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Degree of Difficulty

I am no longer sure of the context of this (Twitter conversation? Chat with a friend? A dream?), but I was thinking about the different forms of parenting I’ve done in the past 3.5 years.

  • Full time SAHM. For Xander’s first year (plus a few months), I was a home with him with no other job.  At around 6(ish) months I found a mom’s group to join and that really helped me to feel less lonely and floundering as a new parent. I think this would be one of my biggest pieces of advice to a soon to be mom (or dad) – find a group. Any group. It’s less about the kids in the early years and more about you, so make it people that YOU like.
  • SAHM and part time WAHM. After we moved to Vermont I started teaching some online classes. Classes ran (run) five weeks at a time, and initially it was about 15-18 hours a week, give or take. I would do the work during nap times and after Xander went to bed. I still do this occasionally, though not as often, because now I have another job. So far, this has been the hardest version of mom-ing I’ve done. It was hard to find enough time to get the work done; I stressed about his naps and how easily he’d go to sleep (or about going into labor with Luna). It always felt like a panic to get everything done and still be the “main” parent during the day.
  • Part time WOHM. This is where I am now. I work out of the home two days a week for about 6 hours each day. As the semester picks up I’ll have more at home work to do with grading. I am really loving this scenario. I like getting out of the house and being a professional and interacting with other grownups. I like using the skills I went to college and grad school for. I even like being a little nervous, and feeling like I want to perform my best. I also like that I’m able to do it part time, and still be home with the kids on the other days.

Now, obviously, this is just my experience. There is no judgement whatsoever about what any other parent chooses to do. Love staying home or hate it, there’s nothing WRONG with any of it.  I’m fortunate to be where I am now, that I can do both. In a few years I’ll likely look for full time teaching work, and (hopefully) the work I’m doing now will put me in a good position to do so.

I should also point out that John is also a college faculty member, so he is home much more than the typical working parent/partner. So I’ve always had a lot more support and time during the day than many SAHMs. We may never be rich, but we do have a lot more time to spend together and with the family, so for us, we’re happy with the choices we’ve made.

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Advent-less

We somewhat quickly abandoned the Advent Activity Calendar.  It was proving to be a bit too much, for both me and Xander. He was getting overly excited and not having as much fun with it, and I was just getting cranky.

We’ve done some, and I’ll still break out some of the activities to do, but not in any official sort of capacity. His favorite so far was making the button craft. Though, he eschewed the idea of a button tree and opted for, as Jen put it, a Button Snowstorm. So.

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Other ones we’ve done with moderate success:

  • “Cookie” baking. (Really: melting kisses on pretzels and topping them with M&M’s)IMG_0137
  • Ornament making. This was a mixed review. He kind of enjoyed it, but he also got mad that we weren’t just emptying the entire bottle of paint into the ornament.IMG_0048 IMG_0050
  • New book from our Elf on the Shelf (yes, we Elf; yes, I know, you hate it). I actually did this one twice. Not wrapped. Just the elf, hanging out by a book.
  • Coloring on snow was….not a big success. It was too hard for him to hold the bottles with gloves, but too cold not to wear gloves. Also the red food coloring just looked like we murdered someone in the driveway. (WE DIDN’T, NSA, DON’T WORRY.)
  • I tried taking him to see Frozen, but that was a complete and utter disaster.
  • Tree cutting and decoratingIMG_0019 IMG_0013
  • Trainhop and meeting Santa (this was a two for, which I didn’t know – I thought we’d have to make a separate Santa trip, so I was happy.)IMG_0068 IMG_0079
  • Instead of a Christmas movie, we’ve done a few Christmas episodes of his favorite shows/shorts of movies. We may watch one when we get to my parents’ house, though.
  • Foam gingerbread houseIMG_0082

I think that’s it. I’m actually really good with deciding to “quit.” It wasn’t going to be worth it, and I didn’t want fights over something that was supposed to be fun for all of us. Someone wrote (probably Moxie, it sounds like her) to always chose the relationship with your child over the memory making activity (I’m sure I”m butchering that, but the sentiment is right). Doing the other activities when we have free time is working out well, and it also lets Xander repeat the ones he’s liked the most without me stressing out about missing that day’s assigned activity.

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Waxing and Weaning

Ha! A clever title. Even if it doesn’t ACTUALLY make sense.

Here is my dilemma, Internets. Luna hates bottles. HATES. They give her tiny infant rage. (She once grabbed the nipple of the bottle and squirt its contents into John’s face while yelling at him. So.)

Starting in January, when she’ll be 11 months, I will be teaching two in person classes, twice a week. So I will be gone from about 7AM until about 1PM two days a week.

Right now I’m only gone “long” one day a week, and for five hours, not seven.  We used to have the sitter try to give her some formula, but quickly abandoned that idea and so now Luna gets a pouch at lunchtime and waits for me to get home for nursing. It works out OK. I do pump, because I’m scared of my supply crashing, but it makes me somewhat irritated because I essentially pump and dump, since Luna will have nothing to do with expressed milk.

So. My question.

What do I DOOOOO?

Seven hours seems like a long time go without nursing and have her maintain an interest in it, and I’m not really sure I want to wean her completely. I mean. I could, I guess. But I like it. And I fought hard to get here.

So, I see my options as:

  1. Continue what we do now, and hope that 7 hours of no nursing and no bottles is not the switch to weaning her.
    1. Pump and dump like I do now to maintain supply
    2. Forget pumping, because it sucks, and cross fingers that my supply doesn’t vanish
  2. Wean her
  3. Try giving her expressed milk (or other milk, or “milk” like rice or whatever) in a straw or sippy cup

At 11 months I don’t really see a point in trying to persuade her to take a bottle, since we’ll just be trying to take it away a month later.

She’s pretty good at using a straw cup, but I haven’t given her anything but water in it. It also isn’t very leakproof, so I should maybe look into other cups.

So….I guess I really am already planning on option 3 (my pump is barely hanging on, but I think it’ll continue to get the job done) and I just want you tell me that it’s the right choice and will all be fine, and also tell me your favorite baby straw cup.

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Flexibility Training

When I wrote the post about taking away Xander’s pacifiers, I was somewhat surprised by the responses I got. In a good way, but also in a thought provoking way. I got a lot of comments here and on FB and Twitter along the lines of “good for you for knowing when to relent.”  And….yeah. YEAH.

It got me thinking.

There’s this idea in parenting that you have to stay strong. Stick to your guns. Don’t back down.

Yes. And no.

I mean, I see where the idea comes from. You can’t very well tell your two year old that he must eat his dinner before giving him a cookie and then giving him a cookie when he throws his plate to the floor with a devilish smirk (I HATE SMIRKING).

But why can’t you amend your previous stance to “if you take two bites of this, and two bites of that, then you can have your cookie” and show him that you recognize his effort?

Like many parenting idea(l)s, I took this one way too seriously. I figured the experts knew. I mean, they were DOCTORS (mostly). So.

****

We recently had parent conferences with Xander’s preschool teachers. I know, it seems somewhat silly to have conferences for three year olds (he is very adept at smearing paint on paper with his fingers!), but still. Two things that came up, as they did last year at a different school with different teachers, are that Xander is very smart, and he’s very sensitive.

(I know, I KNOW, that that may sound like a brag, but it’s not, I swear. A lot of his smarts comes from us letting him play reading apps on the iPad during quiet time, so it’s not like I’m taking credit for that, or anything.)

And being smart or sensitive or both is not BAD. I think it’s good! I love that my boy is empathetic, as much as a three year old can be, that he cares about people’s feelings. But these traits also mean that he can be….manipulative. He likes to test and see what he can get us to do for him, what techniques work, how much whining until we cave, etc. Not in a sociopath sort of way, but just…he’s three, you know? They already test boundaries and push buttons. Xander just seems to realize a bit more of what those buttons can end up doing.

****

I was pondering aloud (or, rather, quietly but with my fingers on Twitter) whether or not I was being too inconsistent with Xander. I constantly go back and forth on timeouts, and whether they “work,” and when to use them,  blah blah blah …boringmommyblogcakes. My old boss and good friend (and mother of two grown up, well adjusted boys) told me that it doesn’t really matter, in the end, what the consequence itself is, just as long as he knows that certain behaviors are not acceptable. Sometimes he may get a timeout for being sassy (like if he’s already been warned, or I’m immersed in something and can’t take the time to sit down and talk to him, or I’m just fed up), and sometimes I may just remind him that I won’t listen to words or voices that aren’t nice.

Sometimes for Xander a timeout is the worst thing I can do. He flips his lid and it takes so long to calm down that the initial transgression is lost amid his panic. Other times he needs to get it out and find his own way.

It’s not easy to know which one is right. I’ve gotten it “wrong” many times. But I’m trying. I’m learning.

It’s made doubly hard because there are opinions everywhere. Whether you seek them out or not, someone has an opinion on how you parent your child. And I’m all too aware that people might think I’m being too easy on him. Too soft. That he won’t learn if I don’t show him who’s boss.

And, sadly, I’ve given in to that at times. I’ve ignored by gut because I thought my gut was wrong. Relenting is not always a sign of weakness. With Xander, I’ve seen him spiral into an honest to god panic attack over discipline and no. Just no. That’s not ok. He’s a child, he is learning his way and his place in the world and he needs to know that John and I are in his corner. We are his safe people. If I let him “get away” with something, it’s not because I’m letting him win, it’s because I know how hard it is for him, and how hard he is trying. I know that that extra dose of sensitivity he has makes him terrified that, in some way, John or I won’t like him.

So sometimes he gets the cookie and the peas remain untouched.

****

We’ve been doing the Advent Activity Calendar. Somedays it goes great. Somedays I make the executive decision not to do our “assigned” activity because it’s not worth it. If Xander is over tired, or being naughty, or overstimulated, or just not interested….it’s not worth it.

I’m learning to be flexible. To let go of the things I can’t control.

And with kids, the list of things outside of my control is so long I can’t even tell you.

I had thought that it might make me feel bad if I didn’t make it through everything on my list. That I should find a way to cherish this magical holiday time with my children come hell or high water.

But, come on. Sometimes glue and glitter is just one more mess to clean up and your preschooler would be happier watching Wonderpets with some graham crackers.

****

This post is rather disjointed. I’ve gone over it three times and, well, I guess that’s just the way it is. Parenting is disjointed, right? I guess I just wanted to say that…it’s not a bad thing to change your mind. It’s not a bad thing for me to change my mind. I don’t know why that idea exists, but I think or kids deserve more credit than that. And so do we.

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The Loop

I know that it’s not unique, but every day, in the late afternoon/early evening, we struggle.

The exact situation varies, depending on who is working when, but the gist of it is:

It’s after nap/quiet time, so both kids are awake. I am sitting on the living room floor with Luna, while Xander runs in literal circles around the room, pausing , slightly, to torment the dog or the baby or both. (Torment usually means “accidentally” hitting or bopping them, then immediately saying “Oh, I’m sorry sorry sorry” if he thinks we saw him.) John is at work, or on his way home, or he is on the floor while I cook dinner.

This is very problematic for many reasons. The most obvious being that I cannot allow him to hit the baby or the dog. We have tried many things. Timeouts (Haaaaa no, these do not work. This is a whole other post for a different day, but we are finding timeouts to be counterproductive in most situations.).  Threatening and/or yelling.  TV. Reading a book together (the problem here is that I need to keep him away from the baby, so it’s hard to do something that requires him to be close to me and the baby). I’ve tried putting Luna in the jumper, but she screams. I’ve tried actively engaging him in a game or play, like “hey! let’s build a track together with your train set!”

But he is stuck. I mean, like, really. Stuck. He cannot stop running around in circles, singling garbled lyrics to Glee or something he learned in school, and accidentally on purpose hitting us.  Sometimes I can distract him for a few minutes, but he always comes back to it. I don’t know how else to describe it other than a loop, or like a record scratch.

I don’t want to spend the last part of the day scolding him or yelling at him. That’s not fair to any of us, and I don’t want it to be the last thing he remembers from the day. I want to find a way to engage him, to break him out of the cycle, but I really don’t know what else to do.

After dinner is similar, but it’s much shorter, because Luna goes to sleep earlier than he does.

Part of it, I’m sure, stems from wanting our attention all to himself, and we do try to give this to him each day in one way or another, but it is not always easy or possible. And another part of it is just that he has SO much energy. He’s three, you know? He needs to play and run and be wild. I know that he needs that release, but I haven’t found a way to let him have it without, somehow, endangering Luna.

I have had some success taking him and Luna for a walk in the later afternoons, but that can run into dinnertime, which I guess I could just work harder on preparing earlier.

So, does anyone have any suggestions for how to get through those late afternoon hours? Or, at the very least, commiseration that my kid is normal and not broken and that every three year old boy in the history of the world is a pistol at the end of the day?

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The One About Sleep

So here is where many of you will start to think I am a terrible person: John and I decided to let Luna Cry It Out.

Let me backtrack.

When I was pregnant with Xander, the only baby book I read was Dr. Sears. I fell lock, stock, and barrel for the entire Attachment Parenting philosophy. And wait right there before you X out of this page – there is NOTHING wring with AP. Nothing. It’s a loving parenting philosophy.

My problem, and I think MANY people’s problem, is that I didn’t ever consider doing something that wasn’t Dr. Sears approved. I would breastfeed exclusively! So when my milk took FIVE DAYS to come in, and Xander had latching problems because of his tongue tie, I had nary a bottle of formula in the house and he lost a dangerous amount of weight and was dehydrated. I would cosleep! All nestled in the Family Bed, warm and safe and snuggly. But I couldn’t SLEEP with this thrashing, loudly breathing, terrifyingly unknown person next to me, and I damn near lost my mind from exhaustion until John lovingly suggested moving Xander to his own bed (no joke, I wept over a pillow, thinking it was my son, whom I had suffocated by accidentally rolling over in my sleep. CRAZY MAKING.).

Eventually, I adapted, because Xander forced me to. We introduced bottles and formula, because he was sick without them. He took a pacifier, even though I didn’t want him to have one, because it calmed him down when my body couldn’t. He got used to going to sleep with me or John, with nursing or a bottle, so that without much work on my part, he was going down relatively easy (for a baby, which is NEVER that easy) and sleeping decently in his own room. He still woke to eat well past a year, but I didn’t mind warming up a bottle once in the night. It was fun to snuggle him.

With Luna, well, I still had things I wanted, but I was much more aware that it wasn’t entirely up to me. I wanted to breastfeed, and despite a temporary blip, there, we’ve done so almost exclusively. (And, for the record, I’m almost thankful for that little scare because she will now take a bottle of formula without batting an eye so, should she need to, I can be away from her for more than 2 hours.) We coslept for the first several months, sleeping side by side, her little mouth millimeters away from her favorite food source. It worked; I was able to get MUCH more sleep than I was with newborn-Xander.

But, eventually, her bedtime moved up and I didn’t want to be confined to the bed at 7PM, unable to move lest I disrupt her latch. So we started trying to put her down in her crib for the first portion of the night. I’d nurse her to sleep, then oh so very carefully lay her down, trying not to breathe too heavily, and creep out of the room. Inevitably, she woke up 20 minutes later, screaming, and I’d have to do it again, only this time would take longer. And the next time even longer.

I was putting her to bed at 7, and not done putting her to bed until 10 or so.

It. Was. Not. Working.

Not ONLY because it was exhausting and frustrating (I was starting to resent her, in all honesty) ,but also because I had no TIME. None.  I work from home, and with two kids (one of whom doesn’t nap), my work is completed either when John doesn’t have class or meetings, or at night. With this marathon bedtime happening, I had to cram all of my day’s work into a few hours before I literally crashed into my pillow, too tired to even say goodnight to my husband.

When it came to sleep training, I hemmed and hawed. I didn’t WANT to. I didn’t want to be unfair or mean to Luna. But the truth was, the current situation wasn’t working for her, either. She was tired. She wanted to sleep.  We tried a modified version of Ferber, but the in and out again just made her more upset, so we stopped and I went back to the three hours of off and on nursing.

Something had to give. My neighbor runs the Troublesome Tots site. She is a perfectly lovely woman and parent, and her kids are happy and well adjusted, despite her willingness to CIO, which I used to feel was on par with solitary confinement. If SHE was supportive of CIO, and if some of my Twitter pals had done so, too, maybe….maybe I should at least TRY it. John and I talked about it and decided to give it a four day run.

On night one, I read Luna a book (well, tried to, but she was rather insistent on just gumming the pages), nursed her, sang her a song, then laid her down and left. She cried for about 11 minutes. John and I had talked about not letting it go TOO long, yet, so I went in, picked her up, and sang her another song until she was calm. Then I put her back down, and she cried, lightly, for one minute. Then she fell asleep. I was EUPHORIC. The next night, it was the same, for the most part. The third night, she bleated for MAYBE two minutes.  We’ve also done it at naps. I sing to her, put her down, and leave. Today she didn’t make a SINGLE peep.

I may be shooting myself in the foot by writing this. But it’s not like she’s sleeping through the night. She still wakes up a few times to eat, and I’m OK with that. And around 4AM, if she wakes, I bring her back to bed, because if I don’t she’ll be up more frequently and I don’t get any more sleep and I am NOT a good 4AM riser.

I think I got lucky with two things. One, I think she is a tension decreaser (go click on that link, Moxie’s explanations about decreasers and increasers is wonderful and SO HELPFUL). She wasn’t at first, at all. I tried this once before, to see what would happen, and she got so upset that it took forever to calm her down (and it was only for 10 minutes, not, like, an hour; now I think she was just too young for it at the time I tried). And two, I think that I am at a sweet spot, age wise, for transitions. She’s not so young that being on her own is a traumatic and scary thing, like it is at 3 or 4 months. That’s still REALLY young. (When I tried it at 3 months, it wasn’t to sleep train her, it was to just see whether or not she would amp up or calm down – I was hoping to get an idea of her temperament.)  But she’s also not so old that she’s “addicted” to our old method (for the record, I don’t buy into the “addicted” idea of nursing to sleep as a coverall for all babies.).

So, there you go, more words than you ever needed or wanted to read on someone else’s baby’s sleep habits. But I wanted to write this so that anyone else out there who feels guilty for even considering breaking your previously held tenants on sleeping for the sake of your health, sanity, relationships, or happiness….well, don’t feel guilty.

I say that I let Luna Cry It Out, but honestly, she has barely cried. It is worth TRYING. I’m not talking about locking the door while your newborn screams inconsolably for hours while you binge on Hershey’s kisses and Orange is the New Black. Trust yourself to know when enough is enough. But also trust yourself to know when to try something different. You know your baby. I knew that Luna, and my whole family, needed something to change, and it worked. She is still loved, and happy, and I respond to her needs.  I am also getting a bit more sleep and some more time to be a person outside of my role as “mom.”

We’re all a bit happier for it.

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Xander

I open my eyes, slowly, my lids seem heavier than possible, and listen. I hear his footsteps padding across the hall to our room. I stroke his sister’s soft head as he pushes the door open, she is still latched on, though no longer eating. “Hi Baby Luna,” he whispers. “Hey, Mama. It’s morning!” I smile and try not to be annoyed that he wakes so early, “Yes, angel boy, it’s morning.” He pats the bed. “Come on, let’s get up. You need a hand?”  I watch as his curly head makes its way to John’s side of bed, where he repeats the conversation. “You need a hand, Daddy?”

***

I’m sitting on the couch, nursing the baby. He’s chatting with his trains and lining up his pretend food by size and color. “Hey, Mr. Mama!” He says, breathless with excitement, “you like a banana?” I open my eyes wide with exaggerated happiness. “Yes! I love bananas, Xander!” He laughs. “Oh. Good.” He puts a wooden banana on a plate. “Hey, hey Mama! You like a cookie?” We repeat this until his little plate is too full of wooden food – a banana, a cookie, an egg, some apple pieces, and a rouge section of train track. He carries it with two hands, walking impossibly slow for a two and a half year old. “Mama. Here. I make salad.” He waits with big brown eyes until I take a giant pretend bite and exclaim, “Oh, this is the best salad I’ve ever had!” He laughs again (I’d never stop saying that if it would make him laugh every time). “Mama loves Xander!” he says. And I do.

***

He stops playing right in the middle of changing Charlie the Purple Train’s diaper when he hears the garage door go up. He immediately begins screeching and galloping around the room. “It’s Daddy! It’s Daddy! Daddy’s home! I so happy!” He runs to the top of the stairs and jumps up and down with so much force that the windows actually rattle. When John starts to climb the stairs he screeches again, “DADDY!” John drops his laptop and bends over, “I need a big huggie, Xander, can I have one?” Xander stops dancing. “Yes,” he says after a moment of thought. He laughs loudly when John tosses him into the air.

***

I listen in while John gives him his bath. He explains what each toy is thinking at any given moment, intermittent with protests against washing his hair. (“I no like hair! No hair! The ambilance goes over here!”) When the bath is done, and the pj’s donned, he runs out of his room, blankie in hand and pacifier in mouth. “Hey Mr. Mama! I wanna watch a show.” I feign surprise, even though we do this every night, and I already have his favorite episode of Blue’s Clues cued up on the TV. “Really?” I tease. “Yes! Watch a show with faffie! And Mommy.” He sits next to me while his sister nurses again, and wraps his dimpled fingers around mine. “I hold hand, Mama”

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***

I hear his little voice bleat in the middle of the night. John rushes in because Luna spends the night attached to me. “I need Mama!” he cries. I gently detach Luna so I can trade places with John. In the dark of his room he tries to stop crying. “Mama lie down?” he pleads. I shouldn’t, I know. I should wait until he’s calm and then leave him, awake, to fall back asleep on his own. Instead I gently nudge him over so I can fit on his tiny twin bed. He leans his head against me and I sniff his curls. It doesn’t take long for his breathing to even out, but I stay a little longer. I like the weight of his body leaning against mine. The tickle of his hair on my cheek.  He seems so big during the day. Too big when he tries to “help” me hold Luna – all elbows and knuckles against her soft newness. But here, in the dark, in his big boy bed, in his stripey pj’s, he’s small again. He’s my little boy who just wants his mama a little big longer.

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And so I stay.

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I feel like I need to literally dust this blog off. Luckily it’s not an actual thing and requires no dusting. LONG LIVE THE INTERNET.

Anyway, updating has become this Big Thing in my head that I need to do, and the longer I put it off, the more it looms, and in order to prevent it from becoming this insurmountable task, I’m going old school lazy and giving you bullets. As Xander would say, TAH-HAH!

  • Xander!
    • Xander is, well, about what we expected. He loves Luna. Loves her. “Want to touch the baby Luna!” is a frequent refrain around here. Which is oh so sweet, yes, and also terrifying because TODDLERS ARE CLUMSY GIANTS. I don’t want to give him a total complex, so I let him pet and kiss her, all the while just cringing over her wee, squishy head. He’s also a total and complete ASS with me and John. He’s fully in the terrible twos (yes, I know, “just wait until he’s three!”) and screams over everything, says no to everything, won’t eat unless it’s coated in sugar or in a cracker form, hits us over his timeouts, you know, HE’S TWO.
    • I don’t feel like I’m handing him particularly well, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack: it’s very hard to entertain a toddler while nursing a newborn who always (a.l.w.a.y.s.) wants to nurse, so yeah, we watch more TV than we should. I’m tired and hormonal and tired so, no, I don’t always reply with his screaming “NO! Don’t like mama! Go away!” with an understanding, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re angry, sweetheart, let’s talk about it.”  But I do try to make sure to give him some Xander Only attention each day, and to make sure he gets praise and compliments in addition to the constant “Shhhhh” ing.
  • Luna!
    • Luna is a newborn, so in many ways, there’s little to say about her. She is the poster-child for Dr. Sears’ attachment parenting. She likes: nursing, being worn in the BabyHawk (so she is close to the bewbs), sleeping next to me so she can eat all night long. She doesn’t like: anything else that doesn’t involve the above three things. It’s easier and harder. I know exactly what will calm her down (nursing!), I know she will nap if I put her in the BabyHawk, I know she will cry if I change her or hand her off to John to shower. But it’s also hard because, you know, I have other things to do. Like shower. SOMETIMES. Or read Xander a story, or just go in a quiet room and stare at the walls without anyone TOUCHING ME or NEEDING ME. But I know that it won’t last for very long, so I’m trying to savor what I can and just survive what I can’t and try not to get too smelly.
    • The pediatrician heard a heart murmur at her 2 week appointment, so we are going to the cardiologist later this month to have it checked out. Most likely it is a benign murmur – I have one myself, and will require nothing more than to be observed and recorded and then ignored. I’m still a wee bit nervous about it, obviously, because she is my baby and so little and well, you know. But I’m mostly trying not to think about it until it’s time.
  • John!
    • John is awesomely John and he’s home on Spring Break now (ha ha ha ha – spring! I WISH) which means I’m taking gross advantage of him and not letting him get a moment’s peace. This morning he took Xander out for cupcakes before I lost my everloving mind at the gazillionth rendition of The Wheels on the Bus.
  • Me!
    • Other than smelly! (It’s not THAT bad. I don’t think.) I’m actually pretty good! I was much more of a wreck in Xander’s early days, honestly. Less sleep because I was 1), doing that whole crappy feed AND pump every two hours thing and 2), afraid of co-sleeping. I have not pumped once for Luna – I just feed her when she’s hungry – and I’m much more confident in my own ability to make choices like co-sleeping (and to do so SAFELY, obviously). Sleeping with her next to me (or propped up with her on my chest) means we BOTH sleep much better. I wake up when she needs help latching on, or to be changed, and then we both go back down. Fin. This makes me a much better parent.
    • I’m not super great at leaving the house with both kids – it’s a hugely daunting task – so mostly I don’t. I’m lucky enough that even when John does have work, he’s home often during the day so I can wait for a time when he can watch one or both of them before running to the store. Or I let HIM run to the store.
    • I accepted a teaching job that starts in 2 weeks and I’m not sure that this was a wise choice. It is so hard to find any time at all to do something, let alone something that is actually REQUIRED to get done. But this time, unlike when I was still pregnant/delivering, I’m only taking one class, so hopefully it won’t be too overwhelming.

And that is where we are. Now that I’ve broken the wall of not posting, maybe I’ll be a bit more regular again. But, maybe nott.

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Comparatively

As Baby Day continues to approach (still contracting! still not in labor! still can’t wait to be done and BURN ALL THE MATERNITY CLOTHES!), I’ve been thinking a lot about Xander’s newborn days and infancy and the things I think we did well and the things I want to do differently.

The same:

  • Sleep: John (JS is John, OK? Can I just call him John, now? The nickname was from an old blog and I transferred it and now it’s confusing because I only use it sometimes so, JOHN. HI!) and I took turns sleeping with Xander on our chest out on the couch. This allowed one of us to get a few decent stretches of sleep in, since, like most newborns, Xander slept better when he was on one of us.
  • Babywearing: This is both a different and the same one. I wore Xander a lot, especially when he was miserable and fighting naps, and it was lovely – he’d conk out within a block of walking around and sleep for hours. I want to do this again, only more of it. The appeal this time around is also that I can wear LB while playing with Xander.
  • Bottles: We used them. We loved them. It let me get out of the house without worrying too much about when I’d be back (I still had to pump, but, still).
  • Swaddling: Dude. Miracle blanket now and forever (of course, THIS baby will hate being swaddled, because of course she will).
  • Routine: I was pretty good about getting Xander on a “routine” quickly. (I say it was me, when really it was 90% him and 10% me paying attention) and this helped everyone in the house.
  • Solids: I did a combo of making baby foods and baby-led weaning. This worked out great and until he hit the picky toddler phase, he ate EVERYTHING.
  • Diapers: We started cloth around 5 months (?), but always had disposables on hand for emergencies, or if I was just too damn lazy to wash them. I liked the low key approach.

Different:

  • Breastfeeding: Ha ha. This is a long one. For one, I will be looking IMMEDIATELY for any signs of a tongue tie because NO NO NO. That was horrible. Also, I was so unprepared last time, in a way. I thought “I am breastfeeding, so I don’t need formula.” And my milk took 5 days to come in and Xander was dehydrated and I was a hot mess because DUH – he needed FOOD, my GOD. My take this time: I will give it my very, very best – lactation consulting, the whole nine yards. But I will not pump for months on end, and I will not make myself (or my family) miserable over this. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work.
  • Guilt: Oh, so much guilt. And anxiety. I don’t know if I can 100% control this, but I want to try. I was so stressed about so much that wasn’t worth stressing over, and I felt so guilty any time I didn’t live up to what I thought was the “right” thing.
  • Relaxed: This is, obviously, related, but while we had a general handle on a routine that worked for us, I did not handle it well when Xander decided to deviate. I remember one time, in particular, that I nearly lost my mind because he wouldn’t take his morning nap. Naturally, this was at the age when he started cutting down to one nap, but I was so freaked out that it would RUIN! THE! WHOLE! DAY! and thus night and really, night time fears suck. Everyone wants sleep.

It’s funny that the only solid thing on my different list is breastfeeding. Maybe not, since that’s Such A Big Thing. When I started out writing this post I thought I had a whole laundry list of things I’d do differently. It’s somewhat refreshing to look back and think “hey, I did pretty well!” And my general desire to “do better” can be summed up as “CALM DOWN, CRAZY LADY.”

It helps, of course, that John is who he is and so hands on and willing to do things like convince a wailing infant to drink from a bottle, or sleep with a little sweatbomb on his chest so I can snooze in the bed.  It also helps that I have a mother who takes weeks out of her schedule to come help me. She was invaluable last time, and I’m sure she will be this time, too (especially with helping care for Xander).

I’m 35 weeks today. Who knows how much longer to wait?

 

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Buried in the Sand

Part of me feels like I should write some sort of response to what happened in CT last week. But part of me knows that it’s kind of an impossible task, and many others have said such great things about it already (if that’s even an appropriate word, “great.”) Jonniker wrote a post that pretty much says everything I feel, anyway, so you should go read that.  Last weekend was predictably grim, and I spent much of it either in tears or trying not to hyperventilate during a panic attack. It’s getting better. For me.

So, instead, let’s talk about Xander! Since that’s what this blog is pretty much all about.

Oh, little Xander. He is acting much like a dog before an earthquake, these days. I think it’s the combination of anticipation over Christmas and anticipation over the new baby – that and not having the words to understand or explain that those are his thoughts – but, either way, he is having Some Issues. We’re whining and crying and clinging and demanding up and hugs and coming into our bed in the wee hours and wanting “fafi” (pacifier) when it’s not sleeping time and only eating if we feed him and oh, it’s sad, yes, but also it’s making me INSANE. I don’t want him to be afraid of all the changes, but I can understand why he is. I want to be sensitive to his feelings and insecurities and whatever, but I also want him to just STOP WHINING FOR ONE MINUTE OMG.

(Though, I must admit, I do kind of love the early morning visits. Normally it’s just a bit before “normal” wake up time, anyway, so we just snuggle in Big Bed for half an hour or so, and it’s pretty glorious.)

Honestly, we haven’t talked to him a TON about new baby. I mean, he knows, but we don’t bring it up constantly or point out every single way things will change in just 8 weeks (EIGHT WEEKS HOLY HELL). We talk about baby sister in mama’s belly, and where baby sister’s room is, and we have a few books about being a big brother, and he has a baby doll he likes to strip naked and force feed a bottle via her eye ball. But, you know, while 8 weeks seems so very soon to us, it’s incredibly far away for a toddler. He knows Gram will be coming to play and help Mommy when the baby is born, he knows that baby will sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s room at first. And that’s about it. I don’t feel like he understands any more than that.But he definitely SENSES more than that.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m ruining his little life forever, even though he is such a big reason we wanted a second child in the first place. Siblings! They’re great! I had a great Twitter chat with other recent moms to second kids that made me feel exponentially better about it, though the guilt does creep back in. I remember preparing for Xander, and how many “pet and baby” articles suggested decreasing attention in the weeks preceding the birth. I somehow feel like this is a crappy approach to take with a human child, though, yes?

So for now I’m snuggling on demand and holding hands and reminding him how much we love him and that he’ll always be our Xander Boy, and that when baby sister comes he’ll STILL be our Xander Boy and we will STILL love him so, so much. If he forgets everything else we talk about, hopefully that message will be the one that sticks.

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