Sunday, July 28, 2013

It's a first!

It was the first time I was going to be working nightshift since having Michelle. I was nervous about leaving her overnight with my Mom. My mother was worried too. Michelle had never spent a night without me. She's never even slept in her crib. We have been co-sleeping since she was born. It only made sense since I was breastfeeding her every couple of hours in the beginning. If I had to keep lifting her out and putting her back into a crib after each feeding neither of us would have gotten any sleep. With her lying next to me she could nurse and then we could both drift back to sleep. Then of course it was such a habit we never got out of it. It's a bonding experience as well. Though I've heard of "sleep training" and certainly had a few people tell me that's what I "should" be doing, it just didn't feel right to me to leave her to scream. I can't do it. I'm a softie. To me, leaving Michelle to scream would be deliberate cruelty and I'm not capable of that (especially to the person I love most in the world). So I really didn't know how Michelle was going to be sleeping at my Mom's without me.

I have been weaning Michelle gradually. I'm going to continue to breastfeed at least once or twice a day as long as I can because I know there are so many health benefits and it's a bonding experience. I was concerned that she refused to drink milk from a cup. It's "Baboo" transitional milk for babies 12-24 months, to get them accustomed to cow's milk. Now that she's not getting as much breast milk I knew that she had to get her calcium somehow. I discovered that she would drink the milk very well from a bottle. She'll only drink milk from a bottle and water from a cup. I guess she thinks milk should always come from a nipple. I was just relieved that she was drinking it at all. My Mom and I were worried what would happen if Michelle just wouldn't go to sleep without being nursed and if she woke up several times in the night to find I wasn't there.

As expected, the first night was pretty rough. Luckily I was able to leave work a little early. I came home to find my poor Mom still up. She hadn't slept at all. "Thank God you're home!" she said. She'd been praying I'd come home early. Michelle was waking up every 45 minutes or so. My Mom didn't have the heart to just let her scream either. She had sung and rocked her to sleep for hours, her arms breaking. Then Michelle finally settled down at 11:30 PM only to wake up less than an hour later. My Mom gave her some milk in a bottle and she went back to sleep but then kept waking up. I felt awful because not only was I not there but I had forgotten to pack Michelle's favourite pink stuffed monkey that she always sleeps with. When I came back to my Mom's in the wee hours of the morning, Michelle was asleep and didn't wake up as monkey and I snuck in next to her. I lay there staring at her for quite a while unable to sleep myself. She kept waking up through the morning and I barely got a couple of hours sleep.

I didn't know how we would get through my shifts. I prayed that things would work out somehow, that Michelle would adjust. My prayers were answered. The next night was a completely different story. My Mom said that Michelle fell asleep at 9:30 PM and SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! It was a miracle. Mind you she was probably exhausted from not getting enough sleep the previous night. On top of that she had spent a long time running around in the backyard playing with my Dad so that may have worn her out as well. Whatever it was I was so happy and relieved. Hopefully it's a pattern that will stick. One less thing to worry about.

I was feeling guilty about leaving Michelle but as several people have told me it is probably good for her in the long run. She will become a little more resilient and independent. She will learn that yes Mama goes away sometimes but she always comes back. She's getting very close to my Mom and Dad. She is not making strange with people anymore and even lets my Dad and my brother hold her (she never used to let men hold her. She's not used to men.) She seems to be happy and thriving. She's more active than ever and is learning more each day. I am grateful to have my Mom and Dad to watch her while I'm at work.

Today my family is coming over to celebrate Michelle's First Birthday. I still can't believe it's been a year. I remember a friend telling me that on her birthday she gives her mother roses in honour of what she went through during labour to have her. I've never heard of anyone doing that. I found it so thoughtful. When I think about what I went through to give birth to a 9 lb 4 ounce baby I think Michelle should be giving me roses someday too! Your birthday isn't just the day you came into the world, it's the day your Mom brought you into the world, which is no easy feat!

I went to pick up some balloons for her party and Michelle was so excited in the store she was squirming to get out of my arms. Reluctantly I let her walk around barefoot in the store (before I had kids when I'd see children walking around barefoot in a store I used to think "Why would they let their kids walk on this filthy floor?!" now I understand that if it makes them happy you'd do just about anything. Besides I can wash her feet when we get home.) Everyone was saying how cute she was. She's walking so well now that it looks funny to see such a tiny person walking around the store. One customer was taken aback when she turned the corner and saw Michelle walking down the aisle. The girls in the store said they loved her beautiful red hair and blue eyes. "She's so sweet!" one of them said. "She can be sweet. She can also be a monster sometimes." I said and right on cue Michelle took out her soother and growled like a monster. "Grrr." They laughed and said "OMG! That's adorable!"

Since Michelle can say "ball" (and says it hundreds of times since she loves playing with balls now) I thought she might be able to say "balloon." My Mom said it's a lot to expect two syllable words from a 12 month old. She did try though. It came home "bwoon" and "boon." I am amazed at the words she can say. There seems to be a new one almost every day now. One day when my Mom was watching her Mom was looking for her hat and asking "Where's my hat?" all of a sudden Michelle said "hat" perfectly for the first time. She'd never even tried before and then just out of the blue she says it as though she's been saying it forever. She puts a hat on her head and says "hat." She grabs one of my Mom's hats and says "hat." She's a bit of a diva and likes trying on clothes and looking at herself in the mirror. My Mom has a full length mirror in her downstairs hallway. I have one in my upstairs hall at home. Michelle is always walking over to the mirror to try things on. I can't imagine when she's a teenager! Michelle can say "bee," "bunny," "tree," "head" (well it comes out more like Ed), "cup" (more like bup, referring to her sippy cup.) She's been saying "Mama" for several months. Now she also says "Mommy" and "Mom." She understands so much more than she can say. She even makes associations and reacts to things in conversation, on TV and in song when you don't even expect it. You ask her to get something and you're not even sure she knows what it is but she comes back with it. You say "one" or "first" and she holds up one finger. "She's a genius," my Mom says proudly, "just like you were." And she's a terror sometimes, just like I was. My Mom says it's like having her baby Ann Marie all over again. "I never expected to be looking after a baby at this stage of my life!" my Mom says. "Neither did I!" I say and we laugh.

Around this time a year ago I was 75 lbs heavier and ready to pop. I was staying at my sister's place and wondering when Michelle was going to make her grand entrance/exit. She was late. I didn't want to wait much longer and the doctor said if she didn't come by the end of the week then we'd induce her. I had a little chat with Michelle in utero and explained "Look baby it'll be easier on us both if you come out on your own. Otherwise they're coming to get you!" She listened and I went into labour that night so I didn't have to be induced. It was a rough journey but we both survived it.

Now here we are a year later and I can't believe all that we have been through together. I am so grateful for all of it. I can even look back fondly at the struggles. It wasn't easy being pregnant or going through labour or caring for a newborn, but it was all worth it. Now I look at my sweet little girl, my funny little monster, and it's hard to believe there was life before her. She is everything to me now.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart. I love you so much!


  1. A very happy 1st Birthday to Michelle!! How great does it feel to have made it this year!! Imagine how far you've both come!!

    I buy my mom & aunt a piece of jewelry every year on Elena's birthday as a thank you to them for being there & helping me to bring Elena into the world. I couldn't have dove it without them!!

    1. Thank you! Yes I can't believe how far we've come!

      What a sweet idea for your Mom and Aunt. I should have done something like that for my Mom and sister. Their support helped me get through labour.