Blog a la Cart

Month: March, 2016

Sanderling // Three Weeks

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Sweet Sanderling is already three weeks old. And here he is right before waking up in what James and I have dubbed the “co-waker.” He’d been snoozing for a long period, and I needed to nurse, so we turned to our co-sleeper to rouse him (for whatever reason, he seems to wake up immediately upon being placed in it). Which means, this child has spent all of his sleeping hours pressed up against another person and it’s as much for us as it is for him. Such comfort and healing comes from the peace of a sleeping newborn. And this household needs as much of that as we can get.

The co-sleeper has proved to be a handy side table slash method of waking the baby. It is guaranteed to disturb his slumber upon laying him in it. And thus provide adorable staging for scenes such as this.

He is more wakeful now that he’s hit three weeks, and as grunty as ever, demanding nursing or a diaper change with the bleats akin to a baby goat. His sleep has also been more restless, so James and I are feeling particularly zombie-esque. But we know how temporary this time is and know we can survive it. And mostly, we’re all just enjoying how dang sweet and endearing this little love is.

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Sunny: So. Very. Jazzed. Egg hunting is thebombdotcom.
Kaki: James and I were slow to get out of bed on Easter Sunday, given nights with a newborn. Courtland stood impatiently at the top of our stairs, catching glimpses of eggs hidden at the bottom, chanting, “I want to hunt. I want to hunt” until we pulled ourselves from our bedroom and let the egg hunt commence.
Sander: Our littlest bunny on his first Easter. 

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here

My Three Children

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It’s the first holiday weekend without my mother, and we had had plans to be with her on Easter Sunday. Instead, we’re in VT, weathering mud season, and trying to be as low key and low expectations as possible to get me through the weekend. I had a visit from my oldest friend from childhood and her daughters on Friday, and then a visit from my mom’s best friend from childhood on Saturday. It was good, but hard, to be surrounded by people who knew her so well and loved her so much. She meant so much to so many, and while it is so lovely to be reminded of that, it is also so devastating to be reminded of how much we all lost.

The next two months are filled with milestones/holidays/birthdays that are going to be a doozy to confront. I’m trying to face them one at a time. Napping, sunshine, and laughter with my kids are some of the best antidotes (but I’ve got a team of medical professionals helping as well, because I can’t possibly take care of my children if I’m not taking care of myself).

I’m continually grateful to be supported and carried by my loved ones during a time when I need it most. And for naps. Definitely for naps.

And these smiling faces. Holy cow. James and I feel so lucky to call ourselves parents to these three.

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Snuggles with Sander

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Everyone wants in on the infant snugs.

We are clearly not enjoying this baby enough… our little grunty babe. He has the most ridiculous grunt that is unlike any noise his big sisters made as infants. And it is hysterical, and endearing, and so deep and low and ridiculous. Usually it comes when he is first waking up, or right before a monster poop. And it is unique to our Sander (at least in the Cart family).

Oh we are just so stupidly in love with this little one. All of us.

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New Normal

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As I’ve been immersed in caring for this baby, I can’t help but think of how my own mother invested this very kind of unconditional energy and love into me. It’s a primal, intense, all-consuming connection. The physical and emotional commitment it takes to carry and birth and then nurture a child is overwhelming in its depth, scope, and demand. And it tears me apart to process a world with the absence of the person who knew and loved me in this way. Who committed to me in the ways that I have committed to my own children. Experiencing and giving that love to my children has made me all the more aware of the gravity of what I lost five weeks ago.

As life returns to its new normal, I find myself allowing the sadness and grief to wash over me. With the final weeks of the pregnancy, and the birth, and the transition home, and the mastitis, I’d been so caught up in surviving the task at hand that I’d had to push my mother and our loss further back in my mind. Grief is exhausting, and I only have so much energy to give in a day. I think I subconsciously protected myself and could only allow so much processing in order to do that.

But the fever is gone. Sander and I are settling into a rhythm with breastfeeding. My dad has returned home to the Cape. James is transitioning back to work. And the past two mornings have found us sending the kids off to school in their usual routine, and tucking them in at night as a family of five, with baths, and stories, and lullabies.

Life moves forward. We laugh. We bicker. We talk about our days. We play. We eat. There are times where everything feels so painfully normal. Okay. The same.

And yet nothing is the same. Nor will it ever be.

Last night, I listened to the last voicemail I have saved from my mother. My heart soared at the sound of her voice, so alive, so happy, repeating over and over the phrase “I love you,” as she babbled about her day teaching, and a cashmere baby romper she’d found that she wanted to purchase for us (that is exactly as impractical as it sounds, yet so typical of my mother to want to spoil her grandchild in this way). She laughed at herself as she stumbled to find the right word. “Onesie? No, those don’t have legs. Footie? No. Well, you know what I mean! I’ll call it a footsie. I just want that baby warm!” Ever a constant sentiment from her. Warm, and cozy, and snug. Safe. The way she always made us feel.

I cried big, ugly, gulping tears after listening to her voice. And for the first time, it wasn’t the pregnancy, or the postpartum hormones, or the baby, or the fever muddled in with my emotion. In that moment, it was simply the overwhelming sadness that I would never get to hear that voice again. That laughter. That outpouring of love. In real time. All I have are memories, and they’ll never be enough. And it feels so deeply, cuttingly unfair.

Thinking about my mother, and allowing myself to miss her and feel sad about her absence is normal. And important. It felt good to cry, just for her. And how much I miss her and always will.

Life moves forward. But it’s okay for me to pause. And remember. And listen to a voice that will always provide deep comfort and love, despite the yearning it inspires.

As I move into this next stage of life, this new normal, I’m trying to be gentle on myself. I’m setting simple goals for each day. Enjoy the sweetness of this newborn squish. Stick my face in the sun. Breath. Take everything one day at a time. For now, that’s all I can do.

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^^We survived our first day flying solo (duo?) without too many tears from either of us. Fist in air!^^

Sanderling // Two Weeks

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His second week of life will be remembered for six days of being holed up in my bedroom with a fever and a brewing case of mastitis.

The fever started last Sunday night, and despite a trip to the midwives on Monday, we couldn’t pin down its origin until late Thursday evening when a sore left breast finally broke out in extreme hot, red yuck. The fever kept me horizontal pretty much all week, so we slept and nursed and slept and nursed and sweat and slept and nursed and I pumped and pumped and pumped because the infected breast took a big hit supply-wise and Sander eventually refused to nurse on that side.

Fortunately, fever is now gone, infection is clearing, supply is on the rise, and nursing has resumed on both breasts, so we managed to make it out of the house this weekend for a brief trip to the local coffee shop. One day at a time. Step by step. I am wading my way through each thing being thrown my way and trying to not focus on the future or what comes next to keep my anxiety at bay.

Sander remains a stable, happy, healthy, comforting constant through it all.

The temperature dropped this weekend so we were able to dress him in this cozy bear bunting from my mother, who gifted it to us in the hopes that he’d come home from the hospital in it.

“I want that baby warm and snug!” she’d said.

But it was nearly 70 degrees the day we came home with him, so this weekend, we bundled him up and I held him close, and he indeed was warm and snug as his Momar wished.

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Sunny: We’ve got some expert, willing baby-handlers in our midst. Sunny truly cannot get enough of holding him.
Kaki: While Courtland doesn’t have the hours of longevity of her big sister, she is always so enthusiastic to snuggle and cuddle with her brother, too.
Sander: And he’s done a lot of this. Snoozing. Until about 9pm, when he is then awake until 2-3am. But then he gives us a good 4-5 hour stretch of sleep, so worth it? Maybe? In the grand scheme of life with a newborn, severe sleep deprivation is just part of the equation, so we’re rolling with it.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here

Sunny & Sander

The Double Big Sister doing what she does best, love her family. In this case, her baby brother. She is so unbelievably sweet with Sanderling. This video reminds me of her with newborn Courtland, when she was only 2! She truly delights in baby handling. On Friday, she didn’t have school, so she spent a hour letting Sander nap on her chest.

Oh my heart.

Sander’s Hospital Stay

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Here’s a peek at our hospital stay with Sander, the same L&D floor where I delivered Courtland. While the circumstances were far more challenging during this postpartum period, the staff rose to the occasion and treated our family with such thoughtful care and tenderness. I am endlessly grateful for the attention and kindness of the nurses during our stay, and my midwives, who carried me this past month in ways that I didn’t know were possible. Their deep commitment to me and this baby were palpable and I wish all women had access to that depth of care and experience. I feel very fortunate to be one of their patients.

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^^My father gifted my mother that bead for her Pandora bracelet on Valentine’s Day morning, before our entire world changed forever only moments later. I wore it around my neck in the three weeks following her death, and during Sander’s birth, as it was the most recent thing her hands had touched and it felt comforting to keep her touch close during a time when I needed it the most.^^

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“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Sunny: “I never want to stop holding him. He smells so good and I just love him so much.” And it’s true, she hasn’t wanted to put him down. She positively adores him. Not that we’re at all surprised.
Kaki: She loves to pick out his outfit for the day. She and Sunny meticulously lay out each piece in his bassinet, and eagerly help dress him when he’s awake. She is adapting so well to her role as Big Sister. While she’s still a busy four-year old, it’s amazing to see her tenderness with her little brother.
Sander: Such a sweet, mellow, snuggly little babe. He reminds me so much of Courtland as a newborn – with all those wrinkles and that grumpy old man face. But his personality is so similar to Sunny’s disposition at this stage. Relaxed, easy to sooth, peaceful. Such a gift given all that’s going on with me. He is such a gift.

More details about The 52 Project here. To view all the portraits in the series visit here