Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On night waking and attachment

It took over 30 minutes to walk to the bakery.
Ada woke me up at 2:30 asking me to fix her star. Bleary eyed and confused I followed her into her room where the lights were on and every toy was on the floor, along with most of her bedding. I looked at the clock in her room. What is happening?

I quickly pieced it together that it was, in fact, the middle of the night and told her the star would have to wait, as would combing her princess' hair, finding Yellow Pony and any other play-related request. A meltdown ensued as she semi-obediently climbed into bed and told me in no uncertain terms that, "I am so, so, 'specially sad, Mama." Truly the cruelest part of toddlers is how expressive and naughty they are all at once.

I fed a now wide-awake Olive (we moved her into Ada's room—now "The girl's room"—about 2 weeks ago and it's been smooth transition, gratefully) and 20 minutes later climbed back into bed with Mike. Only seconds later we heard the rattle of the shape sorter in the other room and Mike jumped up and took it from there. Bless him.

Liv woke up at 5 til 6, was alert and happy as can be and I wondered why on a night that I went to sleep at 10:30 I still felt so tired. I brought her in bed with me and she kicked and cooed and batted at my face until she drifted off for a bit around 6:30. That only lasted 15 minutes or so and she was up again, chatty as can be. She's such a smiley little thing. All I have to do is look away for a few seconds and then meet her eyes again and she gets all crinkly-eyed and gummy. She's a real happy baby. I finally feel like her mother, and not just her sustainer. Our relationship is blossoming into one that's based in smiles and loving interactions and not just the daily tasks of keeping her alive. It has been a huge blessing and helped me keep my guilt at not "bonding" with her as much at bay. I've always had a visceral, instinctual bond with her, but now I giggle with her and look forward to our interactions. She's my Liv. I know her. And I feel true to myself when I say that I love being her mother.

I've expressed it here before, but I can't get over how different mothering my second child is. People said I'd be able to enjoy it a lot more; that I'd be less worried about every little thing and the hard stuff would come more naturally to me. And that's mostly been true. But I enjoyed struggling and overcoming (nursing) with Ada. I felt like we were a team. I was in raptures over every expression. I would sing to her endlessly, talk to her endlessly. And with a second I spent more time away from her than with her. I nurse her while getting out a project for Ada or picking up breakfast. As soon as she's content, to the floor she goes so I can get to one of the other 10 things that either need my attention or are half finished (completing a single task start-to-finish in one sitting has become a major accomplishment). I felt distracted and unable to do it all. I had to consciously make time to sit and smile with her.

But something has changed in the last few weeks. Maybe Ada is less needy and understands that a new little person at our house does nothing to displace her or our affection for her. Maybe I am just out of the postpartum fog. Maybe Liv's new-found voice and near-constant smile are to blame. Not sure, but whatever the case, I feel so much love and attachment to Olive that sometimes I have to catch my breath. In the same way I can't wait for Mike to get home from work so I can relate 100 anecdotes about Ada from the day, I look forward to getting him close so we can watch our second baby bloom. You can't fully relate expressions. You have to experience them to feel it from head to toe. Olive makes me want to smother her in kisses.

Right now, in this moment, motherhood is so good.

Tummy time is always (usually) and group effort. Ada always feels quite proud of herself.

This probably put Liv at risk of mauling and drowning. But I'm pleased to report no baby was harming in the making of this photo.
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