Happy birthday, Ellie!

This day seven years ago brought a world of change to our family, in the form of 7 lbs 13 oz of baby girl, who now looks like this:

Little sister included for scale

Little sister included for scale.

Ellie and I got off to a rocky start. A long labor and rough birth coupled with breastfeeding struggles meant lots of changes to my meticulous, best-laid plans. Her first week outside the womb was humbling and exhausting in ways I’ve yet to experience in any other part of my life, including the birth of our second daughter.

Any motherly instinct I might have had was quashed by well-meaning and sometimes conflicting advice from my friends, family, pediatrician, midwife, and doula. I wanted desperately to do everything right which, of course, is impossible, but never underestimate the power of postpartum hormones to convince you of impossible things.

It took about six weeks before I felt like Ellie wasn’t someone else’s kid on temporary loan. I loved her, adored her, but the role of “Mom” was a tight fit. For a while, I felt more like a failed dairy cow than a Mom-with-a-capital-M. She took my orderly world, tipped it on its side and shook it like a snow globe.

…but snow globes are beautiful when shaken, and things got better. I learned to relax a little, and she learned to sleep a little, and we came to a mutual understanding — that we’d both do the best we could, and we’d probably come out all right.

What is this “cookie” you speak of, and where can I obtain more of it?

Now she’s a bright, growing kid with a mind that blows me away. She’s a voracious learner, a sponge for academics; math and reading and science are all fair game. She loves to be the center of attention, the boss. “Mama, look at this!” is a frequent refrain. She reminds me of myself as a kid, but bolder, more outgoing, more outspoken.

You are getting verrrrry sleeeeeeepy…

In turn, she’s made me braver, more empathetic, and more patient. She’s given me a perspective on life that’s entirely unique to our relationship, as I think first-borns are prone to do.

Thanks to Ellie, I’ve watched my husband and partner of 15 years become a loving, doting father. And three years down the road, I got to witness her transformation from only child to big sister, a role it seems she was born to play.

Happy_Halloween_

From a tiny, squalling baby to a dancing, laughing big girl — I’m so lucky to be able to learn from her. Happy birthday, sweet girl.

Happy three to my baby

Three years ago at about this time, my water broke after what felt like eons (read: 41 weeks) of pregnancy, and eight hours later I delivered this charming little monkey:

Gwen and Roar

Of course, at the time, she looked more like this…

Minutes old - photo by Evelyn Conrad (yourbirthconnection.com)

The addition of Miss Guinevere made our family complete.

The whole family -- photo by Evelyn Conrad (yourbirthconnection.com)

It also marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

My babies

She’s grown too fast, but as I am quick to remind her, she’ll always be my baby girl.

serious cute

Happy birthday, Gwen. Thanks for keeping us on our toes from the beginning. 🙂

Aside

How I know summer vacation is almost over

Come to my house and you might find me standing in my pantry in the dark, eating an ice cream bar and hoping the kids won’t think to look for me.

Two more days!