dear miss etta z,
i cannot believe you are four months old already. you fit in just perfectly with our little family.
i cannot imagine mornings without your full-body-face-squishing pandiculation as i un-velcro you from your swaddle. i cannot imagine greeting friends and strangers without your million watt smile and bright eyes. i cannot imagine breakfast time without the way your sister engages with you — making silly faces and voices to make you grin. i cannot imagine smaller laundry loads devoid of your drool-drenched clothes.
i cannot imagine outings without your little chubby body accompanying mine — on picnic blankets during soccer, in my lap while we sit in the river, around my waist while i wear you, or gazing back at me content while i push you in the stroller. i cannot imagine noon without getting you ready for nap time — swaddling you up just right, nursing you, and setting you down to fall asleep on your own. or bedtime, where the ritual is essentially the same except you also get some back rubs and thigh kneading and we roll your little burrito body around on the bed. this is followed by kissing you over and over again on the cheeks, which promptly gets you squealing and giggling. i do not want to imagine life without your sweet giggle.
not all mamas get this with their little ones. recently we learned of some heartbreak people we love have experienced when their babes were taken to heaven much too soon and unexpectedly. and so this month i held you even closer, inhaled your scent even deeper, and said prayers of thanks for all i’ve been given that i deserve no more than anyone else.
for you are wonderfully and awesomely made. and though you are my daughter you are not mine. you are child of our Lord’s, a daughter of the earth. and for however long you are entrusted to me –short or (i desperately pray) long– i will love you fiercely and humbly.
i love you. love, mama
ramona would only be able to sleep if slung up on me or if i was next to her in bed. i thought this was adorable. this was also doable since i had no other children and nothing to do except hang out with her.
harriet seemed to know, right out of the gate, that those sleeping habits would not be as easy for me to accommodate. so she takes two power naps in her car seat or in the sling while we’re out and about in the first part of the day — never staying asleep for more than 20 minutes. but never cranky about it either.
then she takes one four-hour nap around noon. one more power nap comes sometime in the early evening. and then she goes to bed promptly and easily around 7:30 or 8:00. no fuss. no hysterics. swaddle. hat. ceiling fan. a quick nurse on each side. and then down in the co-sleeping pillow. often a little awake, falling asleep on her own. WHAT?
i never thought a baby could go to bed so easily. cross your fingers this isn’t just a phase. it blows my mind every time i put her down.
thank you sweet baby, for knowing just what your mama needed.
what are you little one’s sleeping habits? did it change much from kiddo to kiddo? what tricks worked for you?
Harriet, Miss Etta Z, H, Little One.
Welcome to the world. We’re so glad you’re here for so many reasons. You’re ours. You’re our daughter. We’ve been curious about you since we first found out we were pregnant (it was July 2013 and we were visiting friends in Nashville). And, if all goes as planned, you’re the baby of the family; you make our PowerDriver clan complete.
My pregnancy with you was hard. This owing mainly to the fact that by the time the first trimester was done (a stressful time as we thought we lost you and mama was just so so exhausted all the time) it was winter and boy was it a rough winter. We barely left the house and so –cooped up and mama tired– I gained a lot of weight and your sister was stir-crazy and our little house just felt so incredibly small. I wasn’t too good at finding ways to let off steam or get the wiggles out. We watched a whole bunch of PBS and Disney. We were grumpy, confined, mad-at-old-man-winter people.
You were due on March 21, 2014. I was pulling for March 16 because that evening had a full moon. Your sister, waiting four days past her due date, was born on a full moon.
Well, Saturday, March 15, was a weird feeling day for mama. It was the weekend before St Patty’s Day so my route to and from the restaurant was crowded with revelers. I was annoyed. I took this grumbling out on the kitchen floor, which I furiously cleaned on my hands and knees. Diri had said she would do this for me but, for whatever reason, I could not wait. After I cleaned the kitchen floor –every single square inch of that silly little kitchen– I cleaned/swept/mopped all the floors in the house. And then cleaned the bathroom. I have never in my life had so much energy and motivation to clean the way I did.
My lower back started to hurt immediately after I was done with this. I became annoyed at myself for putting so much strain on my back and my body so close to my due date. I had just gotten over a pretty bad cold and now I went and did this to myself?! Overall, all day I just felt completely off — physically, mentally, emotionally. Even now reading this I am so annoyed at myself. Though opinionated, such grumbling and being peeved is not my forte.
I tucked your sister into our bed around 8:00. After reading her a handful of books, I looked at her, choked up and teary eyed, and said –this just popped out of my mouth: “Ramona, I’ve had so much fun just the two of us.” It was, I realized shortly after, a sort of goodbye in order to say a new hello. My body sensed what was about to happen but I still did not know.
She fell asleep instantly and my contractions seemed to start the second I shut the bedroom door.
These contractions felt different than the Braxton Hicks I’d been experiencing the last couple of weeks. I started timing them –hoping but skeptical that they were the real deal– and texting a couple of friends who I’d been giving play-by-plays to throughout the pregnancy (thanks Tessa, Tara, and Erica!). Still, though, I didn’t pay too much mind because I more felt funky than anything else.
I felt off. I felt warm and flush and weak and shaky. Crap! I thought. I don’t want to get the flu so close to my due date!
Then my mama, your Nona, texted at 8:30 to say she was looking at the nearly full moon and thinking of you (see the first image on this post!). I still wasn’t convinced I was in labor.
I wasn’t even convinced I was in labor when I went to the bathroom next and there was what could only be bloody show. I had never seen it with Ramona. I knew this meant things were nearing but I understood it didn’t mean they were imminent. I called Maren, our midwife, to tell her this and that I also felt like complete crap. I think I even apologized for cleaning my house and tweaking my back. Maren told me to have some dinner and go to bed.
Ten minutes later, walking to the couch to sit down and eat some warm soup, my water broke.
I called Maren who said she would be there in a couple of hours. I called Papa who said he would come right away (can you believe he left the restaurant in the middle of Saturday night service?! He’s quite the man). And I called Nona, bursting into tears the second I heard her voice, excited and nervous.
I noticed the water coming out of me was tinged with brown, which I was pretty sure was meconium based on other birth stories I’d heard and read. I told this to Maren who said she would come immediately.
Like with your sister, my water breaking put us on a time crunch: you need to see signs of labor and have labor progress fairly quickly otherwise there are health concerns for the baby. This is especially true with the presence of meconium.
Papa came home and got busy right away setting up the birth tub, helping me tidy the house, and getting himself ready (a shower!). I walked around timing contractions and making sure the little things were in order around the house. Ramona was still fast asleep in our bed.
Soon after, Maren arrived, and we chatted and made sure whatever she needed was accessible. I had to keep walking and moving to keep the contractions going. When I rested they seemed to slow down. Papa and I walked around the block and I tried going up and down our back stairwell. I quickly realized how tiny our home was as there was nowhere to walk to! Ten steps and you reach the back door from the front!
Around 11:00 Diri and Dido picked up Miss Minka. I quickly cuddled her in bed while she slept and then picked her up to carry her to the door. I inhaled her scent realizing she wasn’t going to be my littlest girl anymore. You were!
By 12:00ish, my contractions were not messing around. I tried to get some rest but they were too strong and I was also too worried about them stalling out. Castor oil was taken sometime around this point to get things to (hopefully) speed up.
The next seven hours were long and I am not a patient person. Your sister’s labor was no longer than seven hours total so I had assumed labor with you would be shorter. It was hard for me when seven hours came and went and you still weren’t here. I knew I was going to have you and have you at home but I was frustrated with how long it seemed to be taking.
When contractions intensified, I got in the warm tub and labored there for quite a while. It felt good and, thankfully, did not slow down my contractions. I was flanked by Papa and Kimmy (my friend and doula who arrived around 2:30AM). They were helpful in reminding me to breath, make low sounds, and focus on sending my energy down. I stared at a paint splatter on our ceiling’s wood beam for hours while pressing the heels of my palms down the length of my thighs. Girl, it hurt.
I moved to the toilet when I need to poop as well as to be in a different place. I found a position that seemed to help and then started at a corner of the bathroom floor. The people around me faded away and I became my most animal self. Truly. I made noises I’ve never made before and flapped my lips and hummed and went completely into my own head space. It was tough and necessary. Wave after wave of contractions took over me.
Finally I yelled out –with a bit of unexplained anger at everyone there– that I was going to push! And push I did. And I kept contracting and pushing and knew you were so close and making your entrance soon. Papa and Maren carried me –mid-contraction– from the toilet to the tub. I gathered myself, caught up with the proper breathing, gave a few “test” pushes, and then pushed you out in one swift and final push. 7:01 AM, 10 hours after this all began.
The cord was around your neck but the midwives easily got it off. And there you were, Harriet, in my arms, covered in vernix and wailing your little lungs out. I couldn’t believe it. And yet I could.
A full moon and you were here.
And this is a feeing I had immediately: you were undeniably meant to be in our fold. And soon into that day, March 16, 2014, it felt weird to imagine life ever happened without you.
Mama and Papa were exhausted. We’d just pulled an all-nighter! We climbed into bed and stayed there the rest of the day. People brought us brunch and doughnuts and dinner and we were just completely enveloped in love and adoration. How could we not be? Look at you!
We love you, Etta Z.
I love you, always and forever.
my sweet harriet,
every day you are visibly bigger. every day we seem to know you more. my love for you, like your scrumptious thigh rolls, is growing and growing each day.
you drool. a lot. (see photo above for proof). it’s mostly adorable. certainly a good excuse to put you in new cute outfits multiple times a day. i find drool spots and spit up down the back of my shirt bc you are just so quiet and sneaky and persistent with it!
you are wildly entertained by your sister. or at least you are good going along with her antics. yesterday, after i finished hanging up clothes on the line, i walked over to you two to find she had carefully placed a pile of sand on top of your head. i was not amused. until ramona explained it was “just like lion king.” i couldn’t stay mad especially bc you were just sitting there cool as a cucumber, nonplussed, handling all the attention incredibly well.
you sleep like a champ if the environment is perfect: car seat covered with a dark blanket. or in our air-conditioned bedroom, swaddled, pacified and snug in the snuggleme co-sleeping pillow. this is different from your sister who preferred to sleep either attached to mama’s boob or worn in a sling. neither way is particularly better — i’m just constantly amazed at the differences between the two of you. of course, i didn’t think my two babies would be the same but i didn’t suppose the differences would be so apparent right off the bat (if i’ve written this before it’s bc it is constantly on my mind!).
you are grabbing toys in your play gym. you love the black and white drawings above the couch. you stare at things happening with an intentionality that cannot be denied. watching you grow and learn to move your body and observe the world around you is mind blowing.
my favorite thing about you is your smile. electric. and you have these accompanying coos that are ridiculously wonderful and addicting.
we are not jumping to any conclusions but we are so so curious about the little personality you are slowly but surely developing and revealing. you seem to have your papa’s calm demeanor. but there’s bound to be bits of me and lots of just you!
harriet, you are loved. so very much.
i love you. love, mama.
sweet sweet harriet.
you are two months old. a fog has lifted and we’ve [fingers crossed] reached the end of the newborn-crazies tunnel.
your smile is the most beautiful thing. when you smile, your bright blue eyes get bigger [who knew that was even possible?!] and your mouth, wide and gummy, turns up just at the edges like little cartoon lines. you are incredibly happy and emit this gurgly giggle that just kills me every time. you coo and squawk and have a special little noise you seem to use just to say hello.
ramona and you spend a lot of time making each other smile — you in your bouncy chair and her bouncing you, tickling your neck, making smiley silly faces. she adores you.
you, right now, do a great job of going with the flow. you are along for the ride. and it’s been a fun one so far! you speak up if you need something but usually you are just really stinking content. patient. calm & collected. i have not ever met a baby who is just so cool as a cucumber. and we though we had it easy with your sister..
i love you, etta z. each day you become more familiar than the last. you fit right in from the beginning. and though so much of newborns is a mystery — who you are, what you like, what you need, who you are going to become — but we delight in figuring this all out.
your chubby cheeks, your bald head, your bright eyes, your gummy smile, the adorable quivering frown when you are sad or upset, your constantly stuffy nose, your rapidly growing finger nails, your delicious milk breath, your fervent suck. you are you. wholly you, known and loved before you were knit in my womb.
what an honor it is to be your mother.
i love you. love, mama.