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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My First Mother’s Day

When a woman becomes a mother, she, whether she knew it beforehand or not, joins a special club. This club is very large, and has many different sub-sections. Some of us belong to several of these sub-sections, and some of us belong to only one of them, but we are members all the same. Some mothers never held their babies. Some never felt their babies move inside of them. Some mothers lost their babies after a few short hours, days, weeks, months, or years. Some mothers have children with special needs. Some have boys. Some have girls. Some have twins, triplets, septuplets, etc. Some mothers have post-partum depression. Some moms are single. Some are divorced. Some moms adopted their children. Some mothers have fussy babies, and some have “easy” ones, (whatever that means) and some have children that they’ve only ever dreamed of in their mind’s eye. Some mothers have lost their own mothers. No matter what kind of mother you are, which part of the club you belong to, the moment you become a mother you understand two things: the love you have for your child stretches further, wider, and higher than the ends of the universe… and that mothers look out for one another no matter what.

I’ve always known that I am surrounded by strong women and strong mothers. Being a mama is something that I’ve always wanted, and I’ve spent so many years saving up advice, strategies, and stories from these women. They might not have realized at the time, but I was there… listening and watching and learning. I’ve watched them be mothers to their unborn children. I’ve watched them be mothers to their infants, their toddlers, their teenagers, and their adult babies. Their courage, skill, and strength is what gives me my courage, skill, and strength. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here… I wouldn’t be who I am.

This mother’s day, I wanted to take some time to personally thank some of the mothers in my life, near and far, for all they’ve done for me.

To Adele, my Mawma: When I think of the different sub-sections of the club, and how some mothers straddle the space between two or more of them, I think of you. You raised three handsome, kind, caring boys. Today, only two of them are still with us. It was not until I had my own son in my arms, that I could have conceived of the grief a mother would feel while burying her own child. Still, you carry on. You shower your family with unconditional love and adoration, while carrying a scar that most of us know nothing about. You are, and always will be, one of my role models. I love you!

To Shirley, my Oma: If I’ve never said this aloud to you, I’m saying it now. You are the glue that holds our family together. Your unwavering faith is something I admire. The ways in which you love, encourage, and support your children, your grandchildren, and now your great-grandchild are truly remarkable. The belief that family is the most important thing is something that I’ve learned from you, and hope to pass along to my own family someday.

To Rebecca, my Aunt: It takes a special kind of woman to be a military wife. It takes an incredible woman to be a military mom. Thank you for raising three, beautiful, smart, curious, and kind girls. Your family has traveled the world, and lived in countries like South Korea, Italy, Germany, and Australia. You have done a lot of your mothering while Uncle Steve is away, serving our country. Thank you for being the strong mama that you are, and for the example you’ve set for me over the years.

To Molly, my Aunt: My entire life, I’ve wanted to be exactly like you. You are smart, beautiful, funny, and thoughtful. We share a love for Camp Mikell, a profession in education, and now, I am a mother, with a son of my own. The ways in which you balance motherhood, work, and play with ease are more than admirable, and if my son turns out half as wonderful as yours are, I will consider that to be a massive success. Thank you for loving me and my family as much as you love your own.

To Laurie, my Mother-in-Law: One sub-section of the club includes the mothers who gain children through marriage. Although, long before I married your son, you accepted me for who I was and considered me a member of the family. This mother’s day, I want to thank you for the job you did in raising your children. Your daughters are delightful young women, and I love them very much. Your son is, in very large part, an incredible father and husband because of you. Thank you for sharing your life, compassion, and heart with him, because he has turned around and shared all of those things with me and our baby.

To Michele, my Mother: Mommy, thank you for everything. I literally owe my life to you! When a woman becomes a mother, I think that – inevitably – her relationship with her own mother transforms. There is an understanding that forms, a knowledge that exists, a love that becomes transparent. I now know that for the last 27.5 years, every single sacrifice you’ve made, tear you’ve shed, decision you’ve had to make, etc… had my brothers and me at the heart of it. A very important gift you’ve given me recently is the gift of recovery and sobriety. My son will truly know who you are, and for that, I thank you. Your love, advice, and support have carried me through good days and bad. Now that I am also a mother, I understand the depths of your heart and soul more than I ever did before. ❤

To Caroline: Your story, your words, your strength, and your daughter have touched me in ways you may never know. I can truly say that you have been my inspiration for writing about my journey, acknowledging my feelings, and expressing my concerns/joys/sorrows/etc. You have taught me that motherhood takes many shapes and forms, and that honesty and compassion for each other is the most important thing. You’ve taught me that you are not alone, that I am not alone, that we are not alone. Thank you for being so open and courageous. You and your angel are in my thoughts every day.

This week, wish the mothers in your life a Happy Mother’s Day. Not just your mother, every mother that you know. In fact, if you see a mother on the street, or in the store this week, give her a high-five… or a smile… or a hug. She is a badass. She has been to places that not every person will go to. She has seen things that not every person will see. She is a member of a club. The kind of club that lifts each other up, whenever, wherever, and however we can. To all of the mamas out there, whether I know you personally or not, Happy Mother’s Day! I now stand with you, and in awe of you.

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