Posts in Baby
A funny mother's day

Last year's Mother's Day was a little silly. In some ways, these holidays in which we  pause and share some extra love to a parent can be a little bit of a set-up. Maybe it is just me, but I imagine a day of laying in bed late (like 9AM-10AM late) followed by everyone getting along, no messes, no fuss, and lots of indulgences. And while much of this could in theory happen you cannot take the Mother out of Mother's day. And there is the set-up. I love my kiddos and husband with every ounce of my being but no day will ever go by without a little fiasco on the spectrum of silly, family drama. When you have a 2 year old and a 3 year old, it is inevitable and the more you can embrace it, the more likely you will laugh when it unravels. Ironically, this year's Mother's Day came pretty close to perfection and awesome-sauce. David made my favorite Dutch pancakes with homemade whipped cream, we enjoyed a stroll through Cambridge to a little coffee shop for a latte, ate too much for second breakfast including chicken and waffles at Tupelo, and then headed home for nap time for the boys and pottery for me. Tantrums were at a minimum and family time was a delightful maximum. But last year's Mother's Day was definitely more "eventful." Brunch is my favorite. Breakfast at an in-between hour full of delicious decadences like ricotta cream pancakes and honey lattes and I am ready to go! Last year, Henry was two and Owen just turned one. I thought I was in the "sweet spot" of motherhood. No more breast-feeding and two independent kiddos to dine out with. Today, I can look back and say that was a good time but this current situation is even sweeter. But anyway, back to last year:

Owen was a gaggy kiddo. Seriously, every single meal Owen would eat some random thing and begin to epically choke. He would purse his lips out, make a growl, and look as though a second more he would pass out. Typically, I would panic, grab him, flip him upside down, and bang on his back. There was a 50% chance that he would dislodge the the item (be it a morsel of chicken or a crumb of bread or a spoon of applesauce) and continue enjoying his dinner as though nothing had just occurred. The other 50% of the time he would vomit his dinner up and then continue to enjoy his dinner as though nothing had occurred. Either situation left me sweating and exhausted from the roller coaster of panic to disgust to confusion over what I should clean first. We never made it through a single meal for months on end without this kid having a good ole choke.

So why did we think brunch on Mother's Day would be any different? Well, I held out hope that the stars would align and Mother's Day would be special and therefore if he only ate truly soft items or stuck to purely liquid foods we would make it through brunch at the cottage in Wellesley without an issue. We sat at the table amidst a crowded dining area filled with loads and loads of moms and children of all ages. We ordered and chatted and mostly maintained a state of calm with the kids and a handful of little table toys. Owen was to eat some scrambled eggs and I was ready to sip my latte and have some crab cake Benedict. The meal went on like this for maybe 30 or 40 minutes and I remember sighing and thinking: Wow, this is amazing.

And then it happened. Owen's breath caught in his throat, he was choking on barely a finger-nail sized piece of mushy scrambled egg! HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?!?!? I tried not to panic. This was routine and like a well-practiced, first-responder I hoisted him out of his chair, tipped his head toward the floor and administered a solid thud thud to his back. The egg flopped out and placing him back in his seat, it seemed like the crisis was averted. Taking the napkin to the egg bit on the floor, I sat back up in my chair just in time for it. Owen's choke was the 50% in which he lost his breakfast contents. He spued the contents of his baby breakfast which somehow multiplied on the way out all over himself and the plate in front of him. I WAS THAT MOM!  How could I have come to a fancy-ish brunch with a sick kid? Except everyone at my table KNEW he wasn't sick, this was standard non-sick behavior. I did the only thing I could think of. I sacrificed every clothe napkin on the table to cover his spillage and then stripped him naked to his diaper. I took his clothes and asked David to throw them in the garbage in the bathroom. As though a Navy Seal on a covert Op, David snuck off to complete his assignment. No use saving that little shirt and pant if our dignity was also gone! The waiter came back to the table and you could see he was pausing. You could almost read his mind saying, "Something happened here." The baby was naked but everyone else was dressed in button-downs or sun-dresses, everyone was nervously laughing and in unison we asked for the check!

We walked out into the sunny parking lot like we had just sprung from jail and raced to the car as though anyone from the restaurant would follow us. Buckling the kids into the car, we turned on the ignition and looked at each other the only way parents do when you are simultaneously thinking: this is nuts, WTF, and I love this family.

Ears, nose, and throat

Owen had ear tubes put in last summer. We like to say that that was the moment when he went from our most difficult human encounter to an insanely sweet, cheerful fellow. But seriously, it was like night and day following that procedure. So many evenings had been dedicated to sleeplessness prior to his mini-surgery. Every 45 minutes, David or I would be in his room rocking him, pacing with him, shushing him, singing to him, bouncing him, and praying for a reprieve to the nightmare of sleep deprivation and for sunrise. Then after a fifteen minute visit to the OR, he popped out cured of his ear troubles and has been utterly delightful and our best sleeper since (even sometimes staying in bed on Sunday mornings until 7AM). It took until today though to really understand how miserable that poor baby must have been. Of course during his troubles my mommy heart broke for him and empathy washed over me like a tsunami but I had no gauge for the real level of his pain. Clearly it was real enough to keep him up all night for sure but I had no comparison to measure it to. Then this weekend hit! Out of no where, my ear fell to the same plight as Owen's. I suddenly could not hear, had shooting pains, and could not sleep. I felt sick from sleep deprivation and scared I was losing my hearing. Hightailing over to the ER, I worried through the examination and prayed it would be okay and that I would walk out suddenly cured. The doctor confirmed my eardrum as the culprit and referenced if I was child I would get tubes and I thought about Owen and how my poor baby stomached this discomfort for months and months and months before he was given relief. How strong that little human was and is!! My ER doctor prescribed me a strong antibiotic, patted me on the back and said it will get worse before it gets better, and handed me a script for Vicodin. If your drum ruptures you might need this he noted. Sitting in CVS waiting to fill my medicines with everything crossed that this acute pain subsides and my ear drum does not rupture so I can travel to China with no problem is two weeks, I just keep thinking of baby Owen and how much pain he endured and I am so glad that procedure helped him because he is just so stinking sweet and loving and giving and clearly very brave and strong!!

I understand why Britney Spears shaved her head

 

britney-spears-shave-f25e4a79-ba18-4744-8878-f4d854799f2a.jpg

britney-spears-540ad1bd-e0c4-4db5-a79b-a1887a5f6708.jpg

Remember on February 16, 2007 when Britney Spears shaved her head? The tabloids went wild!  Shocking photos emerged of the young singer walking into the salon, taking a trimmer to her own head, and looking wild-eyed as her hair fell to the floor. The world asked why? In the days and weeks that followed, Britney was accused of insanity and instability. Was this the public descent into madness that the news outlets believed? To be honest, at the time, I was finishing my last year of High School and completely confused by what would drive someone to so publicly "fall to pieces." But now.....I get it.

Back in 2005 Britney gave birth to her first son, then in 2006 her second. That means by February 16, 2007, the night in question, she was in that world of two under two! The fact that all she did was shave her head on that fateful night maybe should be commended. This morning while getting ready for work, I got to that "let me shave of head" place and it was dark, ugly, and wild.  The alarm went off at 5AM as it always does during the work week. David took his shower and I stayed in bed waiting in the darkness for my turn and savoring the last moments of quiet. As he stepped back into the bedroom, he saw that Buster had gotten sick on the floor and the descent began. Forty-five minutes remained in our morning before everyone needed to be dressed and in the car and now we were derailed by the dog. We scrambled to clean up the area and get the dogs outside and fed. Henry woke up next angry about who knows what and he stomped around the house displaying his sour mood. Not wanting to get out of his cozy pajamas, he chose to protest in a surprisingly new way: he angry peed on the floor! AH!!! Now we had cleaned-up the floor from the dogs and had to clean up the floor from Henry and still get the boys dressed and down stairs in 30 minutes. In the commotion that ensued, Owen woke up and, also angry about the morning, decided to throw an epic tantrum lunging himself into his dresser. With everyone crying and/or covered in yuck, things felt too overwhelming. By the grace of God, and David staying calm under pressure, we made it downstairs with ten minutes to spare. I slipped their sneakers on, David gave us kisses and hugs as he headed out the door, and after giving each kiddo a defrosted pancake to maybe bring up their blood sugar levels, we got into the car. I was amazed that we were on time still, but so sweaty from the morning. Owen asked for his milk after chowing down his pancake and all seemed to have reset. Until, Owen decided that he would for the first time ever unscrew this milk cap and dump the entire contents of his cup on his lap then scream about the discomfort of cold milk and soaking clothes all the way to daycare. It was in that moment that I thought about Britney Spears.

Shaving my head would be so immediate! It would take me out of this moment, it would DO something in a moment when things felt chaotic, unpredictable, and paralyzing. I could take my bald head into the cold Fall morning, grab my long umbrella and just have my appearance match the internal turmoil. Britney, I get you! You might have had some underlying postpartum depression and I hope overall you feel good now in your skin, but that moment when you shaved your head probably felt really liberating if you were feeling the chaos that is raising two small children. You set a new standard in "crazy" for 2007 but I totally get it albeit ten years later and similarly in the trench of mommy-hood. Much love to you Britney today and always.

Also, I still love my kids but dang was today crazy!

IMG_0254b

BabyMelissaComment
Family Photos
Last weekend, we dressed up the family in festive attire and met our dear friend Lyndsay of Lyndsay Hannah Photography at Mistletoe Farm in Stow to do a little family photo shoot. At the end of the shoot, I realized that Lyndsay has captured some of the most beautiful moments of our family since Henry joined our tight twosome three years ago. We never thought we would "invest" in photos but I am so glad we do!  First, it supports our friend Lyndsay who is not only a talented and inspiring artist but also is someone who can somehow get even the most difficult of toddlers to smile while she captures that instant and she is a kick-ass boss mama building her business, brand, and style with every shoot. And, to top it off, our home is filled with photos of our little boys growing up and frozen in playful snapshots of their childish spirit and quirky little personalities. No matter how much I want to convince myself that I will remember the details of these days with my babies, I know memory is a thief and that these photos will help bring me and David back to these moments over and over again. This weekend David is away visiting with his family in Florida and I am planning to design some photo books for the home and select some prints to blow up for a fun little project idea I have to decorate our bedroom. Despite living in our home for almost 10 months, we have not committed to hanging up enough decor to make the home feel more cozy and like "us." But regardless of this, I am so grateful to have these photos from Lyndsay. She has been there for birth, life, moving and has helped capture our past three busy busy years and helped us slow down, look around, and remember these are magical.

img_3654

Baby Products: If I had to do it again...

Currently there are 5  mammas growing babies that I know! Can you believe it! So many loved ones are expanding their families which is amazing and awesome and I am over the moon excited for them. One of the things I love most about all these babies-to-be, is when their moms reach out with bump updates, funny little texts about the ins-and-outs of their pregnancy, and questions about baby gear. Having had two little guys pretty close together, I am crazy about having the right gear. David and I have a pretty minimalist style about us (we barely have things hanging on our walls and never have items out all over the kitchen counters). So when it was time to upgrade our family to 3 and then 4 humans, I was freaking out about ALL THE CLUTTER!  For such a tiny, little thing a newborn needs a lot of stuff (or so it seems!). Did we make some purchasing mistakes in our three short years of parenting: Oh, Heck yes! Did we nail some gear decisions: Oh, Heck Yes! So I thought I would take a moment to just share what I would put on my registry today knowing what I know now (which isn't everything or anything really!) but what I have learned from my two boys. I stress the my because every family will have their own flavor but I spent a lot of money (even wasted a lot of money) on stuff frankly that we didn't use or didn't need. So if it is not on the list below, I personally feel you don't need it (of course you can want it!). And if some magical pregnancy fairy came down and told me, guess what you have baby 3 coming, I would branch no farther than this list of items. First on my list would be the Solly wrap. A cozy wrap that is still breathable for wrapping up the tiniest newborn for those first ventures out of doors or to hold your baby close while you try to do something around the house like fold laundry. I had one of the Moby wraps but it was such thick, hot material that this Italian girl sweat like a beast.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 2.25.11 PM.png

In the same family of baby-wearing, I would also get the ErgoBaby 360. Why? Why would I just not streamline my minimalist list and choose one wrap. It might seem silly but the Ergobaby is a much better product for baby once it is over 4ish months. It has better back support for you and you can wear it into a lake and then throw it in the wash which makes summering easier. Baby can sit in every position possible and I totted Owen around in it until he was almost 17 months old! The only reason I stopped wearing him was because he finally decided walking was the only appropriate means of transportation.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 2.25.24 PM.png

 

Then there are the staples: A carseat and a stroller.

I like the Chicco brand for carseats. I know other people love the more expensive lightweight carseats but the Chicco one was just fine for the boys, it comes apart fully and so easily so I could wash it all without messing around with it too much and it is always ranked as one of the highest for safety. For strollers, boy do I have opinions. My personal favorite stroller that we had was the UppaBaby Cruz. It was lightweight, adaptable, sleek and I just loved how it looked and felt. We travelled all the way to Amsterdam with it and it still looked brand new when we sold it. Why did we sell it? We had two babies pretty close and the Cruz does not adjust for multiple little ones. For this situation (or if you are planning to have two babies close), I recommend our second stroller the Baby Jogger City Select. The stadium seating was great for the older kiddo to look out and not be dragged underneath like some strollers, and the basket under the seats was HUGE. I could have carried David under there! The last stroller we will ever use is the MaClaren Umbrella Stroller (our current). It is lightweight, the boys sit side-by-side, you can wash the whole thing, and it is a good travel stroller with a nice under basket and the seats recline all the way in case someone decides to nap.

Other items I would register for:

A bassinet like the Halo, so that baby is close in your bed and you don't have to get up or go too far to get the little one to change or feed. I am interested in the Dock-A-Tot, though we have two dogs so I would not have felt safe with baby in the bed between us and with them about.  And I don't know what pediatricians say about the product as a bed (online the company seems to make a clear distinction between using it for monitored sleep (i.e. naps) vs. using it as a true bed), so if you are thinking about it, please ask talk to your pediatrician first! And then tell me what they say and what you think.

Then these swaddles by SwaddleMe, because every Momma I know has said, "My baby just didn't like the swaddle," while that very well might be true. Those buggers are strong whether they like to be swaddled or not, and we got great sleep from both our boys using this sucker. They would push against it but they pushed against me in the womb and after a few minutes of wiggling about and settling into the swaddle position of their choice they always passed out and slept deeply until feeding time! And I would probably get one packet of swaddles by Aden&Anais because they are so beautiful and soft and every baby needs something like that to be held in sometimes and we also used them as a sunshield on their carseats.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 2.38.01 PM.png

If you are planning to pump, I would snag a Medela Pump and Go Style along with some of the Medela Bottles and Dr. Brown Nipples sizes 0, 1 and 2 because depending on the force of your let down, your baby  might actually need/want a bigger size opening than a 0. And you can get a little bottle drying rack or just use one you have at home already.

We used the following items a lot for each boy and therefore I would want these on my registry again too: a swing, a pack n'play, and a baby mat. For a swing, we were very fortunate to have parents who bought us the 4moms Mamaroo. I liked it a lot because it did the job of swinging the baby back and forth, it did not take up much room at all, and it had so many variations to keep the baby from being bored of it and you could turn on a white noise machine to help baby ease into a noisy house. For a Pack n'Play, we travelled a lot when Henry was just born and we are still visiting family often. We continue to get every penny out of this travel pack n'play by Lotus and it is awesome because it is so lightweight and folds up into a backpack.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 2.46.03 PM

 

For a play mat, I would just pick out one you like that has a couple configurations to keep baby entertained while it lays on its back and looks up and swats at toys. I always like Baby Einstein for this kind of stuff.

A few more items left:

Boppy: You want some pillow if you plan to nurse. I liked the boppy because it was easy to put on by myself with a toddler and screaming baby, easy to clean, and the baby could use it as a prop for tummy time and when he was learning to sit.

Burp Cloths (like 15!): It doesn't matter what kind but don't go crazy and buy out the store but get 15 so you don't have to run the laundry all the time.

Bath insert:  It is important because you don't want a crusty baby, but don't overthink it. Something like the AngelCare Bath Support is perfect if you are placing baby in your tub.

Pacifier:  Don't buy out the store but definitely think about having one handy in case your little one likes to suckle. Henry was crazy for his and he just used the soothie from the hospital. Owen was never interested.

Monitor: This is where we splurged a bit and bought a motorola baby monitor where we could see and hear the baby. It was awesome for sleep training. Instead of just hearing the baby's cry and going in, we could watch the baby and see what exactly was going on. Was the baby frantic? Hungry? or just tired and so so so so close to falling asleep on his own. It helped us hear the differences in the cries and respond accordingly.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 2.53.44 PM.png

Bouncer: This is obviously for when the baby is older and becoming more active but a bouncer is a great option for when you are trying to cook dinner, go to the bathroom by yourself, or just want the baby to get out the wiggles. I liked the Baby Einstein one again because the baby could bounce himself about and it had a lot of little toys and gadgets to play with.

Diaper Bag: I have tried a bunch of different diaper bags and I really like the one I have now by little unicorn. If you are a bottle feeding momma, you might want something else as it does not have a side bottle holder but if you are nursing then it is a great bag to keep your hands free, it packs a ton and I like it because it looks good and you can wash it.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 2.56.54 PM

Rocking Chair & Pouf: Not every momma or dadda might want a rocking chair and pouf, but I use mine everyday and have for three years. I like it so much, I cannot wait to move it into my bedroom and turn it into a reading chair. So many late nights were spent rocking my babies while they ate, cried, and were falling asleep. So many nights, I fell asleep in the chair too. I bought this one from target and this one from etsy.

2 leather bibs: You can buy a dozen cloth bibs and wash them endlessly until they get dingy and you need to replace them, or you can get a leather bib set from Mally Bib on Etsy and have them forever! The two leather bibs we still use everyday were from my niece and nephew. Just wipe them clean and go! (and the clasp in the back is a magnet so you can hang it on your refrigerator).

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 3.03.18 PM.pngGood luck with the little one you are waiting for or the little one you are currently raising! I would love to hear what are some of your favorite products that you could not live without! This raising babies business is tough sometimes but when you hold that little one close the whole world melts away and none of this really matters after all. Cheers!

 

BabyMelissa Comments
Cheddar Biscuits

It has been over a year since I felt like I owned my body. It is a funny thing to say since I live in it everyday, but when you carry a baby, give birth to that baby, and then nurse that baby for 12 months, you share your body. It is an amazing experience. In these moments, I felt in awe of everything that these cells could do without my conscious self dictating or driving the ship.  But that is always part of it, your body just sort of takes over and the part of you that makes you you, goes for the ride. It might be a ride of a lifetime but it is quite a ride. Becoming a mother might very will be the best thing I ever do in my life. It is a daily gift and a daily reminder that things are really really good in life. And it is a reminder that no matter how much I want to control all that is around me, I can't and even my own body is at times (probably more often than I realize) out of my control.

Today though marks the one week mark since I last nursed little Owen. With him drinking out of sippy cups and fully transitioned to other nourishment, I find myself a little bit perplexed. What do I do with this body now? How exactly do I feel post-nursing my last baby?  It has been a HUGE transition and these last 7 days were really hard and really dark. Add to the transition of weaning, the flu and some marital strife and these last seven days were a bit of a misery march.  I know the title of this post is deceiving but I promise I will get to those biscuits and why those cheddar biscuits are so important to this tale.

But first, let's talk about weaning. It happens. For some the weaning process is immediate, even before a nursing relationship is able to fully establish in those first hours or days of motherhood. For others the weaning process is longer, it takes 15+ months for mom and baby to negotiate a truce over who "owns" the boob and who gets to "access" the boob. For me, both of my boys sort of "broke up" with me. Henry was earlier than Owen. At 10/11 months, Henry grew impatient waiting for my milk and much preferred to get going after chugging on his sippy. Owen, I thought would be different. He loved nursing. And I loved nursing him. I thought about how maybe this baby, this baby that I have been told was my last baby, would linger a little longer in his babyhood. Unfortunately, on his first birthday something shifted (maybe hormones or maybe my body just gave a massive sigh of relief), but I was struggling to keep up my supply almost within 24 hours. It felt dire. We had not introduced a sippy cup yet! We had not introduced milk yet! We were rushing head first to an inevitable confrontation and I felt out of control (yet again) of this body which was no longer willing or able to feed Owen. My body started to reject nursing and started to show signs of 'weaning sickness." I had a constant headache that was blinding, I felt nauseous, and dizzy, and feverish, and all sorts of awful. It felt like I was both PMSing and pregnant simultaneously and I spent so much money on pregnancy tests over the next few days, and crossed everything hoping that maybe just maybe there would be one more baby for us and that it wasn't just my body throwing in the towel. David made some moves to end our reproduction future and all of this was too much for me. I was ready to crawl into a big pit of pity and never come out. I felt (and still do a little) that everyone was against me. David was done having babies, Owen was done nursing, my body was done making milk & having babies, and the identity I had crafted and lived in comfortably for 3 years was shifted against my will and I was told to just: deal with it.

Then, the flu hit and our nursing days were truly done. I could not get out of bed, I could not feed Owen. Of course, like it was NO BIG DEAL Owen just drank milk from a cup! It is funny how I made myself sick with worry about how would this child eat and without blinking an eye he just transitioned. He resiliently said "okay," while I rolled in bed sobbing my eyes out because I was sick from weaning, and sick from the flu, and sick in my heart because too much was happening all at once. Things still feel fragile 7 days later. Owen and Henry are just going about their days as usual, drinking milk like a boss and playing endlessly. But, I still feel a little removed from it all. Surely, I am not alone in the struggle with transitions and I know this story is not unique, yet it is affecting me right now and I am hoping with some more time I will continue to reconcile myself to some BIG changes: I am done having babies, I am done nursing babies, I am done weaning babies, and I am done sharing my body. And while all those things will inevitably happen, it feels so weird actually saying it, seeing it, and living it. I wonder if even ten years from now, I will still ache for this chapter in my life.

So here come the cheddar biscuits. In sharing and giving so much of my cellular essence to someone else and everyone else, I forgot that there are things I like to do with my time but could not do for a long time because I was too tired or busy or overwhelmed or involved in the chapter I am now closing. Like cooking and I mean really cooking from scratch with complicated recipes with lots of ingredients and multiple steps. And yes it will probably be two steps forward and a step back as I figure out these new steps as a mother to two boys who will continue to grow up and potentially grow away from their mama, but there are great things we can do together as they grow up, and as their immediate baby needs shift and change to new horizons, interests, and abilities. And while we all grow into this family dynamic, I know now that I can also bake a pretty delicious cheddar biscuit from scratch. Not the most complicated recipe, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, I am working on it. I wish there was a script we could follow when adulting gets hard. I wish there was a pause button I could hit so I could just sit a little longer in this moment so that my heart can catch up to the reality it is now living in. It would be so much easier that way. At least the cheddar biscuits tasted good.

 

Baby, Family, foodMelissaComment
Owen Edward: 11 Months

How can it possibly be that in 30 days our baby is one year old!!  This will sound cliche but truly this year was the longest shortest year with Owen joining us as the fourth and final member to the clan. This month will be filled with many joyful tears as we mark the milestone. So much growth and development has occurred and I am both nostalgic for my tiny baby and excited for all that our little toddler-to-be is able to do now and will continue to be able to do into this next year! For starters, this month, at 30 inches in length, Owen abandoned his baby infant carseat carrier and transitioned into the toddler carseat. I would like to say that this solved our fussy transporter's issues around car travel but, alas, he remains underwhelmed by travel. Perhaps he will be similar to Henry and change his mind about the car once he is able to turn around and face forward in his seat.

Project smile is at a standstill. Everyday we are convinced that the next set of two bottom teeth and the two front teeth will erupt from the gums, and everyday we are left waiting. He clearing is teething as they inch closer and closer to the surface. We can see them! But, they remain submerged. But, the two-teethed boy is not deterred in his eating. He continues to prefer solid foods to puree and relishes in sausage, kale, spinach, pasta, fish, olives, berries, and cries out to try anything and everything he sees us eating. You truly cannot snack in front of Owen without offering him a bite. He refuses to let a single mealtime experience or opportunity pass him by. In order to convey this, Owen squawks at us, opens his mouth as wide as it physically can go, and reaches out with open hands to grab hold of that morsel. He has started to make the sound for "more" and taps his fingers together to sign to us that he wants more, more, more food!

You might call us crazy, but it also seems like he can say "ball." This is perfect considering his favorite toy is a ball. He will crawl his way over to a bag of balls or a kick ball, grab ahold of it and start smiling from ear to ear. He cannot contain his delight and squeals with glee as he taps and bops and hits the balls between his hands or onto the floor and says something like "baa laa" while playing. His other go to toys these days are: a dump truck full of balls, shaker eggs, a book that plays the song Old MacDonald, and a xylophone. His grabs the little kid table in the playroom and reaches for his mallet and then you begin to hear the sound of the musician at work. This is the most hysterical thing to the maestro who turns about smiling and laughing and waits for his applause. Music and dancing are definitely the preferred activities for Mr. Owen.

As with every month, there were many celebrations to enjoy from Owen's first Valentine's day to singing happy birthday and FaceTiming with family around the country as they  commemorated their own years. Owen tumbled at Jack's birthday part and played in little gyms throughout the suburbs of Boston as both a way to explore and learn and as an attempt to avoid these last frigid days of old man winter. But whether we are home or out exploring, Owen is in a very clingy phase where he prefers to be snuggled and carried about. When he is ready to get down, he twists out of your arms and let's you know that this place or this thing is very exciting and he has got to go! Like when it is time for a diaper change he much prefers to be doing anything else, so I am left sweating while I try to wiggle him into his new attire before he scampers off naked. No matter how wiggly he gets though, he is the king of the hug and cuddle. He nestles his little head into my neck and just quietly lays against my cheek while he pats my back and I think, okay let's stay like this forever or for at least the next 30 years.

David won the bet!  For the past two months, we have been patiently waiting to see when Owen would take his first shaky steps. The deadline was March 11 for David's victory and on March 8th, Owen let go of the coffee table and took four caution and independent steps to me. And with that David won himself a pack of Dr. Pepper! Congratulations, David. With Owen even more mobile we are preparing ourselves for the inevitable fights between the boys. We have had a glimpse of what is to come. Henry will be playing at the coffee table when Owen sidles up and grabs a hold of whatever had been capturing Henry's attention and just like that chaos breaks out and they each dig their little nails into the coveted toy and cry out! Yet when it is time to read stories they easily give up their difference and sit down together to follow along with the tale of Make Way for Little Ducklings or Where is Baby's Bellybutton? In those moments, I know that they will be friends and siblings, allies and rivals, but forever family and there to encourage and protect and love one another. And, that David and I are there to help them figure out those complexities.

As the month closed out, Owen had an ear infection (his first), but after a round of antibiotics he gifted up with multiple nights of major sleep! Owen went down to bed at 6:30PM and woke for the day at 5:30AM and I did a dance of joy throughout the house. I will absolutely miss our nighttime cuddles and nursing sessions when I would wrap his little Tintin curl around my figure and pet his cheek and smile and marvel, but I am also really excited to be getting more consistent and regular sleep through the night...especially since his naps can be unpredictable (sometimes two hours sometimes 20 minutes). But no matter the "hard" times of this first year getting to know our Owen, it will always be a wonderful year because our son joined us, we loved him, we watched him grow and change and develop and share his personality, we heard him say "ma ma" and "da da," and are so grateful to continue to be able to do this thing with him and for him.  Much love Owen in this final month before we celebrate your very first birthday!

 

Permission, Support, Courage

On Friday, I went to a SoulCyle class because it had been a year since I last hopped onto a bike and I finally felt "ready" to get back in the saddle. Clicking into the pedals, the nerves hit and I started to think that I made a mistake. Was I ready to really push myself? Was I awake enough to make this session "worth" the price of the entrance ticket? The instructor came in and started doing that thing that SoulCycle instructors do where they positive talk about goals, body image, and motivation. It may seem sappy but it was exactly the message that resonated most with me. As she turned out the lights and turned up the music, it hit me that almost a year ago to the day, I took my last SoulCycle class and I was not alone. Tucked inside  was baby Owen who seemingly slept through the rigorous class. I remember taking that final class and thinking about meeting my baby soon after, about what he would be like, what he would look like, and when he would arrive. It was hard to be on the bike with a bulging belly and it was weird to be back on that bike without one. That class had been for Owen. It was to give him a fit pregnancy, healthy environment, and ideally an easy delivery. This class was for me. The instructor Charlotte started to talk about three words: Permission, Support and Courage. And, I am not going to lie, I might have teared up a bit in class as she shared her message and as I reflected on all that happened in those 365 days since I last saw Charlotte.

After baby, looking in the mirror can be a little tough and rough. A deflated belly is hard to process. Shouldn't everything just go back into place upon the little one's arrival, no?  It was hard the first time with Henry to see the transformation that occurs in the postpartum period and it was just as hard the second time even though I had my previous knowledge. This is where Charlotte's message about permission hit most. We don't give ourselves enough permission to heal and be and recover. Often when grocery shopping, I will see a magazine cover that says something like "So and so is back to pre-baby body in just 2 weeks!" and she is lauded and praised and touted as the norm. Good for her! Seriously that is some impressive sh*t! But, I have learned for myself that I need to give myself permission. Permission to soak in all that just happened: I grew a human. This baby took over my entire body cavity. He moved all of my organs, he stretched out my skin, he took my nourishment, he grew strong and fat and pushed my bones to their limits. This is a point of pride! It took 9 months to get to that point and I need to give my body permission to heal and slowly return to a settled place. It is also so important to give permission to just be in awe: WOW.  And permission to not exercise until my body really feels ready to tackle that. And you know what, it might always be a little soft and a little "flabby" or it might always look like I have a "baby bump" but then again I did have two babies and my body will wear those experiences because I am only human.

Charlotte also shared a lot about support. When you are on a stationary bike you can let the wheel fly. This means not having any resistance and just allowing your legs to rotate freely and quickly as though you were sprinting along. This feels good but it is not always productive as you coast. When you add that resistance by turning the knob, Charlotte calls out "add support!" and then you feel the tension on the wheel and your legs have to work to rotate around that axis. You feel the support as though the ground became thicker and you muscles start to say hello. Mommying can be very isolating. Some nights when you are awake 3 or 4 times in the night with your baby you know that you need to be there for them and comfort them but you ache for sleep and I ached for someone to help me.  "What happens if you don't stand in your own way," Charlotte asks  "what would happen if you actually pushed yourself?" It took months for me to really ask for help with Owen's sleep. I thought that with baby 2, I should just know how to get him to be comforted and to sleep. Working full-time and having a toddler on top of a new baby was a new equation. When I finally really let David in to support me at night, we all started to sleep better. Yes, David woke up and yes he cradled Owen and rocked him as Owen screamed into David's face for what felt like hours, but Owen learned to be supported by David and I learned to be supported by David and we learned that we are WAY stronger when we work together than when we think "we got this" alone.

The class ended with Charlotte talking about courage. She had us working our way up a hill and adding more and more support to the bike when she said, "Are you giving it all you got? What would happen if you didn't hold back? Maybe you would fall but you would learn something. You would learn how strong you are and how strong you can be!" Owen is working on walking. He fearlessly let's go of the coffee table and takes a few steps. He falls a lot, he smashes his face sometimes on that table, but he smiles and tries again and again and he is getting better. You can see his balance improving, his steps becoming more confident, and his legs getting stronger. He is one courageous little dude. And sometimes we have to remember to take those steps too in life. To get out of our comfort zone. To give ourselves permission to try and to be courageous enough to get back into that saddle!

Mommy and boys date

Sometimes I avoid taking "risks" with the boys because I worry that in the midst of being far away chaos will strike or that naps and meals will be so messed up. But you know what?! Today was really awesome, dare I say magical! The boys were totally into the aquarium. We did not have a single fuss and we stopped at every tank, observed this world and even did lunch and double diaper duty. Lesson: take more risks with these two, they can totally handle it.

Baby, FamilyMelissaComment
Owen Edward: 9 months

Okay, okay....9 months is the SWEET SPOT! Owen is just the most sweet and wiggly baby and I could do this month over again and again. He has really opened up and shared his little personality and though there were sleepless nights, I believe it was because he was really growing, changing, and becoming a little individual.  One of my absolute favorite moments is when I walk into daycare and he spots me at the door. He immediately gets on to his hands and knees and crawls over as fast as he can making a "mmm mmm" sound, clearly, trying to say mom ;) I scoop the little nugget up and he grabs me around the neck and starts bouncing up and down in my arms. I could just about die in that moment. I LOVE it so much. It is so hard to be away from him from 6:00AM until 4:15PM Monday through Friday, but that moment makes my heart melt and I just savor our evenings so much. I could be his mother forever....good thing this is a lifetime's work!

This month was an absolute explosion in the movement department for Owen. It can be hard to always have him on the ground exploring with very little caution on his own part, but it is part of his learning process. He is up on those hands and knees and crawling ALL over the house. Up the stairs, around coffee tables, in and out of rooms, pulling up to stand in his crib and crawling onto the backs of the pups, he laughs all the way. This little active man cannot be stopped. He is so curious and just wants to explore, touch, and taste everything. David and I have a bet on the line for when this little dude will start walking independently. Currently, once he has firm feet on the ground and hands on the coffee table, he has attempted to release his hands one at time to stand. As a result of his dare-deviling, David believes that Owen will take his first steps on or before March 11, I however think more likely after said date. On the line is a 6 pack of Dr. Pepper or a Starbucks latte! To the best guesser goes the spoils. Owen has attempted to walk by pushing a little cart and this might indicate which parent will more accurately predict those first steps. And guesses on your part? Once he gets to his destination, he turns around and smiles a cheeky grin waving his little hand. Waving is just the best these days and he waves to everyone and everything. He laughs at us all the time like an emphysema machine gun, and I just want to bottle that sound for lonely nights when I am a mom to two teenage boys!

He has started to enjoy books. Previously we would read and he would crawl away but now books are fascinating to him. He sits or lays in our lap when we read and it is clear that he is listening to the stories, tracking pages with his eyes, and now wants to help turn pages, lift the peek-a-boo flaps and point his finger to images on the page. His little ET finger is everywhere. He holds his pointed index finger up and laughs gleefully when you touch fingertip to fingertip. He also is starting to  know that something is hidden under a blanket and delights in lifting up the blanket and surprise there is a toy there!

We moved! In the middle of December we shifted over two towns and had David's mom and step-dad over to help us settle in. We unpacked on the first day and began to live together under a new roof. It was a big transition for all of us. The boys gained a much larger playroom and bedrooms, but it was hard for them to sleep alone in their new rooms that first week. Owen woke up every night every 90 minutes and I just about to plug into an IV of coffee to get through the day. The sleeplessness made that week of christmas challenging because whoa sleep is so important, but thankfully the boys' joy for opening presents and watching the snow fall pushed the "grinchy" feelings away. At the end of the Christmas holiday week, Owen had two teeth and started sleeping from 6:30PM-4:30AM without waking up!!! David had taken on some sleep training in order to help Owen transition away from the 10PM wake-up and I want to knock on all the wood that we keep the routine going. This is SO much more manageable for everyone and even little Mr. Owen is such a happy camper now that he is in a good sleep routine. We have two naps in place from about 8:30AM-10:30AM and 1:30PM-3:00PM and this more predictable schedule is awesome! Thank you Owen, thank you!

There were some fun adventures this month too. Not only did we move houses but Owen celebrated his first Christmas! He was great at opening presents but really wanted to play with all of his brother's toys and vice versa. He cuddled and snuggled with his grandparents and those two weeks home together made me want to hide away in the woods indefinitely. Owen bounced about at a trampoline park and we were all surprised by how much he wanted to bounce and crawl into the foam pit. He is a fearless little peanut! David pulled him around on his first sleigh ride in the snow and he laughed when Henry fed him snowballs. To end this month, we trekked out to see Discovering the Dinosaurs.

This child can eat. He loves to eat everything and often and is quite frustrated by puree food much preferring real bites of his cuisine. He enjoys pancakes, peanut butter, salad, peas, carrots, raspberries, banana, meat, turkey, avocado, apples, carrots, everything! He wants to feed himself and touch all the textures, particularly enjoying yogurt between his fingers and in his hair. Oh and there was that one time he ate a dog kibble (oops!)

Owen is such a cuddle bug! He loves to be held and snuggled. He rests his end on my shoulder and "digs in" to be as close to me physically as possible and I am not going to lie it is the very best! He squeals with delight when he is tickled, he is crazy for the dogs, and when Henry plays with him and hugs him, I think Owen might explode from his absolute joy. I am ready to freeze time because right now this family amazes me everyday. David just knows how to read his babies, he plays with them in such creative, beautiful ways and I never want this shortest longest time to end.

Somedays

Somedays I want him to grow up because it will be "easier," I tell myself. But that is not true. This time, this moment, is perfect so I am going to sit in it a while. 

Owen Edward: 8 months

In 7 days we move this little party to a new home and Owen seems pretty excited! While he has not helped pack a single box, he does plenty of distracting from the task at hand. All of his squawks and babbles are hard to ignore and after packing 1/4 of a box, it is off to cuddle the little man for hours with his brother and dad. Despite the chaos of these particular weeks, we are ever in love with our little monster. And he accomplished quite a number of firsts and discoveries this month which made for a fast 30 days together!

In the eating department, Owen is a pro. He is truly content chowing down on all the table scraps. From pieces of meat, to bread and veggies, and fish, he has yet to find a food he is not a fan of. As a result, he is an excellent little gentlemen at restaurants. We have been able to take him anywhere (so far) and as long as he can munch away on food he is happy as a clam joining in for family meal time. He seems to love eggs and butternut squash soup. While attending our annual "friendsgiving" affair, Owen was eager to slurp down two bowls of Lauren's autumnal appetizer. I need to get the recipe for him!

Owen has also been busy growing up, much to his momma's dismay. There is no rush babe of mine! But no matter how hard I hope to slow him down he is starting to pull to standing. His favorite pastime is dragging himself via army crawl to the coffee table than positioning himself just so. Once his knees are under him, he grabs hold of the coffee table top and up he goes to standing! The downside of this is he trust falls. Once he has had enough of his looking around, he lifts both hands and releases. This has obviously created a number of scary moments but our parenting reflexes are on high alert. To ensure his safety, we have lowered his bed all the way and watch him on the monitor work his way to standing in there too. He is tremendously proud of himself these days and claps for all of his efforts. He loves to click his tongue and clap his hands with each new accomplishment. His latest endeavor is waving and the focus is real. His babble game is on too. He is much chattier these days and I swear he is saying dada now. And before bed now that he can sit totally independently he takes his baths with his big brother and my heart explodes from the sheer cuteness of it all.

For his first thanksgiving, we flew out to California to visit with my brother and his family. Owen did great on the flights to and from. He laughed and played and most importantly slept. But he never quite switched to west coast time and delighted in waking up daily at 3AM. He played everyday with his cousins and Smith would sit next to him and say sweet things like "Owen you are my best friend" and my heart would swell. We FaceTimed with all of our family on the holiday and it felt good to see everyone even if only virtually. While out in California, Owen went to zoomar, and the mission at San Juan Capistrano, and the beach, and the ocean institute, and lots of walks in the neighborhood. We tried to soak up all the vitamin d we could. Before we left, we even snuck in a visit with Santa. Owen was not afraid of jolly St. Nick although an older brother might have accepted a photo bribe for a candy cane.

Before we welcome a new month with our little man we need to give a good cheer for an emerging sleep pattern. Despite two bad colds and teething (I really think this is the month he gets those two bottom teeth!), Owen now sleeps from 6:30PM to 2AM and from 2:30AM to almost 6AM. More regular sleep is making for an overall happier house! Thank you my dearest peanut for a beautiful month.

Baby, baby boy, OwenMelissaComment
hi!

It has been almost 8 months of inconsistent blogging. The usual excuses are the culprits. Primarily my lack of sleep and feeling pinched everyday for a free second are the contenders for my stretches of absence. As our family grew so too did the responsibilities and returning to work added on top of the heap more stressors and timing issues. By nightfall once the house was quiet and the papers of students graded, there was little energy left for much. Poor David has been so understanding and often from 8PM-8:30PM when I surrender to sleep, we would lay in bed for some pillow talk and have "our time" as a couple in 30 short minutes. But, at least those minutes were uninterrupted! This season of life is good though, I don't want to give off the impression that we are not happy. Happiness is definitely a constant in the house and in my heart. It's just very busy feeling and having a stride or a routine that let's us balance these busy endeavors has been elusive.  Then we thought how do we make our lives EVEN MORE complicated? Ah yes, let's buy a new house, sell our house, pack, and move all before Christmas! My sister-in-law called these early months with a new baby the longest shortest time and it truly is. Yes, there are hard days, yes we are all tired, yes we bit off more than we can chew, yes we are all laughing, yes we are all eating, yes we are all screaming, but it is flying by and I wish I could slow it all down and stay inside of this manic experience a little longer. I don't want it to end even though I crawl into bed completely zapped every night.

With the holidays keying up, I am feeling particularly nostalgic for everything and blogging feels like the right endeavor to make some space for. These little dudes and this little life should be documented more consistently because I know that I will want these stories to read and read and read as our days continue.

Owen Edward: Seven Months

The peanut turns 7 months old today and what a new world we are in. This month was a whirlwind of personal growth and family changes and the country  was also marked by the stunning and shocking results of the election. While we adults process the meaning of this and the future of America, it has become all the more important for our household to teach lessons of love and gratitude. To foster respect for all men and women and to foster tolerance for one's fellow neighbors. Life is diverse and diversity is what makes this nation great. Owen and Henry will grow up in a home that values diversity of mind, body, skin, gender, religion, socio-economic status, education, and orientation. There is no room in our house for hate, intolerance or bigotry. And, it will be important for the boys to also see leadership through these lens and for us to encourage their questions, curiosity, and voice and empower them to fight for those who are silenced be that on the playground or in our wider communities.

Hugging Owen has been a blessing in all of this.

He is mister wiggles these days. Grabbing and reaching for everything is his game. It is super clear that he wants to be able to do more than he might currently be able to. He wants to play with all the toys, help cook in the kitchen, and run around and chase his brother. He loves to be tickled and to crawl around on the floor and his interest in climbing up the stairs has been piqued. Do you hear that sound? No, well if you could, it would be the constant clapping that this little dude is engaged in. It might just be his very favorite activity. At night, while I nurse him to sleep in his nursery, just before he falls deeply asleep he gives one last round of applause to the day and my heart explodes from the cuteness. If he isn't clapping or scooting about, then he is practicing his sitting which has FINALLY gotten more stable. This is allowing him to play more and bang toys all about. And that pincer grip is helping him pick up all sorts of little fuzzies as well as puffs to snack on.

Owen is a big fan of eating solid foods. This month he learned to love peanut butter like his Dad and big brother. Smeared on some toast, Owen devours the PB like a boss. Nibbling on eggs, broccoli, and a random assortment of dinner bites is both entertaining and delicious. And he devours pouches like it is nobody's business.

We are moving! And Owen was a part of the house hunting process. Being carried from open house to open house and back and forth to the home we eventually bought proved that Owen is an easy-going baby. He toured the houses with a critical eye and gave us car naps and walk-around nursing sessions while  we shuttled about to find our new home. Of course, every house we visited Owen was "so relaxed" that he pooped so we had a lot of car changes too and we laughed a bit about his perfect timing. Once we settled on the house and visited one more time, we threw a little good-bye party with our current neighbors and Owen joined in the festivities of the evening.

It was Owen's first Halloween and Henry picked his costume: a fox. While he didn't partake of the candy eating, he did go around with us tucked under his blanket and took in the sights and sounds of the holiday before hurrying home for bedtime snuggles and warm cuddles. That was one cold night! On the flip side, we got to splash around with some friends at the LifeTime gym pool and seeing this chunky monkey in the pool was too adorable.

It was a busy and quiet month, but it was a month full of BIG life changes.

 

Baby, OwenMelissaComment
Owen Edward: Five Months

This was THE month. Not only did Owen show us more of his sweetness BUT he also totally hit his stride. He is sleeping more, eating more, RARELY fussy and constantly laughing and smiling!  This was a good month with our little man and I am just so happy with how he is becoming more and more vocal and mobile. He is the chunkiest squish wearing 9 month clothes and we cannot cuddle this mush enough. Since he loves splashing around in his bath every night, he smells so yummy all the time that it is hard not to eat up all those soft baby rolls. If you do raspberries on his tummy his squeals so loudly in delight that it is truly hard not to match his pitch with your own laughter.

Mobility was the name of this month. Owen first started to roll front to back and this was problematic! You see, he only would sleep for periods longer than 30 minutes if he was snuggled asleep on his tummy. So when he learned to roll to his back, he would wail out because poor little turtle could not get himself back to his tummy. And so he needed to be flipped like a pancake multiple times a night and I was just about ready to throw in the towel when....he learned to flip from back to front, whew! And now he sleeps more regularly and we are all so happy including him! Bedtime is from 6:30PM-11:30PM and then he nursed and goes back to sleep from 11:30PM-3:45AM and then wakes for the day between 5 and 5:30AM. And this is sustainable and such a good improvement and so much more predictable and delightful for mommy and baby. We get in our nighttime cuddles and rocks but also get some good sleep stretches. When he falls asleep while nursing he likes to run his fingers through his hair and coos lightly. After he is transferred to his crib, he lays on his tummy and scratches the bed sheet which is his best attempt at trying to keep himself awake but a few "shhhhh" sounds and a little bum tapping and Owen is fast asleep.

This month he also started baby school. We feel very luck to have found such a wonderful, caring daycare for our little guys. Since I cannot be with them during the day full-time, I know that Michelle, Jamie, and Alex take the very best care of Henry and now Owen. But, it doesn't mean that I don't cry my eyes out as I drive away after drop-off. He is just so tiny and I just wish I could stay home with him everyday and savor his little charming personality. So far, three days in, he is doing well with baby school. He did come home with this first cold, but that is understandable since this is really his first time hanging out with others and other little kiddos. But a few sniffles won't keep this kiddo from being happy. He cannot contain his giggles...seriously.

If you lay Owen down on his back, he immediately holds "boat pose" and sticks out his little tongue. Clearly this pose is tough to achieve but when you are working toward those six-pack abs, you have to hold it often! He curls himself so high that I think he is gearing up to sit-up soon. He cannot be contained! And if he is on his belly he grabs a hold of his play mat and drags himself toward his toys. Toys, toys, toys, Owen is ready to play. He cannot get enough of the toys we put out in front of him and he loves to watch Henry most of all. He laughs as Henry sings and runs and plays and he laughs when the dogs come by and he reaches out his little hands to pet them. When you hold him facing you, Owen wants nothing more than to stroke your face, grab your nose, or touch your lips. And he mimics your sounds particularly your raspberries!

This month Owen also started to LOVE eating. He has tried oatmeal, pears, carrots, peas, mango, prunes, apples, and banana. He might love each more than the other! He sits in the highchair and smacks his lips at you and says "Feed me!" He started off slowly with only a bit here or there but now he regularly sits for two meals a day and polishes off his entire helping. He grabs for his spoon if you are not feeding him fast enough to take over.

And.....

Owen turned the corner on his carseat screaming! Before, every time we clicked him into his carseat, he immediately screamed for the entire journey. It was painful to go anywhere knowing it would make him so upset. When I shared this with my friend Keyanna, she said that her son was the same and that she placed a muslin blanket on his face and he stopped crying as he would snuggle the blanket. It was worth a shot,right? I was a little nervous but it would be great to get Owen something that comforted him. As we backed out of the driveway, the muslin was drapped lightly over his face and he snuggled it in and started to coo and fell asleep! Every time he would sleep and snuggle his blanket like Linus. Now when we drive he is so much calmer as long as his blanket is near him or on his lap. Hooray for a great month Mr. Owen. We love you so darn much.

With one day left to his five month birthday...Owen started to pull himself along the floor toward toys and to us. Such a mobility show-off ;) and he slept until 6:15AM. Five months later Owen has decided to become an easy-going baby.

 

 

 

Baby, OwenMelissaComment
Miss this

T-minus 48 hours until I return to work. 

What will I do? 

Savor my time left with the boys, remember all our funny maternity leave mishaps, and dream big dreams for our future.

It is going to be weird to cash in my nursing of Owen in the backseat of my car, to pumping in the mother's room alone at work. 

Henry's -isms will have to sustain me from a distance now: "what x is," "hold you" (when he means hold me), "my pick," "two babies!," "I happy now," and so many more little phrases everyday.

May these next 48 hours take months to pass.

Back To School

If you have not noticed, it is Back To School season. We are currently being inundated with jingles, ads, and messaging of all kinds reminding us, as though we could forget, that in just a few short days schools will be opening their doors to students! It has been a time of the year that I have always loved. In New England, it marks an unofficial start to Fall and things like pumpkin spice begin to creep back into every food item. Temperatures start to cool off and routines start to come back after the relaxing summer schedule of fitting in lots of fun and not a lot of anything else.

Every September my school feels alive with the promise of a new year. Seniors walk through the halls feeling extra important and teachers walk into new rooms filled with new faces. It is very exciting and I love the energy that is present during those first days back. Thankfully, I love my job. When I am on campus, I am surrounded by awesome colleagues who give so much of themselves to the community. They are passionate and interesting men and women and they challenge me everyday to bring my A game. I know that once I am fully back to campus, I will feel like I never left and will feel ready to take on the year ahead, but right now...

I am feeling really sad. My maternity leave was a gift. Having 19 weeks home with the boys to both recover from childbirth and adjust to and enjoy the early days of second-time motherhood was the best time of my life. David and I got to soak up everything about the boys and our summer together with them. David blossomed to a dynamo, multi-tasking dad and he took care of all of us. Henry became a kind and loving older brother and also a rambunctious and playful toddler. Owen came out of his newborn fog and began to give us major glimpses into the sweet little person he is growing into. And I got to be a part of every second of every day with them. YES, some days (and the whole month of July really) were H A R D. There were lots of tears from everyone in the house and not a lot of sleep which I have found I truly need in order to function as a decent human being. But despite all of that, I would do it all again. I would do it all again 100x (minus the actual birthing of the child, maybe I would do that another 2 or 3 times!).

It kills my heart to look at the calendar and see that I am a mere 6 days away from going back to work full-time and missing out on the daytime with Owen and Henry. I am going to miss our pajama filled mornings, while Henry eats his breakfast and Owen and I sit beside him chatting. I am going to miss our outings to the park and our strolls around the block. I am going to miss playing trains and trucks and doctor and play-doh and eating Henry's "water soup" and dancing around the house like crazy-pants and playing hide-and-seek and all the little chats throughout the day. I am going to miss Jake and the Neverland pirates, and crafting, and bike rides, and reading so many books before nap time. I am going to miss our failed attempts at potty training (once Owen was born, Henry decided he was not that into it anymore), and our trips to the lake. I am going to miss holding them ALL DAY LONG. I am going to miss their little smells, smiles, and feet. I am going to miss, I am going to miss, I am going to miss.

I wish I could do both. I wish I could be in the classroom inspired by my students and at home inspired by my children full-time. If only there was more time in the day. And, I know we will settle into a new routine, a new way of doing things, and a new pattern. I know all of this, but right now my feels are pretty intense. These are the kind of feels that will have me crying into school everyday and pressing the gas after school as fast as I can to return to the men in my life. It is hard to love three men at once, but gosh do I feel so damn lucky to have the opportunity to try. And, boy am I going to miss this summer like crazy for the rest of my life.

Owen Edward: Three Months

Gah! I could just eat this little baby up!!  Seriously, he is just the softest, chubbiest baby in town and he is starting to just beam and smile and laugh. Yes, he is starting to laugh and loves to be tickled and these things all melt my heart. It all finally feels like he has been part of our family forever and not some little baby house guest. I am not sure if it is because he is the second or if it is his personality but Owen has become a chill baby. We have started to notice that he enjoys taking his time with his toys, with his tummy time and with his play mat. Ever feeling the need to stimulate and provide for my little one, I was moving him from one thing to another. But, while I might be "bored" with a particular infant activity, he was not and let out some little cries to tell us to slow down and let him take his time. I like this kid, a slower pace is just what we all could use.

One of our favorite pastimes is sitting Owen up on our knees and just smiling and cooing at one another. We literally could do this for hours. He watches my face so intently and I swear he is trying to mimic my mouth and sounds. Brown, deep eyes stare back at me while I chit-chat with my newborn all morning long. Being entertained is the name of the game this month. No longer is he willing to just be, he wants to explore as best as his little baby body can by grasping at toys on his play mat, batting at the low hanging rings, and beating his little fists against his tambourine. His hands are truly magical right now to him and he clasps them in front of his face and looks at them with awe. I keep telling him that they will continue to amaze him as he cooks or engineers or designs later on in life. And just these last two weeks he has started to lock his knees to stand and he loves this position even if he is a little wobbly.

At Owen's two month check-up, his pediatrician noticed that he did not turn his neck to the left past neutral. I had not noticed this inability. Was it because I was distracted with having two children? Was I not paying close enough attention? Was it because he is so chubby I could not see a neck? It killed me to have missed this. But the pediatrician assured me that this happens often. He was diagnosed with torticollis, or baby stiff neck and we were sent to Boston Children's Hospital to do a few physical therapy visits. Going to that hospital with a child with something as minor as torticollis was a powerful lesson in gratitude. As soon as we arrived in the parking lot it became clear that this was a special place but also that there were very sick children here. I am so thankful and feel so blessed to have two boys who are healthy and I pray for the health of those children we saw as we walked into our PT appointments. The therapist was also a new mom and she spent a lot of time with us cooing at Owen while giving him little baby massages. He was smitten with her and did all of his exercises without a fuss. At home we followed the exercises and massages and we are now one appointment away from being discharged. Owen was a very agreeable little patient as he worked out his neck stiffness.

This month was also our first encounter with a little sickness. One day I took the boys to an indoor play place and then we all got sick. Henry and I battled the oh-so-lovely pinkeye and Owen was working through some gut issues and having blow-out diaper after blow-out diaper. My mom and dad even came running over one afternoon when I got down to my last diaper and Henry was napping upstairs barring any run out for more. This sickness coincided with Owen deciding he hated his carseat, like his brother, and cried any time we clicked him into the Rav4. By the end of this week, I was exhausted and turned the boys over to David. All I could think about at the end of the day was Game of Thrones and the line, "My Watch Has Ended."

Now I don't want you to think this month was all hard times because it most definitely was NOT.  This month was actually FULL of great moments and amazing memories. It was a busy one too as I finally felt fully confident taking out the two boys every day and sometimes twice a day to soak up the beautiful Boston weather. At the beginning of the month Owen was christened. It happened on Father's Day which meant that we had two wonderful celebrations in one. My brother and his family flew in from California, David's mom and step-dad drove up from Maryland, and my bestie flew in from Wisconsin. On the day of his christening our friend took photos of our whole gaggle of people in a nearby park. And now we have some wonderful full family shots to remind us of this moment and this time. We toured around Boston and Henry took his first swan boat ride while Owen drank some milk in the shade of a willow tree. Visits to local lakes, library readings, farmers' markets and playgrounds filled our days and we celebrated Henry's second birthday with a big cookout. Owen even stayed up late one night to attend a summer concert in the park. He was so chill wrapped in his blanket listening to Rock and Roll music that I think he might turn out to be an audiophile.

ACFinals--18

ACFinals--24

ACFinals-7858

ACFinals-7913

Goodbye, reflux. We are D O N E with you!  This meant more sleep for everyone and less laundry for momma. With this new development we were able to move O into his own room and he settled nicely into sleeping in his crib. The hardest part of this transition was the empty bassinet next to my bed. I love having babies and want to fill my house with them, but Owen will be our last baby and that empty bassinet was hard to sleep next to and hard to come to terms with for me. If I could, I would have at least one more, but I know why Owen is our last baby and I know that this is the right choice for our family but I know that that bassinet had to get out of the house so that I could look forward to life with my two little boys and not sit saddened by the end of the baby making chapter. Thankfully a good friend is having a baby in December and it feels good to know that while no more of my babies will be in that little bedside crib, more babies will be rocked in it. Once Owen moved into his own room, he no longer had to listen to the pups or his daddy snoring and his sleep became more consolidated. There was even a week (yes, a whole week where he went to bed at 6:30PM woke up at 2AM and then woke up at 5:30AM for the day!), where he technically slept through the night. Right now our sleep looks like: bedtime at 6:30PM, feeding at midnight, feeding at 2 or 3AM, up for the day at 5:00AM, nap at 6:30AM, nap at 9:30AM, nap at noon, nap at 2PM, then bed at 6:30PM. His naps are usually around 1.5-2hours in length.  And he eats like a beast the second he wakes up. For a little sumo baby who has plenty of reserves, he wakes up as though he has been starved half a year!

Owen is weighing in at XXX and is comfortably wearing 6 month clothes and loves being carried around in his Ergobaby to parks, the grocery store, and on any other adventure we cook up for him. I am excited for when he can turn around and face out because he loves to look at the trees and his perspective will be so much nicer then. Maybe next month.

img_3209

img_2766

Owen Edward: Two Months

If the first month was a blur because Owen spent most of it sleeping and I spent most of it healing and chasing after Henry, then the second month was a slog! Owen woke up from his early newborn slumber and he was not happy. Weeks 4-8 were dedicated to newborn fussiness. And yes, while we had amazing times with our little guy, not to share that this month was hard because of the constant colicky screaming in the early evening would be a misreport. We got the little one on a probiotic and anti-gas medicine and it helped but he just needed to work through his gut issues. It was so hard because he just was so unhappy and uncomfortable. It killed not knowing how to comfort him or what would soothe his tummy. I was left often feeling like I did not know how to be his mother. While nursing helped in the short term, it also made the gas worse as it was the culprit of his discomfort. As we closed the chapter on this month, we had many more minutes and even hours in the day dedicated to happy smiles and coos and less spent on Owen passing gas and crying. And, I felt like I was starting to understand him more each day.

When you meet Owen you immediately see that the little man is young but not little. Weighing in at almost 14 pounds this two month old is beefy! He is a hardy little love machine though. His cuddles and soft baby rolls are delicious and this momma really wants to just eat up those cheeks! And boy does he love getting his cheeks squeezed. If you want Owen to smile, then just give those little cheek pillows a squeeze and he immediately responds with the biggest open mouth smile. Thank goodness he was such an early smiler. At around 5 weeks, he gave us his first big one and that helped so much to offset the discomfort of the colic screaming moments. It is hard to be frustrated or sad when you are holding on to the smiley moments. I have this feeling that next month we will see just how jolly this chubby baby boy is. And I cannot wait to see more of his little personality emerge!

One of the questions every new parent gets from everyone they meet is: How are you sleeping? While this might be frustrating on a day when you are lacking sleep, it comes often from a place of solidarity, "I've been there too and it won't last forever." So how was Owen's sleep?  The beginning of the month was rough. It took a long time of bouncing and swaying to get the little guy to settle down. He went from zero to screaming his head off in less than a blink of an eye and David and I passed him back and forth in an effort to hold insanity back. David would run around the house holding him tightly to him while pretending to run from wild beasts. Why? Because one night in desperation, I turned to David and said, "How did we survive as a species with wild beasts around without newborns giving away our location?" Owen seemed to enjoy the "racing around for his life" routine and quickly fell asleep. At night once he settled down, he slept well typically from 8PM-midnight, then 12-2AM and 2-4AM. As we inched closer to the end of the month, getting Owen to sleep during the day became easier although not easy.  We learned very quickly that this guy loves his swaddle. He pretty much wants to live in his swaddle.  He wakes up, eats, is alert for maybe 40 minutes, and then wants his swaddle, a rock, and back to napping. Obviously, with a toddler around we can't guarantee quiet time in the house although he definitely sleeps better when it is quieter. To keep him asleep while Henry screams and runs around, Owen has discovered the beauty of the MamaRoo and enjoys the kangaroo setting the most.

So now our sleep looks like this:

  • 5AM Owen is awake
  • 6:30-7:30AM naptime
  • 7:30-9:00AM playtime
  • 9:00-10:30AM naptime
  • 10:30-11:30AM playtime
  • 11:30-12:30 naptime
  • 12:30-1:30 playtime
  • 1:30-3:30PM naptime
  • 3:30-5:00 playtime
  • 5:00-6:00PM naptime
  • 6:00-7:30PM playtime
  • 8:00PM-Midnight/1AM sleep
  • 1:30-3:30AM sleep
  • 3:30-5:00AM sleep.

While he might still be very little he is starting to do some really fun stuff! He is enjoying his time on his play mat more and more. Looking at his zebra is his favorite part of playtime. He also watches Henry play and loves to observe him while being held on a lap. His eyes will track you across a room and he coos and smiles non-stop while he is awake. This is definitely my favorite part of the day with Owen because it is starting to reveal the little person inside this baby of ours. And unlike Henry, Owen is a fantastic car napper.  Henry would scream all the way to our destinations, Owen passes out as we turn on the car. It makes travel so much nicer these days, although Henry still gets cranky if we drive more than 30 minutes.

And of course Owen was brought along to all sorts of play dates with Henry. He spent most of every day outside in the sun on a blanket or in his Solly wrap. Being outside definitely helps soothe him and I am so thankful the weather is perfect to accommodate his needs. Along with our usual playground days, Owen visited the Aquarium, the mall, and attended a little block party. This month might have started a little tough, but it ended so sweet and easy. I am ready for life with this little guy!