Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thoughts on 32

Last week, I turned 32. It's not a major milestone birthday, but I still feel like I need to say something about this point in my life.

This year's birthday is my first birthday with two beautiful baby boys. It is truly my life's greatest blessing to be the mother to these precious young people. Motherhood has surpassed every expectation and has done more to shape the person I am--and want to be--than anything else I've experienced. I never knew how strong I was until I became a mom. I didn't know what it would take--mentally, physically, emotionally--for me to dedicate my life to these boys. It's a lot. I have physical scars from each of their births and lasting aches from those days. Now I can appreciate how much more beautiful my body is, C-section scar and bigger hips and won't-ever-be-flat-again stomach and all. I cry and worry ALL the time. Sometimes I have worried that I'm not strong enough to do it all, but I continue to prove myself wrong. Not only do I muster the strength to fulfill the duties of motherhood; I find joy in doing so. I laugh every day and cannot believe I helped to create these little boys.




32 brings about a more complete sense of self. This was the year I found a job I genuinely love, and I feel proud of myself for making it through those tough months of leaving my baby to go back to work. I honestly did not think I would be strong enough to do it. There have been more tough days than easy days (have any days been easy?). Pumping at work, missing my kids so much I could--and did--cry, missing a few bedtimes, worrying that I was losing precious time with them that I wouldn't ever get back...I still get a knot in my stomach thinking about all those things, but I can still ache while feeling proud for surviving the first few months of it. Being a working mother has made me stronger still. 

This could have been a really tough year for our marriage. Terry and I found ourselves pulled in countless directions, sometimes barely crossing paths. We have found a schedule that--while great for keeping our kids' time in daycare minimal--means we each have to make sacrifices (Terry has to be up at 5:30 to squeeze in 9 hours of work before 3:30; I am on my own in the mornings to get two kids and myself ready and out the door). We rarely sit down before 9 pm at night, and by then we're exhausted. But we are in this together, and we're on the same team. This year was tough, but the time we share together and as a family makes the sacrifices worth it. I've said it before, but I cannot imagine a better partner for this crazy life.



This year, I got to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's joy as they welcomed their perfect babies, my niece and nephew. I am so excited that my boys have cousins and that this growing extended family will be filled with even more love and joy.


I could go on and on. I am, as ever, thankful to my parents for all they continue to do for me and my family (especially their grandchildren), and for the childhood with which they blessed me so that I have a high standard set for my kids! I'm not in the best shape of my life, but there's time for that later. I am grateful every day for my health and the health of those I love so much. This year I made new friendships, learned more about myself and the world around me, and set new goals. 31 was a great year. It made me excited for the rest of my thirties and what "middle life" has to offer, not to mention the rest of my years. 

So far, life has only continued to be more fulfilling and joyful each year. I am 32, and I am so, so happy.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Declan: Ten Months

My sweet, giggly, growing boy. Ten months! You are already getting so big, and I'm noticing how your cheeks are slimming a bit. Despite the rough reality that your first year is going way too quickly, we are having such a blast with you!



At your 9-month appointment, which was about a week after you turned nine months, you weighed 20 pounds 4 ounces, and you measured 29.75 inches. Almost exactly the same as Marshall at this age!

Marshall loves to tickle you, and in the car he'll occasionally try to chat with you or get you to laugh at him. If you're upset, he suddenly wants to be the first to comfort you, which typically means yelling, "DECLAN, IT'S OKAY!" over and over. Usually you laugh, so I guess it works.


The other day (granted, already after you were 10 months old), you two both woke up at the same time in your room, and when I walked in Marshall was in his rocking chair across from you and, said, "We're just chatting." My heart turned to mush!






Laughing happens a lot around here. You have become such a bundle of giggles! Peek-a-boo is a favorite, but you also love being tickled, as well as repetitive games or movements.




You're crawling! Last month you had just learned to crawl but I was nervous you'd give up on it. Within the last two or three weeks, you've officially become a crawler. You're getting quick, too! You still love pulling yourself up to stand, though, so most of your crawling is in an effort to get to a place where you can stand. The coffee table in the living room has become something of a gathering place. You cruise along one side (only moving to the right...can't go left) while Marshall tries to keep his toys out of reach of your quick hands.






This month was your first time in the ocean! You seemed to enjoy it, but big brother was more interesting.




Some new skills have emerged this month: You love turning pages in books, especially books with flaps (that peek-a-boo game is fun even without a human!), and I'm excited to see that you might show some interest in reading after all. I was getting worried! Books with flaps are a hit, and we're seeing a little more patience from you when we attempt to read you a story. Mostly, you're on the move, so we hope you're soaking in some reading when we read aloud to your brother. Maybe?





Looking back at Marshall's ten month post (I can't help but see what he was up to at this age!), I notice that you are just as eager of an eater as he was, but you don't get as angry or impatient while eating. You also generally take your time, so we can give you multiple pieces of food at once without worrying that you'll shove it all in your mouth at once. You are, however, extremely difficult to change--it's an all-out physical battle to get you to stay on your back, and I am seriously worried you'll hurt yourself during a diaper change.


Here, Marshall is "painting" Declan's face, just like he had his face painted in preschool. 




You're still a HUGE fan of Scout. You stare at him, crawl toward him, try to reach him, and occasionally pet him (when he allows). He's so gentle with you, and if you get too rough he'll just walk out of reach. You say "ta" very clearly when you see him, and you recently attempted an "s" sound toward him.



Other words coming along are "mama" and "dada," and we hear "mo" at meals (more) we think.

More likes: swim lessons, watching Marshall do anything, standing at the play kitchen, banging anything that makes a lot of noise, playing with the activity cube at daycare, nursing, eating, listening to your own voice, being tickled, wrestling with Mommy or Daddy, blowing raspberries.






You're starting to sleep pretty consistently now that you are in the same room as Marshall. Our bedtime routine starts right after dinner (we try to eat as a family five or six days a week); then it's bath, pjs, nurse in the rocking chair in our room (usually I'll sing to you--"Edelweiss" and another song or two--and maybe chat with you about the day or read you a book), then Daddy comes in to read you a story before rocking you to sleep. You'll sleep from about 6:45 or 7:00 until 2-4 am. If you wake up before that, Daddy tries to get you back to sleep; after that, you get to snuggle with me and eat. Then we try to stay awake to put you back in your crib (we don't have a great track record there). Lately you've been snoozing until 6:30 or 7 am! It's amazing. For a while we had some 4:30-5:00 mornings, and I just could not muster the energy to hang with you at that hour. Luckily your Daddy is a hero and usually managed to get up with you.






Ten months already. I can't believe it. I love this age, when you're learning so much and so expressive and fun. I love how snuggly you are and how calm you feel when I scoop you up. I love breathing in your sweet baby scent and letting you sleep on me. I love how you are a bit more independent now, crawling and playing by yourself. I will be so sad to see these days go, but I know that more fun is on the way! We love you, sweet little boy.





I'm hoping to be back soon with some updates on the rest of the family!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Declan: Nine Months

Happy nine months, "little" one! We're right in the middle of a whole bunch of exciting developments, so next month's post will certainly be a doozy, but let's look back at how the ninth month of your life went.


SLEEP

It's funny: When we announced we were having a second baby, lots of people told us to expect that our second would be completely different from our first. I tried to prepare myself. Since Marshall was such a great eater, I assumed we might get a picky one this time. But since Marshall struggled with sleep, I hoped we'd have a great sleeper on our hands!

Well, what I really should have heard from people's advice was to expect the unexpected. Declan is not an amazing sleeper. But I also think we haven't really given him a fair shot. Since birth (even in the hospital!), I have cuddled Declan in bed with me at night. He has always gone down in his crib, but at his first wake up we both fall asleep (safely of course! no sheets pulled up, no swaddle, not too hot, etc.), and we both sleep well. (Marshall never slept with us in bed, except in the early hours of the morning, so I guess in that way they are different.)

Unfortunately, Declan has always woken up often. He's easy to get back to sleep, but he's woken up every few hours--every single night since he was born. Yikes. Honestly, though, since he goes back to sleep so easily, we never felt super motivated to work on changing those habits. We were all getting enough sleep.

Still, we decided that nine months was a good time to finally take the plunge and move Declan out of our room and into Marshall's room. So over Fourth of July weekend we went for it! 


As you'll notice, he is quite tall, and the crib we had him in is quite short, so we switched his crib to a toddler bed and gave it to Marshall, and switched Marshall's bed back to the crib for Declan. Everyone is settled in, and so begins a room-sharing situation that will last as long as we live in a two-bedroom place! It's only been a couple weeks, but it's going pretty well. Marshall sleeps through almost everything, including fire alarms and falling out of bed (...), so Declan's crying doesn't wake him very easily. Once, Declan woke him and Marshall said sternly, "Declan! Be quiet!" And another time he said, "It's okay, baby!" (He never calls Declan "baby" so he must have been tired.)

Technically, this post is going up a week after Declan turned nine months, but the last two nights have gone great with respect to sleep--including eight straight hours last night. So hopefully having him sleep away from us is a step in the right direction!

As for daytime sleep, most of Declan's naps are at daycare. A typical day looks like this:

- Wake up anywhere between 5 and 6:30
- Arrive at daycare around 8:45--then he either goes down for a nap right away if he's tired or goes on the class walk and then goes down after that
- Nap - ideally 90 minutes or more, but sometimes shorter
- Nap again in the early afternoon, ideally waking up around 4
- Bedtime at 6:30

The big changes this month were officially dropping the third nap and then moving bedtime to 6:30 (instead of 6, which was tough!). It's SO much better now to be able to have him home for closer to two hours before he goes to bed. We can play, feed him dinner, then slowly start bedtime, instead of rushing or skipping a meal!

And speaking of which...

(I normally write these posts as a letter to Declan, but I honestly forgot! I'll pick it up here...)

EAT

We have an eater! I mentioned that you were starting to enjoy more foods, but this month we finally got lots more finger foods into the mix. Now you're eating pieces of fruits and vegetables, shredded meat, pieces of bread, etc. You love it all! You've tried new foods like mushrooms, homemade whole wheat bread (made with maple syrup instead of honey), whole wheat pita bread, broccoli, boiled peas, and nectarines.




I think it's safe to say you love eating. You get so impatient in your high chair waiting for us to bring you food, and when you see "your" bowls or spoons, you start kicking and grunting!


Happy boy!

Does any of it make it into your mouth?



We got you this awesome cup--glass, but covered in plastic--and as many times as you've thrown it we're pretty confident it's not going to break (knock on wood). I am amazed at how quickly you got the straw thing down!

PLAY

Oh, boy, do I love watching you at this age. Declan, you are growing so quickly and developing new skills every day it seems. The Friday before Fourth of July weekend, you started crawling! That same weekend, you pulled up to standing consistently. Now you still seem to prefer scooting to crawling, and we can't tell if you'll get faster at crawling or just skip to walking. Time will tell, even though I'm not-so-secretly hoping you'll crawl because it's so darn cute!

What is happening here?


You can push up to sitting without any trouble now, too!



You love crawling and climbing over obstacles.






Rolling and throwing are new favorite games!







You experienced a pretty good range of fun new places and firsts this month. We traveled to the Bay Area (your first time in my hometown), we took you on the swings, and we had a fun family day at the park.








More about you at this age:

You love people. You smile at everyone and often gaze at people until they smile at you. You love putting things into and pulling things out of boxes and containers, you love anything that makes noise, and you definitely love getting into Marshall's toys (especially those that are not quite appropriate for you). You're starting to show some interest in books (yay!), and you generally seem interested in new places and experiences.

I'd say your favorite person is Marshall; he can make you smile even when you're quite upset. Marshall will shake his head back and forth if you're upset, or he'll come up to you and try to talk to you in his silliest voice to get you to calm down. It makes my heart so happy to see you and your brother developing such a sweet bond.




I gotta say, though, you love mama quite a lot too. Your smile when I get home is what makes me rush out the door from work. You usually want to nurse right away when I get home, and I treasure that opportunity to slow down with you. I find ways to connect with Marshall upon arriving home, too, like reading a story or hearing about his day if he'll tell me, so I know after you're done breastfeeding we'll find other ways to bond. (Speaking of which, right now you get two bottles at daycare--about 5 ounces each--and you nurse with me twice in the morning, twice in the afternoon, and at least once overnight, which we're trying to cut out this month. I still pump twice at work.)


(Mama's tired)


You've had a little separation anxiety this month, so there are some days when we can't set you down for even a second without making you so sad, even when we're sitting next to you! I do love that you love to be held, though. If I'm holding you, nothing can make you mad, and I love that you find such comfort in my arms.

You and your daddy have a special bond, and I love that you are so in tune with each other. Each night I feed you and read you your story, and then Daddy sings to you and puts you to sleep. He has much more patience (stubbornness?) than I do when it comes to rocking babies to sleep, and you two definitely have a routine now. He also keeps you home with him on his off Fridays, which is another great time for you two to bond!



EVERYTHING ELSE

We have an appointment this Friday (7/14) for a checkup to see how tall you are and how much you weigh, but you're in size 4 diapers and 12-18 month clothes. You are a delicious little chunk, but I'm curious to see how much your sizes change as you continue to move more. 

Declan, we love you to pieces and are so grateful for the joy and love you bring our family! Even with the tough days of separation anxiety, the messy meals, the imperfect sleep, we could not ask for a more wonderful way to spend our days. Here's to the next month of adventures and fun!





We love you!