Enjoying her four months of life during a trip to Newport, RIBaby girl had her four month check up yesterday and our pediatrician confirmed everything we already knew: she's totally perfect! She is gaining the right amount of weight, growing longer and longer and ahead of the curve with her rolling over (both ways!) and ability to sit up (with a little help). I was super glad to hear the pediatrician say that her weight is just fine, as that was the only thing I was concerned about. I feared hearing that my pumping at work wasn't enough and that I would have to supplement with formula. It's the one thing I really, really want to avoid, and it looks like we get to! The doctor also commented on how happy and easygoing Madeleine is, and also how calm and relaxed I am, which was a huge compliment. I definitely feel like I have this mama thing down, but hearing it from a woman who sees dozens of moms and babies every day was a major boost to my mood and confidence. I feel like I was born to be this little girl's mama and I can't remember ever being as happy as when I am with my little family, and I am glad that it shows. Deciding to raise Maddie on our own terms and to use our gut instinct is really paying off; we take her everywhere that we can and spend as much time cuddling, talking, reading and smiling as we can and we have a wonderful, loving nanny to be with her when we are at work. I feel really lucky to have such a happy, healthy baby and so many wonderful people around us to help her grow into an awesome little lady.
In a dress from her Grandma on an 83 degree spring day!BUT I sure do miss my own mama. I knew that having a baby and living on the other side of the country from her was going to be hard, and this issue was the only one that made me want to move back to the west coast, but my life is here - my career, friends, community, volunteering network, church - everything but my mama and the massive help it would be to have her here. It sucks and I hope that everyone who has parents that live near them and can help them with their kids takes the time to thank them and appreciate them for their help. We are lucky to have a Kendra and an Aunt Jane in our lives because those two are always there to lend a hand, let us eat with two hands, and make us go spend time without spit up on our shirts, and I know that they do this because they love us and they love Maddie, and spending time with her is as much a gift to them as their help is to us.
But the thing is that I don't want to spend that much time away from Maddie; a date night here and there is awesome and a Saturday morning yoga class or run outside before work is really all I need to maintain my sanity since she's such an easy baby and hell-o, I chose to have a baby because I wanted to be a mama, not because I wanted someone to dress up and pawn off on other people. But damn, I wish my Mom was here. Whenever we get a wedding invitation or hear about a friend's show or a new bar opens up I get this little twinge of sadness because I know if my Mom was here, I wouldn't even have to worry about asking her to hang out with the wee one while we partook in a non-baby friendly activity. I am pretty sure that if my Mom lived here we might actually have to pry the baby from her hands. With friends I worry that they will feel taken advantage of or feel obligated or get asked too many times to help out (even though they probably (definitely) wouldn't because they are so awesome) but with my Mom I know I would never, ever feel that way.
Another sad thing that comes with not having my Mom around is the sense of family that I feel I lacked when I was growing up and the fear I have that Madeleine will feel this way too. After my Dad died when I was five my connection to that side of the family became strained and continued to until it was essentially non-existent. When my paternal grandmother died we weren't even on speaking terms, to the point that she once sent young me a postcard from her vacation in Reno. Where I lived. She never even called to see me. This past fall, right before Maddie was born, my Dad's brother passed away and though we had both been trying to be in touch more I never got to have a last conversation with him between finding out that he his cancer had spread and his passing. It occurred to me this morning while I was laying in bed that I don't even know where he is buried, nor do I know that about my paternal grandmother or grandfather. Any questions I have about my roots or stories I want to hear about my Dad as a kid will never get to be answered.
My Mom's side of the family is better, but not by much. After we moved from San Diego to Truckee and then to Reno I still kept in strong contact with my grandparents and spent summers with them in San Diego until I started working at fourteen but over the years that closeness has drifted a bit and family drama has caused strained relations between them and my Mom and Uncle, widening that gap. When I was little I was constantly surrounded by family - I spent most days with my Grandma; my Uncle Danny was my favorite person and I played with my cousins and my Mom's friends kids (who were like family) all the time. But then we moved away, marriages ended, friendships ended and I lost that sense of belonging that one has when they have family. The people that I looked like that shared my name and my genes and my history became strangers and I sought out to create my own family out of friends. I must admit, I did an awesome job with that because I have the most amazing "family of friends" possible, but these are all fairly new, and sometimes I just want to talk to someone that knew me as a baby or knew my Mom as a young woman. Someone that knew my Dad or remembers details about my fifth birthday party. Any connection to my past and my childhood.
I don't want Madeleine to have this yearning, and yet I fear that my choice to remain in Boston to raise my family will cause that. As an only child, Maddie only has my Mom and Step-Dad, no Aunts or Uncles or cousins. Granted, she is getting a pretty awesome pair of Grandparents from these two, but that's just the thing, they aren't here to spend as much time with her as all of us would like and I hate it. We are trying to take the sting out of the distance by Skype-ing with my Mom and attempting to see them at least every few months, but it would just be so great to be a drive away from them like we are to Matty's Dad and Sister. I know I am lucky to have them at all, and it could be a much worse problem than simply having them live far away, but raising a baby without help from your parents is just plain rough, and because I am so close with my Mom I feel that I need to do everything in my power to make sure Madeleine really knows her Grandmother and gets to spend as much time with her as possible.
So if you are raising a baby or thinking about doing so, and your parents are close in distance to you, give them a hug and be thankful for them. I know I will be doing that when I finally get to see my Mom next month.