Archive for October, 2013

  • Happy Halloween!

    Date: 2013.10.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Halloween, Holidays, Norah, Photography, Sarah | Response: 1

    Olivia the pig

    And Baby Minnie Mouse

    Wish you a spooktacular Halloween!

  • Pumpkin Patch

    Date: 2013.10.28 | Category: Baby, Family, Halloween, Holidays, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 3

    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!

    Sisters.

    And cousins.

    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.

  • One Month

    Date: 2013.10.22 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 8

    Dear Norah,

    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.

    Happy one month my little bean!

  • A Love Letter of Sorts

    Date: 2013.10.21 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah | Response: 8

    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.

  • Colic, That Dreaded 5-Letter Word

    Date: 2013.10.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah | Response: 10

    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.

  • New Lens Means More Fun!

    Date: 2013.10.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Kitties, Norah, Pets, Photography, Sarah | Response: 5

    A real blog post coming soon, but in the mean time, I want to show you what I got for my birthday! A new camera lens – a 40mm f/2.8 “pancake” lens, so called because it packs a lot of punch in a very flat, small package.

    See?

    40mm f2.8 Pancake lens

    I love how fun this little lens is.  But it takes some deft work and practice because it focuses on the item that’s closest to it, then blurs out everything around it. Great for food photography, close up portraits and sneaking up on cats.

    I’m having fun!

    It’s all about proximity. I love it.

  • Pregnancy and Body Image

    Date: 2013.10.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Style | Response: 33

    I have never been mistaken for being thin, and most of my life I’ve fought long, hard, guilty battles about my weight and body image – a battle I still continue to face today. The difference is, at one point I finally realized that I am who I am and I have to love the person I am now as much as the person I want to be.

    Pregnancy plays into all those insecurities about weight gain. I think almost all pregnant women are insecure about gaining weight, but being overweight to begin with makes it doubly hard. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had visions of my belly transforming into a perfectly round little bump that shouted, “I’m going to have a baby!” Instead, it got kind of big, oblong and never round. It screamed, “I’ve had too many donuts!” It wasn’t until I was about eight months pregnant that I looked pregnant and not just overindulgent.

    To that end, when Kelly offered to do maternity photos as a gift to me when I was pregnant with Sarah, I turned her down. I hated how I looked and felt like I wasn’t the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman I had imagined myself to be. My boobs were huge, my belly was huge and misshapen and I just felt like I looked gross.

    Plus, when you’re pregnant, people love to comment on your size and touch your stomach. For someone who has always tried to hide both my size and my stomach, I did not take well to those things the first time around.

    After I gave birth to Sarah, I immediately tried to start dieting hard core. No one told me that doing this would mean my milk supply would virtually dry up to nothing. A couple of days of decreased milk supply and Google research later, I learned that I had to embrace eating to create plenty of milk and provide for the health of my own baby. And while all I wanted to do was “get the weight off right now” at the time, I continued to eat until I was full and tried to mostly stay away from bad foods (though, oh man, ice cream!)

    With time and patience and a year’s worth of breastfeeding, the weight came off on its own accord and I ended up weighing five pounds less than my starting pregnancy weight.

    When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was determined to keep my established exercise routine up and not gain as much weight as I did during my first pregnancy. This hope was quickly dashed when I started having heart skips. That meant any exercising outside of walking was off the table. Still though, I persisted in walking for a while. Then my ligaments and my nerves started causing severe pain and it hurt to be on my feet for more than 5 – 10 minutes. I wasn’t put on bed rest, but there was no more walking around the neighborhood either. At first I let it get me down, but then, just as before, I realized I had to embrace the gain for the health of my baby. I chugged along and didn’t let it bother me (except for that one time at the OB’s office).

    In the end, I ended up gaining about three more pounds than I did the first time around. But it’s ok, because I know, just like last time, that I can and will get it off again.

    I regretted not having any maternity pictures with Sarah, even with my low self image at the time. So this time, I asked Kelly if she would snap a few of me with Sarah. These were taken SIX DAYS before I gave birth to Norah bean. Yes, I’m huge like the sun, but I love that I have these moments captured with Sarah who loved to kiss sister in my belly. I bravely posed for these photos and wanted to show Sarah that it’s great to be happy no matter your size and shape (especially when there is a little sister as the outcome). And Sarah responded in kind with love and hugs for mommy and Sister. Having photos to remember those moments by are way more important than trying to pretend like I wasn’t nine months pregnant and hiding from the camera.

    Here I sit now 12 days post partum. I finally got the courage to step on the scale. (Note to new moms: Do NOT step on the scale the same day you give birth, you will be horrified to see that your body does not immediately drop a ton of weight, or even the full weight of the baby. It’s depressing. Don’t do it. Trust me on this one.)

    At any rate, I stepped on the scale. I am officially down 18 pounds. And while that is a huge relief to see, that means the easy part is over. It’s those remaining 20 pounds that love to cling to my hips, my boobs and my belly. But this time, I’m not scared. I’m going to breastfeed, and as soon as I’m released to resume “normal activity” again post c-section, I’m going to put that stroller to the test and work up to getting back on the spin bike at the gym.

    To show you how brave I’m feeling right now, here is a photo of me tonight, 12 days post partum. Yes, there is a lot of toning that needs to happen. But most women don’t snap back like rubber bands after having a baby. I’m here to tell you that’s ok. It takes time. And, after all, look at that sweet little baby I have as my reward.

  • Sister Sister

    Date: 2013.10.01 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 4

    One of the things I worried about the most prior to delivering my second baby, was how Sarah would do once the baby arrived. I’ve seen Sarah have mixed reactions around me holding other people’s children: everything from bringing the baby toys to whacking Susan’s baby over the head with a sippy cup.

    Sarah first met Norah the evening after I had her. Aunt Shannon brought her to the labor and delivery recovery room at the hospital where Mark and I were waiting with Norah. Honestly, it didn’t go very well. The only person Sarah wanted anything to do with was Aunt Shannon. She wouldn’t go to me, Mark or even Mimi. To her credit, I think a large part of that may have been that we were in the same room we went to following my car accident, which totally freaked her out. Eventually though, she sat on a stool next to the bed, then I handed Norah off to mom and Sarah slowly crept into the bed with me, but she didn’t stay long.

    Aunt Shannon with Sarah meeting Norah for the first time.

    I didn’t get to see Sarah the rest of my hospital stay because Sarah had developed a nasty cough that had her throwing up all over mom’s bed sheets in the middle of the night (so sorry about that mom!). I love both my babies, but there is no way I was going to have her coughing all over my newborn and she was content to stay and play at Mimi’s house.

    The next test came when we got home Sunday. Sarah was still coughing, so we didn’t let them get too close, but I made the effort to pass Norah off and spend time with Sarah. Sarah did not care one iota about my attempts to spend time with her and instead proceeded to do every bad thing she could think of and ended up putting herself in time out to decompress. I’m not going to lie, I cried and I cried a lot about her reaction to things.

    Over the following days there was a lot of acting out. We still had her going to day care for many reasons: 1. Mark had to go back to work and there was no way I could manage a two-year-old and a newborn by myself post c-section 2. We wanted to keep Sarah on her regular schedule and 3. Sarah LOVES going. Every morning she gets up and talks about going to see her friends. She runs out the door when we tell her it’s time to go, all the while barely taking the time to tell me goodbye.

    That being said, I’ve really only had evenings with Sarah, which I look forward to all day. So when our evenings were turning into nightmares with Sarah throwing tantrums, deliberately disobeying and trying to hide and destroy my stuff, and then one night even telling me to “Go away mommy,” there were a lot of tears on both our parts and lots of guilt on mine. That night, after she told me to go away and then ran to her room, she came out about two minutes later calling for me. I was hiding in the kitchen crying, so she couldn’t find me. After looking in the living room, she went to the next most logical spot in her mind – the bathroom – and when she still didn’t see me, she started getting really upset. I came out of the kitchen and she came running toward me, saying “mommy mommy mommy” and wrapped her arms around me. I stooped down and did the same. We spent the rest of the evening watching a show together and snuggling and talking.

    That seemed to be our turning point. After that, Sarah stopped being nasty to all three of us. She started asking to hold Baby Sister, and even worked up to hugging and kissing her. She sings to her and has started being her old affectionate self to Mark and me both again. She absolutely loves Norah’s hair and is constantly petting it. There is even a little lovey toy that my aunt sent for Norah and Sarah insists on making sure that Norah has it right by her side. It’s the sweetest.

    I had to laugh today though when Sarah was tired of me holding Norah, she went and grabbed Norah’s bouncy chair and dragged it over so I would put Norah down and play with her. And as soon as I was done nursing, I did just that.

    I’ve made a big effort to spend individual time with Sarah – printing out requested coloring pages of pirates and pumpkins and breaking out a box of brand new crayons to color with her. We talk a lot about Halloween and costumes and Sarah has eagerly asked me when we’re going to the pumpkin patch with “Aunt Chanon and Jacob.”  Mark and I have been alternating bath and bed one on one time with Sarah too. I think she finally realized that Baby Sister isn’t going anywhere, and neither are mommy and daddy,  so she might as well take it all in stride.

    And you know what? I think she might be beginning to realize that she really does love “her baby” after all.

    And that? Well that just makes my heart want to melt into one big ooey gooey puddle of pure joy. I love these two girls more than I could ever imagined it’s possible to love.