Michelle and I had a very nice (though somewhat chaotic!) Christmas with the whole family at my sister's place. It is hard getting that many people into one room at the same time but I always insist on the group photo so that it happens for at least a few seconds. The rest of the time everyone is scattered -- smokers out in the garage, the rest of us divided between the family room, living room, dining room and kitchen, the children running around all over the place, frantically opening gifts then running through the hallway. So many people and presents and commotion. So much going on at once it's hard to take it all in. It's anarchy! I had the whole gang at my place for my Mom's birthday but of course she was the only one with presents to open and for dinner I just ordered in. My sister made a big delicious turkey dinner on top of everything else. I told her "I don't know how you do it." "I don't know either!" she said. I baked a chocolate cake at least and made some cookies, which is quite something for me considering I never bake. The cake didn't turn out quite the way I'd planned but was still good. There were a ton of desserts anyway from cookies to fudge to cheesecake. After stuffing myself with turkey the last thing I needed were more calories but who can resist? I probably gained 10 lbs by the end of the day!
Christmas Eve was much more quiet. Michelle and I just took it easy at home. I couldn't resist taking a bunch of photos of her. It was her first Christmas after all. I found these little angel wings that were just her size. She isn't always an angel of course. Sometimes I think it's getting easier and then it changes again. You just never know what she'll do. Lately she's been a night owl. She stays up until midnight, 1 or 2 a.m. Then of course she's tired the next day and naps in the afternoon. I've been napping with her because I'm exhausted myself. The problem is then it's a vicious cycle and it's hard to break out of it. If I don't need to go anywhere, I stay in my pjs all day and just catch a few zzzs when she sleeps. Then she's up late at night again. It's hard to get things done because I used to do things at night while she slept and that doesn't always happen now. She will play for a few moments with her toys, on her play gym, in her jolly jumper, jumperoo and swing so that buys me some time to do things like dishes and putting away laundry. Some things, like the garbage, are next to impossible to do while she's up. I have to wait until she's asleep and then run out and put the bags to the curb (with my coat thrown over my pjs. I just don't care anymore and there aren't too many neighbours out to see me in the middle of the night in the freezing cold anyway.) Then I come back in the house to hear her crying. It's like she knows I left the house for one second.
So yes she's very demanding and takes all of my time but I adore her. I wanted to make her first Christmas special (though she wouldn't really be able to understand or appreciate it yet anyway.) I'm on a tight budget but I managed to pick up great deals here and there so I could get her a few toys, a couple of dolls and some books. She puts EVERYTHING in her mouth these days so I got her a couple of teething toys.
I thought I'd have to open the gifts for her but she was actually curious about the bags and was reaching for and grabbing things herself. She seemed to like her gifts. Ali (my grey tabby) was happy with her gifts as well (some mice and butterflies.) She went crazy on the butterflies. They were made of the same crinkly material that some of Michelle's toys are. I tried to get a picture of Ali playing with them but she was too quick.
I enjoyed spending Christmas Eve alone with Michelle (and Ali). I read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and sang her Christmas carols. We watched "Santa Claus is Coming to
Town" on TV. I wondered how I would handle the whole "Santa" thing in years to come. I'm still on the fence about it. My mother told us flat out that there was no Santa Claus because she didn't want to lie to us. I've seen other families go overboard keeping the illusion up. I'm kind of torn. The true meaning of Christmas is of course Jesus being born but I do think that the idea of Saint Nicholas (and I do believe there really was such a person) is a sweet one and fits in with the spirit of giving. I want her to believe in magic and wonder. I just don't know if I could flat out lie. Christmases were still exciting when I was a kid. I still enjoyed watching the Santa specials. I sometimes sat on his knee at the mall (after I was old enough not to be traumatized by the experience!) I think I was precocious enough to tell Santa one year that I knew it was just pretend and that my Mom was the one buying all our presents. It's not as though I lost anything by not having the lie perpetuated. Honestly I was a pretty analytical kid. I think I would have figured out on my own rather quickly that one man couldn't possibly visit every house around the globe in one night. My nephew James was starting to figure it out after Shannon told him Santa gave her an I-Pad for Christmas. "The elves made an I-Pad?!" he asked in shock. "I thought they only made TOYS!" I didn't want to shatter his illusion so I explained "Maybe they went to the Future Shop in the North Pole. Some of the elves might be lazy. Some may not like making toys. I hear some of them want to be dentists." This pacified him because he had seen Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and knew that Hermey, the misfit elf, wanted to be a dentist.
Michelle got some wonderful presents from Grandma and Grandpa, Auntie May, her uncles and cousin. This was my most exciting Christmas in a long time because getting gifts for Michelle is far better than receiving gifts for myself. When Shannon had asked me before what I wanted for Christmas I said I didn't know, that I didn't need or want anything other than things for Michelle. She is my life now. Everything is for her. Though I did get some lovely gifts anyway.
Since I don't like breastfeeding in public and I didn't want to miss all the activity by being upstairs feeding Michelle half the time, I planned ahead and pumped enough breastmilk to hold her for at least a feeding or two. I also had formula on hand if I needed it. It didn't quite pan out the way I'd hoped though. Michelle drank the bottle of my breastmilk at least which bought me a little time with the family but then she was still crying to be fed an hour later. I couldn't deny her because my breasts knew it was past time for her feeding and were aching. So I went up to feed her in privacy. She's still feeding every two hours or so. Even through the night now. She used to go 3-4 hours sometimes during the night but not anymore. She's so hyper and so active (constantly kicking her legs, trying to roll over, jumping in her jumperoo and jolly jumper) that she must burn off everything she's taking in. I should try to get just half as much exercise as she does and maybe I'd lose my "mommy tummy!"
As much as I love my family, having the whole gang around can be overwhelming. The commotion of 16 people, six of them young kids, can be exhausting. By the end of the day Michelle and I were both pooped. She even fell asleep in my arms in the midst of her cousins running around and screaming and Michael Buble singing Christmas carols on the stereo.
She woke up again and was crying when I put her into the carseat but thankfully fell asleep for the whole ride home. There were just a few flakes of snow for part of my drive. As pretty as a white Christmas can be I HATE driving in snow. It terrifies me. Especially now with the baby I don't want to take any chances. So when we got the snow after Christmas, I didn't go anywhere. I've been in hibernation mode. I'm not going to drive in snow if I can avoid it. Most days I stay in my pjs all day. My neighbour was kind enough to shovel my driveway for me. Aside from running out for two seconds to put the garbage out, I haven't been outside in several days!
I feel blessed to have my big crazy family. I love them so much and I cherish time spent with them. I'm glad that we're close. I know that some families don't bother with each other at all. I also love my own little family of two (three if you include my cat, Ali and she is part of the family.) Christmas Eve was peaceful. Christmas Day was boisterous. It was nice to experience both. Though it's a bit sad to have it all over with now it's also a bit of a relief. Christmas can be stressful (especially shopping which is close to impossible with the baby). Once Christmas is over I don't like seeing or hearing anything to do with Christmas. I couldn't wait to get the Christmas tree down and the decorations away. I like having the tree out before Christmas (since early November) but as soon as Christmas is over, I can't wait to put it all away and reclaim my living room.
I can't believe the year is almost over. 2012 has been such a rollercoaster year. It started out horrendously with heartbreak and difficulty but wound up being the best year of my life because of my little Michelle.
The world was supposed to end on December 21st so many people were saying. It didn't. Now a New Year is beginning. There's something about a new year that fills you with hope. Now that I have Michelle there is more to look forward to than ever. It's uncharted territory for me and there are still so many unanswered questions. Decisions I have to make. I'm hoping for the best. If there's one thing I've learned in 2012 it's that you just never know what might happen. And that even when things seem difficult or impossible if you have faith somehow things work out.
As this is my last post of 2012 I wanted to take a moment to say a big THANK YOU to my readers for following my journey this year! I was surprised when I looked at my stats to see that there were thousands of readers around the globe. Most in the U.S. and Canada but also as far as Europe, Russia, Australia and United Arab Emirates. I started this blog in late March during my second trimester of pregnancy. It became a diary of my experiences while pregnant. Then I wrote about my labour (in late July) and the challenges of caring for a newborn. Writing is therapeutic for me. When I have a bad day I know that I can vent about it here. When I have a good day, the blog is a way to relive it and celebrate it. Writing about the highs and lows of life as a single Mom is part of what keeps me sane! A special thank you to those who offered comments and encouragement. Sometimes I feel like I'm alone and it's nice to be reminded that there are others who understand because they've been there too.
Though it's often difficult to find the time, I plan to continue this blog through Michelle's first year and beyond. Creative expression has always been important to me and I like to have this outlet. I also want to record Michelle's history. This is her story as much as mine. My mother kept detailed baby books when we were growing up. This blog is my version of a baby book (though I am also making notes offline.) Time goes by so fast. Every moment is precious to me and this (like photography) is my way of holding on.