Pregnancy is typically expected to be a 10 month ordeal. And yet, 9 months is more popularly recognized as the length of pregnancy. Avery Joy has been here, on earth, for as long as she grew inside of me. Therefore, it seems fitting at the 9 month “out” mark to reflect back on all the beautiful changes and growing pains brought about by the newest human in our home.
In the first few days of having Avery in our home, it surprised me just how much I had forgotten about the early days with Gracie. I remembered the major stuff: I should have lots of outfits ready because they spit-up all.the.time; don’t buy too many newborn diapers because they grow fast; it’s so hard to start nursing a baby; babies don’t really like to sleep; babies don’t like to have been born.
However, I found myself at 2am googling things like “When do babies finally sleep longer than 10 minutes?!?” and “How much spit up is too much?!?!” (including the punctuation) more often than I had anticipated.
And even though I remembered some of the facts of newborn-ness, I had forgotten many of the *feels*: how it feels to hold a tiny baby, how it feels to change a tiny diaper; how icky it feels to be in the early days of post-partum recovery; how it feels to be tired all the way down to your bones and have to wake up and do stuff anyway.
I had forgotten how tiredness can be felt behind your eyeballs.
As I was with Gracie, I was so nervous in those early days…but it was a new set of fears. I wasn’t sure how to balance being responsible for two lives. I had two very little people in my care who both needed a lot of attention, and who both needed very different things. In this, add in a layer of utter and total fatigue, and I found myself feeling in over my head. Every day, I would pick Gracie up from daycare with a pit in my stomach on the drive home: for the next hours, while Jon was away for the day, I was on the losing end of 2:1.
What if one was crying and I couldn’t get to the other?
What if Avery needed to nurse when Gracie needed to nap?
What if Gracie woke up Avery?
What is Avery woke up Gracie?
How do people have more than one kid?
Could I really do this?
Was I good mom?
And yet, without my expressed consent, time marched on. Soon, I found myself feeling accomplished as a day turned into night and everyone was relatively happy. I realized that it was probably ok if someone had to wait a bit for mommy. Patience is a virtue, and it has to be learned. Although it may have alarmed the UPS guy who was delivering a consistent stream of diapers to our door on the daily, I accepted that it was actually ok if someone was always crying at our house.
One day, it hit me between the eyes: people do this. All the time. Parenting is hard…and I had help. I have always marveled at the strength of single parents, but now, my respect for any mom or dad doing all this alone was multiplied, ten-fold. How could I expect nurturing a new life be anything but challenging?
No matter how out of control it seemed, the situation was what it was, no matter how I felt. And everything, every challenging moment that seems totally impossible, always passed. I discovered that I could choose to find humor in the absurd chaos that often ensued during nap time.
I reconciled that screen time was my friend, and that it was perfectly fine in moderation…for both of them. I learned to scale my list down. I picked three things a day that I wanted to do, and a shower was included as one of the three. A shower was not a given. I planned weeks of endless crock-pot meals. I found nursing clothes I liked. I accepted that it would likely be years before it did not seemed like our home was consistently covered in a fine dust of cheesy pirate booty.
I talked to my toddler honestly, and I asked her for her help.
I learned to consciously be present in the moment, but not to guilt myself for wanting to fold a load of laundry with some help from Daniel Tiger.
Even though I still struggle with it, I learned to forgive myself for failing, for yelling, for crying.
I reclaimed the attitude that I am trying my best. I have good intentions. I am a good mom.
And now, when I zoom-out and look at life 9 months later…I see our home changed. Avery has grown so well and is settling wonderfully into our rhythm. Gracie has rebuilt her rhythm to include her sister. And as a mom, I strive daily to be humble. I don’t take any quiet moments for granted. As much as I want to be, I am not entitled to naps from either of them.
As babies often do, Avery came bursting in and completely leveled our life. We rebuilt around her. The life we have now is better and stronger than it ever could have been without her. Seeing my children laugh together makes my heart leap with joy. More than anything, I will work to ensure they understand how special it is to have a sibling.
So Avery, you are officially 9 months out.
Thanks for being you.
We love you, Goo-goo.
Excited to share some of my favorites from our 9 month photo session with Jen Lauren Photography!