Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Published 8:16 PM by with 4 comments

Confessions of This Young Mother

Singing Harmony to sleep with the same tune, same words, same blessing, sung by my mother when I was little makes my heart melt with contented joy. "May the Lord, mighty Lord, bless and keep you forever..."

It seems like I never knew what joy really was until she was born.

Thinking that there might be something wrong with my daughter, when she wheezes in her sleep because the air is too dry in our apartment, or she screams inconsolably at midnight (colic? gas? what am I doing wrong?), sends rivers of fear through my mind. It takes effort to calm myself down enough to quietly tend to her needs, even when I'm not sure what they are. 

I can handle fear for myself. Fear for my vulnerable, beautiful daughter is an entirely different matter. There's no way I can handle that on my own. I guess that's a good thing, because it means that I have to always lay my fearful heart before God. I constantly quote Bible verses to myself that bring clarity into my scattered soul. 

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid."

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God, and that is what we are."

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Sometimes Harmony just wants to be held by mama. Nobody else will do. And even though I'm a very touchy-feely sort of person, getting used to being wanted almost 24/7 by this tiny being is more difficult than I had expected. 

Not going to lie... breast-feeding was HARD for the first three weeks. Actually, it was awful for the first week. Not going to go into details, but let's just say that I still send up a silent prayer of thanks every time she feeds now because I know I won't have to grit my teeth in agony or cry whenever she latches on.

Since she doesn't like slings (not yet, at least), and can't hold her head up steadily on her own, it takes both my hands to carry her with me. I keep having to remind myself that cuddling with the adorableness looking up from my arms is enough, for this newborn stage will soon be over, and I will miss it.

Chris is a lifesaver. He goes to work at a stressful grocery store then comes home and takes Harmony to give my arms a break, or prepares food for us, or washes dishes (the endless amount of dishes, ugh), or does laundry. It's tough for me to not feel useless, but I know that caring for our little girl and continuing to recover from being ill are the best, most important things right now.

The one thing, the ONE THING that has proven to ALWAYS calm her down when she is upset, is taking her outside. The instant I step out the back door and face the forest in our backyard, Harmony becomes quiet. She is alert, staring at the sky, the trees, the building, the birds. Then she usually falls asleep. I wonder what my neighbors think when I take an infant out in the heat of the day (I do stay in the shade), or pace the grounds at night, or rock my daughter while sitting in the grass at five thirty in the morning. My little nature girl.

When she sleeps, which is not as often as I wish she would, she sleeps with her arms flung out wide, as if preparing to embrace life as hugely as possible. Look out, world!

Every day Harmony is a bit bigger, a bit stronger, a bit more coordinated. At her one month mark, the tiny baby I so vividly remember giving birth to is already growing into a more aware, independent person, in spite of her helplessness and continued neediness of mama's arms. 

I have to keep reminding myself that it only gets more incredible from here on out... from an infant, Harmony will become a toddler, then grow into a child. Someday she will need me to let her go. Is it sad that I'm already trying to prepare myself for that? 

Even in the middle of the night feedings, when I'm struggling to keep my eyes open and hope that I'll be awake enough to burp her when she finishes eating, she is so worth it.

She is SO worth it.

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Published 11:13 AM by with 1 comment

Harmony: the First Three Weeks

After having you, my constant tiny friend, with me always 
for nine months, traveling 
along/inside as I sang, cooked, slept, wondered,
I thought I would feel strangely empty
now that you have taken this first step
towards independence.
Yet the expected sensation of loneliness will never come,
I realized with relief,
because there is too much love
filling my heart for you,
too much of your personality to discover,
every day a new adventure 
as you teach us Who You Are.

You held your head up
on your own strength the very first hour after birth;
now your neck grows stronger all the time.
You try to coordinate those arms and legs,
rolling over onto your side,
and we already worry about baby-proofing the apartment.
Patience is one of your virtues;
you wait calmly to be fed,
rarely crying 
even as we fumble to figure out the language
of your needs.
Bath time has been lovely so far.
You coo happily when we gently pour warm water
over your tummy.
Polka dots are a fascination.
So are patterns of flowers, stripes, and stars.
You will stare and stare 
at the world around, all curious eyes
and exploring mind.

What makes you laugh and smile
while you dream?
We can't wait to see that grin someday
when you are awake.

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