January 27, 2015

Our Emerging Toddler

My updates took a 3 month hiatus as we ushered in the new year with lots of celebrations.
The end of 2014 and the start of 2015.
I love the beginning of a new year because it brings up so much anticipation and excitement for what could be. There's a lot of hope, goals, and commitments made. Of course, some of these resolutions dwindle a few months or weeks later, but it is still exciting to reevaluate and restart.

Most of last year's highlights can be found in my monthly updates of Genevieve. All her milestones and major moments are documented in her "1 Year Old" post.

But this year brought lots of change to my professional life as well. I...
-Left my job of three years at Visiting Orphans (so bittersweet!)
-Officially became DONA certified (Doulas of North America)
-Attended over 10 births in 6 months
-Started my own doula business: Merrill Childbirth Services
-Became a midwife assistant

Change is so hard for me and it was tough making the decision to leave the job that I loved, but when you know you are doing something you are so passionate about, it just feels right. Being a doula is HARD work but I love it. The joy and life I get at every birth is unlike anything I've done. Meeting new clients and being welcomed into their lives and to the most important, vulnerable, intimate day, is so rewarding and humbling. I really do feel like I stepped into "a calling." And I feel incredibly blessed to be doing this work.

I am also very lucky to have such a wonderful support system around me. Women tend to go into labor in the middle of the night... and I couldn't do what I do without the most supportive partner in life. Besides breastfeeding, my husband is totally capable of everything Genevieve. He takes care of all the details at home and shuffles Genevieve all over town to various family members while I am at births. I am also learning how to be self-employed and balancing time with my daughter and time 'at work'. It's a new season for us with lots of adjustments!

These last three months were full of holidays and Genevieve milestones. We love having both of our families in town because that means lots of celebrations and festivities. Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Years, and MLK day were so much sweeter with a toddler in tow. I am all about traditions and having children makes them magical! (See holiday pictures below)

There was so much joy these past months but also lots of tears. Our little baby is emerging as a little girl. I had no idea that months 12-15 were going to be the hardest ones yet... I thought her first three months were hard, but nothing prepared me for this (another reason I took a break from blogging). We've got a strong-willed, curious, sensitive girl, who is learning to explore and stretch her boundaries. And boy does she ever! She's deciding what food she likes, and when she wants to sleep and nurse. She's a child in a baby's body and I can see her frustration shining through. She wants to communicate and do so much more, but she is just not quite there yet. We have all shed a few tears.

She's also growing in so many ways - lots of teething with her molars breaking through, taking her first steps, developing so many fine motor skills, and starting to say a few more words. Her emotions are high and she's learning so much. This has taken a toll on sleep. She has taken a few nap strikes and wants to wake up 3 times at night.

Whew...parenting is humbling, refining, and exhausting. It brings the highest highs and lowest lows. I've never loved another little human as much as I do my daughter, and I've simultaneously never been so frustrated and worn out. But I don't want this to be a rant about the hardship of parenting. Part of the reason I am writing all of this is to remind myself of where we were and where we are headed. We aren't quite out of this season, although I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've said it in an early post - parenting is not linear, it's cyclical. Once we feel like we have 'figured it out', we get another curve ball and we have to readjust. Having entered into toddlerhood, I have such a huge respect to all mothers and fathers out there. No judgement, no critiques, you just have to do what works for you. We are all just trying to survive while making the most magical memories, laughs, and snuggles.

This little girl is worth every minute of it. And I'll never forget that!

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