Laying in bed during nap time, his body pressed close against mine as he nurses, I can’t tell whose stomach is rumbling. It’s a bittersweet decision to begin to disentangle myself from underneath him. He resists and grabs the collar of my shirt in his sleep, laying his tiny hand gently against my skin. I study that hand, so much bigger now than it was nine months ago. Nine months. Wow. I can’t believe how quickly this time has gone by. I can’t believe that he is so big, growing so fast, learning so much! He is so smart. Too smart, some days, for his own good. I’m in awe as I watch him begin to move and get around more independently. He wants to walk so badly now and he is just on the brink of taking his first step.
We’ve just returned from visiting family in Elkins, AR, near Fayetteville, where we stayed in a beautiful cabin in the woods. We kept warm with a wood stove, used as little electricity as possible and had no cell service. We totally disconnected. It was our first true vacation as a family of three since Casey was born. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving where Casey was the star of the show and charmed the pants off of everyone in attendance. He really has a will of his own these days and he certainly chose his people out of the crowd. He crawled all over, trying to get people to chase him and “get him,” and he insisted on hanging onto whoever’s hand was outstretched to help him walk from person to person.
The land we were staying on in Arkansas is a piece of land that I’ve called “The Land” since I was a little girl. My mother was a part of the original group of women involved in setting it up as a place for women to gather and live and it still stands to this day as women only property. It’s a wonderful and sacred space for me and I’ve known most of the women who live there since I was born. It’s important for me to share this place with Casey during his childhood because it was such an influential place for me growing up and still remains incredibly close to my heart as I become the woman I am growing into.
Now the holiday season has ensconced us in it’s glittering hopefulness. I feel compelled to bring the magic and warmth of Christmas into our home and am looking forward to this weekend when we will get a tree and decorate. Our tradition is to put on Christmas music as we decorate the tree and enjoy hot chocolate or coffee, mimosas and cinnamon rolls. We happened to find a Child’s First Christmas album at the Salvation Army black friday sale and it will be perfect as we decorate this year. We have gone back and forth on whether to get a real tree or a fake one this year. I love having a real tree but the temptation of dropped needles could prove too much for our miniature explorer. We have also invested in some shatterproof ornaments and will put only our softest, safest ornaments on the tree this year. I have of course insisted on putting our angel on top of whatever tree we decide upon because she has watched over our Christmas for as many years as I can remember. I’m excited to see Casey watch the tree light up. He’s already expressed interest in unwrapping a few early wrapped gifts (we quickly taped them up without peeking) and I know Christmas is going to be wonderfully and wildly different this year. I can’t wait.
While Christmas shopping in Bed, Bath & Beyond today, I found out that my good friend Briana gave birth to her daughter, Maeby, this morning. Tears filled my eyes when I got her message and saw her beautiful baby girl. I know she is in another world right now, on cloud nine, enjoying these precious first hours with her new baby girl. What a wonderful Christmas season this will be for her family as they adjust to their newest member. I’m so happy for her and I am also so full of love and compassion for her as a woman who has just gone through labor and birth for a second time. I have so many questions for her and want to be there to help her in any way she might need me! But I’m leaving her alone, leaving my questions for another day, enjoying just knowing the happiness and peace she is feeling right now with her family.
Since I was pregnant with and then gave birth to Casey, I have felt a deep passion for wanting to help women have positive birth experiences. My own experience of having a natural birth was so incredibly life-changing and empowering and I’ve felt increasingly drawn towards a path where I can help other women have this same experience. I enjoyed sharing some of the books that helped me during my own preparation for birth, with Briana, and discussing various ways to prepare for labor and get through the hard parts. I’m eager to hear if any of it helped her and to find out what her experience was like. I thought perhaps this was something I was passionate about simply because I was going through it (nine months ago) but since then it is a subject which I have grown increasingly interested in and a calling which I feel resonating louder and louder inside of me. We are so excited and eager to care for new babies (as we should be) but often forget that the mother needs caring for as well. I feel compelled to become someone who can care for and help new mother’s as they prepare to give birth, experience labor and birth, and afterwards as they bond with their new babies and rest while their bodies heal. That’s all I will say for now but it’s a subject that I’ve thought about a lot in the past year.
Now, we’ve just received a box from Amazon (most likely containing X-mas gifts) and I watch in awe as Casey stands himself up and begins to push the box across the floor, holding onto the edge. This kiddo is going to be walking by Christmas. Boy are we in trouble 🙂