Smile

L has had her first ever cold this past week (which KIND OF got in the way of my cover reveal. THANKS L.TIME YOUR COLDS BETTER.) It’s been sad, seeing her so stuffy and coughing throughout the night. She’s herself, but not really. Tired, angry, sad, confused. And as much as I try to explain to her what’s going on, I know my words aren’t helping much. An appetite would be better. Not vomiting would be better.

But this morning, for a second, between cries, I smiled big at her to cheer her up, and she stopped. She looked up. She beautifully smiled back.

And I thought how wonderful it is, to change your mood so quickly. I thought, how great it is that something as simple as a smile could make you smile, too. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be great, if it was always that easy? If you’re having a bad day and a something so simple could turn everything around? That a simple gesture could make a bad feeling great? If that was enough?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a small smile could make you incredibly, overwhelmingly happy?

And then she smiled again.

And then she giggled.

And as I smiled back, I thought, oh, it can. 

Nightmares

Every now and then, L has nightmares. It’s really sad; she’ll start crying and won’t stop until I wake her up and tell her it’s okay. At three months, I’m not sue what she fears (no food? painful gas? missing mommy? birth?), but whatever it is, it scares her. And I don’t like seeing her scared.

She’s so small, you see, and so new. She hasn’t experienced anything yet, at least anything that can give her real nightmares. The kind you run from, hide under your bed from. Or worse, the kinds you can’t. She’s unmarked, undamaged, just new and clean. And despite wanting to, I know I can’ keep her that way.

Because eventually she’ll start to move more and maybe skin her knee. Or fall and bump her head. And she’ll cry from the pain and I’ll try my best to make it better.

And later she’ll meet kids her own age and while some will be kind, they won’t all be. Some might say things to hurt her feelings, some might be mean to her, and I’ll just be able to tell her it’s okay, they’re wrong, she’s wonderful.

She’ll fall in love one day, and maybe that person won’t reciprocate her feelings. Maybe she’ll have a broken heart, or two, and mommy won’t be able to sew it back together.

Or worse, maybe she’ll get to the stage in her teenage years where she won’t even tell me she’s hurt. Where she’ll carry around her pain and i’ll see it in her face, hear it in her voice, but she won’t share. And all I’ll want is for her to lay it on me, let me make it better.

But all of that is in the future. And perhaps it won’t happen, but it all probably will. Because we all grow up. And the pains and fears that we carry are the ones that shape us to be who we are. And though I want to shelter her from everything that might make her frown, I know she has to experience everything. Good and bad. Large and small. With me and without.

But for now, i’ll take solace in the fact that her nightmares are small. I’ll hold on to the fact that, for at least now, I can make everything better with a hug and a kiss.

The Wall

There are a lot of books and websites and phone apps that tell you how to raise a child. A plethora, in fact. I should know, I looked at a number of them. They all agree on certain things (sleep on the back!), disagree on others (set a sleep schedule as early as possible; don’t set a sleep schedule until a few months old!), but mostly they all boast that you should engage your child as much as possible. Okay.

Yesterday, I grabbed a rattle and started shaking it by L, trying to get her to follow the sound with her eyes. She looked at it momentarily, then stared at the wall behind us. No matter what I did, she just kept staring at the wall. What’s so interesting about an off-white wall? I thought out loud before realizing something. At just over two weeks, her eyesight is improving. She’s seeing things more clearly – she’s seeing things for the first time.

That includes the boring off-white wall. That moment could have possibly been the first time she really saw a wall.

How cool is that?

Everything, no matter how bland and boring, is new to her. Everything! The floor, the lights…even the sounds around us. She has no idea what any of it is – to her, everything is magical.

So I put down the rattle and my songs about the alphabet and numbers. Instead, I took her outside and we saw the grass, the sidewalk. We felt the sun, the breeze. We heard a lawnmower, a bird chirping. I explained everything, and though she fell asleep, I think she heard.

We have time for hand/eye coordination and mobility. Right now, I just want her to see and feel and experience all that’s around us. Because, to her, even the most ordinary things and insanely extraordinary. And seeing everything in this new, fresh light is pretty extraordinary for me, too.

Bend and Snap

It’s weird how the body can adapt to situations as need be.

Like how it created a viable, comfortable (I think?) home for Leila during my pregnancy. How it changed and moved and grew just to accommodate all 7 lbs 11 oz. of her. (I give my body full credit – the only thing I did to assist was eat. A lot.)

And how it prepared itself for her birth. And how it, now, is slowly going back to what it once was prior to her invasion. (Invasion sounds weird here, but it’s kind of what she did.)

Now it’s doing it again. I was in labor for 33 hours, and it ended with surgery. I have sore muscles and scars to show what I went through. (I’m not complaining – it was a hard process, but the end result made it beyond worth it).

It was bad at first. If I was sitting and holding L, S would have to help me stand up because I couldn’t on my own. If I was sitting in bed, S would have to take L to put her in the bassinet because my torn muscles wouldn’t allow me to turn. And for someone so independent like myself, it was a trying experience. I wanted to do everything I could, and yet, physically, I couldn’t.

Now, two weeks post birth, S is back at work and i’m having to figure out how to move and lift and place on my own. And, again, it’s as if my body just knows it’s time to act. Because two nights ago I put her in the bassinet on my own. And yesterday I got out of the rocking chair while holding her without assistance. Yes, i’m still sore at times, and the cuts and scars have not healed, but i’m adapting. I’m growing.

I’m not totally okay yet, and I don’t know when I will be, but i’m happy with my progress, and i’m excited to see it continue. Because she’ll only get heavier and snugglier, and I want to be strong enough for every hug and cuddle.

Leila

Sleepy sleepy

Baby Leila is here! Born just a week ago, she’s been an absolute joy. S and I are completely and utterly in love with our little girl.

I’ll admit I was hesitant about being a parent at first. What if I didn’t know what to do? What if I did everything wrong? Could I be responsible for someone? Could I be okay with changing up my life so much that it revolves around someone else? Even with S’s constant love and help, could we do it?

Obviously we decided that we could, that we wanted to. It was a natural decision. We took our time and I think that was for the best. Because now we’re ready. And, yes, we’re still petrified of doing something wrong, and yes, we’re not sure what we’re doing, but we know it’ll all be okay. Because we’re in it together. The three of us now.

It feels right.

Before Leila, I considered TNWSY to be my baby. In a way, there are similarities. I birthed it, nurtured it. It sometimes made me stressed or sad, but also extraordinarily happy and proud. And, when it was ready, I put it out into the world to create its own life.

I still consider TNWSY to be my baby (it will always be!), but it’s different now that I have an actual one. When TNWSY comes out, if someone doesn’t like it, it won’t be the end of the world. Sure i’ll feel rejected and sad, but it can’t force someone to like something I wrote. But if someone says something negative about my girl, I will come at them with the fury of dragons. I will do everything I can – everything in my power – to protect this little human. I will show her a good life. I will keep her nurtured and loved. I will love her every single day as she learned the highs and lows of the world. I will hold her close through everything.

It’s amazing, looking at this little girl as I am right now, and realizing that S and I created her. She’s ours, all ours. I never thought I could love someone I barely know – yet someone know so well – so much.

College Shenanigans

We played with tinfoil sometimes.

When I was a freshman in college, my dorm mates and I decided to jump into a pool on the coldest night of the year. (Yes, I went to college in Florida, but it was North Florida, where temperatures actually dropped down to the teens!) The pool was behind our building, so after submerging in the water, we ran back inside to the safety and warmth of our shared rooms.

To keep the tradition alive, we decided to do it again sophomore year,  only this time we were in different buildings, and this time we raised the stakes. With no pool behind our building anymore, we decided to race across the entire campus, jump into the fountain (which was normal to jump – or be thrown – into), and run all the way back home. It was far. We were wearing bathing suits under our jackets, and the temperature was around 14 degrees. We were stupid.

Still, five of us did it – three guys, two girls. We raced, we jumped, we screamed, we ran back. Icicles clung to my braided pigtails. I couldn’t stop shaking, and then everything hurt. I collapsed in the bathroom with my roommate as the water from the shower heated up the room and warmed our blood. About an hour later, the guys came by to check on us and we all had hot soup together, laughing about what we’d just accomplished. Needless to say, we didn’t try to recreate it the following year.

I’m still friends with many of these people, and oftentimes we’ll reflect on this event, along with the others that, in a weird way, shaped our early college years. (That time we dared him to eat all the cinnamon, that time we played assassins across campus with loaded water guns, that time she fell through the ceiling when trying to crawl from one room to the other, that time they rappelled off the building…). There are more memories, of course, more crazy nights, and it’s fun thinking about them, running them through my mind like a highlight reel.

A few of those dorm mates have kids now, just like I will any day now. I thought about this, while talking to one of them, joking that one day our kids will be in college and, maybe, running across campus in freezing weather. That they might replicate some of the not-so-smart things we did.

And that’s terrifying.

But also…we were good kids. Yeah, we broke rules, but we never did anything too bad, too dangerous. We knew what was right and wrong, despite the desire to break free. But most importantly – we had each other. And that was the most important part. We kept each other inspired, but also grounded. We looked out for one another. We cared, we loved.

So, yeah, it is frightening to think about my daughter going away to college in the future, to think about what she’ll get up to, to wonder if she’ll be shaking icicles out of her hair at 2 a.m., too. But honestly, if she makes a group of friends like I did, I know she’ll be just fine.

Waiting Period

Hello!

As you might have noticed, I’ve been M.I.A. for a bit. It’s not because of some amazing news, or I’ve been hiding from the world or anything, I’ve just been…

  1. Experiencing pregnancy brain. I didn’t believe in this at first, figuring it was simply another pregnancy myth, but oh my. The other day, I literally said to a co-worker: “hey, can you get me…the…the um…the thing to put the books on so I can roll them around.” “A book cart?” “YES! THAT!” It was then that I became a believer.
  2. Preparing for said baby. I’ve been reading the books (they’re terrifying) and setting up the nursery with S (it’s adorable). You hear that babies need a lot of stuff, but it’s not until you see your house lined with Graco and Fisher Price boxes that you realize it’s all incredibly true. I also find myself using the word “snugapuppy” a lot. (It’s a baby swing. With a puppy on it. It’s adorable.) (Also, magically I can remember the non-word “snugapuppy” and not “book cart.”)
  3. Writing. Yes, despite the memory issues, I’m still trying to write. In fact, I want to get everything done prior to baby’s arrival. So right now a manuscript is with my beta readers (one my agent has already thankfully approved of, only now with many, many edits), and I’m writing away at another one. It’s weird and fun balancing three projects (TNWSY as well, of course), but they’re vastly different, so it’s easy separating them in my mind. And for the first time, I made a very detailed outline for a story so I can follow it when my mind does, eventually, go blank.
  4. Reading. Not just baby books! I’ve read 10 books so far this year. Some highlights… Drama High by Michael Sokolove was a fantastic non-fiction account of a high school drama department. Touching and lovely (and as someone who was part of a high school drama department, I was deeply invested). The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick was a fun, deep read that I checked out for my library’s book club. Admittedly, I saw the movie first (which I loved), but that didn’t spoil the book at all – they’re both different and lovely enough to stand on their own. September Girls by Bennett Madison. I’m usually not big on mermaid books, but this one blew me away. The writing was lyrical, the voice authentic and unforgiving. I was absorbed.
  5. Sleeping. Or attempting to sleep (it’s become quite hard). I plan my days around sleeping sometimes.

That is to say, not much is going on, but at the same time, so much is going on. My life is on the brink of changing in various ways, and I’m just about to take everything in. I’m just waiting…waiting excitedly. And, yet, also enjoying the wait.