22 June 2016

Cecilia's First Holy Communion

We are Catholic. I try hard to raise my children to understand their faith enough to explain it to others who may not understand. Part of growing up Catholic is receiving the Holy Eucharist for the first time. Cecilia has taken classes every Saturday for two years to lead up to this moment.
First Communions in Mexico tend to be large social gatherings, where friends and family get together to mark this important life event. However, we are not incredibly social. Our family is very small and Hector and I prefer to keep to ourselves. The large party that usually accompanies this event was absent on this day. Instead, we tried to keep the focus on the sacrament. As Catholics, we believe that the bread and wine is truly transubstantiated into the literal Body and Blood of Christ. You don't get much more of a personal relationship with Christ than that. We didn't go to a salon- I did Cecilia's hair myself after Cecilia picked out a hairstyle from Facebook. Her dress had transparent sleeves, so I made her a satin cape to go along with it. I couldn't find any godparent as Mexico requires godparents for everything, so her Catechism instructor stepped in and did the favor.

We got to the church about an hour early because parking can be ridiculous. That gave me some time to take pictures in the park. I really wanted a family picture, but neither Leo nor Hector could not cooperate at the same time. I tried to get some pictures inside the church beforehand, but the hustle and bustle made it near impossible. 
Fortunately for me this time, everything in Mexico is a hustle. The church hired a couple of photographers to take pictures. I'm glad because I couldn't get a picture of Cecilia receiving for the first time. People tend not to be very nice when it comes to their kids. I get it. The photographer charged me $50 pesos per photo, about $3 USD. I was very happy with their work, and I didn't even get their business card.

After the Mass, in leiu of a party, we went out for Chinese food. Cecilia loved walking all over and having everyone see her in her dress. After eating, we went to the beach to take a couple more pictures of her.

All in all, the day was not what I had always dreamed for her. I would have loved for us to be surrounded by friends and family, but we were able to keep everything focused on what was really important. First Communion is not about the fancy dress, the party, the godparents, or the pictures. It's about Jesus, and nothing more. I hope that when Isaias and Leo make their FHC, we will be able to focus on Jesus and not on how many people show up. 

14 June 2016

Navigating Through the Fog

Cecilia was a "high-needs" baby. She was colicky on top of that, but she was a very clingy, very whiny baby. But, she was also a happy baby, who smiled and cooed when her needs were met. She had short periods of contentment. I struggled to bond with her though the exhaustion of being a first-time mom and dealing with her so un-Gerber Baby-like temperment. Every expectation I had had of motherhood went out the window and I was severely depressed. After counseling and medication I was able to somewhat make it out of that fog after about eight months or so. She was still very high-needs: nursing constantly, sleeping irregularly, and very clingy, but she was learning to be content with other people.

Isaias was my most chillaxed little guy. He was a champion nurser from day one. I had a bit more of an idea of what I was doing. He was content to just sit in his bouncer and talk to me while I got things done. He loved to eat and was mostly, a fat, happy baby. I was feeling great around two weeks postpartum, and post-partum depression never reared its ugly head.

If Cecilia had been a boy, she would have been exactly like Leo. Not only are they similar in physical appearance, but also in temperment. Leo is probably my highest-needs baby. Even at the hospital, I could tell he was different. It was almost like he was angry that he had been born. He would cry every time he was placed in the bassinet, and that sleepy newborn period right after birth? It never came. The wailing came every time I had to go to the bathroom or try to shower. The nurses begged me to let them take him so I could sleep a tiny bit, and for the first time out of three kids, I let them. I felt like a total failure already. I couldn't even calm my newborn down. My milk took five days to come in this time, and he was wailing and starving and dehydrated. Once my milk came I thought it would get better, but the howling never stopped. I would try and take him for car rides and it took forever in the car to calm him. After about 30 minutes he'd fall asleep and we'd head back to the house, pull into the driveway, and he would be awake again. After about a month I thought he would start to settle, but no. He was still very angry no matter what I did. I would swaddle him, and it helped a little, until he learned to break the swaddle and it no longer helped. I thought coming to Mexico would help, being with Hector to give me a reprieve. But what good can Hector do with me if he has no breast to feed him?

He wants to be held constantly. He has no natural schedule. One day he may actually nap for more than 20 minutes at a time, other days he might not nap at all. And those tiny breaks of silence might come at 9 in the morning, other times not until 3 in the afternoon. He nurses so frequently that I am unable to build up a freezer supply of milk, if he'll even take a bottle at all. It's a hit and miss most of the time, leaving Hector frazzled with a wailing infant any time I have to get out of the house. Leo cries with such an intensity that it literally feels like someone is grinding every nerve you have. By about 4 in the afternoon I am so drained from his care that I cannot even keep my eyes open. He wakes up about 5 times a night now. Leo almost never smiles and has only actually laughed a total of three times since birth, each time because his siblings were able to do something he thought funny. People comment on how serious he is all of the time. Sometimes I think that I've made him laugh and then I realize he's starting to cry. He absolutely hates to be put down and is usually wailing every time I need to go to the bathroom. If he is sitting in his bouncer, but someone is right in front of him, talking to him, he is sometimes content like that for a few moments. I tend do this while folding laundry. However, if I stand up to put a pile of clothes away, he is howling before I've even left the room.

Maybe all of this wouldn't be so tiring if it weren't for the two older kids. When I had Cecilia, I let myself and the house go and everything went into caring for her. I had no one else to feed, no one else to clothe, the house could be picked up by someone else, not that one infant really makes that much mess. But I have two older children now, one of whom is homeschooled. There is no napping when the baby naps. I have to wash the dishes because honestly if my kids did it, they wouldn't get very clean and theyd probably break them all knowing how clumsy they are. I have laundry for a five people. I have to cook for my older kids because they obviously no longer nurse. I have pets and responsibilities. Hector is an amazing help, but he has to help mostly with Leo since he literally sucks all of the energy out of me. I miss my older kids and I know they miss me. Cecilia helps with Leo a lot, too, She holds him so I can cook or clean something, but she is not a babysitter. She is a 10-year-old child. Isaias has a lot of sensory sensitivities and all of the crying sends him into meltdowns and episodes where he just goes rigid and covers his ears, trying to hide from all of the stimulation. My son's homeschool lessons have included a lot of YouTube videos and practical studying, rather than book or worksheet learning, although Hector sometimes will hold Leo so that we can get proper learning done.

I am tired. I know that there is an end to this, and I know that there is nothing wrong with my baby. It is simply his grumpy personality. It is extremely exhausting, but yet, still a sacrifice of love. I love all of my children, especially Leo. I am still so glad that he is here. In a few months, maybe once he begins to move around a bit on his own, he will calm down a bit and let me do something, like read. For now however, I am in a fog. I can sort-of see, but I can't see how long this goes on. I have slept enough not to go crazy, but I am still so, so tired.