And Just Like That… My Baby is One

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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…

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  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!!!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!! ❤

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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!

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The Fourth Trimester

Wow. I can’t believe it! Harvey is 12 weeks old, as of yesterday, and our 4th trimester is over! What a doozy. I wish I had the time and energy to write about every single moment… but time and energy are sparse these days (I’ll tell you why at the end of this post).

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Some of the highlights:

Harvey is a smiley dude. I knew that when my nugget started smiling (and occasionally laughing) it would bring me joy… but nobody told me it would MELT MY HEART over and over again. I can’t get enough of it! I’ve found myself doing all kinds of ridiculous things to see that toothless grin of his. Every time it happens, I feel as if I am enjoying a special moment in time that forever bonds us together.

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Harvey loves his jumperoo. I decided to put it together a few weeks ago, when I realized that his head control was really good, and he has had so much fun figuring that thing out. The other reason I put it together is because he loves pushing down with his legs (as if he is ready to stand up) and I thought it would be a great way to practice that. I did find… however… that his favorite time to poop is while he’s in the jungle jumperoo… so Nick and I have spent a little time cleaning not 1, not 2… but 3 “blowouts” up from that thing. Also, I realize, that it might not be the jumperoo that he likes, as much as the pooping part… haha!

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Harvey loves to travel. We went to Philadelphia a few weeks ago to visit some friends, and Harvey flew like a champ. He literally didn’t make a peep the entire time, and it really gave us some confidence before we embark on a much longer flight to Seattle later this summer. We also head to the beach with my family on Saturday and I cannot WAIT to put his little feet in the ocean for the first time! Hopefully, he will like it better than he liked his feet in the Eno River.

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Some of the lowlights:

Alright, I am going to simplify this story as much as possible… but I want you to understand that when it happened, I was f***ing devastated. I have been pumping once a day, since Harvey was born, to help keep a good supply of milk, and to start storing some away for when I have to go back to work in August. Well… a few days ago, our freezer (which is brand new) decided to die (we will NEVER buy Samsung products EVER again) and I therefor lost over 100oz of frozen breastmilk in the process. Holy s***. I had no idea that I would feel the pain and anger and frustration and sorrow that I felt if that were to ever happen to me. Pumping is not easy. It’s annoying, time consuming, and flat-out lame… but you do it for you baby, especially if you’re a working mom. When I lost all of that hard work, I sobbed as I had to pour it down the drain. What a waste. I also read lots of stories from women who had similar experiences… sometimes losing things like 500oz or 1,000oz when their power went out, etc. In reading those stories, and doing more research on my own, I found out that the actual chemical, hormonal, and emotional bond I have with my breastmilk is a legitimate cause for such suffering when a loss like that occurs. Mamas, my advice to you: spread your supply out if you can. Store some at work, some at home, some at daycare, and some at your in-laws’ house. Don’t let something like this happen to you! Lesson learned… the hard way.

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Harvey is going through a phase (we hope). This phase is called, “I am only happy when somebody is holding me.” Unless there is a very small part of the day where he is exceptionally happy… like the jumperoo time… he pretty much screams the second somebody puts him down. Wooweeeee… my back is starting to hurt!!!! Luckily, I have the Ergobaby carrier, and he enjoys going around in that… but somedays, bedtime can’t come soon enough! Thank goodness he (usually) sleeps through the night. I also want to add here that when I say sleeps through the night, I mean something very different from what most people mean. I am going to write a separate post about it someday, but for now I’ll say this: the three of us co-sleep. And by co-sleep, I mean bed-share. Harvey sleeps between the two of us every night, and it has been the most effective way that we’ve found to combat sleep-deprivation, nighttime feeding stress, and overall evening chaos. I never thought I would commit to it… but again, I will write about it more some other time! 🙂

In other news:

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Monday! Woohoo! Nick has been, and is still, my very best friend. I love him more today than I did the first time I told him so, over 8 years ago. They say that the first year is the hardest… and the two of us were like, “yeah right, we should go to Italy and have a baby and get this whole family thing started!” ……. HAHAHA!!!!! As if our year had not been crazy enough… Nick and I decided to buy a new house! YES! We are officially crazy (the whole energy and time thing). I can’t wait to write a big post about it in the future, but for now, I’ll say this: it is our dream home. We can’t wait to raise our babies in it… and it has more than one bathroom.

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Overall:

Life continues to be an adventure… one that I’m grateful to experience. We have amazing friends, an incredible family, and more support in this life than we could’ve ever hoped for. I keep counting my lucky stars because I know that it could all change in an instant. I’ve never felt that more than I do in these most recent days, after national tragedy strikes. I get to go to sleep tonight, with my loving husband, and my sweet baby, and that is more than most people can say.

Love to you all. ❤

A Month with Harvey

I can’t believe that Harvey has been here for a month… especially since I was still supposed to be pregnant right now (well, I would be overdue at this point, but that’s what everybody tells you to expect with your first). With each new day that goes by, my heart feels like it is going to burst with all of the love I have for my son. What a beautiful life we live, y’all!!

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Harvey went to the pediatrician on Monday for his 4-week-old check-up, and he had gained over 2 pounds!! He had also grown over 1 inch and his head circumference was in the normal range! So is everything else – he is just in the lower half of “normal” because he was a preemie and they say it could take 6 months or more for him to “catch up” to the growth percentiles. However, everything else about him is “normal” to us, haha! He has definitely found his cry – which is funny to even write, but honestly, it took him 2 full weeks to even start crying when he needed something. His main form of communication is grunting. He grunts so much that he’s given himself an outie bellybutton in the form of an umbilical hernia (not that big of a deal, they generally correct themselves before age 5).

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He has been eating like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo – which is why I call him Hungry, Hungry Harvey! But seriously, imagine the children’s game, with the Hippos opening and closing their mouths ferociously, and that’s him… about every 2 and a half hours throughout the day. It’s so cute. The only reason I feel like I can say this, and make a joke, is because breastfeeding has gone extremely well for me. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones, because I have heard so many stories and have some friends who’ve had difficulty with it, and feel extremely grateful for every single feeding when I feel nothing but bonding and sweetness and love for him as we look at each other while he munches. I am looking into milk donation, because I have so much of it (I have two breast pumps if anybody needs one), and have been very happy to breastfeed in public. Harvey and I are going to a Nation-Wide Nurse-In at the State Capitol building on Friday, his actual one-month-birthday, to help bring attention to the unnecessary stigmas behind breastfeeding in public areas. ESPECIALLY because I will be breastfeeding him during the freaking summer time, and the thought of trying to put a blanket over myself every single time he needs to eat, is 100% ridiculous. I mean, we don’t eat with blankets over our heads do we? This picture is me feeding him at a brewery last weekend – and the Moby on my shoulder was to shield the sun from his eyes, not to hide my boob from the crowd.

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Other things Harvey likes: smiling (whether he does it on purpose or not), being carried in the Moby wrap, stroller walks, riding in the car, and…BATH TIME! He is obsessed with the water. It completely calms him into stretching his little body fully out and pretending to float (with the help of an adult, of course). It is one of my favorite activities with him.

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I love being a mom. It is, by far, the best occupation I’ve ever encountered. Nick and I have incorporated Harvey into our daily lives with ease – which we both felt very strongly about doing before he was born. I knew that the only way to get used to bringing him places was to just get out and do it! Showing him off has been so much fun! So far, he has been to Raleigh, Chapel Hill, downtown Durham, and Hillsborough. Taking him to soccer games has been super fun too! We also have trips planned for the rest of the summer that include Philadelphia, Hilton Head, Camp Mikell, Ohio, and Seattle! Some people think we are crazy for flying with a baby, but honestly, he is so good, and travels so well, that I think we will be happy we got out and visited people before I go back to work.

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One of the parts of being a new mom that not a lot of people talk about, is having a new body. It has taken some time, and some effort, to embrace the new way I look. My stomach will never look the same, and that’s ok. Mederma is helping a bit, but it will obviously never bring me back to pre-Harvey days. This week, I made the decision to join Weight Watchers, to help lose the baby-weight and to help stay on a healthy lifestyle track that will be much better for me in the long run. Breastfeeding requires extra calories, and a lot of moms want to cut calories to lose the weight. It is also in my nature to do the same thing, but, before Harvey was born, my therapist and I discussed some ways to prevent me from slipping back in to old habits, and WW, so far, has been a good plan. I’m not going to lie, it has been hard from time to time, thinking about the fact that its summer and we are going to go to the beach and pool and whatnot, and I have to go to the store and buy a new bathing suit that I think looks “ok” for now… but overall, the benefits of being a mom have outweighed the few “costs”. I am adding a picture here, for my own purposes. This is my body, one month postpartum. All of the mamas out there whose bellies look like road maps, bless you. We know it was worth it 🙂

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