Then we got news of a massive impending hurricane. OK, I could handle that because they always blow these storms out of proportion anyway. But then the news broke that the hurricane would hit our area on the day of Lola's birthday party. Mother Nature was now messing with another mother....me. I was upset but we had to cancel the party. My mom kept reminding me that I should just be glad she's not 4 because then she would actually know it was her birthday and get upset.
So we ate some cake on Lola's actual birthday which was two days before the hurricane, and on the day of the planned party, we suddenly found ourselves transported from the beach back up north to my in-law's house in New Jersey. My mother-in-law insisted we come stay with them because she was convinced that we may not live through it if it wasn't under her roof. If you know my mother-in-law, you would know that she had been preparing for this storm her whole life. We ate more delicious food than you could imagine and Lola slept until 8am the next morning which is rare but always a blessing from above. She was fed about 10 courses of her Ya Ya's home-cooked food, so it was no wonder she slept late. It ended up being a fun weekend that we will never forget.
So, in the same week, three monumental events occurred. Although two out of three were natural disasters, Lola's first birthday was obviously the most memorable. Thank goodness "Natural Disaster Week" held off until August of this year instead of last when I was an immobile whale and about to give birth to Hurricane Lola.
|August 22, three days before meeting Lola|
It has been just over a year since I was waddling down the street in 100 degree heat with Lola inside my gigantic belly waiting for her to make her appearance. Unbelievable. A year ago I stood in line by myself for 45 minutes to get my hands on a Shake Shack burger on its opening day on 86th Street. My appetite had kicked into high gear around the last month and nothing, not even a long line and extreme heat, could keep me from the smell of burgers and fries which normally don't tempt me so much. I remember my legs and back starting to hurt but I held my ground. Every minute in line was well worth the wait as I finally sunk my pregnant fangs into a perfectly cooked Shackburger and crinkly fries. I was a hungry mama and I devoured the entire meal in about five minutes. I still think there should be a separate pregnant line like there is a stroller line. All I know is if I ever see another pregnant woman in line at Shack Shake, she can go in front of me.
|Lola, 5 months, sporting her Shack Tee|
Anyway, I've been reflecting a lot lately on the past year as Lola has officially become a one-year-old toddler. Everyday I look at her in complete amazement. I can't believe she is mine sometimes. She is a miracle in every sense of the word as every baby is, but she is MY miracle. I keep thinking that only one year ago, she had just entered the outside world. And then my little miracle turned me a little meshugana...yup, I went a little crazy.
I find it hard to believe that new moms are perfectly happy and life is a bowl of cherries. My bowl was full of Xanax. When I brought Lola home from the hospital, I was scared shitless. I had never even changed a diaper in my life. I had a very difficult time with breastfeeding and recurrent mastitis, coupled with sleep deprivation and a sense of a complete loss of freedom. I didn't think I would ever be able to do the simplest things such as shower, get dressed in actual clothes, or eat a real meal again. Especially in New York where I was used to a life of roaming free for the past 10 years, I felt trapped. I hated when people told me to sleep when the baby sleeps..yeah right. As any new mom knows, you THINK you have about a million things to do when the baby is sleeping. Relaxation was no longer in my vocabulary. I was so anxious that I couldn't chill out, which is a far cry from my pre-baby mellow self. I would walk aimlessly for miles a day through the park just so Lola would sleep and I knew she was safe in her stroller. I remember just wishing that the haze would lift and I would feel OK again. The worst part is that I felt guilty that I couldn't enjoy Lola like I thought I would from people always posting those fake happy well-rested pictures of them with their new babies on Facebook. I have to give props to my husband because he could not have been more supportive emotionally. He didn't change any diapers, but that is another story.
I made an appointment with my OB-Gyn to discuss the possibility of medication. He wrote me a prescription for Zoloft but I never took it. Instead, my Zoloft was the decision to hire a night nurse for a few weeks to take care of Lola all night so I could sleep since she was on 100% formula at that point. I was willing to sing for money on the subway and/or sell my right arm to afford another nurse at this point. I now think of it as a mental investment and the best investment I've ever made. We did have some help the first three weeks but I was pumping all day and night and had mastitis during that period so I did not sleep much. Anyway, once I got some sleep for a few weeks and my hormone levels started leveling out, the fog finally lifted.
As I look back at that time, I realize that Lola was a very easy, happy baby and it was all me. I mean, she slept most of the day! What was I doing all day? I have no idea. I was overwhelmed with the initial shock of taking care of a baby coupled with the sleep deprivation.
The reason I am writing about my super tough beginning is because it makes the rest of my story and my first year with Lola that much sweeter. Believe me, the first 2-3 months is not the only difficult time, but it was the most dramatic and life-changing for me. With the passing of each month came a different, more amazing child. Each month a baby grows is like 5 years for adults. I have cried, laughed, and counted my blessings more in this past year than in my whole life. I have learned more about myself and my place in this world since she was born. I appreciate my parents at a whole new level. I now love someone with an indescribable and immeasurable love.
Lola is now crawling, cruising, playing, interacting, laughing, pointing, babbling and eating everything in sight. We really know each other now and I feel a sense of communication between us which is extremely comforting. I feel confident now that I am doing the best job I can. What a difference a year makes...I can't wait for the ride to continue.
|Lola on her friendly dinosaur|
|Happy at the beach|
Instead of a baby book, I have been recording her first year in a calendar. Inside the calendar I found some cards that friends and family had written to me when Lola was born. A card from my mother-in-law fell out. In a Hallmarkesque way that only a card can do, it read "Life goes by in the blink of an eye...but for now, let the hours be slow--let each turn of the world be a chance for this girl to be loved more than she'll ever know."
I teared up a little when I read this because I used to count down the days until she was 3 months old, or the "magic number" for sleep and everything else to change for the better. Now I cherish every hour of every day with her. A baby's first year is not just incredible, so is the parent's first year. If you think about it, we transform from scared, clueless, exhausted amateurs into confident, schooled, a-little-less-exhausted pros. We still have so much to learn, but our evolution in one year is also quite amazing.
Right before Lola was born, people were calling dibs to go with me and take advantage of the stroller line at Shake Shack. So now Lola has given me an "in" at the Shake Shack, that is until she outgrows the stroller. Then we may have to have another baby. Thanks baby girl.
LOLA WILLOW BURAK, HER FIRST YEAR
|Her footprints...we lost these in the hospital!|
|Lola's birthday, August 25, 2010|
Born 7 pounds, 13.9 ounces, 20 1/4 inches
|1 month, good baby, crazy mama with a fake smile|
|2 months, preparing for Halloween at Grandma's house|
|3 months, Thanksgiving|
|4 months, Christmas|
|5 months, her Great Grandma Lola's birthday|
|6 months, rolling around|
|7 months, sitting up|
|8 months, crawling and using walker|
|9 months, cruising|
|10 months, did I take a 10 month picture?|
|11 months, I'm a baby machine|
|1 year, pancake birthday breakfast|
|I'm 1 year old, bring on the cake!|
|Finally, mom gives me a really big piece of cake!|