So… Harvey is about to turn 2 and I am still in denial. I know I’ve said this before, but I mean it every time: “I think this is my favorite stage so far!” Seriously though, I loved watching my newborn begin to smile and coo, and then I loved watching my infant turn into a crawling baby. It was so fun watching my cruiser turn into a toddler, and now… it is the MOST FUN ever watching my toddler turn into a little kid!! I’ve been spending a lot of time reminiscing on the baby phase (mostly thanks to timehop on facebook memories) but also because it is the time of year where our lives are about to get very busy and hectic as soccer season starts tomorrow. I’m trying to soak it in, and put memories down on paper.
What’s new with Harv? Well… he’s officially in the so-called “terrible twos” stage. I don’t say that to insinuate that he’s bad, he’s actually quite wonderful (most of the time). I just mostly mean that he says “no” and “I didn’t do that” and tries to test/push the boundaries with us. I’ll admit, I’ve got to step up my mom game when it comes to this because I can’t help but laugh at him. Nick is the “good” parent when trying to actually teach Harvey what he can and can’t do (like jump on the couch or throw his trucks down the stairs). He has such patience and can keep a straight face. I am the one guilty of “encouraging” his hilarious antics (even when they aren’t that hilarious) and I think it is mostly because I am in complete and total awe of everything he can say and do and understand. Like, when Harvey is being disciplined by Nick, he does this funny thing where Nick will ask him, “do you understand me?” and Harvey will go “ma!” it is his little way of showing embarrassment I think? He absolutely understands, he just doesn’t want to acknowledge that he’s in trouble. Eventually, Nick can get him to say “yes daddy” and I am usually standing by trying my hardest not to giggle.
(like father like son)
His language has really taken off these days. He’s always been a good communicator, but lately he’s becoming a conversationalist. He is starting to produce a lot of original thoughts and comments on things, and some of my favorites are when he wakes up in the morning and tells me about his “dreams.” I go in and get him out of his crib in the AM and bring him into our bed so we can snuggle and chat. It is usually just toddler-speak/babble, but sometimes he wakes up and wants to talk about cars. Cars and trucks are his true passion right now. It is hard to find him around the house (or anywhere really) without hotwheels in his little hands or a tonka truck at his feet.
(early morning truck time)
We’ve had a fun winter with him, that’s for sure. The snow days we got were a real treat, and we got to spend some good quality time together as a family, even if Harv didn’t love the snow a whole lot. We’ve had lots of trips to the museum and to sky zone on Saturdays for toddler time (I highly recommend this to my Durham peeps, along with a museum of life and science membership). Another thing I love noting about nug right now is that he has friends. Like, actual friends (not just other kids in the room) who he plays with, talks to, and loves seeing. When Theo and Luke come over, he calls them by name and interacts with them (even if it is just to snatch toys away)! Elliott from daycare is his official BFF – I have to peel them a part at the end of the day when I pick him up. When we leave Ms. Rochelle’s at the end of the day, he usually lists off his friends one by one (over and over again) the whole ride home while he’s telling me about his day. My favorite pronunciation is of Annabelle’s name – Harvey still maintains that you say it, “E-Belle.” ❤
(harv and theo at the museum)
Update on my life: this spring is going to be crazy!! Soccer season is always something I look forward to, and I am going to attempt to finish my national board certification on top of that! I’m running a half marathon and a 10-miler in April – so keep your fingers crossed that goes well! I also wanted to add something here for you all. Last night, I posted an Instagram with an update on my progress towards being a happy and healthy and “whole” person. I’ve gotten SO. MUCH. POSITIVE. Feedback from that and I just want to thank my community and support system for those words and affirmations. In my post, I reference this term that my therapist and I came up with called my “imaginary belly” and I wanted to elaborate a little to that. This term is not one I used in a literal or physical sense. It is a metaphor for my “baggage” and all that comes with breaking the “stigma” of having an eating disorder and being open/honest about it. It’s a reference to the idea that I carry the “weight” of this struggle and the way I used to try and hide it and/or fight it silently. Ever since I’ve made the decision to discuss this struggle and my journey, that “load” that I carry has only gotten lighter… and I continue to feel grateful for my blessings and for my people. 🙂
Life is short. I lost a coworker this weekend. He was a good man, a good teacher, a good coach, and a good father. It was sudden, and unexpected, and it has affected a lot of us here at school in many different ways. I can’t stop thinking about his family, and feeling lucky that I have the chance to keep waking up every day and loving mine. Let people in. Share yourself with them, and let them share themselves with you. We only get so many trips around the sun, and I intend to fill mine with as much laughter and joy as possible.
Well… that about sums it up! I tried to find some recent photos of our winter activities, and will update you all again after Harv’s birthday party. He is having an Easter egg hunt-themed birthday and we can’t wait to watch the kiddies try and find the eggs (or more likely just wander around the yard). Coming up this spring: potty training a little boy, first edition. Details to be released upon completion… aka pray for us, y’all! Haha!
It feels so weird to write this, because we are 6 months away from having an actual 2-year-old “little boy”… what?!! Entering into the official toddler months/years has been the most fun and rewarding phase thus far. Don’t get me wrong – newborns are adorable, and crawling babies are fascinating, but I think Nick and I both agree that having a walking, talking, parrot in our house is the absolute BEST!! He literally learns multiple new things every single day. Let me try and capture a few of these things I’m talking about:
The first and funniest place to start is with Moana. Most of you already know this from my Facebook posts and snapchats… but to say that Harvey is obsessed with Moana is an understatement. He asks to watch it every morning. He wakes up, snuggles, asks for milk, and then immediately asks for “Nonnana.” He knows the words, smiles while he sits there and watches it, and he even… wait for it… SINGS THE SONGS!! He knows that Moana is supposed to help Maui “restore the harp (heart).” When we try to put on other cartoons, he will not accept substitutes for his true love, Moana. We might have to incorporate this obsession into our Halloween costume plans…
Some other things that I’m really loving these days are all the questions he asks on a daily basis. And all of the matter-of-fact type statements. He says things like, “Can I have that? What is that? What is this?” and the super cute things like, “I want this”, “I need this”, “I want some mulp (milk)”, “I want a boop (book).” He loves to talk about the different body parts he knows – he will point out his feet, nose, ears, eyes, belly button, etc. I would say the thing that we laugh at the most, and we probably shouldn’t laugh at… is the S word. Here’s the funny part – we don’t think he’s actually saying sh**… he is saying “sit” as in “sit down” because that’s what we tell him every time he comes to the top of the stairs, but it definitely sounds like the bad word! And I think we encourage it when we giggle at him. 🙂
He is very pleased with himself recently, especially when it comes to climbing, running, and exploring. He goes up and down the stairs with ease, climbs on the couch and treats it like a trampoline park, and loves finding sticks and rocks on the ground wherever he goes. He likes to throw balls with daddy (future athlete maybe). At night, when we ask for kisses, he does a “kissing contest” with us, where he goes back and forth between the two of us, to see who will give him kisses the longest! It is the sweetest thing, and definitely makes me feel loved. One other thing I would like to add (before I forget) is that right now we are going through what I hope is a short-lived phase of waking up SUPER early. I am not exactly sure why it is happening… but sometimes he will get up as early as 4:00 AM… and it is basically torture for us, especially because he’s been sleeping from 7:30 PM to 5:30 AM for a solid year now. Fingers crossed that this does not last!!!
Update on me: for those of you who don’t know, I’ve decided to run the Bull City Half Marathon on October 22nd! This has been one of the best decisions I’ve made for personal reasons in a long, long time. I FEEL AMAZING. Like, I wake up every day, and feel good about my health and my body. A few months ago, I had an annual check-up, and it didn’t go super great. I was a bit overweight, my blood pressure was really high, I fainted when they took my blood, and honestly, I just wasn’t feeling that well on a day-to-day basis (headaches, fatigue). I realized that I couldn’t keep using my family/personal stress as an excuse and I decided to change it up a bit with exercise and smarter dietary habits, and I’m so glad that I did. My blood pressure is normal, my weight is normal, I am in shape for the first time in 5 years, and I feel like my overall “heart happiness” is at an all-time high. For the first time since I found out I was pregnant, and had a big revelation there, I feel like an average 28-year-old woman who thinks about her health in the long-term more than her eating disorder in the short-term. It is pretty incredible how physical exercise (conducted in a safe way) can open the pathway to better mental health. Wish me luck as I continue to train over the next few weeks!
What else is new you might ask? Well, we are having some housework done which is exciting and stressful at the same time. We got new doors, new gutters, had the house painted, and we are getting new columns in the front – so stay tuned for updates with that! I do have to say that I am extremely grateful to have Nick around for things like this. He is very good at paying attention to detail and being assertive when it comes to paying people for the quality of work they are doing. When it comes to things like this, I am the brains behind the idea and the design, and then he is the paperwork and “muscle”, if you will. Speaking of Nick, for those of you who don’t know, he got a promotion at work (which is fantastic) and that comes with a lot of new stress and responsibility for him. I am so proud of all his hard work, and his ability to balance that work life with dad life. He remains the most wonderful daddy to Harvey – taking care of him each morning when I go to school early, and he is the reason the wheels of our family and life keep turning. I would be lying if I said our busy work and family lives didn’t take a toll on our “relationship life”… I mean, come on right? It’s hard to find time to go on a date night and to be nice to each other (all of the time) when everybody is stressed – but we make it work (most of the time) and I am grateful for his love and support.
That’s all for now – I will check back in when our house work is done! Until next time… Truth. Love. Honesty. ❤
So back in March, we booked a summer getaway to Colorado, thinking it would be a fun, relaxing trip to go somewhere new for us both, and take advantage of Harvey still being free to fly. At that time Harvey was just shy of a year old and just starting to walk. We didn’t have a clue what we were getting ourselves into. As the spring and summer passed and Harvey fully morphed from a sweet well-behaved cuddly baby into a biting, running, throwing, hitting, screaming, demanding wombat, I was certainly feeling some apprehension towards the impending trip. We can’t get Harvey to stay put in one room of our house for more than 5 minutes, how will we get him to sit on our of our laps for a 3 hour flight? He’s so drilled into his 5:30 EST wake up time, does that mean he’ll wake up at 3:30AM every morning we are there? Are there enough veggie straws in the whole state of Colorado to pacify Harv for 9 days? What if he starts having a fit when we are out to eat? What if he gets another ear infection while we are out there? Will we even have a fun time?
The answers would turn out to be: 1) through snacks, Moana, but mostly brute force and ignoring the squealing and jeering eyes of fellow passengers 2) more like 4:30AM 3) plenty of veggies straws, but more importantly plenty of open spaces to roam 4) that’s when you have to tag-team it – one in, one out 5) fortunately, he didn’t 6) Yes, we had an absolute blast, and made memories Sarah and I will never forget, and took lots of pictures to show Harvey one day.
Don’t get me wrong, when we both work full-time, being with each other, let alone Harvey for 9 days, uninterrupted was definitely a change from our typical routine – and there were some rather stressful moments. On a few occasions we would have loved to drop him off at childcare, so we could have fully enjoyed a meal, beer or a conversation without the constant distraction that is having a one-something year-old. But, we found time to do things we love, found fun things for Harvey, and overall felt so extremely thankful for each other and our life. We were able to notice things with Harvey and witness his growth in ways I don’t think we would have without the dedicated family time. While I had planned to fully day-by-day document all we did, it didn’t happen. I tried for the first day or so, but it just became overwhelming and not what I wanted to do at the end of a jam-packed day of vacation. So, instead, I’ll simply leave a list of some of the highlights/most-memorable moments and pictures from the trip.
Visiting dear friends we don’t get to see enough – Matt & Liza, Whitney & Nate, Amanda & Jonathan
Lots of gorgeous hiking
Bear Lake, Dream Lake, & Emerald Lake at Rocky Mountain State Park
One of my favorite hikes of all time, even on an overcast day.
East Inlet Trail/Adam’s Falls at Rocky Mountain State Park near Grande Lake
A beautiful trail, made all the more scenic by the family of Elk having a drink
Mount Sanitas Trail in Boulder
A spectacular view of the city, but I was always remember it for how hot and exhausted I was carrying Harvey straight up the side of the mountain, coupled with the smell of Elwood’s poop in Matt’s backpack.
Flatirons Vista Trail in Eldorado Springs – easy trail right next to where we were staying with great views of enormous wind mills at the National Wind Technology Center.
Ceran St. Vrain Trail – A nice trail along on a beautiful river, down the street from Whitney & Nate’s new house
Lily Lake – Nice like 3/4 loop on a gorgeous lake
Driving along Trail Ridge Road – A road along the side of a mountain, with very few guardrails, and an endless drop over the edge. Most terrifying, yet exhilarating driving experience of my life.
Delicious Food & Beer
Vine Street Pub & Brewery – Yummy, kid-friendly place in Denver. Leave the card at home – cash or check only, or they’ll send you a bill in the mail
Rock Cut Brewery – Awesome Estes Park Brewery – Interference IPA was a winner.
New Belgium Brewery – I think we preferred Asheville’s, but loved that we were only people on the tour that had been to both! Our guide was jealous.
The Mountain Café – Fort Collins brunch spot. Not much to look at, but the best breakfast burrito of my life.
Odell Brewery – Great brewery in Fort Collins, lots of run around space for Harvey, who made a friend that shared his exact same birth date.
Estes Park Brewery – Loved this place. Been making beer for over 20 years and they keep it simple, not a lot of fancy stuff – more for locals than tourists. Best pizza I’ve had in some time.
Avery Brewing Company – One of Boulder’s most famous breweries. We got there nice and early to beat the rush and were totally blown away by both the food and beer.
Centro/Bar Taco – A couple of delicious Mexican spots across from one another in Boulder. Harvey made it through about half of dinner at Centro and exactly zero at Bar Taco.
Wild Wood Brewery – We noticed lots of breweries in industrial parks all around Colorado. This was one of them, in Boulder, and a great spot with a sweet garage door open just enough for Harvey to crawl under. Favorite was the S’mores Stout.
Hapa Sushi – Simply delicious sushi spot in Boulder.
Upslope Brewery – Loved their beer both in a can and on draft! Their Pale Ale was a favorite,
Beau Jo’s Evergreen – Stumbled upon this pizza lunch buffet place on our way out of town. Great find!
Mary’s Lodge – Our home in Estes Park
Gorgeous view of Prospect Mountain
Our free upgrade to suite with a 2nd
Holzwarth Historical Site – An early 20th century dude-ranch.
Alluvial Fan – Awesome rock formation along a stream in RMNP. We kept trying to give Harvey the chance to run around, but all he wanted to do was jump in the stream which was probably 40 degrees.
Moana – I can’t believe it costs $20 to download a movie, when DVDs are about half that price, but it is true. Still, so worth the money. Whether it was on the plane or while we were out to eat, Moana had the ability to pacify a restless Harvey unlike anything else.
The Great British Baking Show – Perfectly relaxing, predictable reality TV, where everyone is super nice and very British. Great way to spend an hour before bed each night on vacation.
Harvey talking – During the trip he started to speak in short sentences, sounding like the Swedish chef. “These blueberries” sounds like “deesch bwuberriesh”. “It’s a doggie” sounds like “Isha dogesh”. “Sit” sounds like… well, hopefully he was just saying “sit”… Also learned the meaning of “hot” and whispered “walk” into my ear as we hiked through RMNP. The best though, him yelling repeatedly “I LOVE YOU!” the loudest he could as we drove around.
Swimming & going down the slide at the El Dorado Springs Swimming Pool – opened since 1905, and fed by a constant flow from an artesian spring with a beautiful mountain back drop.
Driving through residential Boulder while Harvey napped in the backed. The houses were completely unique and gorgeous and also unbelievably expensive.
Constantly being surrounded by natural beauty – Especially in Boulder, where you can’t believe the natural beauty around you in the middle of a city. It is so open feeling, with a breathtaking mountainous backdrop. I could see how people get very used to that view.
It’s been a very fun two months for us here in Durham since Harvey’s first birthday. I feel like he is turning into a little boy right in front of our eyes, and there is nothing I can do to stop time in its tracks! He picks up new words and mannerisms daily, and has really turned in to quite the comedian. By that I mean, he really will sit in front of a group and try to make them laugh! He has several faces, giggles, and “fake laughs” that he will try, as well as a new “surprised face” he will pull out when he’s feeling extra funny. I feel as if writing these memories down is the only way I can hang on to these moments. New ones come in every single day, and I want to remember what he did and when he did it!
The language and speech acquisition is the most incredible thing to me. Harvey now has 30+ words that Nick and I can recognize, as well as his daycare provider and our close family. His new words (in addition to the ones he’s been saying for months) include: please, nana (banana), Pop, Lolli, Papa (as in Papa G), he’s working on Mimi (sounds like mm mm), milk, book, up, stop, Harvey (sounds like “ee ee”), Elliot (sounds like Ellie), poop… and honestly, he has a lot more, I just can’t think of them right now! He will repeat anything you say to him – he said “Bye, Lindsay” this morning at daycare! (I know you all think this is impossible, but truly… he says it clear as day). I think the most exciting part for me is that he actually understands these words. He listens to “no” and “stop” and says “thank you” quite frequently when we give him things. He says “hi” to any person who walks in the room, and knows when to say “bye bye” to people before they say it to him.
I know every parent thinks this about their own child, but to us… he is brilliant. He LOVES books. He will sit in your lap and listen to a story, while pointing to the pictures. He even takes the book into his own hands and practices “reading” it to us. I expected my child to be bright… but I did not expect him to be putting two words together at 14 months!! We are working on body parts these days, and he can correctly identify “nose” and “belly button”, which is adorable. It is only a matter of time before the questions about life, the world, and all sorts of random things start rolling in. Nick says he can’t wait to answer them, so when we were at Costco last weekend, I started testing him, ha – I asked a series of “two-year-old questions” so that he could start brushing up on his skills. 🙂
Harvey’s other new activities include climbing stairs, pointing, running, headstands, and getting into EVERYTHING he can find. He has five teeth, weighs 24 pounds and is around 31 inches long. He has jumped to the 85% for length, and remains on the 75% growth curve for weight. What a healthy boy! Other than the occasional ear infection, we continue to feel blessed with good health and a smart baby. He likes to play in his little blue pool, ride his red tricycle around the neighborhood, and really just play outside any chance he can get. Oh, and he loves to unload/load the dishwasher. He even dropped a plate on the floor the other week, and when it broke, he was very upset!! Now that soccer season is over, I get to spend more afternoon time with him, which I truly cherish. I go in to pick him up, and he flashes his big smile at me and says, “hi, mama!”… my heart bursts every time. He then asks for a “hug” and throws his body into my arms. I can’t wait for summer with him!! We are going to the beach, to Camp Mikell, and to Colorado. In addition to these fun trips, he will get to spend a lot of time with family and friends, and new babies in our life. How did we get so lucky? ❤
Last year I wrote a blogpost to the mothers in my life that I look up to. I loved having the opportunity to express my gratitude and admiration for them, because they are the reasons that I know anything about being a mom. I think I want to make this a tradition, because I could never write enough words to express all of the feelings I have about motherhood and my dear friends and family who raise such beautiful children. This year, with a little more than a year of motherhood under my belt, I have an opportunity to write a letter to my friends who became mothers for the first time over the past few months. I have been blessed to know each of these women as friends, and now I am even more blessed to raise my baby alongside theirs.
Marissa, the moment I met Theo at the hospital for the first time, I burst into tears. You remember, don’t you? I flat out sobbed!! I think that seeing your new little bundle of joy, fresh out of the oven, was so overwhelming for me because it brought me right back to those same feelings and emotions I had in the hospital with Harvey. You have been rocking this motherhood thing, and I want you to know how much I have enjoyed our friendship throughout this process. I look forward to our stroller walks so very much, and truly love how comfortable I am discussing “new mom things” with you. I think you deserve an award for all of the hours you’ve spent listening to me talk about leaky boobs and diaper rash, haha! I love all of the advice and hints you’ve shared with me these past few months, and I can’t wait to see the friendship between our boys grow. Also, just in case you haven’t been told recently, you are a freaking badass for buying a house, giving birth, raising a newborn, and GETTING YOUR DOCTORATE all in the same year!! Theo and Patrick are lucky to have you, lady! ❤
Lindsay, a memory that will stick with me forever is the picture I saw of you smiling right before you went in the O.R. to have Luke. I think I love this image so much because it sums up your personality and mothering skills all in one frame. You make it look easy, girl. Right from the start, things didn’t happen the way you had planned, but it didn’t phase you one bit. You jumped right in to motherhood, head first, and I don’t quite know if Luke will ever understand what your dedication and hard work has done for him in these early months of his life. I love how much you shower my child with affirmations and sweetness, and how much you pour yourself into your work at Duke. It takes a special kind of woman to do the work that you do, and yet, your heart overflows with kindness for your family and friends after a day at the hospital. How do you do it?!! When I walk through the door at Rochelle’s I LOVE seeing your boy’s squishy face, and I think to myself every single time how grateful I feel that Harvey and Luke get to spend their days together. I look up to you so much, and I hope that you have a beautiful first Mother’s Day! ❤
Jenn, the day Annabelle was born, I was too excited to work. In fact, I took the day off to get out my nervous excitement by cleaning your house and organizing your closet (the way I used to when we were in college)! I couldn’t stop crying all day! As I drove to Duke Regional last week, tears streamed down my face the entire way… MY BEST FRIEND JUST HAD A BABY!!! You are in the newest phase of life with your sweet baby girl, and I wish I could bottle these moments up for you because they go so fast. The way she smells now, and noises she makes now, the way her diapers don’t stink yet… it is over in the blink of an eye! I know you are going to soak it up! Also, you deserve a trophy after that incredible labor and delivery…27 hours, and a 9lb4oz baby is nothing to sneeze at! You are a week into it, and you’re already an amazing mama. When I think of the strong women in my life, you are at the top of the list. I think of you now when I hear this quote, “To the strong women in our life: May we know them, May we be them, May we raise them”! Also, the thought of getting to see little AB at Rochelle’s every day brings a smile to my face! The boys can’t wait! ❤
Mamas, this is what we do. We lift each other up and let each other know that we are all in this together. You all deserve the best mother’s day ever, as do all the moms out there! I look up to you all in so many ways, and I am honored to call you my friends! xoxo
This is the piece that I wrote for my Listen To Your Mother audition, and was honored to have been selected to share it with you all on stage last week! Thank you to all of my family and friends who came to support me! ❤
Most women know that when they have their first child, the relationship they have with their own mother is going to change. Some women complain about the unwanted “advice” their moms give them, and some women are grateful for the time their moms take to help them with a newborn baby. Overall, I think I speak for most ladies when I say that the bond created between a mother and a daughter after childbirth is one unlike any other. To understand what it means to love another human life more than you love your own, and to understand what your mother went through to have you, well… that feeling is indescribable unless you’ve lived it.
For me, things were a little bit different. The day my son was born, I did not only become a mother, I became a daughter. Of course, yes, I’ve always been a daughter, but not in the traditional sense. In fact, I had already been a mother for quite some time if you want to know the honest truth. I was a mother to my brothers long before I was a mother to my own baby. My mother and I had more of a “friend to friend” relationship when I was a teenager and young adult, rather than a mother/daughter one… which is what it can be like to be the child of an alcoholic.
I learned to “mother” my siblings very well when I was in high school. I would take my two younger brothers to soccer practices, I would pack their lunches, and I would sign their parent permission slips. I would schedule their doctors and dentist appointments, make sure they had a ride home from a friend’s house, and keep the grocery lists up-to-date. I even filled out one of my brothers’ college applications! These weren’t really things that bothered me at the time because I truly didn’t know anything different. I knew my parents were loving, and I knew they were proud of me.
The first time my mom said “I am an alcoholic” out loud, I was a sophomore in college. Among some other very drastic life changes that included my parents getting a divorce, she told us that she was going to 12-step meetings. I was so happy with this news. Finally, I was going to get my mom back. I even went over to the local tattoo shop in Chapel Hill and put “One Day” on my wrist as a reminder of that feeling. But, by the time I came home for Thanksgiving break, she had fallen off the wagon for the first time, and my feelings of frustration, resentment, and sadness were growing. My mom was in pain, and I was in pain, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to cure it or to control it.
After going to treatment a few times, and continuing to build her support network in the recovery program, I could slowly see my mom coming back to me. The ways in which her alcoholism affected my life were deeper than I had realized at first, and would continue to be for a long time. When she first started talking to me about working the 12 steps, and who she needed to make amends to, I wasn’t ready for it. The day she asked for my forgiveness, I said all of the right words, but I wasn’t ready to give it. I think I was afraid that she would let me down again, that this time wouldn’t stick. Today, my mom has been sober for 6 years, 9 months, and 20 days, (not that anyone is counting!) and she has been a Mimi for a little more than a year. I am grateful for every single second.
When Harvey was born, my mom came to Chapel Hill for the occasion. I was hesitant to ask her at first, because I just wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I had never done the whole “pushing a baby out” thing, and I didn’t know what kind of mojo I would need in the room. As it turns out, in the heat of the moment, I wanted my mom there.
I needed her support and nursing skills, and I think that having her with me while my baby entered this world was one of the single most significant events that either one of us has ever experienced. She has been the sweetest Mimi in the world, and Harvey is going to grow up knowing her for who she really is: a warm, loving, smart, and caring woman who has a heart that’s bigger than this room.
Now that I have my own child, and I have officially entered the newest chapter of my life, I feel ready to accept my mom’s amends. I feel like we have had an opportunity to start over, and I know not everybody gets one of those. I feel a renewed strength in our relationship and our ability to bond over my child. There is a new truth to the way we interact with each other. I do not regret my life up to this point, you see, I would not be the teacher, coach, wife, mama, or friend that I am today if it weren’t for my experiences thus far. If it weren’t for my mom and her new sense of self through sobriety, I wouldn’t understand the concept of beauty within our imperfections. I know that in her heart of hearts, my mom has loved me and wanted the best for me my entire life. The “Big Book” describes Step Nine as follows: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” it says, “we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.” The day I became a mother, I also became a daughter. The day I became a mother, I forgave my own mother. The day I became a mother, I also gained a mother.
What’s New: Harvey brought us lots of new gifts this holiday month. He finally had a tooth pop through! So many times before, during times of mild fussiness or malcontentness, we had said “oh, he must be teething”. Then over a Friday and Saturday he was a real mess. Slightly feverish, very grumpy, fussy, and constantly pulling at his mouth and ear. Surely, this HAD to be his first tooth coming through? Sure enough, during a morning breastfeed, Sarah screamed in pain. “That hurt!” She put her finger in his mouth, and sure enough the long awaited tooth had popped through overnight! Harvey, has also taken to crawling this month and we haven’t found that any amount of baby-proofing can guarantee he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t. The days of plopping him down in a boppy while taking even a 2-minute crap in peace are gone. Fortunately, I have two hands, one to wipe with and the other to hold onto his foot.
Harvey’s not quite to standing, but he’s working on it. Here’s a fun video of him trying to do just that.
What’s Working: The biggest development this month was that Harvey started sleeping in his crib through the entire night. This was extremely bittersweet for us, because we really did enjoy our nights with him, and waking up next to him in the morning. Co-sleeping was a hugely defining part of our life as a threesome, and we do miss it. Harvey had been waking up earlier and earlier, excited by our presence, and it was clear to us he was ready, even if we weren’t sure if we were. We decided one day to just “pull the band-aid” so to speak, “Cry it out” understandably has a bit of an negative connotation as a method of sleep training, but that’s basically what we did. When one o’clock came, and Harvey started crying, we just didn’t retrieve him. That first night, he cried several times, from 15 – 30 minutes each. It was rough, but we made it through. After just a few nights, he slept through without crying. We were both rather shocked it wasn’t more difficult. I’ve also been unpleasantly surprised, that with Harvey’s move to the crib, I haven’t been able to go back to my pre-baby restful 8 hour nightly slumbers. I wake often throughout the night, sometimes because I hear Harvey in the next room… and sometimes because I don’t!
What’s Worrying: Now that Harvey is crawling, he’s like our own Roomba. Anything he is able to find be it toys, dustballs, fuzz or crumbs, he tries to eat. Sometimes he’s successful. With any new phase for Harvey, there seems to be a corresponding anxiety for me along with it, and my fear of him choking right now is extreme. The phrase “it’s all a wing and prayer”, one of my mom’s favorites all these years, is really resonating.
Favorite Memory: We took Harvey to see Santa. We did this 100% for our own amusement and entertainment, obviously, as Harvey certainly won’t ever know the difference. We had to wait an hour and it cost $20, but was well worth it. Harvey did not disappoint and hammed it up.
What’s New: It seemed like as soon as Harvey started crawling, next thing we knew he was also pulling up and cruising. Some of his favorite things to practice on are the couch, the coffee table, his crib, his toy shelf, and mommy and daddy’s legs. He loves to crawl all over us and tossing him back and forth is one of our favorite past times. We are now also feeding him two to three actual food meals per day . He is a curious little dude, always on the move. I often think back to the days where we could sit him down and he’d stay, but no longer. It can be quite exhausting having to constantly monitor and watch his every move! Making up for all the exhaustion is that he very affectionate and frequently gives his mama and I kisses. It’s sloppy.
What’s Working: We can’t eat anything these days without Harvey making it clear that he wants in on the fun. So, we’ve just started obliging. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been giving him two to three meals a day, and for the most part we just give him what we eat. It’s a blast watching him try all kinds of foods for the first time, and giving him what we eat, makes the preparation that much easier. Additionally, seeing how well he does with food has really helped me curb the fear of choking I mentioned last month. When he really can’t swallow something (as I learned the hard way when I tried to share some Kale salad with him one time), he gags and spits the food out, and that’s simply the body doing what it was designed to do. Harvey loves pasta, especially spaghetti, which he loves to slurp up. See a video below of him and his mama lady-and-the-tramping it.
What’s Worrying: Donald Trump. Yeah, I’m going there. I’m completely sick over this past election and it has no doubt effected my ability to be the best parent I want to be. As a means of getting through the next 4 years, I made a pledge to myself to focus more on local politics, helping the earth and others through volunteering, and supporting quality journalism. While, I have been doing those things (though not to the extent I’d like just yet), with Trump’s inauguration this month, it’s frankly hard to feel good about anything. Most of you reading this probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’ll do my best to explain.
Sarah and I made the choice to try and become pregnant very deliberately (winky face) and we had several reasons. Of course there was plenty of vanity in wanting a little carbon copies of ourselves. But also, because of our own luck and circumstance we have a very comfortable life with the means to provide a safe healthy and happy home for children. We also have a lot of love to give. We thought our child would inhabit an earth capable of sustaining itself. We thought our child would have every opportunity in this world regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. We thought our child would see a world where truth is validated and recognized, and knowledge revered. We thought our child would see a world where people not only look out for themselves, or families, or people who look and think like them, but all of their fellow humans. I no longer have confidence Harvey will know the world his mother and I had pictured for him. But we are more determined than ever to teach him through our own example and community. So thankful for Durham.
Favorite Memory: Sarah got me the perfect gift for Christmas – a backpack for wearing Harvey while we hike. For the first hike, we decided to go to our favorite, the Eno River. Harvey loved it! He spent the first half of the hike staring off into the wooded scenery. The second half he snoozed, laying his face forward. The facial reaction of the fellow hikers was quite amusing, as they ranged from awe, to hilarity, to genuine concern. Looking forward to putting many miles with the pack and our family.
Month Eleven – Harvey the Porcupine
Harvey Nickname: Harvey E-NO! (As in – Is there anything you won’t get into?)
What’s New: Play-time with Harvey is super fun these days. He’s standing on his own now, has four teeth, and is super curious about everything. He loves to play catch, play with all kinds of toys and mimic our words and noises. That’s the good part. The bad is, he seems to require even more attention and focus on our part than ever before to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. Even though he’s stopped trying to eat everything quite as much, he just wants to get into everything – cabinets, toilets, drawers, trashcans. Needless to say, there are lots of bumps and bruise these days.
I’ve been realizing that with a lot of “firsts” its actually hard to pinpoint the exact time something happens. Did he just say that word? Does he know what he’s saying? He’s saying enough words now that we realized we had never really knew what his first word was. We retroactively decided it was “dog” , since that was the first word he said on his own and seemed to know what he was saying at least. What has also been interesting to me is that everything isn’t totally linear. He might say something one day, and then have no interest the next. One day he’s standing on his own and looks like he’s about to take a step and the next he has to hold onto something. The one thing that has been totally constant, is his ever growing obsession with his penis since its initial discovery a few months ago. Between his wiggles and desire to grab his jewels, changing him has become quite the task, particularly with just one person.
Harvey saying “neng neng neng”. No idea what it means, but one of our favorites.
What’s Working: Harvey’s play area. Thanks to generous friends and family, we’ve stockpiled quite the toy collection. In the carpeted downstairs, it’s Harvey’s territory. Its the one part of the house that is basically baby-proofed. If we need to fold some clothes or do some computer work, just chromecast some Sesame Street, plop Harvey down there, and he’s got all kinds of activities to chose from and can’t get into any mischief. We’ve also had some of our favorite family memories together playing together in this room – learning how to use his toys, playing catch, and practicing to walk with his toy walker.
What’s Worrying: On the one hand, I am so ready for Harvey to be one – put the bottles, formula and other baby stuff away. On the other, I can’t believe time has slipped away so fast. It sounds and is so cliche, but Harvey isn’t a baby anymore, and it just felt too fast. I am enjoying this time of his life so much, but it is actually quite sad to see pictures of him as a newborn and feel like I legitimately don’t remember what that was like and can’t relate to it anymore. Part of the reason why I try to take so many pictures, videos and write stuff down I suppose!
The other somewhat tough thing this month is that Sarah went back to coaching soccer for the girls season. To be perfectly frank, the start has been a little rough. For the first time, more than half of the parenting responsibilities have fallen to me, and I’m feeling a lot of resentment. At the end of the day, we talked about it plenty before hand, I agreed to it, and the biggest actual issue is my attitude. I’m hopeful I can start to relish the extra opportunity I have with Harvey and be grateful. Otherwise, its going to be a long 2 and half months.
Favorite Memory: Two memories stick out to me. One was when Harvey was playing in the living room while I was getting some things together in the kitchen. I could hear him banging some things, and realized I hadn’t heard anything for fifteen seconds or so. I went and checked on him, and he had been banging a tube of Puffs, managed to get them open and had stuffed his mouth completely full. The other was one evening I had Harvey to myself for the night, and right after I got home, I plopped Harvey in front of some toys, and sat immediately on the couch and starting checking emails on my phone. I was distracted and hadn’t really left “work” mode yet and a little disgruntled I was going to have to do nighttime by myself. A few minutes later, Harvey crawled over to me, pulled up on my legs and laid his head gently in my lap and looked up at me. It was the reminder I needed at that moment of how lucky I was, and what was important.
The below, I wouldn’t really call a “favorite” memory, but is certainly a vivid memory from this time period, so I wanted to share.
As I mentioned, with Harvey approaching his first birthday Sarah and I both have been having intense feelings that he’s growing up too fast. This all came to ahead for me while I was having a crown put on my tooth.
A tooth had been bothering me for months and I guess I had assumed it was the result of a recent filling. I finally got it checked out and turned out the problematic tooth, was one that had had a very deep filling when I was as a teenager and it was now starting to deteriorate. I would need a root canal and a crown.
I scheduled the root canal for just a few days later. I really just wanted to get it over with, as I had a root canal due to trauma in middle school which was one of the more traumatic childhood memories for me (story for another day, but probably not). Several times I had to recall the past experience during my current situation and definitely think that played a role in my fragile emotional state (I’m getting to it) following the crown.
The root canal went great. Much shorter and less painful than I remember. The next day I went to my dentist for the crown. He said some words about what he was doing but I wasn’t really paying attention or just didn’t let my brain process them. As he was putting the drill in my mouth I was kind of thinking to myself “What exactly is he doing? Seems like a lot of drilling…” My tongue grazed passed my tooth at one point. I had a moment of panic. It felt like my tooth was barely there. I convinced myself that I had imagined it. The dentist said the drilling was complete and I copped another feel of my tooth with my tongue. My tooth was in fact a little more than a nub.
I was livid. “They just circumcised my tooth against my will!” I thought to myself. I dug into my brain about my prior knowledge of crowns and to what the dentist had said not long earlier. Of course they have to shave down my tooth to have a place to attach the crown. The procedure was medically necessary and I had consented.
My anger turned to sadness. I’m old and my body is failing me. I’m already having parts replaced. Then I remembered my mom who was incessantly telling me I needed to take better care of my teeth so they don’t fall out when I was older and if I had listened to her I wouldn’t be where I am today. Sadness turned to guilt.
Next came thoughts of Harvey. Our nearly 1-year-old, who is the sweetest creature I could ever imagine. But, he won’t always be, and it feels like it’s slipping away too fast. One day even though I know what’s best for him, he won’t listen. And he might have to get a fake tooth one day and pay $1,500 (even with insurance!). My eyes watered and for the remainder of the procedure I wiped tears from my eyes when the dentist looked away. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to notice.
As the dentist was finishing up he said the hygienist would show me how to floss the tooth in such a way that the (3 week) temporary crown wouldn’t come out. “That won’t be necessary” I said, “I think I’ll just take a few weeks off from flossing”. He let out a genuine belly laugh. “Most people aren’t so honest”, he said.
“That’s just how I was raised”, I thought to myself. Harvey will see me and hear me, even if he doesn’t always listen.
Month Twelve – Harvey the Baboon
Harvey Nickname: – Harv (We think this one will stick!)
What’s New: All month long, we just keep saying that it feels like Harvey is turning into a toddler. He gets upset or frustrated and isn’t afraid to let you know. And then he gets distracted and is totally fine. His cry, which used to sound like nails on a chalkboard to my ears, barely phases me anymore. We’ve definitely learned, based on the sound of the cry, to tell when there is something actually wrong and when he’s just being a booty. He took his first actual steps (that we saw) on March 7, and by his first birthday, he was walking regularly, up to 10 steps at a time. Our favorite is his squatting. Up and down he goes, butt never touching the ground. We’ve been transitioning from formula to milk and from bottle to cup. The formula to milk was no problem at all, but ole Harv does not want to let that bottle go! Especially first thing in the morning or right before bed, he will kick and scream if you try give him milk in a cup. Put some in a bottle and its the tastiest concoction he’s ever seen. One of the neatest developments is his apparent understanding of what we are saying or doing. It’s kind of hard to explain or verbalize, but its kind of like a dog. He responds to his name, expresses emotions, and is testing limits. If we tell him not to do something, like open a drawer, his favorite reaction is to stare at us with a smile and slowly do it again. I grab for a wipe, and he starts shaking his head ferociously, knowing I’m coming for his nose. When I pull out a baggie of veggie straws he lights up, making grabbing motions with his hands, which will shortly devolve into screaming if he doesn’t get any friggin’ veggie straws in his hand right this minute. He’s also big into hugging. When I pick him up at daycare he crawls over to me and gives me a big smile and a hug. Holding him is a two way affair these days as he rests one hand on my chest, and puts the other behind my shoulder. It is truly my favorite thing in the world. Sometimes, when we are apart, I will think about him and have phantom Harvey sensations where I can feel him in my arms. Thankfully, I never have to go that long without seeing him. If he’s anything like I was, the separation anxiety that is starting to rear it’s head is going to be brutal.
What’sWorking: Dermacloud aka “Fanny Cream”. See why this is necessary below. Also, retired grandparents. My dad, or “Pop” these days, retired a couple months ago, and we’ve been able to utilize him several times for childcare. It has been a huge help! Saving us from having to take time off of work, pay a babysitter, and enabled me to continue the bowling league, even during soccer season.
What’s Worrying: For one, Harvey had his first real temperature this month. He was at Rochelle’s and I got a call that he had a temperature of 103.5. Honestly, I knew a day like this would come, and I had been dreading it. I just didn’t know if I had what it took to take care of my sick child. Rochelle and the doctor both helped keep my mind at ease, and thankfully, it was just an ear infection, which cleared up quickly with antibiotics, and Tylenol kept the fever at bay. This is the video of him I took that morning, thinking it was rather funny, and not realizing he was acting so lethargic because sickness was overtaking him.
I had to make another trip to the doctor just a couple weeks later because Harvey developed some really intense, open-wound, diaper rash. I’ll spare you the picture on this one. It was the third time this happened in the past couple of months (though this was by far the worst). Everyone has an opinion on what is causing it and how to prevent. Not sure we will ever know totally for sure, but we do thing acid in his stool from eating fruit has something to do it. Possibly certain diaper brands as well… For now, we are just limiting fruit and keeping to just the one diaper brand that he used before any issues developed.
Things got a little worse before they got better as far as the soccer stuff goes, but Sarah and I are both feeling good with where they are at. Her team is 11-1-1, so they are playing great. Games are only 2 days a week now – before they were 3 – and that really was tough on both of us… Not quite sure how I did it, but I think I had finally had enough of my moody self and had a much needed attitude adjustment about it. Sarah is doing something she loves, and it makes me very proud, knowing what a difference she makes on so many kids’ lives. And if it means I get to spend some extra one-on-one time with Harvey for a couple months of the year, that is hardly something to be aggrieved about. Everyone knows relationships are hard, with or without kids. Adding a kid to the mix, especially when both parents work full-time and have extra-curricular activities, adds a very predictable strain. For us, planning ahead with things like meal preparation and making detailed schedules really helps keep surprises and frustrations at bay. But, the more you run a relationship and family like a well-oiled machine, spontaneity and passion can wither. I obviously don’t have the answer here. I’m not sure there is one. But if there is, pretty sure it lies somewhere near the intersection of attitude, expectations and communication. I do know that Sarah and I’s relationship has reached levels not possible without Harvey, and we are a better team and partners because of him.
Favorite Memory: I had some very special times with Harvey this month, and have definitely felt like a good dad. Feeding him dinner and entertaining him on the soccer sidelines is actually a real treat. Also, I really tried a few times to get him to drink milk out of his cup. He was throwing a bit of a temper-tantrum one evening over the cup. Mostly hoping he would just copy me, I took a few gulps of the milk from the sippy cup. Harvey started giggling. He then grabbed the cup himself and held the cup to my mouth. He then brought it back down and drank some. Smiled. And back to me again. Whether it’s a cup or bottle, “sharing” his milk with me, or any food really, always makes him smile.
Well, there it is. Harvey is a year old. In some ways it feels like this is the milestone we’ve been counting down to since we brought him home from the hospital and it feels really great, though I can’t help but miss his little baby self sometimes. I look back at who I think I was a year ago and see a lot of differences. I used to feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things that I want to do. Now, I am jealous of all the free-time I used to have back in those days. I used to be pretty stingy dude, some might say. Between all of the gifts and kindness we’ve been shown in the last year, and experiencing new expenses like diapers, childcare, and formula I have not only found more joy in giving, but can’t really afford (pun intended) to worry about where money goes. When my mom says life brings “peaks and valleys” I thought I had an idea what she meant a year ago, but I hadn’t really a clue. Some of the joys I’ve had this past year, were truly unknowable to me, as were the feelings of anxiousness and worry over another living creature’s life that you would gladly roll over and die for. I’ll never forget the feeling when I first held Harvey. It was just the most amazing, most mysterious, and most NEW thing I had ever experienced. This child in my arms. Today, when I hold Harvey, there is nothing new about it. A world without him is so far out of reach from my soul, he just feels completely eternal and inevitable. It’s like I’m holding a perfectly innocent version of myself. There was never a me, without a him, I just hadn’t gotten there yet.