It hasn't escaped me that the last time I wrote to you was when I met my lifelong hero, Michael Bolton, at the end of May. Here we are in mid-July and so much has happened since then, I don't even know where to begin. Besides not knowing where to start, I haven't really wanted to. I've been blogging for nearly seven years, and it's taken me about that long to understand that life has to "happen" before you can really write about it. Right now, it's all happening.
I remember how envious and anxious I felt when I was pregnant with Selma and photos of beautiful nurseries in pristine, new-construction houses filled my Instagram feed. We planned on putting Selma's crib in our room and had no intention of building a nursery for her because our house didn't have room for one, or so we thought.
My audience is small, but they hear everything I say. They know me. They see me. There aren't many of them, but they get it, and it's everything. I still need a witness to my life, but I don't need a million. And I don't need a false one. And I wish I could tell every lonely high schooler that as long as just one person can witness you, you're going to be okay. God doesn't ask that everyone understand us. In fact, we weren't meant to be understood by everyone.
When smartphone addiction became the norm, I realized I didn't have to hide mine anymore because all of us are addicted. But then my baby was born and I read a bunch of articles about how our children are extremely delayed in learning social cues because we're staring at our phones instead of at them and I got seriously freaked out. I decided it was time to set some real boundaries around how and when I use my smartphone, and the most bizarre thing happened: I got a whole lot happier.
I was 17 when I read "The Continuum Concept", one of the first books written in the '70s about co-sleeping. I promised myself that our children would sleep in our bed until they were 4, and by four weeks, our daughter was sleeping in her own room. I've heard all about how much we're destroying her and hindering her emotional development, but what if I told you that she seriously WON'T fall asleep anywhere but her own crib?!
I planned on breastfeeding Selma until she was one and gave up when she was 4 weeks old. I won't go into all the reasons why, but suffice it to say I was traumatized by my decision. Switching to the bottle felt like a matter of my own emotional survival, but I couldn't let go of the shame of it all. How could I knowingly decide against something that I knew was "better" for my baby? If I gave up that "easily", what next?
It's a bizarre experience to have a child in a country you weren't born in, even though you never left home.
I was born in an America of inclusivity. Although we were flawed, we strived to do right by the promises that remain inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Today, my five-month-old daughter, husband and I live in an America that, over the course of a week, is hardly recognizable from the country I was raised in.
When I was about 3 months pregnant with Selma, Ben and I went on a 17-hour road trip to visit family in Colorado. We made a ton of stops on the way back, and one of my favorites was to a Bar-B-Que restaurant in Sweetwater, Texas. It was the heart of red-state America, and from the moment we walked in, it was clear we were probably the only Jewish Democrats, let alone Democrats, for miles. Still, we felt welcomed.
If you've ever seen the movie "Trumbo", it's easy to visualize my husband's nighttime routine. Every evening, he takes up to three baths, each with several of his favorite newspapers in tow. He usually summons me when he comes across something interesting that's worth sharing, and tonight was no different:
"Laura, have you ever heard of attachment parenting?" he shouted from the bathroom.
Well, that's a new one, I thought to myself.
New parents are a marketers dream: we really have no idea what our lives are going to be like once our little one arrives, so we'll buy pretty much anything we're told to. Especially If we live in a small space, it's easy to see why having too many products around the house can quickly become a nightmare: before you know it, you're living in a 950 sq. ft. home or apartment that's covered in contraptions with no room to spare.
I'm writing this because this morning is exactly what this year, and especially these last 2.5 months, have been like for us. But this morning is also different. This morning I am so grateful I could cry. This morning, everything is crazy like it always is, but I get to do crazy and messy and unpredictable with the people I love most in the world. We never know what's going to happen next and how each day will unfold, but we get to figure it out with each other and hold each other really really tight during all of it. While I often wish I had a bit more control, I'm so grateful to have my little family around me so we can hold on to each other when we don't realize we really don't have any.
On September 2nd at 10:39 PM, after 39 hours of labor that concluded in a c-section delivery, our daughter Selma Baines Rose was born. (*Authors note: if you're wondering why it's taken me almost two weeks to publish this birth announcement, know that Selma pooped about 4 times during its production and I typed most of it with one hand.) Nothing could have prepared my husband and I for our daughter's lengthy entry into this world, but as many might recall from their own experience or birth story, none of it mattered when we saw her sweet punim come over the barrier between my head and my insides strewn out on the table and heard the doctors yell "we have a cry!"
By the time I made my way down the hall, my face had swollen exponentially. Everyone including the nurse gasped when I walked in her door. She sat me down immediately to ask me questions and I told her about the granola bars and that no, this had never happened to me before. She made a bunch of phone calls and my very dear family friend picked me up to take me to the doctor. I don't have a memory of what happened right after that, but the next day I was taken in for extensive allergy tests and found out I was suddenly allergic to pretty much everything. I was prescribed with a very strict diet and given what I was told would save my life in the event I accidentally ate one of the 100+ things I was now suddenly allergic to: an EpiPen.
I was scare-free until yesterday when I was getting a pedicure with my friend and thought my water might have broken. "It's that, or I just peed in my pants again," I told her. One trip to the 11th floor later and it was confirmed that my second guess was right: water is still in tact, I just need to strongly consider switching to Depends for however much longer this child takes to join us.
I've always had a keen ability to look at the world through lenses of hopefulness. While TV news and newspapers might tell me to feel differently, I've carefully guarded my perspective in spite of the barrage of negativity that's thrown most of our faces. That was until recently, when certain subliminal fears of mine all came bubbling up to the surface at once on our babymoon in Colorado.
People like to greet me with all sorts of terrifying predictions for my future these days (this is coupled with a lot of other wonderful parenting guidance and sentiments, so please don't worry that I'm over here drowning in a sea of anxiety.) For some though, I think seeing someone with a big baby belly prompts them to put their hands on both of your shoulders and tell you everything they wish they knew before having a baby so that you might not go into it as bright-eyed, bushy tailed and geared for disappointment like they think they did ... but that's just my assumption.