Friday, February 27, 2015

Our Princess Menace

My Sally Grace is seven months old.  Each month brings new milestones and changes in her temperament.  It is truly mind-blowing how quickly this baby girl is growing and changing!

She loves being on her belly.  From the time she was about five months old, she would flip onto her stomach immediately any time we set her down on the ground.  I sometimes called this “stomach surfing” because she would often lift her head erect and put her arms behind her in a yoga pose. She could hold it for a surprisingly long time! She also flipped onto her stomach in her crib at night, and she is now a committed stomach sleeper.  Snoogie woogie.

Because she loves being on her stomach so much, she crawled earlier than Noah did (he absolutely hated tummy time), but she doesn’t sit up nearly as solidly as he did at her age (he was sitting up by 4.5 months, and I feel like she is still wobbly when she sits).  She has become a professional army-crawler in the past several weeks and can literally get anywhere in the house—and quickly too.  She even climbed up onto the fireplace step today.  I can’t keep up with her!

She is a complete wiggle-worm. Everyone who holds her or watches her for a few minutes comments on this.  She puts everything in her mouth, grabs at anything within reach, finds all sorts of mischief, pulls my earrings out, throws my glasses, knocks plates off the table, and twists and wriggles to get free if you try to hold her still.  I am truly astonished by how “busy” she is—so much so that I looked back in my blog archives to see if Noah was this way when he was her age.  Maybe all babies are this busy and I have just forgotten?  Nope—she’s in a league of her own.  She has earned the nickname “Menace” lately because she truly gets into everything.

She eats solid foods but isn’t too interested in them yet. With Noah, I was so excited for each new stage and introduced solids right around four months, but I was too lazy with her and realized that there was no need to rush it.  We started her on rice cereal around six months, and we try to give her a solid once a day during a family meal, but she’s only interested in a few bites.  She’ll try anything we give her, but she doesn’t seem to have any standout favorites yet.  

Well, now that I think about it, she does have some favorite foods, actually: paper, shoes, computer cords, trash cans, and plastic sacks.  You know, all the things she shouldn’t suck on but makes a beeline for when I set her on the ground.  And of course she has zero interest in toys and teethers.  Good grief.  Oh...and don't forget that her big brother Noah fed her a Fun Dip one day while I was in the shower.  Yes, pure blue sugar in sour apple flavor.  Awesome! 

Sally’s nap schedule is…inconsistent.  For a while there, she was taking long naps twice a day, and I started to think I had a “textbook” baby—one of those magical few who actually follow the schedule that the baby books say they will.  Alas, that phase was short-lived, and she now prefers 30-40 minute naps three times a day.  The short naps are driving me bonkers.  I get her down, and then I go and help Noah with whatever he needs, and then she is up again.  Seriously, can a mama rest for five minutes??  Believe me, I know all about sleep schedules and techniques/strategies for helping babies consolidate and get into a rhythm (I read every book I could about it when Noah was so hard as a baby), and I’ve tried it all with her too—it doesn’t make much of a difference.  I’m starting to think those baby books are a hoax.

Fortunately, her night-time sleep is much more predictable.  After getting over an eight-week long cold (more on that in a minute), she recently started sleeping through the night—often going from about 7:30 p.m. to about 5:30 a.m.  I’d actually love for her to wake up and eat once before I go to bed at midnight so she could sleep all the way until 7:00 a.m., but “dream feeding” her before I go to bed only seems to make her wake up more often in the night, so 5:30 a.m. wake-up time it is!  And hey, she goes back to sleep until 7:00ish, so, really, I can’t complain.

Speaking of her never-ending cold, Sally seems to have a pretty crummy immune system and has been sick a lot this winter.  I wish I could have nursed her longer so maybe she could have gotten some of the health benefits.  I was only able to nurse her for about six weeks because I just never made much milk—a common problem for women with my fertility issues—and she wasn’t growing or thriving, so we had to switch to formula.  I felt so sad and guilty giving up breastfeeding, but now I can see that it’s no big deal.  It’s more important that she is getting enough to eat.  She was14 lbs 8 oz at her last appointment—still a little small for her age, still wearing clothes a size down, but healthy and growing. 

Despite how the photos look, Sally isn’t nearly as content as she used to be.  She is still a really good baby, but she’s usually not willing to sit in her bouncer or high chair for very long anymore because she doesn’t like to be contained; and when I put her on the ground, she army-crawls after me and whines and fusses pathetically until I pick her up.  I’m not sure what that’s about, and I keep waiting for a tooth to pop through or something, but none have.  Maybe she just really likes her mama—and honestly who can blame her? ;)  When she was younger, her needs were so easy to decipher.  If she got fussy, she needed to sleep or eat.  Now, I’m somewhat at a loss for how to help her when she’s grumpy, but she likes being carried around on my hip so we do a lot of that.  She also likes to be outside and out-and-about, so we try to do as much of that as we can as well (though seriously, sometimes I just need to make dinner!).

Life has become quite busy and chaotic these past two months as Sally has gotten more demanding—but I love seeing her little personality emerge.  She grins at everyone and everything, and she laughs when you tickle her belly or pretend to gnaw on her hand while you are feeding her. Though she is not willing to be snuggled during the day (too busy!), she is so comfy to snuggle when I am feeding or rocking her at night.  It is pretty much heaven.

She is the joy of our lives, and we all adore her!  Noah even calls her “The Princess” on occasion, and it makes me laugh every time.  She really is our Princess Menace.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Burned Out

I have so much to catch up with this blog--so many happy, fun things.  But today I feel like sharing some of my heart, and not just the pretty parts.

I feel burned out.  I have no idea why.  I have two great kids and a loving husband.  I get breaks more often than is probably fair: I've been on several fun weekend trips these past few months, including one without my kids.  (I mean, honestly, kid-free in San Diego, California with my sisters!  Does it get any more relaxing??)  My dad also just came to visit us for a long weekend, and we had a great time with him at the family cabin in Sun Valley.

And yet between these highlights, and sometimes even in the midst of them, I just feel foggy and tired and overwhelmed.  And then I feel selfish for feeling that way.  And wimpy.

But I just can't keep up.  I can't keep up with the mess--with my children--with the laundry, grocery shopping, meal-planning, kitchen-cleaning--with the whining, fussing, teething, ear-infection-ing--with the bedtime routines when I am way past exhausted.

Honestly, I don't love being a stay-at-home mom, and yet I don't want to be away from the kids either.  I love my children more than anything in the world, yet I am sometimes so tired of taking care of their every need.  Sometimes life just feels like Groundhog's Day--like each day is the same, and I am on a hamster wheel, and I just don't know what to do to snap out of this funk I am in.

I am naturally a solver, so when I confront a problem like this, I always try to think of a way to solve it.  What would help?  A long talk with my sisters?  A girls' night out?  A more consistent scripture study routine?  A session with a counselor?  A date night with Ryan?  An increase in my anxiety medication (only partially kidding)?  A part-time job?  A good night's sleep?  A cleaning lady?  An attitude adjustment?...

Time?  Is that the key--just giving it time and waiting for this moment (or week or month) of discouragement and frustration to pass?

I've written before about some of my unexplained health issues, and though I don't mention it often or like to dwell on it, some of those health problems persist.  Not to the point that I am debilitated, but sometimes I just feel like maybe my body or my hormones have something to do with this fogginess and discouragement that I feel.

And maybe this is just motherhood, particularly with little ones.  Maybe this is just the stage of life that I am in.

Do any of you have advice?  Have you ever felt this way?  What have you done to make your days with little ones more meaningful?  What have you done to manage the mess and the housekeeping?  What have you done to find peace and joy in the midst of whining and fussing?

I have a beautiful life, and though I don't expect to feel joyful every moment of every day, I want to feel more joy than I have been feeling lately.  I would love some ideas and suggestions.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love Letter to a Little Cherub

Baby Girl,

I peeked into your crib this morning as I got ready to leave for my early-morning flight to San Diego.  You were curled up on your tummy, your sweet little bum in the air, your chest rising and falling with your steady breaths. 

And then the smell of you—that perfect baby smell of you—wafted up, catching me off guard, making my heart seize at the thought of leaving you. 

You are a treasure.  A squishy, blue-eyed, army-crawling treasure.  You scoot your way along the carpet, a little inch worm intent on reaching whatever it is that has caught your attention—a package of wipes, a sheet of paper from the printer, a cord from the computer charger.  It was just this week that you really started getting around—you are suddenly into everything, and you want everything in your mouth.  Let the baby-proofing begin!

The other day, I laid you down on the floor in my bedroom for a moment, then ran back into the kitchen to do something, and when I came back you were gone.  I could hear you, but I couldn’t see you—until I got down on my hands and knees and peered under the bed. 

There you were, big blue eyes staring back at me, a grin spreading across your face as soon as our eyes met.

“What are you doing under there, Baby Girl?” I asked laughing, delighted and shocked by your new mobility.

You rolled your way to the other side of the bed, content as you could be in your newfound cave, and when you got close to the other side, I grabbed your roly-poly little leg and pulled you out, tickling your belly and making you laugh.

You make me feel so loved.  The way your face lights up when I come to get you out of your crib in the morning, the way you crane your neck to find me whenever you are in someone else’s arms.

I love when I feed you bottles and you look at my face so intently, reaching up to touch my hair or my cheek or to tug on my glasses.  The other night, you pulled my glasses down to the tip of my nose as you were drinking, and I peered over them and said, “Well hello there.”  You giggled appreciatively, and the milk in your mouth spilled down your chin and onto my shirt. A messy, perfect moment.

And when you were finished, I put you up against my shoulder and gently burped you, as I always do. It’s the one time of day that you are willing to be quietly snuggled, and you nuzzled your head into the crook of my neck and relaxed, your tiny body melting into my chest, heavy and warm.  As you drifted off to sleep, I rocked and rocked and breathed you in and out, in and out—our hearts beating together, my heart full to the brim with gratitude for you.

You were so worth it.  Worth every uncomfortable fertility treatment, every shot, every hormone-induced breakdown—worth every moment of nine-months of nausea, every tearful morning in the recliner with a trashcan in my lap. 

You, my precious daughter, are a miracle.  And each day as I search your face—your dimpled chin, your rosy cheeks, your pink cherub lips, your crazy cowlicked hairline—I am reminded again of God’s tender mercies.  Again and again and again—every day of your life, I will be reminded.

I am grateful beyond words to be your mother.  Just when I didn’t know if my heart could hold more love for my family, you came along and showed me that it could.

On this Valentine’s Day morning, as I am minutes away from boarding a plane that will take me far away from you, it seems only appropriate to share one of my favorite poems.  These sweet words express how I feel about you, my little love, and how I will be feeling these next few days without you:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

I will love you forever and ever and always, Sally Grace.


Your Mama

To My First Little Love

Oh, Noah.  My sweet, spunky, strong-willed Noah.

We had quite a day yesterday.  It started in the morning, as I pulled into the garage after my early workout at the gym, and you came running outside, your eyes still groggy with sleep, your hair a mess of bedhead, so excited to see me.  “Mother! Mother!  I built a tunnel for my new train!  Come and see it, come and see it!”

In that moment, as it so often does, my heart ached and squeezed with the love that I have for you.  Could a human being on this planet be luckier? I thought, as I opened the car door and threw my arms around you.

“I missed you!”  I said into your ear, nuzzling your neck and kissing your soft cheeks forcefully. “I missed you last night while you were sleeping!”

“I missed you too, Mama—” you said breezily, out of breath with excitement about a new day. “Now come see my tunnel!  Come see it!”

We ran inside to see your new creation and to greet Daddy and Baby Sister, who were both sitting at the breakfast table looking a little bewildered by so much glee so early in the morning.

Who would have thought that an hour later—a mere hour—you would be in tears because your mama lost her temper with you during a Valentine's photo shoot with Sister??

“Don’t climb on my back please, Noah.”  “Please don’t touch her while I am trying to take her picture.”  “Noah, please don’t climb on me.”  “Noah you can’t touch those blocks—your hands are in the picture.”  “NOAH!  What did I just say?” “I need you to stop hanging on my neck, Noah”…

And then—the explosion.


People say that three-year-olds are bipolar, but what about their mothers?  Going from complete adoration to a full-on blowup within an hour?  Good grief—keep it together, Mama!   As if a cute photo is more important than your son?  It’s ridiculous!

I apologized immediately, but my mood didn’t improve much throughout the day, and I’m embarrassed to say that I snapped a few more times, causing you to say at one point, “Don’t be so grumpy, Mother!!”  Oh, Noah—I’m trying.  I really am.

So last night, after I got home from my Valentine's date with Daddy, I climbed into your bed and snuggled you tight.  I sang you a song and scratched your back, and then I said, “Noah, I’m so sorry that I yelled today.  It’s been making me feel sad all night when I think about it.  I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

You looked at me seriously, a melancholy expression suddenly in your eyes and a slight whimper to your voice, “That made me so sad when you were mad with me, Mommy.”

“I know, Noah.  I’m so sorry.  I will try hard to never do that again.  Will you forgive me?”

There was no hesitation, no pause to think about it, no stalling to make me grovel further—your grin was immediate and your words tumbled out with a giggle: “Yes, Mama!  I forgive you!”  You hugged me around the neck and tried to tickle me, and we ended the day as we had begun it—as the best of friends, my heart bursting at the sweetness, the sincerity, the goodness of you.

You teach me every day, Noah.  And though I make mistakes (so many of them!) every day as well, I am trying so hard to be a good mama to you.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for giving me second chances.

Happy Valentine's Day, my first little love.
Your Mama