Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eight Months of Memories...

 A few days ago a student asked me, "What was it like being pregnant?"  And I realized that even though it's only been a little while since Picklebug was born, I can hardly remember.

[Jen at 8.5 months pregnant]

What I do remember is that it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.  My pregnancy was smooth and trouble free.  I didn't have a lot of the complications or complaints that some people have.

I remember smiling every time I felt a little kick.  Or rolling my eyes when Picklebug had the hiccups (again!?).

I remember sneaking into the cabinet when visiting my family in NC to eat Nutella.  

I remember being so full of anticipation near the end I almost went crazy!

And I remember labor...

I remember the doctor telling me that "the bullet is too big for the gun" - which translated into the need to do a c-section.

I remember being really scared and how MG trembled in the seat next to my head as they cut open my belly.

I remember the hot sting of tears when I heard a tiny cry from my newborn son.

I remember the nurse putting his tiny, warm body in my arms and seeing his sweet face for the first time.

I remember breathing in his warm, sweet scent.

I remember thinking he was perfect.

I remember taking him home and feeling more lonely and afraid than I have ever been in my life.

I barely remember how we made it through that first night.

I remember that due to lack of sleep and the sheer panic induced at the sound of a crying baby sent me running home to stay with my family in NC.

I remember thinking my stepmom would make everything better - and I remember being grateful that she would take me in and help me.

I also remember being mad at her when she didn't offer to just take Picklebug and raise him herself. 

I remember being frustrated and frightened when she began pushing me outside my comfort zone.

I remember walking around the mall with a 9 day old baby, and nursing him in the car on a cold January afternoon.  That experience terrified me - but it proved to me that I could survive a crying baby - even in Olive Garden!

I remember being afraid I would never live up to her expectations of me and that I would go down in a fiery ball of failure.

I remember her telling me that she loved me just like I was her own.

I also remember her promising me that I would get better and I would love being a mother.

I remember feeling relieved when I started to realize she was right.

I remember calling her every night when I got back to VA to give her a report that things were going well (He slept 4 straight hours!  woo hoo!).

I remember thanking God for her patience, love and guidance and for her faith in my ability to succeed which was perhaps the single most important factor in my overcoming post-partum depression.

[PB at 1 month!]

I remember he slept A LOT.  And cried A LOT.  Especially between 6-8pm.

I remember him sucking his little fingers and making little frog noises.

I remember how hard it was to continue breast feeding those early weeks.

I remember sitting on the couch with him next to me snuggled in a blanket while I watched CSI marathons thinking, "stay at home mom's have it MADE!!"

I also remember the few occasions when he went on a nap strike and I decided that being a stay at home mom might not be my cup of tea.

[PB at 2 months!]

At two months old Picklebug became a little more interesting.

I remember his first smile and the flip my stomach did when he directed that little smile right at me!

I remember bragging to anyone that would listen how he was such a good sleeper!  SEVEN straight hours a night!

I remember having my first bad dream about losing him - and how I woke up in a cold sweat feeling sick to my stomach.

[PB at 3 months!]

When Picklebug was just 10 weeks old I had to go back to work.

I remember being angry that my current situation demanded that I be a working mom.  And I remember how hard it was to walk away from my sweet little guy the first day I dropped him off at daycare.

However, I also remember the ecstatic feeling of freedom I experienced when I sat down behind my desk and realized I wouldn't have to feed, change, rock or entertain a baby for at least seven hours.

It was bittersweet.

I remember that at this point my baby was starting to notice the world around him.

I remember being amazed at how he seemed to study every little thing.  And how he giggled when a kitty walked by and brushed up against him.

I remember holding a flower to his little nose and watching him sniff the sweet smell.

At four months I found I couldn't resist his charm.

[PB at 4 months!]

I remember how people began to notice how outgoing he was.  And how he would smile at anyone or anything for attention.

I remember hearing his deep belly laugh for the first time and how badly I wanted to catch it on video so I could listen to it over and over.

I also remember how at this point he was sleeping a solid 12 hours without waking up.  And I remember getting the evil eye from other moms when I shared this information.

[PB at 5 months!]

I remember trying to give him cereal the first time.  I mixed it with some bananas thinking the sweetness would win him over.

It didn't work.

Two weeks later I tried again and this time he seemed a little more interested.  When we introduced him to sweet potatoes he was hooked!

I remember being so proud of him for eating food.  But I was also a little sad knowing that he was growing up and wouldn't always depend solely on me to feed him.

At six months we were in the heat of the summer.  This is when we discovered Picklebug's love of the water.

[PB at 6 months!]

I remember the excitement of taking him to the beach for the first time.

I remember being sad that I couldn't share this moment with my mother - who always loved going to the beach and who would have surely loved seeing Picklebug's reaction to the waves.

I remember being slightly annoyed at Picklebug's short span of tolerance for sun and sand.  Didn't he know this was MY vacation too?

[PB at 7 months!]

At seven months Picklebug was sitting up completely on his own.  He was also clapping his hands, sitting patiently while we read him stories, saying "ba ba ba" at random, turning off light switches when we held him up to one and even fed himself cheerios.

I was convinced that I had the smartest baby in the world.

I remember one night when I was putting him to bed, he fell asleep in my arms.  So I sat in the rocking chair and stared at his handsome face.  I remember thinking that there is no love that can rival the love a mother has for her baby.  And there is nothing that can top the pride a mother feels for her child's accomplishments - no matter how small they may seem to an outsider.

I remember a deep desire to call my mom and tell her that I now know just how much she must have loved me.


Picklebug will be eight months exactly tomorrow.

At one point, near the very beginning of this journey, I remember thinking I would never make it this far.

Now I can't believe how fast the time has passed by.

I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to make all the memories I've shared with you, and I hope you stick around to find out what lies in store for the months ahead.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


It's no secret that I had post-partum depression.

Within days of giving birth I was so completely overwhelmed with the responsibility and demand of taking care of an infant I might as well have been stranded on a raft in the middle of the atlantic - in fact, at that point I probably would have preferred it.

I remember sitting paralyzed at the dinner table when Picklebug was just 4 or 5 days old, staring at my chicken and rice and being so nauseous with fear I couldn't even lift my hand to pick up my fork.  The only thought that ran through my mind was "this baby was a mistake."

Now I knew that having a baby would change my life. I knew it would be hard. I wasn't so naive as to think that I would bring home a happy baby that would instantly know how to nurse from my breast, sit happily in a swing while I knitted booties and sleep blissfully through the night.

But NOTHING prepared me for his constant demand of my body, attention and time.  And it didn't take long before I lost my grip on sanity.

I was convinced that my life had changed for the worse.  I believed with all my heart that my days of relaxing on the couch with a good book were gone.  No more afternoon shopping trips or dinners out.  No more movies.  No more sleeping in - no more sleeping period!

At one point, when MG was downstairs with the baby, I snuck upstairs and researched how to put a baby up for adoption.

I knew I had a serious problem and thankfully my family recognized this and reached out to me.  I spent 10 days with my stepmom in NC learning how to manage life with a baby.

I spent 10 weeks building up confidence in my ability to be a mom.

And when my hormones settled down and I finally got 6 consecutive hours of sleep, it took me less 10 seconds to fall madly in love with my son.


Since those early weeks I've experienced countless blessings as a mother.  The good Lord heard my cries for help and he answered them generously.  I have a happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy and I struggle to comprehend what my life would be like without him.

Before Picklebug, MG and I went on all kinds of adventures.  In fact, it was MG's spontaneity (along with all his other endearing qualities) that won me over!  Our friends would roll their eyes at our constant day-tripping - but we loved exploring new places!

These adventures were one of the things I was most worried about missing out on when PB came long... but little did I know that our adventures were just beginning!

In fact you can't really call it an adventure WITHOUT bringing a baby along!

Today MG and I took Picklebug to Maymont park in Richmond.  It was a perfect day - and we had a great time.

As we walked around the park, the children's barn and the nature center I couldn't take my eyes off my sweet little boy.  I loved watching the look of wonder on his face when he reached out to pet a goat.  Or seeing his eyes light up when we showed him the turtles.  Each thing we came across became an exciting opportunity to introduce our baby to the world around us.

This adventure solidified for me the fact that everything we do is better with Picklebug.  Shopping, dining out, taking walks, vacation - all of it is so much more fun with our baby.  Easier?  No way!  But I love the challenge of figuring out how to make our adventures fun and rewarding.

It might mean packing a few LOTS of extra things (like an extra change of clothes, the portable high chair, snacks, juice, toys, diapers, wipes, blanket, stroller...) and it might take a little LOTS of extra planning (leave just before nap time and hope to drive 2 hours in peace before stopping for lunch, play with PB until he starts rubbing his eyes, then back in the car for nap #2 while we drive 2 more hours and stop for a diaper change and a stroll around the mall then back in the car for a quick cat-nap making sure we arrive at our destination in time to set up the pack-n-play...) but at the end of the day I feel accomplished.

And after all that goes in to pulling off a successful trip to the park - I feel like I deserve an award!

It's been almost eight months now since Picklebug came into my life.  And while the journey hasn't always been easy - it has been worth it.  It didn't take long - thankfully - for me to stop thinking about all the things I thought I had lost and instead start to enjoy all that I have gained.

After all, why wouldn't I trade sleeping in until 10 am for the happy smile I get from Picklebug when I peek over the rail of his crib at 7:30 am?

And who wants to read  Life of Pi when you have Is Your Mama a Llama? sitting on the shelf?

Why choose a quiet dinner-for-two when I have the opportunity to watch my baby figure out how to eat a spaghetti noodle?

And who needs a spotless house when you can have squeals of delight from a baby in a Johnny-Jump-Up?

What on earth could be a better way to spend my "free time" than taking every precious minute I have to show my sweet baby how much I love him?