Saturday, August 23, 2014

Letters to Lily: 4 Months

(Lily was 4 months on 7/29/14.)

Dear Lily,

You are now 4 months old.

Oh, my little biscuit baby. You are simply the sweetest.

With your big, bright eyes and your halo of curly hair and easy smile, it's hard not to coo at you all day.

Some of this month's highlights
  • You are now almost 16 lbs based on our home scale. We will get official stats at your doctor's appointment next week. You have the leg and arm rolls to match your weight and you are just deliciously chubby. This means you are now at get-stuck-in-the-Bumbo stage, which is just like your older siblings. You are also definitely longer as evidenced by your 3 month onesies and pjs getting a little stretched when I snap them.
  • You have been fussier and a bit more demanding and we wonder if you are working on those first teeth, although maybe it's illness related since you have been a little sick this month. But this fussy/demanding behavior is quite mild overall and I still consider you an easy baby.
  • This month had you spitting up a lot, but you generally seem unbothered by it. Others are not so lucky...
  • You remain a solid sleeper and I cannot be more grateful. Towards the end of the month we transitioned you into the crib instead of bed sharing with me because your new-ish ability to wiggle over to me and snuggle in the night was making me too nervous. You have done well in your crib and wake once, maybe twice most nights, though you do have occasional nights when you want to eat more. Naps are not yet routine and you prefer to nap in the swing, in the carrier, or next to me in bed. As of your 4 month-day we had our first successful crib nap at 45 minutes. I should also note that this month you made sure to be awake from 7-9 PM pretty much every single night, thus guaranteeing some one-on-one time with your Mama and daddy.
  • You are a big fan of me, your mama, and I will readily admit I kind of love it. You keep a close eye on me whenever you are held by someone else and you can easily be soothed by being returned to me, especially if I get you snug and wrapped up in the Moby wrap.
    For example, this is you watching me instead of your sister's performance at Frozen camp.
    One less desirable side effect of this trait is that you prefer your milk straight from the source. We have been trying lots of things to get you to take bottles and our biggest successes has you taking in around 2 ounces. Hopefully this improves soon, but in the meantime I stick very close on date nights or while running errands without you.
  • You are starting to babble and coo and vocalize in a way that reminds me so much of your sister. It will be interesting to see if this leads to you being as chatty as she is.
  • You met lots of relatives for the first time this month (Papa, Auntie Valerie, Uncle Alex, Cousins Vivian and Nick) 
and went to some new and exciting places like the beach and a lake cabin.
    And a few more pictures, just because you are so darn adorable.

    Notice your hands in your sister's hair. She doesn't mind cause she loves you so.

    I'm so very glad you are in our lives. Love you forever.


    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    The Lady at the Dentist

    Last week we sat in the waiting room of a pediatric dentist. Lily was in the baby carrier on me and I was doing that cautious-perch-on-the-edge-of-the-chair thing since we all know that babies are very much opposed to their people sitting for more than a minute. The older two were playing nearby with the waiting room toys while getting slightly mocked by a tweenager and her brother but thankfully my little ones did not realize they were being mocked. (*Insert a blog post worth of thoughts on that kind of situation HERE.*) I noticed a woman in her late forties who was sitting across from me rummage in her large mom-purse. She pulled out a tissue and dabbed her eyes.


    Of course that was my immediate thought after our recent plague but upon glancing at her again it seemed more like she was crying. Oh no! Why was this lady crying in a place that was clearly not a normal crying place? And then when her almost-a-grown-up-but-still-so-young daughter (pretend like that didn't make you think of that Britney Spears song) walked out with the dentist, that mama started crying for real but at the same time kind of laughing at herself.

    "Oh, I'm so sorry! I'm just so emotional! It's all these lasts! She leaves for college tomorrow and it's all hitting me at once. It's just a lot."

    Oh, my young mama heart lurched at this moment of witnessing what amounted to 18 years of parenting. Her little bird was about to take flight and it was the mother's job to stand back let that happen. There I sat with a wee baby strapped to me while my about-to-have-his-first-dentist-appointment little boy and about-to-start-kindergarten little girl played nearby and I tried not to listen while still very much listening to what this older, wiser mom was saying to the dentist.

    I'm in the land of the firsts but I carefully watch those in the land of the lasts. There is good stuff to learn from those who can look at parenting with nostalgia, but that good stuff sometimes needs to be filtered out.

    Some of you may remember when I wrote a post back in 2011 about being so frustrated and bothered by all those comments to "Enjoy every moment! It all goes by so fast!" I wrote that when Oliver was around Lily's age and life was leaving me super depleted. I hadn't been diagnosed with postpartum anxiety/depression yet but I can see it throughout that post. Or maybe it was just extreme sleep deprivation that caused that degree of frustration, but for me there isn't really a point to trying to distinguish between PPD/PPA and sleep deprivation. They end up feeling the same to my brain. Shortly after I wrote the "Enjoy Every Moment!" post, Glennon of Momastery wrote the post Don't Carpe Diem, which went viral. I remember lying on the couch in our townhome, reading through the hundreds of comments on that post. I desperately tried to make sense of it all. I tried to take in the "This is it! This is life's climax! Your life will never be as great as it is when your children are young!" admonitions from the older crowd while much more closely relating to the "This is so hard. How can we possibly enjoy this time?" laments of the younger crowd. I don't remember many of the middle of the road comments, but I'm sure they are there. I just wasn't really in a middle-of-the-road state of mind back then.

    Things got easier over the next year but never easy. Borrowing Momastery's analogy, most days still felt like a slow-but-neverending uphill climb and I was always looking for that nice plateau to reach so I could chill out for a bit. And then an encounter at a Starbucks where an older woman told me to, "Enjoy this time. It will just get harder and harder" sent me back to the keyboard for another frustrated post on the same theme: Why I Will Lie to Young Parents.

    And then life kept happening and you know what? Things did get easier! A lot easier! Like for a whole solid year when Oliver was 2 and Bella was 4, I found day-to-day life really quite pleasant. The plateau had been reached and I realized that things did move pretty quickly in baby-toddler-preschooler land. I had time to rest and that time out of the parenting trenches gave me so much more energy before I headed back into baby days once again. So now with the gift of perspective (and a decently sleeping baby), I can look at this parenting gig with very different eyes.

    Somehow I ended up telling my neighbor, whose 18 year old had just left on her own college adventure, about the dentist lady. And my neighbor said she could understand it. And then she gushed, "Oh, treasure this time. It will go so fast. You won't believe it will happen, but it will just slip by."

    That kind of comment feels so much sweeter to me now and I can easily take it in the spirit it is intended. I feel this parenting experience very differently and I don't give much energy to trying to make sense of it or trying to decide if this is the best time of my life and worrying that I'm missing the boat if life is feeling hard. And please know that I say this after a few very challenging weeks of really crappy sleep, lingering illness, and little time to myself as I wrangle 3 little ones. But while recent events would have once sent me fully reeling, it now just leaves me grumpy. My edges have softened when it comes to these life hiccups (though I am still quite the complainer - I will fully admit that!), I am a calmer parent and person.

    Oh, don't get me wrong, I will roll my eyes at anyone who acts like they enjoyed every minute of their children's youth (BULLSHIT) or anyone who feels like a mother is doing it wrong if they aren't actively treasuring each second (DOUBLE BULLSHIT AND A KICK TO YOUR SHINS!) but the overall idea of taking a moment to breathe in the now whenever I get the chance, that I understand better. I'm less panicked about a future that will include teenagers and adult children and all the challenges that that might bring. I'm no longer scared that this is supposed to be the pinnacle of my life and that it's all downhill from here. I'm not willing to let my life have a pinnacle. My life is ups and downs but there will never be a peak that stands so very high above all the rest.

    From my oh-so-smug parenting throne of having five whole years under my belt - in other words, I have had five whole years to realize I know so little - I can see how it does go so fast. I can feel why it's so fleeting. I can truly understand that urge to want to grab someone with a newborn and be like,  "THIS TIME WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN! PANIC! PANIC AT THE DISCO!" But I have also had the past five years to get very comfortable with the idea that each new stage is going to have some new good and new bad to it. So I'm firmly in the camp of "Enjoy this moment as much as possibly you can given your unique set of life circumstances and plan on enjoying the next stage and the one after that and the one after that..." Nope, you can't get this time back. Yes, sometimes these days parenting little ones will suck donkey balls and you won't enjoy it at all. Just focus on the big picture of enjoying it. String together those happy moments to savor as time goes on, let the rest fall away as you are able.

    So hugs to you, lady at the dentist, as you go through all these lasts and prepare for a new world of firsts with your adult daughter. May you enjoy this change in your life while mourning the end of an era. And I will take to heart the fact that these challenging daily errands of dentists appointments and all the rest represent something so much greater than any given moment, day, or phase in my life with my children. And may I also remember to not schedule too many "lasts" in the days before my children leave for college. I can very much see myself having a big old waiting room cry in 2027.

    Bella starts kindergarten in a couple weeks and it's starting to feel so real. Like keep-me-up-at-night real. Right now I'm going through my own mini version of lasts with Bella and I get teary about it at least once every day. This kindergarten transition will help me to prepare for that far away and yet so close date in the future when she leaves for real. Oh god. It hurts. But first we will start with kindergarten. Let us focus on that. We are both ready for this upcoming change to take place, scary though it may seem in the middle of the night.

    So hugs to me as I go through all these lasts and prepare for a new world of firsts with my daughter heading to kindergarten. May I enjoy this change in my life while mourning the end of an era.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Pinkeye SOS

    No real point to this post other than to beg for someone in the 'been there, done that' camp to tell me that they did eventually rid their family of pink eye. I'm taking the whole team back to the doctor today because it's baaaaaa-aaaaack and breastmilk-in-the-eye isn't hacking it (and we were all on a full course of antibiotics that finished last week). I am changing pillowcases daily, insisting on tons of handwashing and only using paper towels for drying hands, and now I have added in nightly door handle/lightswitch/etc wipe-downs. I'm pretty sure we were hit with viral pinkeye first because we simultaneously got bad colds and then it became viral + bacterial pinkeye and then the viral was still hanging around so we got bacterial again. It's been three weeks of this. I did see online that viral pinkeye can last for a month. A MONTH.

    I don't got time for this. SERIOUSLY WTF MAKE IT GO AWAY! I'm starting to get paranoid that this will affect the start of school for Bella.

    But at least it's not thrush?

    Anyway! Someone out there tell me it will all be okay. (Reality check: I know this is but a blip on the radar and quite lovely as far as problems go, I'm just feeling cray-cray from how insidious it has been.)

    Hopefully real blogging will resume once my family can put this endless pinkeye/cold behind us. (Just kidding. Real blogging will resume in two years.)

    And for funsies, the cutest picture I took of Lily lately:
    She's a cute little biscuit, goopy pink eyes or not.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    In Which I Grump About Our Summer Plague

    We were really so healthy over the past 'school' year, especially when I compare it to the previous two years. Nary one doctor visit was needed! Zero puke bugs! We had finally shaken the endless battle of sickness that had plagued us for months the previous two winters (which in MN is about 6-7 months).

    Then came this summer and now I'm feeling very paranoid about this upcoming winter. Shortly after we finally got over that awful, awful Norwalk stomach bug in early July, we were hit with some sort of super bug that was a bad viral cold/pinkeye combo that has led to ear infections and sinus infections. And what's really REALLY maddening is that the viral pinkeye morphed into bacterial pink eye so it's been essentially back-to-back pink eye problems. The good news is that while you just have to wait out the viral pinkeye (which takes 7-10 days), bacterial pinkeye can be knocked out quickly with antibiotic eye drops. The bad news is that the kids and I staggered when we initially showed signs of the viral pinkeye so we have been essentially under quarantine for over two weeks now.

    No babysitter. No gym daycare. No parks. No playdates. Just me and some really crabby kids.

    And honestly we haven't really been up for much since we have had sore throats and ear pain and are congested and coughing and achy and feel lousy, but AAAAAAARGH.

    Yesterday was our first day emerging back into the world.

    And then in the night I developed bacterial pink eye.

    It's my birthday today.

    I can cry if I want to.

    I know that this too shall pass - and hopefully quite quickly since I can medicate it with eye drops (we will be put the entire family on eye drops at this point but maybe just breastmilk-in-the-eye for Lily) - but I'm frustrated and so in need of a break from my grumpy, grumpy children and my non-sleeping baby (she can't breathe or eat very easily with her cold so that has meant more time awake together in the night).  I need rest and sleep so I can get over this virus. But looks like that rest is still a few days away for me.

    These problems I have are of a very good and privileged nature but they are still feeling really frustrating. Today was going to be the first babysitter day in so long and now that is replaced with me hauling 3 kids to the minute clinic on my own. Tomorrow's date night is off. And while I prefer a pinkeye birthday to last year's birthday spent on the floor of the bathroom with acute morning sickness (or the birthday three years ago where I had thrush flare up again and had to go to the midwife and pediatrician on the same day or the birthday 7 years ago that included my grandfather's funeral...I could go on but I will stop. I seem to have not-so-good birthday luck.) I was really hoping that today would be a day when I felt back to better health. My sore throat is finally improving after 6 days of pain and my sinus problems seem better (I don't do antibiotics because of thrush so I have been toughing it out) but MAN OH MAN.

    Upsides: This plague is taking place now and not during the year when Bella would miss school. I am grateful I am not in the far more challenging position of trying to juggle time off work or daycare rules - sickness for stay-at-home parents is much simpler. And the big one - Oliver potty trained since we have been stuck at home! Yay, Bubby!

    Okay, I'm done grumping and hopefully this is the last of the pinkeye talk around here. There are still three weeks left of the summer to enjoy. I can celebrate my birthday another day and maybe have two cakes since we never got around to a re-do of my 2013 birthday. :)

    Anyone else deal with persistent pinkeye in their house? You eventually beat it, right? (The answer is yes.)

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    These are the Days of Our Lives: Summer 2014

    29 participants! 13 states! 5 nations! OH THE JOY!

    And I need to include my usual urging for readers to leave comments and for bloggers to consider turning off any extra commenting steps for a day or two to make the commenting process easier. These posts are a lot of work and comments are so nice to get.

    Without further ado, in the order in which I received them...



    West Virginia


    Czech Republic


    South Carolina

    North Carolina







    North Carolina




    New Mexico



    New Zealand


    North Carolina