help people, I try to better my practice and advance my profession. I spend time with your daddy, we cook dinner together, we make each other laugh, we curl up with Chelsea and watch Netflix. I text with Auntie Amanda all day, I Instagram my latest DIY project/Pinterecipe/pretty cocktail, and when I'm not feeling too lazy I actually go out with friends. But I have changed. My capacity to love has changed.

This time last year, I was excited to meet you. I've spent a lot of time trying to decide what that means. "Excited." Was I excited to no longer be pregnant? Was I excited to become a mom? Perhaps it was a little of both? And what do I mean by "excited?" Was it the kind of butterflies you feel in anticipation of a new vacation or reuniting with an old friend? Or was it like looking forward to the latest Hunger Games movie? I've decided that the excitement I felt actually was most analogous to that of Jessie Spano. She was before your time, so I'll summarize briefly. Jessie was a teen character on a hit tv show from back when Mommy and Daddy were kids. In one absolutely hallmark episode, Jessie feels overwhelmed by the stresses of being a teenager in the early 90s, namely balancing her demanding geometry homework with the pressures of keeping up with her friends. She succumbs to caffeine pills as a poor coping mechanism, and is left pretty amped up, but also quite terrified of the uncertainties of her future. Fortunately, her BFF Zack Morris comes to her rescue and everything works out. I digress.

I'm a sensitive person, and I don't know whether you'll be sensitive or not. It's okay either way. But I just want to throw out that just because I'm comparing bringing you into this world to becoming addicted to barely-controlled substances, that doesn't mean that I don't love you. Or that I didn't love you. Or that I didn't want you. You were very wanted and loved before you got here, before you were even thought of. But none of those sentiments can even remotely compare to the extent of my love for you now. Today.

This time last year, I had no idea what to expect, and that was a bit scary. I consider myself to be a pretty brave person, but fortunately, I've never really had to test my courage. I'm been brave through tough situations. I've overcome adversity enough to relate to characters like Harry Potter, but I've never needed to be brave in the face of fear. My unexpectedly complicated delivery left me pretty paralyzed by fear. I wasn't quite sure how to get around that. I remember at one point, your Mimi asked me if I thought I felt like I had postpartum depression. I didn't feel depressed, just scared. Overwhelmed. So excited, but so so scared. Since I didn't fit into the box of "fine" and I didn't fit into the box of "postpartum," I didn't really reach out for help.

Daddy was really patient with me, which made me feel loved. That comforted me more than anything else at the time. Auntie Amanda was really helpful, too. They were both with me 24/7 for the first two weeks of your life. Daddy suffered through sleep-deprivation with me, while Auntie Amanda took care of Chelsea and made us breakfast every day. One of my most vivid memories (and I don't have many from those blurry first days) was watching Orange is the New Black with them. I remember that I found the haunting theme song uncomfortably relatable. I felt stuck and trapped in my new life. My life was moving so quickly, but standing still at the same time. I remember having these thoughts while staring off into our Christmas tree. It was the first time those warm lights left me feeling cold and anything but cozy, even with all of those "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. That's another thing: the first picture I posted on Facebook after you were born was of your Christmas ornament. Why in the world didn't I post a picture of you?! The first family photo we took of the three of us was with you in your carseat on Day 3, getting ready to go home. What.

These thoughts and actions seem so illogical to me, a year later. Was it sleep deprivation? Hospital disorientation? Or this crippling fear that I might screw something up while simultaneously having an identity crisis?

Last year, I didn't host Thanksgiving. I barely bought a single Christmas gift. I don't even remember Christmas. This year, it's business as usual, but better. I'm back to my usual organized self with my Any List shopping list and my Evernote full of recipes, but what's even better is that I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm so excited to show you all of our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah traditions. I'm so excited to create new traditions of our own. I'm so excited to spend an obscene amount of money spoiling you with Christmas presents, and birthday presents too! And best of all, I'm not the least bit scared.

We're working on the second season of Orange is the New Black right now. Just like that holiday feeling, the eerie theme song sent a signal to my amygdala reminding me of these foreign emotions I felt this time last year. It's so surreal and bizarre to think about now, because now I can't ever imagine feeling that way.

I loved you when I first met you. And I loved you even more once my post-delivery fog evaporated and I was left with a clearer picture of what our new life was going to be like. But even that doesn't compare to how much I love you now. It's a different kind of love, one greater than I ever thought possible. What's more, my love for you makes me love your daddy even more. Knowing that we share you in a way that no one else gets to, seeing how amazing he is with you, it's jus the greatest. The love I feel for my new family is a new kind of cozy that I get to take with me all year long, not just during the holidays.


Sick Day

You adjusted to the end of daylight savings, you slept well during a vacation, and you've been putting up with the cold weather like you didn't have a Floridian gene in your body, but somehow, your immune system still caught a little bug. Last Thursday, you fussed when I put you down at night. This is something you hadn't done in quite some time, which was my first clue that something was wrong. As a nearly 11-month-old, you have a good understanding of your routine. You take a bath, you get a baby massage, you change into your PJs, you read a book, you nurse, and then peacefully go into your crib and put yourself to bed. What could be causing this change in routine?

Friday morning, I had to wake you up. Usually, you get up on your own. But that morning, all you wanted to do was sleep. You were not happy about being woken up. You nursed as usual, and then I handed you off to Daddy so that he could get you ready for school. As usual. Your bad mood turned to worse, but Daddy tried to push through with our routine. Despite his valiant efforts, you screamed as you reached for me. Daddy stood next to me and you crawled back into my arms. You rested your little head on my chest and sighed, and I knew that's where you'd spend most of the day.

These days, you're so busy. You're quick and curious and consistently value your independence, especially as a means of exploring your world. You have fleeting moments when you need a few extra mommy snuggles, but usually they're short-lived because they get in your way. But last Friday, you didn't want to leave my arms.

"Do you think we should keep her home from school?" Daddy asked. You didn't have a fever, though your nose was runny and your face was breaking out in the way it always seems to whenever you have any virus in your system. "I can stay home with her if you want," he offered. You probably could have gone to school. They certainly wouldn't have sent you home. But I took one look at your face and knew you needed me.


No, you weren't happy. And it wasn't something that Daddy could fix, or something that staying home would fix. You needed me. You spent the whole day in my lap, in my arms, curled up on my chest, more attached to me than you had been in months. I was reminded of how little you were once, and how much has changed since then. It was nice to know I was still just as needed, and I enjoyed the extra time together. At the same time, though, I worried because I was pretty sure this was your biggest bug to date. You got mad at me when I wiped your nose, and sometimes you coughed so hard that it scared you. It scared me, too. But we toughed it out, and after a day or so, you started to show some interest in your usual activities.

At first, we spend all of your waking hours like this:


You, attached to me, with a sleepy look in your eye. Me, emotionally drained but content because I knew you were on your way back. We just sat like that for hours. I talked with you, I sang to you. You even watched tv, which you NEVER do...not because I don't let you; you're just not interested. It was about Saturday afternoon when you started to sing again, and then you were crawling and cruising and playing all over the place. You even started to smile again!


Yep, that gunk on your face still stuck around though. Vaseline is our best friend in this house.

It's just amazing to me how much can happen in 48 hours these days. You went from completely miserable to good as new. I was so glad to be able to spend the day with you. We've been really lucky so far *knock on wood* that you haven't had too many colds, even with five months of daycare under your belt. I thought maybe if I could have spent a little bit of time comforting you, that investment would help you kick this thing sooner so that we could get back to our routine on Monday. I'm grateful to work in a culture that understands that, because sure enough, you were back to your usual antics the next week!


Nashville

The weekend after Thanksgiving, we drove to Nashville to visit Mommy's friend Ms. Jessica. You had met her once before when we went to Gainesville for her wedding. She and Mr. Jordan are expecting a little boy in February, and we wanted to give them some baby practice! Also, it was Jessica's 30th birthday and the Gators were playing at Vanderbilt. We figured it was a good time for a road trip, and as good a time as any for your first football game!

We left Friday morning and drove to Chattanooga. I really do love Chattanooga. I think it's such a cute town, and it's a shame that we don't spend more time there when it's only a couple of hours away. You slept through almost the entire drive. You woke up when we were lost in a very cute neighborhood on our way to find some hiking trails, but you managed to keep it together for the most part until we stopped. We got out at Ruby Falls, but decided not to actually do any of the Ruby Falls attractions because they were touristy and overpriced. Maybe next time. We went on a little nature walk for a mile or two and found some beautiful views around Lookout Mountain.


Next, we stopped for lunch on UTC's campus at this adorable little hippy sandwich shop called The Yellow Deli. You ate some yummy fruit salad, and we got back in the car.

When we got to Nashville, Ms. Jessica (or I guess I should be calling her Dr. Jessica) was still in surgery. We let ourselves into her house and got comfortable. Jess got home soon, and we all went out for Mexican food. Mr. Jordan was coaching a high school football game that night, but Jessica's sister was in town too so she joined us. Usually, you love going out to eat (especially Mexican), but you we're feeling it that night. I don't know if it was the new people or the fact that you had spent so much time in the car, but you were over it.

The next day, we took it pretty easy. We hung out at the house, spent some time catching up with our friends, and you got to take lots of naps in preparation for the game that evening. We went out to lunch at this really good place near their house, but mostly we just relaxed. That night, we put on many layers of orange and blue (it was cold!) and headed over to Vanderbilt to tailgate.


It was a pretty uneventful game. Boring, even. But you were a trooper. You ate a little...


Slept a little...


And even watched a little of the action!




The Gators won, and we headed back to Jessica and Jordan's house to go to bed. The next day, we hit the road pretty early. We had planned on stopping in Chattanooga again, but unfortunately, there was a HUGE accident blocking the interstate. Mommy skipped breakfast and had already nursed you three times, so things were looking pretty bleak. I was past the point of hangry and was seeing spots. After about six hours, we decided to take the next possible exit and just find any food we could. Fortunately, it was a nice day and we were happy to take our time once we got some food in our bellies.



Once we got back into the Atlanta area, we picked up Chelsea from Auntie Sara's house and FINALLY headed home. You were so glad to be out of your carseat by then!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ellieween

Last night, you celebrated your very first Halloween. Mommy and Daddy really love this holiday, because we love being silly and dressing up. Celebrating Halloween with you meant that we were now able to take our love of Halloween to the next level: with family costumes. For your first Halloween, we decided to dress up as characters from Game of Thrones. Mommy and Daddy are big fans of the books and the show, and even though you're not going to be old enough to enjoy it for a while, dressing up as these characters meant that I got to make you a dragon costume.



I dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons...or in my case, Dragon. I was a little worried about how you'd respond to seeing me looking so different, but you weren't scared at all! You did seem a little confused.



Daddy dressed up as Jon Snow (which I guess made Chelsea a direwolf), and we went down to the neighborhood party to see your friends all dressed up.


You're a little too young for trick-or-treating, but we did run into Ms. Karen on the way home and she gave you a special treat!


Hurwitch Family Reunion

One thing I really love about our extended family is that we have far more women than men. Men are great, don't get me wrong. But I think it's really important for girls to be surrounded by lots of positive female figures. Even if you have a brother someday, I'll think it's important for him to have this exposure as well. Your mommy fancies herself a feminist, and that means that for every influential man there is in the mainstream, we need to have just as many inspirational women. I like to think that our family helps to even that out.

You've met your aunties on your daddy's side of the family and on Daideo's side of the family, and of course you know your Auntie Sara. But last weekend, you got to meet the rest of Mimi's family. You've met your Auntie Amethyst before, but you also met her and Mimi's sister Carol, as well as their cousins Lisa and Johanna. These are very important people to your mommy, so I was very excited for you to meet them...and they were even more excited to meet you!


We kicked off our weekend at one of Mommy's favorite restaurants with Daideo and Auntie Amanda. After all, he wanted some time with his girls, too!


You demolished some avocado (per usual) and made friends with the waitress, so it was a pretty great outing. I'm so glad that you love restaurants as much as your mommy does!

Next, we met up with Mimi's family at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. You had been there a few times, but not on a day like this. It was the beginning of fall and it was beautiful!


Everyone was so happy to spend some quality time together on such a beautiful day.




We went home and picked up some caffeine Chelsea and went over to Auntie Sara's house for dinner.


It was a really nice time, especially because it was right around Mimi, Auntie Johanna, and Auntie Carol's birthdays!


We put you to bed in your pack-n-play so that Auntie Amanda and I could stay up with the grown-ups doing boring grown-up things and definitely not drinking grown-up drinks. You actually did pretty well with the transfer to your carseat and then to your crib!

The next day, we had a lazy morning and I made a big breakfast for us and Auntie Amanda. Then, we went over to Auntie Sara's again! All of your aunties babysat you so that Mommy could go to a memorial tribute performance for your neighbor, Ms. Katie. She passed away, and so it was nice to be able to celebrate her with her friends in a way that she would have enjoyed.

By the time I picked you up, I think you were tired of being so social. Overall, you did really great though! I thought it was interesting how you seemed familiar with everyone. It was as though you knew they were family! I know they're looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Ten Months Old


Please forgive the fact that this post is over a week and a half late. You have grown so big in the last month! You're an entire pound heavier (probably due to all of these new foods you've been eating), though you're still the same height (which is our family's way of growing, after all).



You've had a very busy social calendar this month. From birthday parties to baseball games, apple picking to family vacations, you've certainly had a lot of fun! You've also been busy learning new things. Now that you're practically a grown-up, you absolutely refuse to eat purées and insist on feeding yourself. This is great, because you're getting so good at eating finger foods! Sometimes you're not so into nursing anymore. Every time I think you're going to wean yourself, though, you decide you love it again. You're also saying "mama," though I don't know if it's consistent enough to count it as your first word. You only say it for me, while you say "dada" for everything from Daddy to Chelsea to the door stopper. Man, you love that door stopper. We'll see!



You like stuffed animals, but you love books. Pretty much anything is a toy to you these days, especially if it's something off-limits, like Mommy's glasses. You love to play and turn almost anything into a game. You've figured out how to drop food for Chelsea, and I think you're trying to get her to chase you, too. You've become such a fast crawler!



You love to stand and can pull to stand on almost any surface, even walls. Once standing, you're able to just hold on with one hand to support yourself, which is great because you love dancing and waving one arm around. You've started to move your hands around quite a bit. Auntie Amanda calls it "mambling," which is manual babbling. You've been slacking with your ASL, but you do sign "milk" pretty frequently...except that sometimes it actually means "milk," sometimes it means "more," and sometimes it means "Mommy." I think it just means "I want this" or "I like this" when you do it! The important thing is that you're becoming a great communicator.



You're still really loving school. Your teacher, Ms. Jean, always tells me how much you love to explore your classroom and how much you love playing with your friends. Even though you're not so happy when I drop you off, you're always happy when I pick you up. And you're pretty happy at home, too! You're always smiling and laughing, and sometimes you do this little "AHH!" noise when you're just having so much fun that it bursts out of you. We're so lucky to have such a fun kid!