Last night, we got a phone call around 7:45 with the most incredible news I’ve received since 1:14 PM on March 29, 2016.
Nick: Hello this is Nick (as he answered my phone for me and ran up the stairs to Harvey’s room where we were reading a book together).
Sue: Hey there Nick, this is Sue, is Sarah with you?
Nick: Yes!! We are right here together!
Sue: Well, I have some news for you all! Your NIPT results are in. What do you all think this baby is?
Nick: I think it is a girl, but Sarah is leaning towards “boy” right now.
Sue: Well, everything else on the test looks great – the chromosomal tests are negative for abnormality screenings. Are you ready to hear who’s right?
Nick and Sarah: YES YES YES!!!! (Harvey was also yelling YES at this point)
Sue: It looks like Nick is right tonight… it’s a BABY GIRL!!
And there is was. The most wonderful, joyous news. A sweet, little girl to complete our family.
We quickly began facetiming our family to share the news, and their individual reactions full of elation and excitement were the best. Harvey was shouting “baby sister” over and over. I obviously don’t think it has clicked for him yet, but come this March, he will be getting a pretty good idea of what that actually means.
I have so many things running around in my head right now. First, I am nervous. I can’t help feeling a little anxious about this pregnancy, especially because I experienced a chemical pregnancy earlier in the summer. In addition to that, I had some pretty significant spotting in the first few weeks of my pregnancy, which is always scary. I even convinced myself this was not going to work out.
Once I got over that initial stage of fear and stress, I moved into the next phase which is worrying about the baby and whether or not she is going to be healthy and happy. I also have a fear of recurring preeclampsia along with any other number of pregnancy complications. This is all normal, and it is something I’ve been talking to my midwives about, as well as my therapist.
Ultimately, I know things will work out however they are going to work out. I have a lot of positive feelings and hope for this new adventure. I think most of all, I am looking forward to Harvey’s transformation into a big brother role. He is such a sweet child with a caring heart and loving personality, and I really do think he will see himself as a friend and protector towards his little sister.
I also can’t wait to watch my husband father a daughter. I get teary-eyed thinking about the privilege I feel raising children. Good, kind, children. Two of them. A boy and a girl. I know Nick feels the same way. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and the past few weeks, months, and years have already helped to prepare us for the weeks, months, and years ahead.
No matter what happens, the Cainades, all four of us, will face the days with love and positivity.
As I sit here to write about our third anniversary, I have to be honest and say that it’s been a rough couple of days. I would love to wish my husband a happy 3 years of marriage, and let that be it. But, the truth is, the end of his Father’s Day, and the beginning of our anniversary week have been high-jacked. Trigger warning: this post is long and a bit sad. I’ll spare you the graphic details, but if you’re not in the place where you can read about pregnancy loss, then I urge you to skip it and return to it another day. I also curse – sorry, not sorry.
Last week, I had a positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t just the regular ole’ “two pink lines” one is bright and the other is hard-to-tell type of thing… it was a digital pregnancy test that said “YES+” and I was so excited. Our family plan has always been to wait until Harvey turned two, and then talk about trying again, and to aim for the whole three-years-a-part timing thing. Once May rolled around, we figured we would hop on board and get the ball rolling. And then, just like last time, BAM! First time’s a charm… pregnant!! Woohoo!! February due date! Right before Harvey’s 3rd birthday. Time to get the list started: call the doctor, tell immediate family, start telling Harvey about the “baby in mama’s belly” – you know, the usual.
For half a week, we did all of those things. I made a doctor’s appointment for my 8 week ultrasound, we told Nick’s parents, and read Harvey the Berenstain Bears’ “New Baby” book.
**Quick break for a funny story here (When we pointed to my belly and told Harvey there was a baby in there, he put his face close to my stomach and pointed to a mole above my belly button and said “aww it’s a baby!!!” Nick and I laughed hysterically and then Harv did too. As sad as I have been for the past few days, this is a memory I will cherish and keep).**
A few days into this new exciting adventure, I started to feel anxious because I was experiencing some light spotting. It wasn’t bright red, so I figured after everything I had seen on the internet that it was totally normal and I tried to put it out of my mind.
Sunday started off like our normal weekend days do. We woke up, had a blast at the NC Museum of Art, stopped by the Raleigh Flea Market and had lunch… and then we came home. After getting Harvey down for a nap, I went to the bathroom and there it was… exactly what you don’t want to see when you think you’re pregnant. Shit. Fuck. Damnit. I’m getting my period. Sadness… fear… uncertainty… frustration… anger.
Let’s pause for a minute here, Sarah. What the hell is wrong with you?! SO WHAT! You’re getting your period, big deal. Don’t act like this is that bad… you have friends who’ve lost pregnancies, babies, children, and close loved ones. It’s not that bad. There are families who have been torn apart down at the border. Parents separated from their children for extended periods of time… that is actually horrible. What you’re dealing with…? It’s not that bad. It’s not that bad. It’s not that bad…. Tears. Lots and lots of tears…. YES IT IS THAT BAD!!! I WANT TO BE PREGNANT!!! This isn’t fair. Ugh.
I immediately start going through the list of all the things I could have possibly done wrong. I went running the day I found out I was pregnant. And then again on Saturday. And then I spread mulch in our yard for hours. I overdid it. I drank a cup of coffee every morning I was pregnant. Should I have stopped that? I had headaches last time I stopped drinking coffee. Everybody says all of these things are fine when you’re pregnant but what if they aren’t… what if I did this?
Then, I start trying to minimize it. I tell myself I have no reason to be this upset. It’s not like I was even actually pregnant. There was no heartbeat. Some people call this a “chemical pregnancy” and some people call it an “early miscarriage.” I don’t care what you want to call it. It feels like a loss and I feel sad and I can’t help that. I won’t always feel this sad, and hopefully this is the only hiccup in the road. But it might not be. We might be starting down a long and scary road in order to grow our family to the size we’ve always hoped for. There is no way to know for sure.
After that, I start to get jealous. Envious. Of all the families out there who have their beautiful second children. There, I said it. It’s not my fault, it isn’t their fault. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them… but I’m allowed to be jealous. Just for a little while, ok?
And then… worst of all, Ed shows up in the corner. He says, “Sarah, let’s get through this together. Crawl into my arms, I’ll be there for you. I’m always here for you.” You see, Ed and I used to be a pretty dynamic duo. We do tragedy well together. But… that was a long time ago, and I now belong to a pretty terrific trio known as “The Cainades” and those are the people I do life with. Those are the people I will always do life with. Although I am sad, although it feels like I could easily rejoin him, I am able to reply, “Kindly, Ed, go fuck yourself!” And for a moment, I am proud of how far I’ve come. Good thing I go to therapy on Thursday!
Now, for the first time, I have a very tiny, small glimpse into what this shame feels like. Honestly, I’m not even sure if that’s the right word. I understand why people keep pregnancy a secret. You don’t want to get your hopes up. Not only that… you don’t want to get other peoples’ hopes up. I don’t want to let anybody down. I don’t want to let my husband down, I don’t want to let myself down. I don’t want my family and friends to get excited over nothing. We are going to the beach at the end of the week, and I wanted to tell them about our news. Now, I have nothing to share, and I’m heartbroken over that fact.
When I called the doctor to cancel my appointment, I was half hoping that the person on the other end of the line would give me some sort of “hope.” I was hoping she would tell me to come in, that they would double-check, and that everything was actually just a bad dream. She was super sweet, and told me that if I needed anything at all to call them back, including resources for my current situation. Another quick side note here: I am switching practices after Harvey’s scary birth situation – although I absolutely LOVE the Women’s Birth and Wellness Center and recommend them to anybody who will listen, I have switched to the Durham Women’s Clinic where midwives (and OB’s) deliver in a hospital. I had an appointment there earlier this spring and loved it… but it occurs to me when I hang up the phone, that I might not have any actual, real prenatal visits with them. I hope this isn’t the case.
I am going to be ok. I have a great support network and an even better partner to walk this journey with me. All of our journeys look a little different. The unknown is hard, but ultimately, I know everything will be fine – one way or the other.
I’ve been hugging my child a little harder this week. They are miracles. I’ve always known that, but sometimes the universe has a particular way of reminding you. To my sweet Nick, I am so glad that we decided to get married 3 years ago. I’m sorry that we had to experience this as a family, but I am so grateful that we experienced it together. You are my rock and my love. I am looking forward to celebrating our anniversary with you, and to have a great week at the beach and a fabulous rest of the summer. I love you.
To everybody else, I hope you are well. In this world, we are all walking our own path. Nobody else can walk your path for you. But, if you want – if you let them – there are people who are willing to walk it with you for a little while if you need them to. I am here as one of those people. I might not know what to say to you. I might not know what it is you need. But I will be here. We can sit in silence, or we can chat for as long as you need. Don’t tell me that “everything will work out the way it is supposed to” because I don’t even know what that is “supposed” to be. Just be there, show up, and I will do the same. Take care of yourselves and love each other fiercely. Peace be with you. ❤
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.
In 8 short days, Harvey will turn 1. It has been a whirlwind of a year. Wow, that’s an understatement! I distinctly remember a soccer mom telling me this time last spring that I would blink my eyes and Harvey would be graduating from high school. I knew she was right, and I smiled and nodded when she said these words… but, holy crap!!! We are 1/18 of the way there and I swear to the Goddess I don’t know how the time has flown. There are so many sweet, sweet memories that I feel I cannot soak up enough, and I don’t know why I’ve been so focused on this recently… but Harvey doesn’t smell like a baby anymore, but rather, a little boy, and I can’t keep myself from reminiscing and crying over that lost scent!!! However, I wanted to commemorate his first year with my top five favorite things/memories from the past 12 months. Here goes nothing…
Co-Sleeping. We technically did what they call “bed-sharing” for the first five months of Harvey’s life… and a little beyond (we still sneak a few mornings here and there). This means he slept in the bed with us! Yes, right in between us. We never planned to do this, it just sort of happened that way, and as a result, the memories we have of sleeping in the bed together will stick with me for a lifetime. Once we realized that we liked co-sleeping, we obviously researched it extensively, and found out that while it is a “heated” topic and one that is heavily debated, it can be done safely and effectively (meaning, Nick and I haven’t had one sleep-deprived night). Yes, I am serious. We are lucky, Harvey is a good sleeper and that part helps, it also helps that he loved/loves the boob… and that’s basically what co-sleeping is (or breast-sleeping as we came to call it). Sometimes I am so happy that he now sleeps through the night in his own crib, and sometimes I miss waking up next to him and his toothless grin. Every now and then, when he wakes up on Saturday/Sunday mornings, I will go get him and bring him into bed with us, so that he can nurse and fall back to sleep. I lay there watching him snore next to me and count my many blessings.
Breastfeeding. So, I just have to say that I will be forever grateful that we made this happen. I tried not to get my hopes up before he was born, because I know this is really, really… really hard for some mamas. But, I knew it was something I wanted to try, and would be fortunate enough to have some time to devote to it because I didn’t have to go back to work until he was five months old. If it weren’t for the incredible lactation consultants at the Birth Center, as well as the amazing LC’s who work at UNC, we wouldn’t have made it through those first few weeks. Breastfeeding takes practice, and although we picked it up really quickly, it can be difficult to keep it up. When I went back to work, maintaining my milk supply was a struggle. I cried over it… more than once. I also know that we had it better than most, and I’m thankful for that. Being able to breastfeed him made our bond that much stronger. It also made life extremely convenient for our family, who likes to be on the move. We have traveled extensively with Harvey (flying to Philly, Seattle, Arkansas… driving to Ohio, Virginia, Georgia) and it would have been more difficult to do if I couldn’t just plop my boob in his mouth when he was hungry. The fact that Nick was so supportive and helpful with both eating and sleeping stuff was crucial. Now that Harvey hardly ever nurses anymore, and is actually drinking whole milk, I truly hope that I will be able to breastfeed (and breast-sleep) with my next baby because I’ve loved every single minute!
Family dinners at the table. This is something we will keep doing, because Nick and I feel very strongly about having dinner as a family every single night. We both grew up in houses that allowed us to do this whenever possible (extra-curricular activities can occasionally get in the way) and we knew we wanted the same for our kids. Watching Harvey learn how to eat is the best homemade entertainment I can think of. I mean… he’s obsessed with food. His eyes light up when he knows he’s about to eat something, and the BLW (baby-led weaning) process is one that I HIGHLY recommend to parents. BLW teaches them how to pick things up, what different textures feel like, how to process new tastes and smells at their own pace… and the most important part, how to eat at the table with the rest of the family. I have carved a special place in my brain for all of the “first” foods we gave him, and how he looked and acted when he ate them. Some of the dinner table conversations we have had as a family of 3 during his first year are ones that will stick with me for a lifetime.
The first “real” kiss. When Harvey was around seven/eight months our bedtime routine was becoming more and more sweet each night. And then, one night out of the blue, he leaned in and kissed me when I squeezed him and said “I love you.” I swear, I could have died happy right then and there. It made my heart MELT, and now when he kisses me, I try to make it last longer and longer, haha!
Harvey pooping on the floor when he was almost eleven months old. This one is a more recent memory, and one that made me laugh so hard I peed a little bit in my pants! First of all, our mornings in general are so funny to me. I wake up around 5:15 AM and hop right in the shower. When I get out, Harvey is usually still sleeping, so I start to dry my hair and drink coffee. When I’m done with this he’s typically awake, so I get him from his room, bring him in bed and nurse him. When he’s done eating, I get him dressed for the day. Nick **tries** to read the paper during all of this and the older he’s gotten, the harder this part has become. He is wiggly. He likes to squirm around, so most mornings, I just let him roam around our room naked while I finish getting ready for school. A little more than a month ago, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom while Harv was trying to open some cabinets and drawers, and I heard him making his “poop sounds.” So, I look over, and sure enough, he was holding on to the drawer handle, straining, and a big ole’ poop was on the ground. I immediately cracked up and called Nick over to see, and as he tried to get his phone out to take a picture of the hilarity, Harvey stepped in it!!!!
I also wanted to give y’all an update on me. Having a baby is not all roses and rainbows, and although it is the single most amazing thing I will ever accomplish, my mind and body have paid some tolls. As a woman who recovers daily from an eating disorder, the body image stuff is tough. I will never look the same. Yes, I’ve lost the weight, but women who’ve been here know it is not all about that. It has been one year since Harvey was born, and I still have dozens of stretch-mark scars. They are silver now, not purple, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear a bikini again. Not a real big deal, but definitely something we don’t always talk about, you know? The other part is that my body feels different, too. It’s not a “bad” different… just a “new” kind of different. Also… nursing a baby for 12 months can do a number on your ta-tas… woo wee! These are all things I just wanted to throw out there, for the other mamas who think it is just them… I am here to tell you it is not! You will develop your own new sense of “normal” and you might have to work at “falling in love” with that new body, that new person, that new life.
What’s new in the world of being a working mom you might ask? Well…let me start by saying this: If I were given the choice to do it differently, I wouldn’t. Yes, even if I had a million dollars and the ability to stay home, without money worries, I wouldn’t. I was a teacher before I was a mother, and that does not mean that being a mother has to come “second.” Some really good advice I got from my Aunt Molly was that we can “be both” and that’s okay! I love teaching, and I love coaching, and I love Harvey and I love my family. Now, with all of that being said, each day is different and can bring its own struggles and hurdles. There are DEFINITELY days when I go to bed feeling like I let somebody down. Sometimes, it’s my husband, sometimes its my child, sometimes its my students or my players. Some days, I feel like I did a good job at everything, and some days I feel like I did a mediocre job with everything. Those days are the hardest. However, I continue to live my life with a huge sense of fulfillment and joy, and the fact that Harvey comes with me to soccer games, and we can spend time together that way, is super fun, and my soccer girls love him dearly. Professional update: I will be halfway done with my National Board Certification at the end of the school year! Woo hoo!
There are a few people I would like to give a quick shout out to, because during Harvey’s first year, he has gotten sick at daycare a few times. His daycare is also closed occasionally, and they are not always teacher workdays for me. If it weren’t for my amazing husband (and his incredible job), I would be in the negative for sick days. Yes, I’ve been able to take a few, but Nick has really been the one who leaves work and gets Harvey when he needs to come home early. In addition to our amazing village of friends, grandparents, soccer player babysitters, etc., Nick’s parents (Lolli and Pop) have been our go-to this soccer season. Pop is now retired, and when Harvey’s daycare is unavailable, he spends the day with nug. I truly don’t know how people do it when they don’t have family help. If it weren’t for Pop and the time he gets to spend with Harv, we wouldn’t be able to swing it most days. Watching the two of them interact is priceless.
Anywho, back to this little boy of mine! Harvey has developed his own little personality. He has 4 teeth (that we brush at bedtime), is around 30 inches long, and weighs 23 lbs. He is a really funny baby! He waves and says “bye” along with signing “more” and “all done.” He can say “up”, “dada”, “mama”, “more”, “stop”, “ball”, and “dog.” He is also, officially, walking a few steps here and there!!! He now has a baby cousin, too! My brother and his girlfriend welcomed Knox Ripley Cade on the 8th, and we’ve been down to visit them a few times! Our good friend, Martha Gibson, took some photos of Harvey last weekend to commemorate his birthday… and if y’all are looking for a portrait photographer, her work is amazing!! ❤
I will write a separate post about Harvey’s 1st Birthday Party soon because I want to include mostly pictures of that awesome day! We can’t wait to celebrate with our family and friends!
Well… it’s been a while since I’ve written a post! Two reasons for that – one being that teaching and working and coaching and mama-ing have been keeping me really busy this winter, and the other being my lack of motivation to write anything down after the election and its repercussions in my life and in this country. However, time heals most wounds and I have found my sense of self, my sense of courage, and my sense of responsibility and duty to my community and to my family again – hence I am in the writing mood today! My mom is coming up this weekend to attend the Women’s March in Raleigh with me, and I cannot wait to get out there and start mobilizing NC!
Anyway… back to Harvey. He is almost 10 months old, and I’ve started thinking about his first birthday party already. This is so crazy to say, but he has officially been outside of my body for as long as he was inside of it!!! WHAT??!!! I don’t understand where the time has gone, and honestly I’ve been a bit sad thinking about him growing up too fast recently. He has really started to change at a fast pace, and I have days where I don’t want him to grow up anymore. I think that part of it has to do with the fact that he has pretty much lost all interest in nursing. He will nurse in the morning as soon as he wakes up, and sometimes before bed, but its more for comfort than anything. I have already cried my tears over it, and the day that he officially stops will be hard for me. My mother-in-law has told me about the last time she nursed her last baby, and how she took a moment to close her eyes and savor the memory… and I have a feeling that day is coming up on me quickly. I have loved every single moment of our breastfeeding journey together, and truly hope that my next baby nurses as well as he did.
Aside from all of that – Harvey continues to be the light of my life. He laughs and smiles all the time, pulls up on every single piece of furniture and/or person in the house, eats everything he can get his hands on, and is drinking from a sippy cup/straw. He has been working on standing a bit on his own, and the speed of his crawl has picked up, a LOT. Now that he is mobile, we have to keep an eye on him for sure. He has had some bumps and bruises along the way, and I’m sure we are in for a lot more of those while he officially learns to walk. Watching him play with his toys and listen to books is some of my favorite entertainment. My absolute favorite thing is his bedtime routine. After dinner, I give him a bath, and then take him to his room so that I can play him his nighttime song (Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings singing “Sweet Tooth”) and do his “grooming”. He LOVES to be groomed. He lays there, still and sweet, while I clip his nails, brush his hair, and rub lotion into his perfect skin. I do a little massage with it, and he stares at me with the deepest, most loving eyes in the whole entire world, and I swear I get teary-eyed most nights because I just don’t understand how I got so lucky. Right before I lay him in his crib, I give him a kiss and he has started to kiss back sometimes. He then lays his head on my shoulder to give me a hug, and I can promise you that my last moment on this earth will someday involve the memory I have carved of this event in my heart and in my mind. Woowee, I really need time to slow down!
The other really cool thing about Harvey these days is that he sleeps through the night, in his own bed. Although I was sad to move him out of our bed, having our evenings back has really given Nick and I the chance to bond again – in a way we hadn’t realized we were missing! We can actually sit on the couch and enjoy some TV or reading time. I look forward to our family time as a tripod, but I also really look forward to that time on the couch with just the two of us. We recently watched a movie called, “The Lobster” and I will spare you the strange details about its synopsis (although I do recommend the movie to people), but there were two take-aways from it that I thought were funny: 1. Children are given to couples to help strengthen their relationships (in the movie) and for us, that has been 100% true. I love who we are as parents and partners. 2. If Nick were to go blind in a world where people are required to have partners who are exactly like them… I would go blind too so that we could be together forever ❤
Upcoming News: I am currently writing/editing a piece that I am submitting for the Raleigh “Listen To Your Mother” performance this May. I went last year for the first time, and was blown away by the stories of motherhood that brave women can tell, and I decided to give it a go! My audition is in a few weeks, and I will keep y’all posted on whether or not I’m selected! I will post my essay either way for you all to read.
In 2 short weeks, Harvey will be 6 months old. What?! Halfway through his first year?! I don’t understand how this could possibly be the case… but alas, it most certainly is.
I recently told Nick that I thought I couldn’t love Harvey any more than I did the day he was born… and that sometimes I simply cry to myself when I really sit and try to measure the love in my heart. It feels as if, at any point, it could physically burst. That is a big love to carry around… a big weight on my body. But, it’s the best possible feeling in the whole entire world. Yesterday was a magical moment for me because I got to recognize that feeling in the faces of my dear friends, who just had their first baby. As soon as I saw him in their arms, and the way they looked at him, I realized that this is only something you can understand when you’ve been on the other side of it. It is other-worldly. I burst into tears of joy for them and their sweet, fuzzy little one. I knew the way they were smelling him, feeling him, loving him for the first time, and it brought me back to the early days with Harvey. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to freeze time in its tracks.
He has changed so much in the past few weeks. He can sit up, roll over (both ways), and is really trying hard to move! He spins himself around in circles when he is in his crib… yes, I said crib!! We have successfully sleep-trained him for naps – and we owe a special thank you to Ms. Rochelle, his childcare provider, for help with that. We still co-sleep at night, but are moving away from that in the next few weeks, since he has mastered nap time now.
Harvey eats baby oatmeal, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, avocado, and well… anything really. We are taking the “baby-led weening” approach (BTW) and so far, so good! He really loves sitting at the dinner table and eating with us, it’s so freaking adorable.
My school year is off to an amazing start. I have some pretty incredible kids this year, and they are all so curious and sweet when asking about Harvey! I love sharing stories and pictures with them. Pumping at work is … annoying, but obviously worth it. It has become a chore that I consider a part of my work duties, like grading papers… and trying to stay ahead of/on top of Harvey’s demand is intimidating, but something that I have been able to manage thus far. He can hold his own bottle of mama’s milk now – which makes him seem so grown up!!
I have lots of favorite “parts of my day” but there are three in particular I wanted to share with y’all. The first is when the three of us wake up together, and have a big family kiss and hug. Harvey is a bright, shining ball of sunshine in the mornings, and I try and soak in as much of it as I can before I head in to work. The second is when Nick shares their morning activities with me. He has about 1-2 hours with Harvey each day before taking him to Ms. Rochelle’s house, and the bonding that they’ve experienced as a result truly melts my heart. Nick sends me pictures of Harvey hanging out in his bouncy seat while Nick showers, the outfits he picks out for him each day, and the playtime they have in Harvey’s new “playroom” downstairs. I watch the videos over and over, and stare at the pictures during my planning period. How did I get so lucky? Nick earns his title as “the world’s best dad” every single day, over and over, and I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about my fortunate life. The third best part of my day is when I walk through the door at Ms. Rochelle’s, and Harvey gives me that big, toothless, smile as I pick him up and squeeze him. It will never get old.