Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Year Later

(from his first birthday...just us three)

This time last year Phoenix was 9 days old. Yesterday was my dad's birthday and last year on his birthday we bundled P up and went out to lunch at a local biergarten. I was so nervous, so fragile still. He was so tiny. He mostly slept and cooed as we shared beers and I nervously picked at my giant pretzel and sausage. I remember everyone in the restaurant coming by to congratulate us and feeling both happy and oh so nervous that they were breathing too close to him. The germs! By the time we got home and my parents left I was a bundle of nerves. I collapsed on the couch and cried. That was so exhausting, I thought. How am I ever going to leave the house with him?

Those days were long ones. Packing up our tiny East Village apartment, hosting friends in a jumble of boxes and diapers, and learning how to be parents. The computer was constantly open to a mess of informational sites having to do with sleeping/nursing/pooping...

Trips to the pediatrician were an all day excursion and grocery shopping felt like a outward bound adventure. We worked so hard to decipher all his little cries, studied several diapers, and counted the pitiful hours of sleep we were getting. But we were so happy, so in love. Still riding high on the birth and meeting of our three hearts.

Scott and I spent countless hours studying his face. Trying so much to memorize the quiver of his chin just seconds before he let out a cry, the tiny “o” shape he made with his mouth, and the great big stretches he would take when he woke up. Seemed like so much for such a tiny creature.

One year ago we had hit the ground running on this whole parenting adventure. I was over the initial shock of birth and my full days of overwhelming tears were more like half days of kind of delirious tears. Scott and I were getting lost in the world of Phoenix and making sense of this new family of three. Life was good.

One year later: it's better. And get's better every day, every moment. There are still challenges. There are still days that leave me in tears, and days that end in a much needed glass of wine. I don't think those days end. The challenges and the expectations change, but the frustrations stay the same.

Phoenix is now one year and nine days old. Unbelievable. I still don't like saying one year old. It sounds so official. So I stick with 12 months. Months mean baby to me and I'm going to stick with baby for as long as I can.

Twelve months has brought us such an incredible amount of fun! He walks! He talks! He climbs things! Eek! We have an honest-to-goodness toddler and it is all at once exhausting and exciting. Each day brings so many new experiences and tricks. And pride. So much pride. For me, of course, but his little face is so lit up each time he figures something out on his own. Heart swelling.

The baby that never slept and had a sensitive tummy is, all of a sudden, sleeping like a champ and eating everything in sight. As you can imagine, we are overjoyed about all of it, especially the sleep. It took him some time to figure it all out. But he did it. On his own terms. And when he was ready. It was so worth it.

I think often we forget what tiny, fragile beings newborns are. As adults, we never have to worry about someone forcing us to do something (usually). But for some reason, most people feel comfortable forcing their infants to eat something, sleep at a certain time, or schedule themselves into a baby frenzy. Personally, I feel like it takes time to figure, really. With so many things going on in that developing brain every moment of the day and night, I imagine it's difficult to keep a schedule in mind. In any case, I'm so happy we didn't push Phoenix.

A year ago we were knee deep in diapers and trying to stay afloat in the deep sea of having a baby. While things are much smoother these days, I have a feeling that year two has just as many happy adventures and glasses of wine in store for us.

Cheers to one year!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


(This photo is a little blurry but I love it. On our way home from a birthday party last weekend. Exhausted baby.)

I was walking to meet some friends for lunch the other day and I found myself crying. Weeping really. Just walking down the sidewalk, staring at Phoenix so cozy in his stroller, and everything just hit me. This past year, everything we've experienced together, how much he's grown, and how quickly it all went by. I know it's been a reoccurring theme these past few months but once Phoenix turned 8 months old, he took off and the time just...went. And there I was, looking down at my little person, my son. He's so observant these days, looking around and pointing at everything. Every so often he glances up at me with a huge grin that melts me.

While we were strolling to lunch on this crisp autumn day, the smell of the autumn leaves took me right back to this time last year, just days away from meeting him. I remember trying to fill the time by reading, walking around my neighborhood, picking up last minute groceries, but mostly just wondering and waiting. And now, what feels like a second later, he is about to  be a whole year old.

Last week he started walking. He took his first steps a few weeks ago but after taking one or two steps here and there he would slowly lower himself to the floor and continue crawling. Then, all of a sudden, Scott was leading him out to the living room by the hand as he does every morning, and Phoenix just let go. Just like that. And he ran. Ran down the hallway, and into toddlerhood. Oh my mama heart. While it's exciting to hit all the other milestones (rolling over, crawling, etc), walking feels like a huge departure from babyhood. As proud as I am, I can't help but feel a bit sad that he's becoming more independent with every day that goes by. And he's not interested in crawling anymore. Just walking, thank you very much! So he wraps his tiny hand around my finger and leads me around the house. And we run, and fall, and laugh, and scream. And I try to take videos and photos every day, because I know this too shall pass and it will be on to the next thing.

Overnight my tiny baby has turned into a tiny boy. So now I soak up his last few days of babyhood before he is officially one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Phoenix Hudson: A Birth Story

As Phoenix's first birthday approaches I am feeling so grateful every day that I get to record the highs and lows of our first year together. It's been quite a journey so far. In honor of that, I finally decided I am ready to share Phoenix's birth story. It is such a private and incredible moment that I wasn't sure I wanted to share it. But I decided to write it down. It is his and mine to share forever. 

I've been writing this story for nearly a year. But as I look down at my little guy today, it feels like I've been writing it my whole life. A journey I could not imagine as beautiful as it is, now.

Phoenix was born at 10:15 on a Saturday night. He really got the party started for us. But the party actually began three days prior. My water broke, rather dramatically, at 5 am as I got up for my morning bathroom waddle. After I realized I didn't just pee myself, which is what I thought was happening, I jumped on the bed and started shaking Scott. "We are having the baby today, RIGHT NOW!!!" After leaping up and realizing what had happened he asked me how I was feeling and beaming back I said, "Amazing!" And then, "Still the same..." So we waited. Nothing. No contractions. Humph. So I waited until I decided it was a decent time (7:30 am) and called my midwife. I practically shouted at her that I was in labor and to come over RIGHT NOW. She asked me how far apart my contractions were and when I told her zip, she chuckled and sweetly told me to try and get some rest. She said I may go into labor that day, I may not. "Either way," she said, "It's coming." SO back to sleep we went. The next 72 hours were spent talking to baby. Pleading with him to make his way out. It was 10 days early but he had let us know that he was ready. Finally, on Saturday morning, I woke up with a sharp pain in my abdomen and a rush of excitement in my heart. I woke up Scott again, this time less scary, and told him it was happening. We really were having a baby that day. His whole face filled with such a smile and in that moment we hugged and I cried. I told him how scared I was and that I didn't think I could do it. I was scared of the pain and didn't think I could handle it. He held me tightly and told me how strong I was and how much I wanted to birth our son naturally. He told me to focus on my strength. It was 8 am.

So we called my midwife again and this time told her my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. She was relieved that I finally went into labor and said she'd be over in a little bit to check on me. She said to have a good breakfast and try to rest as much as possible. I would need to save my energy for later. Little did I know how much energy I would need. I also called my amazing doula who was about to head in to teach a yoga class. I told her to go ahead, that I was fine, and (knowing better) she decided to come over right away. By the time she came over (around noon) my contractions were already progressing. They were about five minutes apart. I was so happy to see her and she got to work right away. Massaging my lower back and breathing with me. Over the next two hours we were still able to chat a little bit and I remember being able to sip on some coconut water and voice my needs. I was still able to verbalize where I was at pain-wise. Somewhere around 2 pm active labor began. This is where things get fuzzy. 

Before I went into labor, I imagined I would want to move around my apartment. I studied all the recommended birthing positions and movements. From the time active labor started up until I got into the birthing tub, I stayed in one position: in a ball, curled up, in the corner of my bed. I wanted no lights, no candles, no birthing playlist that I worked so hard to perfect. Silence. Darkness. My thoughts. My heart. My private experience with my baby. I focused on him with every breath, every contraction bringing me closer to seeing his face. I spoke to him deep within myself, telling him not to be scared and that there was so much love waiting for him.

I'm not sure, but I think it was around 8 pm that I got the okay to go into the birthing tub. At this point, my midwife had shown up. This was welcome sight as it meant that it was almost time to push. My contractions were so close together at this point that I had no energy to continue. As soon as I got into the water, I wanted to melt into the soft pillow of the inflatable pool. My contractions slowed down and I was able to "rest." In between contractions I would just pass out for a quick one minute nap. After my contractions picked back up again, I got the go ahead to push. I remember thinking, this is it. I'm going to meet my baby any minute. Any minute turned into 45 minutes. The first half hour was so challenging. After laboring all day and pushing with everything I had, I didn't think I could push any more. I was losing hope, patience, and what felt like my mind. My amazing doula, Lisa, kept massaging my lower back and putting cold washcloths on me. I was crying. "I can't do anymore," I said. The pain was so intense. At this point, my midwife, Cara, examined me and said I was so close. She said I could be done in just five pushes. Now I had a goal! I can do five pushes! With a high second wind I braced myself for my next push. After it was over, Cara came over, grabbed my shoulders gently, looked me in the eyes and said, "You have to push harder." "What?!! How?!" I asked. She told me if I didn't push with every bit of strength I was going to be in labor forever. I din't think I had any more left in me. But as the next contraction started rolling in I braced myself and screamed, pushed, and cried with all my heart. I felt him. He was so close. It was so painfully incredible. One more push...the head has out. I could feel him. It felt deafly silent all around me. Somewhere through the muffles I heard Cara say, "Just one more push and he's out." Here we go, I thought. And then there he was. A perfect tiny creature floated into the water underneath me. "What do I do?!" I screamed. Pick him up...

And so I did. At 10:15 on Saturday night. October 15th, 2011 little Phoenix Hudson made a very peaceful entrance into our world. I picked up his tiny, slippery body and held him so close. "You're here baby boy," I told him. "You found us."

And so began our journey as parents and he as our babe. One year ago.