Making Humans

Our son, Cort Oliver, was born on March 6. Three months have passed already since he was born, but I haven’t written any of it down until now. I’ve been in a total, sleep-deprived, love-struck haze since. 

Growing a human being in your body is exhausting, nauseating, literally back-breaking. At times during my pregnancy with Cort, especially at the end, I was so weary that I just wept at the end of the day (also, hormones).

Then, after you grow another person, you have to give birth–break yourself open to make way for new life. It’s simultaneously so beautiful and awful and terrifying. You welcome your baby into the world, already an exhausted mess, and then you only get to sleep in three-hour increments (if you’re lucky) for the foreseeable future.

Add to that the fact that we’re lucky enough to be doing this for the second time, which means there is already one toddler at home. No more sleeping while the baby sleeps like I did when my daughter was born. 

So we try to figure out how to teach a two-year-old not to be horrible and it does have to be taught. I’m completely exhausted and my patience has worn thin. Am I really going to argue with a tiny human again about why we say please and don’t hit and need to share? How many times will I drag a miniature, screaming terrorist from the library (we just love books)? 

It’s no wonder that I’m beside myself.


Yet, I wake up for 3 am feedings and hold this tiny new life close to me. I press my face against the top of Cort’s fuzzy baby head and will all of my love to pour out over him. He is so small and soft and sweet and I am undone. I can’t hold it all in my heart, my love for these tiny people and the man who helps me raise them.

Yet, the pitter-pat of tiny feet and a bouncing, curly little bedhead  greets me each morning, with “Hi Mommy. I swept well.” Is this the girl who grew from our love ? A walking, talking, considerate, wonderful,  hilarious, independent little firecracker of a person?

I carry it all in tension–the contradiction of being ridiculously happy and ridiculously exhausted, longing for the days when they will be older and things will be easier, but also wanting it to last forever, missing their little years almost as they happen. 

And through it all, I am learning. First of all–that I have so much to learn. And also that I am both weaker and stronger than I ever knew. That I cannot do this on my own. That my husband is so much more than the man I chose to marry–that his patience and strength and kindness run even deeper than I knew. That we will be grateful one day that we’ve put in the hard work of making humans.


Theodore

My baby nephew died yesterday.

He spent his whole life here on earth in a hospital.

His parents got to hold him only once in the first several weeks of his life.

He lived for 2 months and 19 days.

We have hope, that in heaven we’ll get the chance to properly get to know each other. But we have to wait until then. I don’t really get to know you who you are in this life, Theo.

But, in the short time that I did know you, I loved you deeply and you taught me quite a bit about pain–about dignity and faith and hope in the face of horrifying circumstances. You reminded me how to pray and refocused me on what matters. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget. I can’t ever thank you enough for teaching me those things.

I will miss you every day, until I see you again, warrior baby.

Love,

Aunt Michelle

more tiny humans

Ailey swinging

On a Friday in June–some of the best kinds of Fridays are in June–we found out that I am pregnant again.  Then, I promptly vomited, as if, now that it was official, I officially had symptoms.

This baby, unlike Ailey, is not a surprise.  Ailey is almost two, and though we were completely unprepared for her to make her grand entry into our family when she did, we’ve always wanted to have our kids be close in age.  Built-in play-mates and learning to share by necessity and all of the things that come with close siblings sound like a dream.

So, here we are, actually doing the family thing, even if we feel like imposters, technically too inexperienced for the gig.  I’m still waiting for Some Authority Figure to sternly demand that I present the mom license that I don’t have.  But, they don’t give you a license when you have a baby, and this time next year, we’ll have two tiny people in our family.

There is often a lot of talk about being ready for babies and if there’s anything I’ve learned about building a family, it’s that “ready” is such an inadequate description of the situation.  I don’t know if part of it is because we didn’t actively decide to start when we did, or that I’ve always made really impulsive decisions, but being ready is kind of a myth.  There are so many things that you just adjust as you go–make room in the budget here, give up a thing or two there or promise myself I’ll sleep at nap time and mourn the loss of sleeping in while I sleepily smile at the toddler whom arrived in our bedroom at 6 am.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that motherhood has taught me so much about the realities of life and what little of it that I can actually control.  I’m grateful that our family is growing and that I think I’m actually maturing along with that growth.  But not too much…  😉

wrangling dreams

I used to have such a great memory.

But now, there are things that fill up the space and interrupt the making of memories, or their recall. I’m not sure where the breakdown is, but my has it broken down. It’s a weird thing, having your most trusted companion in life twist and shift until she’s a little less trustworthy. That’s my memory, a slightly less reliable version of a friend I used to have.

Lately, I find myself with less time to write it all down, and that has to stop. That’s the only way I’ll remember the details, because there’s so much to focus on, that otherwise they’d all run together. So, I’m writing it down and remembering this:

Today, Ailey walked barefoot in the grass for the first time. She’s done it a ton in her shoes, which she loves so dearly that we rarely leave the house without them, which is why it’s taken 19 months of her life before I realized that she’s never felt grass between her toes.

So I took her hand and said, “I bet you’ve never felt the grass under your toes, have you? Believe me, you’re in for a treat!” And her eyes lit up and she squealed and jumped around a bit, thrilled with the new sensation.

I thought my heart my literally explode right in that moment, and basically this is a picture of what parenthood has looked life for me so far. Sure, there are the days that are really hard, when toddlers are inconsolable, and mamas are tired and just not. having. it. But days like today are the ones I will remember best, when I had the great privilege of holding a tiny girl’s hand when she first felt mud squish between her toes. I know this isn’t the dream gig for everyone, and parenthood isn’t in the cards for each of us, heck, I wasn’t prepared for it when it was thrust upon me. But, man. I am overwhelmed with it. Ushering a new person through each new life experience. What an honor.

motherhood is crazy-making

I’ve been a mother for 18 months, which really isn’t very long, in the scheme of things. But, considering that it’s the most full-time of jobs, that you’re never really off-duty, 18 months seems longer than it sounds.

I’ve been told by mamas more experienced than myself that our babies change so rapidly in the first two years that you can’t keep up–as soon as you adjust to a new phase, new behavior, new difficulty, it’s over. It’s a little exhausting, this parenting adventure.

All I know is that I feel crazy. My emotions have been on the proverbial roller-coaster since Ailey was born. This tiny human, whose appearance in my life I was in no way ready for, arrived and ruined me.

I have been astonished by the way this little person has nestled into a space in my heart that I didn’t know existed before she arrived to fill it. It’s a wonderful little paradox, parenting. I know everyone has different experiences, and I can’t sit here and say that motherhood looks the same for every mama, but I have experienced so much grace through the life of this sweet little girl.

And I will keep reminding myself of this–grace shown through new life and my new role as a mother and care-taker, someone who consistently has to look outside myself, whether I like it or not. Sometimes I need reminding, on days like today, when there are more tears than smiles and I am ready to scream and give up and get back under the covers.

On those days, I need reminding that this is new for both of us and we are still learning each other. Actually, the truth is, we take lifetimes to learn each other, us humans, and even if we’d known one another 100 years, we’d still have to work out some kinks. We’ll get there. My tiny girl isn’t a baby anymore, and she’s starting to have opinions and a desire to express them. Maybe I need to shift my perspective and be thankful for her little spirit and personality when she proves to be more independent than I expect. I should be honored to raise a strong woman, and she has all the makings. We’ll work together, she and I, learning the ways of the world together. We both still have so much to learn and so much to teach one another.

she who grows 



These past few nights have been rough, short sleeps punctuated by tiny cries from a tiny, sick little lady. We fall back asleep intertwined, with a little toddler body sleeping soundly strewn across mine and I am weary.

So physically exhausted and wmitionly tried, hurting on behalf of my sick baby, sicker than she’s ever been in her short life.

And I think about the woman I was before I was a mother, whose only sickness of concern was her own, whose sleeping (and eating, and overall being) came on her own terms. I remember her a little fondly and a little knowingly, the way you think of someone younger who has still has a bit of naïveté tucked neatly under her belt.

It’s not that we need to be mothers to mature, but it’s one of the many experiences in life that grows you quickly if you let it. This tiny one needs me and doesn’t understand her body’s revolt. The shocking fact that I’m in charge feels like a surreal slap–reality crashing into me as I rub my baby’s back and coo soothingly that “this will pass.” 

And maybe I could remember the woman I was before with a little envy, too. There are days like that, if I’m being honest. She who was free and untethered, who slept when she wanted and did what she chose.

Instead, I am choosing now to grow, to pour into another life, and make this less about me. I know another tiny lady who will grow better because of this choice.

And I’m praying for grace and wisdom as we grow, she and I, realizing I have less of those traits than the woman I was thought, but chasing after them anyway.

And here we are.





snow day//reset

We’ve gotten about a foot of snow over the last few days, which is oddly the most snow accumulation that we’ve had since I’ve lived in Colorado. The weather is just not what it seems to the rest of the country here in the foothills of Colorado. In the winter, it snows frequently, so it’s commonplace, and life goes on, but the next day the sun will come back out and melt away all of what happened the day before. It never lasts, and things rarely close or even pause.

But more than a foot of snow over a weekend is enough for a few things to shut down and for us to consider ourselves really truly snowed in. And it’s been great. Isn’t it refreshing for your soul to take a breather from being busy and just stay inside for the whole weekend? Throw open the blinds and watch the snow cover everything in white, and just take a moment for yourself. Or a few moments.

Today, on our last day of respite, Ailey woke up with a nasty cold/fever combination, so we’ve been in rest and recuperate-mode even moreso. We’ve been mending and hoping to contain the germs, but also just enjoying this much-needed slower pace. It’s hard to stop and take a moment to slow down when the circumstances don’t require it, but when they do, isn’t it great?

So, I’m thankful for the weather, and for the warmth of our home while it happens, and for a break.