A Denver Home Companion | life with two

dear etta z,

you will be three weeks old tomorrow. it’s insane to imagine our life before you and, yet, it has certainly been an adjustment period with you here. ramona is potty-trained, sleeps through the night and in her own big girl bed, and has enough vocabulary to have interesting and helpful conversations with her father and me. you’re not quite there yet.

i knew having a newborn would mean nights of waking up and nursing and rocking and shushing but i had conveniently forgotten what a toll that can take on relationships (snap at my husband much?) and productivity (what else is there to do besides sleep?!). each day this gets easier and easier but, overnight (literally) my whole routine and schedule and habits got turned upside down. and for some reason, stupidly, i was not expecting this. perhaps it’s bc we had done this before. so we assumed it would ALL be easier. well, SOME things are easier. but some things (like losing hours of sleep each night) are impossible to become easier. silly us.

but don’t take this the wrong way, my perfect, late winter baby. i’m just stating there were changes that i wasn’t prepared for. but we’ve got you now and, as cheesy and trite as it sounds, you’re worth every second of adjustment, you, our amazing little girl who completes our family. you’re a loud sleeper, but a hesitant cryer. you’re a snuggler and an observer and a champion nurser. you respond well to loving shushing and swaddles. you, like your sister, came out with her father’s chin and furrowed brow. but you, miss harriet, more closely resemble me overall.

and your papa is the perfect yin to my yang, especially when it comes to helping me fare well in these transition periods. he’s here with us in the mornings, which means he gets to snuggle you in bed while ramona and i get ready for the day (start the day with a shower?! so many other new mothers are going to hate me just for that!). he makes the bed bc he knows i need that to move forward with the day (your mama can be quite particular). he asks me how i’m doing and makes sure i take my vitamins. he changes your diapers and plays silly games with ramona. he is a great listener and mediator. you’ll learn so much from him.

once papa had to go back to work (we had him at home for nine whole days!) i worried about how i would get anything done. but we powerdrivers are surrounded by a powerful and generous community that has lovingly and selflessly brought us meals and scheduled play dates with your sister and passed on needed advice about clogged milk ducts and offered words of encouragement and delivered packages of love in the form of handmade baby quilts. we could not do it without the gracious help of our friends and family, who we know will continue to nurture and look out for our two little girls. they are why, harriet, any crazy adjustments to you joining our world, are completely doable, manageable, survivable.

we’re still getting to know each other, etta. and we’ll be developing our relationship for years to come. but i hope, that as you grow and learn and soak in what you see, it is so clear to you how absolutely loved you are and how we –your mama and papa for sure and many of our friends and family– will do anything for you. and i hope that you will take what you see about the value and importance of love, community, generosity, grace, respect, and insist you have it for yourself as much as you have control over who you choose to surround yourself with in your older years; i pray you find people who are supportive, encouraging, constructive during the many adjustment and transition periods you will go through.

we’ve got so much fun ahead of us as we slowly but surely exit this hazy, sleepless, fumbling stage. i can’t wait to introduce you to the world.

i love you, harriet zona.

love, mama.

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On the first night
of the full moon,
the primeval sack of ocean
broke,
& I gave birth to you
little woman,
little carrot top,
little turned-up nose,
pushing you out of myself
as my mother
pushed
me out of herself,
as her mother did,
& her mother’s mother before her,
all of us born
of woman.

I am the second daughter
of a second daughter
of a second daughter,
but you shall be the first.
You shall see the phrase
“second sex”
only in puzzlement,
wondering how anyone,
except a madman,
could call you “second”
when you are so splendidly
first,
conferring even on your mother
firstness, vastness, fullness
as the moon at its fullest
lights up the sky.

Now the moon is full again
& you are four weeks old.
Little lion, lioness,
yowling for my breasts,
growling at the moon,
how I love your lustiness,
your red face demanding,
your hungry mouth howling,
your screams, your cries
which all spell life
in large letters
the color of blood.

You are born a woman
for the sheer glory of it,
little redhead, beautiful screamer.
You are no second sex,
but the first of the first;
& when the moon’s phases
fill out the cycle
of your life,
you will crow
for the joy
of being a woman,
telling the pallid moon
to go drown herself
in the blue ocean,
& glorying, glorying, glorying
in the rosy wonder
of your sunshining wondrous
self.

–Erica Jong

 

A Denver Home Companion | necessities for your newborn

can you tell i’m in planning and nesting mode? i seriously feel so ready for this little bug to come. 38 weeks on friday! ramona was only four days “late” and i am just doing my best to will this second one out sooner. ha. we all know our little ones have their own perfect timing.

the beauty of a newborn is that, besides them f*cking up your sleep schedule, they are so so easy. they don’t take a lot of equipment save for your boobs, some warm-enough clothes, and fresh diapers. they can’t run away from you. they can’t crawl into trouble. they certainly can’t say “no!” (though there are times when they won’t stop crying and it does feel spiteful). they sleep anywhere and anytime and you can take them along with you to most any place. toddlers? not so much.

so thinking of this –of how much easier and simpler it seemed to be when ramona was a wee one– i started thinking about just what is it i like to have around me to feel prepped for a little one. this, of course, is all based on memory from three years ago. we’ll see how this little bug requires same or different. ironically, i can’t say i’ll be surprised if she throws me for a complete loop.

clockwise top left: || oxo candela night lights. the exact ones we used don’t seem to be available online but these are some good options for night time nursing. instead of turning on my bright bedside lamp, i used the soft glow of these to position ramona and also get some reading done while she nursed. || the sopranos complete series. jp and i blazed through mad men when ramona was first born bc there wasn’t much else to do besides sit on the couch and nurse and watch shows. we’re all set now. i know i know: i’ve got a toddler now! i’m banking on the kindness and generosity of my husband and village to take her on dates once in a while so little bug and i can take our sweet time recovering (in front of the boob tube) at home. || indian cotton prefold diapers. we didn’t use these as diapers for ramona. we used them as spit up rags, leaky boob rags, shit-i-spilled-my-much-deserved-margarita-on-the-sleeping-baby rags. they are in handy piles all over the house. || coveted things sketchy arrows blanket. little bug is going to have enough hand-me-downs from ramona. a dear friend gave this to me at my mother blessing and it’ll be baby’s very own special swaddle blanket. ramona’s is the aden + anais peacock blanket. || the snuggle-me co-sleeper. i can’t think of anything better for families that want to bed-share. this is a soft, organic pillow that is situated right in bed with you that snuggles the little one just right and elevates her enough that you won’t fear rolling over her. ramona felt right at home in this thing. || sakura bloom sling. this is a great way to ease into baby wearing and carrying. unlike other wraps and carriers, the sakura bloom can be used with itty-bitties. i love mine and can’t wait to have a new little squish to carry around in it. || bkr water bottle. nursing makes me thirsty! and i also like things that look good. i love my bkr water bottle and i feel safe drinking out of it. i always keep one handy wherever i plunk down to nurse bc i know i’ll be parched as soon as baby starts eating. || my brest friend nursing pillow. i love this guy. it wraps around my body and secures so i don’t have to worry about it moving around. some may find it bulky but i liked how it kept me propped up and gave me more use of my hands. ||

what newborn necessities did you have for your little one? what am i missing?

 

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

I have decided to find myself a home in the mountains, somewhere high up where one learns to live peacefully in the cold and silence. It’s said that in such a place certain revelations may be discovered. That what the spirit reaches for may be eventually felt, if not exactly understood. Slowly, no doubt. I’m not talking about a vacation. 

Of course at the same time I mean to stay exactly where I am.

Are you following me?

–Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort
A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

after a wonderful trip to florida with ramona and my mother (three generations of spunky olson women!) followed by a babymoon getaway to texas hill country with jp, it is time to hunker down, settle in, nest, and prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the arrival of little bug. i’m thankful i got to jet away for a little bit before life plants me firmly at home, where i ought to be. and where i want to continue cultivating as a sanctuary of peace, serenity, intention, and calm.

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort
A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

the diapers and burp rags are washed and folded. i’ve gone through all of ramona’s baby clothes, from 0-12 months, laundered and put them away in a new spot for baby #2. my birth kit is stocked and ready to go. i have been taking my vitamins, watching what i eat, drinking tons of water, constantly sipping on red raspberry leave and nettle tonic, and snuggling ramona whenever she will let me. home feels good and right. we are ready to meet this little girl.

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort
A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

time with ramona is precious. it’s important to me her and i keep connecting as much as we can since things will be changing so soon. i make eye contact with her, dance w her, hold her when she needs, take our sweet old time with tucking into bed and nap time, sing her a million songs, and always say yes to one more book. man, she sure is my little lady.

we accept any good vibes and prayers sent our way as we enter into this next stage of family. love to all of you.

A Denver Home Companion | sailfish beach resort

this above photo is from when we finally arrived in denver on our way home from florida. ramona, who has been potty trained for the good part of a year, decided to empty her bladder in her plane seat while i was reading her a book. just like that. soaking her pants and dress on the first of our TWO legs home. and of course i didn’t have any extra clothes bc, well, she never has any accidents. never say never, right? luckily, i had one stray diaper, which was intended for our second leg where i was hoping she would take a snooze (she does wear diapers for bed time). i asked her why she did that. “because i do that,” she said matter-of-factly. i couldn’t have put it more succinctly myself, miss minka. the pilot on our second flight offered her a t-shirt from his suitcase (god bless southwest airlines) which she wore for about 10 seconds. she just loved being able to be mostly naked out and about. silly girl. this is one for the books. 

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life is going to change dramatically when little bug arrives. i can anticipate and foresee some of these changes but others are going to take jp and i (and ramona!) by storm. before life gets rocked and we’re juggling a toddler and a helpless newborn and patio season opening up at the populist (which makes for an increasingly busy hubby) jp and i set aside a long weekend to spend some time with just the two of us. our intention was to slow down, be a pair free of our daily commitments and distractions, and reconnect with each other. so off to a ranch in hye, texas (that’s hill country, y’all) owned by jp’s aunt and uncle.

we were blessed with great weather, free and spacious accommodations, beautiful sunsets, wonky wi-fi that forced us –even more– to be present with each other, and a golf cart that enabled me to explore the land freely (this belly doesn’t get me too far these days). i understand a baby moon is a luxury that many people can’t find the time or finances for and i do not take it for granted we were able to steal away for these handful of precious days.

jp is the most important person in my life. he is my lover, my rock, my best friend, my confidant, my reason, my chosen one. he is steadfast, kind, humble and pretty much your poster-child of patience. living and learning and loving with him has taught me much about being grounded, listening well, and constructively and respectfully agreeing to disagree. at the risk of sounding cheesy, being his partner has made me a much better person than before i met him. and he also loves and embraces all my quirks and who i am at my core!

i gush about all of this bc, while i LOVE LOVE LOVE being a mother and that will always be a part of who i am, my partnership with my husband is the most important relationship i will cultivate on this earth. we are a team. and i want to continue to work on our marriage and our union so that when ramona and little bug watch us, it will be so evident to them how we are able to love them so well: bc jp and i love each other as best and as selflessly as we humanly can. jp and i working on a strong, healthy, loving, respectful marriage is, perhaps, one of the most essential things we can give to our children (that and the freedom for them to be themselves… but that’s another post). my hope is that a strong marriage will set them up to love themselves and to expect and give good, honest, respectful love from and to their future significant others.

A Denver Home Companion | baby moon in hye, texas

furthermore, if we do things right, ramona and little bug will be leaving the nest around the time they turn 18. and i shudder to think that jp and i will have not made the effort and taken the time to grow our love and connection with each other and, instead, feel like strangers bc we don’t know what the hell to do w the other now that we don’t have such an active role as parents.

parenthood, especially the early years, is hard. when ramona was first born i had awful thoughts about jp and our marriage. some of these were fueled by crazy hormonal changes going on in my body, and others were caused by the great shift that had happened in our family. in the beginning, with all this newness, we didn’t always adjust as well or as quickly as our emotions needed. and there are, of course, still days every so often where we completely miss each other. and having young (basically helpless) children compounds this. and it can be lonely and frustrating. but, i will tell you this: it is a season. and it too shall pass. especially if both you and your partner are on board w working your darndest to communicate honestly and respect the other (even if biting, nasty words get hissed in the heat of the moment) and are open to being humble and asking for forgiveness and giving it freely.

this post didn’t quite go the direction i had originally planned: but marriage is hard and i think struggles like how babies can totally knock your marriage on its head need to be talked about more openly so that others don’t feel they’re all alone. that, and how important it is to set aside the craziness of life and find time to connect with your lover. the payoff, when the chicks have flown the coop and it’s the two of you old birds wondering what to do with your empty nest, will be well worth it.

 

A Denver Home Companion | baby moon in hye, texas

thought you’d be getting more of texas hill country? below is my list of suggested things to do (besides soaking up the open space, wide skies, and drinking on the porch) if you find yourself one hour west of austin, texas, in what people are calling the napa of texas (i know, 30 weeks pregnant is prime time to go wine tasting. ha!)