So my mom had four babies and her stomach was left without a single mark. Okay, that's a lie. We were all lifted out of her, so she got some awesome cut marks. But in terms of stretching, nada. I naively assumed I'd enjoy the same benefit (minus the cutting). For one thing, I was a chub in high school - my skin had already stretched out some. For another, isn't it genetic? (By the way, my pregnancy was in no way like my mothers' pregnancies, so I have no idea what I was thinking.)
Mid way, I noticed a strange stretch mark looking thing. I didn't mind too much. It was tiny. By about week 33, however, that little mark and lots of little friends - purple, squiggly friends. When I came home from the hospital, I literally looked like I was about thirty weeks pregnant. But the funny thing is, I didn't really care, about the marks, the huge belly. Annabelle completely blinded me. It didn't matter. And still, there's a part of me that looks at these "decorative stripes" (as our friend calls his wife's stretch marks) on my "bread dough belly" (as my husband calls my mushy belly) with a small amount of pride. These marks, this stomach, they are evidence that my little person was there, my body carried a baby. It's proof positive that I did it.
Miss Annabelle has rather unpredictable bowels. Usually it comes in blow out proportions. Once, as I changed a blow out, I had to get Jess' assistance because she blew out right then and there, two additional times, including some projectile that hit me on the leg. Jess freaked out, pointing frantically at the poo (!) on my leg (!), and I just asked him to hand me a wipe. Every time I bathe her, she leaves a small present on the towel or me. But it never fazes me. Although these things are at their essence unpleasant, at times I feel like they are trophies, marks of recognition. Trophies of motherhood.
They aren't pretty, sometimes they smell awful, and the belly is going to take work (lots of it) to tighten up. But, when all is said and done, there's something in me that is okay with this new body, with hips that don't fit in jeans the same. There's something in me that sees my daughter's messes on me as a privilege. Because they are. All of it is a privilege and a blessing. I've waited so long for these sleep deprived nights, for every little part of being a mom.
And I wouldn't change a thing. Not even the spit up in my shoe. (She has really incredible aim.)
NOTE: If you know me, you also know I'm going CRAZY. And started walking when she was two weeks old. Today, when she got starving mid walk, I ran home, pushing the stroller that is definitely not a running stroller. I looked pretty ridiculous, I'm sure, and I was huffing like a man in his mid 40s who just gave up smoking.
So listen. If you saw her in real life, you'd want to just eat her up too.
She's kind of like chocolate - you really can't help yourself. And when she smiles? She's practically irresistible. If chocolate could smile, I'm pretty sure it would look something like this.
NOTE: She likes her daddy just a little. This is during their morning daddy-daughter time. And yes, she's nake-ee. It's possible that she peed a river around the moon just prior to going to visit Dad. :)
So I noticed Annabelle's long fingers as soon as she was born, especially as she wrapped them tight around my finger. I don't know if photos do them justice, but they're seriously loooonnggg for her tiny body. I'm assuming this means that she will love playing the piano as much as I do. (Of course.)
Now while I love that she inherited my long fingers, unfortunately, she's also stuck with my freakishly long toes.
However, despite the finger toes that the Christensen genes infused in us, I think she's still pretty okay to look at. :)
And I know that high blood pressure is technically a bad thing, but wow, do I LOVE it these days. Thank you high blood pressure for prompting my doctor to induce me and allowing me to love on this sweet thing for two additional weeks.
I am continually awed and amazed by this little girl. I’m beginning to believe that when we are commanded in scripture to be as a little child, the reference must certainly be one to infants, to these tiny people who come to earth without any preconceived notions, who don’t yet have the ability to deceive, to lie, to lash out in anger. They don’t even have reason to suppose that others have these abilities. If Annabelle says she is hungry it isn’t because she wants another cookie; it’s because she’s truly hungry. She trusts that when she cries in the middle of the night, I will be there. She has no reason to believe otherwise – she trusts implicitly.
It’s funny to realize that I once believed as she did, before experience and age took its toll, before I knew the feeling of heartbreak or betrayal. In many ways I wish I were more like baby Belle, more willing to trust in others, believe others. I wish my needs were my wants, like hers, that life could be as simple as she sees it. In her I see perfection. Not the type of perfection found in beauty or good manners (although in my unbiased opinion she is both beautiful and extremely well mannered), but the perfection that accompanies these little people as they come to earth, fresh from heaven’s grasp, not capable of being anything but perfect.
During the night, when all is quiet, and the only thing I have to think about, to focus on, is my sweet daughter’s face, her big eyes staring up at me, something in me melts a bit. It’s almost an ache, an ache in knowing that she won’t be this small forever, that the world will have its way. But I hope she knows that no matter what, I’ll always hear her cry. And I’ll always be there.
Annabelle celebrated her one week birthday by allowing mommy to get a four hour stretch of sleep! We think we're finally getting our days and nights straight as the last two nights she's only opened her eyes to be fed, whereas the first few nights she opened her eyes just to open them. Problem is, when those big eyes (we think they're blue - fingers crossed!) stare up at you, it makes it really hard to be mad, even at three in the morning. I simply cannot get enough of her, day or night.
So for those of you who are like, "Enough already! We get it - you like your kid," I'm sorry. I can't stop. I'm addicted. Totally addicted.
By the way, Diet Dr Pepper is back in my life. Addicted in that respect as well. ;)
So Jess was almost certain that we were having a boy. When I'd try to discuss baby girl names, I'd get little to no response because he was pretty sure there was no point. I thought she was probably a boy just because I wanted a girl so bad. While I was in labor, I told him that he wasn't allowed to "cheat," that given the fact I was doing the hard part of pushing a human out of my body, he couldn't look at the "parts" until I could too. Her actual delivery happened quick (although labor was long and induced), and when she made her appearance, my doctor carefully turned her around so we could see together. We scanned for parts among the mess of goo and her umbilical cord, a look of shock passed over Jess' face, and I yelled, for the entire hospital to hear, I'm told, "HA! It's a girl!"
Little Annabelle had some trouble breathing when she first arrived (we think she swallowed some fluid on the way out), so after I got a quick hold, and a tiny fist grabbed my finger tight, they wisked her across the room where a team of nurses and specialists started working on her. Jess and I just stared. I kept asking if she was okay. My doctor kept assuring me she was. She looked at Jess and saw his concern and told him to go to her. I was still "afterbirthing," but I shooed him away to be with our baby girl.
And in those moments, as he stood next to the crib of his new baby girl struggling to find air, I saw him melt. His eyes were filled with concern and love. I could see him wanting to reach out and touch her, just as I did from across the room. She has become his love. He thought he needed a boy, but suddenly the last thing he ever expected has become his greatest joy. It's the most wonderful thing to be a part of, to witness my husband's love smother our baby every morning. He doesn't ever want to leave because he'd rather just stare at her.
When we got home from the hospital, he scooped her out of her cramped carrier, wrapped her up, and disappeared into the bedroom. I found them sleeping soundly, his arm around his beautiful baby girl. It's impossible to not fall in love with little Annabelle. And her daddy, the daddy who was sure he needed his boy, is completely and utterly in love with this perfect little girl.
How can one tiny person steal your heart so completely? Life mostly feels like a dream, even when we're up in the middle of the night. There is actually nothing I would rather do than stare at her. For hours. Even the crack of dawn hours. She's beautiful and perfect, and since she arrived it's as though everything inside me has slid into place, as though the puzzle that is me is no longer missing that vital piece, that one right in the middle.
I'll miss these first precious days, those little (loooonnngggg) fingers and toes that just keep growing, her little grunts in her sleep. The hours pass so quickly.