S’Epanouir

I know, I know, I know I write a ton about my baby these days. I know babies and children aren’t for everyone and that is cool, like in the strong sense of the term, not as in the I’m cool with it sense of the term. Unfortunately I can’t stop myself.

Littlest’s first eight-weeks were typical newborn-level HARD. Like I didn’t know how I’d manage hard, in spite of the immediate cuteness of things like J holding him above his head, or pictures like these with my dad:

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I mean come on

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Seriously?

I wondered where the joy was and if I was really cut out for this—feelings, I assume, every mom has at some point or other.

But ever since he settled at around 8 weeks old I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like surely motherhood can’t be this good. I didn’t know I would love it this much. Colleagues have asked me frequently how things are going with the baby at home, and all I can say each time is “génial, il est trop mignon” (and get annoyed when they ask if he’s sleeping through the night, as if that’s all that counts).

I’ll keep crossing my fingers that the joy will continue, but I think maybe I can just conclude now that I love being a mom to this little boy, that motherhood has brought out something in me that I didn’t know was there.

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Petit amour et moi

The Past Week

has involved…

  1. Finishing classes for the year and getting my new course load for next year. Things are changing a good bit… and I’m excited!
  2. Dealing with the heat wave, which included buying one of these adorable, super light sleep sacks for Littlest: Grobag Baby Sleep Bags. It allowed us to keep him in a sleep sack without him being too hot—and without a sleep sack these days he gets up to all sorts of shenanigans and we find him legs out of the crib, on his tummy, calling for help. In fact the past few nights he’s been in diaper + sack and that’s it. It’s pretty cute.
  3. Also baby-related, signing up for Tinybeans.com to share baby pictures with my family, and the special surprise was that my sister-in-law did as well —> lots of pictures of my nephew!
  4. Reading the full list of 185 cosmetic and bathing products that have been found to have either endocrine disruptors or irritants. I mostly read to see if any products we use were on the list, and have since decided to stop with the baby wipes (even though our brand isn’t on there).
  5. Playing in another village for the Fête de la Musique. J took Littlest out in Poitiers and they danced the (early) evening away, apparently.
  6. Turning 33. Weird.
  7. Various end-of-year meals with different groups of colleagues and ex-colleagues.
  8. Listening to Littlest start syllables (consonant + vowel) and watching another tooth grow in.

Other stuff, mostly about breastfeeding:

Painting of nursing mother wins BP Portrait Award 2017

Comment l’allaitement façonne le visage du bébé

Orange is the New Bac: Characters’ advice for French students

Change

I’ve written a couple times about what’s changed for us, for me, since Littlest was born. About tears that come easily when watching movies, about looking at other women and parents differently, about having to look at any baby in any stroller that wanders past (okay maybe I hadn’t gotten to that one yet—it’s an obsession).

It took me a long time to find a good song to dance to with my dad at our wedding—every song about love seemed to be about romantic love, or really cheesy mainstream country-style paternalistic crap. I knew when I heard Louis Armstrong singing “Sunrise, Sunset” that it was the right one.

Now when I listen to songs on the radio, I’m intrigued by the rare ones people write for their children. Christophe Maé (Marcel), the Dixie Chicks (Godspeed), Atmosphere (Little Man), Beyoncé (Blue), and, of course, Renaud (Morgane de toi). There are songs that I want to be about children but that don’t necessarily seem quite to fit.

And then there are the songs that I think I always heard wrong, and am only hearing right for the first time.

Mon enfant nue sur les galets
Le vent dans tes cheveux défaits
Comme un printemps sur mon trajet
Un diamant tombé d’un coffret
Seule la lumière pourrait
Défaire nos repères secrets
Ou mes doigts pris sur tes poignets
Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai
Et quoique tu fasses
L’amour est partout où tu regardes
Dans les moindres recoins de l’espace
Dans les moindres rêves où tu t’attardes
L’amour comme s’il en pleuvait
Nu sur les galets

Le ciel prétend qu’il te connaît
Il est si beau c’est sûrement vrai
Lui qui ne s’approche jamais
Je l’ai vu pris dans tes filets
Le monde a tellement de regrets
Tellement de choses qu’on promet
Une seule pour laquelle je suis fait
Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai
Et quoique tu fasses
L’amour est partout où tu regardes
Dans les moindres recoins de l’espace
Dans les moindres rêves où tu t’attardes
L’amour comme s’il en pleuvait
Nu sur les galets

On s’envolera du même quai
Les yeux dans les mêmes reflets
Pour cette vie et celle d’après
Tu seras mon unique projet
Je m’en irai poser tes portraits
À tous les plafonds de tous les palais
Sur tous les murs que je trouverai
Et juste en dessous, j’écrirai
Que seule la lumière pourrait…
Et mes doigts pris sur tes poignets
Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai

The Past Week

The past week has been pretty quiet, and involved, in no particular order…

  1. Voting, again, twice, since J was out of town
  2. Ordering stuff for my parents to bring (a $100-off diaper backpack, baby sunglasses) when they arrive in three weeks (three weeks!)
  3. Experiencing a nap strike by Littlest (it was only two naps in a row, not a catastrophe, but still, I was confused)
  4. Trying to organize end-of-year meetings with colleagues who are busy left and right
  5. Picking up Littlest’s French passport, and being unable to find J’s
  6. Buying plane tickets to Boston for Christmas
  7. Ordering various cute photo-based things for our first Father’s Day (don’t worry, J doesn’t read my blog)
  8. Almost forgetting that I turn 33 next week
  9. Facetime-ing with my brother and his wife about the frustrations and trials of taking care of a newborn
  10. Finally buying some new clothes, including swimsuits (my new breastfeeding size changed that game)

And reading:

McSweeney’s: EXCERPTS FROM JAMES COMEY’S OPENING STATEMENT TO THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE OR FROM KAZUO ISHIGURO’S THE REMAINS OF THE DAY?

Brigitte Macron Inaugurates a New Look for France

12 Brilliant Kids’ Clothing Lines That Say No To Gender Stereotypes

The Past Week

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Wedding no. 1 (Littlest was napping)

Wedding season was short but intense for us this year—two of J’s cousins got married within the span of 8 days. Last weekend, which was a four-day weekend, we headed down to the Pyrenees with his family to spend three nights in a gigantic gite and go to his southern cousin’s wedding. It was fun showing Littlest off to everyone, but definitely stressful, because I didn’t want him to get crabby from not sleeping. It was hard to let go and really enjoy, though I’m glad everyone got to meet him.

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Littlest in his Papy’s arms at the mairie (he spent a lot of time in his papy’s arms throughout the weekend—he seems to have a calming influence)

Littlest was so tired from his weekend that he slept fourteen hours last Sunday night once we got home—8 pm to 10 am! I checked on him numerous times and had to pump once, since had nursed once every night we were in the Pyrenees. Since then he’s back to sleeping through the night.

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Enjoying some final minutes on Daddy’s lap before being dropped off with Mamie and Papy

J’s parents couldn’t get another weekend off (his dad’s a butcher) this weekend so they offered to take care of Littlest last night while we went to the second wedding, a much closer 2-hour drive away. So this time I was able to relax and enjoy a bit more, though I somehow feel almost (almost) as tired. They were two entirely different weddings though—the first a much more traditional bash, and the second one a tiny wedding at home. I still enjoy seeing the vast and minor differences in the types of weddings people have.

Breastfeeding Experiences, Part 3: “Tu allaites encore?”

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Sweetest of Pies, view from above, at 5 months

Littlest is 7 months old now—how time flies! And breastfeeding has become such a joy. Now that he’s eating solids, what I pump at work is more than he needs, so we haven’t even bought a tin of formula for 6+ months (though we’ll have to this weekend as I’m worried I might not have enough frozen milk for his night at Mamie’s).

The benefits of breastfeeding seem to just keep piling up as I read more:

  1. It creates the “microbiome” (the assortment of good bacteria) in the gut that baby needs.
  2. It helped him learn to suck harder in order to be readier to eat solids.
  3. It introduced him to lots of different tastes, also better preparing him to eat solids.
  4. It gives him my antibodies to keep him from getting sick.
  5. Also because of my antibodies, when I get sick, it keeps him from getting what I have (or at least, he gets it in extremely mild form) and allows me to not wear a mask around him—and continue giving him all the kisses I want.
  6. It has saved us so much money.
  7. It calms him when he’s upset for other reasons, like this weekend when he had some trouble falling asleep at the wedding.
  8. It’s so freaking practical (this past weekend we nursed on the side of the road and in the church during the wedding).
  9. It gives him my melatonin in the middle of the night to help him fall back asleep, though he seems to be sleeping through the night again (when he’s at home).

And though it’s not a scientific benefit, the bond we have while nursing is super sweet. Littlest is pretty wiggly but has started looking up at me with his big blue eyes (yes, they’re still blue!) while nursing and it melts my heart.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding a baby at this age in France seems to already make us abnormal. From as early as six months I started getting the question, “T’allaites encore?” at that point without any inherent criticism. But it shocked me that anyone would bother to ask that question for such a little baby, and the questions have only increased over the past few days when we saw so many new people with Littlest at a wedding.

I can tell it’s going to be tiring responding and educating people. I snapped at a colleague today, though I then explained.

Here’s my question though: WHY? WHY would I stop now? It was so hard at the beginning, and it’s such a joy now.

So if any has any quick and ready answers I can whip out without having to think about it, that would helpful!

New Nicknames for Littlest

Things have evolved since my last post about the silly names I call my baby.

  1. Special Little
  2. Little Special
  3. Special Boy
  4. Little Mister/Petit Monsieur
  5. Mister Wister
  6. Special Mister
  7. Sweet Pea/Sweetie Pie
  8. Little Sweetie
  9. Special Sweetie
  10. Sweet Boy

It’s fairly mix and match, really. Soon he may be Special Wister, or Mister Pie.