11.18.2014

Hazel is Three Months Old!

Last week, Hazel turned three months old.  I feel like I should say I can't believe it, that the time has flown by.  But the truth is, it's hard to imagine our family without her.  It feels like she's been with us all along.

hazel theodora

It's been fun to get to know her little personality.  She has this old soul look in her eyes.  I noticed it from the moment I first looked into them.  Others have commented on that as well.

hazel theodora

Hazel insists on being held all the time.  If I try to set her down, she cries almost instantly (and often ferociously), unless one of us is playing with her.  But when carried, either in arms or in my sling, she is as quiet as a little church mouse.  Wide eyed, she just soaks it all in, closely tracking the kids' every move.

hazel and iris 
Even though she is quite serious, she's quick to smile.  And no one can make her belly laugh like Iris.  Iris absolutely adores her and the feeling is mutual.  Iris has never shown any jealousy toward Hazel, which surprised me.  I wonder if these two might be close pals someday?

iris and hazel 
I've been reflecting a lot on the differences between parenting our first and our fifth.  In a lot of ways, I think Jude and Hazel are similar.  And yet I would have labeled Jude as a difficult baby and Hazel as a pretty easy one.

iris and hazel 
I have come to realize that so much of that has to do with expectations.  As a first time parent, I had some pretty unrealistic ones.  Many of those expectations were reinforced by people who were oh so eager to give me advice.

hazel theodora 

They'd scold me saying Jude was a 'bad' sleeper because I nursed him too much.  Or because I didn't have him on a schedule.
 
hazel three months 
Oh, I tried.  I  revolved my entire life around trying to get him into some kind of predictable schedule.  I read every sleep book.  I was convinced that I had to be doing something wrong, mostly because that seemed to be what so many people implied.

They told me if he slept with us, we'd never get him out of our room.  He'd be 12 and still sleeping with us.  They said he wouldn't be independent.

jude and hazel

He's almost 10 now and hasn't slept in our room for years.  As far as not being independent, he recently told us how 'awesome' it would be to go to boarding school in Côte d'Ivoire like his dad did. I mean, he'd miss us, he said, but it would still be awesome.

jude and hazel

People told me I carried him too much, that he'd never learn to walk.

iris theodora

He crawled at 5 months and walked at 9 months.

 I'm  not sure why people tell first-parents those kind of things. They are so vulnerable and generally lack confidence.  They don't have the experience to know there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.

rain 

When Indigo came along, she was our most easygoing baby.  I could lay her down awake and she would fall asleep.  She easily fell into a schedule.  It all came naturally to her.

iris and hazel 
Then we adopted Tia.  Tia slept even better!  She slept for 12 hours at night and took 3 hour naps.  I thought, "My babies are good sleepers!  I'm getting pretty good at this parenting thing."

iris and hazel

Then Iris was born and obliterated the 'it's-my-stellar-parenting' theory.   Oh boy, Iris!  She just cried... and cried... and cried some more.  And never slept.  At least that's how it felt.  I once read that babies who cry with gusto later do life with gusto.  That's definitely been true for Iris.

iris and hazel 
Interestingly, by the time we had Iris, almost no one gave us advice anymore.  I guess they just assumed by four kids we has some semblance of an idea of what we were doing.  In fact, most people said the opposite of what I heard with Jude.  They'd say, "Enjoy her!  It goes so fast!" and then they'd share their own story about their colicky baby.

iris and hazel 
I wondered where those people were when Jude was a baby.

But by that point, I finally realized that these babies are who they are.  They aren't blank slates and they certainly aren't robots that we can program.  We can try to fight their temperaments, which is largely an uphill battle, or we can accept them and love them for who they are, as they are.

hazel theodora 
I've learned over the last (almost) decade of having babies in my home that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to give up the idea of how you think -or everyone else tells you- things should be.  There is actually so much freedom in that!

hazel theodora 
So Hazel is a cat napper who doesn't want to fall into a schedule just yet.  She wakes up between 3 and 5 times a night.  And yes, she likes to be held a lot.  But at 3 months old, she's already rolling over and starting to develop the core strength to sit up.

hazel theodora

I know soon enough, she'll want to be down more than up.  Until then, I'll just keep holding and wearing her, kissing her and taking all too many photos of her.

hazel three months 

Because I love her just the way she is. 

hazel theodora

{The pieced quilt in the top photos was a gift from my aunt, Kathy, who taught me how to sew! We love it so much!}


22 comments:

  1. So true. The personality of my kids shone through from the first moment and there really is no point in treating them the same. Their nature is different and so is the way we should treat them. Also: How cute are those pics of Iris and Hazel. Their affection for one another really shows!

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  2. Oh, that's just beautiful Rachel! And I was wondering about the quilt in the first photos, it's gorgeous. You're so right, they just are who they are and parenting can only hope to make a small impact on that. Interestingly, our colicky (first) baby has turned out to be the most easygoing, and the two who were 'by the book' contented feeders and sleepers have grown up very, very demanding! Love your photos.

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  3. She's beautiful!

    I had 6 in 13 years and in a sense it got easier as we went along. I was never very passionate about scheduling so that never bothered me. I had a hard time with my 6th b/c nursing never went well. On my first few I may have tried different options but I just didn't have the time and energy with the sixth. So, I weaned him at 6 months. But, he's been a joy and we'll never regret having six beautiful, individual little people.

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  4. I love this post! My experiences seem very similar to yours, and this brought back wonderful memories of when my fifth child was born. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  5. The quilt is so special! My grandmother died last spring (and she shares a birthday with hazel!) and I treasure the many quilts she made for us and the time she spent teaching me to sew. And I agree- these little people are just born as themselves, right from the very beginnings.

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  6. Beautiful post. You are right, every baby is different. My first one cried a lot, my second is quite content. They are individuals and it is so hard when you are bombarded with people's advice or parenting books. The best thing is listen and connect with the kid...then, you can "read" what their souls need. Not easy task, but there is something in us mums that make that possible.

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    1. It's true - being bombarded by advice and differing opinions - sometimes polar opposite opinions - makes it so hard and stressful. I think you are right - there is a special kind of soul connection there that you can tap into, maybe even more so as they grow. Such great thoughts! Thank you!

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  7. EVERY baby needs a quilt ; ) how precious is your Hazel. I loved three months. They are so fun and their personality really shines. Enjoy those beautiful children of yours

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  8. I started reading your blog for sewing inspiration, but as a new mom to a 7 month old girl, this post really hit home for me. I've been struggling lately with her temperament. She's spirited - doesn't sleep well, protests loudly with whining or crying when she's not calling the shots. I'm back at work full time with a demanding job, but I still get up with her 3-4 times a night. I feel like some days all I do in our limited hours together is try to figure out why she's fussy and what keep her happy. I can barely get ready for work in the morning because she throws a fit when I put her down. It's exhausting. On the bad days it makes me wonder if I have what it takes to be a mom, which is really sad for me because it's all I've ever wanted. Anyway, I know I'm going down a rabbit hole with this comment, but I have to think that it's not easy to have 5 kids, and perhaps you have some ideas on how to keep it all in perspective enough to enjoy motherhood.

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    1. Oh, Joy, it can be so exhausting, for sure. Our first, Jude, woke up so many times throughout the night. I wasn't working at the time, but he was a catnapper, so there was no "sleep when the baby sleeps". It was so hard. Our daughter, Iris, was our highest-need baby and what really got me through was the mantra : "I will have my whole life for ____ but this time with a baby in arms is short." I know when you have your first, the days don't always feel short - at least they didn't to me! But then you get to the other side. You might even feel quite proud for surviving it! :) I felt it was so important to really up the self-care. My husband would take our babies in the morning on the weekends so I could sleep in a bit, because I was nursing so much at night. Even now, I really do try to prioritize sleep. I don't stay up late sewing like I used to. Also it's so important for me to take a few hours a week to sew - that is part of my self-care. Sewing centers me and gives me some much needed time alone.

      I really do know the feeling of not understanding why your baby is so fussy. I got off of dairy, I took her to a chiropractor, I endlessly searched PubMed reading about colic/fussy babies. I learned that in a study on infants in Ethiopia, those who were most ‘demanding’ had the highest survival rates. Think of it this way, for most of human history, infants needed to be close to their mothers. It could be dangerous to be left alone on the ground or in a crib. There could be poisonous insects, snakes, etc. It’s only a short part of human history where we are living in heated/cooled houses in the ‘burbs. :) I know anthropologist James McKenna says that demanding babies are ‘highly adapted babies’ - they know they are supposed to be close to mom.

      Adopting Tia and seeing how well and how long she slept really proved to me that genetics is such a huge part of it. Yes, Tia was on a strict schedule at the orphanage, but there are also many children who were adopted, even from her very same orphanage who came home and would not sleep well at all. I think that goes to show that cry-it-out is absolutely not foolproof. I remember reading a book called Sleepless in America which I found helpful in understanding Iris' temperament.

      With Jude, I tended to put us in a somewhat adversarial relationship, because I thought he should be a certain way and the way he was was in conflict with the way I thought things should be. It was really helpful for me with my later children to let go of trying to put them into any kind of box and just accept them as they are, seeing us on the same team. People who have great sleepers are often very vocal about it, so you may not hear from the many others of us who are not getting much sleep at all. When I have talked to people from other countries and cultures, in some places children are not expected to sleep alone/through the night until age three!

      You totally have what it takes to be a mom. Even the fact that you are getting up with her so much when you have to work the next day shows that. I would just encourage you to remember that it's not you and that above all you need to do what works best for your family! <3

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    2. I'm welling up with emotions, so it's hard to express how grateful I am for your thoughtful response to my comment. I feel like I received the best virtual hug! Your reassurance means so much. Things are improved a lot over the past few days. My baby has been in a sunny mood which feels like such a reward after the sleeplessness and crankiness last week.

      I'm reminded that one of the things I've learned in my short time as a parent is that just when you think you've been pushed to your limit, relief comes in some form. Even babies seem to know when we need a break. I've also been thinking about the fact that if parenthood were easy, it wouldn't be anywhere near as rewarding. It's worth working hard for.

      Thanks again for taking the time to make this new mom feel better.
      xoxo

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  9. Hazel is adorable and your photos are absolutely beautiful.

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  10. Silly Rachel - you could never take too many photos of Hazel!:) Or any of your other kids, for that matter. Pure gorgeousness, seeing all these photos of your kiddos living life and loving on Hazel. Makes me ALMOST want to have more:) I would have loved to have read this post about 15 years ago when my son was born - I felt much the same way you did. And how true - it's pretty much an uphill battle fighting the personality they're born with. Glad you're enjoying your little one so very much and soaking in each moment with her while she still loves to be held:)

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    1. Lucinda, how could you have a 15 year old?! That is incredible! You know, I feel pretty passionately about wanting to encourage first time moms (and moms in general). I think it's so hard (or was for me) especially when your baby doesn't fit the mold that babies are supposed to fit in this culture. Oh and your comment about Hazel making you /almost/ want a new baby reminded me of a comment from the Cosby Show which we've been watching as a family recently. Bill tells Claire that babies are false advertising. hahahaha Hazel might be a little more enticing than my three year old who is having a tantrum on the floor. :D

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  11. I love this post, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I think one of the biggest surprises and realizations of having my first child was simply ... they are their own person! They are not maleable little blank slates but come out of the womb with strong ideas of how they like things to be, and they let you know all about them! With my first, I imagined that if I just did x, y, or z, then he would do what I wanted. Well, this was not true of baby Joe and it's definitely not true of Joe now. He has always had his own ideas of things, and if he doesn't like the direction you're going, he tells you all about it.

    I slept with my own parents for three years (at least - I crawled back into bed with them now and then when I had a bad night until puberty). I remember announcing to my mom that I didn't plan to cosleep with Joe. She was nice enough to nod politely. Later, when I did end up cosleeping with Joe, who liked to nurse all night and woke up and cried if you breathed on him wrong, forget trying to sneak away, for like two years, my mom said "Well, yes, dear, but babies DO have their own ideas about these things, don't they?" So thankfully, I had at least one person in life who was the opposite of the naysayers, right?

    You're a star, Rachel. An inspiring example for the rest of us. And I know you must be a reassuring person to talk to for a new mom!

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  12. oh, Rachel. SO beautiful. you make my soul happy, you know that? thank you :)

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  13. What gorgeous photos! Baby Hazel is just adorable. I love that one of her with Iris.
    And so nice to read through your words as well. I feel like I should send this post to a couple of friends who have just had their first babies - sometimes it takes a while to figure out that it's okay to do things the way that works for you.

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  14. you're very wise. As mom to three grown up kids I can tell you, you've hit the nail on the head! Those kiddos are lucky to have you for a mom.

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  15. beautiful post!
    happy 3 months to sweet Hazel! She is so lucky to be in home where she is loved as she is, and where her rhythms are respected. I totally beleive that kids that are held and fed when they need, don't become bad-demanding-dependent children. It is totally the opposite: BECAUSE they knew and felt the security of their parents love, they KNOW they can rely on them and they are not scared of the world, which makes them independant and confident beings.
    My kids were carried in a long scarf around my belly and my boy woke me up at night every 1,5 hours!! but now they are both happy children and they know they are loved.
    Amazing photos, I love how Hazel has these huge eyes open on all of them: she is taking it all in!
    You are doing an amazing job! and I am glad nobody bothers you anymore with their silly advice! you have totally earned your "free-lance" mothering rights!!
    hugs

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  16. aw what a cutie pie, that hazel. fun to see more now what she's eventually going to look like as she gets a bit older! i think that "lives life with gusto" saying is really true. C was so so hard as a baby and didn't LET me enjoy him, that colic is no fun. but once he hit that 4 month mark things got easier, and then at 5 easier still, and now he's just such a joy. he is funny though. he has quite a set of pipes on him and his voice can be so loud!! he's also a fast, determined crawler (wormer now...he does the worm to get places). anyway what was i saying? maybe yeah just that expectations about what your kid might be like don't often match up, you just have to wait and see what their little personalities bring. i thought #3 would be easy and mellow and so far he is fun, but he keeps us on our toes! it's probably one of the best parts of parenthood though, seeing who your kids really are. :)

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  17. She is just so gorgeous!

    I second what your feelings on the 'advice' everyone seems to want to give you. I just took everything with a grain of salt and took the time to figure out what works best for us. With my first (4 years) and now my second (6 months) there was no routine and we were all the more relaxed for it. Compare this to my sister in law who is constantly stressed out when things do not go to plan. I was (and once again am) told I feed too much but I tend to have babies that just love the breast, whether it be for hunger or comfort, and I am not going to deny them that, especially when I enjoy doing it. My first was slightly slower than average on the moving front (rolling at 6 months, crawling at 10 months and walking at 14 months) but we can't stop her now so I've also learnt not to stress if my son doesn't progress through these staged quickly either. As it turns out he is more of a mover and shaker than his big sister and like nothing more than to wriggle and bounce around. Anyhow I strongly believe, as it appears you do, in the more relaxed, child-led approach to parenting. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more about your beautiful family.

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