Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Day In the Life

This post could get rather long, so I am going to break it up into morning, afternoon, and evening. I figured this will give you an idea of what our days are like now that the number of kiddos outnumbers me.

MORNING

6:45 AM: I wake up to find that I "forgot" to return Emma to her bassinet after her 4:45 AM wake up when I popped her on the boob and fell asleep. She is now reminding me of her presence by rooting around for breakfast. I nurse her and half doze.

7:15 AM: Will wakes up. As M is in the shower, I put Emma in her bassinet and go get Will out of his crib. I change his diaper and we head back into my bedroom to snuggle and cuddle in "Mama Bed".

7:18 AM: Emma, insulted by the very thought that she would be left out of a snuggle and cuddle, is now crying from her bassinet. I retrieve her so we can all snuggle and cuddle together.

7:45 AM: After some singing, tickling, story-telling, and eventually, some rabble-rousing, it is time to head downstairs to have breakfast.

7:46 AM: I start the coffee pot, desperately wishing that it wasn't decaf coffee I was putting in the machine.

7:47 AM: Put Emma in the swing so I can make breakfast for Will with two hands.

7:49 AM: Get Emma from the swing and put in her in the Ergo so I can make breakfast with two hands and she won't cry the whole time.

7:55 AM: Sit on the couch and nurse Emma while Will eats breakfast. I usually nibble on food as I prepare his meal and take my coffee with me to the couch. Unfortunately, since I am paranoid about spilling the coffee on Emma's head, more often than not, my coffee gets cold long before I drink it.

7:56 AM: Balance Emma on my breast while I get Will a refill on his milk.

8:20 AM: Put Emma back in the Ergo so I can wipe down Will and get him dressed for the day.

8:35 AM: Get Emma dressed for the day while Will takes every. single. diaper out of her diaper holder and "rearranges" her toys and books.

8:45 AM: Lock the top of the stair gate, turn on the t.v. in our bedroom for Will, and put Emma in the travel swing in my bathroom, so I can get a shower. I don't wash my hair, just jump through the spray.

8:50 AM: Put on makeup. Press buttons on Emma's swing in vain attempts to stop her from fussing. Finally, turn the blowdryer on and set it on the counter. She is soothed by the noise and sucks her hand while I get dressed.

9:00 AM: Back downstairs to Will's playroom. I take a gulp of coffee on our way through the kitchen. It's cold, so I stick it in the microwave to warm it, but it will be cold by the time I remember that it's in there.

9:15 AM: Will has his first timeout of the day for hitting me when I try to help him with getting his cars out of their case.

9:20 AM: It's time to feed Emma again (two hours pass by so fast!) and let Will pick some books so we can read together while I nurse her.

9:45 AM: It's time to head out and do something fun for the day. Today is our Talk and Toddlers Group through our church so we head to her house to play.

10:04 AM: Arrive a few minutes late to T&T Group. Get the kids out of the car. The logistics of this means that it takes me ten minutes to get from our car to her front step.

10:15 AM: Sigh of relief. We are here. Will is happily playing with his friends and I am happily chatting with mine. Emma loves the particular bouncy chair that this mom has, so she is content to be on her own and even falls asleep. I am relaxed and have the use of both arms for awhile. I am about to take a sip of a hot cup of coffee when . . .

10:16 AM: Spoke too soon. First fight erupts over a toy car. Set "Mommy timer" so other boy can play with the car for two minutes and then Will can have a turn.

10:30 AM: Emma is still happy as a clam in the bouncer. Will comes over for a spontaneous hug and kiss.

10:40 AM: Snack time. Emma is sleeping in the bouncer. I have got to get me one of these (we have a bouncer, but not this particular one). I help Will with his snack.

10:55 AM: Emma is awake and she's hungry. Nurse her while Will finishes his snack.

11:15 AM: Hand Emma off to another one of the moms while I wipe down Will, the chair he was sitting in, and the floor underneath where he was sitting. She has a blowout while the mom is holding her, so I am about to change her diaper when. . .

11:16 AM: Intervene with another toy argument. This time, Will gets to take a turn first.

11:17 AM: Change Emma's diaper and outfit.

11:19 AM: Will announces he has to use the potty, but this usually means he has already gone. Yep. Change his diaper, too.

11:33 AM: Let Emma lay on a blanket on the floor and get some wiggles out. She is smiling this week. So precious. Will walks by and stops to hold her hand and say, "I love you, Emma." Awwww.

11:45 AM: Time to pack everyone back up to head home. I am starting to get the hang of the logistics of getting out the door. I let Will play and Emma hang out in the bouncer while I collect our things. I get Will's shoes and jacket on. Getting Emma in the carseat is the last thing I do, since she inevitably screams bloody murder once secured in the "baby prison."

11:59 AM: Will and I sing along to his favorite CD while we head home for the afternoon. Emma miraculously does not cry. I call that a successful morning!

To be continued. . .

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grammaitis

Will spent the weekend with his Gramma. It was nice for all of us. He got the undivided attention of his grandmother and Nana. Emma got the undivided attention of her Mommy and Daddy. It was nice to be able to just focus on her for a bit and know that he was in good hands.

However, I paid the price today. Will has a raging case of Grammaitis. This particular dreaded disease presents following a stay or visit by Gramma and is characterized by the following:

1) Overtired from lack of naps and late bedtimes.

2) Temporary amnesia when it comes to basic manners such as please and thank you.

3) Revival of waking up at night. Three times last night. Ugh.

4) Constipation from a different diet (this is probably the only actual medical part of Grammaitis).

5) General crabbiness, uncharacteristic whining, and a temper tantrum thrown in for good measure.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I am grateful that my mother-in-law is willing to take him and I know he had a good time and was well taken care of. But I will be glad when Grammaitis has run its course and we can return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Also, does anyone know how to get mildew stains (black) out of stroller fabric? I have tried detergent, scrubbing it with baking soda, and am currently letting it sit in the sun with a liberal dose of lemon juice. Any other ideas?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All Right, I'll Stay :)

Oh, you guys. I am blushing from all the nice things said to me on my post about what to do with this blog.

I honestly don't think I could step away from blogging 100%, no matter what. I am kind of addicted. It's like therapy for me. And it's free. Just being able to put everything out there and get a comment back that I am not totally insane or alone in this crazy adventure called life makes me feel better.

So, for the time being, I am staying here in this space, and will continue to blog about my little family and our corner of the world. I did reword my intro and title subset. Let me know if you think it needs any further tweaking. I thought about a title change, but couldn't really think of anything that I like better. If anybody has a brilliant thought, please let me know.

And every once in awhile, I will have a random infertility thought, like today's gem: Will I always think like an infertile? I mean, gah, two RLBs* later, done with building my own family, and I still react strangely to pregnancy announcements. What is up with that?!

*Real Live Babies

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where To Go From Here

So.
I feel like I am at a blogging crossroads. I want to keep blogging for selfish reasons. It has been and continues to be an outlet for me and I enjoy having a written record of my infertility/loss/parenting journey. I enjoy it as a means to keep up with all of my blogger friends. I like knowing my story stands out there as a beacon of hope for others. It doesn't happen as often as it used to, but I still get the occasional e-mail or comment from someone who has experienced recurrent pregnancy loss and finds my story inspirational and comforting at a time when they need it.

That being said, I also wonder if this is the right platform for me to keep talking about my life with the kiddos. I have my happy ending but do I need to keep flaunting it in the face of those that don't? And, unless things change dramatically, I will not be having any more children, so this blog has reached the end of any potential for TTC, pregnancy, birth, etc. From here on out, my story will be about parenting and my life as it continues to evolve.

As I see it, there are a few options.

1) Keep blogging here. People can keep following my story or not. I will keep blogging about my life and parenting two children after loss. Those that find my blog can read what information they find useful from it and ignore what they might not want to read and hopefully, the pictures of Will and Emma are not salt in their wounds.

2) Stop blogging here and start a new "mommy blog." This blog can then stand as it is and people who stumble across it can read about my happy ending without having to have their noses rubbed in it. They can get their dose of hope and move along.

3) Update here occasionally and let go of the blog "thing" for the most part. I love blogging, but it does take up a lot of time. Perhaps if I got out of the habit, I wouldn't feel the need to blog so much. I could keep up with my blogger friends and follow the stories of those still actively TTC or adopting, but my story? It's been told.

What do you think? And in any case, what do you want to know about/hear about in my life? Any burning questions that I haven't answered in my three plus years of blogging? I have always been an open book, but there might still be something I haven't blathered on about.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Too Busy To Be Tired

When I was 37 weeks pregnant with Will, I was at a girlfriend's house. She had just had her second little girl and her mother was over to help with the new baby. While she was pumping in the other room, her mom and I started talking about my fears about having a second. I told her I was worried about how tired I'd be, managing a newborn and a toddler.

She looked at me and said, very nicely but very firmly, "Honey, you're going to be too busy to be tired."

And she's right. She is exactly right.

When I wake up in the morning, I am exhausted. If I had any one to take care of the babies, I would gladly sleep for a day. But I am needed. Staying in bed is not an option. So, I drag my weary self from bed and. . . that's the last time I feel tired.

Seriously. It's weird. But the day just gets going and keeps going. I am so busy I don't have time to "Woe is me, I had no sleep last night." Since I am not thinking about it, I don't feel the fatigue. I am nonstop all day. Even when Will naps, Emma usually doesn't. Yesterday, she did take a 45 minute nap in her crib (her first! yay!) but there was laundry to do and a meal to start preparing.

Each morning, I think, "How will I make it until naptime?"

Then naptime arrives and I am no longer tired and my head is filled with things that need to be done. Now, I sleep great at night, so this is not the inability to sleep that I had after Will. This is just a case of there being a lot to get done and only so many hours in the day to do it.

When Will was a newborn, I did nothing but sit and focus on him. This was wonderful, but it lead to sleepless hours on the couch and lots of daytime t.v. Now, I am getting out and about, moving and grooving with the kids.

And I am too busy to be tired.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Shadow Knows

Will is afraid of the dark.

Well, not the dark, per se.

Rather, the shadows created in his room at night, by a variety of things (light on his air filter, light on the a/c unit, light from the hallway under his door). A nightlight doesn't work, since he is afraid of shadows.

And a nightlight creates shadows. So, this created a bit of a problem.

Thank goodness, we found the Twilight Sea Turtle. Just to make it clear, I have not been paid for this blog entry. I have NEVER been paid for anything that I have written on this blog. I'd love to get paid for blogging since I do it constantly :), but I NEVER have been. I've never even gotten a freebie (what am I doing wrong? - LOL!). So, this is a completely unbiased review for a product that has literally changed our life. I am telling you about it for that reason!

Will loves this turtle. It is a plush turtle body with a plastic shell, so it can safely sit in his crib with him. It is easy for him to turn off or on or to change the colors by simply pressing a button. It is on a 45 minute timer, so it stays on way long enough for him to fall asleep, but not so long that it runs down the batteries. It makes a neat pattern on the ceiling, providing light but. . . (and, people, this is key) NO SHADOWS.

It is cheapest to buy it through Amazon, but worth every penny if you suddenly find yourself with a dark or shadow paranoid toddler and have to pay retail (it takes about a week to get it through Amazon). For those of you who have read this blog for awhile, you know that I hate paying full price for anything. Friends, I would pay for this full price twice if I had to. Three times, even. That is how life-changing our friend the sea turtle has been.

You're welcome.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tricks of the Trade

I am just a bit over a month into parenting two and here are my survival tips so far. I know I scoured the internet looking for advice prior to Emma's birth and besides generalities like "You'll survive" and "It will work out," there are not a lot of "Do this to make your life easier" pieces of advice. That is probably because each mom needs to find her way and each kiddo and situation is obviously very different.

That being said, I was also blessed to have some friends that were willing to share some of their tricks with me and I have found myself using most of them or at least giving them a try. So, I thought I would put out what is working for me so far since I know many of my readers are expecting or already have a second.

1) Shower in the evening.

I take a shower at night, after Will is in bed and M can listen for Emma or sit with her if she hasn't gone down for the night yet. I can take as long as I want and really luxuriate in the hot water and take my time blow drying my hair. It also makes for an easier morning. I still do hop in for a quick soap in the morning, but I don't have to worry about my hair. Eventually, when Emma has settled into a more predictable schedule I might change to getting up early and showering in the morning, but this actually works well for now.

2) Baby wearing.

I will work on getting Emma into a more predictable daytime sleep schedule in a few weeks, but for now, she is happiest being worn and I am very content wearing her. She sleeps when she wants and really seems quite content until she gets hungry.

I happen to love, love, love my Ergo, and for those of you that don't already have a carrier or sling of choice, I highly recommend it. It is recommended for babies 15 pounds/4 months of age or over unless you add the infant insert. I happened to get lucky and got my insert off of craigslist months ago (even in the matching color to my craigslist Ergo), but I think you could swaddle the baby and get much the same effect. What I love about the Ergo is that it distributes the weight of the baby along the hips, rather than putting it all on your back and shoulders. It's also a breeze to put on yourself in the front wearing position (back wearing is a bit more difficult but can still be done). I like the zippered pockets and keep my wallet, cell phone, and an extra binky in there. When I clicked over to provide the links, I see they have a new model out. . . drool. . . but honestly, I love my original and can't imagine there would be much that could improve it. I have thought about getting the backpack, but really I would just stuff it more things. The smaller space forces me to travel light(er).

3) Freezer meals and shortcut steps in meal preparation.

I was fortunate to have family and friends bring us several meals in the first few weeks, but that honeymoon phase is over and we're on our own now. I actually have been making most of our meals since M returned to work. Most nights, it's okay and I am back to what I would call regular meal preparation. However, I also planned ahead and made meals to put in the freezer and when I am having a day when things aren't going well, it is wonderful to just pull something out and stick it in the oven.

If making an entire meal ahead of time sounds too intimidating, then I also did some short cut tricks to make meal prep even easier. I brown my ground meats ahead of time and then freeze them in baggies so that it's ready to make casseroles, soups, and sauces. I make rice ahead of time, add a TBS of olive oil to it after it's cooked, then freeze it in baggies. The oil helps the rice be moist when you reheat it in the microwave. I buy big bags of chicken breasts already skinned and boned. I try to wash and cut fruits and veggies when we get home from the store, so not only are they ready for a quick snack I can grab for Will quickly, but they are also ready to put on the table as an easy side or appetizer.

4) Diaper stations.

We have a two story home and rather than have to run upstairs and down for diaper changes, I have created a diaper changing station downstairs with diapers for both kids, wipes, diaper ointment, and a spare onesie and socks for Emma. Following this same thought pattern, I also keep extra blankets and a nursing pillow downstairs and upstairs. I also keep Will's shoes in a basket by the door and his comb in the downstairs bathroom (all of this stuff used to be upstairs in his bathroom and bedroom). I am finding myself moving a lot of convenience things downstairs so I don't have to keep making trips back and forth.

So. . . what are your tips and tricks of parenting (one, two, or however many you have)? And if you are not yet a parent, what methods are you thinking about trying or have seen friends use with success?

I was asked if Emma wakes Will up and, so far, she hasn't. She is still sleeping in our bedroom, which is down the hall a bit from his room (but not much - we can clearly hear him from our room). I am also concerned about this when we do sleep training. But most of my friends report that the siblings sleep right through it, or at least train themselves to after awhile. I'll report back when we start working on that!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sleep Deprivation: Day Three

It was not a one-off.

Overnight, Emma has turned into a Will-clone as far as her sleep goes. That isn't necessarily a bad thing in the long run. Will turned into a great sleeper (sleep regressions, teething, and the occasional rough night excluded) at 11 weeks. I can usually count on him to sleep through the night and also take a nice, long nap.

But man. Eleven weeks? That is six. weeks. from. now. That's forever from now.

Okay, I know it's not forever. Will turned two years old yesterday. Two years, people. And it went by in the blink of an eye. So six weeks will fly by as well, right? The only teensy tiny detail is that time seems to slow down when you have gotten 8 minutes of sleep the night before (okay, I might exaggerate, it was more like 12 minutes).

Last night she was actually a bit better, but Will peppered in a rare night of multiple wakeups, so I was up every hour to hour and a half. Today was a busy day with Will's kid party and then my inlaws over for dinner to celebrate, so no rest for the weary.

And now it is night time again. . . hopefully, we'll all get more rest tonight.

It is what it is asked a very good question. She asked if it's easier this time around to deal with the sleep deprivation just knowing what to expect from the sleep deprivation itself. The very simple answer is yes, I am finding it easier, because there is a light at the end of a very distant tunnel. Also, I paced myself a bit more this time and really took advantages of the "sleep when the baby sleeps" rule, which I did not do with Will. I was not as worn down, physically or mentally, when this latest sleeping pattern started. However, it is just as hard to get up multiple times a night and it is just as hard to drag myself out of bed in the morning. But I know it is temporary. I know we will sleep again. I know that I have handled it before, will handle it this time, can handle it. I know that it's just a matter of time and possibly some sleep training, but again, I can handle it. So, yes, it is easier.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Two Years

Dearest Will,
Two years ago today, our lives changed forever. I recently heard someone describe it as a freight train coming when a new baby is born and that certainly describes it. Nothing is ever going to be the same. And that's a good thing.

You have made my life such a joyful thing. You have made us prioritize and remember what is important in life. You took me out of the rat race and made me slow down to be on your pace. I am so very thankful for you every single day. I once wondered if I would ever be a mother and the wait to be one was so painful. I am glad those days are behind me, but I would live them over again if I had to, just for the chance to spend the rest of my life being your mom.


You are an amazing Little Man. I always get compliments on your smile, your cheerful disposition, and your verbal prowess. You keep us all laughing with some of the things that come out of your mouth. You are tenacious, strong, independent, and resilient. You are have the biggest heart, are good to your friends, and are always quick with an "I love you" and a hug.
You have accomplished so much this year. You have learned to walk, sing, talk in complete sentences, share your toys with friends, eat with a fork and spoon, and so much more. What I am most proud of you for is the way you have handled becoming a big brother. You are wonderful to your sister and always eager to hug and love her.

I can't wait for the coming year and to see how much more you will grow and change. Through it all, I hope you know how much your daddy, sister, and I love you and how proud we are to be your family.

Love always,
Mommy

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It Has Begun

Week four is when it all started to come apart with Will's sleeping.

Last night it all fell apart with Emma's sleeping. I am hoping it was a one-off and that she'll be back to dreamland tonight.

But I am buckling up, dear readers, for what might be a bumpy road ahead.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm A Good Mother - And So Are You!

Parenthood is wonderful, but unfortunately, I have found it to be extremely divisive and competitive. It seems as if every decision that one makes is questioned in some form. Stay at home or work outside of the home? Breastfeed or bottle or combination? Co-sleep or crib-sleep? Cry it out or not? TV or no TV? No matter what choice you make it seems there are articles, studies, and a host of outspoken friends, relatives, and strangers on the street ready to make you second-guess yourself. Parenting is tough enough without the Peanut Gallery weighing in.

That is why I love everything about this article. Please click over and give it a read. I honestly want to print this, laminate it, and carry it around so that the next time I am judged (or perhaps even need a gentle reminder not to be one of those judges myself) I can say, "I'm a good mom and it's not because I do or don't do XYZ." I also want to share it with moms that I care about (like you!) as inspiration for those days when you aren't sure what the right choices are because, as it turns out, the "right" or "wrong" choices aren't what defines you as a "good" mom.

No Use Crying Over Spilled Wine

Ah, parenthood. It's a rollercoaster ride.

I can't speak for having more than two children, but whether you have one or two, there are good days and bad days, good and bad moments, and things can change very quickly. The only
difference I have noticed with having more than one is that when it gets bad, it seems to get bad just a bit faster, because it's harder to control the situation when you are outnumbered.

Yesterday started out great. We went to a friend's house and played in their pool. It's not an inground pool but it is much bigger than the little wading pool that we have for Will and it has a slide. I didn't even think Will would get in it to be honest but I was proven very wrong. Not only did he get in, he also enjoyed the slide and that's what he and his little friend did for about an hour. He was exhausted by the time we headed home and he took a great nap.

I tried to lay down myself because I have been feeling sore lately. I am not sure why I am sore now, when I haven't been for weeks, but I definitely have been, so I am trying to take it easy. Emma didn't think taking a nap was a good idea, however, so I ended up not getting a nap and folding laundry with her in the Ergo.

But things were still okay. . . and then. . .

My mistake was probably that I decided to do too much all at once. We were out of milk, not a drop left, and Will is a milkaholic, so that just doesn't work in this house! We needed a few other things as well, so I packed the kids into the car and we headed to the store once Will was up for his nap. The shopping trip itself went okay as I used the Ergo for Emma and found a car cart for Will to "drive." I didn't have that much to get, so we weren't there long and Will was kept busy by a free cookie from the bakery.

It was in the check out line that things got a little dicey. Will wanted out of the cart and tried to undo his own belt, which of course, he couldn't do and got frustrated. Emma also woke up, which she never does in the carrier, and she was upset. So I had two screaming kiddos by the time we left the store. Things took a turn for the worse when I tried to get Will out of the cart when we got to the car and the clasp was jammed. It was almost 90 degrees out, so we were all hot and sweaty, Emma was still screaming, and now Will was, too. A nice guy stopped and tried to help me with the clasp, but he couldn't get it either. He pulled out his pocket knife and took care of the situation, but I was a bit unnerved by a complete stranger working so closely to Will's tummy with a sharp knife (I had no reason to be, he was a completely nice guy, but . . .).

I loaded the groceries into the back of the car, put my screaming kids into the car, and we were on our way. Will stopped crying once he was back in his carseat, but Emma screamed, purple with rage, the whole way home (which, fortunately, is only about five minutes). I have never seen her scream like this so I was a little alarmed. We got home and I got us all in the house and tried to feed Emma, but she was so worked up, she wouldn't eat, just screamed and screamed. Will was playing contentedly in his playroom and my groceries included perishables, so I put Emma back in the carrier and went back out to the car to unload the groceries.

As I opened the hatch, one of the bags tumbled out. Unfortunately, it happened to contain the bottle of wine I had purchased for a dinner party on Sunday, which of course, smashed all over the driveway. Emma was still screaming and I heard Will yelling for me from inside the house, so I grabbed the milk and slammed the door shut. . . catching my finger in the door jam. It was only the tip, but it was just one more turd on the pile at that point.

I went back in the house, got Will the water he was asking for, and tried to feed Emma again. This time, she latched on and I settled back with a shaky sigh.

At this point, all of this just built up to some more tears. . . mine. When M came home a few minutes later, I was sitting on the couch crying, nursing Emma, while Will played quietly with his trains. Of course, he had also noticed the wine spilled on the driveway. He asked what was wrong and I told him that everything was fine, I was just overwhelmed.

He took Will outside with him to get the rest of the groceries. The rest of the evening went fine, although I have noticed that Emma is definitely a bit fussier at night this week and hasn't slept as well these past two nights. This is the week that things started getting a bit tougher with Will, and 4 - 6 weeks is the time that colic shows up for most babies, so I am a bit nervous. But I also know that this is a hard couple of weeks for any baby, so I am hoping with all of my heart that Emma doesn't get colicky. But if she does, we'll get through it.

I just might need to buy more wine!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One Month Old Already

Darling Emma-Girl,

I thought time went quickly when your brother was a newborn, but this is just ridiculous. How is it even possible that you are one month old today?

You are such a joy to our family, my precious girl. Your big brother has started calling you "My Emma," especially when another overzealous toddler tries to touch you. He is very good about giving you cuddles and loves, and even though we have to remind him to be gentle, he is mostly very good. When we are packing up to go someplace and you are crying in your carseat, he will go over and "rock rock" you as he has seen Daddy and me do. Possibly the greatest joy that I have is seeing how much he loves you and knowing how much you will soon love him in return. I know you will not always get along, but I do believe you will always be there for each other.


You are a wonderful sleeper. You usually are up only once or twice a night. Granted, you hang out with Daddy and me until bedtime, so you are a bit of a night owl, but I know your bedtime will come earlier and I will miss hanging out with my girl at night. The last two nights, you have gone to bed with us at 10, woken once between 2 and 3, and then slept until morning. I have very much appreciated this schedule and hope it continues! But I don't mind getting up with you at night, because you are usually all business, eager to eat, get your diaper changed, and get back to bed.

You are still wearing newborn diapers, but you are gaining weight quickly. You are still fitting mostly newborn sizes, but a few are getting too snug. You don't like to be swaddled with your hands in or wear those pesky newborn gloves, so you sport a few scratches on your face. You have a tiny bit of cradle cap in your hairline and some baby acne. Despite all of this, you are such a pretty baby and I get compliments on your sweet face all of the time.

You love to eat, though you aren't quite as voracious as your brother was. You also don't linger at my breast like he did. You are all business. You are hungriest at night right before bed, but I think you are "tanking up" to give me those luxurious stretches of sleep, so I don't mind.

You are more alert these days, staying awake for longer periods of time, making eye contact, and your grandmother swears up and down that you smiled for her last Friday.

We love you so much, precious girl, and can't wait for the many milestones ahead. I am so blessed to be your mother and we are so blessed to be your family.

Love always,
Mommy

Friday, August 13, 2010

Post Partum Depression - Reflections at One Month

When I used to think of post partum depression, the image that would come to mind was a new mother crying in bed, unable to get out of her pajamas, and thinking of hurting the baby. I think this is what most people think of when they think of the face of post partum depression.

So after Will was born, when I stopped being able to sleep, obsessively folded laundry, and couldn't leave Will with anyone (not even his father) for more than just a few minutes, I didn't think I had post postum depression. I wasn't crying, I wasn't unable to get dressed, I just didn't want to leave my baby. Even taking a shower, I would start to feel guilty that I wasn't with him and anxious that he would start crying and that the person caring for him wouldn't know the "right" way to calm him. He would look at me with his helpless newborn eyes, and I would feel a tightness in my chest and not be able to breathe normally, so overcome with anxiety at properly caring for this tiny human. The anxiety wasn't so bad in the morning but as the day would go on and I would face the evening, it would mushroom until it threatened to choke me.

I did cry at night, but they were anxious tears, not sad ones. I would beg tiny Will to please sleep longer than an hour or two at a time and wonder what kind of mother couldn't get her baby to sleep.

At the time, I knew something didn't feel right, but I also thought perhaps all new moms felt like this. I also chalked my anxiety up to just wanting to do everything "right," and to truly deserve the miracle we had been blessed with.

Over time, as Will slept better and I started meeting new friends, the anxiety lessened. I never went on any medications, but I think it would have been better if I had, just for those few months.

One of my fears going into having Emma was that I would experience these feelings again. Now, post partum issues can appear anytime up to a year after giving birth, so I am not "in the clear," BUT I have to tell you, I feel completely NORMAL this time. And while this is wonderful, it makes me realize how bad off I was when I had Will.

I am still keeping an eye on myself, as are my close family and friends, but I really feel so different, so "okay," this time. Now, this is not to say that I don't have moments where I want to cry, times that I feel overwhelmed, and moments of anxiety. That would probably be equally abnormal. But when the hard times come, they are transient. I never feel the dark sense of doom or crushing anxiety. And I feel so happy sometimes, too. Not that I didn't feel joy at having my sweet baby boy, but it was overwhelmed by the anxiety and I couldn't really feel it.

The reason that I keep hammering away at this issue is because it wasn't fun to go through what I did and I think a lot of women do. And I think a lot of us don't even know we are suffering and what "normal" is. There are many faces of post partum depression, and I am one of them. If just one woman reading this thinks, "Hey, I think that's me" and talks to their doctor and gets some help, then my experience will have some sort of purpose.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Triage and Insanity

I call my current method of parenting Triage. Whichever kid needs me most at the time is the one that gets attended to. And when both need me equally, I try to take turns. It's a quick assessment that is made on a case-by-case basis.

For example, if Will is in his crib, screaming and fighting his nap and Emma is crying because she is hungry, Will has to wait. If Emma is crying because she has a dirty diaper but Will just fell and bonked his head and needs me to kiss it better, Emma has to wait. If we took a walk and I need to get them both out of the stroller, I take turns on who I get out first.

I try my hardest to include both of them on whatever we do. If I am nursing Emma, I read books to "both" of them. If I am needing to bounce Emma, I turn on music so we can all "dance."

I know none of this is rocket science. It's what parents of multiple children have been doing for years, but it's just finding a new balance and what works for me.

Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, chaos ensues. The other night, I was feeling pretty confident. Dinner was on the table, both kids had clean diapers, the animals were fed, I had even ran the vac before M got home. Life was good. But then he entered the door and it was as if all heck broke loose. The dogs started barking at a passerby, Emma started wailing, M tried to take her, she projectile vomited all over him and the chair he was sitting in, and then Will had the nastiest diaper of all time, and it leaked all over the couch. Gross. So, I was running all over with the cleaning solution, trying to calm crying babies, quiet barking dogs, and find a way to change Will without making a worse mess. It was insanity.

M and I just looked at each other. It was one of those laugh or cry moments and, to be honest, I laughed with tears in my eyes. Like any other moment, good and bad, it passed. We survived. And now when I think about it, I just laugh. No tears.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where's My Cape?

Allow me to brag for a couple of minutes. . .

I hosted a playdate today. For a total of four moms and eight kids.

I made lunch for the moms and the kids. I had sliced veggies and hummus. I had three types of beverages. I had cupcakes in honor of one of the mom's birthdays (okay, I bought the cupcakes, but still!). I had grapes and nectarines for the kids.

Now, granted, I had the house cleaned yesterday, so I didn't have to do a lot of prep that way. But I still had to get myself and two children cleaned, dressed, and fed by 10 AM and make lunch. I served a deep dish "pizza" and a tossed salad so I could have it prepared before my guests arrived and not be stuck in the kitchen while they were here. The "pizza" was a hit and it's easy to customize if you know your friends don't like a particular veggie. I added more veggies than the recipe calls for (olives, mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes) and used ground turkey instead of the beef/sausage combo. Everyone asked for the recipe and had seconds, which is usually a good sign. I served chicken nuggest and veggies for the kids so everyone was happy.

The playdate was so mch fun! It was good to be around other moms (three of us all had babies within three weeks) and compare notes. It was nice to see Will sharing his toys so well and having fun with his friends. The house was a mess when they all left - proof of fun had by all.

There are moments when this mom-to-two thing kicks me to the curb (I will write that post tomorrow). Then, there are moments when I feel like a Mommy Super Hero. Today, I feel like the latter.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

She Likes It, Likes It Not

Emma likes. . .

the Ergo.

nursing every two hours.

blowing out a diaper. Man, this little girl can poop! Loud and proud.

to be bounced. . . bounced. . . and bounced some more. My exercise ball is finally getting a workout!

Emma doesn't like. . .

car rides.

the swing for more than a few minutes.

napping on her own (like brother, like sister).

going to bed before 11 (also very reminiscent of early days with Will).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Salt In the Wound

My sister and her husband were in town this weekend for a Mariner's game and stopped by to meet Emma and bring Will his birthday gift.

It was good to see them and I passed along two huge tubs of maternity clothes and all of my pregnancy books. She talked more about how she cried when she found out about the pregnancy (and not tears of joy, she was sure to add) and how she was about to tell her husband that she wanted to go back on the Pill and that she wasn't ready for "this." She also made a crack about her husband pushing her down the stairs so she would miscarry.

Yeah.

I managed to bite my tongue. She is clearly afraid of labor and delivery and the raising of a baby, so I am trying to chalk it up to that. She started crying when I mentioned that she would need a catheter if she had an epidural. I didn't tell her that the catheter will be the least of her worries. I just told her that they put the catheter in after they do the epidural and that she won't even feel it. She still cried.

I was proud of myself for staying even keeled, especially after the "push down the stairs" comment.

It's gonna be a long eight months.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How Do You Feel About That?

My sister has been saying since she was about sixteen that she does not want any children. She met and married a man who felt the same way. They have remained steadfast in the fact that kids were not in the future for them. And this wasn't in response to people pestering and badgering them about having kids, because to my knowledge, no one was doing that. No, this was their very vocal and consistent message. My sister's husband has made some comments to me about "wasting" my life being a SAHM and my sister has also said that she is "too selfish" to be a good mom. They have a dog that they dote on and said that was all the responsibility or "kid" they'd ever need.

When we last talked about it (this past February), she had just had an IUD put in to give them five years to make absolute certain that they didn't want kids and then her husband was going to have a vasectomy. She shared this information with anyone and everyone. They were proud of their decision to live kid-free.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out where this one is going. My sister is 7 weeks pregnant, due in March. We hadn't spoken since early May and she called me a few days ago. She didn't ask about Emma or Will, just launched into her Big Announcement and then asked to borrow my maternity clothes and pregnancy books. Apparently, the decided that they did want to have kids and got the IUD removed in May and got pregnant their first month trying in June.

I have such mixed feeling about this. I am obviously happy for them since this is a wanted pregnancy. They are married, have a home, both have steady jobs, and really have an ideal situation to bring a baby into this world. Being honest, however, there is just an element of "It's not fair!" about the whole thing.

During our infertility journey, I met so many women who desperately want to be mommies for years and years. They endure so much to get there and some of them still are waiting. There are some that will never have a baby of their own, despite all of their efforts. Here is my sister and brother-in-law, who never "wanted" kids and all of a sudden, they want a baby and BAM! Pregnant. Do I wish infertility on my sister? Absolutely not. I pray for the health of this baby she is carrying every single day. I'm not really sure what I wish.

That's not true, actually. I know exactly what I wish. I wish my sister and I were closer. I wish that I could depend on our relationship. She runs very hot and cold and just when I feel that we're in a good place, she yanks the rug out from under me. She has a terrible relationship with my mom, to the point that she got married and none of our family was there. I have learned to take what I can get from my sister. When she wants a relationship, I am eager to spend time with her, but I also have learned to hold myself just a bit at arm's length and not get emotionally involved. It hurts too much when she runs cold again.

I don't want to do that with this baby. I don't want to have to hold my heart back and I won't. I didn't really think I would get to be an aunt, at least not for awhile and I am so excited to have the opportunity. I am thrilled our kids will be close in age. And perhaps being a mom will soften my sister and bring us closer. Yes, that is what I wish. With all of my heart.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Too Tired To Think Of A Good Title

Everything is trucking along for us. We had another fun day, though it was a little less active. I was a tad sore after all of the activity yesterday and I know that I really need to pace myself a bit more. It's easy to forget that I am not even 3 weeks out from surgery because I generally feel really good, but the reality is that I probably should slow down. I am doing everything that I was before the surgery and even more, since I was so tired in those final weeks of pregnancy.

The only small fly in the ointment is that Will has started having disrupted sleep again. We are working the kinks of out bedtime and consistently getting him down at a more reasonable hour. . . but I am now wishing we would have left well enough alone. Sure, it was hard for him to be up until 9:30 or 10:00, but he was sleeping straight through the night and not getting up until 8 or later. The past couple of nights, he has been rousing every hour to two hours. He doesn't need much from us, but he seems to at least need a reassuring pat before drifting back off. He seems frightened and talks about firecrackers and shadows, two things that he seems to be afraid of. I have a hard time making him "cry it out" when he is clearly scared.

Emma is also waking up a minimum of two times per night to eat. The combination has me feeling really tired. The fuzzy feeling that I had this morning is what I remember of the first few months of Will's life. The key difference this time is that I know one elemental truth of parenting: This, too, will pass. I will sleep again. . . in eighteen years!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day Two: Busy Fun

I have a motto right now: I will not be afraid.

Today, it served me well. We started with a trip to the toddler gym near our house. I was not afraid. Will did great! Emma did great! I put her in the Ergo and even nursed her while he played. It was fine.

We went for a walk with a good friend. I was not afraid. Again, I packed the Ergo. Going into two kids, I highly recommend some sort of baby carrier that you feel comfortable with. It makes a world of difference. But it turns out that we didn't need the Ergo. Emma slept like a dream during the walk.

We ended the day with a trip to the local park that has a Splash Pad. I was not afraid. Once again, the Ergo was my friend. But I also went with a friend, her daughter, new baby, and husband. He was key in helping me manage Will while I nursed Emma. When all else fails, call in the reinforcements.

M brought take out Japanese food home which is one of Will's very favorites. They snuggled on the couch and watched a little t.v. afterwards while I nursed Emma and now we are all looking forward to bedtime.

Day two wasn't perfect, but it felt comfortable. I am not getting overconfident. I know that life will throw me some curve balls soon. But so far, I am thankful for what have been good days. I am not afraid (okay, maybe still a little afraid, but trying to get over it).

Monday, August 2, 2010

Knocking On Wood

Today went surprisingly well. As Jen said, any day that ended in us all alive would be a successful one. You could say I didn't have the highest expectations going into it and perhaps that helped me to be realistic about what the day would bring.

The morning was pretty smooth. Emma woke first and nursed and I jumped in the shower before M left for work. Will got up and we headed downstairs for breakfast. I got dressed and changed Emma while he ate and then I got him ready. And we were out the door and ten minutes early to our mom's group!

Will did have a meltdown on our return home. I think he got used to M being around and perhaps thought he'd be here when we got home. He was disappointed and a little tired from his morning of play and it resulted in a pretty serious tantrum. Of course, Emma was also hungry at that precise moment so I had to do a little Mommy Triage. I went with the kid that needed me most (Emma) since the other one (Will) was basically being a little turkey. I tried to comfort him and when that didn't work, I changed his diaper and put him in his crib (it was naptime). I nursed Emma on one side and then put her down to go deal with him. By that time, he had tired himself out and a quick "rock rock" later and he went down easily for his nap. I then returned to Emma and nursed her on the other side.

We had a pleasant afternoon. Emma napped for most of it and my girlfriend came over with her little boy and Will got more playtime. I then felt up to making a regular dinner. . . no heated leftovers or something from the freezer. As much as I appreciated all of the people who brought us meals, it was exciting to get back in the kitchen and prepare a meal for my family. I made M's favorite and I think he was pretty surprised to come home and find dinner well on its way to being done, the bed made, and the kids alive!

Of course, Emma woke up just as I served dinner, and was ready for her dinner so my timing was a bit off there. But I didn't mind, I just sat on the couch (which is near the dining table) so we all could still talk while she ate. When she was done, M held her so I could eat.

So, we still have bedtime to get through (which has been a bit of a challenge lately), but I would call today a success. Everyone is still alive. Now. . . onto tomorrow!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Back to "Normal" Life

I feel so fortunate to have had M at home for two weeks. The best part is watching him and Will develop their relationship. They watered plants together, flew a kite, played at the park, went to the grocery store, and just had a lot of fun together. He also got lots of time to cuddle with Emma. And having the extra pair of hands around certainly was a great bonus.

I am nervous that tomorrow will be my first day with the two of them alone. Life with a newborn is unpredictable and so I never know what the day will bring. But I feel it's kind of like a bandaid. . . I just gotta rip it off and get started with my new life.

In typical Katie-fashion, I have scheduled the day so that I at least know Will is going to be entertained. We have our regular Mom's group in the morning and my girlfriend is coming over with her little boy in the afternoon after naptime to play. Of course, this does mean that I have to actually get two kids ready and out the door tomorrow morning by myself, but I have showered tonight, set out clothes for all of us, and the diaper bag is packed.

I'm a mix of excited and nervous. I feel as if I have been waiting for this for awhile and the anticipation has been killing me. I know there are hard times ahead, but I am eager for the challenges and the many good times ahead, too.