Second Time Motherhood Three Weeks In

by Boon and Boys


I'm three weeks into my journey as a mother of two.  So much feels different this time.  So much is different this time.  With my first I had never been a mother before.  The learning curve was steep and everything was new.  I vastly underestimated the change it would bring to my life and was caught off guard by how much motherhood challenged me.  This time I have a toddler to manage in addition to a newborn.  So while the mothering part isn't new, learning to mother two is something I have never before experienced.  I mentally prepared myself for, and greatly feared, this transition in ways I didn't the first time, and feel that I have adjusted much better, so far, to being a second time mom than I did the first time around.

So, three weeks in, here are my thoughts.  With my first I was so sleep deprived.  I didn't know I could be so tired and didn't handle it very well.  Looking back I wish I had slept when the baby slept.  Instead I think I just watched him.  I was so in love and had never been through any of this before.  I probably was also scared that I might do something wrong or miss something.  Also, he wouldn't sleep without me.  Now I can't sleep when the baby sleeps.  My newborn wakes me at 1am, at which time he insists on being held and/or nursed for the remainder of the night until my non-napping toddler wakes for the day.  I'm tired.  I'm sleep deprived, but I think I'm managing it better.  Maybe I've grown accustomed to surviving on little sleep after years of way too little sleep so the adjustment isn't as sharp.  Maybe I am sleeping more than I did with my first since I allow myself to sleep holding him (actually I think I was more scared about that this time around than I was with my first.  Sometimes knowing more creates more fear). 

I also miss being able to just breathe in my newborn.  I can't sit and stare into eyes all day.  I still take a million pictures of him, but I miss being able to just watch him--to watch him sleep and breathe, to listen to his coos and sounds, to smell him, to watch him move and sleep, to study everything about him in an attempt to seal it into my memory forever.  As guilty as I feel for saying it, sometimes find myself longing for time with just my newborn.  I wish my toddler would stop asking me a million questions and demanding to play with me so that I could just sit quietly with my newborn and take it all in.


And my poor newborn is always surrounded by so much noise.  When my first born slept, he got quiet.  When we spent time looking at each other and studying each others' faces, there was no one screaming in the background.  I was able to speak quietly and calmly to him without any other outside noise or distractions.  This time my baby gets no peace (sometimes I think that's why he chooses to spend the nights up with me).  Sometimes I worry about the fact that his world is always so chaotic, but I also realize that's always been his life.  In my womb, my firstborn had peace and quiet as I taught yoga through his whole pregnancy.  This one heard his brother from the beginning.  I imagine that's why he startles less and has been so patient with the chaos--it's all he's ever known.


It's sometimes a struggle to try and meet both their differing needs.  I want quiet and calm for my newborn, but, at the same time, I don't want to tell toddler to be quiet, especially if I'm telling him to be quiet for his brother. Their relationship matters to me, and I want them to grow up appreciating and loving each other from the start.  I never want to create resentment or an atmosphere of competing for my affection or attention between them.  So, I try to help them both get their needs met in ways that are different than I would do if I only had one.  Things like covering my newborn's ears, holding him against me, and gently patting him while playing an excited, loud game with his big brother.  I want them both to feel like I love them separately for the individuals they are and together for the way they treat and care for each other.  I want  them both to feel seen, heard, and valued, which can be more challenging with two because I can't make eye contact with both and I only have two hands.  But, I've learned how much I can do with those two hands.  How I can hold them both and rest them against me.  How I can caress one while looking at the other and how I can talk to one about how much I adore the other while in the other's presence.


Also, I realize that I must adjust my beliefs about what is ideal.  My newborn may not get my undivided attention like my toddler did, but gets the adoration of his big brother.  Ultimately, I love being a mother to two, maybe even more than being a mother to one.  Maybe that's because I have adjusted better, maybe it's because I love seeing their relationship already forming, or maybe it's because I love them both so much and can't envision my life without either of them (I had no idea I could love my second this much).  I know each stage and change will bring new challenges and difficulties, but I also know we will adapt.  I love being a mother of two, and will gladly take the chaos for all the love.


Theodore's Birthday

by Boon and Boys


Theodore's birth story is different than I ever imagined.  Everything about it is different than I envisioned, but the outcome was perfect--a beautiful baby boy who I adore with all my being and wish I could stare at and hold all day, a baby who I fear will grow too quickly, a baby that I needed and was always meant to know.

So, here is story begins.  Unlike with my first son, the night before Theodore's birthday, I went to bed knowing his birth story would begin the next day.  I had been given an induction date and had processed so many different feelings about that.  Funny, those feelings feel like a lifetime ago with all that has transpired in between.  After many tears, I finally came to a place of acceptance and peace, and in spite of my fears, was feeling optimistic and ready to go.

Before leaving on Sunday morning, we took pictures of our family and the last pictures of my bump.  We arrived at the hospital around 8:20am, parked, and walked into the hospital carrying my yoga ball (I was envisioning an epidural free labor that would differ from the hospital experience I had with my first) and hospital bag.  They got me checked in and in my gown super quickly.  "We were ready for you," my incredible nurse said.

Immediately they hooked me up to an IV and started me on fluids.  The nurse said she could tell I was dehydrated from my blood draw. When they checked me, they basically said that I was no further progressed than I have been, discussed the options for getting things moving, and said I was a long way from delivery. Around here things start to get progressively fuzzier in my memory; until the moment they wheeled me back for the c-section--that part is perfectly clear.

At approximately 9:30am, I had an extended contraction like the ones that I was used to having at home (they always frustrated me because they seemed to last forever, had been going on for quite a while, but still weren't making me progress towards labor seemingly any faster). The nurse said she needed to get the monitor to stop tracking my heart rate. I started to get nervous as I saw the panic of her moving the tracker around frantically. She pressed a button on her pager, called the doctor in, and then at least eight people came running in, flipping me from side to side, placing an additional IV, and checking me to make sure they couldn't feel a cord caught. Basically, his heart rate had gotten really low as a result of my contraction. They had me continue to lay on my side so they could monitor me and allow him at least thirty minutes recovery time before doing anything else. I even had to use a bed pan in order to pee because they didn't want me getting up. I was so scared, and little did I know this was the first of more experiences like this to come.

While waiting for the Theodore to finish his recovery period they got a drug to administer to me in the case of another long contraction. It was designed to stop the contraction and therefore prevent his distress. I still can't help but wonder if every time I had these contractions at home he was going into distress. I pray not because they happened for weeks and I can't think about the potential damage they may have caused. I will say, at least, that they continued to say the fact that he always returned to such a healthy level (what they call a category 1 baby) after his periods of distress was a good sign.

Around 11:15am (I think) was the first time they did any induction specific interventions. They started with the least invasive, which was inserting a foley balloon, or bulb as some of them called it. After its insertion, the doctor left and the nurse and I were talking. Derek was downstairs getting food at this point. The nurse had me stand up because she said gravity would help the foley balloon begin to work its magic. We were talking about positions I could stand in and joking about yoga poses when suddenly his heart rate dipped again and she had me jump back in bed and started flipping me. At this point the anesthesiologist came in and talked about how she wanted to put an epidural in me because it was looking like I may have to have a c-section. It's funny, I didn't like her at this point, but ended up really loving her (she was such a helpful and calming presence during the c-section). What they were telling me at this point was that some babies don't like labor. Basically he kept getting really distressed by anything that made me have labor. But they also were always reassured, and confused, by the fact that he was perfect whenever I was lying down.

After his thirty minute recovery period subsided, we decided to have the epidural placed just in case. If I didn't get one placed and I needed a c-section suddenly I would have to be knocked out and would miss his delivery (which ultimately would have been the case in my situation) so we decided it was the best route. I was really hesitant for many reasons, but am so glad we did this (I actually give my husband the most credit here for saying I would want to be awake during a c-section. I think I was really scared about that idea and wasn't sure what I truly wanted. Both he and the nurse were exceptional advocates for me throughout the entire time).

By 1:20pm my epidural was in, after three tries. First, the anesthesiologist tried to place it while I was laying down to prevent my sitting up potentially affecting Theodore. When that didn't work, I had to sit. It was very different than the placement of my epidural with Henry. With Henry I remember having painful contractions throughout and the anesthesiologist trying to chat with me during when I just wanted to breathe so I could stay still. This time it took much longer, and I've had some pain in the site since, but the nurse and Derek helped me while the anesthesiologist did her job without incessantly talking. They didn't start administering the drug, other than the test dose that they use to make sure it is in the right spot. That's when I learned that I am very sensitive to general anesthesia. I was feeling numbness in my legs and also started to feel really lightheaded and lethargic. They gave me Effedrin to bring me back.

At 1:40pm they started me on a super low dose of pitocin (0.5 when they normally start at 2-3 ). The nurse said that she wanted to go slowly because I had been super sensitive to everything they had given me.

After starting pitocin, my husband and I tried to start watching Gotham, which he had gotten set up for us on his tablet. While we were watching, I started having low cramping contractions and then I heard what sounded like Theodore's heart rate drop again. I asked Derek if Theodore was okay and he looked at the numbers on the heart rate monitor said they were low and all over the place so he called the nurse. She came in, immediately noticed the problem, and said she was glad we recognized it.

At this point they decided to put a heart rate tracker on Theodore's head to make sure we were very closely and accurately tracking his heart rate. They were moving really quickly at this point so everything leading up to the next step is a blur in my memory. Inserting the tracker on Theodore's head broke my water, but no water came out. My husband shared this event with me later, which I remember hearing: the nurse was hovering her hand over the "OR Emergency" button and said the doctor's name questioning whether or not to press it. The doctor hesitated and the nurse hollered her name at her and then made the decision and slammed the button down. Later she told us that Theodore's heart rate dipped to 50bpm at that point and she knew that was not something they could wait on.

Writing this next part makes me feel really emotional. Obviously knowing the end result, I can be calm and assured, but I can still feel the emotion that I felt knowing my baby was in danger. I looked at clock as they were carting me out to the OR, telling us we were headed in for an emergency c-section. It read 2:15pm. I remember them saying something about how they had done all they could do to give me a natural birth, but that Theodore needed to be safe. I was obviously willing to do anything and would have done a c-section the second his heart rate dropped the first time if that would protect my baby. That was all that mattered to me. The birth I envisioned and wanted was one that gave me a healthy baby boy. I remember telling Derek, "I'll be okay." as they wheeled me out of the room, rushing me to the OR. I was so worried about him while he had to remain waiting in our labor and delivery room before they brought him in to the operating room.

As I mentioned earlier, at the moment they pressed the OR emergency button, his heart rate was at 50bpm, by the time we reached the OR it had risen to 90bpm, and eventually reached the 140s. At this point the head doctor was yelling at everyone to slow down some because it was now an "urgent" not "emergency" procedure. She kept wanting them to acknowledge her and was repeating that they needed to act quickly, but not make any mistakes by going too fast. The whole time I just kept my eyes closed and breathed. I knew that I needed to use my breath to help Theodore get back to a safe place.

The anesthesiologist was by my head as they worked to get my epidural going. She kept asking if I could feel sharpness or pressure. I kept feeling sharpness. I remember being tempted just to lie to get Theodore out, but I was comforted when they kept saying his heart rate was maintaining. I just wanted them to know that they could knock me out or do anything necessary to get him out safely. At once point they inverted the table to get the epidural to reach my belly. Once that was set, my husband came in. I remember wanting him to just keep talking to me. His hands touching me and his voice talking to me was so reassuring. I would go back to that moment with all the fear to share it with him, especially once Theodore was coming out. Gosh, I could cry again thinking about it. Hearing them say, "his head is out, now a shoulder," and then hearing him cry, and my husband saying "you did it, he's here." It was incredible. It hurt more than I thought a c-section could. It is no different than laboring, but the labor is happening from your stomach--all the pushing, albeit from them not me, and the fact that the baby doesn't come out all in one fell swoop.

I was so desperate to hold Theodore once he was out. Both my husband and I were crying. He went over with Theodore while they were weighing him and doing all they needed and I just kept asking when I would get to hold him. I remember someone saying to my husband, "she really wants to hold him." I think his response was, "oh yeah!" because he knows me. They also asked him if I would want to nurse Theodore to which he told them I definitely did. I got to nurse him while they finished stitching me back up. Everyone was so supportive and amazing it was as good an experience as something that scary and unexpected could be.

After his birth we learned that the reason he kept going into distress was that the cord was wrapped around his neck and then spiraled around his body. We also discovered that he was a big boy. So large that they considered him "LGA" which means large for gestational age. This meant that he had to get pricked on the foot to measure his blood sugar every time before a feeding. He also had to pass three consecutive ones. He didn't pass them right away, but eventually he passed which was just another success for my resilient baby.

During all of this my mom was watching Henry. Around the same time I was delivering Theodore my mom said that she noticed a single tear falling down Henry's face. When she asked him what was causing it, he replied that he didn't know, but just felt upset. She said that in that instant she knew something must be happening with me and that Henry's and my connection is so strong that he felt it.

Overall it was a pretty incredible experience, and, as utterly different than my plans it was, I'm grateful that I got to experience it and, of course, am most grateful for his health. One thing people keep saying to me is that they're sorry my birth didn't go how I wanted, assuring me that it isn't a failure nor something to be disappointed in. I, of course, appreciate the intention behind these remarks, however that thought never occurred to me and it makes me sad that people feel the need to reassure me that a cesarean birth is still something I can be proud of. I am damn proud of this birth. I loved my birth. It was scary as heck, recovery has been a nightmare, and sure, all of it was far from the birth story I envisioned, but it is mine and Theodore's and our family's. It was incredibly special and moving (I will never forget the moment he was born and hearing my husband cheer me on and watching his eyes swell with tears). And it gave me a new experience, one I am grateful for.

Recovery has been more challenging than I could have imagined. The pain has been unbearable at times. I'm exhausted, hormonal, and I want to just spend all my time soaking up my newborn, but with a toddler I can't. At times, my first born aches for me and longs for the relationship we had before I was taken away from him and then made incapable of doing everything that I've always done with and for him. He adores his baby brother and is a fantastic big brother, but has also been forced to adapt to a mom that isn't available in the same ways that he has always known. It makes me hurt for him and, during my first few days at home, I even cried with him feeling my own pain that his heart hurt so much and my own sadness that I am so physically limited.

Yet, I know I will recover. Every day is a little better. There will be ups and downs along the way. We all have to adjust, but this is our story and I'm grateful for it. I know these days will pass all too quickly, so I will embrace even the messy, chaotic, painful, and challenging.

And last, I find it funny because I always thought that because I didn't have stretch marks I didn't have a permanent mark to remember bearing my children. Now I will have one and I'm honestly thrilled about that. Once the pain heals, I can move again freely, and my wound is no longer so fresh, I am excited to have a scar that marks the triumph of that day and commemorates the birth of my second baby boy, my "God's gift."


Embracing the In Between

by Boon and Boys


This last little bit of pregnancy has been difficult for me.  Mentally my pregnancy was set to end at 38 weeks.  As much as I have wanted to avoid comparing my two babies, as I fully believe they are two different beings and deserve to be treated as such, my only experience with pregnancy ended with an unexpected, early morning breaking of my water at 38 weeks and three days.  On some level, I just assumed my body carried my babies until 38 weeks, not further.  Yet, here I sit at 39 weeks and 5 days, still pregnant.

I fluctuate between a calm and a feeling of being okay waiting and a feeling of urgency, a need for my baby to arrive, a readiness.  I also feel pressure from outside.  I worry that my family has put their life on hold to be here.  Even when they don't say it, I know they are waiting.  It feels like everyone is looking to me as if I can determine when labor will begin.  I feel like I don't know.  I feel as if I have lost connection with my body, when I know I haven't, but rather there is no definite.  Yet, for weeks I have fluctuated between feeling like labor is imminent and feeling like my baby will be with me for much longer.

With my first I didn't have the same sense of constant watching.  Maybe it's because I was so focused on my physical pain, maybe it's because I had no prior experience, maybe it's because my son came earlier than I expected, maybe it's because I wasn't trying to coordinate how to take care of a toddler when I go into labor, or maybe it's a combination of them all.

Whatever the case, I find myself feeling on a different plane.  I feel stuck in the in between.  I want to be fully present for everyone in my life.  I want to embrace and cherish these last days with my family as it is and these last days of my pregnancy, but I feel like I'm living in some sort of alternate reality--an in between.

I'm trying to embrace it.  To let myself feel fully.  To let go of the worry, the anticipation, the guessing.  To stop thinking about the date every day and wondering how I can make that date fit into my love of numbers, connecting all the members of our family together.  To not worry about anyone else.  To fully trust my baby, myself, and this process.  To sit in the discomfort.  To stop analyzing everything that I feel and to believe that I will know when I am in labor.  To trust it will all unfold even more perfectly that I can imagine.  And to give myself permission to feel it all--to live in this in between.


Henry's Favorites at Two Years Old

by Boon and Boys


I've been meaning to write this blog post for a while now.  With an oversaturation of children's products on the marketplace, it's hard not to get overwhelmed.  So while I know every child is different, I figured I would share Henry's (and my) list of our current favorite toys, books, apps, and other useful items.

 

Toys:

  1. Mini Sandbox: We love this thing!  We play with it outside to avoid a mess, though I imagine it would work to put it in a big plastic tub too.  Or maybe you have a really clean kid and you don't have to worry about spills.  I would suggest playing with it on hard floor, not carpet if you do play with it inside, though I'm sure a vacuum would clean up any sand mess.  It comes with some toys, but we've also added some.  Henry likes using small plastic animals in it and/or some mini construction trucks (I'll talk about those below).  I've also given him a shovel and bucket before and he's enjoyed scooping the sand back and forth.
  2. Little People Animals: There are so many different animals that you can add to this set.  We have a bunch at this point.  We have a barn that he uses to play with the animals sometimes, but more often than not he just plays with them on their own.  His favorite Little People accessory is this Zoo Train that he got for his birthday.  He loves to put his animals in it and drive them around.
  3. Cars: Really any cars would do.  This kid LOVES his cars.  He probably always has some cars with him.  He loves all the ones from the Cars movies, but he also enjoys using his imagination with matchbox cars.  He is also obsessed with his Mack car transporter truck and enjoys storing his trucks inside of it.  All his favorite ones we got either at Disneyland/Disney World or through the Disney Store Online.
  4. Constructions Trucks: Just like his cars, he loves his construction trucks.  He has some big ones that he likes, but these little ones are perfect.  They come in a set of five and are the perfect size for traveling with.  While searching for the link for the set we have, I noticed that the exact one we have is currently unavailable, but they are selling this set in it's place.
  5. Construction Tools: My family gave Henry a toolbox and tool set for Christmas last year.  He loves both, but I highly suggest the tool set.  Whenever we have a problem, when he sees my husband trying to fix something around the house, or when one of us is hurt, he runs to get his tools to help fix it.
  6. Fake Food: One of our absolute favorite toys.  I keep them in a cupboard in our kitchen and Henry will often cook while I do.  He likes having his own apron and "hot pot" (came with the cookie set I mention below) to use too.  We will have fake food picnics outside in his playhouse as well.  We have a bunch of different brands of food, but really any will do.  For us, we prefer to stick with fruits and vegetables rather than pretend meat since we are vegetarians, but there are so many different sets and options available to fit all tastes.  We do love the Melissa and Doug sets we have including the condiments, cookies, and pizza.  There are actually a bunch more of that brand that we would like to add to our collection.
  7. Legos: We have a set of Lego trucks, which was one of Henry's first Lego sets, that he loves and uses daily with his other construction trucks.  The other sets that he particularly loves are the train ones (we have both a Mickey train and a counting train set) and a Lego house one.  I want to get him a box of Lego duplos so that he can just free build with them.
  8. Mega Blocks: Henry has a ton of Mega Block trucks, including a car transporter, fire truck, and dump truck.  He particularly loves the car transporter and fire truck.  He also likes to use the free blocks with the wheels from the bus and train sets to create his own buses and race cars.
  9. Green Toys Trucks: I love the concept of these toys Henry loves to play with them.  Currently he has the dump truck, recycling truck, and scooper.
  10. Wooden Blocks: I love watching Henry use his imagination and fine motor skills to build elaborate towers with these blocks.  It's been fun to watch him go from just stacking them vertically at first, to building increasingly complex creations.
  11. Animal Magnets: We've had these magnets on our refrigerator for quite a while now and Henry has always enjoyed them.  At first I only had a few of the bigger ones out when he was younger and more afraid of him putting something in his mouth, but once he got a little older I took the whole set out.  We also have some large number and shape magnets that I got from the dollar section at Target.

Books:

To keep this list from getting absurdly long, I am only listing Henry's absolute favorite books (i.e., the books we've had phases when we can't read anything else during)

  1. Whose Ears Are These? (and all the other books in this collection)
  2. Little Blue Truck
  3. Dinosaur Kisses
  4. Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?
  5. Where Do Jet Planes Sleep at Night?
  6. Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night?
  7. Llama Llama Nighty Night
  8. Do Cows Meow?
  9. Do Crocs Kiss?
  10. Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear
  11. Digger, Dozer, Dumper
  12. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
  13. It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse (Halloween)
  14. Where's My Mummy (Halloween)
  15. Mickey Mouse Clubehouse Mickey's Halloween (Halloween)
  16. Olaf's Night Before Christmas (Christmas)
  17. Polar Express (Christmas)
  18. When Santa Was a Baby (Christmas)

Apps:

  1. Puzzingo: I remember being so proud when I first saw Henry figure out how to use this app and he quickly became a pro.  It basically has a bunch of virtual puzzles.  Beware, however, this app is one with in app purchases.  We ended up buying the full unlocked version because it was worth it for us, but the free version is very limited.
  2. Wonster Words: I credit Henry learning his letters and letter sounds so early to this app.  Similar to Puzzingo, you pull the letters into their place as you would with a puzzle.  They read the letters and say the letter sounds as you pull the letters into place.  After the word is complete they give the definition of the word with a little skit.  Some of the words I don't like (e.g., brat), however overall I think it was well worth the money we spent (it's by the same creators of Puzzingo, so it also requires a purchase to unlock all the levels/categories).
  3. Fisher Price Apps: There are a ton of good Fisher Price apps, his first favorite was called Puppy Play, but if you search for Fisher Price, you can find a whole host of them.
  4. I Hear Ewe: This was the first app Henry ever used.  I know it's only on Apple, not Android.  My sister downloaded it on her phone for him and he really enjoyed it.  It can definitely be used with younger children, though he still enjoys using it every so often now.  It has different animal and vehicle sounds.

Other Useful Items:

  1. Snack Box: This is definitely one of our single greatest purchases.  We can't go anywhere without this thing.  I first bought it to use as a snack container on a cross country flight, but it quickly became our every day snack and meal box.  Henry asks for his "snack box" all the time.  We even bring it with us to restaurants when we go out to eat to save money on kids meals.
  2. iPad Holder: I know there are mixed opinions on screentime for children, but I think it can be educational and believe in balance and moderation in all things.  We have an iPad that we use with Henry and without this case I'm sure it would have been broken many many times.  It has lasted us well.  It's easy for little hands, doesn't take up an excessive amount of space considering the upsides of it, and is easy to stand upright as well.
  3. Learning Tower:  For a while Henry wanted to eat all his meals in his learning tower and spent all his kitchen time in here.  Currently he doesn't use it as frequently, but it is still a wonderful addition to our kitchen (only downside is it does take up a lot of room).  I went with the special edition one for a few reasons.  Mainly, I wanted to extra protection of the added side panels.  I also like that is has a chalkboard on one side as Henry enjoys drawing on it.  Overall it is very sturdy which was important to me, however with enough momentum my big toddler can move it while inside and I think he could probably topple it over if he tried really hard and was unattended.
  4. Peanut Changer: When we first had Henry we were in a small apartment.  He didn't have a nursery and has never has a dedicated changing table.  This thing is wonderful and has lasted through the years.  I love the portability of it.  When he was younger and not very mobile I would put it on a higher surface such as a bed or on top of a dresser.  Once he started trying to roll I simply placed it on the ground for diaper changes.  It's also very easy to clean which is essential for a diaper changer.
  5. Double Sided Spoon/Fork Utensils: These are by far my favorite utensils.  We never spoon fed Henry as an infant and instead went with a baby led weaning sort of hybrid approach, but once he started using utensils to feed himself, these quickly became my favorite.  They are large enough to hold food without providing too much frustration and then offer both a spoon and fork option on the same utensil.

 

 

 

*Some of the above links are affiliate links, but not all of them are.  If you do happen to purchase an item using an affiliate link I may receive compensation and I appreciate your support.  However, as always I will never post about something I don't 100% back.


Night Weaning my Two Year Old

by Boon and Boys


My plan was always to let my son self-wean.  Even though he was still nursing like a newborn at two years old, I didn't want to force him off before he was ready.  Many times I considered night weaning.  I wondered if night nursing was keeping my son up at night, and wanted desperately to get a full night of sleep.  Yet, any time I tried to deny him milk at night I realized that neither of us were ready.  My son seemed incredibly distressed and I didn't have the heart to tell him no, nor the will to fight him in my sleep deprived state.

So, what changed?  When I got pregnant with our second, I decided to try night weaning again.  For me, it was incredibly important that he didn't view weaning as even remotely related to the new baby.  I didn't want him to feel forced out and I wanted to give him plenty of time to learn to rely on me for comfort in other ways before potentially being forced to by a decreasing supply or newborn.  So, this time I was more dedicated to it and I also felt like Henry was more ready.

At the beginning of my pregnancy, before he even knew about it, he had started telling me that my milky tasted "old" (how he describes food when it doesn't taste good to him).  He's since stopped calling it old, but has dramatically reduced his daytime nursing.  The first few nights weren't easy.  So often I wanted to give in--both because I was tired and can't handle seeing him so distressed. However, I knew that, if I really wanted to give it a try, I must stand my ground.  Giving in would just prolong the challenge for both of us.  I would pat his back, hold him, offer him water, tell him I loved him, explain that milkies were sleeping, and sometimes get up out of bed with him.  It wasn't easy, but it was way easier than I expected.

Within a few nights he was sleeping, accepting water, and falling back asleep without a fight or any tears.  Now (please don't jinx it) he is sleeping through the night on most nights.  When he does wake he usually doesn't even need me to help him back to sleep.  He will drink his water on his own and then fall asleep holding his water bottle like a stuffed animal or security blanket.  Every so often he will ask.  Sometimes I'll even compromise and give him a waffle to help him back to sleep.  But, I haven't given him milk before 4:30am in a while now (I usually try to keep him off until at least 5am, and he's been consistently making it until 5:30 or 6am recently).

For the first couple weeks I would give Henry a five minute and then one minute warning reminding him that milkies were about to "go night night until morning."  Still every day when he wakes and asks for it I praise him on his sleep, telling him he can have milky now because it's morning and that I'm so proud of him.  I also would brag about his sleep in front of him to my husband for the first few weeks.

Another thing we did while beginning night weaning was keep me in the room, but out of the bed.  I slept on a twin mattress on the floor while my husband and son slept in the bed.  I have since returned to the bed without issue.

Overall, I think the success is a combination of both of our readiness.  I don't think night weaning would have worked earlier, and I realize there may still be bumps in the road.  But, overall the transition was much smoother than I thought and I think both of us are feeling much more rested as a result.

 


Henry's Birth Story Two Years Later

by Boon and Boys


Last year I decided to rewrite my birth story (I never know whether to call it Henry's or mine--we'll go with our) one year after having given birth.  I wanted to recount it without looking at my original story to see how my perspective had changed in a year.

I hadn't decided whether or not I was going to do it every year, but I now see why my mom would tell our birth story every year.  I used to think, "I know it already," but what I didn't realize was that she was reliving it herself.  It was her birth story as much as the story of my birthday.  It is a day she will never forget.  It is one that she wants to retell and retell so that she doesn't forget it.  At least that's how I feel.  I worry that the details will get fuzzy overtime.  I worry that I'll forget the way I felt the instant Henry was placed on my chest.  His warmth, my love, the joy of holding my baby in my arms.  The feeling that I didn't ever want him to be taken away from me.  

Two years later it feels much more distant.  It feels so long ago that I was pregnant and went into labor.  Last year I felt like I was reliving every moment on a physical and hormonal level.  This year it feels more in my head like a distant memory.  When I see people with newborns, I'm reminded that I don't have one.  My newborn is long gone.  He's grown into a toddler, a beautiful little boy even.  In so many ways, he's still the tiny infant who was placed on my chest that evening, but in so many ways he's blossomed into a person whom I love even more than that baby boy.

Nothing can quite prepare you for pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.  It's been such a journey for me.  One that at times I didn't know that I was equipped for, but one that I trusted would turn out okay.  And how it has.  It's not over, thank goodness.  It is a journey I will forever walk.  One I'm so proud of myself for having the courage to venture upon.  One I can look back on and see how far I've come.

So, while I've decided not to rewrite my birth story this year, I will appreciate it.  I will appreciate my body for all it did to grow and birth my baby.  I will appreciate my body for all it's done to nurture and nourish him since.  And, I will appreciate myself for being a mother every day.  For being a mother when it felt impossible and in the moments when I was overcome with joy.  One thing I do know is that labor is a beautiful metaphor for motherhood.  The difficulty, the pain, the fear, the emotions, the highs, the ecstasy, the love.  It's all there.  And, the love.  Love beyond love.  Love that only grows with time.  Love that I don't know how it can possibly get bigger, but I know it must, because as much as I love him the first time I held him, I love him even more today.


My Journey to Bed Sharing and Extended Breastfeeding

by Boon and Boys


When I started this motherhood journey I never imagined I'd be bed sharing and nursing an almost two year old.  In fact, I didn't know too much about the research on either subject.  I thought it was weird when parents shared a bed with their children, and I had no idea what the recommendations on breastfeeding longevity were.  I knew that I wanted to nurse my son, but didn't envision myself nursing a toddler.  Likewise, I knew that I didn't want to leave my son to cry in a crib, but I didn't think we'd be sharing our bed with him every night.

I remember the first time I shared a bed with my baby.  It was the day after or night of (I'm not even sure as all my early postpartum days run together) his birth.  We were in the hospital and I was holding my son (not touching him felt so unnatural as his whole existence he had been a part of me).  Exhausted as I was, I closed my eyes to rest.  I remember a nurse coming in and scolding me.  "You cannot do that," she told me with a tone that implied I was doing something horribly wrong.  I remember feeling like that wasn't right.  I remember thinking that I just wanted to hold my baby and that together we would be safe.  After all, my sister was sitting in a chair right next to us and how was I going to harm my baby holding him in my arms, while I lay on my back and just rested my eyes.

At the time I didn't plan to sleep with my son.  Sure, in that moment maybe, but that wasn't my long term plan.  We had registered for a crib which I thought we would use once Henry was no longer in the rock n'play.  Had we lived in a bigger apartment and not been moving soon maybe we would have set the crib up in our room and had him sleep there from the start.  Who knows.  I think that our parenting decisions have been a combination of our circumstances, our beliefs and personalities, and Henry's temperament.  Whatever the case, Henry started sleeping in his rock n'play by our bed.  I remember a few times when I would let him come in bed with me while I rested during they day.  I had a million pillows and safety measures set up to ensure his safety and I only ever let him in the bed with my husband if I was awake.

 This is the earliest picture I have of us sleeping in bed together from when he was three days old, the day after we were discharged from the hospital. I'm pretty sure I didn't even actually sleep. 

This is the earliest picture I have of us sleeping in bed together from when he was three days old, the day after we were discharged from the hospital. I'm pretty sure I didn't even actually sleep. 

Once he grew out of his rock n play we attempted to transition him to his crib (you can read more about details our sleep journey in my Child Led Sleep Training post).  That didn't work.  He wanted to be with me, his mom, his first home, the person who grew him and continued to comfort and sustain him.  I can't blame him.  Until he was at least a year old (maybe later I don't really remember the exact point) I never slept with my back to him.  I would crawl over him every time I needed to turn over and switch sides.  Now I still watch to make sure our pillows and blankets are never too close to him and I often end up at the bottom of the bed because he's taking up too much space.

Parts of sharing a bed I love and parts of it I hate.  Yet, sleeping with him feels natural, normal, and right.  With him in our bed, we know that he feels safe, protected, and secure.  It also gives my husband a sense of bonding with our son that he doesn't get during the day.  Since he works away from home and Henry has always been a mama's boy, my husband doesn't get the same feeling of connection that I do.  At night he will sometimes just watch Henry sleep.  He loves knowing that our son is safe and enjoys experiencing his presence.

Part of the reason Henry sleeps so well with us is because he can nurse whenever he wants.  Since he was born I've pretty much nursed on demand.  We really struggled in the beginning.  Henry couldn't latch, I didn't know what I was doing, and we needed to use a nipple shield for the first few months.  I have gone through many stages where it has been incredibly painful and I often feel exhausted and drained (both literally and figuratively) as a result of nursing.  When we spend hours nursing to sleep, when he keeps me up all night latched on, when he takes it without asking, when he sticks his hands down my shirt and pulls my boobs out without any regard for my privacy, those times I wonder why I continue.  Yet, when he is sick with the stomach flu and I don't have to worry about dehydration, when he is sad or hurt and finds immediate comfort at my breast, when he is asleep on me and I get to feel the warmth of his body and admire the beauty of his every feature, these are the times I am so grateful that I continue to nurse him.

I don't know when we will wean nor when we will stop bed sharing, but I trust that all three of us will know when the time is right.  I believe that our journey is fluid.  I want these phases to end naturally, the same way they began and the reason they have continued.  Right now I know he is benefiting from both of these practices.  Both physically and emotionally, I believe that he is better as a result.  Until that or something else changes, I will have faith in our decisions and trust our parental instincts.


Child Led Sleep Training

by Boon and Boys


If you're reading this post my hunch is that you are not one of the lucky ones who has a child who sleeps through the night.  That's okay, I don't either.  If you do have a good sleeper, congratulations.  Feel free to keep reading.  I wanted to talk a little bit about what I've decided to call "child led sleep training."

Sleep training talk is every where these days.  When our parents and grandparents raised kids I don't think "sleep training" was as big of a conversation point.  I think the evolution of sleep training has been largely due to social media.  We all know what everyone else is doing these days.  While our parents had heard of the Ferber method, I think they mostly trusted their parenting instincts and didn't expect to be getting a ton of sleep as new parents.

Henry has not been a great sleeper from the start.  At the beginning we had no pattern or schedule.  He was pretty nocturnal.  He slept a ton during the day and then was up all night.  The lack of sleep I get these days seems great compared to those newborn days.  Being honest, it all kind of seems like a blur.  I remember my husband would change Henry's diaper and then bring him to me.  I would nurse him and try and get him back down in his rock n' play where he slept next to our bed.  I wish I had known back then that I could nurse him whenever I wanted (or he wanted).  I nursed him a ton, but I also remember thinking I should be sticking to some sort of schedule.  I recorded all of his sleep, wake, and nursing hours on an app and, in hindsight, I wish I had just let it go and not worried about establishing any sort of routine in the chaos.  I also wish I had known that it was okay to nurse him whenever and wherever like I do now.  In the beginning I thought I needed to "know" what he needed and only nurse him when we was hungry.  Now I know that nursing is so much more than food and I allow him to guide me and provide it whenever he asks.

When he outgrew his rock n' play around 4 months old, we tried to put him in his crib, but that only lasted for about two nights.  I tried to nurse him to sleep in his room and then set him down, but he would wake no more than 30 minutes after I left.  And that was after hours of trying to set him down without waking him.  I decided it wasn't worth it and he wasn't ready, so he started sleeping in bed with us.  

During this time and for a while after, I would nurse him in our room in the dark and quiet.  It would take hours to get him down.  I started to become frustrated with the fact that I didn't get to spend any time with my husband in the evening.  We never got to watch TV together, an activity that helps me wind down and lets me connect with my husband.  So, we changed our plan.  We started nursing him in the living room while watching TV.  He really had no trouble falling asleep and I would hold him in my arms until I was ready to go to bed.  At that point I would try to set him down in our bed without him waking so I could brush my teeth and join him.  Sometimes I was successful at keeping him asleep, others I would have to nurse him again.  Over time this routine became draining because I literally had maybe two minutes apart from him all day. All my sleeping and waking hours were with Henry. This phase probably lasted the longest.

The next longest phase was probably the best set up for me.  I would nurse him to sleep while watching TV with Derek and then I'd put him in bed and run into the room to nurse him back to sleep if he woke up. During this time we set up another baby monitor in our room so that we could relax easier knowing we wouldn't miss him if he woke.  I always try to rush into the room before he gets upset or has time to cry.

Eventually we noticed that he would start to get distracted by the TV.  He wasn't falling asleep in the living room anymore so we had to return to me nursing him in the bedroom.  We always followed his sleep cues more than the clock when it came to bedtime.  Since two months old I have bathed with him every night after dinner.  That's the only consistent bedtime routine we've had.  During bath time I talk to him about our day.  We go through what we did, the most challenging part of the day for me, and my favorite part of the day. Sometimes we also discuss our plans for the following day.

Right around 14 months he started getting four molars at the same time.  We went through about a week of him needing to be driven to sleep every night.  Sometimes it's not worth the battle for me and others he seems almost scared to go to sleep.  On those nights sometimes he'll even refuse to nurse because he knows it will put him to sleep.  Driving does the trick.

At about 14 and a half months I decided that I should establish a consistent bedtime routine (I've always worried about this from the start).  We started a schedule of dinner, playtime, bath time, playtime in his room, reading Llama Llama Nighty Night in bed, and then nurse to sleep. The first couple nights he fought it, but then I thought we were getting into a good habit. He even brought the book in bed for me to a couple times, but then he started to get upset again.  One night he almost crawled off the bed looking for me.  I felt terrible because I hadn't noticed his motion on the baby monitor so I didn't run in the room before he became distressed.  By the time I got to him, he was so sad and scared.  I brought him out to watch TV with us and allowed him to just be with us until he got tired and I nursed him back to sleep with ease. 

Just like the above example, I've decided that it's okay to break rules. I've decided to follow his lead, trust that we will do the right thing, and have faith that he will learn to sleep on his own and through the night when he is ready. I have to put aside the guidelines others claim are best, and trust my gut, realizing that I do not always need to lean on "expert" advice.  I also highly recommend reading Kelly mom's website.  I have turned to her words multiple times for comfort.

After all, the first night in hospital after giving birth to him, I remember that I needed to be touching him in order to feel relaxed. I think it's a similar feeling for both of us.  We shared a body for nine months and found comfort, life, and security in each other.  My belief is that it's okay, and even good, to allow that relationship to continue naturally as needed. I'll also never forget how on his first full day of life I was holding him in our hospital bed and I could tell he was tired and needed to sleep yet didn't want to close his eyes.  He's always made incredible eye contact with me and looked to me to help direct him.  I closed my eyes to assure him that everything was okay and to help model for him how he could let go.  As he watched me, he allowed his eyes to close and fell asleep in my arms.  I still do that to this day.

When Henry was 15 months, we moved to another state again (our first cross country move was at 10 weeks old).  We were in our house on a Saturday and had his big boy bed set up by Sunday.  We started nursing and lying in it together by Tuesday and and we would practice fake sleeping in it.  On Friday or that week, Henry took his first (albeit short) nap in the bed with me.  He had fallen asleep in the car and I transitioned him into that bed.  The next day started his nap in there and even slept there some by himself.  We only tried this a few times because he wasn't sleeping very soundly and as a result neither of us were getting the daytime rest that we needed.  Eventually I decided that there was no need to work so hard to force it.

Moreover, I've always felt torn about transitioning him to own bed.  On one hand I want more space, better sleep for everyone, and alone time with husband.  At the same time, I know I will terribly miss him being cuddled up next to me, sleeping with my baby, and know that one day he won't want to curl up next to his mama anymore.  As with every part of parenthood it's a fight between wanting certain tough phases to end while simultaneously not wanting to lose time.

Around 18 and a half months we had another sleep breakthrough.  It was the first time I felt like we were starting to get our sleep somewhat under control.  We had started a regular 8:30pm bedtime every night with a countdown leading up to it (sometimes we'd go a little earlier and sometimes a little later, following his cues and trying to find a time when he was tired enough to give in but not so tired that he was losing it). He also began regularly waking up between 6:30-8am.  For the first time we were beginning to establish some consistency.  I also let go of the need to have an exact "bed time routine."  Sometimes we read books, sometimes, we play, sometimes we watch TV, sometimes Henry plays on his iPad or watches a movie on it while Derek and I watch TV.  I trust that he knows what he needs and I allow it to develop naturally.  The only "structure" is that I try to have him up from his nap no later than 3pm (again sometimes things happen, I try to go with it), we eat dinner right when daddy gets home, we play until between 6-6:30pm, do bath time, and then have free time until bed time.

When he was almost 21 months old Henry and I took a trip to visit my family in Colorado.  I wanted to keep his schedule the same so, with the time change, I had himgoing to bed around 7:30pm.  When we came home, we kept the same 7:30pm bedtime in spite of the time change. Bedtime started to became so much less of a fight. Although we were still sometimes nursing a lot at night or having early wake ups, sleep was feeling like less of a problem, especially in comparison to where we once were. 

Just after turning 22 months he had a night where he came to bed with out any struggle at all. After our countdown I told him it was time for bed.  He handed me his iPad, said goodnight to daddy, came to bed with me, and nursed to sleep within thirty minutes.

The next night he slept in his own bed for the first time ever.  He was really tired and wanted to read some books in his bed.  A couple times I've said to him recently that he can let me know if he wants to sleep in his bed or our bed. When we were reading, he said he was ready for "night night." I asked if he wanted to stay there and he said yes so I turned on the sound machine, turned off the lights, and shut the door (I was shocked when he didn't get upset and want to leave because before he's said he wanted to stay there and not really meant it). I got in bed with him and nursed him to sleep like I normally do in our bed. He woke up once around 10:30pm to nurse. He does this almost every night and I never knew if it was because I was disrupting him by coming to bed. Then he slept through the night!!! He woke a little before 5:30am (which has been his regular wake time lately) calling "mama." When I reached him he told me that he wanted to nurse. We cuddled and nursed until he was ready to get up. I told him that I was so proud of him and he nodded his head in agreement.

While I know we may have more ups and downs ahead, I will celebrate the small successes and feel gratitude for how far we've come.  The thing that I think is most important to remember is that each child follows his own path.  We've had wins and struggles on our journey, we choose to breastfeed to sleep, and I will always have my bed available to Henry (or sleep in his with him) if he needs.  Ultimately, I think any success we have is not necessarily because of anything I've done but because he's ready.  We will always experience changes based upon stages, development, and what's going on in our lives. We have had times when we woke up in the middle of the night and spent hours watching TV and nursing on the couch. We've slept on couch together many nights.  We've shared a bed, and now, we've slept apart.  We've driven him to sleep and taken midnight fast food runs for our sanity.  I've almost lost my mind spending hours nursing him to sleep and I've laid next to him with him still latched in awe of how lucky I am.  It's all been a part of our journey.

Years from now I will look back and remember the beautiful moments and forget the challenging ones.  I can all but guarantee when I'm 98 I will not, for one second, regret the time I spent nursing my baby (or babies) to sleep and holding them in my arms. Even when I want to give it up, I find that there is nothing better than watching him doze off feeling completely at ease and comforted against my chest.

I wrote it over the course of several months because I wanted to document our sleep journey and share it with anyone who may be going through similar struggles.  I figured it was fitting to finally finish this post the day after his spent his first night sleeping in his own room.  Remember, there is no one path.  My journey is only one way.  Here's to restful nights and many more beautiful moments. 


Why I'm Okay with My Toddler Being Demanding

by Boon and Boys


Okay, this title is a little misleading.  I am not okay with my toddler being demanding, however, I am okay with polite bossiness.  What do I mean by that?  Well, do I require my son to say please?  Yes.  But, do I allow him to direct me?  Yes.

Around 18 months we started to get a lot of "here" (e.g, sit here, put this here) and commands to do this or that (e.g., mommy drink this, daddy drink this, put this show on, go out there, give me your hand, come this way).  It can be a lot.  As an autonomous adult having a toddler start dictating what you should do, how you should do it, and when you're allowed to can be frustrating and downright annoying.

Yet, here is why I don't mind it.  Imagine being in a foreign country, or better yet another planet.  You have wants, desires, and needs yet you don't really know how to communicate them. You try and the creatures on that planet do their best to guess what you are saying, but a lot of the time you are out of sync.  Then, one day you start understanding their language.  All of a sudden you say things and they respond in the way you intend.  You feel control for the first time.  You are eager to test out this language to confirm that it's not just a fluke.  You are thrilled that finally you can communicate in a way they understand and reliably respond to.

That's what I imagine it must be like for a toddler who is learning to speak.  After months of engaging in a communication guessing game, he is developing words that accurately express what he's feeling and what he desires.  I imagine it's both thrilling and reassuring.  I imagine it fosters a sense of self-efficacy and confidence.  And, I believe that by responding to his demands (albeit teaching him to request more than demand) I am demonstrating that he has value, worth, and a voice that is both heard and worth hearing.

So, even if it can be exhausting to be told to get up and down ten times, to move a cup left and right half an inch until it is in the exact right spot, or to stop and start a song thirty times, I will cherish it and revel in the joy of our mutual conversation.


My Little Secret

by Boon and Boys


I like to think that my son and I share a bond that no one else does. I look at him and am filled with love I can't explain. He feels like part of me and he once was. He grew inside of me and was formed within me. He contains part of my DNA and when I look at him I feel connected to him in a way that I think only a mother knows.

Announcing our pregnancy came in waves. First I told my husband, then I told my sister, after that we surprised our families, and lastly we announced our pregnancy to the world. There's always excitement in telling a new group. You know this exciting piece of information and know the news will bring others joy. At the same time, sometimes I like to reflect back on my little secret.

There was about a two hour window, maybe a little less when Henry was my little secret. When only I knew of his existence, before I even knew of him by name. A moment in time when he was just my baby and only I knew he was being formed. In one instance I learned about him and for that small window I had a little secret, a secret so big about something so small and yet so monumental.

I had taken my pregnancy test at my studio and immediately after getting a positive I had to go interact with my students and lead a class. I had to contain my excitement and calm my shaking body. I had to keep my mind focused on teaching when I just wanted to direct all my attention and energy to the life I had just learned about. I secretly placed my hands on my belly as I taught and thought about how I would share this little secret with my husband. But for that time he was my little secret.

After class I ran home and surprised my husband. He was on shock for he hadn't had the time to digest it. I was, of course, thrilled to tell him, but in that one moment Henry no longer was my little secret.

For almost nine months he was part of me and I felt connected to him in a way that no one else could, yet at times I feel nostalgic for even the shorter time in which I first discovered my world would be changing. The smallest moment that I shared with just my baby. Him dwelling in me and my knowing of his sweet life.


Traveling with a One Year Old

by Boon and Boys


Henry and I have been jet setters lately.  We've had three trips in his first month of toddlerhood and two of them were cross country ones.  Needless to say, I feel like I'm raising a little travel pro.  I'm so proud of him, and thought I'd share our tips and my experience.

Before I get started, I want to be clear that all my advice is coming from the perspective of a breastfeeding mom.  Non-breastfeeding moms and dads, you are superheros.
 

I thought I'd break my advice down into the following categories: Packing, Airport, Flying, and Other.  With packing being about what to bring, airport covering our time at the airport, flying being the time in the air, and other covering everything else about our trip.

Packing

Packing with a toddler definitely takes more planning, but luckily, because their clothes are small it doesn't take up much more room.  We even managed to pack my husband, Henry, and me all in the same suitcase.

I like to keep a running list of things I need to bring, and a special section for the last minute things I need to pack.  I keep it on my phone so I can always add to it anytime I think of something.

Ironically before having kids, I always had snacks with me.  I love to eat, and you don't want to be with me when I'm hungry.  Now, my snacks play second fiddle to Henry.  Thank goodness, in a jam I can breastfeed, but his snacks keep him entertained as well as fed.  I bought this bento snack box for Henry and it is perfect.  It takes up more room than ziplock bags would, but it keeps the food from getting smashed and is a perfect serving tray.

If you can get away without bringing your carseat, do it!  We traveled with it once and it was horrible.  It took forever to arrive in baggage claim on the first trip and got lost on the return flight.  The other times we've either had family have a carseat available or rented one from the rental car agency.

I  always check my bag when flying with Henry because it makes it so much easier.  All I bring with me on the plane is my carrier and a bag (that can fit under the seat in front of me) filled with diapers and wipes, snacks, toys, an outfit change, my wallet, and my phone.

Airport

I try to get as much energy out at the airport as possible.  When we arrive at the airport, I immediately put Henry in my carrier.  That way I can check in and get us through security without having to chase him around.  I wear him through security because it's much easier to do that and have my hands swabbed than to deal with taking him in and out (especially because he wants to be on the move at all times).  Once we are through security, I let him free.  This way he can run around and explore before having to be contained on the plane.

Flying

One thing I learned on the first flight, is you must plan ahead regarding what you have within arms reach.  My first flight I was in a row with no under seat storage so all my snacks and activities were overhead until the seatbelt sign turned off.  I had to resort to using the emergency pamphlet and airlines magazines as entertainment.

Henry struggled the most on his first flight because he wanted to get up and walk around.  Each time we've traveled, I've found that the first flight is the hardest.  Everything is new and exciting again so he doesn't want to miss out.  By the second one he is exhausted and the airplane is less novel, which allows him to fall asleep.

Luckily Henry doesn't seem to have problems with his ears (I did when I was young), but I make sure he can breastfeed if he wants to at all times during the flight.  The sucking motion is meant to help with their ears.

Before Henry the aisle seat was always my favorite.  I like having easy in and out access and the added room of the aisle.  Now, we opt for the window.  Not only does it give an extra option for entertainment, especially before take off when he sees other passengers walking around and doesn't understand why he can't, but it also gives me a place to lean for added nursing room (I've gotten really lucky and have either had the seat next to me empty or have been traveling with my husband on the majority of our trips.  This makes such a difference because Henry is very tall and doesn't have the best nursing manners).  Also, the aisle is dangerous with toddlers.  They are almost guaranteed to be hit by the cart or a passenger walking by as they (or at least mine does) like to flail around and take up a bunch of room.  The window also keeps them contained a little easier.

The best thing is to have a nice passenger sitting behind you.  Henry loves to peer over the seat so it's always helpful when there's another interested child or a kind and interactive adult.

For entertainment, I have a book from Target that has fold outs and it provides tons of entertainment.  Basically a couple books, snacks, and my boobs are our in flight entertainment.  We've also tried some downloaded videos, but those can be hit or miss.

Try not to panic when your toddler does break down.  I know it's so much easier said than done, but he or she will pick up on your anxiety which can only make things worse.  Try to breathe and pray that the other passengers have compassion.  Ultimately, you'll be okay, your toddler will survive, and the other passengers on the plane will eventually forget about the horrible child they flew with (or they'll forever have a good story to tell at parties).

Other


Go to the bathroom before you get on the plane and don't hydrate too much!  It's hard to go to the bathroom, especially if you're traveling alone and especially if your baby falls asleep on you.  I really wish I had a diaper sometimes.

I try to explain to Henry a few days before leaving that we will be going on the plane.  I don't know how much he understands, but I figure that the more I can prepare him ahead of time, the better for both of us.


Overall flying with a toddler is harder than flying with a younger baby.  The fact that they are mobile changes everything.  Also, they are so much more interested in their surroundings.  As tough as it may be, try to remember that there's only a small time frame that you'll be traveling with them at this age and you'll get through it (or at least I keep telling myself that).  And, it will give you more compassion for other parents in the future.

Safe travels!

 

Edit: We learned the hard way that Southwest requires birth certificates as proof of age for lap children.  We have flown with Frontier, American Airlines, and United, and Southwest is the only one that required a birth certificate.  A picture or scanned copy will suffice, but make sure you have one ready at check in.




 


Thanking Your Toddler

by Boon and Boys


One of my goals in raising Henry is to raise a confident and kind child.  I hope that he will feel competent and valued and, at the same time, will learn manners and skills that will help him grow into a well adjusted adult.  One of the ways in which I try to model positive behavior and reinforce actions that I like is by thanking Henry.

Although toddlers give plenty of opportunities to scold and correct, I try to focus on appreciating the good things Henry does.  On a daily basis he gives me the opportunity to thank him for:

Being kind.  I love when Henry is kind to people we interact with out in the community.  We talk about how it is especially important to be kind to people who are serving us.  At the grocery store they recognize and always greet Henry by name.  They rave about how he is their favorite baby.  I always tell him how much I appreciate the kindness he shows strangers when he waves or smiles at them, while simultaneously telling him that I appreciate how he stays close to mommy to make sure he is safe.

Helping.  Even though toddlers are often up to no good and seem to be purposefully causing trouble, they are also big helpers (at least in their eyes) and I like to show appreciation for that helping spirit.  If I ask Henry to bring me something and he does, if he cleans up, or helps carry something, I am sure to thank him.  Even if he decides to engage in a "helpful" behavior that isn't helpful, I thank his effort.  After all, isn't it the thought that counts? 

For listening.  How often do my desires and Henry's line up?  I'm sure not often in his eyes.  He wants to stay outside when it's time to go inside.  He wants to play with the cookies when I say he can't.  He doesn't want to get in his car seat and I make him.  For all the times he cooperates, even after a struggle, I thank him.

For affection.  I always thank Henry for showing his daddy and me affection.  I also thank him for being gentle with our bunny Max.  I greatly appreciate the hugs, cuddles, and kisses he gives and want him to know that I do.

For using kind language.  Shortly after I started asking Henry to say "please mama."  He started giving his own version of "please" by saying "mama" in a special tone.  When he gets angry and demands something or yells at me, I ask him to "ask nicely."  Immediately he will change to his kind tone and say "mama."  I always tell him that I appreciate him asking so nicely.  He has also started interchanging "mama" for thank you.  (I think evidence that my words of appreciation are being heard.)  As a result, I also thank him for saying thank you.

For being patient.  Most of the time Henry has to follow my time line even if it contradicts with his--maybe I am working on a blog post, going to the bathroom, on a phone call, or we are standing in line.  Some of those times I feel impatient too so I can only imagine how he must feel.  When we waits for me or with me, I am sure to thank his patience, and I especially try to show my appreciation before he expresses frustration.

Even on the roughest of days, I can always find things to thank Henry for.  I believe it's important for so many reasons and will continue to seek out ways to appreciate Henry's daily contributions.


Why I Don't Say "It's Okay"

by Boon and Boys


Since Henry was born, one thing I've tried to do with him is help him label his emotions.  It's something that we take for granted as adults.  We cry because we're sad, we yell because we're angry, we pout because we didn't get our way.  We usually know how our actions and feelings are related.  Yet, even as an adult sometimes I can't explain what I'm feeling.  Sometimes I just get out of sorts for no reason.  Or I start crying (thanks hormones) with no explanation.  So, if I as an adult can't even always figure out my emotions, I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who is new to the world.

When Henry starts crying because he falls down I will help him verbalize his tears, telling him that he's hurt and/or scared.  When he is screaming and crying while I try to put him in his car seat, I will vocalize that he is angry with me and doesn't want to go in his chair.  I also explain to him that although he doesn't want to ride in his car seat, it's the only way to be safe in the car.  When Henry throws himself on the ground in the evening, I tell him that he is upset and tired.  What I try to avoid in all these instances is telling him "it's okay" or "you're okay."

Why do I do this?  Well, in addition to helping Henry label his emotions, I want to validate them.  He's upset for a reason.  In his world everything isn't okay and he isn't okay.  Even though those statements come from a good place, one of reassurance and care, they can be dismissive.  Telling him "you're fine" says "I don't understand your experience," "what you're feeling isn't valid," and "there's no reason to be upset."  Even if, in my adult mind, there is no reason for him to be upset, he feels something and his emotional reaction is justified in his eyes.

Although I slip sometimes, rather than say "it's okay," I aim to help him understand his experience.  I label his emotion, explain the situation (if applicable) and let him know that I am there for him.  Whether I hug him, hold him, nurse him, or tell him with my words, I want him to know that, even in the depths of his emotional distress, I am there.  I see him, I hear him, I am there.  I will sit with him, talk to him, and help him work it through.  It may not be okay in the moment, but together, hopefully we'll get there.
 


Pressure to Perform

by Boon and Boys


I think one of the greatest challenges that the modern parent faces is the "pressure to perform."  Because of social media, the Internet, and the presence of sites like Pinterest, we are constantly bombarded with messages about parenting.  Everyone seems to have creative ideas, phenomenal kids rooms, and brilliant educational activities that fill every day.  It can create a feeling of pressure--pressure to perform, pressure to be the best parent, pressure to raise the most intelligent, social, and well-adjusted child.

I think it's wonderful that we have so many resources at our fingertips, yet I think it can also do a detriment to both us and our children.  If you've ever watched a child open a gift, you know that they often find the packaging much more enthralling than the present inside.  Their little minds can create wonders and worlds out of our adult trash.  They don't need much to explore and invent, and, when left to their own devices, they find a way to entertain and educate themselves.

I am definitely not advocating a lack of parental involvement.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I think that the presence of a parent can be enough in and of itself.  Take away all the activities and simply be together.  Mimic each others' sounds and faces.  Talk about the day.  Discuss the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures around you.  Stare into each others' eyes.  Snuggle, cuddle, and embrace each other.  Hear and follow your child.  Take turns sharing the unique wisdom each of you have to offer.

Lately Henry and I have been spending hours sitting in our ball pit reading and playing our "quiet/noise" game. We rarely make it through a book but Henry loves to help turn the pages and then point to the bookshelf when he wants a new one. Sometimes we spend a lot of time on one book and other times we quickly change to a new book.

During our game, I put my finger up to my lips and whisper "shh, quiet." After a couple seconds of silence we start kicking the balls with our legs to make "noise." Henry has even started putting his finger to my lips to signal it's time for quiet.

What I love about these activities is the control and self-regulation they teach Henry. Aside from the obvious of learning words and the importance of reading, he's learning that he has a voice with which he can communicate. By flipping the book over for me to read it again or by pointing to the bookshelf for a new book, he's learning that he can use his voice to express his needs and wishes. Similarly, in our "quiet/noise" game, he is learning calm, patience, patterns and commands.

Remember that even the smallest activities can be opportunities for both learning and connection. Trust your children to lead you and don't worry that you need elaborate plans to entertain and educate them.  Let go of the pressure to perform and instead practice presence.


Henry's Birth Story One Year Later

by Boon and Boys


I really wanted to write Henry's birth story at his one year birthday.  I purposely haven't read the first one I wrote because I thought it would be neat to compare them and see how my memory has shifted with time.  I've been eager to do it, but held off until today so it was right at this time everything started a year ago.

A year ago today I had my weekly OBGYN check up.  I saw the nurse practitioner and she said that I was about a centimeter dilated, but she didn't anticipate anything happening between then and my next appointment.  I taught my regular classes that evening (sitting on a ball like I had been doing for about a month due to my extreme pain and immobility).  That night while Derek and I were relaxing and watching TV I felt really restless. I remember feeling like I wanted to move and a general sense of being unsettled. Hindsight makes me think it was because my body was about to go into labor. I wish I had known at the time that this was our last night with just the two of us. I think it's pretty neat that our last night together fell on our 7 year dating anniversary. I've never actually thought of it like that.

That evening I went to bed and at some point ended up on the couch. I think I actually spent the whole night on the couch because I had been sleeping out there due to my pain and discomfort. I'm grateful that I was wearing a pad as a result of the spotting from my exam because just before 4:15am when I got up to go to the bathroom my water broke.

I never expected my water to break since a lot of people's don't, and I definitely want expecting it in that moment. I called my husband's name and he immediately woke. It's funny because he is a sound sleeper, yet there must have been something in my tone of voice that got him wide awake. He even asked me if he had been awake before I called him because he rose so fast.

I told him that I thought my water had broken (it kept becoming more and more clear that it had as the liquid continued to pour out of me). I called my mom and then texted my dad when she didn't answer. My dad had apparently been awake and staring at the clock or his phone because he couldn't sleep. We always say that "we are one" so he must have sensed the start of my labor. My sister also said she was dreaming that Henry was being born when my parents woke her with the news.  I took a picture in the bathroom with the clock in it to mark the time as Derek hopped in the shower. By the time he was out, I was standing by the door with my bag ready to go.

The drive to the hospital I sat on a towel. I wasn't particularly having contractions, at least not more than I had been having for a few weeks. I started having them two Fridays before I gave birth. I remember it feeling really surreal.

We got to the hospital and I got checked in. We had to enter through the ER side because it was before the normal entry hours. I'm glad we went on the hospital tour so we knew what to expect. When they gave me a bracelet I got excited because it meant this was really happening. Eventually a man came out with a wheelchair and it was my turn. We were going in. Henry was going to be born!

I got taken to a small room at first and they hooked me up to a bunch of things. I know one of them was monitoring my heart rate and contractions and the other was an IV of antibiotics because I had tested GBS+. I remember having to go to the bathroom really badly but was afraid I couldn't thinking it would cause an infection since my water had broken. Eventually I decided I was just going to go. I was not going to poop on the table during labor!

Derek called our families and told them we had been admitted and Henry was coming today. My family had already booked their flight and was on their way to the airport. Derek's family just had a short trip from Orange County to Riverside. Meanwhile, I was texting people to get my classes covered and canceling the private lessons I had scheduled for the day. I laugh now because I remember thinking "I probably won't make it."

The contractions were also getting much stronger at this point. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom I left a slimy mess that Derek called "snail slim." Apparently your water keeps coming out, it's not just a water breaking moment.

I hated any time Derek left the room because our nurse kept trying to pressure me into not getting am epidural. Derek and I had talked about it beforehand and decided we wanted to go that route. Largely because he didn't want me to have to be in so much pain. I do think that was the right decision because I can't imagine the intensity of the contractions continuing to increase until Henry was born that night.

The nurse would pinch my arm and tell me how I could use my brain to anesthetize it and kept telling me to make saliva. I remember just not wanting to talk. I wanted to breathe through the contractions and instead she kept making me repeat back her theories on why I was strong enough not to need an epidural. It was definitely not helpful. Especially because it made me feel like I was being judged and, in the state I was in, the last thing I needed was to be questioning myself and my decisions.

Over the process of my labor there were three different nurse shifts. The second one who we had the longest was massaging Derek's ear at some point talking about how it would calm him. I think that was the second one, it all feels kind of like a blurry dream. The third one came on right before Henry was delivered.

At some point I was moved into my much bigger labor and delivery room. The problem with this room was that the temperature was freezing. Even the nurses commented on it and my husband was definitely not dressed appropriately. We were both freezing and I was covered in layers and layers of blankets. I got the epidural sometime during the 11am hour. I was nervous but it went fine. Again, though, I just wanted to breathe and the anesthesiologist kept making me answer questions and talk.

Shortly after getting my epidural things took a bit of a turn. Initially it made me very giggly and giddy but then I got exhausted and my blood pressure dropped. They put me on oxygen and I remember just laying there with my eyes closed. Around this time was when my family got to the hospital. My mom and sister spent a lot of time with me in the room. They and Derek all alternated between being with me and sitting in the waiting room with Derek's parents. I think only two people were allowed in the room at a time even though we broke the rules a few times.

One thing I didn't expect was how thirsty I would be.  I love to eat, but I didn't care about food, I just wanted water.  All I could have was ice chips and I can tell you, that is not hydrating.  I would wait for the ice to melt and drink it, but I just wanted water.  Bear in mind, I hadn't eaten or drank anything since dinner the night before.

By the time I was ready to give birth, neither or my doctors were on call.  So, I ended up with a doctor I had never met before.  Apparently she is notoriously late.  They had me start pushing while she was on the way and then when they could see Henry's head, they made me stop.  It felt like forever that I had to wait.  I also had to help hold my legs up and they were so heavy.  I did not like the doctor.  She was not very attentive and was making jokes with people in the hallway.  Only the nurse near me was giving instructions and seemed focused on Henry's delivery.  The hardest part for me was the breathing.  I wasn't allowed to inhale long.  I had to take a really quick inhale and then give 3-5 pushes with each exhale, if I remember correctly.  Once the actual pushing got started, though, it wasn't long until Henry came out.  I think it was only about 5 sets of pushes.  I remember feeling my abs contracting and feeling like I was using them to push him down the birth canal.  Derek saw Henry come out.  He said it was super bizarre how his body contorted to come out.

The next moment is one I never want to forget.  I am already sad that it is a moment I can't experience again.  I worry that the intensity of the memory and the emotions I felt will fade with time.  My wedding day was my favorite day of my life, but the moment Henry was placed on my chest was the single greatest moment of my life.  I remember how warm he felt and how overcome with love I felt.  I felt like a piece of me was being ripped away when they had to briefly take him from me to wipe him off.  Derek cut the umbilical cord, something he didn't want to do because he felt like he was hurting the two of us.  Our family become complete in a moment.  It makes me emotional to think about.  I would live this moment over and over again.  Even if I had to give birth and go through it all again.  I loved it.

I did tear and had to get stitched up, but luckily the epidural made it so I didn't feel any pain. Also, my focus was on our new family.  We were left to spend our first time as a family.  Henry and I couldn't figure out how to breastfeed, but I just held him against my chest.  I wish I could go back in time and watch the three of us enjoying our first moments together.  I would love to observe it and just breathe it in. 

We had flipped a coin to see whose family would come in first.  Mine "won" so my parents came in first.  Then Derek's.  We decided that the opposite family's siblings would come in next, so next was Derek's brother and fiance followed by my sister.  After everyone left, Derek went to get us food (Del Taco).  He was fading fast so I called my mom and she and my sister came back.  I wasn't super hungry (like I said, I just wanted to drink), but I knew I needed to after 24 hours without food.

As I said, Derek was beyond exhausted at this point so he went home to get some rest.  My sister, Emily, spent the night with Henry and me.  Our room was absolutely horrible.  The light above my bed was broken so I had florescent light blaring down on my the whole night.  I had to share a room and Emily only had a tiny chair beside my bed.  Our roommates blared the TV all night and were incredibly loud and inconsiderate.  The hospital was horrible.

Rewinding a little bit.  I stayed in the labor and delivery room longer than normal because I wasn't regaining feeling in my legs.  Eventually (probably around 10:30pm) they placed me in a wheelchair and brought me to my overnight room.  I had to call for help anytime I needed to go to the bathroom.  I remember all of that was scary.  I couldn't walk on my own, I didn't know what I needed to do in terms of spraying myself with a spray bottle to wipe and then using a numbing spray.  It all felt so foreign and I didn't feel at home in my body.

The next morning I just wanted Derek to be back and I remember feeling all emotional and out of sorts.  Looking back on it, I can only imagine the rush of hormones I must have been experiencing, plus exhaustion.  It was almost an out of body type experience.  On top of it all, Henry and I weren't doing well at breastfeeding (I have another post about all the trouble we had during our breastfeeding journey) and I was seeing multiple lactation consultants.  The nurses were not helpful.  I had to manually pump, which I had no idea how to do, and was crying because it hurt so badly.  I also had to syringe feed Henry. 

We ended up staying in the hospital a second night because they wanted to watch me because I was still having trouble gaining feeling back in one of my legs.  When we did get clearance to go, Derek got us ready and we drove home.  I remember the drive home was so painful.  I know I was in a lot of pain for a while after giving birth.  I also bled for weeks and even had to get an ultrasound to make sure I was healing okay.  I also had to do a follow up visit after my 6 week check up because I wasn't healing well downstairs.  All that said, it's amazing how much the negative fades in your memory.  I'm remembering it all in order to write it here, but that's not what I remember when I think about Henry's birth.  Instead, I just remember the incredible joy I felt when holding him for the first time.  That's what I always want to remember.

A year later there are still ups and downs.  There are so many rough days, but there are also so many phenomenal moments.  I know, just like with his birth, I will look back and only remember the positive.  The hard times will fade away and feel so small compared to the joys motherhood has brought me.  I do feel blessed.  I can't wait to spend my last night sleeping beside my baby boy because when I wake up, I will be waking up next to my toddler.


May I Never Forget

by Boon and Boys


This morning as I sat in bed nursing Henry I just watched him. I wanted to take it all in and seal it into my memory forever. I fear the strength of these sensations will fade with time so I want to cement them in my brain as much as I can.

I never want to forget how small his ten little toes are. The pudginess of his feet. The way he always crosses his feet at his ankles. The chunkines of his thighs. His sweet neck rolls. How his smell of sweat and breast milk combines onto a scent that is both pungent and amazingly intoxicating at the same time. The number of lines on his sweet arms and the way his hand always holds onto and caresses me as he nurses. The delicacy of his tiny facial features. The beauty of his eye lashes and how his eyes blink a little slower with each sip. The clamminess of his skin and how his hair curls as he sweats. The way he gives into sleep as I run my fingers through his hair. The way he appears to perfectly peaceful when asleep in my arms. The sound his breath makes as it accelerates when he feels me start to set him down, but slows again when he feels me still next to him. The way he always leaves his legs on top of me as if to ensure that I don't go anywhere. How someone so small manages to take up so much of the bed. And the way my heart aches with love so overwhelming that it feels as if it will explode. These are the moments I live for. This is what I never want to forget.


Lessons From My First Year of Motherhood

by Boon and Boys


I've always hated the idea that non-parents can't possibly understand.  Yet, I'll admit, there were things I didn't know before becoming a mother.  As I approach the year mark of Henry's birth, I find myself feeling nostalgic.  I've been reflecting on the person I've evolved into since becoming a mother and decided to compile a list of the things I've learned during my first year of motherhood.

  1. You will judge and be judged.  The judgement doesn't stop now that you are a parent.  I judged parents before I was a mom, and I still judge.  Yes, I know that sounds terrible, but it's human nature.  Not that I look at others people's decisions as wrong, but I take note of what I want to avoid or do differently.  Likewise, I know that others look at me and scoff at some of my choices.  The challenge is to trust my maternal instinct in spite of others' choices and judgments because, ultimately I am the mother.
  2. You are the mother.  As I said above, regardless of what the research says, what other parents say, or what your parents think, you are the mother.  As someone who craves approval, it is tempting to make choices that I think will gain me that approval.  Yet, I have to trust that I am the perfect mother for Henry and that he was chosen to be my son for a reason.
  3. You have never known love like this.  This one is tough.  People always say it and it sounds both cliche and exclusive.  Yet I get it.  My single favorite moment to date is when Henry was placed on my chest for the first time.  The rush of love I felt in that moment was something I never expected nor experienced before.  For the first few weeks I would just start crying while looking at him and holding him because I was overwhelmed with love.  I'll be honest, after the first few months, sleep deprivation kicked in and I didn't feel that same intensity.  Not that I didn't love him, but I just felt too drained to feel anything at times.  However, now I can say that my love continues to grow every day.  I absolutely adore my son and know that I would do anything for him.
  4. You didn't know the definition of sleep deprivation.  People always tell you that you will be exhausted as a new parent.  Okay okay I get it.  Well, I thought I did.  I thought I knew what it felt like to be sleep deprived.  Boy was I wrong.  I now long for the days when I thought 7 hours of sleep was a bad night.  I haven't had a full nights sleep in over a year.  And, on top of it all, sleep deprivation turns you into a crazy person.  It messes with your sanity and emotions.  It makes you feel more depressed and isolated and it makes your problems seem bigger.  I was not one of the lucky moms who gets a good sleeper.  One day, I'll sleep again.  At least I keep telling myself that.
  5. Children are the ultimate wingmen.  I've never been great at making friends.  Yet, what I've found is that Henry is the ultimate wingman.  Not only do people approach you more often when you have a baby, but you automatically have something in common with other moms.  As a result, they welcome you in.  It's like being a part of a club and your child is the membership card.
  6. Babies are incredibly fun to shop for.  Baby clothes are absolutely adorable.  It's hard not to buy everything you see.  My husband says it's like having a dress up doll.  And baby toys are amazing.  I catch myself walking down the toy aisle at Target wanting everything.  I get more excited about them than Henry at this point.  The other day we went to Toys R Us, and man is that place amazing!  My husband, who is just a big kid, has always loved that store, but I didn't realize how cool it is.  I want it all.
  7. It gets easier.  I wish I could go back to Henry's newborn days with what I know now.  I feel like I would be able to really soak it all up.  I feel more competent every day.  Yes, I have my moments where I feel like a complete failure, but overall I am starting to feel like I have some parts of parenting down.  At the beginning everything is so new.  You are doing it all for the first time, you are learning who your baby is and discovering his or her unique temperament, and it's tough.  There are definitely parts of parenting that were easier initially, and each stage has it's challenges, but I still believe it gets easier with time.
  8. It's constantly changing.  I said it gets easier, but just when you think you know what you're doing, everything changes.  Each stage is different and babies grow and change so much during the first year of life, it's incredible.
  9. We're all doing our best to get through.  I'm determined that no matter how much someone looks like she has it together on her Instagram page, she doubts herself as a mom and is just trying to get through the day.  Yes, some days we feel like supermom and others we feel like the worst mom on the planet.  I believe that every good parent doubts himself every now and then.  We all wonder if we are going to permanently scar or damage our children with our decisions, and we all pray that we're doing at least some of it right.
  10. People love to compare.  I cannot tell you how many times Henry has been called a big baby or some variation of that.  Even I compare him to others.  Everyone wants to know when your baby walks, talks, what they eat, how much they weigh, how well they sleep.  It may be good natured, but I believe that comparison is the thief of joy, and we could all use a little less of it.
  11. People don't have baby etiquette.  I was worried that people would overcross their bounds when I was pregnant.  I heard horror stories of the advice people would give and how many strangers would rub my belly.  Maybe I got lucky, but I didn't run into much of that.  However, the second Henry got here people started overstepping.  The number of people who touch your baby is crazy.  Thank goodness I don't worry as much now that Henry is a little older, but I still don't appreciate how often people invade his personal space. 
  12. It's easy to lose your identity.  This.  I swore up and down before getting pregnant and during my pregnancy that my husband and I would remain the priority.  I envisioned us having date nights and keeping our relationship front and center.  Well, not only have we not had a date since Henry arrived (we were in a wedding when he was 5 weeks old, but that is the only time we've been away from him and it wasn't really a date), but I haven't really had any me time.  I feel like my identity is solely "Henry's mom" these days.  My roles as a wife and individual have take a backseat to my mommy needy baby.  I believe that one day the scales will shift more in alignment, but they are definitely skewed right now.  As much as I want some time alone and with my husband, I also can't imagine leaving Henry with anyone.  We both need each other.
  13. A support system is a must.  I think the most challenging part of my transition to motherhood was the amount of change I underwent simultaneously.  Becoming a mom, moving cross country, and shifting careers (studio owner to stay at home mom) left me feeling isolated.  For the first few months out here, I didn't go anywhere.  The only adult interaction I got was with my husband.  Once I got over the fear that Henry would freak out in the car and started venturing out more, I made friends and the difference it made in my sanity was incredible.
  14. Self-care is important.  I still haven't really found a way to incorporate adequate self-care into my Henry care, but I now understand how important it is.  Before having him I didn't realize how much I used my alone time in the middle of the day to recuperate and recharge.  Now that I am never alone I miss it.  I never knew that it was something I needed until it was gone.

I thought about putting these in some meaningful order, but I decided to leave them in the order that they came to me.  Through all the ups and downs of this year, I've learned so much and transformed into a mother.  I still can't believe that at times.  Even when I complain about my new role, I am so grateful for the opportunity.  I couldn't have picked a more perfect son for me, and I am beyond blessed to be his mother.  I can't wait for all that he still has to teach me.


On the Eve of My Son's Birthday Month

by Boon and Boys


Tomorrow marks the start of my son's birthday month.  My baby boy is going to be one year old in just 28 short days.  How I became the mother of a one year old I will never know.

This first year has been an eternity and a blink of an eye.  It seems like a lifetime ago that I was pregnant.  The intensity of the pain I felt has become weaker in my memory and the person I was before seems somehow foreign to me.  Yet, at the same time, I cannot believe I am about to have a toddler.  I still want to call him a newborn.  He will forever be my baby after all.

Time is funny like that.  It plays tricks on us.  It moves both fast and slow, yet it is also constant and steady.  It's so easy to see the way in which my baby has transformed over this year.  Looking back I don't believe he was ever as small as the pictures show.  Now he can wave, shake his head, and clap on command.  He walks with assistance and says "mama."  He's molded, and is continuing to mold, into such a fun, loving boy.  Although his changes may be more obvious, I am also a different person.  I have grown and evolved in these past 11 months in more ways that I probably realize.  I've become a mother, and that reality still catches me off guard at times.  How am I a mother when I still feel like my mother's baby girl?

As nostalgic as this landmark makes me feel, I am also excited.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to watch my son grow and to continue to grow myself.  I recognize how blessed I am to have a child to call my own.  What a privileged life I lead.  These past few days I felt waves of emotion.  I remember the immense love I felt for my son the second he was placed on my chest (a feeling I wish wouldn't fade with time's passing), but as strong as that love was, it has managed to grow.  I look at him, especially when he is asleep in my arms, and am speechless.  There are no words to describe the magnitude of the love I feel for him.  He is perfection.  I adore him.  I know that I would do absolutely anything for him.

 I also feel an incredible pressure to nurture this life.  I have a responsibility to help him evolve into the man he is destined to be and a man that will make a positive impact in this world.  I pray that I am equipped to be his mother, and I thank God for trusting me with this most precious life.


Different But Equal

by Boon and Boys


My husband and I have different ways in which we contribute to the household.  Neither is better, harder, or more valuable.  They're different, but equal.  Even though I know this, I often disrespect my husband's role by comparing our responsibilities.  My husband goes to work while I stay home with Henry.  Partly because of that division of labor, partly because of Henry's temperament, and partly because we exclusively breastfeed (meaning no pumping or formula), I end up carrying the most of the burden in regards to the day to day tasks of caring for Henry.

However, my husband cares for Henry in a different way.  He makes money for our family, he makes sure our home is clean and babyproofed, he does the laundry, he drives when we are together so I can sit in the backseat with Henry.   So, while I feel the weight of taking care of Henry's needs, my husband's responsibilities are different, but equal.

I think one of the greatest areas of stress between partners at the addition of children is about the division of labor.  What worked before and was the status quo, no longer works because there are new tasks and a new family member who needs a ton of care and attention.  Even if you had an idea of how the home would function before the child's arrival, his or her temperament might force you to adjust your plan.  Moreover, I'm a firm believer that nothing can truly prepare you for having a child.   Therefore, it's easy to feel tension or distress while navigating the new roles of mother and father and the changing relationship dynamics.

The challenge and the goal is to learn to respect and appreciate the other without devaluing that person's contribution.  While our tasks and roles may be different, their value is equal.


Pregnancy Progression Photos

by Boon and Boys


A couple days ago Henry and I celebrated our 38+3.  What does that mean, you ask?  Well, Henry was born when I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  Being the sap I am, I calculated the date at which he would have been out in the world for 38 weeks and 3 days.  To commemorate this day I took some reenactment photos (which I'm including below with some other pictures I took to track my pregnancy progression).