Category Archives: Baby

Six months, sister

When I was pregnant with Eileen and thought about what it would be like to be the parent of two tiny, needy people, I was a bit panicked. Everyone (my own mother included) seemed to be saying that having two is so much harder than one plus one. And one was hard. But six months into this family-of-four thing, I’m amazed at how great the transition has been. The gang’s all here! And this girl.

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Maybe it’s the mantra of a second time mom I adopted early on. Maybe it’s because I’m the kind of person who likes to attempt to carry all 17 bags of groceries into the house in one trip. Small victories, people. Maybe it’s because Eileen has been a delightfully easygoing girl who thinks her brother hung the moon and Emmett’s taken to his big kid role with goofy gusto. But it’s not just been joyful, it’s even been fun. (Dare I say that? I just want to send a word of encouragement to my mama friends who are chasing a baby and looking with skepticism at a growing belly. It might be fun. Crazy, often. But fun, too.)

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Sure, we have our moments of not enough hands or time or patience to keep everyone happy at once. But these past six months have flown in a way I never would have imagined. I want to freeze time with the four of us snuggled into the big bed in the early morning, Emmett casually holding Eileen’s hand while we resist the clock calling us to get on with the daily routine.

At six months, Eileen is army crawling and rolling across rooms with the moves of some tomb-raiding warrior princess. She’s the captain of wriggling out of her snuggamonkey and clinging to the side like she’s going down with the Titanic. She’s starting to sit up, eat solids and get sleepy earlier in the evening. She definitely has a voice, and giggles most at her brother. They’re interacting and playing together. Her hair swirl is starting to grow out a bit, but no teeth yet – thank goodness. Still waking up a few times in the night to nurse, but goes back down pretty easily. By typing all of this, I jinxed it, I’m sure.

P.S. My reflections on motherhood at six months in with Emmett, when I was just starting to hit my stride and his eczema and allergies had begun to make themselves known. Being able to look back at this is, in essence, why I keep my blog. 

P.P.S. Have you seen this genius invention? Game changer for parents who have attempted grocery shopping with a giant carrier in the cart. I don’t own one, but a friend posted an action photo from Trader Joe’s and I was amazed.  

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Sleep diary

World’s cutest cause of sleep deprivation:

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A diary, of sorts:

3:45 a.m. —  Huh, that was a funny dream! (Something about searching for a donut that was also a churro…) Why am I awake? Eileen slept through her 1 a.m. feeding! Guess I’ll go to the bathroom.

3:48 a.m. — Pulls covers over self and settles back to…

3:50 a.m. — Awakened by sweet suckling sounds coming from the crib nook. Damnit.

3:50 – 4 a.m. — Nurse baby, thankful that this time around it’s relatively quick and easy. (With Emmett, breastfeeding was a struggle.)

4 – 4:30 a.m. — Get on the mental hamster wheel of tomorrow’s to-do list. Resist picking up my phone to start responding to messages.

4:30 a.m. — Fall asleep. Dream about having awkwardly long armpit hair.

5:20 a.m. — Is that my toddler whimpering? How does Joe not hear that? Wake my husband up so he can be the snuggle parent. Go back to sleep. Sort of.

6 a.m. — Damn you, alarm. Damn, you. I’m just going to silence this.

6:05 a.m. — Oh, you want to nurse again, baby? Showering in the morning is overrated, I guess…

This is also pretty much any mother of a baby and toddler, and it could be so, so much worse. Like Sunday night, when I started ralphing, then a few hours later Joe was, and then in the middle of the night Emmett threw up all over his bed. All. The. Laundry. Eileen remained her happy, squealy self and had no interest in cuddling quietly with the rest of us.

Sleep has been on my mind this week, like a sweet, sweet mirage. We finished up our final Mini Medical School session on Tuesday night at DMU with a lecture from Dr. Aoki, one of our faculty clinicians, about the science of sleep. It was super interesting, and of course I listened to it while drinking coffee at 8 p.m., then went home at nine and started finally watching the finale of Downton Abbey that we’d missed during puke-fest 2016 and stayed up until midnight. I was still paying for that last night.

DMU is actually going to be hosting a mini sleep symposium next month, coinciding with the launch of Arianna Huffington’s new book, “The Sleep Revolution.”  Ms. Huffington herself won’t be here, but we’ll have a panel of experts, including Dr. Aoki, some fun sleep-related vendors and I believe even some book giveaways!

Sleep Promo Flier

 

 

 

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Another kind of mom guilt

I’ve struggled to put into words how I’ve been feeling lately.

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I’m not overwhelmed or down on myself. It’s not the blues, although when I brought up the subject with my sister-in-law tonight, I burst into tears. Luckily, she knew exactly what I was trying to express without me fully articulating it.

I feel guilty. Not for being a working mom, or not having a spotless house, or not packing the most healthful lunches. It’s different — a visceral, almost survivor’s guilt. I have a warm home and a beautiful baby and whip-smart toddler and supportive spouse and food in the fridge (although the fridge itself might be on its last leg).

I’m suspicious of my happiness, almost ashamed of my good fortune. I’m ever so grateful, but also kind of waiting for something to shatter, because it doesn’t feel right that I should be allowed to be so content when there is so much suffering in this world. I keep up with the news (maybe too much), and almost daily there’s a story that brings tears to my eyes.

Apparently postpartum hormones are changing at around the four-month mark, and I acknowledge that’s probably a strong contributor to why I am feeling everything so deeply. But  I need to acknowledge my emotions and how motherhood has changed me. I don’t think I was ever indifferent to suffering, but when your heart starts to live outside of your body in the form of your children there is this intense vulnerability and resulting empathy.

I will admit here that I’m not someone who likes to think of things in terms of being “blessed,” and that my spiritual framework is pretty different from a lot of my Christian blogger friends. It’s hard to detach these complex feelings from the tendency for many to have a religious solution, but I’m really not interested in that. A conversation for a different time, perhaps.

And so…I record these days here and in my line a day journal, and find comfort in the beauty of a good book. Currently reading “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese. {This NPR book club review is from 2011, not next month}

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Mantra of a second time mom

So much is different this time around – partly because the second baby has her own identity, preferences and quirks, but also because I am a different woman than I was in the first month of my first child’s life.

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Part of the difficulty of transitioning into life as a mom wasn’t the late night feedings, or the early morning wake-ups. It was shedding that skin of selfishness and negotiating what it meant to be a mother in addition to all of the other things I am and hope to be. Over 28 months with Emmett I have developed much more patience, I have worried and seen that worrying doesn’t lead to much more than a headache, I have reveled in the unfolding of his personality and our expanded family life. I’ve learned that — just when you think you’ve got things figured out, the winds shift and what worked like a charm yesterday isn’t going to cut it anymore. Re-calibrate.

I’ve proven to myself that I can be a mother and all of the other things I want to be — just not necessarily all of them at the same time. It’s not to say I’ve never dropped a ball during this juggle, but I’ve discovered the joy in trying. I’ve appreciated the gentleness of Joe’s spirit always coming to my rescue when I’m hanging by the last frayed nerves.

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Eileen is such a sweet baby. She’s found her voice and has an appetite that tethers me to the couch for stretches that can seem to go on and on. But, this time, I’ve been able to believe myself when I think some iteration of: This, too, shall pass. This is a phase. Babies don’t keep. 

I’ve been reading passages of Big Magic out loud to her, a manifesto on what it means to live creatively. Elizabeth Gilbert encourages us:

You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.

I’ve recognized that motherhood, parenthood, the daunting and divine task of raising human beings — is a creative endeavor. And in the feedings and diaper changes and mundane acts of love, there is a challenge to give this child the best version of ourselves we possibly can. (Sometimes this requires a deep breath and a hot shower.)

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Readers are leaders

As one of those grown up kids who stayed up late to read with a flashlight, I consider this a magical moment of motherhood*: My little boy, zipped up in his outer space pajamas, cozy in a robe and slippers, hair still wet, sticking up and smelling fresh from his bath, snuggled next to me in the dim light of a late October night. We’re sitting on cushions, sipping hot chocolate and reading from the Curious George treasury together — three stories — before he’s off to bed.

He finishes my sentences more than I can believe, with a brain that soaks up words. The kid begs to watch his favorite television shows, but he’s also interested in bringing books in the car and wants to “read” to us from his favorites, which makes this bookworm mama melt.

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My sister-in-law threw me a book-themed baby shower before he was born, and we’ve continued to expand our collection thanks to lots of really great gifts. I thought I’d share a few new favorites in case you’re book-shopping for a toddler this season.

roadworksRoadworks by Sally Sutton 
Singsongy rhymes and fun-to-say noises + all of a toddler’s favorite road machines.

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Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin
I have long been a fan of her illustrations  and this is a whimsical bedtime book parents will treasure.

Snoozefest

Snoozefest by Samantha Berger
Starring a sloth named Snuggleford Cuddlebun who goes to a music fest, so need I say more?

51W+-TrvlbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Eileen got this from her aunt and imaginative cousins as a welcome-to-the-world present, but Emmett’s been helping her break it in.

dragons-love-tacos-book-coverDragons Love Tacos by by Adam Rubin, Daniel Salmieri
One of the first things Emmett memorized/thought was hilarious was the part in this book where dragons breathe FIRE (because of spicy salsa, of course).

What are your fresh favorites for the kids?  As for my bookshelf, I just started Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” as our next book club pick. I downloaded it to my phone because reading-while-nursing is the only way it’s going to happen!

*Lest things sound too idyllic at our house, I will ‘keep it real’ and let you know that between the hours of 12-4 a.m., I was bouncing back and forth between two children and thus needed three cups of coffee to simply function. 

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Eileen’s entry into the world

Welcome to the world, Eileen Marie Jayjack! Born on October 13, 2015, weighing 8 lbs. 10 oz. and 20.5 inches long. (For those of you into the stats.)

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I’m feeling pretty great, because this birth experience was the exact opposite – minus the induction at 41+ weeks – of the traumatic ordeal of Emmett’s entry. (30+ hour labor, 3+ hrs pushing, forceps, NICU stay.) I’ll sum it up by saying it felt like I’d mentally prepared for a marathon, but ended up just having to run a 5K. More birth story after the jump, for those of you who want to read about dilation and whatnot.

Otherwise, we’re on our way to adjusting to this new normal. This mystery porch greeting was the most lovely thing about our homecoming. (We took her home in the outfit I wore 30 years ago!)

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As soon as we crossed the threshold, a toddler tantrum/baby blowout and crazy dog combo had pretty much the entire family boarding the Hot Mess Express. It will get better, I know.

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Eileen’s birth story

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DSM kids yoga

Apparently, we have a mini yogi in the house. I’ll attend and enjoy the occasional yoga class, but I don’t “practice” at home, or really model stretching these days. Just the stretch pants. So I’m surprised to recognize Emmett at 2-years old has a genuine interest in — and is pretty good at — yoga.

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His first exposure was at the end of August, when we attended the annual Community! Youth Concepts “Chalk Flood” event. They had kid-friendly instruction as part of the activities, and Emmett jumped right in. He was keen on the adorable instructor, and took to posing with the small group.

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We’ve done exercises a few times at home since, but the other day I brought home “My Daddy is a Pretzel” from the library and the book, which features a story and pose how-to illustrations, was a hit.

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Then before bed, we streamed a Cosmic Kids Yoga video and stretched along. The videos are kind of kooky, but I like how they incorporate imagination play and storytelling into the exercises.

As I’m looking to postpartum exercise and special ways to give Emmett attention after caring for his little sister all day, I could see us developing a little winter routine together.

Maybe we’d even venture to a special mother-son date at a local studio. The Family Tree offers a “Fun on the Run” parent/child yoga class (toddlers up to 3 yrs.) and Power Life Yoga has kids classes at the West Glen location. (I wish there was a weekend version downtown of Mommy & Me!) Do you know of any other yoga resources in the metro? My SIL just recommended Kids Mini Pretzels at the Valley Community Center, too.

UPDATE: Just saw the Des Moines Social Club is hosting a toddler and elementary yoga class this weekend!

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