16 September 2014

This Space

I am not really sure how to begin this one. I have never been good at the casual posting thing. The lighthearted stuff. I promise in real life I am witty, and not melodramatic, or put together as I may seem here, but when it comes to writing, I pour it all out. Projectile word vomit is a more accurate description. 

I have never written to gain an audience. But alas, over time, articles went viral, people started reading what I had to say, and I became a self-proclaimed "writer."

I am a writer.

If you are a reader of Coffee + Crumbs, that title is legitimate (and if you are not, click over, now), but I still stutter when I say that out loud.

I just came here to say, even if I am not a "good blogger," one that is consistent, that is. Even if I don't respond very well (or at all) to your emails, or interact with you on my other Social Media platforms; even if I do not say nearly enough "thank you's"...

I am thankful that you still make your way here, and that you are so kind to me. I do not know what is in store for this little piece of the internet that I shout in, but I do know this: this will always be a place that is a true reflection of who I am, regardless of what I choose and what I choose not to share. This will always be my safe place.

And I will work on the saying"thank you" thing.

29 July 2014

When Love Feels Heavy

Before I was a parent, I was the perfect one. People told me my life would change. People told me I would be tired. That parenthood would be the greatest and hardest thing I would ever do. 
Yeah yeah yeah.
I know. I know.
I knew everything. 
My family would just smile and nod at my ignorance, and I wonder now if they were scared for me.
I recently sat in a friend's baby shower. I was surrounded by women making light hearted jokes about new parenthood, about sleep depravation, and pregnancy cravings. They exchanged recommendations for swaddle blankets and butt creams. Underneath the small talk and "oohing" and "ahhing" over tiny gifted baby clothes, sat the realness, the hardness of motherhood. I could feel that every mom in the room, behind their sleepless sunken eyes, knew what that meant; they had felt that weight, but they only had the heart to give gifts and hugs and congratulations. I sat there in silence, when all I wanted to do was talk and talk and talk about how new motherhood really can be. To let her in on all the real secrets of being a mother.
I wanted so badly to prepare my friend somehow for the wave that was about to wash over her.
I was there too, belly rounded with life, yesterday. I had the iPhone app, the "Welcome Baby" books, the nursery that I had pinned on my Pinterest. I had the trendy pacifiers, the over packed hospital bag, the pretty dresses my girl would probably never wear. We toured the hospital. I googled birth stories while rounding my hips on a yoga ball. And I learned all about how you breath a baby out of your lady parts.
I remember eating whole pineapples, and choking down giant Evening Primrose Oil pills by the handful to will my baby out of my uterus. 
I was ready.
It took what felt like seven years for her to arrive. More specifically, 41 weeks and 1 day. That extra eight days made me extra prepared. I remember sitting, ecstatic, in the hospital, after the epidural had been administered. I was too giddy to sleep. 
Oh, the time had finally come, and I was so ready.
Then in a blink, she was here. She was tiny and marveling. She was so incredibly beautiful. She was perfect.
But wait.
I am not ready.
This is so hard.
I am so tired.
Why hadn't anyone prepared me for this?
I. Know. Nothing.
If I was sitting across from that very pregnant, very eager and naive version of myself, I would tell her this:
The love you will feel is nothing like you have felt before. It will be foreign and familiar all at once. It will fill you to the very top of your heart, nearly spilling over. The thing about this kind of love, though, is that it can feel heavy. Disproportional. You may feel like you will nearly break in half from the top-heaviness. You will not be able to tell the difference between exhaustion and depression, and that darkness will rob you from what should be the most tender months of your daughter's new life. 
Your baby will cry, a lot. Your days will both begin and end with the saddest screams you will ever hear. Your body will respond the way that it is programmed to - with panic. You will google everything from "dissecting baby poo" to "newborn who hates life." And you will come up short. You will always come up short.
Your baby will only sleep in ten minute increments.
In a plastic rocking chair. (Don't buy a plastic rocking chair.)
In the bathroom.
With the bath water running. 
You will feel like you are going mad, day after day, alone in that bathroom. Between the sound of the water running and her screams, you may feel like your nerve endings will be permanently frayed. 
At the endless ER trips that you take you will be written off as "The Paranoid New Mom." (Press on.) They will give you pamphlets on "Colic," and that just will not cut it. For awhile, nursing will be excruciating, and your baby will fight it, hard. Contrary to the laws of nature, Anabel will not come out knowing how to siphon milk from your body. Also, panic will flood your body when your milk lets down the majority of the time. Yes, breastfeeding induced anxiety attacks are a thing, and it will happen to you. (Hormones are jerks.)
Did I mention how depleted you will feel? 
Eating, and sleeping, and showering are not a part of this season (not often anyway), and right now, in the thick of it, this season will feel never ending. While others' newborns are napping sweetly in their stylish organic leggings via Instagram, yours is miserable. There are over 2 billion mothers in the world, yet you will feel deeply alone. Compared to everyone else, you are failing. No matter how many hands you have on deck, you will be deserted.  
This love will crush your ego. It will destroy your capability to trust yourself. The fear that creeps in the shadows of this love will paralyze you. Strangers will call your newborn "mean." Loved ones will say you are giving your baby too much attention. (Neither of those things exist.) You will feel guilty for not measuring up. You will feel guilty for feeling guilty. You will feel guilty for feeling guilty for feeling guilty. You will cry over absurd things, like not being pregnant anymore. And over massive things, like the way your body has transformed because of pregnancy. You may never feel like you will get the hang of carrying this love.
But what if I told you that one day your daughter would smile? That she would even laugh? And so will you. Her intestines will eventually develop and digest food, and she will not scream excessively anymore. You will find answers to everything you questioned. I would even tell you that your doctor will admit that you were right all along. Saying, "you guys owe me an 'I told you so' on that one." That will feel pretty great. 
I would also tell you that it gets better. Oh, how it does. She will learn how to sleep and nurse. And I would even tell you she gets really great at both.  I would tell you to find the hope in your daughter's eyes. As they lighten, so will that weight. 
Though you may never have parenthood all figured out, there will be a day when you will find a way to wrap that love around yourself, instead of being buried in it. 
And though it is hard to believe, one day you will have a vivacious, smart, and unbelievably happy little girl. A girl that absolutely adores the world. And you will have clean hair, and time to make breakfast for yourself in the morning. 
You will.
Hold on to that truth. There will be a day that you will marvel over the fact that the girl in front of you is the same baby that was so unhappy before.
You will be better. You will grow. You will adjust, and settle, and adjust again. That is what motherhood is, I think. Finding ways through the good heartbreak to fit more love inside of you. There will always be something that stretches your capacity for more. You will learn how to balance the goodness with the heaviness. 
And, I beg you, embrace that things will always feel unfinished. Let unfinished be okay. Let unfinished be enough.
It is enough.
It is enough.
It is enough.
And forget what you see on Instagram,
You are one hell of a mother. 

(I would also insist on researching D-MER, MSPI, Silent Reflux, and buying bulk of Gerber Soothe Colic Drops, & Colic Calm :)

Originally seen on Coffee + Crumbs

15 June 2014

A Father

I saw you as a stranger. Far away and exciting. A quirky seventeen year old. A boy with a bit of an ego. The skateboarder, the car fixer-upper, the music blaring teenager, the student. You were quiet and charming.

Then you were loud. Daring. You became a part of me. And then you were apart from me. We loved as tall as the mountains and as deep as the seas for as long as they separated us.

Then you were brave. Noble. You signed a contract with the Air Force, and exchanged band t-shirts for a camouflaged uniform. Leaving the comfort of your home promptly after graduation.

I blinked, and there was a ring on my finger. I was seventeen, dizzy with anticipation, and engaged to my best friend.

Then, I saw you as a groom. On a frozen day in February. Promising our lives to each other after our love for one another had surely reached its capacity.

Oh, how foolish we were.

Then you were my husband. The peace maker, the IKEA furniture builder, the place in which I found my footing. After two years in this role, I was positive I had seen every facet of you. Every bit of strength, gentleness, and love pour in and out of you.

But then there was Her.

A daughter. A girl that broke us down just to teach us both how deep our hearts could stretch. A girl that stole our pride and replaced it with humility. You jumped in head first into the love she brought with her. I see that love flooding out of you as you brush tiny blonde ringlets and persuade belly laughs out of her. Her first word was appropriately "dada" and she nearly happy cries when you walk through the door each day. She has shown me just how much softness, courage, and love you truly contain.

I have seen you as a boy.
A stranger.
A friend.
A working man.
A fiance.
A groom.
A husband.

A Father.

Of all the versions of you that I have witnessed, this is certainly the best.
You were made to love her.

Photos taken August 2014 by Mary Claire Roman and Marielle Chua.

13 June 2014

ten and eleven

My big girl.

Although, I tried my hardest to slow time down, here we are, just over two weeks before her very first birthday. I have so many feelings about that, but for now, I will just share who my girl is today. She is so close to walking, and took her very first steps on July 12th! Though, she still prefers to crawl everywhere. She has 2 and a half teeth, and is slowly growing her fourth. She sleeps eleven hours a night and takes two two hour naps, most days. She still loves blueberries, bananas, avocados, and watermelon. She has a new love for chicken and Babybel cheese too. She nurses 4-5 times a day still, and will point down my shirt and sign "please" when she wants to eat. Which should be interesting as we continue to nurse past her first birthday. She's obsessed with sticking her tongue out and blowing raspberries on our bellies. She talks and signs a lot, which always amazes me. Most is untranslatable, but she will sign "more," "yes," "please," & "all done." She knows the words "yes!" "yup!" "purple," "brown bear" (for her favorite book), "tata" (turtle), and "yay!" when she claps. She yells "opa" when she blows kisses. She finally says "mama" which is the sweetest music to my ears. She makes an elephant sound when we tell her to "be an elephant!" She raises her hand when we say "who's cute!?" or "who's my girl!?" And she finds her belly button when we ask where it's at (still unsure where she learned that one.) She's also gotten reeeeally aware of her bodily functions, going as far as saying "burp" when she burps and "poop" when she needs to go. Because of this we bought her her own tiny toilet seat & she goes (at least #2) on the toilet nearly every time she has to go (at eleven months old!). I am aware that is abnormal, and early, but it makes me (the least potty mouthed person) want to shout from a mountaintop about poop. I am just so dang proud of her for making that connection and figuring that out. Plus, the less dirty diapers we have to change, the better!

She is still morphing into the most darling cuddle bug. She is constantly coming up to us (and her pal Mickey Mouse, of course) to give hugs, and kisses, and because this affection is so new to us, it's the greatest thing on Earth. She hates wearing things on her head and loves to blow out candles. She still dances like a goof to terrible music, but thinks The National Anthem that plays daily is the best song of them all.

She is forever my little bookworm, choosing to sift through her pile of books over her basket of toys. Her new favorite to read is "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?" She had a blast on her first ever camping trip this month, and first ever trip to the water park too. I've got a sunshine baby on my hands and it makes me so excited for this summer.

She is rowdy. She hoots and hollers nonstop, and I love it. She loves to be alive, and her spirit is everything to me. I just cannot believe how much love, and light, and pure joy this girl contains. I am so lucky I get to watch her grow up.