Family, Perspective

Bear Shark: One year later

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Bear Shark’s gone and done it. He turned a year old on me within a blink of the eye. This is us, mere moments after he entered the outside world. I remember being breathy and in total and complete awe of this warm being who was so active in utero. He was an ample 8 lbs 4 oz, and I loved every bit of chub on his tiny squishy body. He tested my patience for two weeks as my body had nightly contractions that were a tease leading up to the big dramatic birth. This boy made me WORK to bring him into the world. This boy demanded my full and uninterrupted attention, complete focus and surrendering to that present moment. Hmm… and now that I think of it, he still does at a year old because I cannot turn my back for one second or I’ll find him perched on top of furniture without a care in the world.

I didn’t think I’d be one of those women who got moved by something that (before motherhood) seemed so gooey and bodily fluid-y and painful and gross. I remember after watching a birth video in 7th grade science, thinking if I ever became pregnant, I’d want to be knocked out cold and have a baby placed in my arms when it was all over. As it turns out, I’m completely fascinated by birth and the natural process that women go through to bring new life into this world. I am a changed person having gone through it. How could anyone ever think that women are the weaker gender when we are WARRIORS, and our bodies are powerful and amazing and strong. I built a human. No, I built TWO humans with nothing more than the cells already in my body. I nourished them with the milk my body produced. And I somehow didn’t die of sleep deprivation, which is a certain special torture.

I also know that I’m incredibly lucky. It’s not an easy journey to becoming a mother. I experienced a miscarriage before conceiving Bear Shark, and I’m thankful it was very early on before I became attached to the idea. But I know women who struggle with infertility and women who have had losses at 10 weeks, 20 weeks, 40 weeks and even outside babies a couple months old. It’s devastating. I feel devastated for them. They have strength that I have never had to conjure up in myself to put a foot forward every day. I think of these women often.

So Bear Shark is our last baby. The hardships of being a working mom with a newborn really gave me a beating, and I knew twice in my life was enough. There were definitely days I wanted to throw in the towel on the career thing, but the thought of staying home with my kids gave me the willies. Some women are built for being around kids 24/7. And some women (like me) are not.

Even so, I’ve been trying to soak up as much of this baby phase with Bear Shark as I can. Poor second child doesn’t have nearly as many pictures as his older brother to remember and document every little moment. BUT, I gave myself more room to be present and experience our shared moments without always feeling the need to pull out the camera. I’m trying to burn these memories into my brain!

Yesterday, I took him to his 12 month well check in the morning. Instead of sending him back to school, we had a day for just the two of us – ya know, when he’s not sick, and we can actually go do fun stuff! We took our adventures to the boardwalk. We strolled for a couple miles before making the return trip. He took a nap while I pushed. I enjoyed the sunshine and the cool breeze. It was a perfect day to enjoy the weather. When he woke up, we sat on a bench near the water, and he waved at people walking by.

We also made our way to a breastfeeding meet-up at the birthing center. There were some super new babies there (one was 2 weeks old) that looked SO tiny compared to my can’t-sit-still Bear Shark, who was climbing furniture and chasing the older siblings. Seeing all the itty bitty babies nursing reminded me that I had failed to document my breastfeeding journey. I had full intention to have a proper professional session done when he was younger. I think the most I have between my two kids were some shots my husband took when the Big Kid first came home from the hospital and then a few selfies when I remembered to capture the moment. So this picture marks a year of breastfeeding, while we were waiting for the doctor.

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When he’s cranky and tired (like when I woke him up from his morning nap to get poked and prodded for this check-up), the boob still trumps all else in calming him. Mama’s secret weapon! Hahaha! I know some people get weirded out about breastfeeding, especially once teeth come in or once a baby can talk. To that, I say not your baby and not your boobs. We’ll continue to nurse for however long it seems to be working for the both of us. The Big Kid could’ve continued breastfeeding in the mornings well past 20 months, but I was ready to be done then. I don’t know when I’ll stop with Bear Shark (or when he’ll decide to stop), but we’ll keep going with the flow. At least the pumping phase is over and done with.

I have so many emotions flooding my heart that I can’t seem to do anything else but steep in them. Thanks for letting me ramble on about Bear Shark! It’s been a year of high highs and low lows. I know the lows will fade and get fuzzy over time, but man, those highs with this kid who makes us smile and laugh and squeezes so hard when he hugs… we’ll treasure them forever. Happy birthday, baby.

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