What I Learned While My Husband Was Away

by Boon and Boys


Recently my husband was out of town, leaving Henry and me alone for the first time.  Even though we've been away from Derek before, we've always been with my family.  It's never been just the two of us.  I was really anxious.  I wasn't sure how it would go, and I expected to be overwhelmed and exhausted.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  It ended up being one of my favorite weekends and it taught me so much.

So, here's what I learned while my husband was away:

  1. I'm more capable than I think.  Like I said, I went into this weekend not believing I'd be able to handle it.  I came out of it feeling like a super mom.  I know one weekend does not a super hero make, but I realized I am capable.  I can do this mom thing, and I'm pretty good at it.
  2. It helps to think of my son and me as a team not as adversaries.  I realized that when I view my son and me as being on the same team we are more successful.  If we can work together to resolve problems, make each other happy, and get things done, we will succeed.  Even one day when he's pushing boundaries and purposefully butting head with me, if I can choose to be on a team with him, working with him rather than fighting him, I think we'll both be happier.
  3. Expectations are everything. When my husband is in town I expect him to help out.  Even when he comes home from a long day of work, I expect him to help me.  I want him to take Henry while I make dinner, give me a chance to shower, and change a diaper every so often.  When he was gone, I knew I couldn't rely on anyone else.  Rather than feeling overwhelmed and burdened, I felt even less drained.  Expectations change your perspective.
  4. Having a flexible routine helps.  Henry and I had a great routine while Derek was away.  We were like clockwork.  Naps, bedtime, eating, it all worked.  Yet, at the same time, it just flowed.  The first night, I didn't know what to do once the clock hit the time my husband usually comes home.  But then I decided, we could make our own routine.  One night it was bedtime and he didn't seem to be settling while we were starting to nurse to sleep.  I told Henry that we could get our fancy drinks (bubbly water for me and a sippy cup that he doesn't know how to use for him) and watch some trashy TV.  Within 10 minutes he let me know that he was ready to nurse again and fell asleep immediately.
  5. I feel safe with my son and he and I are intimately connected.  At night, whenever Henry and I were in the same room I felt safe.  When we were in separate rooms, I felt anxious.  The second I texted that sentiment to my mom, he woke up, not to nurse, but  just to be held.  He slept in my arms and we were both comforted.
  6. I don't want to be without him.  All the time I wish for some free time and me time, yet as I sat on the couch watching him sleep on the baby monitor, I missed him.
  7. I can make time for me.  I've finally found a way to have some me time.  In our new routine, I do bath time with Henry and then take him into the bedroom to nurse to sleep.  I used to nurse him to sleep while Derek and I watched TV and hold Henry until I went to bed.  Now, I stay with him until he lets me set him down and then sneak away.  Even if I have to run back in there a few times (I like to catch him before he cries), it gives me some free time in the evening.   It's a great balance.

On Being an "Attachment Parent"

by Boon and Boys


Why did I put "attachment parent" in quotes?  Well, I don't like to label my parenting or anyone else's for that matter.  I think it's silly to title parenting styles when they're all just different approaches to the same goal.  Am I an attachment parent?  I guess so.  I looked up what attachment parenting is and Attachment Parenting International defines it as "[being] about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children."  They continue, "Attachment parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect, and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others."  So, yes, I guess I'm an attachment parent.

My parenting, however, isn't derived from or defined by any website or parenting theory.  I choose to parent the way I do because I believe it is best for my child.  I like to think that all (or hopefully at least most) parents parent this way.  Good or bad, they parent out of the belief that what they are doing will result in the most well-adjusted adult.

So, what does my parenting look like?  I co-sleep (and bedshare) with Henry.  I babywear.  I breastfeed.  I let him sleep on me and in my arms.  I include him in my daily activities.  I don't put him in daycare nor have I left him with a babysitter.  I'm with him 99.9% of the time, other than when he's with my husband while I take a two minute shower every other night (and even then sometimes they stand outside the shower waiting for me to get out).  At first I couldn't leave Henry for any amount of time with out him crying hysterically.  Videos and pictures of him with my husband depict such an upset baby that I cried when looking at them.  Now, he enjoys his time with his dad, but still doesn't relax quite as much as with mommy.

Could I force him to sleep in his own crib, be away from me, and be content at all times  in his car seat, stroller, and high chair?  I could.  Should I?  Maybe.  Do I believe I should?  Absolutely not.  

There's a definite downside and sacrifice to the way I parent.  I am often exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Carrying such a heavy baby all the time is physically tiring, not sleeping soundly results in never ending sleep deprivation, being with Henry all the time to meet his needs without time to recharge myself is incredibly draining.  There are times when I feel like I've had enough.  Times when I want to pass him off and let him deal with the consequences (and yes, I feel like a horrible mother for feeling that way).

But, there are also upsides.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that my son trusts me and feels safe with me.  He soothes so quickly with me.  He can fall asleep easily in my arms.  When he gets hurt exploring the world (even on my watch), he knows that he can come back to me for comfort, reassurance, and security.  I'm teaching him that there is consistency, safety, and love in his world.  That his needs will be met.  That his cry will be heard.

So, yes, parenting this way (whether it's considered attachment parenting or not) is exhausting, and it's definitely not always enjoyable.  It requires me to put my needs and desires on the back burner, but it's also so rewarding.  I am helping shape my son every day, giving him the upbringing that I believe is best, and nurturing the beautiful innocent soul that his is.  And, as a gift back to me, he gives me love every day in the form of precious cuddles, kisses, and smiles.


The Plight of a Stay at Home Mom

by Boon and Boys


All my life I dreamed of being a mother and longed to stay home.  I fixated on the day I would no longer have to go into work, and believed I would love nothing more than being at home all day.

I never suspected that I would be one of those people who "needed" to work.  I thought I would celebrate my new job and never miss my work outside of the home.  I didn't realize how much I longed for human interaction and a sense of accomplishment.  I knew I was an overachiever, but I always thought that was because I was in school or running my own business.  I assumed it would go away or transfer to motherhood.  And, yes, it partially has.  I feel a need to be the perfect mother and set my son up for success.  I believe that by being home with him I am giving him the best environment and providing him with the start to life that I want for him.  Yet, something is still missing.

Being a stay at home mom can be isolating.  I adore my son and love how much he loves and needs me.  At the same time, I feel a loss of individuality.  I sometimes feel lonely and exhausted.  At times I feel like I my intelligence is fading (I cringe every time I accidentally use the wrong "there" of "you're" even if it is only for a moment).  Even though I know raising my son is exceptionally important, sometimes I feel like I am not doing anything of value and significance.  And then if I do anything other than give him all my attention, I feel guilty.

I long for a sense of fulfillment and purpose.  I miss feeling like I'm contributing to our family financially (I loved the accomplishment I felt when depositing money that was a direct result of my hard work).  I find myself staying up at night trying to brainstorm ways I can make money.  I am so grateful that we don't "need" me to work, but I think it is about much more than the money.  I think I need to feel successful, admired, appreciated, accomplished, challenged, and intellectually stimulated.

Yesterday, I met someone else who expressed the same sentiment.  She also has a graduate degree and worked outside of the home before transitioning to her role as a stay at home mom.  She also recently moved (which I think contributes to the sense of isolation).   I can all but guarantee we're not the only two who feel this way.

I adore my son and am so grateful for the opportunity to raise him and stay home with him. I'm thankful that I'm not a single mother who has to work.  I'm glad I don't have to put my son in daycare.  I'm also pretty sure that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

I by no means think that being a stay at home mom is the "toughest job in the world."  I recognize that every job has its advantages and its challenges. My title is intentionally dramatic as "plight" implies more hardship that I think is merited.  Still, staying at home is hard.  I don't get to watch Netflix all day, pamper myself, and bake.  I often don't even get to pee when I want to.  Even for someone who dreamed of this job her whole life, I realize that it's not always all it's cracked up to be.  All of this to say, if you feel this way or similar, you're not alone.

 


Henry's First Food

by Boon and Boys


At first I thought I would wait until 6 months before introducing solids to Henry.  I waited as close to that time as I felt was beneficial for him, but also let him lead me.  Once he started grabbing our plates and putting them in his mouth, trying to jump out of my lap to get to our food, and sitting up well in his high chair, I decided we could give it a go.  We started 8 days before his 6 month old birthday.

I read a lot about baby led weaning before he started solids and thought that was the route I would go.  As it got closer, I started to worry more about Henry choking.  I read up on my CPR and first aid before giving him his first taste of solids, and I settled on something that I feel was the perfect compromise.

I bought food feeders and I highly recommend them!  This is the set I got and it has been perfect for Henry.  I put the food in the plastic feeder and let him feed himself.  This way, I am getting what I wanted from baby led weaning without the fear of him choking.  

So, why did I decide to go this route?  Why not purees?  I believe that the best nutrition I can give to my son over his first year of life is my breast milk.  I'm sticking to the notion that "food before one is just for fun."  I want him to develop a positive relationship with food.  With the high rates of obesity and eating disorders, I want to encourage healthy habits from early on.  I don't want to force him to eat.  I worry that with purees I am teaching him the lesson that he is not in control of what goes into his body.  Instead, I choose to offer him food and let him explore it.  

In addition to using the feeders sometimes I'll put food on his high chair tray.  Usually it's more of an art project for him.  I'm fine with that.  He's learning textures and smell and taste (if it does get in his mouth).  

Another "rule" I broke is the "wait three days before introducing new foods" rule.  At first I thought I needed to follow this guideline as it is purported to ensure your child isn't allergic to a specific food.  I decided that if Henry was allergic I would probably notice a reaction before the three day mark.  I am still not overwhelming his system by introducing too many new flavors at once, but in just over a week, we have tried four items (sweet potato on Tuesday, avocado on Saturday, banana on Monday, and pear on Wednesday).  I introduced each of these using the feeders.  I've also frozen some breast milk, sweet potato, and avocado ice cubes for when I do want to mix flavors and/or to help with teething pain.

I know others may have different ideas than I do, and that is perfectly fine.  I don't want anyone to feel that I am judging his or her choice, but this method is what has worked for my family, and I'll keep it until it no longer works for us.

Happy eating!

Update: Below I'll keep an active list of what he's eaten (by date) along with any notable reactions and/or notes on the preparation.

10/20 - Sweet potato - baked in oven

10/24 - Avocado

10/26 - Banana - seemed to be his favorite so far

10/28 - Pear - sliced in small pieces and fed in food feeder

10/29 - Carrot - sliced in small pieces, steamed, and fed in food feeder

10/30 - Pumpkin - canned pumpkin

11/2 - Apple, Raspberries, and Spaghetti Squash - Henry didn't really have this many new foods in one day.  I offered him apple at breakfast (which he didn't eat), raspberries at lunch (again he didn't eat), and then spaghetti squash at dinner which he seemed to really enjoy

11/4 - Broccoli - steamed and placed in his food feeder

11/6 - Blueberries

11/8 - Strawberry - frozen strawberry microwaved and fed in food feeder

11/9 - Green bean - I steamed and gave them to him whole, but we started to get nervous about choking once he  got a piece of it off so I switched to the food feeder

11/10- Mango

11/12- Kiwi

 

 


Half a Year with My Baby

by Boon and Boys


Henry's 6-month old birthday has hit me really hard.  I am filled with joy, but overcome with emotion.  I keep thinking about six months ago today.  I was in the hospital in this moment.  My husband was by my side and my sister and parents were on their way across the country to be there for Henry's arrival.  My husband was more incredible than I can say.  I remember him being there for me, supporting me, loving me, sticking right next to me in all my gross slim and pain.

Then a few hours from now my baby boy would be placed in my arms for the first time.  I will never forget that moment.  Emotion and love filled every part of my being.  I remember his warmth and how I didn't want them to take him away from me.  It's amazing that I've looked at this sweet baby, my son, every day for 6 months, yet that was my first time laying eyes on him.

In so many ways it feels like a lifetime ago.  Being pregnant seems like a different me.  It feels like a dream.  When you wake up and try to remember it it feels familiar yet cloudy.  That's what it is to me.  Six months ago doesn't sound like that long.  I've had  many 6 months in my life, but time has changed.  It's not faster per say, just different.  I do wonder where my little baby went.  I look at pictures and he was so tiny.  Now he's grown bigger and stronger, he loves to talk, he can sit up, he breastfeeds like a champ,  and he will only continue to grow.

I am so blessed to be his mom.  Even on the hardest days, the worst days, the most poop covered and sleep deprived days, I am blessed.  I am blessed with a beautiful son, a phenomenal husband, and an amazing family.  I am filled with support and love and Henry is surrounded by people who would do anything for him.  What an incredible six months it has been, and how grateful I am for all the six months we have ahead.

 


Activities to do with a Baby

by Boon and Boys


Henry will be 6 months old this week.  I often worry that I'm not stimulating him enough.  I want to do everything I can to ensure that he has optimal development and grows up in the best environment as possible.  I put pressure on myself to do everything "right," and am pretty sure I'm not the only mom who's ever felt this way.  So, I figured I'd write down what it is we do every day.

The good news is that even things that we, as adults, don't find stimulating, are incredibly exciting for babies.  Have you ever watched them stare at and study a ball, a bubble, or a tree?  Things that are mundane to use because we've seen them a thousand times are brand new to them.  Sometimes the simplest of activities are exactly what our babies need.

So, what is it that we do?  How can you entertain your baby?  Here are some of Henry's and my favorite activities.  I've broken them up by category: relational (focus on bonding/the relationship between us), activity (focus on doing something), exercise (focus on being active), and sensory exploration (examining the world around him).

Relational:

  • Kiss attacks.  Kiss attacks are one of my favorite activities because I get to steal a bunch of kisses.  Usually Henry will be lying on his back and I will swoop in, making a sound, and give him lots of loud kisses around his face, neck, belly, and feet.  Sometimes I'll spread them around and sometimes I'll focus on one body part.  He loves when I alternate between feet.  Sometimes he'll grab my face and kiss all over me.  I try to follow his lead.
  • Naptime.  Of course, as a sleep deprived mom, I love naptime, but it's also important for Henry.  Usually his naps are on me in the carrier, in my arms because he fell asleep breastfeeding, or against my side in bed.  Sometimes after waking or before falling asleep we'll play in bed together, with his blankets, his baby, and other toys.

 

  • Staring contest.  I adore our staring contests.  Henry always initiates them and I try to always participate (sometimes he catches me when I'm walking or doing something that requires me to look away).  Usually he's in the carrier and tilts his head back and locks eyes with me.  Rather than pull away I engage and lock eyes back.  Sometimes I'll just stare into his eyes, sometimes I'll smile at him, sometimes I tell him how much I love him, and sometimes I rub his head.  I've never made such intense eye contact for so long with anyone, but it's a beautiful moment and one I'm always glad to join with him.

 

  • Cuddles.  What could be better than cuddles from the sweetest and cutest little baby?  Not much.  I adore cuddles, and skin to skin cuddles are even better.  
  • Breastfeeding.  All the time I say that if I hadn't breastfed I would have missed it intellectually, but now that I have breastfed, I would be so sad if I hadn't stuck with it or been able to do it.  I know breastfeeding is meant to be a source of food, but it is so much more than that.  I will probably write a whole separate post on it, because I have so much to say about it.
  • Talking.  We talk to each other.  Maybe we're speaking different languages sometimes, but we talk.  I tell him about what we're doing and he makes sounds and squawks and squeaks back at me.  I've just recently started incorporating a few signs with him (they're actually my own version of sign language, but he doesn't know the difference) and use them with simple words every time I do something (e.g., up, more, and all done).  He also knows to anticipate something on three because I count "one, two, three" to him during activities like putting on his clothes.  I also help him make sense of his world by explaining every time a change happens.  For example, he always opens his eyes really wide when I turn off the light when leaving a room.  Imagine how strange that must be for a baby who doesn't know why his vision just disappeared.  So, each time I turn on a light I say "light on" and each time I turn it off I say "light off."
  • Video chatting.  We live away from our families so one of the things we do on a regular basis is video chat with them.  Henry loves to see the faces on the screen and, of course our families love to see him.

 

  • Card making.  Henry and I will make homemade cards for people (e.g., get well cards, birthday cards, etc.).  We usually take a sheet of printer paper and I give him a marker and help him hold it while he draws on the paper.  Sometimes he wants to eat the paper, but I just pretend it's a kiss for the recipient.

Activity.

  • Bathtime.  Bathtime is something we do together every night and sometimes even in the middle of the day (especially after our messy food play).  I only give him a full body wash with soap twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays), but we play with cups, watch the water, splash, etc.
  • Reading.  As a family we've started going to storytime at Barnes and Noble every Saturday morning.  Henry and I sit and listen to the story and do the activity while Derek searches for books.  We often buy the book that we read that day, and we add to our collection almost every week.  He may be too young to understand the stories, but he's not too young to make reading part of his life.  At home he's even started to help me flip pages.  In addition to reading the words, I'll talk to him about what's on the page, what he thinks is going to happen next, and the emotions the characters are feeling.

 

  • Singing.  My family laughs at me because I sing everything to Henry, especially when he's upset.  I'll sing about waiting for daddy to come home from work, about us doing the dishes, about washing our hands in the bath, and whatever else we are doing.  He loves songs.
  • Sound play.  One thing that can distract Henry when he's upset is to make crazy sounds.  He likes it when I make "vroom" noises like a race car and when I make "mmm mmm mmm" sounds.  Sometimes I make my own sounds and other times I mimic the ones he makes, like when he blows bubbles.
  • Laundry basket play pen.  I keep a laundry basket filled with blankets and some toys in the bathroom.  It's perfect for him to sit in when I am going to the bathroom or getting ready.  I also have some rings hooked around the handles of the laundry basket for him to spin and play with.

 

  • Baking/cooking.  We make dinner four nights a week and sometimes we bake something tasty.  Again, even if he's too young to help me, I believe that he can start learning the routine and concepts of being in the kitchen.  I think that treating him like he understands builds confidence and fosters self-efficacy.  Now that he can sit in his highchair, sometimes he sits there, but usually I either hold him in my arms (not the most conducive to kitchen work) or hold him in the carrier.  I can't tell you the number of times he's fallen asleep in the carrier while I'm working in the kitchen, but I pretend he's going to be a master chef who will cook for mommy one day.

Exercise.

  • Happy baby.  Ever since he found his feet, I usually spend some of the day laying on the ground with him and playing with our feet.  He loves to watch my legs move around in the air.  I'll let him touch my feet and I'll touch his.  How often do you normally roll around on the ground?  Try it, it's pretty fun (and you can make a core workout of it).

 

  • Dancing.  We'll put on music (or dance to imaginary music) and dance.  Sometimes we dance when doing something tedious like putting away the dishes and sometimes we'll just dance around the living room.  Once he gets older I'm sure he'll want to dance on his own, but for now I swing him around in my arms, hold him against me, pretend to drop him, spin him around, or dance with him against me in the carrier.
  • Yoga.  As you can tell from our instagram page, we do a lot of yoga together.  Often it's just one pose, but I think it's good for both of us--keeping my practice alive, and modeling healthy habits for Henry.

 

  • Stretching.  In addition to me doing yoga, I'll help him stretch his body.  Reaching his arms and legs up and down, turning his legs in circles, and rocking him side to side.
  • Yoga ball.  I love my yoga ball (stability ball) because it's good exercise for me and a wonderful way to soothe Henry.  Right now as I type, I'm bouncing on my yoga ball with Henry asleep in the carrier.
  • Airplane.  Currently, this is one of the best ways to make him smile.  I love how he smiles in anticipation when he knows we're about to play airplane.  I stand him up with his belly against my shins (that's when he starts to grin) and then roll onto my back, letting him fly on my legs.

 

  • Chest/shoulder press.  My 23 pounder is quite the weight for me so this activity is a good exercise for me and fun for Henry.  I'll either lay on my back and lift him up and down in the air, or stand and lift him up and down overhead.
  • Bridge.  This exercise was the first one that drew a true laugh out of Henry.  I'll lay on the floor with my legs bent, sit him on my hips, and lift up and down.  He enjoys the ride, and I get a good lower body workout.

 

  • Push ups.  I lay Henry on his back and give him kisses each time I come down for a pushup.
  • Walks.  Today it's cold and rainy outside, but we still had to get in our walk.  Whenever Henry is fussy and nothing is soothing him, I strap him on and go outside for a walk.  Sometimes we talk about what we see, sometimes we hum, but mostly we just look around and enjoy each other's company and the fresh air.

 

Exploration.

  • Face exploration.  Henry loves to take his hands and explore my face with them.  He'll grab my nose, touch my mouth, let me suck his thumb while he sucks the other (such a good sharer), feel my cheeks, and reach for my eyes.  Sometimes I pretend to eat his hands, and other times I describe the body part to him as he touches it.
  • Texture touch. I want to make Henry a texture pillow with different fabrics because one activity we do is exploring different materials and how they feel.  We have a silky pillow that has stitching on it and he loves to brush his hand against the different fabrics.
  • Food art.  We just started introducing solids last week (blog post coming soon) and we do what I call "food art."  Because "food before one is just for fun" I'm not concerned about him eating it.  Rather, I want him to develop a healthy relationship with food.  Right now I'm perfectly fine with him not getting any in his mouth.  I'll take some food and put it on his high chair tray and let him explore it.  He loves to mash it around in his hands and move it all over the tray.  It's the perfect form of painting because it's edible.

 

  • Keyboard play.  Henry loves the keyboard.  I let him type a note to his grandparents and then he wouldn't stop.  He was literally pushing himself as hard as he could trying to reach from my lap to the keyboard to keep typing.  I figure it teaches some good cause and effect; even if he doesn't notice the typing on the screen, he can hear the sound as he presses the keys.
IMG_20151018_075042281_HDR.jpg

 

  • Mirror play.  Another thing Henry loves is the mirror.  He often tries to jump out of my arms to get closer to our reflections.  In addition to using the bathroom mirror to smile at each other, we bought a big mirror for his room so that we can sit in front of it and look at it.  He loves to touch his reflection in the mirror.  He also is figuring out that he can look at me in the mirror and then see me in real life.  We also will use the front facing camera to look at ourselves and take pictures.


I usually follow Henry's lead in all of our play.  I may want to exercise, but he may decide it's time to breastfeed.  I may want to nap and he may want to play.  I follow his lead and his cues.

Ultimately, I believe that the greatest lesson you can teach a child during the first year of life is that he or she is loved.  If you give your heart and share your life with your child, I don't think he really cares what you are doing.


Why I Decided to Bedshare

by Boon and Boys


Yes, I'm one of those moms that judged others before having kids.  I looked at other parents and thought I'll never do that with my kids.  I feel like that is the kiss of death because sure enough bedsharing was on that list.  I thought it would negatively affect the marital relationship, I thought it wasn't safe, I thought it seemed like an inappropriate relationship between parent and child.  I just assumed I wouldn't do it (other than on special occasions, like we did with my mom when my dad was out of town).  Well, guess what, we bedshare.

We started with Henry in a rock n' play next to our bed.  There were times when he would only sleep on me, but over time he got pretty good at staying asleep when I set him down after breastfeeding.  Once he got too big for the rock n' play, once his crib and room were set up (after our moving troubles), and once he was out of the third trimester, I decided it was time to transition him into his crib.  Well, that didn't happen.  At most Henry would give us about 45 minutes of asleep time in his crib before waking scared and crying.   Once he awoke I would bring him to bed with us.  Now, I don't even set him in his crib.  

I've been conflicted for a while.  Should I try to crib train him?  Is it bad that he sleeps in our bed?  I surely don't want to be judged for it.  But, I've finally come to a conclusion: It's what's right for Henry and our family right now.  It doesn't matter if it's not right for others.  It doesn't matter if it's not right for us in a week, a month, or a year.  Right now, it's what's right for us.  That's all that matters.

How do I know it's right for us?  For one, I'm not okay with the cry it out method of sleep training.  That was never on the table.  For me, my job as a parent is to create a safe environment from which Henry can feel comfortable exploring the world (attachment theory).  I also stick by the belief that you can't spoil a child under the age of one.  The world is still a new and sometimes scary place for Henry.  Imagine being suddenly dropped in a completely new world where you don't speak the language and you are essentially helpless.  Then, imagine that the one person you trust completely, your source of life, comfort, and security abandons you.  I can only assume it must feel like that for Henry.  The fear I can hear in his cry when he wakes up alone is enough for me to recognize that him sleeping along does not align with my goal of providing a sense of safety for him.

Just now as I am typing, Henry awoke.  He had a brief moment of startle and then looked left and right and immediately saw me.  Right away he started smiling.  This reaction illustrates one reason that I decided to bedshare.  Often when Henry first awakes he appears startled.  When he scans his surroundings and sees me, he calms.

Moreover, he is a restless sleeper.  Whether it's gas or dreams or just his sleeping style, he often kicks and flails in his sleep.  Alone he usually wakes himself, with my hand on him, he often returns to a restful state.

Another reason for bedsharing is the ease of breastfeeding.  Henry rolls on his side to face me when he needs to breastfeed.  He may be hungry or he may be searching for comfort, but either way, he knows I am there.  Some may view it as a crutch or an inability to self-soothe.  I choose to look at it as the first signs of self-soothing.  Even half asleep, he knows that he can roll to one side and I will be there.  Just as an adult turns to what he finds comforting, Henry seeks breastfeeding to soothe himself.

And last, but equally important, I enjoy the view when I open my eyes.  I may sleep more soundly and comfortably if Henry slept in his own room, but what a view I would be missing.  I open my eyes to see him nestled up against me and his father a few feet away.  Both my boys, my loves, my heart, right there, perfectly safe, perfectly calm, perfectly content.  My world within an arms reach.  

So, while one day Henry will sleep on his own, that day isn't today.  I believe that when he is ready he will transition naturally and easily.  Until that day, my job is to prepare him for that transition by teaching him that the world is safe, and bedsharing is one of the ways that I will do it.  In the meantime, I will cherish the sweet baby snuggles that he so freely gives.


Postpartum Exhaustion

by Boon and Boys


Postpartum depression is something that is both well known, and yet not talked about enough.  Most women don't like to discuss it.  After all, we're supposed to  be built for motherhood.  We're expected to love pregnancy and exclaim how much our lives have improved once our baby gets here.  Forget about the pains, sleep deprivation, and hormones.  Everyone tells you how much they envy you and would give anything to go back to the time you are in.   Then, you start to feel guilty for any negative feelings you have.  I'm here to tell you that you're not alone.  (If you do think you are struggling from postpartum depression, please seek help.  Your doctor is the person to go to.  It's a real thing, and is very important to address).

What I want to talk about is what I've coined "postpartum exhaustion."  I didn't experience postpartum depression, but I was on the cusp, and I'll tell you the reason I named that cusp "postpartum exhaustion."  Before having Henry I had heard how horrible sleep deprivation is.  Everyone warns you, but you don't know what you're getting into.  At least I didn't.  I also didn't realize that on top of that sleep deprivation, I'd have hormones making me feel emotional and guilty and happy and incredibly in love and then frustrated and discouraged and basically all over the place.  I didn't realize that my body would no longer be my own.  During pregnancy of course I knew my body was not only mine, but after giving birth I'd have it back, right?  Wrong.  Not only does my body feel, operate, and somewhat look different, but I am constantly breastfeeding, holding my baby, and am covered in all sorts of liquid.  I knew caring for a baby was hard, but I didn't realize I wouldn't have any time to myself.  Then, on top of all of it, I'd feel guilt for feeling anything but positive thoughts about motherhood.

I was exhausted.  Postpartum depression is a real thing, and postpartum exhaustion is real too.  Henry is five months old, and I'm still tired, sore, and in need of some me time, but I'm no longer in the depths of postpartum exhaustion.  Even in the worst of it, I loved my son, but (as hard as it is to say) there were days I wasn't sure I was cut out for it.  

If you're where I was, I encourage you to, first, get help if you need it.  Then, I'll tell you, it gets better.  It doesn't get easy, but it gets better.  Lean on a support system.  My husband was a huge help to me during this time.  Even just telling him how I was feeling and having him to listen non-judgmentally.  Breathe.  Take a moment to breathe.  Sleep.  If you are able, nap.  Once I started napping with Henry, the world became instantly a happier place.  Cut yourself some slack.  You probably can't do it all (if you can, I'm impressed).  That's okay.  Celebrate what you do accomplish, and let go of what you don't.  Give yourself permission to feel the way you do.

And, hang on.  You are capable.  You were chosen to be your baby's mother.  You are strong.  You have what it takes.  And, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.


You Win Some and You Lose Some

by Boon and Boys


You win some and you lose some.  Welcome to motherhood.

My morning: Henry, my boob lover is peacefully breastfeeding.  He keeps breastfeeding and breastfeeding, and my morning smoothie has filled my bladder.  Finally he falls off.  Peacefully asleep in my arms.  Do I dare disturb him?  Okay, my bladder is on it's last stretch (which is even less than it used to be in my pre-Henry days).  How about I transition him to my shoulder, and pee with him still asleep.  Perfect plan.  Mid-pee, Henry wakes up.  Okay, change of plans.  At least my bladder is empty.  Let's trim his nails.  After all that big scratch that I noticed on his nose while he was breastfeeding sure makes me feel like a bad mom.  Henry must still be half asleep because he's never been so calm and still during a nail trim.  This is great!  I'm getting his nails better than ever before.   FFRRRR.  Oh, so that's why he was so still.  He's pooping.  And pooping some more.  And some more.  I'm determined to finish these nails, though, because while he's focused on pooping, he's not focused on me trimming his nails.  Yep, that's gonna be a blow out, but we're almost done.  Sure enough, poop everywhere.  Well, we lost another outfit and I'm pretty sure there's some poop on me, but our nails are good to go!

You win some, you lose some.  Such is motherhood.  Remember to smile about it.


Half Naked Dance Parties

by Boon and Boys


There are very few times in my life when I have felt pure, unadulterated joy.  I am a perfectionist, I am self-conscious, and I keep myself very contained and controlled most of the time. Even as a child, my sister would rip open her Christmas presents, screaming with joy and leaving a mess in her wake.  I, on the other hand, would gently open my gifts, careful not to tear the wrapping paper, calmly and politely say "thank you," and proceed to stack them in a nice and neat pile.

My son is breaking my world open.  It's been painful and challenging at times, but today I felt utter joy at his shaking of my universe.  

Yesterday was a rough day for Henry.  His four month old vaccines left him out of sorts, and in pain.  Not much soothed him.  Today we stayed in bed, cuddling, are only wearing our underwear/diapers (I'm no longer the one in diapers!), and just had a dance party in the kitchen. 

As we were dancing, I realized that this is what life is about.  Not making the perfect sourdough starter (like I've been trying to do with much confusion), not having a million instagram followers, not having a magazine worthy home.  But, this.  Right here, right now, this.  This moment, this time, this child, this relationship, this family, this.  

At the end of our dancing, he stared into my eyes for minutes like he so often does.  I adore when he stares at me like that.  It's as if he is looking into my soul.  He may only be four months old, but he is wise beyond his years, far wiser than I am.  I have a long way to go.  There are moments when I am fully present, but I am consumed by perfectionist thoughts, anxiety, and self-doubt more than I would like.  My son, however, is teaching me to live for half naked dance parties, midday naps and cuddles in bed, and kiss and smile sessions.  I hope that as he teaches me to live more fully and joyfully, I can nurture his natural inclinations so that he never loses his childhood wisdom and beautiful pure spirit.


Put it Down

by Boon and Boys


Dear Lauren, 

Put it down. Put away your phone, set down your camera. The pictures, your blog, the parenting articles can wait. Family and friends don't need to see the pictures immediately, you don't have to respond to texts right away, you can brainstorm ideas for making money another day.  Your baby is here.  He's watching you, learning from you, exploring the world.  The wonder in his eyes is something you don't want to miss.  Those precious glances, smiles, and sounds won't last forever. You don't need to record every time he eats and sleeps on your app, you don't need to capture every moment on camera. Instead enjoy them. Watch him, hold him, love him, be present. These days will pass all too fast and you won't want to have missed a moment. 

Sincerely,

Yourself

 


"Babies Don't Keep"

by Boon and Boys


Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

---------

How often must I remember these words.  As I transition into my new life as a currently full, and at least mostly, stay at home mom, I hope to hold this message dear to my heart.  I may have dishes to do, cleaning to complete, and groceries to get, but my baby will grow and I don't want to lose a moment with him.  I may not get to shower when I want, attend yoga classes, or have time to get a massage, but I have the honor and privilege of being a mother.

Due to a mistake on the part of our movers, we've been in our new home for two weeks without any of our stuff (other than what we brought in our car).  No furniture, other than an air mattress, two lawn chairs we bought, and Henry's rock n' play.  Little clothing, only paper dishes and utensils, and much less of our "toys" and technology.  As difficult as it's been to be without so much, it's also been somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

Derek hasn't started his job yet, so our days have been completely devoted to family time.  No more packing or unpacking, no distractions, no organizing or cleaning, only each other.  We have explored the town, played games, had story time, talked, made home videos, taken baths, cuddled, hung out in our air mattress, and "camped" out in our apartment.  We've been forced to be more present and less occupied.  We have lived with much less material objects and bonded more fully.  

Even when our stuff arrives and we have organizing and unpacking to do, more activities to pull our attention, and less time together once Derek starts work, I will speak these words to myself, remembering that babies don't keep and each moment with my family is both precious and irreplaceable.


Our Well Traveled Baby

by Boon and Boys


Henry is 12 weeks old today and he has been to 10 states, almost a state per week of life!  To be fair, most of them we just quickly drove through, but he's already lived in two states, flown in an airplane, and driven across the country.  He's quite the well traveled baby.

Henry's first big trip was to Texas when he was five and a half weeks old.  My mom flew out to California and then together we flew to Texas on a nonstop flight.  Henry was much better behaved than I expected.  The best tool for all you breastfeeding moms  is your boobs.  I know that sounds silly, but it's the truth.  I've found that my boobs are the best solution for most situations.  Anytime Henry is upset I just pop one out and he's a happy camper.  Thank goodness you can't overfeed a breastfed baby!

Henry actually slept for a lot of the flight and cried for maybe a combined minute (at times when I couldn't get my boob out fast enough).  We also managed to do an in seat diaper change on my lap.  The best advice I can give other than "use your boobs," is "travel with someone who you trust and is helpful."  My mom is amazing!  She grabbed bags for us, held Henry when I needed to go to the bathroom, Lysol wiped our whole seating area, helped me get situated to breastfeed.  Everything I needed she was there for.  I'll see if she's willing to be rented out :)

Probably the biggest "challenge" of the whole trip was that Henry refused to sleep without me.  I could have forced him into the bassinet (it was mine from when I was a baby), but I'm all about following my baby's cues.  The upside is that I was staying in a hotel with my family with two adjoining rooms, one of which had two queen beds.  I trust myself to sleep with Henry, but don't like sharing a bed with him and anyone else.  So, Henry and I shared a bed during our time there.

As part of our trip, he met my grandparents, his great grandparents.  My grandmom hasn't been in good health for a while now and can't talk.  Even without words, though, she could communicate her joy.  It was beautiful to see how much love she had for him and for me, her first granddaughter giving her her first great grandson.  At one point while I was breastfeeding Henry, she pointed at herself, then my mom, then me, and then Henry, highlighting the special bond between us--she having breastfed my mom, who breastfed me, who is not breastfeeding Henry.  I am so glad that she got to meet my son, and know she feels more complete as a result.

Now, for our road trip, our little trooper was forced to move cross country from his home in California to his new home in Alabama at only 10 and a half weeks old.  Due to a mistake on the part of our moving company, we had to leave on Friday evening rather than first thing Friday morning like we were planning on.  We drove to Needles, CA on our first night and then started early the next day and made it to Albuquerque, NM.  On day three, we drove to Oklahoma City, OK, and on day four we spent the night in Mississippi, just outside of Memphis, TN.  On Tuesday midmorning we arrived at our new apartment in Alabama (where we are still awaiting the arrival of all of our stuff).

Here's where road tripping is much harder than flying...no boob.  On the plane I can freely breastfeed at Henry's demand, which is what he is used to.  Anytime he wants it, he gets it, except when we are driving.  That fact, accompanied by the stage he is in which makes him hate car rides, made the trip a little more challenging.  To help compensate for the lack of on demand breastfeeding, we bought a car adapter that allowed me to plug in and use my breast pump on the road.  That way I could pump right before a feed so Henry could have "fresh" breastmilk at a temperature that he is used to.  Also, I breastfed him at every stop along the way.

Overall, I am so proud of my son.  He has risen to the occasion and adjusted to a lot during his short time since being born.  We've been experiencing a little bit of a sleep regression--maybe time change related, maybe environment change related, or maybe just age related--but if me being up with him and breastfeeding him throughout the night gives him comfort and security, then it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.


Dancing with My Son

by Boon and Boys


I've been really bad at keeping up with my blog lately.  Life has been crazy.  Henry has been fussy and needy as he gets more curious and aware of the world around him.  He wants daytime to start after his 1am feeding and is definitely up and awake by 5am.  Max got sick and had to be hospitalized and is currently having to be force feed and administered meds (which he doesn't enjoy).  Derek and I (and my mom while she was in town) are spending every free moment packing for our big move in less than a month, and, I took on more teaching than I probably should have.

I have so many things I want to write on here, including a "Buying for Baby" blog that I started weeks ago and have yet to finish.  I may not get to them as quickly as I'd like, but I will at some point.  For today, I will simply write a quick post about the lens through which I am viewing my life these days. Each day I am dancing through life.  I am dancing with my boys and with all my responsibilities.  It's a give and take and a constant balancing act.  

In this post, however, I want to focus on my dance with Henry.  In this dance with my son, he leads. Sometimes we step on each other's feet or take a misstep, but we keep going, moving together, sometimes in perfect sync and other times trying to catch up with each other.  As we strive to be in harmony, I trust him to lead us both.  For me, it's more important for him to know that I'm always here for him than for him to follow a schedule that I set for him.  He may not be sleeping through the night or even sleeping in his own bed.  He may breastfeed every half hour.  He may demand to be held most of the day.  I could force him to follow my lead.  I could demand that I choose the dance and the song, but for now, I trust that his choices are the right ones.  We will continue to learn from each other and become better dance partners, and in the meantime, I will appreciate all that he has taught me about dancing through life.

He has taught me so much about letting go of the lead, about following the music, and going with the flow of the dance.  I have never been someone who easily dances through life.  I want structure, am frequently anxious, and am often impatient.  When I saw my family this week, they were floored by how much Henry has changed me.  They said I was more patient and calm than ever before.  I owe that to my son, my dance partner, my leader, my teacher.  As I follow his lead, and dance to his beat, I am transforming into a much better dance partner and person.  So for now, I will continue to dance through life, striving to accept the ebbs and flows with ease and grace, and learning from my precious partner.


Learning to Trust my Baby and Me

by Boon and Boys


Parenthood and motherhood have already been quite the journey.  At not even four weeks, I feel like I have been challenged and tested as a mother more than I expected.  I heard about sleep deprived nights and fussy babies, but I never truly experienced them (babysitting doesn't even do it a tiny bit of justice).

In my efforts to be a perfect mom and to master the art of breastfeeding, I have been Googling and Redditing and foruming, and from all of my research, I have decided that the best thing I can do as Henry's mother is to trust both him and myself.

Henry and I know each other more intimately than anyone else.  We spent 9 months together, learning about each other, being completely in sync, and being wholly one.  We slept together, ate together, moved together, went everywhere together.  Wherever I was, he was.  Whatever I did, he did.  Then, in one swift instant, we were separated and expected to function as two individual units.  How could we do that when we were so used to being one?

That is both the problem and the solution.  We are still connected.  While physically we may be apart, we are still forever intertwined.  We know each other and we need each other.  We have the answers.  I just have to trust us.

Henry may need to feed every hour and a half and feed for an hour at a time (going only 30 minutes in between).  He may need to sleep with me every night.  I may need to constantly hold him, let him use a pacifier, and give him kisses every couple minutes.  What we need may be different than what we are told, but I am learning to trust my baby and me.

Even small things are evidence that we are in tune with each other on a spiritual level.  The night before his arrival, I felt on edge.  I posted about it on instagram and remember feeling a sensation I can only describe as "restless."  Intellectually I had no idea that my water was about to break and Henry was about to enter the world, but I know now, looking back at the way I felt that night (which was different than any time before), I knew on some level.  Recently, Henry and I have been spending part of our night sleeping on the couch.  Both of us seem to get our best sleep out there.  It's as if he knows that the couch is where I slept with him during the last few uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy and where I was when my water broke and his journey into the world began.

I know those examples may sound silly, but the connection I feel with my baby makes me realize that I know Henry and he knows me.  Together, we know what we need.  We know what is right for us.  He knows how to be my son, and I know how to be his mother.  We can put aside all the "shoulds" and trust that, together, we have all we need.


How to be Perfect Parents

by Boon and Boys


Henry is three weeks old today, so obviously Derek and I have mastered the art of parenthood.  If you aren't already proficient at parenting, simply follow my advice and you are sure to be perfect parents in no time.

  1. Make sure you have read every single piece of literature on child rearing.  You will want to be up to date on all the latest research so make sure you are reading scholarly journals as well as popular parenting books.
  2. Make sure you don't neglect your household chores.  Your home should look clean, the dishes should be done and put away, and the laundry basket should never be full.
  3. Don't let your baby dictate your schedule.  He should learn to sleep and eat when you do.
  4. Obviously breastfeeding is the only way to go.  But, by three weeks you should know that and be a breastfeeding pro.
  5. Your child should always be clean, in a fresh diaper, and appropriately dressed for the situation.  It would be embarrassing for him to stay in only a diaper most of the time.

Okay, I can't even take myself seriously anymore.  Obviously this post was in jest.  I have found that there is a lot of pressure to be perfect parents, though.  If not perfect, to be good parents, to be proficient parents, to look like you have your stuff together.  

At first people cut you some slack.  You just had a baby.  Of course you are sleep deprived, your apartment is a mess, you aren't meeting all your obligations.  But, that starts to wear off quickly.  While at three weeks, you are still struggling to function and learn what your baby needs, the rest of the world has lost some of the newness.  Not that they are rude or insensitive on purpose, but their lives have continued to go on.  Three weeks ago was a distant memory.

What I've learned in these three weeks is that being a parent is hard.  I'm sure, just like all parents, I will somewhat forget these days.  My memory will become selective and I won't remember all the challenges I feel so deeply entrenched in right now.  But, today I am in it.

Our apartment looks like a hurricane went through it.  Henry spends most of the day in his diaper.  We have pee on more surfaces than ever before.  It takes us much longer to leave to go places that it ever has.  Henry and I still haven't figured out breastfeeding.  We use a pacifier even though we were advised not to.  Henry has crazy sleeping hours.  Sometimes he wants to eat every five minutes and other times he goes hours between feedings.  There is so much we don't know.  We are far from perfect parents.

But, we love our son.  We love Henry and we are giving him everything we have.  We are doing our very best and, hopefully, we're doing a decent job.  I don't know that any parent has ever felt particularly proficient.  I think there are moments where we feel like we've done a good job, but there are probably a lot more times when we feel like we are lost.  I hope that Henry will look at Derek and me and be proud that we are his parents.  I hope that we do a good job.  I hope that, together, we raise a son who makes the world a better place.  No matter what, though, I know that Derek and I will always do our best.  So, how to be a perfect parent?  Try.  None of us may reach perfection, but hopefully we'll hit a high mark along the way.


Letters to My Son

by Boon and Boys


Since I found out I was pregnant I started writing letters to my son.  I wrote them before I knew if he was a boy or a girl, before I knew his name, and before I met him.  One day I plan to give him these letters.  I will continue to write them throughout his life and will compile them into a gift (my idea is to give them to him when he graduates high school).

My hope is that these letters will provide him with even the smallest understanding into how much I love him.  I hope that he never goes one day without knowing how loved he is, and that these letters serve as a reminder of how special he is to me.  I have always been better at writing my thoughts and emotions than expressing them verbally.  I have written love letters to my family since I was a child, I write them often to my husband, and I now write them to my son.  They capture moments in time and serve to express the deepest sentiments of my heart.

Before writing this post, I wrote another letter to my son.  I sit here, completely sleep deprived, knowing I should be sleeping while my baby does, but not wanting to let him out of my arms. My heart is so full.  Even though I get frustrated with him when he won't stop crying or when he keeps me up all night, these moments fill my soul with joy, peace, contentment, and love, and I hope my letters to him allow him experience even a small piece my heart.


10 Things I Didn't Expect Postpartum

by Boon and Boys


When I was pregnant I wrote a post called "10 Things I Didn't Expect about Expecting" so I thought I would follow it up with "10 Things I Didn't Expect Postpartum."  I have found that most people don't really talk too much about the postpartum period (nor about many of the details of pregnancy).  My hope is to provide an open and  honest account of my experience in order to create room for that dialogue.

  1. Breastfeeding is hard.
  2. Recovery hurts.
  3. The sleep deprivation is worse than you think.
  4. It adds stress to your relationships.
  5. The hormones are real and intense.
  6. The amount of bleeding.
  7. The way your body changes.
  8. Strangers are generally more respectful than you'd think.
  9. A newborn completely occupies your time and world.
  10. The amount of love you feel for someone you just met.

Number One.  Breastfeeding is something I always knew I would do.  It wasn't a question.  I just assumed that breastfeeding would come naturally.  Both my baby and I would know what to do.  I was wrong.  Breastfeeding is hard.  I see why so many people choose not to do it.  It is time consuming, it hurts, and not all babies and mommies can figure out the right latch.

Henry loves to breastfeed.  He loves being near me and in my arms.  I love having him near me, skin to skin, but we also struggle.  My nipples hurt.  Both of them have been damaged at different times since his birth.  I have to use a nipple shield in order for Henry to be able to latch.  He constantly wants to breastfeed because it provides him comfort as well as food.  One night he fed for 3 hours straight (2-5am)--sleeping and then sucking every so often.  I hope one day he will be able to feed without the shield.  Having to use it makes breastfeeding more challenging because I have to get it, clean it, and attach it each time he wants to feed.  I won't give up, but I never realized how challenging breastfeeding can be.

Number Two.  Recovery hurts.  I still have trouble walking.  My abdomen hurts, it feels like a pulled muscle in my belly, and I can tell my ab strength is much weaker when I try to do things like sitting up from laying down (especially when I'm holding Henry).  My vagina hurts.  I tore and got stitched up so I'm assuming some of the pain is from that and some of it is just because I birthed a baby.  I have hemorrhoids and pooping is challenging and sometimes painful.  My back and tailbone hurt.  My bathroom looks like a medicine cabinet with sprays and pads and creams and wipes and water bowls all over the place.  

Number Three.  Everyone tells you that you will be sleep deprived.  I don't think I ever really understood how bad it would be.  I'm trying to learn to sleep during the day, sleep in the late evening, sleep in the late morning, basically sleep when I don't normally sleep because I need it.  Like I've said before, Henry loves me and wants to be in my arms/breastfeeding constantly.  It makes sleeping challenging.  I've never felt so out of it.  All our days run together.  Sometimes when I'm up with him in the middle of the night, I have to turn on the TV to make myself feel more awake. Both Derek and I also aren't fully asleep when we are asleep.  Derek wakes up sleep talking and worrying about Henry and me, and I often think I'm breastfeeding and panic when I can't find Henry's head under my blankets.

Number Four.  Derek and I are having to navigate our relationship with Henry. Everything is different.  Our normal routine is different, we're sleep deprived, Henry demands a lot of attention and care.  It can be stressful.  It's easy to get short with each other.  It takes open communication, compassion, understanding, and patience.  We must remember how much we love each other, realize that this stage will pass, and work together as a team.

Number Five.  In addition to being sleep deprived, hormones make life much more difficult.  Sometimes I cry because I'm happy, sometimes I cry because I'm overwhelmed.  At first my emotions were mostly joy related.  I'd look at my son and start crying as I told him how much I loved him.  One night Derek walked into the bedroom to find me crying as I held Henry, overwhelmed by the amount of love I felt for my baby.  Lately, they've led toward more irritability and frustration.  I get annoyed with others, even Henry.  Even without diagnosable postpartum depression, hormones can lead you to feel out of control, and it's important to recognize them.

Number Six.  I wore Depends for two weeks straight.  One night my bleeding was so bad that we were scared something was wrong.  After that night is started to decline and now I just use a pad.  Good thing I wore those Depends, though, because I did wet myself twice.   

Number Seven.  I was shocked at how quickly I hit my pre-pregnancy weight (I was there by two weeks postpartum).  I expected to be larger for far longer than I was.  I was amazed by how quickly my body shrunk (even though breastfeeding has given me a much larger appetite than pregnancy ever did).  My belly is still soft, however. It feels different when I touch it than it ever has.  I look skinny, but my belly feels a little jello-y to the touch.  It doesn't feel like fat, it just feels soft and a tad mushy. Also, my boobs are very different.  They get large and painful when they are full, but then get visibly smaller after feeding or pumping.  Lastly, my ankles looked so small to me once the swelling went down.  They still look tiny to me.

Number Eight.  I was so worried that people would try to grab and touch Henry.  I am still very vigilant when we are out, but I have found that most people are generally respectful.  When they start getting close, I position myself in a way that communicates "stay back" and tell them that he is still fresh and needs space.  Also, we keep our car seat cover over him whenever he is in his stroller/car seat and that seems to keep people back.

Number Nine.  You'd think you'd have tons of time when caring for someone who sleeps most of the day.  You'd be wrong.  I don't know where my time goes. Somewhere between feeding and changing and getting him ready to sleep and ready to wake and pumping and managing my own body (not including showering, which I can't tell you the last time I showered.  I also am rarely dressed) time flies and I barely get anything done.  There is still work I need to do to wrap up everything with the studio, but I can't find time to do it.  Part of it has to do with my exhaustion.  I feel like my brain moves slower than normal, but I can't tell you how much your life no longer feels like yours.

Number Ten.  Both Derek and I love Henry very much.  We both loved him the second we saw him.  I was actually surprised by how quickly Derek fell in love with him and how cute he immediately thought Henry was.  I think my first words once Henry was out and I had seen and held him was "I love him."  Like I said earlier, I often found myself in tears, overcome with love for my son.  We may not have known him for long, but he has completely captured our hearts (even when he is a pain).  It's a love that transcends reason.  We love him simply because he exists.