Tag 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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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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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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Hey, girl

When we found out we’re having a little girl in October, everyone, of course, started asking if I was excited to get all sorts of girly stuff. I always want to say something sassy about how kid stuff should just be kid stuff – dolls, trucks, play-dough, etc., but I’ll admit there are a few things that make me squee about having a daughter on the horizon:

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Embroidered Romper

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See Kate Sew DIY printed doll fabric  collection 

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Celtic knot headband
(I’m not into the huge flower headbands on baby girls, but I love a jaunty jersey one.)

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A vibrant mini quilt to hang by her crib
Babies love high-contrast, but I don’t actually see myself sewing something so involved in the next four months!

Also, for me, I’m checking to see if our insurance will cover this Freemie breast pump because let’s be honest, pumping is the worst and this model was designed by a female ER doc with some brilliant ideas. I read about it on Madison’s blog the other night and was instantly obsessed. I’m totally planning to watch Parenthood and/or The Good Wife as my pumping show this maternity leave.

I need to remember I’m having an autumn baby. All of this looks so summery, like a berry popsicle. Speaking of…

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Big brother, little…

Let’s just go ahead and put 2015 down as the fastest year in human history, OK?

Somehow, I am halfway to being the mother of two. Emmett spent the first night in a toddler bed last night*. Two of our three summer weddings have already happened. I turn 30 in three weeks. The peonies are blooming! Slow your roll, 2015. Geeze.

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And by “slept in his toddler bed,” I mean we found him like this in the morning. 

Did I mention that I’m somehow halfway through this pregnancy? (Although, let’s be real, I fully anticipate going to 42 or even 43 weeks.) I am definitely rounding out quite a bit, and all I want to eat is bagels and cream cheese. Healthy options, of course. And I’ve  already had one big cry about the polar ice caps melting, one of the many pretty-much-out-of-my-control terrors that grips me when it comes to bringing children into this big, imperfect world.

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image via Stately Type

We decided to find out the sex of Baby #2 this time around for a number of reasons. Some practical (I’m looking at you, multiple Space Bags full of baby boy clothes), and some more personal.

I had this cinematic vision of someone yelling “It’s a boy!” when Emmett was born. But instead of a calm, natural birth, it was a pretty traumatic ordeal and in the chaos it was more like “Let’s get this baby to the NICU!” The first few weeks postpartum were also pretty emotional and trying for me. I feel like if I know a little bit more about the person I was growing, I might bond more quickly and strongly from the get-go. (Fingers crossed no NICU, too.)

I think love for our children is like the birth of a solar system, with this ever-expanding infinity of emanating outward.

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I know a lot more now, which is to say that I know that I basically know nothing and that each baby/child/person is completely different and designed to keep parents on their toes.

Either way, I’m excited to know we’re having a baby girl in October. I’m going to have to play Sarah Kay on repeat for the next five or so months.

If I should have a daughter, instead of “Mom,” she’s going to call me “Point B,” because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint solar systems on the backs of her hands so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say, “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” – Sarah Kay 

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February funk

I spent February in a funk — acting as my own trash-talking Kanye, sabotaging my self-confidence after the honor of being named the 2014 Amy Jennings YP Impact Award winner. IMG_20150204_202253 The week before the awards, I was excited about our family vacation to Florida, realizing a lifelong dream to see the manatees in their natural habitat. I had a hunch, and a few days before we took off confirmed that we would be bringing another teeny tiny family member along for the adventure.

I don’t know why (well, partly, hormones, I imagine), but winning that award sort of freaked me out. It felt really full circle: I moved to Des Moines in 2007 not knowing anyone, got to meet lots of people and learn the city through my job at Juice, quit to be more involved in community projects, and seven or so years later was recognized by my former employer for that community impact. There’s a sweetness to the cycle, but I also felt a strange sense of oh-shit-where-do-I-go-from-here, exacerbated by the knowledge that in about 9 months I’d be burrowing in with an infant, trying to figure out life with two kids.

I’m scared that I’ll get overwhelmed and ‘disappear’ from the doers club. I don’t like feeling wiped out and not leaving myself time to sew and read things and drink wine with friends. The first trimester is mostly about exhaustion and worry and extra bowls of cereal — at least for me.

I know that life has its seasons and that by choosing a family I will have to say ‘no’ to some things. (I kind of have this personal rule now that I try not to be gone more than two evenings a week and one big weekend chunk, out of fairness to Joe and a need for balance.) I know there are lots of amazing examples of people with kids who stay active. I read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and laughed and felt a little bit better, but also a lot bit in awe of her. 7 There’s a lot of talk about attracting talent to Des Moines and I think the same leaders who are interested in luring young people to the city need to consider what will keep them here. Retention is just as important: it would be a pity to see people who come here to kickstart their careers leave at that point when all we’ve invested in their development is paying off. And for those of us like me, who maybe five to seven years into our Iowa lives start families of adorable Iowa natives– our ability to be involved is only as strong as our support networks.

Although I have no intention of leaving, Joe and I don’t have any parents in the area (my mom lives in Chicago and his in Council Bluffs). It seems that many times once people have children, they move back to a hometown because having grandparents nearby helps with childcare. We get many ‘boomerang’ Iowans back this way, but could lose others.

I strongly believe the second half of the YP equation is encouraging employers to provide flex time, family leave and – ideally – access to affordable, quality childcare options. And for us young professionals to support each other and value the choices that each of us make in how to spend our time — out and about and at home. Because who among us really has it all figured out?

March forward!

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Little boy at the barbershop

Emmett turns 18 months old next week (!!!) and Joe starts his new job with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation tomorrow (!!!) so the gentlemen of the house decided to mark their milestones with a visit to the barber. There’s a fine line between shaggy chic and just plain scraggly and both were walking it.

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Joe goes to an old-school barber shop down the street from our house between my at-home haircuts, so we decided to forgo the whole kid haircut place and have them go together. Of course, I had to be there to document it. Dad went first while Emmett watched from a mount of bravery.

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The Roosevelt Barber Shop (Est. 1919) had board book about trucks, mounted taxidermy, Christmas decorations, a (broken?) horse ride and dum-dum suckers, which is really all a toddler needs to be enthralled.

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Booster seats, penguin capes and quick-fingered barbers kept things cool.

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And for mom, an envelope to save those sweet baby curls and an official first haircut certificate.

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Emmett was super well-behaved during the whole cut. He’s started talking up a storm these past few weeks and kept saying “wow” when he’d see the other guys get clippered and buzzed. I think he looks pretty darn handsome, but he’s definitely more little boy than baby, now!

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Now it’s my turn to make a hair appointment! (I’m more of a Salon Spa W girl, myself.)

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