Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Back to Work and Life Lately

Life lately has been nothing short of chaos. We're in a season of survival as we try to figure out a new rhythm now that I'm back at work. Honestly, it's really hard. But there are some long-term goals at play, and we're hoping this tough part will be well worth it eventually.

I headed back to work and into a new job on January 17, after our trip to DC. I knew that starting a completely new position would cause some extra stress, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Now, several weeks in, I can share how things are going. 

On the work front, things are great. I absolutely love my new role, the people I work with, and the department. It's a huge challenge and some completely new territory (read: I'm totally in over my head as I learn everything!), but the days fly and I like being busy to keep my mind off missing my babies. So far, I think it's a great fit for me! Bonus: my boss and closest coworker both have young kids and have been there with the whole baby thing, so I'm in good company. 

Outside of the actual work, returning to work has been one of the hardest challenges I've ever faced. I cried a lot the first week and still get sad thinking about how little time I get with Declan and Marshall. It amounts to about an hour in the morning and two or three hours at night on weekdays. Even writing that out makes my heart ache a little. Being able to count the hours I spend with my kids (on one hand, no less) isn't something I was able to do when Marshall was tiny, but here we are.

The adjustment was tough for Marshall at first. He's acted out a bit, thrown a few extra tantrums, struggled to understand what's going on. I've missed bedtime a couple times already due to work events, and I'm not sure who was more sad--me or the toddler. Declan seems to be doing well, though. He gets lots of time with Daddy, has been eating well and sleeping (mostly) well, and he still smiles and laughs a ton. 

Overall, since we're only a few weeks in, I'm trying to give myself a break and plenty of time to adjust to everything. It feels like there's nowhere near enough time for everything--quality time with the family, individual time with each kid, working, basic housekeeping and meals...a lot of plates are spinning! The guilt is insane, and I feel like I'm constantly letting someone down. But Terry has helped tremendously with reminding me that it'll get better. And I'm lucky to have several friends in my same position who have been a wonderful source of comfort and support.

I hope that someday I'll have a few pieces of advice or some wise words to share about making it all work as a working mom of two, but for now, here's what I've got:

- Leaving my kids sucks. Every single day. I don't think that part will ever get easier.
- When Marshall tells us about fun projects at school and/or I see how much his teachers love him, I remember how great this experience is for him and how great it will be for Declan too. 
- Having a job I love is key to survival. Otherwise I would have quit by now! But the job is something that I really enjoy and challenges me in a new, exciting way. It doesn't make leaving my kids any easier, but it makes those hours away feel more worthwhile and gratifying.
- My friend mentioned to me that when she misses mom moments (putting her kids to bed, helping around the house, etc.), she reminds herself that work is the way she contributes to the family sometimes. 

I'm still learning about being a working mom of two, and you know I'll share more insight as I gain it! Ultimately, the best part is always coming home at the end of the day to these three:

And now for millions of photos from recently...

Declan learned to roll a few weeks ago, which interrupted his sleep a bit. Now he's starting to sleep on his belly, which makes me nervous but seems comfy for him. 

Check out these twins! Except Declan (left) is only four months in the same outfit as Marshall at NINE months!

Getting used to eating lunches at work, including this tasty kale salad with chicken, walnuts, and cheese.

Chunky boy!

When I (rarely) squeeze in a workout, Scout refuses to miss his cuddle time.

This is a twelve-month onesie.

Terry is truly an amazing dad. Recently he took the Metro to pick up Marshall from school (with Declan in the Ergo!) - such a fun treat for this little boy!

Marshall has shown a lot of interest in letters lately, so I got him some magnetic letters for the kitchen.

We've traveled up north no fewer than THREE times in the last two months, which is insane. Two weeks ago we headed up for my mom's 60th(!) birthday, and I made her a big collage similar to ones she has made for many of us in the past.

We also figured out who Declan looks like--ME! 

Eiger and Declan became more acquainted.

As did Declan and Diane--who is about to become a first-time grandma any minute!!!

 And got to see more of our favorites!

And one more random fun photo: Trader Joe's allowing Marshall to help ring up groceries. :-)

Okay, tons more photos coming in tomorrow's post!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Declan: Four Months

Dear Declan,

You're four months old today! You bring us such smiles, if only because we see YOUR huge smiles!

We used to say that your brother was a baby of a million facial expressions--those eyebrows!--but you are all about that smile.

And it never gets old.

The stats this month: you are 18 pounds and 27.5 inches--unofficially (90th percentile for weight and 95+ for height). (For comparison, Marshall was 17 pounds 7 ounces and 26 inches at this age.) 

The big change this month was that I went back to work (more on that in another post), and now Daddy is staying home with you for THREE whole months. You have handled the change like a champ, and Daddy is absolutely awesome as a stay at home dad! You two are clearly bonding (I'll admit I'm a little jealous, even if I'm thrilled for you to get this time with Daddy), and it's awesome to see your relationship grow.

(Marshall is still going to day care full time, although we did have a week of illnesses that stuck Daddy with both of you for several days, which is NOT easy even under the best circumstances! We had to call in Gammie's help for that one!)

You are becoming more aware of and excited about your big brother. You look for him when you hear his voice and seem to smile just looking at him.

He loves you quite a lot, too. He often crawls down next to you to cuddle or hold your hand. It makes me so happy.

Sometimes you're too little to play with Marshall, but you seem to enjoy watching what's going on around you.

Once, I had to run out of the room during story time, and when I came back your brother had chosen a book and was reading to you. There aren't enough emoji hearts in the world for how I felt at that moment.

Eating is going great! I was very nervous about going back to work and keeping up my supply, but I have a pretty ideal situation with a private office and coworkers who have been there. Luckily, things seem to be going well on that front so far, and you have been willing to take a bottle. You and Daddy have it down pretty well now, and you usually eat 8-10 ounces during the nine hours we're apart each day. Also, I don't have much of a commute, so it helps that I can sometimes get away with only pumping twice and just make sure to feed you right before I leave and right when I get home. 

I definitely prefer feeding you myself, and I think you agree! :-)  Here, you got hungry while we were out on a family hike, so we made it work. 

Speaking of being out and about, we do our best to make sure you get good naps in during the day. It's not always easy, especially on weekday mornings when you and Daddy have to take Marshall to day care. Usually you wake up around 6 or 6:30, and then you hit the road with Daddy around 8. Already you'll be super tired, and then your nap is often interrupted or cut short by the trip upstairs to bring M into school. Plus, car naps are never awesome anyway, so mornings are generally tough for sleep. The rest of the day is usually smoother, and Daddy is great about making sure you get plenty of sleep.

By evening, you're all tuckered out, and you've set a pretty consistent bedtime of 6 pm(!). In some ways, it's nice, because one of us will put you down while the other makes dinner and hangs out with Marshall. Then we get some quality time with M at dinner, bath, and bedtime before you need to eat again about 10.

Night sleep is going well; you sleep 3-4 hours at a time. We moved you out of the cosleeper because you're too huge, and now you sleep in our portable crib, the Joovy Room 2. It takes up a ton of space in our room, but it's nice that we don't feel pressured to move you out of our room before any of us is ready (especially Marshall, who isn't ready for a big boy bed yet). You also often fall asleep next to me and snuggle, which I LOVE. 

Second child syndrome: We forgot a change of clothes for you (to be fair, we were just running to the store) and had to MacGyver it with your brother's jacket and a blanket wrapped into "pants." 

You are also starting to giggle and laugh! It's such a precious sound.

And that smile...it really is killer. You smile with your whole face, so that even when you aren't quite smiling yet we can still tell when you're about to. 

Are you kidding me with those arms?

You rolled this month! Two days ago, you rolled back to tummy. (You rolled tummy to back a month ago, but then decided it wasn't for you.)

Thrilled about it, obviously.

 You're definitely a chill, happy kid. We rarely see you get worked up. You occasionally get upset when you're overtired (and we have had a few ROUGH moments during those times), but otherwise you just like to be around people. Or by yourself. Doesn't seem to matter.

 Likes: Daddy, big brother, Mommy (maybe not in that order?), looking around, grabbing your toys, people smiling at you, watching Marshall play, music and singing, being outside, reading books, especially with fun voices with Daddy, Scout (who snuggles up with you and Daddy when you eat from the bottle), playing peekaboo, getting your cheeks pinched, having a fresh diaper.

 Dislikes: being cold, especially after a bath, being tired, going into the room for nap time.

Declan, we love every moment with you. Your happy, sweet smile reminds us to slow down and just enjoy the moment. You make my arms hurt when I hold you because you're so huge, but it's absolutely worth it to snuggle your pudgy body and keep you close a little longer. I don't know if you'll always be a cuddler, but I am going to take advantage while it lasts! Thank you for bringing us so much joy. You are absolutely irresistible, and we love you so much!