On Becoming a Mom

I've officially been a mom for a few weeks and I am becoming more comfortable with my new role each day.  At this point, I am still not skilled (or coordinated) enough to breastfeed without completely disrobing but I CAN proudly rinse my daughter's hair in the bath without essentially waterboarding her.

A week before my c-section date, I was chatting with a new mom and she was trying to describe the exhaustion and exhilaration of becoming a new parent.  Her description made my hormonal-self cry a little bit.  She told me it was like waking up at 4 am to catch a flight for your vacation and you're so tired but you're also so excited because YOU'RE GOING ON VACATION!

Isn't that a nice way to think of being a new parent?  It was something I held on to and smiled about in the days leading up to Rudy's birth.

While I don't feel that way all the time, I can totally see what she meant.  For me, I'd compare being a new parent to being in a new romantic relationship.  I still feel like myself but when I'm driving home from work, my heart flutters at the thought of holding Rudy and I can't wait to see her and kiss her and hear all about her day... from Corey, of course!  Nothing is nicer or more peaceful than having her fall asleep in my arms and inhaling her sweet, baby scent!

What piece of advice or insight got you most excited about becoming a parent?

P.S.  You know how everyone says they grow sooo fast?  Apparently, it's true!  The top photo was taken about three weeks ago and now (below) the Wump's (That's what we call Rudy.  She's "The Wump!") already looking more like a real baby and less like a fragile newborn!


The Sweetest Moments

Since I've gone back to work, Corey has been handling Rudy's late night feeds.  Our video monitor allows me to reposition the camera remotely and I often check on them to make sure Corey hasn't fallen asleep.

It's during these quiet times that I often catch them sharing a really sweet moment.  Sometimes he's reading his novel to her, sometimes he's talking to her, sometimes they're both asleep while reruns of Fresh Prince play on the iPad and sometimes he's just talking to her softly and it melts my heart.

More often than not, they're both asleep and cuddling very sweetly.

These photos make me feel very lucky.  I'm saving them for Rudy because one day, she'll get to see that she had a special bond with her dad right from the start.


Choosing a Backsplash for the Kitchen

This post serves as proof that between diaper changes and night feedings, Corey has continued to work on completing our kitchen!  At this point, almost all the cupboards are hung and the doors are being installed.  There's still lots of finishing work to do (like finishing the walls and adding lighting, hardware and spacers) but it's exciting to see it begin to take shape.

Here's a photo of the plan we created on Ikea's website.

Take a look at one of my inspiration images and you'll see the look I am hoping to achieve with the white cabinets on top and grey on the bottom.

Photo from The Inspired Room
One thing I noticed about my inspiration kitchen was that the white subway tile backsplash might not have enough impact for my space.  I wanted something a little more eye-catching like the marble tile behind the tub in this picture, which I found when we were beginning to renovate the bathroom.

After a trip to a tile closeout warehouse with Rudy, we found exactly what I was looking for.

I think this grey and white marble will be the perfect choice against our grey and white cupboards and our white quarts countertops.


My First New Year's Eve as a Mom...

The photos in this post were taken by the talented Danielle Perelman when Rudy was 10 days old.

Happy New Year!  I know I'm a week late but we've been a bit out of sorts these past few weeks as we adjusted to new parenthood.  I'll share many of the details of Rudy's arrival (as well as some more pregnancy-related posts) but it has taken me a while to decide how and what to share because pregnancy was not particularly kind to me and I'm honestly still a bit traumatized.

By the final month of my pregnancy, I was so uncomfortably huge and quite frankly, miserable, that all the beaming, belly-rubbing, advice-wielding strangers who had plagued me for months actually stopped approaching me.  I actually found that I missed them.  I wasn't sure whether their silence was due to the miserable resting b@#ch face I'd developed in my discomfort or perhaps it was the fact that I was so insanely ginormous that they were convinced that I was having quintuplets and that if they startled me or disturbed me in any way, babies would start shooting out of me and I would force the party who startled me to raise one or two until they were eighteen.  But I digress.

How was your New Year's Eve?  I've always found NYE to be a strange night.  There are always so many expectations and there's so much pressure to do something special or memorable that the evening often ends up feeling anticlimactic.  I always look back on the year during the countdown and the whole tradition seems so nostalgic and sentimental and perhaps even a little bit sad to close the book on another year.  Other people seem to disagree and find it exciting.  Which team are you on?

Just three weeks post-surgery and recovering from the flu, Corey and I had already reluctantly cancelled plans with friends and were planning on spending the evening at home.  My mother had been staying with us since we brought Rudy home from the hospital (as her mother had done for her when I was born) and it was finally time for her to go home.  She hugged us and reminded us she was only half an hour away, but I still found myself sobbing and not wanting to see her leave.

My reaction shocked me.  I have always been confident (sometimes to a fault) and even as a child, I don't think I looked back or felt homesick when it was time to start a new school or summer camp.  In fact, I have always been fiercely independent and I've even been known to be stubborn in the face of unwanted help or advice... and yet, here I was, a grown woman, bawling my eyes out and clinging to my mom, not wanting her to leave.  I knew in my head that Corey and I would be fine on our own and that we had tons of support from family and friends.  I was already pretty convinced that Corey would be the best dad ever... And yet, I couldn't help but worry that I might not be up to the challenge.

In my struggle to get through the last months of my challenging pregnancy, I neglected to consider the very important detail that Corey and I actually didn't know anything about babies.  Why had Corey and I scoffed at taking parenting classes?  What if Rudy got a fever?  How could I be sure she wouldn't stop breathing in her crib?  What if the dogs mistook her for a toy?  What if we were so tired, we slept through her crying?  What would we do if she wouldn't stop wailing and we literally went insane?

Thinking about her getting older was scarier still.  How would I know if I was being too soft or too harsh?  What if I was so strict when she was older that I really screwed her up.  What if she turned out to be stubborn like me and she hated me throughout her teens?  The world is so scary that I wondered how I'd ever let her take risks.  How would I learn to be brave enough?  ... Or patient enough?  What if I wasn't a good enough mom?  Would we be the parents she deserved?  My mom was constantly talking and singing to Rudy but it felt so unnatural to me.  What would I say to Rudy when we were alone?  Would I just read my paperwork aloud to her?  I didn't know how to speak to a baby.  I felt like a fraud!  All these thoughts and more spun through my head as I sobbed on the living room sofa, but mostly I was just worried that I would never be as good at mom-ing as my own mom.

In a tear-filled hormonal daydream, the next thirty years flashed before me and I was simultaneously homesick for my own mother in the present moment and sad for the day in the future when I may have to leave Rudy crying with a newborn baby in her arms.  Because one day, she would need to grow up and figure things out just as we had to do now.

My mom assured me that Corey and I were already very competent and knowledgeable and that she was frightened too when her mom left.  She reminded us that we are a great team and that if we need her, she's only a phone call away.  Then she went home.

And so, we spent our first NYE as a family of three (...or five, if you count dogs... which we do!) at home on the couch watching movies with Rudy in her swing and the dogs at our feet.  It was simple and comfortable and not nearly as scary or lonely as I had feared.  Like the famous scene from Bambi, (because that's how I felt) we rung in the new year, as a wobbly, naive new family learning to walk on our own.


Our Sad Kitchen

Before Rudy was born, I was blogging a lot more about the nursery than the kitchen.  Is that because I'm afraid of the kitchen?  Well.... maybe a little.  Our kitchen has been an eyesore and source of anxiety for me since we moved in but I'm pleased to finally report some big progress.

As with every room in our new/old house, there were lots of "Huh???" moments.  When Corey was tearing down the old walls, he came across random wires that weren't attached to anything and even one live wire... Yowza!

All that work to tear out the old tile and the random pieces of drywall which were hiding even more random wires left us with some pretty sad looking walls.  Yep, this is probably about the time I stopped checking on the kitchen because it scared me and grossed me out a bit.

Luckily, Corey pushed forward and hung new drywall using his nifty laser level.  

In order to hang the cupboards, parts of the walls (around the chimney and a plumbing stack) had to be framed.

And finally, my brother and Corey began to build and position the cabinetry little by little...

And all of a sudden, one day, our sad kitchen started to look a little less sad...

I felt even better when our new quartz counters were finally installed.  With our counters, came our sink and gas cooktop:

We're still a far cry from finished but it's coming.... soon.  I hope.


Meet Rudy

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Gertrude "Rudy" Lenore de Sa-Brown.  The newest member of our family was born on December 9th and had totally stolen our hearts shortly after we brought her home on the 11th.

Her Name

Named Gertrude after my mother and Nana (who are called Trudy and Gertie respectively) we call her Rudy after a dearly loved uncle who is no longer with us.  Lenore has always been a favourite name and we love the meaning of "light" since her birthday will always fall near Hanukkah.  The last name is fairly obvious but I surprised myself when I suggested hyphenating our last names.  I had always thought hyphenated names were unnecessarily complicated but the feminist in me couldn't imagine anything more practical and natural than our child sharing BOTH of our last names.

Falling In Love

Rudy was born crying and hungry.  Parts of her birth are still a blur but I can pinpoint the moment when I fell in love with my daughter.  We had just come home from the hospital a day or so earlier and I was holding Rudy against my chest.  She pushed herself away from my body and peered up at my face, blinking her eyes to try to focus.  Before that, I had loved her because she was my baby but I hadn't felt that profound bond that I had been expecting but at that moment, I knew I would do anything for her.  Forever.

Her Personality

In the womb, we called her Singleton and then Bruiser and it seems like we may have hit the nail on the head with the second nickname.  Rudy's tough and very strong for a newborn but has the sweetest, most heartbreaking cry (it sounds like  she's saying "laaa laaaaa laaaa") and she loves her daddy so much that she doesn't even mind sleeping against his hairy chest.  It's funny how even when they're so little, you get glimpses into their personality and we can tell that, as sweet as she is, Rudy likes to do things on her own.  She gets frustrated when I try to guide her while breastfeeding and apparently already knows better than me.  At five days old, the lactation consultant described her as "extremely competent for a newborn" and I beamed.

First Days of Parenthood

People always say time flies with a newborn but now I really understand it.  I don't even know what we've done the past few weeks but the days have sort of melted together and suddenly Rudy's bigger and we've found ourselves recognizing her different cries and in some sort of routine.  It still feels surreal but now we're in the parent club and life has changed forever.

I spent my pregnancy worried that I would change and not be myself and be too "mom-ish" after the baby arrived and now I worry that I haven't changed enough.  I mean, what am I supposed to do with this amazing little person and thank goodness she doesn't know that I have no idea what I'm doing.

I'll confess that the first few nights after she was born, I was afraid to put Rudy down.  I remember crying because I knew it wasn't safe for her to sleep on her side or stomach but I was terrified that if I let Rudy sleep on her back and she spat up, she would choke.  Everything is so scary at first!  For the first five nights of her life, Rudy slept on my chest and I propped my arms on both sides so that I couldn't roll over and she couldn't roll off.  I also didn't let myself really sleep because I was still worried I'd let her roll off me and she'd either fall to the floor or suffocate on a pillow.  Finally, my mother stepped in and pointed out that I wasn't sleeping and was starting to sound crazy.  Luckily, she pointed out that she had raised two children and that they both slept in cribs so (with a video monitor beside me, which we now refer to as "Rudy TV") I handed Rudy to my mom, who promptly had her happily sleeping in the crib for several hours at a time.  Thank goodness for Nanas!  I think my mother's the only reason Corey and I are getting any sleep... Which is necessary, since I've already started back to work.

So there's a glimpse into our little world as new parents.  We are in awe of our amazing daughter who has miniature versions of my hands and Corey's feet.  We're (barely) managing to keep up with the laundry.  I only shower every three days.  We've learned to sleep a few hours at a time.  Diapers and baby spit-up don't gross us out at all.  Barkley and Cheetah seem to recognize Rudy as a pack member and not a toy.  Leaving the house as a family takes an unnaturally (and sort of inexplicably) long time.  The generosity of friends and family has lead to a plethora of baby items and clothes, which seem to inhabit every nook and cranny of our tiny house.  I've been psychotically and aggressively getting rid of extra clothes and furniture (You should see all the furniture that's gone to our curb over the past few weeks.  Nothing is safe!) to ensure that there's still room in this house for the dogs to move around with all of Rudy's extra stuff.  The house is a mess.  Life has been turned upside down... And we are so SO happy!

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