Some thoughts on motherhood.

12291840_1040558042673995_5846392439479838624_o“How much has your life changed?” is a question I’ve heard many times in the past five months. My husband and I were the first in our circle of friends to become parents. Most of our friends had the common exclamation of “Finally!” though a few had a sheer look of terror thinly masked by congratulations.

How much has my life changed? It has changed tremendously in some ways, but in many ways, not at all. I still spend too much money on Groupon. I still love eating popcorn and drinking sweet wine. I still procrastinate on laundry, paint my nails, buy flowers for my garden, see my friends, and cook dinner. I still blog (er, sometimes). I still go to conferences and have lunch and work my job. I still feel like for the most part that I’m very much Alyssa, the same old Alyssa I was 13 months ago before I made a human.

What has changed? My body. I creak, I jiggle, I sag, I ache. But even the changes in my physical self are minute, tiny and small compared to the most massive change of all, in my heart. I don’t mean there are changes to the vascular system of my body, but I mean symbolically, my heart will never be the same. My heart, my whole heart has changed, because now it is forever living outside of my body, shared with a delightful little girl whose smile is like glitter falling from the sky.

IMG_0844Having a baby is a lot like falling in love. The giddiness, the overwhelming desire to be with that person, to see them first thing in the morning and to miss them when they’re asleep, even if they’re right next to you, their tiny hand curled around yours, the sweetness of their breath gently kissing the same air you breathe. The way their lower lip trembles ever so slightly and then, a heart-bursting coo; the satisfied sigh of sleeping babies everywhere. It’s feeling love even when they’re screaming in fits, loud and abrasive, right in your ear, because who knows why; but you scurry around trying to fix it, to make everything right, because that’s just what you do.

I had a lot of anxiety about becoming a mom, as I think most new parents do. Will you be good enough for this tiny person, enough to make them happy and healthy, to thrive? Will you be mindful enough to accept that sometimes no matter what you do, how much of the world you give them, you can’t guarantee that they’ll be happy or healthy or thriving? But right as she was born and I exclaimed that she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, I knew that the best thing I could do for her was to just be there and be present. To be with them, to soothe their cries, to snuggle just a little bit longer even though you haven’t done laundry in three weeks and your hair is oily and there’s a stack of unpaid bills towering on your desk. Babies don’t last forever, but oh boy, chores sure do.

Beyond the fact that babies are adorable, I think what’s so magical about becoming a parent, whether it’s by biological birth or adoption or what, is that you get to see the world through brand new eyes. We forget a lot of the wonder of life, and really, every day is a miracle. The fact that we come out naked and helpless, unable to stand on two legs, is miraculous considering each and every day, new skills are growing. Every day Holly does something new, and that joy and intrigue behind the very simplest of things, like finding her feet, is too innocent not to adore. How special it is to shake off the dust of adulthood and remember that life is truly an adventure. Special moments are often hiding in the ordinary.

So what is hard about being a mother? Nothing is perfect, after all. There’s no break. Even if you manage to sneak away for a beautiful morning at a ritzy spa, free from iPhones or babies, you’re still a mom. You’re never not a mom, ever again, even if the unthinkable happens and you lose your child. You are a mom and will always be. You will never ever stop worrying or loving or wishing the world and the stars and every single planet for the child that has your heart. You will be tired. You will feel pulled in too many directions, like Gumby with more brittle limbs and a spongy tummy with overgrown roots. However, you’re not just a mom. You’re still you, complex like the solar system, individual and varied, rich in interests and hobbies. However, you need to work to remember that you’re still you and not just a mom. You’re a mom, and you’re your own person, you see?

How has my life changed by being a mom? My life has changed a lot. But it also hasn’t. I’m the same old Alyssa, just better. Happier, richer, renewed, more tired, content, achier, Alyssa.

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32 Week Baby Bump Date

32 weeks?! What? Who? How? That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately, except I feel VERY pregnant. Like, no joke. Like, I’ve been pregnant forever. I was cooking dinner tonight and I snuck a sip of Matt’s wine and I swear the sky opened up and the angels sang… and then the pregnancy gods decided to punish me, because I went for another little sip and it went down the wrong pipe, and I spent the next ten minutes sputtering as I sheepishly continued to dice zucchini. No wine for you, prego.

I’ve been quiet on blogs and social media because #tired. And, as most of you know, I work in social media and while I absolutely adore what I do, honestly, sometimes my eyes just want a break from screen time in the evenings and weekends. But, I have lots to tell you, so let the 32 week bump date commence!

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How far along? 32 +5 which means I’m just two days away from 33 weeks. Hot diggity.
Baby’s Size: A naked tailed armadillo, Florida pomelo, or head of lettuce, depending on which app you go by. Pretty sure none of those things are the same size… so baby is about four pounds and 19 inches.
Weight Gain: Well, it finally caught up with me. At my last appointment I had put on 6 pounds and got a bit of the eyebrow raise from my OB. However, I’ve been cleaning up my act the past few weeks and am thrilled to be able to eat again without vomiting, so I’ll take it. That’s 6 pounds at 32 weeks. I’ll take it!
Maternity clothes? All day every day. If it doesn’t have stretch to it, it’s not anywhere on me.
Best moment this week: We’re in full on nesting mode after having baby showers, and I am continually humbled and grateful for how freakin’ generous our friends and family are. We have so. much. stuff. and it’s overflowing in our humble abode. This weekend we’re hoping to finally set up our crib and baby dresser, and once that’s up, it’s time for the fun stuff (DECOR!). One of my friends also gave birth last week , and a fellow blogger friend also had her baby (Welcome to the world, sweet William and Delaney!).

Miss anything?

  • Sleeping on my stomach. I’m not going to take this bullet point off  this list ever.
  • Being able to get up or flop on the couch with abandon. When you have a massive, bulbous abdomen, you totally move slower, more deliberately, and more painfully.
  • Wine. Salami. The ability to pop an Excedrin (or two) when you have a wicked headache. Pants with buttons. Uninterrupted sleep. Getting out of the bathtub without feeling like I need a complex system of levers and pulleys to hoist me out.
  • Going outside. It’s consistently been in the hundreds here and my OB asked me to stay indoors because of my blood pressure (more about that in next bullet).
  • Not worrying about baby’s health as much. My blood pressure is a weird devil, and I’ve been having low blood pressure episodes which make me dizzy. In the past I’ve had high blood pressure, but never needed medication or anything like that. Well, my OB decided at my last appointment because of my track record this pregnancy (even though my blood pressure was great!) that she wanted me to do twice-weekly non-stress tests at 34 weeks. Regardless of them being called “non-stress tests”, of course I stressed out, thinking “WHYYYYYYY? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!”. It means my OB is conservative, as she said, and it’s just two more chances each week to make sure mommy and baby are healthy. But man. Pregnancy. All the feels.

Movement: This girl is hilarious and definitely knows when the kitty is lying on me or when live music is playing. We captured a video of the little lady moving her leg to Matt playing the guitar and I thought it was sooo cool. I mean.. that’s a frickin baby leg, in my belly. Crazy!
Food cravings:  Grapes, as usual, milk, as usual, and tonight I had to have a homemade veggie primavera pasta.
Anything making you queasy or sick: This week the smell of black beans made me feel gaggy, and then walking by the fish section in the market (as usual) turned my stomach. But! I have not thrown up in over two weeks… great success in my book!
Gender:  Girl!
Labor signs: Uh, I hope none, though some of the lower back pain and achiness this week makes me paranoid.
Symptoms: Less nausea (praise God or Allah or Flying Spaghetti Monster), lower back pain, cramping, wanting to eat ALL THE THINGS, hot all the time.
Happy or moody most of the time: Other than being a cranky crabby patty because I feel icky, mostly happy. Getting so excited to meet the little lady. I was in Sears the other day and got ridiculously excited thinking about taking her shopping!
Looking forward to: Finalizing our day care plans for February (you have to do it crazy early here), finalizing our pediatrician (another thing you have to do before birth!), getting the nursery set up and washing and putting away adorable baby clothes like the onesie below, celebrating hubby’s birthday.

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So that’s it, everyone! Hope life has been treating you well 🙂