A Family of Four

I blinked my eyes and it has been almost 6 weeks with Della as our newest family member. In a lot of ways, it feels like our family has been this group of people forever. I think that is just because she easily made her way into our hearts and we were looking forward to her for so long.

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She has been *relatively* easy thus far. We have had no problems breastfeeding at all. She has been doing that perfectly from the moment she was born, and for that… I am very grateful. I do feel like a milk cow every now and then, but I try to remember that this doesn’t last forever and I cherish the opportunity to feed my baby. I have been pumping every day to start storing up the freezer stash. I remember how hard it was to keep up my supply when I went back to work after Harvey was born, so I wanted to get ahead now. I have about 250 ounces of milk thus far (thank goodness we have a deep freezer)! It also brings me a lot of joy (and shameless pride) in seeing her grow big and plump and to know that I am the one responsible for that! She was already over 10lbs at her one month appointment and the pediatrician was very complimentary of her gains and growth.

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She is a sweet baby and has started the little coos and squeaks – and has even given a few little smiles when we interact with her (new this week). It won’t be long before she is fully grinning and laughing and I can’t wait! She will tolerate tummy time for a few minutes and has pretty great neck strength! She also tolerates the car (mostly) which is helpful when trying to run errands or go on adventures. She even sleeps through the night!! (yes, we are co-sleeping again so that’s probably why) The hardest part is getting her to calm down when she is fussy in the evenings. I remember Harvey as a bit fussy, but since he was my only child at the time, I had unlimited time and ability to hold him and make sure he never cried for more than a second. Della, on the other hand, has to get put down occasionally and therefore lets out some wails. We bought a baby swing to try and help with these occasions and it works most of the time. The ergo carrier works as well! If Nick and I both had 4 arms, we would be set. But alas, we only have 4 between the 2 of us – so Harvey gets to watch his iPad some and Della has to cry some. When asked what the biggest adjustment has been – I would definitely say that part has been it without a doubt. “Divide and conquer” doesn’t mean that each child gets unlimited facetime with one of us – it means that one of them has to hang out on their own for a bit while we do things like cook, clean, feed the baby, etc. Overall, the transition to having two kids has been about what I expected!

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A few things I am grateful for: I want to be sure I make some notes about how we’ve survived the last few weeks…

  1. Lolli and Pop being retired is a HUGE help. The fact that they live so close and have offered so much to us is a real lifesaver. Not only do we see them most every weekend, but Lolli has vowed to come over one afternoon a week so that I can do things like run or go to Target. She then picks Harvey up at preschool and helps with dinner/bath. Monday, his school was closed, so they took him to the zoo and he had an absolute blast!! I will never quite be able to put into words how much it means to have them close by, to have their unconditional love and support, and to have such a strong relationship/bond with them. We literally couldn’t do it without them.
  2. I am sure that most husbands and dads are rocking it out in their own unique ways, but mine is pretty awesome. Nick’s willingness to work all day and come home and jump right in to being super-dad continues to amaze me (even if I don’t express my gratitude enough). His job is flexible, which helps so much, so he can often get some work done at night after the kids go to sleep. Most days, he doesn’t have a minute to himself because he is either working, hanging with Harvey, cooking, or soothing Della. Not to mention, he even gives me the occasional foot massage! He has also discovered that playing records while dancing with her does the trick at night to get her down, so he takes that on while I have a breather in the evenings. He basically works two full-time jobs right now while I am on maternity leave, and I hope that he knows we are all lucky to have him.
  3. My mom was able to take a week off of work after Della was born to help us get settled in the beginning, and that was invaluable to us! She cooked our meals that week, did our grocery shopping, and deep-cleaned the house! She was also a really awesome buffer for Harvey those first few days because he was a bit rocked when Della initially came home. She is coming up again in a few weeks to take him to Paw Patrol Live at DPAC and he talks about it constantly. Looking forward to Mimi time is very special to us!
  4. Raising kids with friends who are also raising kids is hilarious and comforting at the same time. We enjoyed “round one” so much while everybody was entering into parenthood for the first time and figuring this whole thing out. Now, that a lot of us are starting to add number 2, it is really fun to watch the eldest kids become siblings and to talk about how tired and worn out we all are, ha! In a few years the kids will be able to entertain themselves, and we will all talk about how quickly these years flew by… but in the meantime, we will enjoy our playdates 5 minutes at a time. 🙂
  5. I think it is easy to take this last thing for granted, so I want the record to show that I am extremely grateful for my health. I had asked my midwife pre-delivery about getting back to exercise after the baby was born, and they all assured me that if I had a relatively uneventful delivery, I could basically get back whenever I felt up to it. So, I took 3 weeks off and have been able to run since them. My blood pressure is good and I feel strong and healthy. It is important for my overall well-being and mindfulness ability to take this time to myself and exercise! Mamas can easily forget this, so I am glad my village helps me make it happen.

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Harvey turning 3 and becoming a big brother has been such a joyous time in my life. Becoming the mother to a daughter has been everything I could have ever hoped for. I try to take a moment each day and soak it in. His funny little sayings, her tiny/squishy legs and baby smell… all of it. Last weekend we went on an adventure and Nick and I had a conversation while we were hiking about the relief we feel for having our two healthy children earth-side. This is something I never lose sight of. Not everybody gets this chance, and it is one I don’t take for granted.

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We are looking forward to a happy and busy summer!

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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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