Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Havilah's Newborn Photos (and so much more)

Well, my girl is coming up on four months old.... I'd say it's about time to share her newborn pictures, eh? The first ones of just her I took when she was a few days old, the ones of our whole family a fellow photographer, AshleyRae Photography did for us in her new studio when Havilah was four weeks old. 

There has been so much I want to remember these last three and a half months and less time than ever to write. The beginning was hard, so so hard. It was the best. The newborn season always is... But it was the best in a swirling mixture of emotion that was very difficult for me to process or navigate. I felt everything to the extreme. Happiness to the extreme, anger to the extreme, affection, overwhelmed-ness, thankfulness, inadequacy, exhaustion, tenderness, more thankfulness... I reminded myself over and over to extend grace, not only to my three energetic boys, but to myself. I was sleep deprived yes, but waking in the night with Havilah felt like a gift. She slept in my bed in my arms for the first 6 weeks, and whenever she would begin rooting the two of us would get up and I would pad softly down the hallway, a sleepy bundle in my arms, the lamp I left on in the nursery glowing through the crack in the door to meet us. I'd gently unswaddle her and begin to change her diaper and her little arms would go up in a stretch as her sweet almond eyes would open one at a time. She would wake fully and be so bright eyed and bushy tailed by the time the diaper change was done that I couldn't help but giggle. I think the memory that stands out the most from those night time nursery feedings is giggling over the adorable newborn faces she would make... We'd tuck ourselves into the cordouroy rocking chair with handmade blankets and quilts and she would nurse for a good solid hour before we'd return to bed. I would re swaddle her during the break in the middle of her feeding and she'd be sleeping like a little cherub again by the end. Waking in the morning and dressing her for the day felt like I'd always imagined as a little girl playing with dolls. The drawers full of sweet, ruffly, flowery, girly things that I'd collected for her came to life as I slipped them onto her tiny body. My real life doll. *sigh* cue all the happy feelings *

I held her or wore her almost constantly. I tried to give Jaden all the extra attention I possibly could because it's always tough for the baby to lose their place to a new baby. That made me emotional for him. All three of my boys fell in love. This sweet tenderness came to life in them as they would gently hold her, touch her velvety hair, run to get her nuk or burp cloth or swaddler for me... They adored her. Still do. 

I think somewhere around the time when she was about 4 or 5 weeks old I went to the mall with my mom. And that was really the first I felt human again. I'd been going to church and family dinners, but not in a confident state of motherhood up until then. I felt kind of like a mole coming out into the sunshine for the first time in ages, squinting and blinking and rubbing my eyes but feeling so thankful for the warmth of the sun, and glad to know it still existed. I don't like to rush that unhurried season of transition and creating a new normal... ever. But it is a great feeling to begin to feel like a contributing member of society again. Or at the very least, to feel like a confident mother. 

When she was about seven weeks old I left the nursery lamp on for the last time in the night. I knew we likely wouldn't use it that night, as she'd begun to just nurse in bed the past few nights before it, but I couldn't bring myself to leave it off just yet, without taking a moment to acknowledge it as the "last time." You see, for me, the end of nursery night time feedings has usually coincided with the beginning of the end of the undefinable "newborn stage." And so while sleeping in my own bed all night, transitioning her from my arms to the bassinet beside me, and nursing in the dark when I barely have to wake to feed her is all a wonderful relief to my tired body, it is a terrible sadness to my heart not to watch her wake in the lamplight, just the two of us, me awake enough to fully notice those soft suckles and grunts while she fills her tummy... it is always so hard to leave that stage behind. 

And so what has changed now that she is definitely no longer a newborn? Well, her hair is lighter and fuzzier. Her bobbing little head and neck are growing stronger and stronger. Her curled lashes are longer than ever, and she weighed 15 lbs last time I checked, when she was just under 3 months old. She has already outgrown her handful of 0-3 month clothing and plowing right through the 3-6 month stockpile. Life has found its new rhythm, although it's been chaotic and I feel like I'm chasing the day most times. Shaun and I were just strategizing last night about how to become more proactive and less reactive as parents, particularly in our bedtime routine. Worship music and one on one time are going to be implemented as of tonight and I'm excited to see what that does to help. Drew is doing better in kindergarten than I ever could have hoped and I am so proud of him. 
Isaiah revealed to me that he can phonetically sound out words and READ as of this morning.... He is four and hasn't even gone to preschool yet!! Jaden is more adorable than ever, but also going through some of the typical two year old stuff, testing the limits and boundaries, We're praying and working extra hard with him right now. Tball is in full swing. So many hilarious and wonderful memories have been made already and I love our team. Shaun is coaching and I've been so proud of him. 
But I've also learned that we don't thrive in hurried, overly full schedules. We need breathing room, and I want to do my best to protect that in the future, although I know things will only get busier from here as they get older and want to be involved in more. It's going to take intentionality I'm sure. My sister had her baby on Saturday and officially joined me in motherhood, and I've fallen in love with her baby girl although I have to wait until mid June to go and see her.

And beyond all of that, God has taught me more about the power of thankfulness and trust in this last season than I'd learned in all my life up to now. I could write entire posts on both of those topics if I could find the time. 

Last thought... When you have a child, time goes into some kind of strange warp where it moves both excruciatingly slowly and entirely too fast all at the same time because you are no longer measuring it by hours and years..... but by the life of a tiny human who now holds your heart in their hands.