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IMG_3558A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

I’ve been noticing newborns everywhere I go now. These tiny sleepy little babies, wrapped up so snuggly on their mamas chests. We went to target today and I was reminded of last year, taking this girl to target wrapped on my chest. I know it happened, but I barely remember it. I definitely don’t remember her that small. This time last year we were still in the hospital. It was still touch and go. She was still struggling. She had yet to be allowed food.

Today she ate oatmeal, raspberries, crab rangoon, cheese, curry, apples, cheeseburger, peas, squash, rice crackers, a bite of a cookie, a fruit pouch and probably something I’m forgetting. Oh and she nursed at least 6 times. She’s come a long way. She’s now in the 70th percentile for height, weight and head measurements. Once they let this kid eat, she never looked back.

Lately she’s been dancing NON-STOP. As in first thing in the morning when she opens her eyes, all day long, and when she’s supposed to be going to sleep. She points to the computer(where we play music) and demands we play something if nothing is on.

We are trying a new schedule next week, in hopes that she’s a bit happier in the evenings, so her papa will be feeding her and bathing her before I get home, which in turn should lead to an easier bed time. Fingers crossed this also helps my cooking and baking schedule. Next week I’m hoping to bring you something savory!

Last week this black and white diptych was my favorite.

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IMG_3520A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

This week she turned 1. She turned 1 and grew up right before our eyes. It was as if she knew, she knew, that she was no longer a baby and it was time to start becoming a toddler. She stood up on her own on the night of her birthday, with her grandma watching. And then she did it again, as if to prove that it wasn’t just a fluke. She’s kept it up too. I’m sure she will be walking far sooner then I want to think about. We celebrated her birth today, with her closest family and she had a blast. When she was smaller family parties seemed to stress her out, and she only wanted her mama. Today she barely noticed I was there. Roaming from person to person, from toy to toy. Her independent streak is starting to show through, and I fear all too soon she will remind me more and more of myself in that regard.

After her party(and a nice long nap for the both of us) we took her down to a lake front park with her Uncle and played on the swings, went down the slide and watched the ducks. The light was something to make Terrence Malick jealous. Watching her giggle and squeal in the swing may have been the highlight of my day. I had far too many photos to choose from this week, which is a wonderful feeling.

Last week this was my favorite photo. It is simply stunning.

By the way, I am now also blogging over at The Boob Group, about one of my favorite subjects, breastfeeding! You can check out my first post, about my experience with oversupply here.

Approaching One Year

IMG_3294I remember perfect weather. It was beautiful outside when I left life as I know it to check into the hospital and have my baby. The day she was born was the first frost of the fall. Somehow in my labory drug fueled haze I remember thinking it was perfect weather to have my baby. How crisp fall air was coming and I could take her home and bask in it.

For the next 3 weeks I watched that beautiful weather from a couch in a hospital room. I longed to be out in it. On the few trips home to shower the desperation I felt when I saw women with a stroller was painful. I felt like time was eating away at me and the perfect fall air was only a reminder of it.

3 weeks passed in blur, and we took her home. We brought her to doctors appointments, and target, and her first farmers market. And then we went back to the hospital for her first cardiology check up. And they told us we had to stay. I remember catching my breath, tears welling up, and saying “fuck” quite loudly. And the weather stayed beautiful, and passed us by again, while we spent seven more days locked away. It felt like being in the worst/best hotel/prison ever.

When we were finally free I desperately wanted to be outside with my child. To no longer be confined. The claustrophobic feeling of it all didn’t really hit me until we left. There were times in it all, where I realized I hadn’t even left her room in over 24 hours. Not even to stretch. I simply couldn’t stand to be away from her. I was a mess. A wreck. There was no time for normal new parent meltdowns or post partum depression, as my child’s tiny body learned how to function. That room became my home, my prison and my comfort.

The children’s hospital had a radio-thon this summer and I realized how very lucky we were. I couldn’t see it for a while, amidst the alarming machines, ventilators and transfusions. I’ve been reading her medical record too, and it blows me away to see those moments, those terrifying incidents transcribed by the doctors who I was putting all of my faith and hope into. But now, when we go back for check ups, I see it. The looks on the faces of the families getting their parking passes, wearing their security badges. We were lucky. We are lucky. So lucky.

And so she sleeps. Next to me, like she does every night. She fidgets, and rolls, snuggles and nurses. It’s like someone took my heart out of my body and put it into her. Every so often, on a night like tonight, where the air is crisp and cold again, I’m reminded of our time there, not so long ago. And I feel the strangest mix of emotion.

We drove past one night and weight of it all simply over took me. We had spent the evening wandering the lake front with her, having a perfect night. We drove past and I felt this rock in my stomach. This deep fear and overwhelming gratitude. And then my husband, my wonderful husband, rolls down his window and screams “thank you for saving our daughter!”. And just like that a giggle and tear escaped at the same time. This little family we’ve built is everything to me. It’s all I need, she, he and I.

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20130915-092802.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

This week she turns 1. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s been a year. This time has flown by so quickly I barely remember it. Yesterday my husband and I were trying to remember what we were doing a year ago, while I was heavily pregnant and majorly over due. It’s so hazy. Like life before her was just a fog. And she’s hit one of those leaps where she seems to grown up overnight again. It’s both frightening and heart warming to see.

While shopping for her birthday present my husband turned to me and said “Thanksgiving!!” I must have looked very confused because he followed it up with “she gets to eat food!”. We are a food oriented family that much is certain. These milestones keep coming like an avalanche with no stopping them. They sweep you up and carry you away and when the ride stops you’re sitting next to this child, who resembles the one you met at the top but is so much more.

She loves it when I leave the back door open for her so she can crawl back and forth from the kitchen to the back porch. The light was streaming in beautifully one morning and she found my boots. Watching her shove her entire arm in my boots and giggle was highly entertaining. The shift in things you find amusing after having a child is intense at times.

Last week my favorite photo came from Jodi, the brain behind this photo project. I absolutely love the way the water ripples in this portrait, the color of it ,and the gesture of legs passing by.

Lemon Cookie Sandwiches

20130905-221944.jpgMy baby is a Madison Birth Center baby. Sort of. I received all of my prenatal care there. But then when it came time to have the baby, things changed and I was checking in to the hospital. For months I went to see the amazing women at the Birth Center, and asked question after question while our midwives patiently assuaded mine and my husbands fears. I spent more time with these women then any doctor in my entire life. I felt connected, valued and safe with them. And when it came time to have our girl even though it wasn’t where we had planned, or how, or even resembling our birth plan, our midwife was there. And she stayed. In the days to come, she visited as much as family, bringing warm wishes, help and advice. It was a terrifying time for us, and she gave hope that made things a tiny bit less terrifying.

Recently the birth center had its annual picnic. Sadly it will be the last one, as come November it will be closing its doors(you can thank the insurance companies). We planned on going the moment we heard about it, last year we were locked away in a hospital room and couldn’t show off our brand new babe. This year we went, and I was determined to make a delicious dessert. It is after all, how I show my gratitude and love.20130905-221933.jpgI adapted these ice cream sandwiches to make them into a cookie that could withstand hot blustery days. I also may have made these homemade oreos for the event. Both were quick and easy, an essential component of any dessert I make while chasing after a young toddler determined to pull out the dogs fur. I was particularly impressed with the lemon cream sandwiches. They were everything pre-packaged lemon creams are not. They were, in my opinion, perfect the perfect summer dessert to show my gratitude.

Lemon Cream Sandwiches

Ingredients

For the cookies:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the cream:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

1. Make cookies: Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter 9×13 baking pan and line with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang on each side, then butter parchment. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat together butter and sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, molasses and vanilla. At low speed, add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing until just combined. Spread into thin, even layer in baking pan with offset spatula. Bake until golden-brown but still tender, 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan, about 30 minutes.

2. Make cream filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar gradually. Add lemon juice and zest.

3. Assemble cookies: Using a piping bag(or a ziploc) pipe tablespoon sized dollups of cream onto one cookie, cover with another cookie and press down to spread cream to edges.

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20130907-212532.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

She is counting down the days to turning 1. Well maybe I am the one counting down the days. It’s a milestone I am not quite ready for, feeling in a way like I have to let go of her being a baby. Like I need to help foster more independence in her somehow. She is still sooo dependent on me. Don’t misunderstand, I in no way mind this, at times I almost relish it. It does however make it harder on the other people in our life who watch her while I’m working. She is the easiest baby on the planet for me. She can however, be quite high maintenance for others. Yes her turning one is exciting, and a bit sad for me. This year went by so disturbingly fast.

She’s also becoming quite snuggly at times. When the tears start after a nap ends, a quick snuggle from her Papa makes it all better. She’s taken to flinging her arms or legs over me when she sleeps in our bed, or burrowing into her Papas back. She’s even starting giving out coveted open mouth sloppy kisses. They border on kind of gross at times but are the sweetest thing.

I loved the light on this little climbing babe this week.

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20130901-124530.jpgA portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013

She’s turning into a regular little book worm. Books have always been at the top of her list for favorite toys, but lately she seems to really take them in. Books about animals appear to be her favorite, even over books with other babies in them. This has become one that she grabs every time, Puppies Are Like That!. It was my husbands as a child, and is well loved(to the point of destruction). The illustrations in it are really lovely, and I think part of why she’s so drawn to it. Occasionally she even allows me to read bits and pieces of it to her.

My favorites this week included an ever so serious young man, these tiny little feet lounging, and a round little belly getting a hand with a glass of milk.