Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a birthday post for Brynn

Three years ago tonight, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of our *beloved* baby girl...and my anesthesiologist.  One promised a lifetime of happiness, smiles, frustrations, love, laughs, headaches, and memories...and the other, a temporary relief from the excrutiating pain I was currently experiencing (thanks to the dose of Pitocin administered to me earlier in the evening), so that I could properly focus my energies and meet our beloved baby girl.  (No, you don't *need* an epidural to 'properly' have a baby...but I did have one, for each of my kids, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I have amazing respect for moms who chose--or who aren't able to have the choice--to experience natural childbirth.  It's just not something that I was comfortable attempting, so I took advantage of my options.)  After two failed attempts at proper placement of my epidural, the anestesiologist was able to get the medication administered and I was one step closer to meeting our daughter. 

At 9:58 pm, Brynn Alexa made her appearance, weighing 6 lbs., 7 oz....almost a pound less than her big brother, but what she 'lacked' in weight, she made up for in attitude (and continues to do so!).  Her sweet little face, round little head, long limbs, huge feet (sorry, B...that's all from mommy!), and 'piano player fingers' (just the right size for wrapping daddy around!)...all perfect.  We were in love. 

little baby big foot!

the first of many grimaces toward her mommy ;)

sleeping beauty...she was born to be a princess!

It's funny though...that whole 'love at first sight' thing.  Love has a lot of different levels.  We have loved Brynn from the moment we knew we were expecting her (just as we did with Gavin), we were absolutely enamoured by her when we finally did 'meet' her, and over the past three years we have completely fallen in love with her sweet little personality, her darling little smile, her adorable and charming ways. 

We weren't rookies at this whole 'baby' thing...Gavin was 22 months old, so we had moved through the various stages of 'love' with him and were absolutely head over heels for our son.  So, what did that mean for our daughter?  Pregnancy provided me with plenty of opportunity to worry, to plan, to fear.  With Gavin, a lot of those worries, plans, and fears revolved around what to do with a baby(!).  But with Brynn, it shifted.  I knew 'baby', and was confident in my abilities as a mom to be able to meet my daughter's basic needs.  But, could I possibly love her as much as I do Gavin?  Could I show her love in the same way?  Was I a 'bad mom' for wondering these things?

New moms and dads spend a lot of time staring at their amazing little miracles, marveling at their faces, fingers, and features as their little ones sleep.  I can't speak for us all, but I imagine similar thoughts are swirling through our brains as we do this; and millions of them--the near future with our child, the distant future, and everything in between.  That's pretty much how I spent that first night after Brynn was born.  Well, that, and catching a few zzzz's in between.

The next day, we had the amazing opportunity that every mom and dad of more than one child has: we introduced our son to his baby sister.  I wish I could have read his mind, or that he was old enough to verbalize what he was thinking as he tried to process this new little person.  From the first few appeared to be love at first sight:

he likes her!

going in for a kiss...or maybe a bite?

our baby announcement photo

my adorable little family

That evening, Randy took Gavin home and it was just Brynn and me.  More staring, marveling, and wondering for me...more sleeping for Brynn.  Until just after 2 am.  I distinctly remember it, because it was at that moment when I had a fear pass over me...the question of "what did we get ourselves into?"...the tears silently sliding down my cheeks, hitting the pillowcase and echoing my fears and worries...

She was screaming...not just crying...screaming.   I went through the basic baby list: dry diaper? check. Full belly from feeing? check.  Warm and swaddled? check.  What was her deal?  Why couldn't I console her in the way that I could my little boy back home in his 'big boy bed'?  What if she could sense that I was questioning my abilities to love her as much as Gavin? 

I unwrapped her swaddle, unsnapped her little t-shirt, and lay her skin to skin on my chest.  I put a blanket over us both and cuddled my baby girl, sobbing at my failed attempts to calm her terrible cries.  I stared off into space, looking past the ceiling tiles of my hospital room, as if looking to the heavens for the answer...any answer.  I felt such a disconnect to her cries, which only intensified my own, as my concerns for my abilities as a mom grew with each wail. 

At some point in the night, the cries lessened (from both parties), and soon sleep took over.  I knew the nurses had told me not to fall asleep with my daughter in the hospital bed, for fear I'd drop her or roll on top of her, but the exhaustion from my mental anguish took over and I don't even remember the moment when I let my eyes fall closed and take in the sweet, blissful sound of my little girl sleeping. 

I remember that night often; whenever I hear of a friend having a baby, my memory takes me back.  I don't wish the (what seemed like) hours of crying on any new mommy, first baby, second baby, or fifth.  But I do wish the realization that I made that night on them: you can't love your children in the same exact way.  Sure, you love them all unconditionally, you love them with your whole heart, you love them no matter what...but the type of love, the level of love, the way you show love toward each child is different depending on that particular childs' needs.

My relationships with my children requires me to be a 'different' mom to each of them.  Their needs are met in similar ways, but also in very different ways.  As a baby, Gavin would cry, I would feed him, cuddle him, and he'd be content.  Now when he cries, he does have moments where he needs to be left alone, but then I can approach him and talk with him about his feelings, cuddle him, hug him, and we're back to 'normal'.  Brynn, on the other hand, requires a bit more mental effort.  She isn't comforted until she decides she's comforted.  She needs to get her cries out, her tears and frustrations.  She pouts and goes away and doesn't want to be bothered until she's good and ready...or until she gives up and falls asleep.  Even at 2 days old, she had that personality.  True, she couldn't 'go away' that night, but she did make sure I knew that her little fit of crying wouldn't be finished until she was ready.  Thankfully, because she's my daughter and I love her no matter what, I was able to stay by her side through it all, to mentally persevere and prove to myself that my motherly instincts did take over, did know what to do, and did work.

Three years ago tonight, my life was changed forever and for the better.  Brynn has added such a unique dynamic to our family, one that I can't even imagine existing without.  She may only be 3, but her personality and ability to change me as a person rivals that of older, wiser people I know.  So tonight, I wish my little girl a very happy third birthday.  Three fabulous years of loving her--just as much as I love Gavin--but in the way that works best for her.

the birthday girl!

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