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Monday, May 28, 2012

changed by the motherload

Recently somebody asked how motherhood has changed me. Wow. What a loaded question. 

How has it not changed me, was my first thought. Every part of my life has been altered because I'm a mother. I think a huge part of my life is now defined by my new role as mom. Everything I do is affected by my job as a mother, so definitely I have been changed by it for sure. I think all of us go through a transformation when we are pregnant, and then another one when we are new moms, and then perhaps we keep transforming - like caterpillars and butterflies - we just keep becoming something greater than we were before, or at least we hope that's how it goes. 

Motherhood has definitely changed me - all for the better, except the exhaustion, that's not better but it is what it is. 

Let me count the ways... that I've definitely been changed by the motherload! 

1. Rock my body. 
Starting in pregnancy, I became entirely more confident about my body. Weird, right, when your body is totally changing and stretching and not at all what it once was? But really, definitely during pregnancy and then even after with my small belly pouch that never quite goes away despite running, I honestly am way more confident about my body. I think it's because I have this great appreciation for what my body did - gaining 20+ pounds, yet losing that much almost instantly, carrying a healthy baby to term. It's incredible what the body does, so I just appreciate it, despite some days of being frustrated that old clothes don't fit right. To me, the belly fat I now have is a sign that I was a pregnant gal once upon a time. It's a badge of honor, honestly. Yes, of course, I have plenty of days where I can't stand it and I suck it in and hate that I have to wear certain shirts... yes, I'm normal, too! But overall, I do try to be accepting of it. 

2. I'm the boss.
I'm more self-assured and confident in my decisions, actions and just who I am as a person when it comes to being a mom. I truly do not care what others think about me and how I raise my child. I am more honest and put my family and myself and our needs above others now. I used to be the person who would go to a party even if I didn't feel well or didn't want to see the people there or was too exhausted to think straight. Now if I'm too tired or my son's had a particularly crazy day and needs to relax or if the baby needs to nurse non-stop, I'll just say that. Life as a mom is chaotic anyway, there is no room for adding more stress or chaos to the mix. Therefore putting our needs as priority over other people's feelings or ideas is paramount. Whatever is going to give us a solid two-hour nap in the afternoon so my child is rested and easygoing for me the rest of the evening or whatever is going to make my husband and I happiest - those are the things that matter now. 

3. Just call me Martha. 
I've also become even more organized than I was pre-babies. It's a time management thing. I knew I only had my son's 45-minute nap back in the day to get the house picked up in the morning or pack the car for the beach or shower myself so I used my time wisely. I have to be organized around here to be half-way sane. I need a calendar. I need to empty the car of trash and toys often. I need to re-stock the diapers and wipes in my son's room on the weekend so the rest of the week goes by easily when I'm making a mad dash to his room to get him changed in 5 minutes before I'll be late for work. Organization makes me a better mom. I'm also more creative now that I'm a mom. I'm obsessed with Pinterest ideas, especially those for cute themed birthday parties. Yes, just call me Martha Stewart (well, not quite...).

4. Can I get an "Amen?"
Overall, being a mom has made me appreciate life more, appreciate my husband and all of his help more, and totally appreciate my own mother and sister and fellow mom friends for all they sacrifice and do for their kids. It's a BIG job. We should even appreciate ourselves for doing it. 

5. Patience is a virtue.
I am one thousand times more patient now that I'm a mom than I was before being a mom. I take time out to let my son figure things out for himself. I accept that I'll be stuck on the couch for hours nursing because that's what my newborn needs right now. I understand that it matters to my son that we do something "one more time, Ma, one more please." When my son wakes up in the night with a bad dream, yes, of course I'm a little annoyed that my slumber was disturbed. However, he's two, and I'm his mom and he needs me. So patience with rocking him and going around the room to make sure there is nothing else that scares him is what I do. 

6. Reality bites.
I am MUCH more REAL now that I'm a mom. I'm less judgmental. I'm more accepting. I'm more understanding of things than I was before. I know now that not all babies can breastfeed. I know formula is not the devil. I know pacifiers are OK and necessary really and that not all kids will have them until they are 6. I know that nap times are a must and it's OK to be obsessed with a child's routine and keeping to a schedule. I know it's also OK to not have a kid on a schedule - they all survive, we all end up doing this thing OK in the end anyway. 

7. I'm more FUN!
Now that I'm a mom I see myself as WAY more fun and creative. I let loose more. I am totally OK with my son walking through rain puddles in his sneakers because that's all I packed for him to wear to the playground before I realized it'd rained. I even walk through the puddles myself now! I go outside WAY more now, too. Even if it's cold in the winter or rainy and wet in the spring. Getting outside with an active toddler is a must, so we go. We play. Even for 10 minutes. I never used to do that. 

8. Mani / Pedi please?! 
It's funny to write that I became a priority after I had kids. It's usually the other way around. However, for me, I finally realized after my son became a year old that I do matter. I need to matter. I'm the mom around here. If things are going to be happy and healthy and continue working here my husband and I need a team effort here. I can't be getting sick or run down or go crazy or something because of stress. I have to be in tip-top shape. I matter. No, I don't get out for a mani / pedi as much as I deserve and I don't sit out on a deck reading in the sun every single day, but I do try really hard to take care of myself so I can keep caring for this great family of mine. I make sure I exercise and drink tons of water and use hand sanitizer wherever I go to avoid germs.I try to get enough sleep, even if it means taking a nap now while baby sleeps instead of folding laundry and picking up toys. I do try to get enough alone time in - even if it's just taking a long hot shower. I now understand that airline rule of putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. If I'm not working right I can't help my family to grow. 

Oh, yes, changed by the motherload...
It's hard to imagine what my life would be like without having become a mother. I am so lucky to be part of this mother world. My everything is changed by this role. It's made me a better me that's for sure.

(well, except for the mom brain part. That would go on the list of things that have been changed by the motherload that we wish had stayed the same. Ah, it is what it is!)

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Friday, May 25, 2012

happy 1st birthday to the Mommy Stories!

A whole year! 

One full year of blogging bliss and excitement here on the Mommy Stories! May 26th marks one year of writing about all things mommy-related. I started this blog as a baby shower gift idea for two of my formerly pregnant friends, Heather and Jess, last summer, as a way to offer ideas and advice and support. I wanted to "tell it like it is," so they felt more comfortable and got the real picture of what it's like to be a mom. 

And then it just took off. Thanks to the encouragement of my friend Heather, she kept telling me to publish this thing, to get it out there, to promote it, to get more moms on board, to start a group or something. So I did. I started a Facebook group last fall and the discussion just kept growing and growing. A week ago we were almost at 200 members. Now we're at almost 300 members, only a week later. It's pretty exciting! 

And to make things even more sweeter, to add the icing to this blog's birthday cake ... this just in... I've been accepted to be a featured blogger for a GREAT new site called Moms in Maine at I'm taking the Mommy Stories on the road! A wonderful local mother Michelle started this site for Maine moms to discuss, brainstorm, offer advice and support, and overall just be moms together. It's a GREAT thing and I'm so happy to be a part of it! 

Check my link to the Mommy Stories out at and see the other featured bloggers. They are all awesome moms offering great ideas and stories on their blogs. 

I am SO excited about this new road on this adventure of the blogging world I've entered. I started this blog as a gift, and now with a Facebook group of almost 300 members in less than a year and now being featured on another site... it's kinda a big deal! 

OK enough about how cool I think I am. 
Really though, check out It's a fantastic site! 

I think I should celebrate with a pina colada or something! Yay!

Happy 1st year to the Mommy Stories! I'm excited to see where this next year takes all of us mommies! Thanks to everyone for making this into something fun for me. 

repeat after me: it's all OK

Last night was one of those completely chaotic new family of four nights in my house. 
I was flying solo for dinner and bed routine without my husband so it was two babies against one momma here tonight. It went something like this:

4:50 p.m. Son melting down throwing toys, whining that he wanted some milk, and baby staring at me sucking on her pacifier hoping like it was going to magically turn into my boob.

5 p.m. Son running around the house saying "eat time ma! eat!" and baby in her swing now screaming, pacifier on her chest. I attempt to start dinner, put a pot of water on the stove and cover it praying it'll boil quickly so I can fix my son some pasta with tomato sauce, and apple sauce on the side - his favorite.

5:05 p.m. Baby now in my arms, her only happy place this time of night. Son in his chair with a bowl of Cheerios in front of him, big smile on his face. Turn off the pasta, stupid idea anyway, I mean, who actually is able to cook dinner with two kids in the house?! Baby screaming to the point of turning very red, possible real tears in her eyes this time. Me, feeling totally guilty giving my son cereal for dinner, as if he's my former pregnant self not able to stomach eating anything else. I sigh, see he's happy, vow to give him some fresh fruit in the morning, and pick up the baby and bounce her over my shoulder... where she proceeds to spit up all down my back.

5:15 p.m. Cheerios all over the floor (didn't even see him toss them, no idea how I missed it but I did). I attempt to pump milk because I haven't emptied the girls in 4 hours and I'm about to burst. While I'm pumping my son is yelling at the table, doing anything he can to get my attention and my daughter is again screaming her head off in the swing as if saying, "MOM PLEASE, I'm over here, you know, the one who you pay attention to all day long when it's quiet here and we have this good thing going on until my brother shows up?!" Insert more guilt, not being there for two kids now.

5:20 p.m. Start bath tub for my son. Move the baby seat into the bathroom in hopes that the baby will actually sit there while I give my son some attention. Clean up my son's face full of Cheerios, get him undressed and into the tub with the baby in her seat, whining and whimpering and spitting out her pacifier because it's not what she wants.

5:25 p.m. Son in the tub, baby crying because it's too bright and loud and she wants to be held. I pour shampoo into my son's hair, barely acknowledging what he's saying as he's trying to play and I'm trying to stay sane while the baby is needing me and my son is needing me and I'm needing a nap and a drink and a shower and who knows what else at this moment. Feeling very frustrated, like I have no idea how I can ever do this two kids thing, wondering if it would be OK if I start crying at this moment like my daughter is doing.

5:30 p.m. My poor son walks up the stairs naked because his towel is too big to walk with it around him and I can't hold the towel up around him while he walks because I have the baby in my arms this time. Feeling guilty that I'm not able to do things with my son like I did before, and yet feeling guilty that I'm not being a great mom to my newborn either and giving her what she needs because I have to take care of my son.All the while I smell like spit up and have a Cheerio stuck to my foot and my stomach is grumbling because I have not eaten in hours.

5:45 p.m. Son is dressed and baby is attempting to calm down after having screamed the entire time I was dressing my son. Baby is wrapped in my arms while I sit in the rocking chair shushing her and bouncing her profusely to help her calm down and fall asleep, which is all I know she wants to do. Son is sitting on the edge of my legs in front of my daughter, holding onto me while holding his blankie and the book he wants us to read together. How on earth I have these two sitting on my lap this way is beyond me. And yet then it makes me smile because this is how we did it for 9 (10) months of pregnancy anyway, with her in front and my son out a little farther as the months and the belly grew by. I wish my husband would walk in and take a picture of us, because for some crazy reason I can't explain I do want to remember this moment, this terrible, horrible no good, very bad evening.

I begin reading Goodnight Moon for the hundredth time this year and my son smiles with delight as he finds the things we like to find in the book - Can you show me the mouse? How about the fire place? Where are the socks and mittens? Do you see the bunny rabbit? The baby starts crying again and my son smiles back at her and says, "It's OK, baby, it's OK, no cry, see moon baby, see moon." And I want to cry again. But this time it's because I know all is sweet in my world, despite that I feel like sometimes I'm sinking fast. It is OK, no cry, like my smart two-year-old said.

5:55 p.m. Baby starts screaming again as I set her down so I can snuggle my son for one second. I somehow manage to get him into his bed and tell him about 10 times how much I think he is such a good big brother and so helpful to me and how proud I am of him dealing OK tonight through the baby's cries. I tell him I love him and that I'll give him some treat tomorrow just for being such a good sport. He smiles and says "yeah, Ma." And I think to myself, wow, he's NOT traumatized by this shift in our lives, this monumental change that came busting into our world at only 7 lbs 14 oz. He's adjusting, and he's doing just fine.

The night continued with dishes and washing bottles and sweeping up Cheerios off the kitchen floor. It continued with two marathon nursing sessions and a bath time - aka attempt to settle down the newborn - and pajamas and cleaning up the diapers on the floor and putting away laundry and starting more laundry in the washer and packing milk for school tomorrow and picking up the toys in the living room and pumping again and and and and...

I checked in on my son, fast asleep, wrapped in his blankie, making that sucking movement with his mouth and tongue that he's done since he was a newborn, spanning almost the entire length of the crib. And I thought, how did you grow up? How did we do this with you? How are we doing this now with two of you? How are you coping through this chaotic mess? I teared up, thinking that yes, he's doing OK, we are all doing OK. Afterall, it's a crazy beautiful life that we're living and it's OK that it's insane at times. It's what makes it worth doing and what makes the great moments that much sweeter.

At the end of the night I might have spit up down my nursing tank top and I may have eaten leftover mac n' cheese and watermelon from 5 nights ago because I was too exhausted to even think up something to make for myself, but really and truly things are all good. I have a sleeping toddler in his crib, wrapped up in his blankie, as if to show me he's still my baby and he's still OK. I have a sleeping newborn - finally! - who looks like a precious angel and who makes my heart skip a beat just thinking of how amazing it is that she's here and she's ours and perfect. I have a husband who worked so hard at his job and is such a great dad. And yes, my house is a disaster at this moment and I think my cell phone rang four times but right now I can't even find it let alone bother to worry who it was that called me. Yes, I'm about to collapse from exhaustion and I know for sure that tonight I won't be getting my only alone and sacred time - a shower - because I'm too damn tired to stand up straight.

But really, it's OK. There's some sort of beauty in the chaos. 
It's crazy for sure. I am fully admitting this is the overwhelming stage that I'm in as a new mom to two. It's making me feel like I suck at this parenting thing sometimes. It's making me question how the hell we think we could ever have another one someday. And yet, I'm realizing it's all OK. It's just OK. You get through it. You put one kid down and ignore the screaming just for a minute so you can focus on the other one who needs you more right then. You accept that you can't be everything to everyone at the same time, that somebody has to wait, even if oftentimes that somebody is you doing the waiting. You realize that this too shall pass and it's just a phase and it will get better. You realize you can push through the exhaustion and lack of sleep, somehow you can function despite the dark circles under your eyes looking like you have been punched in the face. You just do it. You do it all because you have to. They depend on you to keep it together. So you do. And really, it ends up far more than OK.

I know I have many more evenings ahead of me just like this one. 
I know I'm going to be covered in pee and dinner and spit up breastmilk for quite some time to come. I know that I will have to continue to choose which child needs me more in any given moment and that it's going to suck every single time and that I will forever feel some guilt that I'm not doing or being enough to one of them. I know that I won't ever be a perfect mother because quite frankly they don't exist. I accept this because I know it to be truth and reality and overall to be OK.

And still, I know it's a crazy beautiful life. It's nothing I'd trade, ever, not for a second. It's something I'm grateful for. And yet it's OK to have a moment where I wish I was the one taking a bath tub or sprawling out in my crib or laying against someone's chest as I fall asleep. It's OK to count the seconds until bed time, even if that bed time is something I dread at the same time.

It's all OK. We can do this. That's what it comes down to. We can do this.
Afterall it is a crazy beautiful life, right? Who wouldn't want a little crazy in exchange for a whole lot of beautiful?

**be sure to check out this post and others at a GREAT new site
 where myself and others are featured bloggers!**

Monday, May 21, 2012

did you know?!

Some pretty random but important ideas for you mommies!
Found from Parent magazines 

Pacifiers Reduce SIDS risk
Susan Orenstein in a Parent magazine wrote, "Few medical developments are as clear-cut as the recent findings on pacifiers, which show that these time-tested baby soothers cut the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, by 90 percent. Experts speculate that sucking makes babies more alert, a state that seems to reduce SIDS risk. Another possibility is that the pacifier acts as a barrier between the baby's mouth and anything that could block his airways, like blankets. Whatever the reason behind the pacifier's anti-SIDS effect, don't feel guilty about introducing one; you're protecting your baby from one of the leading causes of infant death."

Going for Doctor Checkups
Some tips for making this a smooth appointment:
- go when the going's good - Avoid Mondays, Fridays and around holidays when it's crowded. Ask for morning or after lunch appointments.
-Time it right so your baby is in good spirits, well-fed and rested.
-Bring a list of your questions. You won't remember them all in the moment.
-Keep clothes simple - Having to take off baby's outfit for shots and checkups is necessary, so don't layer on an adorable outfit for this trip.
-Don't forget the insurance card for your baby and immunization record, your date book for planning the next appointment, and oh yeah, a diaper... they'll be changing that at the visit!

Make it Fun to Stay Hydrated!
A great article suggested having kids eat their water this summer to stay hydrated!
-Fruits and veggies contain 70 to 95 percent water. Watermelon, strawberries, lettuce and cucumbers are full of water.Freezing cups of apple sauce is a fun summer treat!
-Yogurt is 80 percent water - regardless of type.
-Oatmeal, beans, couscous and pasta is more than 50 percent water as they cook.

Staying Cool in the Pool
-Rinsing your child off in the shower or with the hose before getting into a chlorine pool is a good idea in order to prevent drying of skin. Sunscreen is a good moisturizer during the day and then put on some lotion at night.
-Wearing goggles is the best thing for decreasing irritation in eyes from chlorine.
-Wetting your child's hair before he gets into the chlorinated pool is a good way to prevent dried out hair. If it's already saturated with fresh water, the hair will absorb less chlorine pool water. Rinsing hair after the pool time is a good idea also.

Avoiding Cavities
-Wipe baby gums with a cloth before bed to remove bacteria.
-Once teeth show up is when you should start brushing them for your baby. Ideally twice a day, but realistically once a day. You should use non-fluoridated toothpaste before age 4.
-Ditch the bedtime bottle because the juice and milk pools in your baby's mouth, causing bacteria.
-Visit the dentist by age one.
-Eating cheese helps prevent tooth decay because it has protein in it that helps teeth.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

interview with a new mom of TWO - Angela

I interviewed my good friend Holly last summer about her experience adding a second baby to the mix. Now I'm answering the questions myself, having recently added baby #2, a beautiful girl, to our family of 4.

1. How did you try to prepare yourself before baby number 2 arrived?
I started nesting before I was even pregnant with #2! We started trying in the summer when I was out of work from my school job, so I had more time on my hands when my toddler would take wonderfully long naps in the afternoon after being at the beach all morning. So my goal was to get our house and life pregnancy and baby ready. I organized everything top to bottom - including bathroom drawers and medicine cabinet, digital photo books, and toy boxes. I went through everything. I had a small project every day and crossed things off the list as I went. I just predicted that I'd be extra tired being pregnant, working full time and having a toddler, so getting things done ahead of time was the goal. I also read a lot about what it might be like for my toddler age son to deal with becoming a sibling. 

2. How did you try to prepare your first child for his little sister?
We did things gradually. We were very conscious of how things may affect our son. We took out the baby swing, seat, bath tub, bassinet, etc. in slow motion, one at a time. We took them out far enough in advance before baby arrived so my son could get used to them and get over how exciting it was to push the swing really fast. We talked about babies (babies cry and sleep a lot and drink milk), read books about becoming a big brother and about babies. My son started playing with his baby doll that a cousin had given him so we started capitalizing on that, helping him put a diaper on the doll and wrap her up in a blanket and feed her bottles. I took him to one of my early doctor's visits also by chance and he got to hear the heartbeat, so after that he on his own got out his doctor's kit and frequently wanted to hear the baby's heartbeat. Because he was only two, we knew he didn't quite understand what this all meant with me being pregnant. I also started teaching him things I knew he'd need to do after I had another C-section and couldn't do as much for him for a while. I taught him to walk up and down the stairs holding my hand instead of me lifting him. I stopped carrying him everywhere. I taught him to get out of his bath tub on his own, putting one leg over and then the other instead of me lifting him. Overall, I think both my husband and I just tried really hard to be conscious, focused on how this process affected our son.

3. What are some of the biggest changes with going from one to two children?
The single biggest change is that there is NEVER a dull moment. I thought having one child meant I was a busy person, but now I'm crazy busy. There literally is never ever a second when I'm not supposed to be doing something for my children. The only time the house is quiet is at night for about an hour when both my husband and I retreat to our respective computers and tasks around the house before we collapse into bed and try to stay awake for a half hour to talk and watch an episode of Friends on TV. That's the biggest change - somebody always needs something from me, at all times of the day and night. My only alone time now is taking a shower - which I have to now take at night or else I don't get one. The toughest time of day is when we all get home together in the late afternoon and are starting dinner and my husband wants to talk about work and I want to talk about anything and my son wants our attention and my daughter is screaming because she's overstimulated... we can't get any conversation finished. That's just a big change we've had - figuring out that evening routine without all of us going crazy. Another change is just that there are now two of them. Two babies who need their diaper changed. I have to remind myself to change my son's diaper now because he's running around and not screaming at me to change him like my daughter does. Two babies who need to be fed at various times, two huge loads of laundry now, two baby books to write in. It's all just BUSIER.

4. What has surprised you about being a parent to two?
How naturally and easy some of it has been to adjust to. Some of it just feels normal and like we've done this forever. It also surprises me how in love with my two children being siblings makes me feel. I literally tear up all the time when I see them together. I am surprised at how incredible my husband is. He already was, and now that I see him with my son taking charge more than ever before I'm just surprised how happy it makes me. It surprises me how little I recall the newborn stage though, having done this already. I keep waiting for my newborn to be on a schedule, a routine, like my toddler. However, I have to stop and remind myself that my toddler was not on a schedule either at this little. I'm just so used to being in a routine with my first for so long that I get frustrated sometimes with her lack of routine. I am surprised that I don't recall the newborn stage as well as I thought I would!

5. What are some of the greatest things about adding another one into the mix, making two better than one?
Definitely the best thing is having another one of us around here. It's incredible to see that our daughter looks like our son did, and yet they are very different as babies, having their own distinct personalities. We keep saying we feel truly blessed - one of each, how incredible! Another great thing that I never imagined would be so special is seeing how my son adores his little sister already. He's jealous sometimes and a little weird toward me and his dad, but toward his sister - unconditional love and excitement. He has his own little baby voice for her and he's gentle and simply infatuated with her. That is the sweetest thing to see. Every single time he asks to hold her or does something sweet toward her (sharing his toys, stickers, asking to read to her, asking if it's OK to share his crackers with her, etc.) and when I see them together taking photos of them I literally tear up every time. It's just such sweetness. I know someday they will fight like siblings naturally do, but for now I'm in this place of "aw he loves her" type of sweetness.

6. What did you do with your first child while you were in the hospital with baby number 2?
We took our son to his babysitter the day of our baby's birth. We had planned that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law would take him up to see us at the hospital to meet the baby before anyone else did, but when we went into labor a day early we and were in disbelief that it was real we just had him go to his sitter for the day. My in-laws brought him up to us in the afternoon to meet his sister. Then my in-laws stayed at our house those 4 nights we were in the hospital, did the bed time routine. They took Owen up to see us in the hospital most mornings and evenings for dinner with Dad in the hospital cafeteria. He'd come in to see us for about 30 minutes, during which I made sure I was free to sit with him, read stories, play with the toys we'd given him as a big brother present, and give him a special treat for snack each visit. We picked him up from his sitter on the last day on our way home from the hospital so we could all go home together.

7. What is your advice for moms who are going to have a second child?
My advice is to do lots of nesting and organizing beforehand and before you get too tired with pregnancy, spend tons of time with your first child before baby comes, and let go of expectations and worries. It is what it is, tell yourself that. Give yourself a break. Keep priorities straight - your new family. I would also say don't just jump into getting out all baby stuff around the house, do it gradually so to make it an easier transition for baby #1. I'd also say to talk to your partner about things that bothered you or were difficult with your first newborn or hospital experience, before baby #2 comes, keep communicating.

8. How was it when you were pregnant with baby number 2 with a toddler running around, was it a different pregnancy?
It was much, much more difficult than my first pregnancy - all because I had another child to consider and could not just rest when I wanted to like I could with my first pregnancy. I was physically more tired from carrying my big boy around plus the belly. I couldn't just sleep off the morning sickness when I had to go change my son's diaper from the night and be up with him. I think being pregnant while having a toddler was one of the toughest things I've had to do.

Any advice for those pregnant with a toddler?
Rest whenever possible, typically during your toddler's nap time. Spend quality time with your toddler as much as you can. Teach your toddler to walk up and down stairs way ahead of time so it's not a shock when you can't lift him after baby comes home. Teach him to hop down from his high chair and from the car seat, too, to teach him to be more independent. Teach him that you can't pick him up all the time, again, so it's not a shock when you can't do it after baby comes home. Make the changes as gradual as possible. If your partner doesn't help out with bed and bath routines as much now, ask him/her to step up and help out more way in advance before baby comes home and your partner is ultimately helping more than normal. My husband helped all along and still it was an adjustment for my son to see that there were multiple nights in a row when I couldn't do the bed routine after my C-section, so I really encourage those of you who don't have a partner who helps tons now to ask for help from him/her so your child is prepared for that change.

9. Any books, Web sites, blogs, or friends' advice that helped with the transition to two?
Other mommies! Seriously, asking questions of other moms helped me tremendously. I read a few books ahead of time about what it's like to transition from one to two kids, but didn't find much.

10. Can you share any silly or funny moment between your two kids or your husband and you when baby number two came that shows what it's like?
Let's see... a typical evening around here is my toddler running around with tools, saying "work, ma, work!" making all of his noisy tool toys go off at the same time, while the newborn is screaming her head off because it's too damn loud and crazy around here and she wants to be attached to my chest, and my husband is saying "nevermind, forget it" because he's had to stop mid-sentence 3 times already telling me about his day at work, while he is making dinner and I'm pacing trying to get the baby to stop screaming. Oh yes, just another day in paradise! 

A sweet moment is that my son always wants to kiss his sister and say hi to her in his baby voice. Every single morning he comes in to say goodbye to me and "Baby Addisyn." He comes in, says, "Hi, mama, Hi Baby Addisyn, hi." Then after I give him a kiss and ask how he slept at night, he says, "Put baby bottles in sink, ma, hold on!" and runs with the couple of bottles from the night before and tosses them into the sink. He then returns and proceeds to pass to me in bed everything on my nightstand, saying that I need them - glasses, cell phone, water bottle, baby's pacifier... It's adorable. He won't leave with his dad until he says goodbye to his sister. He's such a big helper!

11. Think back to all the things you worried about before and after baby number 1 came along... did you worry about those same things, or lighten up a bit and worry about different things the second time around?
This is the best part about having a second child - you lighten up! I know with my first son that I was a pretty relaxed parent. We didn't care if the pacifier dropped, we'd just wipe it off and call it good. We let anyone and everyone hold our son from day one in the hospital. We were pretty OK about things. And yet, even us OK parents, now with a second child I see that we were still neurotic about things. It's a forced thing that happens with your second - you HAVE to let go of the little things. There is no time to dwell or worry like you did with your first. I've heard more crying than I care to admit the last 4 weeks because I have to say, "I'm coming, sweetheart, be right there, one more second..." because I'm filling a sippy cup with milk for my son or helping him put on his shoes. The biggest thing that I've lightened up about is nursing. It worked easier this time around so I know that's a huge part of what's helped me relax about the milk supply and pumping schedule. 

There are a few different things I worry about this second time around though. I worry that I'm not giving enough attention to my son, and I worry about how he's being affected with the changes. I worry that because my husband is totally with my son a lot of the time then he's not bonding as much with my daughter. I worry about how on earth to ever be alone in the house or out of the house with two kids. Just different worries.

12. Name 3 things you could not live without having a second child.
Experience - having had a child before makes doing this a second time around - when things are a thousand times busier and more chaotic and demanding - much easier. Family and friends - Seriously no idea how people do this when they don't live near family and friends! We have relied so heavily on people the last 4 weeks that I don't know how to do this on our own anymore! It's so amazing to have help. A swing - my daughter likes it, thankfully, and it's a nice place to put her down when I want to really be one-on-one with my son. Oh, I'd also add that I never could have had a second child and given her breastmilk without the pump bra holder thing from Medela that allows me to pump hands-free. It's good for when I have the baby sitting in the Boppy next to me and my son running around or wanting to read with me while pumping. OK one more, BOPPY! It's the best thing for nursing.

13. How has your relationship with your first child changed by adding a second one?
This makes me tear up actually. This is the worst part, the only bad part really, about having another one. I know that things won't ever be the same as it was for two years with my son now that there is another one here. I don't put him to bed as often as I used to. I don't do the stories and bath time as much as I used to, my husband does. That's the plus - he's even closer to his dad, which is incredible to see. I feel sad that there is someone else who needs me now and taking me away from my son when it used to just be the two of us a lot of the time. We've both adjusted already though, even in a short time. It makes the one-on-one time we get together even more special. And seeing how he adores his sister makes me not feel guilty at all. I think it's just sadness I feel sometimes, like I'm grieving how it was with me and my first for two years. Of course it's all worth it, I wouldn't trade having another one for anything in the world. So my relationship with my son has only changed slightly in that I'm not physically doing as much as I was doing with him pre-baby #2. Most of that is due to the fact that I had surgery and can't lift him though. I anticipate this summer when I'm back to feeling OK and the newborn isn't so demanding with feedings and things, my son and I can resume some extra special one-on-one time.

14. Do you try to put special time in for your older one, mommy and son time?
Each day I try to make sure my son knows he's still my number one monkey man! I try to make sure we do something, anything, even for 10 minutes, every day where it's just me and him, no baby around us, and he sees I'm all about him. Sometimes that's in the car while baby is asleep and I've picked my son up from school and we're driving home. I'll put on his favorite song and we'll sing and dance. The other day he wanted me to put on the lights in the car and we laughed about it. It's usually small things like that, but I see it's important. I also try really hard to get on the floor and just play with him on his two-year-old level. My husband does the same, although he's doing tons more one-on-one with my son these days, which my son LOVES.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

motherly quotable quotes

Happy Mother's Day everyone! 
Celebrate all that you do. 

"You can never be one hundred percent prepared for motherhood, because it is motherhood itself that prepares you."
-Deanna Stollar, from A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers book.


“Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood - finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.” 
― Jodi Picoultauthor, Perfect Match


"Yet, somehow in taking care of our babies, we learn from them how to give and how to grow beyond ourselves to become something more, something better."
-Deanna Stollar, from A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers book.


“(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that's the only shift they offer.” 
― Jodi PicoultMy Sister's Keeper


“Even if i'm setting myself up for failure, I think it's worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obseessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is. A mother who doesn't fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind. A mother who doesn't worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she's both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad. ” 
― Ayelet WaldmanBad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace


In a March 2012 article in O Magazine, author Martha Beck wrote about things you can stop worrying about, one of which is our children.
"There was a time when I spent many hours worrying about my kids. In fact, I was so worried my firstborn would feel unloved that I 'soothed' her constantly, blasting the poor child with a fire hose of anxious energy. It's a wonder she survived. 

"My second child, who arrived with an extra 21st chromosome, eventually led me to a shocking conclusion: We don't actually have much control over the way our kids turn out. Genes do a lot of the deciding, and the owner of those genes does most of the rest. Some kids let parents have a great deal of influence; others don't. Either way, people blossom when we love them, not when we worry about them. Worry just teaches worry. Let it go."

Friday, May 11, 2012

wait a second, there are TWO of them now?!?!

So here we are. A brand new family of four. 
Two kids under the age of 2. It's quite a transition around here. And yet I keep feeling like it's normal, natural, the way it's supposed to be and perhaps always has been. Yet that moment flies by and I'm back to feeling like we have no clue what we are doing with these two kids the hospital somehow let us sneak out with. We are still adjusting I'd say, but we're adjusting well. Things are starting to find their way into the shape of a routine, and then other things still have yet to be figured out. We are all sort of doing this dance that we are just learning the steps to, trying our best not to cut one another off or step on any toes.

The biggest transition I've seen with two kids is that somebody always needs something. We don't get a break. As I'm typing this, the baby is waking up and I have no clue when I'll get back to finishing it.
          (Ah... 2 days later I return...)

My heart is indeed bigger, that's for sure.
Everyone told me I'd make room in there for another one after loving my first so entirely. I never doubted it, but now I know it's really true. I feel so incredibly lucky to have two. I keep writing that I feel blessed. It's the biggest word I can come up with to describe how I feel - blessed. It encompasses all of it. How incredible it is to have a boy and a girl, one of each! How totally sweet it is to see my older son coming up with his own little way of loving his tiny sister. How wonderful it is seeing my big tall husband holding this teeny tiny newborn daughter of ours. It's just amazing.

My husband and I are in this total team effort practice right now.
It's all hands on deck. My husband was an incredible dad before baby #2 came home. He helped me a lot - laundry, dishes, bed and bath routines, etc. Yet now, it's astonishing how much he's doing. It's like we don't stop though. Somebody needs a diaper (we've got size newborn and size 6s around here!) or something to eat or just something that we have to get. It's constant. There is no break. Things that used to take me a few minutes to complete now takes me days.

We are finding our way though. A few things are helping me get through this transition. I call them my
Keys to parenting two success:

1. ASK FOR HELP - I have never in my life asked for more help than I've asked for the last 3 weeks since having our second baby. I've put up boundaries ("No, we can't have visitors from noon to 2, that's when we all take a nap."). I've accepted people's offers of "Let me know if you need anything at all." Once I even called my neighbor to come over and lift my son out of his crib since I still can't lift him after surgery. I've asked my sister-in-law to take me to my doctor's appointment, my other sister-in-law to watch my son so he can have some super fun cousin time, and asked my siblings to play outside with my son until he comes back inside covered in dirt and smiles. I have felt weird at times asking for help like this, but then I think it's only temporary, until we get through the newborn needy stage and adjustment. And you know what, people offer help. They genuinely mean they want to help. So what does it hurt to accept that help? It's necessary really. And I'm proud of myself for acknowledging that.

2. REST - I'm actually getting rest this time around. With my first I never ever slept when he slept like people tell you to do with a newborn. This time I've learned from past experience of exhaustion really affecting me and I've rested! I started in the hospital by sending my daughter to the nursery a few hours a night. It was the best thing, as it helped me recover quicker from my surgery. Every single day since we brought her home from the hospital I have taken at least a 30 minute nap. I'm so proud of myself for doing this. I've always been one of those people who keeps going, despite exhaustion. I keep pushing to cross things off my list. But now I realize I need to stay healthy, strong and sane in order to parent not one but two children. So rest is helping.

3. REMEMBERING MY HUSBAND - The first year with our first child was kinda hellish at times for our marriage. It was just hard. This time around I swore I'd keep us as a priority, not let the baby or exhaustion take over. And it's working! We are communicating more than ever. We are quick to apologize and blame lack of sleep for any little bickering we do. We are working together more than ever before to keep this house running. We are laughing about the insanity even! Last night I said, "This parenting two is a tough gig." He said, "No kidding!" And we laughed and put our arms around each other. I'm even setting aside the laundry or washing bottles so I can just be with my husband on the couch in front of the TV (before we pass out from exhaustion!). It's important to stay connected. I'm also acknowledging that "this too shall pass," and we'll get to that other side where we can see clearly again through the haze of a newborn's newness. I still intend to keep my New Year's resolution of date night once a month and go out in May some time. It's just important to remember we started as a married couple before the children invaded our home!

4. BE TOTALLY PRESENT - What seems to help our first child is that we are really focused on him, totally trying to be present, in the moment, doing things we know will make him feel special and happy and noticed. We are working hard to make sure this transition is not too difficult for our first little love. Coming up with special time for me and Owen is really important now, especially since I can't lift him for a while and am so attached with the baby feeding her and everything. So every day we try to swap kids and take turns being super mom and super dad! Being present has also meant realizing and accepting the limitations. I'm a go-go-go type of person. To be forced to sit every two hours for a feeding or to see the laundry stacking up but knowing I can't fold it due to needing to nurse or change diapers means I have to be present, in the here and now, not be thinking of what I wish I could do if I had more time or energy. The funny thing is it's kind of liberating!

5. BEEN HERE, DONE THAT - Having done this baby thing before makes many things a lot easier to go through a second time. In the hospital I was much more of an advocate for myself and what I wanted and needed, especially with nursing. I am more relaxed this time around - not freaking out if I don't pump every 2 hours on the dot, instead going a few longer hours and nursing or pumping if she's sleeping, but not stressed that milk won't come in or will dry up. I also know that as fragile as newborns are they are not going to break. This has allowed me to dress my daughter quicker than I did with my son and bathe her easier, too. I also have not even had one second to boil bottles in between uses like I did religiously for the first month with my son. I just wash them myself in hot soapy water and call it good. Having been here before has made me more confident - I will not screw this up. I will see this child reach 12 months of age and older. I can do this. It's such a relief to let the little things go.

6. PUTTING US FIRST - I am getting amazingly good at this putting up boundaries thing by being a parent. It's taught me that my family comes first, end of story. So if someone invites us to a party in the middle of nap time, nope, sorry, we're not free. Or if we've already had one or two visitors in a day and I'm needing a nap I'll say so, sorry we're too busy today, come again another day. One day my cousin was going to visit the new baby at our house. We'd already been to the doctor's and had a photo shoot in our house. It was also my husband's first day back to work. I knew we were all done. Two years ago pre-babies I would have said, "but sure come on over, no problem!" Instead when she asked if that was a good night I was simply honest and told her the truth of what we'd done that day and how I just needed to get to bed early. People respect and truly understand honesty when it comes to parenting. No shame in putting it all out there. Most people have been there anyway themselves. My motto is not to plan too much in a day. One event or thing to do is good enough. I'm trying to keep us, this family of four's needs as the priority.

7. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE - I am trying to remember that my son is going through a change and he needs us to be patient with his outbursts and attention seeking behavior. I am trying to remember that when my husband seems frustrated that he can't just up and go outside and work in the yard or do some manly thing he likes to do whenever he wants because our kids need him or I need him, he's not mad at me he's just frustrated with the process that's all. I am trying to be patient with my very demanding and vocal newborn when she seeks only my attention from the hours of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. most nights and I'm trying to remind myself that she's only little for a short time and that I must absolutely adore her even when she's vocal - or else! Patience. It's the biggest thing that helps us get through the changes. That and LAUGHING!

Parenting is hard. Parenting two is crazy rewarding -that's what I describe it as. Crazy rewarding. 
It's all a blessing. I feel lucky to be a mom of two beautiful children. I have no clue what I'm doing most days, but I'm trying my best to be a good mother to these two loves. Their smiles show me something I'm doing is working and I'm getting it right at least some moments in the day! That's all I can ask for.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear 38-weeks along sista-in-law,

Dear Missy,

To my adorably sweet and very preggo sister-in-law on your 38th week of pregnancy...
wow, you've done it! You made it to May, the due date month of your soon-to-be SON! I am so proud of you. It's been a big year for you. First came marriage last summer, then came baby on board at the same time as we found out we were pregnant, too! Now baby is about to be here. I can't believe it! I am so excited to be an auntie again, and for our new baby girl to have her new boy cousin only a few weeks apart from her growing up.

It has been so very fun being pregnant with you. I've loved taking our belly pictures together, complaining about aches and pains and heartburn together. It's been great not to be alone. I won't forget when you said the only bad thing about meeting your niece two weeks ago was that it meant I was no longer pregnant with you! I'll take that as a sweet comment instead of jealousy! :) Really though, what more fun could one have than to be pregnant with her sista?!

(aw, look how little we used to be?! haha)

As you go into this new journey I'm thinking there are a few things I wish people had reminded me of before I had my first baby like you are about to do now. So I figured I would clue you in sooner rather than later. I know still that despite what anyone tells you there is still going to be this huge learning curve of things that you and your hubby will just have to figure out on your own. Still, I thought I could help a little. I can't take away the swollen feet you have (despite giving you some super amazing foot cream to make it feel all tingly and better at the end of a long day!) and I can't speed up this nerveracking process of impending labor and delivery. However, I can make you smile and help you know you aren't in this alone, others have gone before you and made it out alive just fine, you will, too! :)

Some things to remember:
1. Make time for you and hubby. Do something fun together, even if it's just going to eat (more!) ice cream together before the baby arrives. When baby gets here it's all about baby, rightfully so. So before he makes his big debut do something fun just the two of you.

2. Communicate! Hormones are going to be flying like you can't imagine. Sleep deprivation is going to make you both a little nutty and even annoyed with each other from time to time. The biggest thing to help you through that craziness is communicating, really talking about whatever is bugging you guys.

3. Blame it on the hormones. Yes, it's totally normal whatever you are going to feel or however you react to certain things when baby gets here or even before during labor. It's all normal. So just blame it on hormones, because honestly that's all it is. You are not crazy, repeat after me, you are not crazy. Just hormonal!

4. Go with the flow. We plan and plan and plan, but can't plan labor and delivery. Just not possible. So take your birth plan of ideas with you, making sure your husband knows a bit about what you do and don't want, but make sure it's just a plan of ideas not something set in stone. Babies have a way of making us change our minds about things - or changing our minds for us really depending on what they think is best. So just go with it. Whatever happens happens. Let it be.

5. Send baby to the nursery. I didn't do this with my first but did with my second. It's a WORLD of difference in how much quicker you can physically recover and your mental state when you get some REST. You need rest! Don't be afraid to send baby to the nursery even for an hour so you can really get sleep. I never would have listened to someone telling me this, but after having gone nuts my first hospital birth round I decided I had to do things differently the second time and it worked!

6. Enjoy your baby! It's so overwhelming at first - how do I nurse? What about a pacifier? So many visitors! I'm sore! Is he breathing OK? etc. - that you don't often have a chance to stop and ENJOY your new bundle of joy. Sure, you spend all day holding him, but I mean really enjoying him, staring at him, taking it all in, memorizing how he feels this tiny because he'll never again be so little. Make sure you take time to stop and love every second of this brand new newborn part.

7. Give yourself a break. You ARE going to be a good mom, right from the start, simply because you are HIS mom. Nobody else could take your place, ever. Isn't that so cool?! So give yourself a break. If nursing doesn't work the way you planned or if you get peed on every single time you change a diaper at first because you have no clue how to get one on quicker, it's all OK. If you and your husband argue or are smitten with each other all over again - whatever the response remind yourself it's normal and will pass. You will make mistakes. You will do more things right though, I promise. Give yourself the room to learn and grow along with this baby.

8. Ask for help! That's what the rest of us are here for. Please ask!

I am so incredibly happy for you both. This is going to be an awesome journey, you'll see. You both are already the BEST aunt and uncle to so many of your nieces and nephews, my kids included. I know you'll be even better parents - which seems unimaginable to me that you could even get better than I see you are as auntie and uncle!

(aw, look the bumps are touching, they're friends!)

Have fun with this next adventure in your lives. You're going to see that it's the best, coolest, most incredible thing you've ever done. I know you can do it! Hang in there. The best is right around the corner.

Love, your sista-in-law,