April 19, 2014

Project 52 {16/52}


This is what happens when your teeny tiny little newborn isn't quite so newborn anymore - lots of fun and adorable outtakes!

April 18, 2014

Due Date!


Today is Olivia's due date and the day she turns three weeks old.  I've said over and over that we were in a state of shock that she arrived so early.  Though those words are easy to say, it's been really hard for me to adequately describe just how greatly it impacted me to have her arrive so early.  Despite the fact that we were more than ready for her to arrive - in fact, we were probably over-prepared - and despite the fact that she was right in front of me, I was truly in a state of disbelief for those first few days - and still found it hard to accept that she was really here for those first couple of weeks.

I think the numerous issues we were trying to tackle all at once in those early days played a large part in how I was mentally dealing with Olivia arriving so early.  I have a tendency to go into "business mode" when important issues need to be taken care of - taking a step back from my emotions and feelings in order to focus my energy on getting those important tasks done as efficiently as possible.  It's not a complete disconnect from the world - as I was finding myself feeling love and appreciation and gratitude that she was here, she was safe, and she was perfect - but there was a certain reservation or perhaps a preoccupation with making sure everything was taken care of.

It's just been in the past week or so that I've truly come to accept that she's actually here.  Slowly that shock and disbelief have worn off, and with a bit of a return to normalcy and a bit of taming of the postpartum hormone craziness and a bit of a calm down in the breastfeeding/jaundice/weight gain issues we were experiencing - reality has finally started to sink in.

As life begins to settle down into more of a routine and I've had the time to really process everything, I'm finding myself completely overwhelmed with so much love.  It amazes me how much one little heart can grow, how much joy you can feel from looking into two little eyes, and how much love one tiny little person can bring into a family.

April 16, 2014

Normalcy


"To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people just exist." ~ Oscar Wilde

I've said before that I'm doing things differently with this baby.  The biggest difference is not in what I'm actually doing, but within myself.  I've said before that David's laid back and casual attitude wears off on me more and more everyday - and the proof is in the pudding:  I'm so much more relaxed now.  It has changed my life in so many ways, and I don't think David will ever really understand how amazing this gift is that he has unknowingly given to me.  In addition to calming down my uptight nature with his sense and sensibility, David is so helpful with all the practical things around the house - happily jumping into caring for the kids, cleaning, cooking, washing clothes, or anything else that needs to be done - that I now have the ability to be relaxed.

Over the past few years I've slowly but surely learned to enjoy the simple moments in life.  In fact, I've said before (here and here, for example) that the simplest moments are often the most magical - mostly because they are a true representation of everyday happiness, rather than the joyful but limited occasions of birthdays, holidays, vacations, and so on.

What all this means for baby #3 is that for once, I have the desire and the ability to slow down and enjoy the precious, simple moments with my newborn.  I really feel like I missed out on a lot of bonding time with my previous babies because I was too worried about quickly returning to "normal" and had little to no help with the routine daily chores that continue to pile up after a new baby arrives.  Even in the midst of snuggling with my other children when they were newborns, I felt anxiety about the parts of the house that needed to be cleaned, or finding the time to get in my daily exercise, or wanting to post the latest pictures I'd snapped.  That's not to say that I never enjoyed the simple times with Faith or Noah - but there was almost always a tugging to get up and get things done.  The more relaxed attitude this time around has made a world of difference in my ability to bond with Olivia, and enjoy the simple moments with her.

While I had planned to do little else but spend all of my spare time bonding with Olivia, I've come to realize that time spent together is much more about quality than quantity.  Truth be told, I don't feel the need to spend every single second of my spare time with Olivia because I've learned how to enjoy the simple and routine moments with her - while nursing (which let's be honest, consumes 90% of my day anyway), while she naps on my chest, while I talk or sing to her during her brief awake periods, or even during the dozens of daily diaper changes.  While I had previously viewed most of these as necessities, requirements that must be done to care for my baby - they are now moments of happiness and joy, chances to get to know a little bit more about our little one.

I had never imagined that within a few weeks of giving birth to our third child that I would have the time or the desire to leisurely sip a small glass of wine and catch up on the book I've currently got my nose buried in.  Or keep up with the handful of television shows we've been following lately.  Or take a shower every day and get out of my pajamas - even taking the time to fix my hair and dab on a bit of makeup some days.  Or snuggle on the couch with David and watch a few movies.  Or use the mindless distraction of Facebook/Pinterest/etc. (especially during those many marathon cluster feedings).  Or go out for dinner and a little shopping.

Yet less than three weeks after our daughter's arrival, I find that I've done all of those things.  I used to marvel at the women who could find the time to do these things so quickly after giving birth - and if I'm being completely honest, I somewhat judgmentally wondered why any mom would want to do any of those things when they had such a precious little gift to spend time with instead.

But now on the flip side of that coin, I see how valuable that little bit of normalcy is, even in these early days after welcoming Olivia to our lives.  I've been able to enjoy so many of the simple moments with my newborn that I find myself wanting to make a little time for myself - time to do things I enjoy - and doing so without guilt.  Having that little bit of familiarity incorporated into my days has done wonders for my mental healthy.  While there have been stressful and overwhelming moments over the past few weeks, they are few and brief whereas in the past I experienced full-on postpartum depression and anxiety within days of giving birth.  (Of course, it helps significantly that I have support and encouragement from David to get through those tough times.)  This time around, I've not only perfected the art of truly getting to know our little one, but I've also been able to allocate a small amount of Mommy Time for myself to relax and unwind.  It's helped so much in allowing me to take a short break and recharge, helping to prevent those difficult moments from snowballing into a true battle.

In many ways, our lives have continued along in a relatively normal manner - at least as "normal" as the circumstances allow.  Olivia fits in so perfectly that it seems as if she was always meant to be a part of our family, almost as if she has always been a part of the family.  While I know growth spurts, teething, sleepless nights, and other inconveniences are yet to come - this transition to a family of five has been far smoother than we ever hoped for.  I've found that elusive balance in life - and for once, with so much help from David, I've got it exactly right.

Life is just about perfect.

April 15, 2014

April 14, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name: From Baby Kate to Olivia


For months and months before our baby's arrival - even before we knew she was a girl - David and I dreamed of what she would be like.  We instantly fell in love with the name Kate and even when we changed our minds about the first name we had picked out, we just knew that she would be Baby Kate no matter what.

Now that we've had the opportunity to spend some time with her and get to know her a little bit - David and I both decided that she does not fit the bill for the little Baby Kate we envisioned for months and months.  We are not in the least bit disappointed - she is so much more than we ever dreamed or imagined!

From the moment we first met her, we knew Olivia would be here second name, one of the many names we had discussed before she was born.  But now that we've spent countless hours snuggling up with her and staring into those gorgeous eyes - we've both decided she is Olivia.  The name just suits her perfectly, and is obviously what she was meant to be called from the very beginning, as David and I have both accidentally called her Olivia on dozens of occasions over the past few weeks.  And when we made this announcement to friends and family, we were overwhelmed by the amount of people who agreed!

It will take some getting used to, especially for the kids, because we have "known" her as Baby Kate for so long.  But now that we are truly getting to know her, we are certain that our little rose finally has a name as sweet as she is.