Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Unexpected Wonders

There have been things I hadn't imagined about this first year of parenthood. It's hard to capture the feeling of all of them, but at I want to remember some. I couldn't have imagined:
  1. How when Wes was first born, I didn't know how to hold him, was seriously perplexed as to how I could possibly position his body for breastfeeding, how I could move him from one side to the other. He was so tiny and fragile. I was truly confounded.
  2. How easy it is to fall into deep sleep while nursing in the weeks after birth, even while sitting up.
  3. How often Casey and I crack each other up when the baby had fallen asleep. This could be because he made a funny noise or face, or because one of us does something amazingly loud on accident. The harder it was to get the baby to sleep, the more likely we will have a laughing fit, it seems.
  4. How often when we're trying to be reeeeally quiet, we end up doing something dramatically loud like kicking a pot across the floor or setting off a baby noisemaker.
  5. How soon after the birth we felt the same as before in that we wanted to go out to restaurants and do our normal things, but that those desires just fade and change shape.
  6. How sweet it is to have a baby wake up next to us and give smiles and a laugh that is brighter and more purely joyous than any I could have imagined.
  7. How young Wes was when he got a sense of rhythm and enjoyed dancing to music.
  8. How many silly faces I could make, effortlessly. I have never been one to be very ridiculous, but I surprise myself sometimes with how fun it is to dance like a fool and to make funny faces.
  9. How little time there is to do anything except watch the baby.
  10. How hard it can be to get yourself fed. Prior to having Wes I never understood people who would "forget" to have a meal, but I have been incapable of getting myself fed reguarly for much of the year.
  11. How much I felt like I was in a cocoon after birth, not able to imagine beyond the immediate of our little sphere. I slowly emerged throughout the months.
  12. How different my awareness is post-baby. I feel always partially conscious of Wes even when doing other tasks. At first this meant I was almost entirely unable to focus on a conversation, and felt like I wasn't making any sense, like I wasn't grounded in my mind/body during conversation. Also, in any room with cross-conversations going on, I'd feel crazy, unable to focus, and slightly overwhelmed in the chaos. My ability to talk to others has returned, but I am more sensitive to chaotic environments than I used to be. Prior to parenthood I never had trouble focusing on conversations even in a busy environment, though I did have trouble studying with music playing...
  13. How Wes senses our presence. As an infant he'd start nursing in his sleep when I entered the room. Or he smiles when Casey comes home. Frequently he wakes up (briefly) about a minute or two before Casey pulls into the driveway at night, as if he senses his approach.
  14. How confusing it is to know what to do with a colicy baby--and the answer is, there's not much you can do except be there for them.
  15. How newborns sleep with their eyes open, half open, or opening and closing.
  16. How little some babies like to be swaddled.
  17. How much I would want my mom nearby.
  18. How thankful I am for Skype.
  19. How quickly babies go through phases. What Wes loves one week, what works for him one week, will not necessarily work the next, it is a constant dance of adjustment, of cues and response and connections and attention.
  20. How quickly I lost the baby weight, but how different both my body perception and my actual body is than before.
  21. How it's hard to imagine Wes at his next big milestone (pushing up, sitting, crawling, walking), and just how amazing it looks when it arrives, how unbelievably cute he is when he is doing a new skill.
  22. How special it is to see all the tiny nuances of change on a daily basis.
  23. How impatient I can be. I have always thought of myself as a patient person, but I have been to my limits this year in ways I had not anticipated.
  24. How patient and present I can be. I have spent much of the year giving, being in synch, and sharing with a third person this year (the second being Casey).
  25. How loud the world is. I cringe and suffer lawn mowers, slamming doors, sirens, loud trucks and motorcycles, teenagers, barking dogs on walks with my sleeping baby or was-drifting-off-to-sleep baby.
  26. How parenthood takes growing into and it's a 'learn on the job' kind of thing. So, our parents had to figure it out as they went along, too. They weren't experts. And the baby keeps changing, so there is always something new. As a parent I'm always trying my best to handle something I haven't dealt with before.
  27. How parenthood has accentuated my strengths and my weaknesses--thrust them into the spotlight.
  28. How parenthood makes me want to be a better person.
  29. How we will all give our children psychological complexes of some sort or another. So, I will apologize in advance, try to work to be a better person myself, and try to give Wes the best tools possible.
Additional things about Wesley in his first year that I'd like to remember:
  1. How after he was born he inched his way bit by bit from my tummy up to latch on without assistance, just little head movements and scoots and he found his own way.
  2. How for his first two weeks he'd make little oinking pig noises when he was hungry, rooting for food.
  3. How much he has loved books this year. The books have changed throughout the year, but he's always adored them.
  4. How much he wanted to be a part of the world, wanted to see what was going on, be part of the action.
  5. How strong his neck was and how much he wanted to stand up very early on (like before 6 weeks).
  6. How exuberant he is--full of loud squeals and talking.
  7. How when he gets excited his entire body tenses, his legs and arms straighted straight out.
  8. In the later months, how he clings on to me like a little lemming with his arms and legs. This is especially true when I am holding him on my hip, I think sometimes if I let go, he'd still be hanging on.
  9. How playful he is, how he can laugh so hysterically if you keep doing the same 'funny' thing over and over, until you couldn't possible have the energy to do it one more time...
  10. How aware and alert he was from very early on.
  11. How he pushes himself to the point of frustration in order to overcome barriers.
  12. How he multi-tasks with an easy (like spinning his music wheel) and a difficult task (like a puzzle) in order to manage his frustration with the difficult task.
There are a million other little things I wish I could capture and keep so that I can remember. And, so that one day, when Wesley wants to know, he can have bits of information with which to imagine himself so young. But I can't document it all, so some will fade away and some will live in differen't people's memories, getting rehashed and reshaped throughout the years because that's how life goes...

So for now, I'll end this list and say, this has been an amazing year. Truly transformative. It has been so challenging and rewarding and beautiful which sounds cliche but is true.

First year of parenthood complete. Many more adventures ahead/currently in progress.


  1. Wesley is a lucky guy! Love, Patricia

  2. i love this list! number nineteen is one i remember really figuring out the first year and i have to say, it hasn't changed. even in the toddler and preschool ages i am constantly adjusting and figuring out a new routine based on what currently works. you are such a good mama, my friend!