My little Norah bean, how are you two months old already?
We took you for your well baby visit yesterday and you weighed in at a healthy 10 pounds, 8 ounces. You’ve gained more than two pounds since you were born! You are 22 inches long and growing strong. You hated the oral vaccine, but recovered from the shots like they were no big thing.
I’m not going to lie Norah, you haven’t been the easiest baby. For one, you love to stay up all night long STILL at two months old. In order to keep some sort of sanity, your dad and I have started taking shifts. We both stay up with you until about 10:30, then one of us takes you until about 12, then the other takes over until you finally fall asleep sometime between 2 and 3 in the morning. This is torture for everyone involved, including your sister who tries to hide under her pillows and covers to get some sort of sleep.
You would never know that you’re like that during the day though. During the day you’re so happy and want to sleep (of course). We had problems with you being content if we weren’t holding you for a while, but that’s slowly starting to fade away and now you will happily sit in your bouncy chair for 10-15 minutes, letting us get somethings done around the house. You’re still not crazy about the swing though.
You’ve also finally started smiling! Your dad and I both love to coax smiles out of you, but you save your biggest and best smiles for your sister, Sarah, who loves to talk to you, hug you and sing to you. You think she’s just amazing.
Like your sister, you HATE pacifiers and bottles with a determined passion. The doctor says you have a super sensitive gag reflex though, and we’re going to do a few things to help with that. However, for the first time ever today, your Mimi got you to take two ounces from a bottle over the course of about an hour. That was a big victory for us!
The doctor also says you have the head and neck control of a four month old and I believe it! You love to push yourself up on my chest or during tummy time (which you love by the way).
The verdict is still out on your eye color. We thought for sure you were going to be brown-eyed, but they are starting to lighten up and now we’re thinking you might be blue-eyed like your sister and dad after all.
Two months into our lives, and we think you fit perfectly into our family. You were meant to be.
We think you’re amazing, and I think you feel the same about us.
Now, let’s get to work on sleeping during the night!
I can not believe that my first born girl has crossed over the two-and-a-half year mark.
Right now, she’s sitting here next to me, enthusiastically coloring pictures of Minnie Mouse, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. These days she alternately calls herself “Doc Sarah” or “Princess Sarah,” unsure of which she would rather be when she grows up, though I assure her she can be both if she wants.
At 2.5 years old, she’s very in tune with what everyone around her is saying, doing and feeling. She picks up phrases and repeats them back to us, telling us how silly we are, or walking up to her sister and saying “Look at you, look at you!” She also loves to sing songs – fun learning songs she learns at school, as well as Katy Perry’s “Roar” an Lorde’s “Royals.” She also likes to belt out every song from the movie Tangled, which is currently the end all and be all of movies in our house. She loves “Punzel” and would happily wear her Rapunzel night gown all day and all night. As soon as she gets home she runs to her room to pull out a night gown to change into. If Punzel is in the wash, then she will settle for her Dora or mermaid one instead.
We recently asked Sarah what she wanted for Christmas. Without hesitation she listed these items, “A princess dress, a princess puppy and Doc McStuffins shoes.” When we asked her what her sister wanted, she looked at her knowingly and said, “You want a ladybug, don’t you?” We then asked her what she wanted her sister to get her for Christmas and she said, “A red dress.” What two-year-old wants clothes for Christmas? Oh well, I’m counting my blessings that, for this year at least, she wants practical things. Though, if she’s anything like her parents, she’ll probably go on wanting practical things for the rest of her life.
She is into everything and we have definitely entered the phase where if things get too quiet we know something is up. This past weekend alone she managed to lose her father’s wedding ring (we later found it by a stroke of luck – it was hanging on the handle of a drawer in our kitchen); color all over our newly painted trim with black marker; swallow the Goo Gone we used to clean it up, forcing me to call poison control (she’s fine); and empty our her dresser twice in search of dresses – the only item of clothes besides nightgowns that she will willingly wear.
But this girl has a heart of gold. She loves to bring things to her sister – blankets and toys, and then kiss her on her cheeks and head. She loves to “hold” mommy and daddy and read books to us. She talks about her friends at school all the time, and every morning asks to go see her friends – even on the weekends.
She is really blossoming with talking and knows all her shapes, colors, numbers and capital letters. She still loves books and Olivia Saves the Circus is her very favorite one.
She apologizes to us in advance when she knows we won’t like something. For example, when she saw me making veggie soup, she came up to me and said, “No, sorry mama, I want nuggets and fries.” She ate the soup anyway.
It’s so easy to glaze over the specialness of these days with a newborn keeping us sleep deprived, but Sarah never lets us forget she’s there in both exasperating and exciting ways. She is an amazing kid and I am so thankful to be her mama.
Last night was one of the most difficult nights I’ve ever had mentally as a parent.
Yesterday, I skipped the nap I usually take in the morning after we send Sarah to daycare. Norah is a terrible night sleeper, and so far that nap has been the key to my sanity. But I had a lot of work I needed to get up and do and her morning nap is the one reliable time I have to myself. So I got up and had a fantastic day getting work done. My sister came over and watched Norah some and worked on the nursery (which still isn’t finished), then my mom came over and watched her some more.
I felt good. I was tired because of the missed nap, but Norah had slept more like a normal baby the past three nights – going to sleep at 9, waking up twice to feed, then going back to sleep after. I could survive on that kind of sleep.
Bed time hour approached around 7, and Norah started getting fussy. But, hey, we thought, at least she’s doing it early so she’ll be asleep by 9 or 9:30, no problem. We got Sarah ready and in bed a little late, around 8:30, then started prepping for Norah’s bed time routine. She was screaming, but I thought once I bathed and nursed her she’d settle right down and I could climb into bed and in dreamland by 10.
Boy was I wrong. Norah was alternately screaming and staring at me with owl eyes for over EIGHT HOURS straight last night. Guys, this was not good for Mark’s or my mental health. About five separate times we thought we had her asleep, only to lay her down and have her start screaming less than two minutes later.
There’s something that makes it mentally tougher when you’re in your bed with the lights dim, just begging the baby to fall asleep. At 1:00 am, we eventually decided to just move to the living room and turn on the tv to make everything feel a little more normal, a little more sane. When she finally dozed off, we practically ran back to our room and put her in bed… only to have her back up again five minutes later.
I cried then. I cried that she was being cruel. I cried that it was unfair. I cried because I must have the only baby who does not sleep at all at night. After all, having a child that gets up to feed twice in the middle of the night then goes back to sleep sounds like a cake walk compared to what we’ve been experiencing, especially when there is no break, no chance to have one night to catch up on sleep. I was mad. Mark would doze off and start snoring and I got even more mad. I would put her in her bed, still screaming, and punch pillows.
Around 3:00 a.m. we moved to the rocking chair. I put my nose on her forehead and breathed in. I could smell the chrism oil that still stained her forehead from her baptism on Saturday and immediately calmed down. We rocked and rocked and rocked. And finally, around 3:45, she fell asleep. I kept rocking, scared she was going to wake up any moment and we would start all over. But I finally moved her back to her bed and she stayed asleep.
We fell asleep around 4 this morning, so of course Sarah was up shortly before 6. She came running in with nothing but a pull-up on, wanting to change into her Dora nightgown. I ushered her back to bed, where she stayed until 6:45. She then came loudly into our room neighing, declaring that she was a horse. It was so hard not to be grumpy when I was barely functioning on less than two hours of sleep. But she was laughing and smiling and asking for hugs and I remembered I had to be a mother to her, too. Mark and I both got up and got her ready for school. I was storming around the kitchen, snapping at my husband and my daughter while prepping her lunch. Then Sarah walked up to me, put her arms out and said, “I hold you mommy.” I stopped, looked at her, and scooped her up in my arms. She held me and loved me and brought me back to the realization that we have tough nights, terrible nights, but oh the love we get in return.
Norah slept for seven hours straight after that rough go, the longest she’s ever slept. I went back to bed and slept three more hours, waking up once to check on her when I feared she’d been quiet too long.
When she woke up, I nursed her, held her and smelled the holy chrism oil. I watched a video someone had posted on Facebook of a couple who couldn’t have children and ended up adopting twins, which promptly brought me to tears. I looked down at the little baby God has entrusted me to take care of. He knows I can do it, but I often doubt myself. The path to Norah has been a difficult one. I should have known birthing her wouldn’t make it easier. But I am so thankful she’s here. So thankful I get to hold her and nurse her and witness her first smiles. So thankful to have Sarah, my child whose imagination is limitless and knows just how to make me feel better. A little girl who is so perceptive that it startles me. So thankful for a husband who endures me yelling at him to stop snoring at 3am, and stays up with me in solidarity when I need it most.
This parenting thing can be so hard, but I am so thankful.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a post on Halloween – Norah’s first and the first time Sarah really understood what trick-or-treating was all about.
We all gathered at my mom’s house, who lives in one of the best trick-or-treating neighborhoods around.
My sisters and I dressed up as the Sanderson witch sisters from the movie Hocus Pocus. My youngest sister orchestrated all of our costumes and hair. It was so much fun and everyone who saw us recognized our costumes and loved it!
Sarah went as Olivia the pig, a famous children’s book character who also has her own TV show on Nick Jr, and my nephew went as Max from Where the Wild Things Are.
Sarah was not an elf, as several people thought she was.
Norah was a baby Minnie Mouse and quite enjoyed the trick-or-treating in my and her Aunt Marthy’s arms.
We pulled the kids around in a wagon, and Sarah absolutely loved it.
She only hesitated once when she was halfway up a driveway and saw a man sitting there in a scary clown mask. She turned around, looked at me and shook her head no. I agreed with her assessment and we moved on.
But the best part of the night was, of course, the candy. And after we finished trick-or-treating, Sarah took it upon herself to inspect what we were handing out (while Norah passed out).
It was a great night with beautiful weather – a perfect Halloween!
I am constantly awed by the amazing people I have in my life.
Take Cassie, for example. As soon as I told her I was pregnant, she volunteered to fly down from Pittsburgh and spend a long weekend with me to help out once the new baby arrived. And this was coming from a woman who was about to give birth to her fourth baby under age 5. Sure enough, as Norah’s delivery day started to approach, Cassie booked her flight to Shreveport. This meant her husband had to take off work to keep their four children and she was leaving her 7 month old who refused to take a bottle – all so she could come help me. I was so humbled and thankful!
She insisted that she was here to help, not on vacation. She planned what she was going to cook in advance, then sent a grocery list to me so Mark could go shopping before she got here. Once she arrived, Cassie went into full on help mode. She immediately tackled and cleaned my kitchen (no small feat) and then put together dinner for the whole family while I sat on the couch and had a glass of wine (don’t worry, I bought her a bottle too and poured her up a glass while she cooked).
Friday Cassie decided it was high time that we paint the entry hallway and living room – a project I’ve been telling her I was going to do for over a year. While I laid down with Norah, she watched Sarah and managed to take down the awful border in our hallway. Then, together the four of us went to Lowe’s and stocked up on paint.
We got back and immediately got to work priming the hallway. From the hallway we moved into the living room – moving furniture and priming and painting trim.
That was the most physical activity I had done since my c-section, which was tough, but I was so excited to finally see it all coming together. Mark was skeptical about the paint choice at first, but as it started coming together he finally saw my vision and jumped in on it, helping Cassie finish when I could go no more. In the midst of all this, Sarah dumped half a gallon of white primer on our carpet, and Cassie scooped down on it and immediately got to work on it. Together we scooped as much paint as we could off the floor, then she took the Bissell Green Machine to the spot. You can barely see it now!
Is this girl making you tired yet? Not to be outdone, she wanted to run her first 5k out of state. Saturday morning Norah and I were going to take her to the race site, but I woke up feeling terrible – congestion and sore throat – and poor little baby Norah was congested too. Mark volunteered to take her instead while I laid down and tried to rest some more. While I was at home sleeping, Cassie won first place in her age group and 15th overall, earning herself a trophy. Once she was done with the race though, the car battery was dead and Mark had to call his sister to come and rescue them. But they got donuts on the way home, so that made up for it.
After running that race, she came back to our house and helped Mark finish painting. Neither one of them would let me help because I felt so bad, so I supervised while I finished proofreading for work. Sarah, however, insisted on helping.
Then, later that afternoon, Cassie took Sarah to go pick up her trophy, then on a long walk to Mark and I could have some quiet time in the house together. Sarah is totally smitten with her (and her trophy). She still asks me about Cassie most days.
On Sunday, her final day here, we all went for brunch at Strawn’s, a local diner, where we met up with my sister Shannon, her husband and my nephew for some delicious food. It was Norah’s first trip to a restaurant and she did great!
How do you ever repay someone for all of that? Well you can’t really, but we did what we could by feeding Cassie lots of really good food from local places. And we bought her wine, because wine always makes people happy, right?
I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for her visit. Having a colicky baby and not getting much sleep makes the days difficult, especially with an imaginative, active two-year old who doesn’t nap. Cassie came in, let me sleep, cooked, painted and cleaned my house, all while entertaining my two-year-old. It was such a nice break and stress reliever. The best part though, was being able to hang out and talk in person. Sure we text and chat pretty much every day, but it’s not quite the same.
So to Cassie: I thank you!
Olivia the pig
And Baby Minnie Mouse
Wish you a spooktacular Halloween!
For our first real outing with Norah, we went to one of the local Pumpkin Patches. After a couple of rained out attempts, my sisters and I all happened to be off work on a Monday, so we went in the middle of the day and conveniently missed a pre-school class that had visited just 10 minutes before.
I’m not going to lie, getting two kids dressed and ready to go required way more energy than I anticipated. Thank goodness I am so much more laid back this time around with the baby. We breastfeed on the go instead of frantically trying to make sure she’s topped off before we leave. It didn’t matter anyway because Norah slept through the whole thing.
And, fortunately, my youngest sister MC came along and claimed baby duty so I could focus on chasing Sarah through the pumpkin patch.
Sarah and Jacob had an awesome time running through the patch and picking out pumpkins, with only one scary run towards the highway.
After much discernment, Sarah picked out pumpkins for each member of our family.
And my nephew picked out pumpkins for his family.
And, of course, we took the opportunity to pose the baby in the cutest way possible.
And they had a scene all set up for photo ops. We were all over it!
Say it with me now…. AWE!!!
Even with a newborn I refused to miss the Pumpkin Patch. And for Sarah’s sake especially, I’m so glad we went!
I love my sisters so much, and this outing ended up being as funny and entertaining with them as it was with the kids. I can’t wait for Sarah and Norah to share that bond one day.
We followed this great adventure with decorating Halloween cookies. But I’ll save that for another post.
It’s hard to believe you’ve already been in our lives for a month. I feel like we just took you home from the hospital last week!
Your first month has been interesting. The first two weeks of your life, we called you our angel baby. You slept all day and all night and your dad and I were actually getting some sleep in the process. This may have had a lot to do with the fact that you were sleeping on my chest almost non-stop, but I didn’t care because you were a sweet, snugly little baby. If anything, you helped me sleep better.
Two weeks in though, things changed. You started getting somewhat mobile, and for safety reasons, we needed to move you to your own sleep space. What a disaster that turned out to be. We tried any number of sleep options, from the bouncy chair in the pack and play (which worked a couple of nights), to the bassinet (ha ha), before your dad finally figured out that we had to mimic the sleeping on the chest position. Now you sleep in the pack and play bassinet propped up on your tummy.
Colic kicked in at week three too, and that is still an on and off struggle for us, though it seems to be getting better. You like to stay up and scream all night and sleep all day. We’ve been making a huge effort to switch that, and, for the most part, it’s starting to work (though you do so hate being awake during the day).
You still want to eat every 2-3 hours at night, and when you slept 4.5 hours straight once, I woke up worried.
You are a very relaxed baby for the most part, and your grandparents joke about never seeing your eyes open. Your sister Sarah loves to rub your head and kiss your cheeks (and occasionally knock you over with a knee or elbow). This means you’ve already managed to catch two small colds in your first month of life. (Oh how I would have freaked out over this if you were my first baby!)
One of my favorite things about you is that you smile in your sleep all the time, and even sometimes when you’re awake. You can’t focus on much yet, but you love to look at lights and follow the sound of my voice.
You’ve struggled with a lot of tummy troubles, though gripe water seems to ease some of your pain. You love nothing more than being patted on the back and some loud shushing.
Norah bean, it’s hard to believe we’ve had you in our lives for a month already, but it seems like you’ve always belonged here. I just know that as the months start to slip by (and we all start to sleep better), that we won’t be able to remember life without you, and that’s exactly how it should be.
Today Mark and I celebrate our six year wedding anniversary, 10 years after we first got together.
If you would have asked me what love was six years ago, I would have told you it was all about great communication and having fun together. I would have pointed to how Mark cared about me and supported me in my interests, while I, in turn, supported him in his interests, especially starting his own business. I would have talked about nights out and New Year’s kisses.
And six years later, some of those things stay the same. Communication is still essential, and having fun together really means having fun with the girls while we’re together. There are still the odd nights out and kisses to spare, but I think more than anything, love has taken on a whole new dimension for me this year.
Love is the help Mark gave me the day after my c-section, when I was at my most physically vulnerable and the nurses were forcing me out of bed to move around and get cleaned up. Love is trusting someone so completely and knowing they will take care of you and keep you as comfortable as possible.
Love is looking at each other when you hear your daughter scream into the world for the first time. There are no words needed. It’s also looking at each other for support when those screams continue into the middle of the night, or during two-year-old exhaustion induced temper tantrums.
Love is letting me get some extra sleep after a long night with a newborn, even though he was up a good portion of that time too. It’s filling water jugs in the middle of the night and scolding me for doing too much too quickly. It’s the concern and passion I see in my husband’s face every single day.
Love is opening our hearts to our growing family and learning how to support one another while supporting our children. It’s the warm pats on my arm I feel at 2 am when the baby is being particularly fussy and the pep talks we give each other when we’re down. It’s knowing when to take on the burden so the other can have a break, and then knowing when to take it back.
Love is looking at one another while we try to stifle giggles over the behavior of our children, and then failing miserably to hold them in.
Love is only needing one look to communicate 1,000 words. It’s a trust in knowing that we will always be there for one another when no one else can be, or no one else understands why.
Love can be difficult, but somehow, it’s always easy with you Mark.
It’s been six years and I would do it all over again.
I love you.
People keep asking me how I’m doing – how life is going with a two-year-old and a newborn.
For the most part, it’s really great. Sarah has really embraced the role of big sister for the most part, though she still has her moments of jealousy. She’s chilled out with the acting out and has settled back into her mostly normal routine.
Norah, for the most part, is a good baby. She breastfeeds like a champ, takes her sister’s occasional “hugs” with a chilled attitude, snuggles on our chests and chills out in her bouncy chair while I work.
But then when 9:00 p.m. rolls around, something changes. Like Dr. Jekyll emerging from the calm Mr. Hyde, my baby transforms into a screaming, writhing, wide awake bundle of pain – COLIC. I dread that hour. Not only for my own sanity, but because I know that my baby girl is in pain and unhappy. This madness was lasting every single night from 9pm to 3am. That would be SIX HOURS in the middle of the night with a fussy, unhappy, non-sleeping baby. Breastfeeding is met with squirms and screams, laying her down on anything besides our chests produces the same results.
After several days of this, my mind began to become unhinged. Only managing 1 to 3 hours of interrupted sleep a night will do that to you. I try to let Mark sleep as much as possible because his work schedule has been so busy. But usually around 1am, I cave and wake him up. I can’t take it anymore and I’m holding my baby, both of us bawling our eyes out. It’s not pretty. Mark takes her willingly and manages to soothe both of us, despite being awoken by two crying girls. So many nights I’ve sobbed to Mark, telling him that I’m losing my mind. He reassures me that I’m just exhausted – and he’s right. But I’ve come to dread night time. I start feeling sick to my stomach when we approach 9pm.
The toughest part comes when I finally get her to sleep at 3, she wakes up at 5:30 to eat, feeds until 6am and then Sarah is up and ready to go.
Fortunately, I have a few good things on my side:
1. Sarah is in daycare and goes every day. And by the time Mark takes her in the morning, Norah and I are both already snoring. (Except for four days the past two weeks when Sarah had to stay home with fever and then ringworm. That just made the exhaustion that much worse).
2. Mark. I would have lost it a week ago if I didn’t have his steady presence at my side any time of night.
3. My iPhone. Yes, I’m serious. It keeps my brain occupied when I’m still awake in the wee hours. (I’ve recently loaded a new app and am finally catching up on blog posts in the middle of the night though!)
But just so you’re not as scared for my sanity as I am, I can tell you that we’ve made a few major improvements since the longest of those dark and horrid nights.
1. Mark figured out a sleeping position for Norah that she will stay in that is not our arms. It involves the Boppy pillow and her being propped up on her stomach. Don’t worry, I make sure her airway is clear and she is in the pack and play.
2. Mommy’s Bliss gripe water – a Cassie recommendation. It doesn’t solve everything, but it helps.
3. Shushing and patting. That’s the only combination that works to get her back to sleep. Girl has straight up rejected the pacifier, just like her sister before her. And yes, we’ve tried many different brands.
4. The white noise machine by her head.
5. Making her stay awake as much as possible during the day. This seems to be the biggest help. This isn’t always easy though, because I have to work some during the day.
Two nights ago the colic only lasted from 9pm to 12am. When she went to sleep at midnight though, insomnia kicked in and I couldn’t sleep despite being exhausted. It was insane. Fortunately I still have some insomnia medicine from my pregnancy. I took one of those and managed a couple of hours of sleep.
Last night was our first successful night of getting her to go back to sleep all night. Yes, she was still up every two – three hours, but we both got in between sleep and a nap this morning. And today I finally feel like I’m getting a grasp on my sanity again.
It has been a really tough ride at night, and I am so looking forward to this kid sleeping through the night. But, in the mean time, let’s just hope we can manage five hours or so of sleep a night. We need it.
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She's One Lucky Dog
Purpose Driven Mom
Sisters From Different Misters
Neil Gaiman's Journal
It's Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus
Pretty Princess of the Port
Yes and Yes