Posts Tagged With: family

Our First Swim

Last night we had our first swim. It has been in the nineties here with ninety percent humidity and needless to say, it’s hot! Cam does pretty well with the heat but we try and limit our time outside and maximize our time in the AC.
Fourteen years ago – I started babysitting for a family from my church. Tim and Laura had one daughter, Julia, who was almost one in addition to a 10 year old daughter, Ashley and a 12 year old son, Josh. We slowly became very close and they became a second family to me. They had Kaylee a few years later and I instantly fell in love with her as I did with the rest of their family.

kaylee and julia

 

They cheered me on when I graduated from high school, supported me when I studied abroad, Ashley stood up in my wedding and when Cameron was born, they visited us in the hospital.
Last night, Cameron and I stopped by for a visit with Tim and Laura.
Again – it must be said – it was hot. The journey from the car, up their driveway to their front door had me covered in sweat. Lucky for me, they have a pool. I changed into my swimsuit and jumped in the pool. As I swam from one end to another – it was unbelievable that I was living this moment. Fourteen years ago I was changing diapers, rocking the girls to sleep and never imagined that Laura would be changing my son’s diaper and rocking him to sleep.
After Cameron’s nap, Laura brought him outside and we dipped his chubby little toes into the water. Tim took him for a lap in the shallow end and then I finished off his swim dipping him up to his shoulders.

swim

He looked relaxed, content. Eyes closed, arms out. He looked the way we felt. I think we all reveled in the moment, reflecting on our friendship, thankful for our past and looking forward to our future.

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Categories: baby, family, friendship, infants, newborns, parenting, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Oompa Loompa

On Sunday, Cameron was five days old and my milk finally came in but he refused to eat. I felt like a had two gallons of milk attached to my chest and he just couldn’t latch. After each feeding, we were both soaked with milk, frustrated and one or both of us were usually in tears.

Even though we were told that infants have tiny tummies and don’t need to eat a lot, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was unintentionally starving my baby.

I couldn’t wait until our pediatrician’s appointment the next day.

We got there and weighed him. He had lost a half a pound over the weekend and my little babe looked like an oompa loompa, he was tiny, lethargic and a sad shade of orange. The doctor asked about feeding him and I was so grateful for my husband because I couldn’t speak through my sobs.

Our doctor was incredibly kind and compassionate. He offered him two ounces of formula to see if he was capable of eating. He ate it in about five minutes – which was a very good sign.

We were then sent to get blood drawn to check his bilirubin levels. He told us to go home, feed every two hours and wait for his phone call to get our results.

The phone rang about five minutes after we got home. Cameron needed to be admitted to the hospital, bilirubin and sodium levels were too high. I was only five days postpartum, operating on very little sleep and couldn’t control my tears, I was sobbing in the backseat holding on to tiny orange fingers, while Matt drove us to the hospital.

We were admitted right away and shown to a room with an incubator, a twin bed and a pullout couch. It was going to be a long night. Cue the tears. Again.

They took the babe’s vitals, got him an IV, hooked him up to heart monitors, put on his baby sunglasses and laid him in his incubator on his billi light.
shades in incub
incubator

To see my tiny son hooked up to wires was beyond terrifying. My mind kept envisioning the worst even though every nurse reassured me that this was so common and he was going to be better in the morning.

How do you cope when your perfect baby is sick? What do you do when there is nothing you can do? I felt so helpless. I felt so sad. Melancholy, miserable, depressed. Only five days old and he had captured our hearts and became our world. The thought of losing him, heavy on our minds, was unbearable.

So we fought for him and alongside him. We prayed for him, for the nurses and doctors. We prayed for strength for each other. Matt and I held each other on the twin bed, trying our best to comfort each other.

Our instructions were to feed him every two hours –either formula or breastmilk. I had my heart set on nursing my baby and was afraid that if we gave him bottles he would never be able to nurse. But he needed to eat. I learned how to pump and were able to give him breastmilk bottles every two hours.

We settled in for a long night. We set alarms. I pumped and fed him. I pumped and Matt fed him. Repeat. We alternated guiding the tubes and cords out of the incubator so we could hold and comfort our baby boy while he ate.

They did another blood draw to recheck his levels. Nurses were in and out constantly checking, updating his chart, noting his feedings.

At 7 the next morning our pediatrician came in and was very happy with the progress over night. Cam was getting hydrated, fed and started having wet diapers and normal poop. I never thought I would be so happy to hear the words “normal poop.”

He set up an appointment with a lactation consultant for me that afternoon. She was patient and understanding. She taught me how to nurse and how to make sure he latched correctly. She brought her sensitive baby scale and we weighed him before he ate and after and it appeared that he was getting about 3 ounces from nursing. This time, they were happy tears.

I was finally nursing my son and bonding with him in a way I had dreamed about even before we got pregnant.

We were discharged that afternoon. We drove home and I had the confidence knowing that we, as family were going to be okay.

Categories: baby, family, newborns, parenting, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Happy Birthday”

 

For some reason hummingbirds have always reminded me of my grandma (my mom’s mom) who passed away just over two years ago. I have this vivid image of her, one Christmas, wearing a gray, crew-neck sweatshirt with a hummingbird on it. It may have been her only one – but it is emblazoned in my mind that she loved the little bird and every article of clothing she had was adorned with a hummingbird.

That being said, every time I see one, I think of her. A few months ago, I was with my mom in San Francisco and we went on a wine tour of Napa Valley.  At our very last winery, tired and tipsy, we wandered into the vineyard. Off to the side was this giant flowering bush and I saw something flutter. It took me no longer than a nano-second to realize it was a hummingbird; and how appropriate, on this mother-daughter vacation on Mother’s Day weekend, (almost two years to the day of her death) to feel the presence of my grandmother in the form of this tiny bird.

~the winery hummingbird~

Now, more than ever the two are linked: the memories of my grandma to the image of the hummingbird. So it is no surprise to me that when I spent the day at my parents’ Lake House in Port Sanilac, MI that a hummingbird graced us with her presence there as well.

Every summer, the women on my mom’s side of the family, get together to celebrate their summer birthdays. Having a birthday in March excluded me from this intimate gathering until this year when I had the day off work, a need to get away to the country, and a desire to finally swim in Lake Huron; one of Michigan’s Great Lakes.

~lake huron~

After our first venture into the icy, (50 shades of) blue, water, we sat on the deck to dry in the hot Michigan sun. There, while toweling off, I caught my first glimpse of the Lake House hummingbird. We collectively gasped, smiled and in unison pointed to the spot where she had been. She zipped up to the feeder and I scrambled to capture her on film memory card. She was fast and sneaky. And I missed her. But I was patient.

After filling our bellies with hot fudge cream puffs with Sander’s hot fudge (a Michigan specialty) we sat back on the patio, looking out on the gorgeous lake. Camera poised, the hummingbird came back and was ready for her photo shoot.

 

~so still~

 

The small moments of seeing this hummingbird with the women in my family (the women who have helped shape, support and encourage me – and the rest of my cousins) who represent everything good and brave and inspiring, was an incredible gift.

At the summer birthday party, my grandmother was present. Maybe she was saying hello – maybe she just wanted us to know she was always watching, protecting, loving us. Maybe she wanted to say she’s proud of us and that she misses us too. Or maybe, just maybe, she wanted to say, “Happy Birthday.”

~happy birthday~

 

 

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Moments that Make Life a Little Less Ordinary

 

It was a long day at work. A typical Monday .

It was the anniversary of my gramma’s death. No one at work knew. I wore my ring I had had made with a stone from her wedding ring and she consumed my thoughts.

She loved coffee so on my way in to work, I stopped at Starbucks and savored every sip – a quiet tribute.

After work, I got home and changed into running clothes – seeking the solitude only a run and the road can give.

It was a gray afternoon with intermittent rain but that wouldn’t keep me away. I needed time out of the house, away from work, just me, the road, my music and the soft sound of my Asics splashing through the puddles that had been pooling all day.   I was tired. Every muscle in my body begged me to stop but I carried on lost in my thoughts, my memories. I was enveloped in the melancholy of the music, the dark skies and the longing for a hug from the one woman that wasn’t able.

As I splashed through a giant puddle, I smelled something familiar. A smokey, mossy, fishy, musty, wet smell; the smell of the cottage.

When we (my brother, cousins and I) were little, we spent many a weekend up in my grandparents cottage on Glen Lake, a small beautiful  lake near Traverse City in northern Michigan. On days we weren’t swimming in the lake or trekking up Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, we walked through the woods, slathered in bug spray looking for raspberries, money plants and other treats the forest kept hidden. Days spent at the cottage were magical. We spent time with family and I remember ordinary mornings sitting on the deck, overlooking the late, eating Cap’n Crunch next to Gramma, while she drank her coffee in her quilted robe.

~glen lake~

On rainy days – we’d have to entertain ourselves and mostly found ourselves outside dodging raindrops or rooting around the old shed. The rainy smell of Up North is unique – not sure what makes it that way, perhaps the fresh air, the glacial soils, my unspoiled memories.  Whatever it is – it’s different from downstate.  That smell wafted through my run today and on any other day, I wouldn’t have noticed it. Wouldn’t have cared. Wouldn’t have paused to inhale it’s sweet, rainy, musty scent.

But at that moment – I knew that it was meant for me. It was the hug I’d been longing for all day. It was the hope in faith realized. The tears started escaping from my eyes and I let them roll down, warm on my hot, pink cheeks.

And then – as if on cue – the sky opened and it started pouring – I tasted the salty tears mixed with the cold, fresh rain.  I pressed on – running a bit slower to soak up this sort of divine intervention – this small gift.

I cherish that moment. It was a small moment out of a large, long day. I am reminded that even though she’s gone – she remains. A part of me, a part of my mom, a part of my brother, a part of my cousins. We are all shaped and molded from her and proudly so.

So today – on the anniversary of her passing from this life, I cry, laugh, reminisce and feel grateful for the time I had with her.  I look forward to the small moments that remind me she is not completely gone and the moments that make life a little less ordinary.

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