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Looking Back: The Wee Small Hours of November Mornings

November 22, 2011

Do you ever have those days or moments when you feel yourself transported back in time? Back to a place where the memory is so strong you can smell the scents and see the images you did then?

For me, it’s always this time of year. The cold November mornings, Thanksgiving cooking segments on the morning shows, and Christmas music always wax nostalgia. Like a rush of cold morning air, all these elements bring me back to the November of four years ago —  those early morning days and weeks after Sophie was first born.

Those November days were the most challenging of my life. They were like nothing I ever experienced. I went weeks without knowing what day of the week it was, let alone the actual date or the time. The only way I can explain the time is by describing it as extended periods of light and dark. I can’t even tell you what we did, when I showered, or what we ate those few weeks.

But as hard as those early days were, they were – in many ways – magical and like nothing I knew (or will know again).

We called it the “second shift,” the 4 – 7 a.m. timeframe where I would sleep on the couch with Sophie. (The first shift was Bryan and Sophie in the couch while I slept in the bed. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced better sleep as those first shifts.) Sophie slept on my chest with blankets covering the two of us. The heater would turn on around 5 a.m., just when the house started feeling frosty and the blankets weren’t quite cutting it anymore. Sophie’s little brown eyes squinted open for her morning feeding. After which she would lay there satisfied before we both drifted back into dreamland.

During that time, I would turn on The Today Show (which I never watch) and stare at the sets filled with Christmas decorations and poinsettias. I’d watch the Williams-Sonoma cooking demos (thinking I may never cook again); and see all the gift ideas one could imagine. And of course, I would listen to the Christmas music. Perhaps it was those wee early  mornings that sparked my current love of holiday music.

We spent a good part of November on that couch together — me, Bryan and Sophie. Every once in a while we’d venture out to a doctor’s appointment or some small errand. Our big November adventure was driving to Julian, Ca. to pick up Thanksgiving pies. We started this 2-hour trek in the afternoon; got there, bought pies, scarfed down a piece of apple caramel pie, and fed Sophie in the car. We then returned to the car and  headed back to San Diego. I have no idea what possessed us to do that. But it’s a memory I’ll never forget.

Every once in a while – on a cold November morning when the sun is just rising and the house heater clicks on – I find myself wishing to go back there, if only for a few minutes, and experience it all again. I’d savor Sophie’s little body laying on my chest feeling completely at peace. I would put myself smack in the middle of those moments. While I will never get those precious November days back, I will always have the magical memories of this time of year.

Our First Family Outing to Julian ~ November 17, 2007

 Do you have certain months or seasons of the years that bring back the strongest of memories?

45 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 2:16 am

    Such great memories — and I love the photo of baby Sophie! For me, being in the garden and seeing certain plants or hearing familiar birds transports me back to being a little kid, gardening with my grandmother. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Bryan & Sophie!

    • November 25, 2011 8:48 pm

      Thanks, Julia. I can definitely see how the garden and birds trigger your memories. It’s clear those things play such an important role in your life now too!

  2. November 22, 2011 2:47 am

    Sweet! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • November 25, 2011 8:48 pm

      Thanks. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. November 22, 2011 4:28 am

    The heater clicking on is one of those things that causes a visceral feeling of safety and contentment in me too, Leah. I think it has always signaled security and snugness for me. Here in Arizona we have a train that comes through the Westside of town. It’s distant whistle in the night brings me right back to my childhood in the Bay Area of California, and the whistle of the train that ran along the tracks beside the bay.
    Very nice writing, my dear. Wishing you, Bryan, and little Sophie a blessed Thanksgiving.

    • November 25, 2011 8:49 pm

      Thank you, Cynthia! I know what you mean about the train whistle. There’s a train station about five miles from our home now. And sometimes late at night I can hear the train whistle. It reminds me of the days Bryan and I would vacation in Santa Barbara and we’d stay by the train station. Happy memories. Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  4. November 22, 2011 4:43 am


    I’m with you; those wee small hours of the morning when the world was still and all you knew was your wee small baby tucked in and safe … ooh deliciousness.

    Beautiful, beautiful post.

    … Happy Thanksgiving! I am prepping your creamed corn recipe tonight! 🙂


    • November 25, 2011 8:50 pm

      Ah thanks, MJ. How did the corn turn out?

  5. November 22, 2011 5:09 am

    For me, it’s always a smell. When I smell diesel exhaust, I’m transported back to the summer I lived in France when I was a student. Cigarrettes and coffee takes me back to the staff room of the school where I taught English in a French school a few years later. The smells aren’t pleasant, but the memories are.

    • November 25, 2011 8:50 pm

      I love that, Shary. What great memories! I want to hear more about your days in France too.

  6. Christina permalink
    November 22, 2011 6:15 am

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  7. November 22, 2011 6:29 am

    I know just those moments, where you experience something so completely new and raw and have no choice but to live in the moment. I think that’s what makes Christmas so wonderful for people; it transports us back to those days of innocence and wonder.

    Great post, great picture!

    • November 25, 2011 8:51 pm

      Thank you so much! Raw is a terrific word to describe those times.

  8. November 22, 2011 7:02 am

    Beautiful post Leah and how great that you have a picture to remember that special outing! I love that moment when a smell or song (there are so many songs) take you back somewhere so quickly. It’s kind of fascinating how that happens! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • November 25, 2011 8:52 pm

      Thanks, Caryn. I’ve thought about writing a post about all the songs that transport me back. Yes, there are so many! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

  9. November 22, 2011 7:49 am

    Very sweet post Leah!

  10. November 22, 2011 7:52 am

    Wonderful Leah, and I love the family photo with baby Sophie. I love those fleeting moments when a memory flashes back from a sensorial trigger. I relish every one of them and your post reminds me why – so sweet! Happy Thanksgiving to that beautiful family of yours.

    • November 25, 2011 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Susan. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving too.

  11. November 22, 2011 1:30 pm

    Oh, I remember the sofa days and nights. My first was a November baby, born in England, under a blanket of snow. Hard for me these days, she just turned 18 ( and I am so very young and sexy, too) to think I have a baby now 18. Wonderful memory, thank you for sending my time traveling. Happy Holidays, Leah, and for stopping by grrl guide, too. Hugs.

    • November 25, 2011 8:54 pm

      Thank you, Brenda. I know it won’t be long before Sophie grows up even more before my eyes. I’m determined to live in these moments.

  12. November 22, 2011 2:26 pm

    This is a really beautiful post. My daughter was born at the end of May, so when I start seeing all the decorations around town for the graduating seniors, I get nostalgic for those early days. (Not that I care to repeat them, of course…)

    • November 25, 2011 8:55 pm

      Thanks so much! I know what you mean about not wanting to repeat them! That’s neat that the graduation mementos remind you of that time. Think about when your daughter will graduate – what a trip that will be!

  13. November 22, 2011 3:18 pm

    What great memories. She was so tiny then–and it wasn’t that long ago. Thanks for sharing!

    • November 25, 2011 8:55 pm

      Thanks, Monica. You can say you knew her when!

  14. November 22, 2011 4:26 pm

    So sweet, so touching! Happy Thanksgiving Leah!!!

    • November 25, 2011 8:55 pm

      Thanks, Rada! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

  15. November 22, 2011 6:07 pm

    This looks so delicious (and pretty!!)…it would be a perfect Thanksgiving dessert and could double as a centerpiece. I would skip the turkey and have two slices of cake 😉

    • November 25, 2011 8:56 pm

      It is a darn good cake! Thanks for visiting!

  16. November 22, 2011 9:33 pm

    What a beautiful post! I can practically feel the chill before the heat kicks on! …and I LOVE Julian Apple Pies! Something I really miss about leaving San Diego! Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming memory and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • November 25, 2011 8:56 pm

      Thanks, Ann. Great description of the chill before the heat kicks in! I’ll save some pie for you.

  17. November 23, 2011 8:20 am

    This post really touched me, Leah. I have been having some fears regarding the next few months after the baby’s birth, but I know that strange new way of life I soon would not wish to alter for the world!

    • November 25, 2011 8:57 pm

      Thanks, Jolina. I’ll be honest when I say it is tough and like nothing you’ll ever know. But try as best as you can to live in those magical moments. They are so rare and raw. You will look back with joy, I promise!

  18. November 23, 2011 8:30 am

    She’s so TINY!! I just want to pet her! Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

    • November 25, 2011 8:57 pm

      She’d probably like that, Sara! Thanks and hope your Thanksgiving was great!

  19. November 23, 2011 8:36 am

    Ahhh, flashbacks to infanthood. Thanks for sharing. This made me flash back to when my daughters were just newborns.

    • November 25, 2011 8:58 pm

      Thanks, Dave. It’s funny to think they were ever that small. But alas, they were!

  20. November 23, 2011 5:13 pm

    Ah, sweet baby memories– I love them (and Christmas music too). You nailed the description of newborn days and sense of time.

    Hurricane news always take me back to Abby’s baby days. I spent many an hour watching Hurrican Katrina coverage with a sleeping or feeding baby cuddled to me.

    • November 25, 2011 8:59 pm

      Thanks, Allison. It’s so hard to describe those moments, so I’m glad you feel I nailed the description. Wow, what a memory for you with Abby’s birth and Hurricane Katrina! I remember that time too. Watching that news coverage with her must have made you absorb it so much differently.

  21. November 23, 2011 5:17 pm

    Leah, what a lovely post! You know I’m a hard-core fan of memories so reading this post put a smile on my face. How lovely to remember so tangibly the time when your child was a newborn! They grow up so fast, that you’ll soon find yourself taking trips down memory lane if only to remember what life with them was like when they were tiny! This family photo is so lovely!

    • November 25, 2011 9:01 pm

      Thanks, Bella. I try to think of the moments when I’m in them since I know how quickly time flies.

  22. November 25, 2011 1:44 am

    This is so very, very precious. Thank you for sharing these intimate moments with us. I remember those with my children also in the wee hours of the morning, there’s such a bond formed in that time alone with our child. I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.
    I should mention also that today on my blog (and on Viewshound) is the story I wrote about the obsession YOU unleashed! LOL Many thanks Leah. – I think!

    • November 25, 2011 9:01 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. I can’t wait to check out the cake pop post!

  23. December 15, 2011 11:13 am

    Amazing Leah. Time does fly by so quickly. It seems like those days we when didn’t think we were going to make it and wished would hurry and end are the ones we go back to time and time again. Great post!!

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