THE COZYHUNTER
// she's only happy in the sun.
22
Mar 12
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letters to phoenix // 2

dear phoenix,

it’s late and i should be sleeping. but there are precious few moments these days when my hands are free and so i’m seizing this opportunity to record some glimpses of our life together. you’re already growing and changing and learning so much and i worry that if i don’t pause to write you these letters, i’ll wake up one day and you’ll be asking for the car keys.

one of your most recent achievements is that you’ve graduated from your pitiful newborn yelps to some serious i-mean-business screams. and when you decide to unleash your screaminess onto the world your whole body joins in the action – complete with quivering bottom lip, scrunched up eyes and balled up fists. your papa and i often look at each other bewildered and heart-broken as we try every maneuver in the book to squash your sadness. we go through the ‘S’s (thanks to dr. karp) – swaddling, and shushing, side holds, and swaying…however, it’s rarely that complicated. it seems that every time you are furiously yelling, all you want is more milk. and as soon as you get the goods you immediately stop all the commotion (sometimes even mid-scream) and happily chug away. and all this ravenous eating is paying off – your little neck has been taken over by a hefty double chin and your limbs are plumping up perfectly – which makes chewing on them all the more satisfying.

your papa and my favorite pastime is watching you absorbing the world around you. we observe as you experiment with extending your arms and legs, only to have their reach surprise you. you love the interplay of light and shadow and you adore bath time with mamani. as you nurse you have a habit of grasping at my necklace as if to ensure that i don’t try and go anywhere. you love sitting with your papa and listening to music together, and you indulge us by acting amused at the songs we sing to you on the spot.

i also need to address your lips for a second. i’ll be honest, i have always been a bit creeped out by parents who kiss their kids on the lips, but now i GET IT. your papa and i can’t help ourselves. they are so pink, and pouty, and perfect. i promise we’ll stop this behavior at some point, hopefully before you hit high school ;)

this past weekend i was resolved to leave.the.house. with you. i know this may not sound like a grand undertaking, but on that fine sunday, after watching many a youtube tutorial, i finally figured out how to use one of the baby wraps we were given as a gift, and your papa and i went on our first real outing with you. and it was AMAZING! we walked down the street to the local farmers market and i actually wanted to hug the strangers we passed, just because i COULD. my hands and arms were freeeee! we were outside! you were cozily sleeping against my chest! and OH HOW MARVELOUS LIFE COULD BE!

so yeah, outside time with you is the best and the novelty hasn’t worn off. i wrap the wrap, pop you in, and head down the road feeling ever so triumphant. i talk to you as i admire the spring time blossoms and most of the time you’re bored by my incessant chatter and you sleep in your cozy nook.

i’m finding myself caught between wanting everything to slow down so that i can better take it all in and also this desperate desire to speed up time so i can arrive at some distant shore where it is all more manageable. friends who have experienced new-mamahood, assure me that it will get better/easier. and that’s helpful i guess. but in the here and now, i’m still sometimes ambushed with an unshakeable sadness and a sense that i will never again feel my usual lightness of being. a kind reader of my blog directed me to this post which resonates on so many levels. i especially love this extract:

Not one bit of life is a weight or a measure, a list or a date, a tick or a tock. It is never a result or an outcome. What it is, is a continual marvel, a wondrous flow without distance or gap, a perpetual stream in which we bob and float. We are buffered from nothing and yet never quite fully immersed because our thinking mind keeps eyeing the banks, gauging the current, scoping for landmarks and striving for some kind of perfect, elusive destination. There isn’t a destination. Life keeps going. It keeps going within us; when we’re not attentive, it keeps going without us.


and so i am working on being more present. i’m trying to ignore the clock and the calendar and my inbox. and even when it’s hard, and i’m exhausted beyond comprehension, and i’m worried about all the other things that need my time and attention, i am making you my priority. because you, my heart-breakingly beautiful son, deserve nothing less.

love,

mama

13
Mar 12
4 comments

crepuscular.

it’s somewhat difficult for me to admit that something i yearned for and wanted so badly has tests and difficulties that i hadn’t anticipated. i feel like i did my due diligence. i read stacks of books. we sat through 10 weeks of 3-hour a piece birthing classes. i have long observed other parents and taken mental notes of those i wanted to model. and yet, all that ‘education’ didn’t prepare me for this unnerving sense of ‘displaced me-ness’. i’m sorry i don’t have the vocabulary/coherency to describe this feeling more eloquently. i’m coming to terms with the fact that my only task right now is to give. and then give some more. and to do it all with a certain serenity lest i seem ungrateful for this incredible gift. and so i give because that is my full time job right now. my little phix is hungry. he needs his mama. he wants me to hold him while he sleeps. and though i would do anything for him, any.thing, a tiny part of me wonders whether i’m losing myself.

**

when i hold my son i have no sense of where my skin ends and his begins.

**

these past few days i have felt a surge of support from friends and even strangers, many who have already adventured through this beautiful, exhilarating, rocky passage of new-parenthood and managed to come through to the other side relatively unscathed. even though your calls remain un-returned for now and the messages and emails await reply, i’m so, so grateful.

**
exhausted and raw, i close my eyes and repeat, in my head, the council of friends: “this is all temporary. temporary. temporary”.

**
i inhale the scent of phoenix’s velvet soft forehead and now it’s the sheer temporariness of it all that reduces me to tears.

**

i have always been fond of the word crepuscular because it means ‘relating to twilight’ which is my favorite part of the day. LA twilight’s are rather magical – pink and purple hues envelope the sky and a certain stillness blankets this ever-pulsing city. these days dev returns home just before dusk and together we lay on our bed with our son snuggled between us and we admire his new facial expressions and prussian blue eyes. dev hugs us both close and whispers “i love my family”. i want to freeze those moments so that at other times i can revive them and with perfect clarity remember when all was right with the world.

09
Mar 12
11 comments

moment to moment.

i guess i wasn’t quite prepared for all the heartache that intertwines its hands with the sweet joy that comes along with being a parent. it seems there are no more frivolous decisions in our world – everything is weighed and considered and researched. our good intentions (for example, only using cloth diapers, not giving phoenix a pacifier, letting him feed on demand instead of on a schedule) are all pitted against practicality and sage advice and 4am desperation. as dawn crept into our bedroom on a night which could best be described as our first foray into severe sleep deprivation, dev and i discarded our bradley method training of absolutely no artificial nipples, and gave phoenix a pacifier that we’d received as a gift. i remember opening that present and smugly thinking “ha, we are not going to need this”. but there we were, at 6am, reaching for whatever it was would give us a moment of respite. and though phix took the pacifier and promptly fell asleep, i lay awake feeling incredibly guilty, spending the next two hours researching pacifier pros/cons with a heavy heart.

**

every afternoon my mother (who has chosen her grandmother name to be ‘mamani’) gives phoenix a little bath in our kitchen sink. she likes this time of day because its warmer, and if there was a ever a temperature monitor in our house it would be mamani. she’s constantly swaddling our boy, making sure his head is covered and admonishing me for not keeping his feet warm enough. there are only a three things my mum won’t tolerate – and those are: drafts, throwing away things that can be recycled, and electrical appliances that make excess noise (case and point: she refuses to use our dryer and so our backyard now has string affixed from tree to tree as a makeshift clothesline). together we place phoenix into the water, wriggly feet first. it takes him a second to adjust to the new sensations but then he relaxes his little body, closes his eyes and luxuriates.

in conclusion, even though she dresses my child for alaskan climes, i *love* having my mama here.

**

our midwife warned me that this would happen. that a certain sadness would creep in as my hormones readjusted after pregnancy. she explained that post-partum depression fell along a spectrum, that some mothers might just feel a bit blue for a couple of days and on the other end of there was severe depression. she told me that i too would fall somewhere along this bell curve and assured me that it was totally natural. and although i listened and nodded, i wasn’t prepared for the swell of emotions that hit me this week. on monday, after rox and ryan left, mum was out with her cousin and it was just phix and i at home. it was the first time the two of us had ever been home alone and we were both soaking in the quiet peacefulness of our house. i began to nurse and started and to think about the moment i found out i was pregnant. that memory was a catalyst for tears that began tumbling down my cheeks and falling on phoenix’s little face. i couldn’t stop crying. and so, every day since, in the late afternoons and early evenings i’ve felt that  sadness arrive and linger. the lump in my throat gets lodged and i feel fragile and tender. i want to curl up in a ball and cry until there are no tears left. and though my rational mind knows there’s no reason for it, my emotions tell me that i’m crying for all.the.reasons.combined. i cry because this love i feel for my child is too intense and overwhelming. and i cry because every child is loved in this way and yet in our war-torn world we can be so fickle with how we value other lives. and i cry because i am not sure i will ever take a long shower again. and i cry because i have no idea what sort of immunization schedule to follow. i cry for the incredible women i know that long to be mothers and yet cannot have children of their own. i cry because i watched the kony video. and then i cried because of all the controversy surrounding it and blurring the real issue – that no child should ever live in fear. i cry because phoenix’s lips are too beautiful and perfect and one day they will be kissed by others than me. i cry because in phoenix’s dad i have found my true partner and i can’t imagine.my.life.without.him.

and then morning comes, and the sadness retreats, and in its place is my eager excitement to nuzzle my boy and kiss his cheeks a thousand times. quite often i will catch phoenix as he ‘sleep-smiles’ and in those moments i feel strong enough to take on all the sadness in the world, because what i have at arm’s reach is so perfect.

06
Mar 12
8 comments

letters to phoenix // 1

dear phoenix,

exactly one week ago, your papa gently guided you as you were born into this world. he placed your little warm body onto my chest and every sinew in my body pulsed with a love i’ve never.felt.before. you had finally arrived. this body and soul i had carried for nine months was finally here. vulnerable and small. trusting and gentle. perfect and serene.

the process of your birth was powerful. intimate. intense. i labored with your papa at our home for several hours – lying on our bed face to face, with giant smiles knowing that with every contraction we were getting closer to meeting you. we were a bundle of excitement and nerves, apprehension and impatience. to pass the time, your papa created a playlist of songs we could listen to as i labored and i finished packing our hospital bag, pausing every so often to let each contraction pass. your aunt anisa and grandmother (mamani) helped pack the car and we all arrived at the hospital at 2am. by this time my contractions were only a few minutes apart and it was reassuring to be greeted by our sweet midwife who promptly checked me and confirmed that i was in active labor. we had decided in advance that we wanted to avoid any interventions or pain medication so the hospital staff gave us privacy as we made the labor and delivery room ‘ours’. we switched off all the overhead lights and  softly lit the room with a lamp we’d brought from home. as the music we’d chosen filled the room, your papa and i held each other and moved together through the steadily intensifying contractions. as the pressure and pain increased, i placed my trust in my body, my instincts, and in your devoted, attentive papa.

time stood still towards the end as i had to focus every ounce of energy into your arrival. i remember concentrating on my breath. i remember stillness and hushed voices. i remember visualizing antelope running through spacious landscapes and large birds winging their way through wide-open skies. i remember praying. i remember our wedding song playing in the background. i remember your papa squeezing my hand tightly. and then i remember pushing through every boundary of pressure, pain and intensity that i have ever experienced. and then all the atoms in the room stood to attention, and you were born.

these past seven days with you have been so lovely. you posses a calm and peaceful spirit and you generously let us share you with family and friends who cannot help but be enamored with you. i adore waking to you each dawn and stroking your velvet-soft forehead as you nurse with flushed rosy cheeks. i gaze at your face for hours, examining each expression you make and often finding myself quite lost in you. everything you are experiencing right now is a first. your first sneeze. your first yawn. your first bath. i am already mourning the fact that you are growing and changing daily while i’m also exhilarated by each new development (especially your rapidly developing double chin!). i kiss your button nose a hundred times a day and inhale the sweet scent of your neck like it’s my job. and in a sense, it is.

you’ve saturated our lives with so much joy and happiness my sweet boy. i know i speak for your papa also, when i tell you that we feel honored and humbled and ever so grateful to be your parents.

love,

mama

02
Mar 12
28 comments

introducing our smoochling.

his name is phoenix hugh gundry.

he was born on monday feb 27, 8:29am. (caught by his papa).

we have fallen deeply, madly, blissfully in love.

more to come.

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