Bright Spots: Discovering the Ocean

This past Saturday, Reggie and I took Micah on a day trip to Monterey and Carmel. Reggie had a beachside engagement shoot scheduled with a couple of clients that evening, so he asked if Micah and I wanted to spend some time together on the beach while he worked.

I happily obliged: I can never pass up an opportunity to walk barefoot in the sand.

When Reggie and I separated so he could get to work, I strapped Micah to my belly, took off my shoes and socks, and paced the shoreline as the sun slowly but surely dipped toward the horizon. I savored the coarse sand on my soles, the biting ocean water lapping over my toes, the cool breeze on my face.

Close to sunrise at Carmel Beach…

 

And, after much longer than I probably should have realized, something dawned on me: this is the very first time Micah has seen the ocean.

And I immediately shifted my focus from the distant horizon to my wide-eyed son. And I smiled at the pure wonder and curiosity on his face. “That’s the ocean,” I told Micah. I explained to him that this was the home of all the creatures we saw earlier at the aquarium. I pointed out the waves, coming and going in a steady rhythm; the kelp scattered around the shoreline; the seagulls gliding overhead.

But, mostly, I tried my best to simply observe him. How, as I walked along the shore, he turned his head from side to side in order to keep a close eye on the water. How he kicked his feet in joy as dogs raced past us in the sand. How he craned his neck and reached his chubby little fingers toward the trees above us. How he blinked rapidly and stuck his tongue out at the ocean breeze, maybe to feel the wind on his tongue, maybe to taste the salty air.

This is the first time Micah has seen the ocean, I realized. And I am so grateful that I am with him right now.

Because, in the midst of all the chaos of first-time parenthood, I sometimes forget that I have the privilege of witnessing a little human being experience the world for the first time. And that is an awe-inspiring thing.

Getting a C-Section, Pt. 1: Breech Babies and My First Feelings of Failure as a New Mom

“Still breech,” my OB-GYN exclaimed, as she glided the ultrasound probe over my belly.

It’s been two weeks since my standard 32-week prenatal checkup, where — in addition to analyzing my urine, asking about my exercise and diet, and addressing any concerns about the quickly approaching birth — my doctor checked the baby’s position. If the baby were head down, then he’d be in perfect position for childbirth. If not, then we would have to make some decisions.

During that appointment, after rubbing my rapidly growing belly with ultrasound gel, my doctor also proclaimed that my baby was in breech (feet down, head up, and an unsafe position for a vaginal birth). We had some time to explore next steps at that point, so my doctor reviewed some options.

Continue reading “Getting a C-Section, Pt. 1: Breech Babies and My First Feelings of Failure as a New Mom”

Getting a C-Section, Prologue: #CesareanAwarenessMonth

I woke up last Thursday morning to an Instagram direct message from my mom: an illustration of a woman cradling a newborn and sporting a slightly crescent-shaped scar across her lower belly. April is Cesarean Awareness Month, the message read.

As her daughter who delivered via cesarean section over half a year ago, my mom obviously wanted to send me a little acknowledgment and a little love.

And that message warmed my heart.

Firstly, because I didn’t even know Cesarean Awareness Month was a thing — and I thought that was freakin’ awesome. And, secondly, because cesarean sections (more commonly known as C-sections) are traumatic medical procedures that are fairly common yet still frighteningly misunderstood. And the women who undergo them — who have to endure ignorance, misconceptions, and judgment, in addition to lengthy recovery periods — need some acknowledgment and some love every once in a while.

Continue reading “Getting a C-Section, Prologue: #CesareanAwarenessMonth”

On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)

I apologize for being MIA for the past couple of months. Once Micah got sick with the flu, Reggie and I, unfortunately, couldn’t get back into a life rhythm. So, understandably, my writing fell by the wayside.

And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s blog post: that struggle for new parents to find a rhythm. More specifically, a rhythm for self-care and self-love.

Continue reading “On Finding a Rhythm (or, Rather, NOT Finding a Rhythm)”

Dealing with a Sick Baby

Micah hit an unfortunate milestone this week: his first sickness. More specifically, his first bout of the flu. Which has made for a very tumultuous past few days in the C.B. household.

Looking back, it’s simultaneously funny and miraculous how we even discovered he was sick: it was because our DVR malfunctioned. For whatever reason, my recording of Sunday’s post-Super Bowl episode of “This Is Us” was botched. And, because I couldn’t bear to go to sleep and wake up to spoilers all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I re-activated my Hulu account and waited until midnight for the new episode to pop up on the streaming service.

And thank God that happened. Because, while waiting to watch the new episode, I realized that my sleeping baby was sleeping a lot longer than usual and was making an odd whistling sound while snoozing.

So, for whatever reason, Reggie and I decided to take Micah’s temperature. And lo and behold — he had a 104º fever.

Continue reading “Dealing with a Sick Baby”

On the Importance of Self-Love

Today’s my 28th birthday. And, as I kick off the day (and approach this year), I’m making a concerted effort not only to practice gratitude and positivity but also to practice a lot of self-love.

Honestly, I’ve always been that kind of person who puts other people and their needs first. You can ask my husband. Or my parents. I tend to give and give, without expecting anything in return.

Not that generosity is a bad thing. Or that I expect to become someone who gives only conditionally. But I do recognize that taking care of others is fruitless if you’re not taking care of yourself: you can’t love fully if you’re not full yourself (I’ve unpacked this a lot during therapy so I won’t go into it a lot here…).

Motherhood amplified my tendencies for extreme selflessness. Which makes sense, given that this little person’s well-being is entirely dependent on me. Of course, it’s a lot of responsibility, but it also provides a lot of opportunities to really stop thinking about myself, in even the most minute ways.

Continue reading “On the Importance of Self-Love”

On the Anxiety of Leaving My Kid for the First Time (and How Much I’ve Grown Since Then)

All right, I did it.

I not only survived my first week back at work post-maternity leave but I also somehow managed to get through the days without a single tear.

True, it was a short week: I purposely asked that my return date be a Thursday to ensure as easy of a transition as possible. And, while I was physically present, I honestly can’t say that my mind was operating the way that it should have been — speaking coherently in a business meeting is proving to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated…

But I’m cutting myself some slack. And I’m outwardly admitting: Yes, I’m human, and I’ve spent the past nearly six months of my life operating in a way that’s drastically different from working in an office environment, so this transition is probably going to be a bit challenging.

And, thankfully, I’m surrounded by so many work colleagues that not only hear what I’m saying but are also supportive.

So, on this Sunday evening, I’m not feeling as horrible as you think I would be — and that lack of dread has made me reflect on the first time I left Micah…

Continue reading “On the Anxiety of Leaving My Kid for the First Time (and How Much I’ve Grown Since Then)”

Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen

It’s here.

After almost five and a half months of maternity leave, I’m finally returning to work. I knew that this day was going to be filled with a bunch of emotions — but, despite everyone’s warnings, I couldn’t have anticipated how intensely those emotions would hit me.

Honestly, there’s a part of me that’s eager and excited to return to work. That’s the part that suffered major cabin fever while on leave and yearned for some type of routine other than nursing my baby around the clock. The part that’s looking forward to conversing with other adults about things other than cradle cap care and feeding schedules. The part that can’t wait to see my work friends and be back in the city and work on something for me, for once.

Don’t get me wrong: I recognize how lucky I’ve been to stay with my baby for as long as I have. Nearly half a year of parental leave is a rarity in the U.S. And, bottom line, I would never exchange the opportunity I had to bond with Micah for anything else in the world. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey, but I know that Reggie, Micah, Henri, and I are all a little happier because I spent this time at home.

Day-004
Enjoying breakfast at The Press on my last day of maternity leave

But I also know me. And I know that I would’ve always wanted something for myself in addition to being the best mother possible for my boy. Which is why going back to work always felt like an inevitability to me.

Continue reading “Returning to Work, or Why I Had an Impromptu Cry Fest in the Middle of My Kitchen”

Coming to Terms with My Postpartum Body: My 2018 Fitness Goals

2017 was an intense year, both for the world and for me. All craziness aside, though, the year also brought me one of the greatest blessings of my life: Micah.

Bringing my child into the world meant enduring countless emotional, mental, and physical changes. Emotionally, the first few months of Micah’s life were a rollercoaster. Mentally, assuming a new identity as “mother” led to some pretty profound shifts in my priorities: with a child, my intent this year and in all future years is to live my life in a way that makes not only me happy, safe, and fulfilled, but also my little family (especially my son).

Physically, 2017 proved to be an interesting journey.

Continue reading “Coming to Terms with My Postpartum Body: My 2018 Fitness Goals”

Update: What I’ve Been Up to for the Past Month

Hello Readers,

I know that I haven’t shared a blog post in over a month, which I both find unacceptable for my writing goals and refuse to apologize for (the lack of apology comes from my commitment to embrace when I can’t be perfect!). But, now that I’ve found a few minutes, I’d love to share a quick update with you all.

As you know, the whole point of my motherhood blog is to be extremely honest about my parenting reality. And the truth is: this has been a tough month! And while I wanted so badly to stay on top of my writing, I, unfortunately, had to let it slide through the cracks while I got into a bit of a routine with taking care of Micah on my own: Reggie went back to work, and his wedding photography work has picked up a bit, which means more time dedicated to a rapidly growing infant and little time for anything else.

Continue reading “Update: What I’ve Been Up to for the Past Month”