Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lila - One month old

Little Lila,

You are one month old! Your life has unfortunately been fully of doctor visits, as you've been sick three out of the last four weeks or so. You have two nasty viruses, but you've proven to be quite the trooper. Your mama is an exhausted trooper. I was sick two out of the last four weeks, and sleep/rest is woefully lacking. It's also taken a lot of work trying to figure you out. Sometimes we fall into an easy feed/play/sleep routine, but then it's disrupted somehow and there is crying. Lots of crying. Nature has programmed the sound of your crying to be worse than nails on a chalkboard. I would do anything to stop that crying, and it's an awful feeling when I can't. Oftentimes your dad will come to the rescue with a tight swaddle and just the right bouncing to get you to sleep. 

Here's how it starts, with this boo-boo face:

And then here we go:

You've always liked looking at lights, and now you're starting to watch us. You do have lots of times where you are quiet and alert. And right on your one month birthday you started to smile at us. I caught one, though blurry: 

You are 7 1/2 lbs and 21 inches. I think you'll have blue eyes and your brown hair is starting to grow in blond. You look a lot like your dad and his mom and her mom. I think you are so beautiful. Your dad tells you that all the time, too. I love watching you watch your sister, and I keep imagining the two of you playing together and talking together as you get bigger. Thank you so much for joining our family, little one - we love you so much!

And here you are, being one month old:

Monday, December 17, 2012

being a big sister

We were so excited to watch Annabel become a big sister, and also nervous. We'd heard so many stories of older siblings wanting to send the baby back to the hospital or getting upset with the parents or even trying to hurt the baby. 

It's been a few weeks now and Annabel is the best big sister I could imagine. As soon as she wakes up she wants to see Baby Sister. All day there is a running commentary about her actions: Baby Sister drinking mommy milk, Baby Sister making noises, Baby Sister has a head, Baby Sister has knees and toes... She always wants to hold her or give her blankets and toys. I haven't seen one display of jealousy or possessiveness; this baby seems to have brought out her ability to share generously. Annabel is also really helpful. When I change Lila's diaper, Annabel takes the dirty diaper and puts it in the trashcan and puts any dirty cloth diapers or clothes in the washer or laundry basket. Awesome!

The only time she seems a bit put out by the new arrival is when I'm holding Lila and she wants me to pick her up. Gabe is able to pick both of them up at the same time, which Annabel loves: she shouts "two babies!". I have been missing my firstborn, though. Nights are generally rough and too-sleepless, so Gabe has been helping by getting Annabel ready for daycare and taking her there. If that happens, I don't see her until she's home from there. I also don't always get the chance to put her to bed if I'm feeding Lila. This all means that Annabel often gets barraged with hugs and kisses when I'm around her, even more than usual. I have been feeling guilty about all this and just sad, but Annabel seems okay and I remind myself that this newborn phase will pass (too) quickly, and we'll all be in more of a routine soon. 

Annabel being a big sister:

I need to get more videos but usually I am supervising to prevent the overly enthusiastic gestures that can accompany 'Baby Sister has eyeballs!'. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

side by side

When I was pregnant the second time, I was so curious to see what this baby would look like. I imagined that we could only make Annabels. But if we were to make a non-Annabel, I figured she would look completely different - dark hair, dark eyes, totally different face.

Lila is (I think) shaping up to have the blue eyes and blond hair that Annabel has. (Fun fact: both Gabe and I had blond hair as little kids.) Beyond that, I hardly see any resemblance. Lila is on the left in both pics:

And from Annabel's first days I could see myself and Gabe in her, and I still can. This new little one is just so 'new' to me. I sometimes see Gabe's mom and grandma in her face, especially the eyes. I think she looks a bit like Gabe in the eyebrows and mouth. I don't see anything that reminds me of me. It occurred to me recently that I just assumed she would stay this little indefinitely (which brought along some mini-panic attacks about how to manage all this). But I put Annabel to bed tonight and realized in two very short years, this teeny newborn will be doing the same sorts of things: brushing her teeth, carefully picking out her bedtime stories, giving me big kisses without my asking, and arguing with me about how our dog doesn't actually have a tummy. It made me appreciate all the more this fleeting stage of froggy legs, first coos and naps that last the whole trip to Trader Joe's and back.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The girls' first Christmas parade

Last weekend Lila started getting sick, followed closely by her mama. On Sunday I hadn't left the house in a couple days and was getting stir crazy. Though I wasn't convinced going out was the best idea in our state, it was sunny and 70 degrees outside and a mama's sanity is sometimes the best thing you can provide for a family.

Pittsboro had their annual Christmas parade that day, so we decided to get in the holiday spirit despite the weather. On the way there I tried explaining to Annabel what a parade was. A parade is a surprisingly difficult concept to convey. 'Floats - decorated things and people on wheels - go by in a line and sometimes they throw candy at you.' I'm equally stumped in explaining Santa Claus and Christmas. Does this all come naturally to other parents?

The parade people did indeed throw some candy at us, which we declined, but Annabel got her hands on some chocolate. She hasn't ever really been a fan, but something about this Nestle Crunch bar has converted her to a chocolate fiend.

Lila slept through the parade, even the fire trucks: 

Parade pics:

 I think this was my favorite 'float':

Daddy and his big girl:

Lila and I got progressively sicker, and she's been to the doctor three times this week. She has coronavirus and RSV and the poor thing is a mess of congestion. She is handling it really well all things considered. We just have to watch her closely and make sure she stays hydrated, doesn't lose weight, and doesn't run a fever. We also have to make sure her breathing doesn't get too labored. It's been a week now, so hopefully this thing will run its course very soon. Gabe is now getting sick and Annabel has had a low-grade fever the past couple days - either she is getting it or she's just been the carrier. It feels like the house of plague here at the moment. Times like these are always a good reminder of how wonderful it is to be healthy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lila Persephone: A pregnancy/birth story

As much as I believe that pregnancy is natural and beautiful and that a pregnant woman is full of grace and magic, I do not seem to embody this during my pregnancies. I feel more like a conglomeration of symptoms, and by the last month I am an achy, hurting mess who is hell-bent on having the house spotless at all hours of the day. At least this time I did not have any major complications (such as gall bladder removal), though I added another interesting symptom: facial numbness after eating. 

I had a good-sized belly early on, which led to speculation that this little one would arrive a bit early. Both Gabe and I had independently guessed November 16th (due date was the 18th). My mom had a bag packed and cell phone in hand about 5 weeks early. With Annabel I had gone into labor in the early morning after my due date (November 21st), but had her just after midnight on the 24th. Here are a couple pictures of the belly the day or two before the due date: 

My due date passed without incident, but in a repeat of the first pregnancy, I woke up to some regular cramping that I soon realized were contractions. They started out six minutes apart and stayed around five minutes apart most of the morning. I called the midwife and I called my mom, who found a flight for that day. Then the contractions stopped in the early afternoon. I went for a long walk, told the baby it was time, maybe did some jumping jacks, but nothing. I felt a bit ridiculous for having my family fly in for nothing and for having Gabe take a day off work. I was also antsy to get this baby here after all the work my body had been doing that day. My mom, sister and nephew picked up Annabel and came over (around 4:30 or 5? don't remember). They made dinner while my contractions picked up again and steadily got more intense. Then back labor kicked in at some point, which made things rough. I welcomed the distractions of people in the house, and when contractions were consistently 3-4 minutes apart and really really hard to get through, we headed off to the hospital. We got there a bit after 8, and I got monitored for 20-30 minutes and checked. The midwife told me that I was only 1-2 cm and that I should labor at home until active labor. I was crushed and had visions of my 46 hour birth with Annabel. Also, things were getting super intense and my back labor was exhausting me already. They recommended taking Ambien so I could sleep between contractions at home and rest up. I was sort of in denial and just could not imagine standing up at that moment much less getting in a car, getting home and getting back in the car to do this all again. I asked to talk it over with Gabe and at that point threw up and had a bunch of contractions in a row. When the midwife came back I told her there was no way I could go home and that I wanted to get in the tub. She admitted me (thank goodness), and I had three contractions on the short trip down the hallway. The  nurse there took a look at me and said I was going to have a baby soon and she got that table set up for delivery. I was very confused and explained I was only a centimeter dilated. They came to fill up the tub but the nurse said she'll check me before I got in so that I didn't have a baby in there (the tubs are too shallow for water births, unfortunately). I should also note that my plan was to have a natural childbirth, but honestly in that moment I just wanted some kind of relief. I was grasping the side of the bed and dreading contractions, very unlike the peaceful birth I had anticipated and prepared for. I think I told the nurse I just couldn't take it anymore, and she said she always hears that right before a baby is born. My midwife arrived and I was checked again - '9 1/2 cm with a bulging bag of waters'. I threw my hands up and said 'yay!'. I also had a slight moment of panic because even if I had wanted something for the pain it was way too late for that - there was only one way out of this scenario. My water broke and I went back to 8 cm and had to stop the urge to push, which was difficult. Once I could push again, it started feeling weird and I sort of freaked out - I think I was screaming to get her out now. The midwife made me open my eyes and breathe and calm down and our baby arrived soon after. Gabe watched and had the same expression of pure awe as he did the first time. Our little girl was born November 19th at 10:56 pm, just a couple hours after they told us to head home. Despite the quick birth, I didn't tear and have had a super quick and easy recovery. 

Our first pic:

She was so alert and watchful for about an hour and nursed well right away. Then we let the nurse swaddle her up and put the little pink hat on her and she slept peacefully: 

Proud parents (repeat pics, I know):

It was hard to pick the right name this time around. We have named her Lila (pronounced Lee-la). I first read about this name/concept in Stephen Nackmanovitch's book 'Free Play: Improvisation in Life in Art' during my grad program. 

There is an old Sanskrit word, Lila (Leela), which means play. Richer than our word, it means divine play, the play of creation and destruction and re-creation, the folding and unfolding of the cosmos. Lila, free and deep, is both delight and enjoyment of this moment, and the play of God. It also means love. Lila may be the simplest thing there is---spontaneous, childish, disarming. But as we grow and experience the complexities of life, it may also be the most difficult and hard won achievement imaginable, and it's coming to fruition is a kind of homecoming to our true selves.

We did not have a middle name until we were leaving the hospital and had to sign the birth certificate. We decided on Persephone. Annabel's middle name is Eden, so they both are mythological names. I have always loved that particular Greek myth. Plus, it's a unique name overall. It can seem kind of heavy when you read the myth (oh my god, they named their child after the queen of death?), but there is something beautiful about the way the earth rejoices in her presence... we looked at it more like this song

Little Lila, we're so happy to welcome you here!
Mommy, Daddy and Annabel

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


My little girl turned two years old this past weekend. The baby in her is completely gone and has been for a while. Our toddler is sweet (she shares without us asking) and sassy (she's perfected the mischievous grin) and strong (she's an awesome little gymnast). She is a silly little creature, and knows it. She loves to laugh and make people laugh. Though she has plenty of snuggly moments, she is independent and strong-willed and stubborn (my do it mySELF!). She is beautiful. I look at her and just can't believe we could have had a part in creating her. She is so so smart. I can't believe how much she knows and how much she can express. She's speaking in full sentences with new words every day ('I want a bite of Mommy's sandwich. Where is Daddy - at work? Mommy has white socks on, just like me.') Here are some pictures of the birthday girl:

Annabel seems even bigger now that she is a big sister! Lila Persephone Cantor was born November 19th, five days before Annabel turned two. She has taken to the Big Sister role with ease. She walked into the hospital room and looked at my tummy and then looked at the baby a couple times, then pointed to say 'baby sister sleeping'. Ever since she has been deeply interested in knowing where baby sister is at all times. She tells me when baby sister needs a blanket or a wipe, and she's voluntarily given her most favorite friend, White Bunny, to baby sister. She gives her gentle caresses on her back and shoulder and gives her lots of kisses on the head. She doesn't seem jealous at all except she's not so happy that mommy can't pick her up like she used to. But my birth recovery is going great, so I'll be able to do that soon.

Here is Lila on her first day here: 

It's only been a week but we've settled in as a family of four. Lila is a pretty easy baby: she cries when she wants the boob, which is most of the time. Otherwise, she's sleeping or looking around peacefully. Sometimes (usually at night) I can't put her down without screams, so I've been sleeping sorta sitting up with the Boppy and her curled up in it. This is causing some neck and back pain, and I'm hoping she'll learn to love the co-sleeper sometime very soon. I suppose when you are a week old, there is a huge difference between sleeping on mommy and sleeping two feet away from mommy, though.

I've updated all our pictures on Picasa and our videos on YouTube (links to the left), and I'll be writing here regularly again (I've missed it!).


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