one month

August 1, 2014

You know how you hear moms say "I can't believe how big my baby is now!" and you think they're crazy because their baby is still pretty darn tiny and baby-ish? Yeah. It turns out I am one of those crazy moms. Our little squish turns one month old today, and I swear she's so big now. Her face looks totally different than the baby I gave birth to. And I have a little hunch that I'll be saying "I can't believe how big my baby is now!" for the rest of my life. Buckle up, people, the crazy mom club is here to stay :)

At one month, our little Eclaire:

+ has the most kissable chubby cheeks in the world

+ will sleep for hours and hours if she's being held, but not very long in her crib

+ is barely starting to grow out of her newborn size clothes and into 0-3 month clothes

+ hates getting wet - wipes, swimming, bathtime. You name it, she screams!

+ is still the master of sleep smiles, and has started trying to smile when she's awake too

+ loves to open her wide eyes and look around at everything (especially lights)

+ is a natural side-sleeper

+ will wiggle her whole body to snuggle up closer to whoever's holding her (it is SO CUTE)

+ goes by Squish, Squeaks, Eclaire, Baby Girl, and basically anything except her actual name

on beauty, and my postpartum body

July 30, 2014

When I was 9 months pregnant, I remember looking in the mirror one day before I got in the shower. My belly was huge, I had gained 35 pounds, and I had stretch marks circling my belly button. Oddly enough, the thought struck me that I was more beautiful than I'd ever been before. The curves and extra softness were signs that I was growing a healthy baby.

Right then, I made a conscious goal to be kind to my postpartum body. I wanted to respect my body for what it's just done - grown and given birth to a fully-formed human being. Especially in these first six weeks before I have clearance to do anything but short walks and light stretches, I want to be gracious in my thoughts and actions towards my body.

So, here's my postpartum body (these were taken at three weeks postpartum). It's not back to its pre-pregnancy weight yet. I still have stretch marks around my belly button. I still have extra chubbiness in my thighs and around my face. Some of the clothes that fit me best are still maternity clothes. And you know what? I think I'm beautiful. Beauty isn't measured just by how you look. Yes, exercise and taking care of the way you look is very important, but it's not the ultimate measure of a person's worth (sorry Vogue). Bodies are good for what they do with what they are given. They are vessels to accomplish things - to learn, to grow, to reach new heights and help people. 

I hope I can have these types of conversations with my daughter as she gets older. There will be comments about her physical appearance. She already gets all the "she's so cute!" compliments that babies so often receive, and I personally think her eyes are gorgeous beyond compare. But I hope that's not where the conversation about her body ends.

I want my daughter to understand that her legs aren't beautiful because they're long or slender. They're beautiful because they can walk and run and hike and bike and carry her places. I want her to know that her arms are beautiful because they can throw and catch and carry things. Her face is beautiful because she has eyes that see, a nose that smells, ears that hear, and a mouth that can taste. Her hands won't be beautiful insofar as she puts nail polish or rings on them (although I like both and hope to paint nails with her someday). Her hands will be beautiful because she can use them to experience, to help, and to create.

So today, I'm making the choice to be beautiful.Yes, I still have some baby weight and those stubborn stretch marks, but I'm beautiful.  I'm making the choice to not focus on the imperfections, the limitations, what my body can't do. I'm focusing on what it can, and does, do. Today, I picked up my baby. I breast fed her and rocked her and soothed her and went on a walk with her. I saw and smell and heard and tasted and touched today. And so I will be kind to my body, because it has been so kind to me.

P.S. Sorry about the wacky camera settings - I had about a 30-second window of time to snap these pictures before baby girl started crying.

Last thing - I can't write this post about beauty and my postpartum body without mentioning infertility. It's a topic that is so near and dear to many of the people closest to me. Some of the most beautiful women I know are infertile, yet they use their bodies to help and nurture more people than you know. Whoever reads this, out here in this blogosphere, if you know of a child who needs a great home, please contact me. I'll send you on to the online profiles of some great people who would make fantastic parents. 

Best Books for the New Parent

July 28, 2014

Obviously becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes a person can make, and it comes with a very steep learning curve. That's why I read a lot of parenting books during my pregnancy. Learning about parenting helped me feel more prepared, less stressed, and more confident. Now, as a new mother, I wanted to share the books that were the most helpful to me. This isn't an all-inclusive list, but it's a good place to start if you're expecting your first child. It definitely beats googling "what does normal baby poop look like?" or "how to swaddle a baby" at 2AM :)

*"Essential" is a relative word here. Obviously parents have existed for thousands of years without reading these books (and parental instinct is a real thing). To me these books were absolute lifesavers though, so I hope they'll be useful to you too!

What To Expect The First Year - This is a great mainstream general information book about the milestones and behaviors of babies. There are two schools of thought about this book. It is very thorough and informative, which I appreciated. I like the month-by-month milestones and descriptions. It answers any questions you might have about your baby, and even your body, in the first year. However, since it's so informative, it makes a few parents more stressed out ("If my doctor didn't check for all 372 listed possible medical conditions at my baby's first check-up, does that mean he's a bad doctor??"). But as long as you realize that this book is meant to inform, not alarm, this book is a fantastic place to start.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child - This book was so much more than just a book about sleep training. It delves into sleep habits of people around the world, and the science behind a good night's sleep. I learned a lot about my own sleep habits from reading this book. It gives great practical tips for recognizing early signs of sleepiness in infants and children and establishing good sleep habits, starting with a brand new baby. As the teacher who gave this book to me said, "this book helped me realize that 90% of all my kids' problems are because they're not getting enough sleep."

Bringing Up Bebe - This is a narrative-style book about a former American reporter who raises her children in France, and the research and observations she makes about French parenting culture. She is very well-researched, and the book reads easily and quickly. I appreciated the French ideals about just how much a child is capable of, and the type of structure that allows children to grow the most.

The Baby Owner's Manual - This book is hilarious. Written by two dads, it's about basic childcare, but written in the lingo of an operating instructions manual. My husband got this book at a baby shower, and we love it. It's a great gift to remember the dads in a time that's so baby- and mom-centered. The diagrams are pretty priceless too.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - Once you get past the title of this book (seriously, who was in charge of titling this book?) it's a really helpful resource. As a first-time nursing mom, it was great to have this book on hand during the first few weeks of nursing. It answers every possible question or complaint you may have about breastfeeding. Instead of reading it straight through, I used this book to answer my questions and read the tips. It's highly organized, and there's a new heading for almost each paragraph, so it was easy to find what I was looking for.

I hope this helps! For all the moms out there, I'm curious to know which of these books you loved, and which you didn't. What books would be on your list? Also, are there any parenting apps you loved? I'm searching for good apps that were useful as a new mom.

I interrupt my regularly scheduled programming...

July 24, 2014

to bring you this:

my favorite rendition of one of my favorite bump pictures.

You've probably seen these sweeping the Internet lately (I especially love this family portrait, and this one of my dear blogging friend). When I was little, I thought faceless pictures were creepy (anyone else? haha). Luckily I grew out of that, and now I love this watercolor style.

I had this picture made into a portrait for me, and I'm going to hang it in the baby room. I wanted a way to commemorate my pregnancy, and this was an artistic and timeless way for me to do it. Plus, I reached that point where where you start to question "am I building a shrine to myself when I print out pictures of me and my family and hang them EVERYWHERE in my home?" Soooooo. This counts as art instead.

Anyway, it was done by the amazing Susanna Avila. No, she's not paying me to say this, although, in the spirit of full disclosure, yes she is my cousin. Mostly I just really love my picture so I wanted to share :) It would be perfect birthday present for someone, too! I won't say it would make a great Christmas present, because this is July, people.

Here's her contact information:
Susanna Avila Art

Go check out her work! You can thank me later :)

PS I want these macarones. Like right now.
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