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Sydney Jane

Sydney Jane

Dear Sydney,

These are your last days as a baby. Saturday, your first birthday, marks the beginning of your toddler years. Cliche as it may be, this year has flown by. Around this time last year I was at the doctor getting my 39 week checkup. I had been having tons of Braxton-Hicks contractions but didn’t really pay attention to them. We spent our last night as a family of 3, September 22, putting Reid to bed and having our good friend, John, over for dinner since I had made a pretty kickass lasagna the day before. I started having contractions, but I could mostly talk through them and they weren’t incredibly painful. I don’t think John even noticed. But I didn’t eat much at dinner, which should have been a sign that your presence was imminent.

On the morning of your birthday, I woke up and got Reid ready for school like usual. Again, some contractions, but nothing crazy. Once we got in the car, though, I started paying more attention. Reid asked me questions (he is very chatty, your brother) and I couldn’t answer right away because I was breathing through the discomfort. In all honesty- I probably shouldn’t have been driving. But I was in denial because your brother was 5 days late (and was only born due to an induction) and your due date was 6 days away. I was still walking, talking, cooking, crossfitting. Surely you weren’t on your way! When I got home, I called your grandfather and asked him to pick up Reid from school. I told him “I’m not in labor or anything, but it hurts to drive.” Silly me. I let our doula, Rachel, know what was happening. She laughed and said it sounds like early labor and to pay attention. Your dad asked if he should come home at lunch and I said no, I’m not in labor. This is probably a false alarm. You know, as I continued to have regular contractions every 5-7 minutes.

Your dad did come home around 11, and I told him that he should go grab Reid from school since he was home. I also started to consider a visit to the hospital- just to make sure. My dad was on his way over to take Reid back to your grandparents’ house once he got home from school. And in the 40 minutes that it took to pick up Reid, things escalated. QUICKLY. I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore.Your poor grandfather walked into the house to me rolling around on the couch, moaning like a cow. I think I scared him but at that point, I didn’t really care. I called your dad on his way home and scream-asked when was he coming home? Luckily he was 3 minutes away. That seemed like too long. We got in the car against my will – I said it hurt too much to move, let’s just have the baby here – and drove to the hospital. Longest 20 minute ride of my LIFE.

I got a mini-epidural at the hospital after waiting about 90 minutes. I could still feel contractions but they weren’t as painful and I was happy again. Then, it started to wear off. I asked for another dose and the doctor told me that I was too close and would be pushing soon. That was NOT what I wanted to hear. Rachel had met us at the hospital several hours earlier and suggested I roll onto my side to see it that would help things move along. And boy- did it ever. I rolled onto my right side, and 4 contractions later you were here. Both your dad and Rachel started putting gloves on as they yelled out the door “I think we are ready!” The doctor nearly didn’t even make it in to catch you! We were so happy to finally meet you. I was exhausted and elated at the same time.

You are one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. You also have one of the worst cases of FOMO I’ve ever seen. You love people-watching and playing with Reid. No matter what he does, you laugh. You adore him. You still hate naps but have slept through the night since about 3 months, so I’ll take it. You’ve developed a habit of crawling around with toys in your mouth like a dog. You have zero stranger-danger, and give almost everyone a smile. In your early days, you HATED the hours of 8pm-10pm and would cry for 2 hours like clockwork. Until a couple months ago, you didn’t like baths. You love climbing and stairs. You are easily entertained as long as there is something to look at. You have beautiful blue eyes that grab nearly everyone’s attention.

This year has been a wonderful challenge. Thank you for bringing unprecedented joy into our lives. I love you with my whole heart.

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang

I think one of the most unexpected parts about being a mother is that my kids are not tiny clones of me. I’m not talking about looks – although Sydney does look like me, and Reid is Kirk’s twin. I’m referring to personality. Syd is a bit too young to really know her personality, although so far she’s pretty chill and content most of the time. Reid and I are similar in some ways, like we both have laser focus when we see something we really want. For him, this generally applies to TV and snacks. He has determination for days. Super challenging for now, yes. But it will serve him well in the future.

However, both Reid and Sydney seem to have something I don’t: an endless desire to be around other people, all the time. I’ve mentioned before that I recharge by spending time alone, or 1:1 with someone. Kirk jokes that my ideal Friday night is a glass of wine, a book, and some terrible TV show – and he is 100% correct, although I would also add “someone else putting the kids to bed” and “the kids immediately fall asleep and do not ask for a bandaid, to be tucked in AGAIN, an ice pack, another song, to watch you go downstairs, to fix this lego piece, etc.” But Reid is an absolute extrovert, and I think Syd will be as well. Reid gets this from Kirk, obviously. When Kirk and I first started dating, we’d go to parties together where I wouldn’t really know anybody, and he would just float around the room striking up conversations with people like it was nothing. I could easily talk to people, but by the end of the night I was exhausted. We got to a point where I had to tell him he wasn’t allowed to leave me at a party like that – I wanted him to take me around, making some introductions first. It never occurred to him that I would be uncomfortable in that situation.

Cut to Reid: we ran into a friend at Target the other day, someone who Reid doesn’t really know or remember meeting. I introduced them, and Reid launched into a speech on his various forms of footwear and what they are used for. He will strike up conversations with people in such a bold way, asking tons of questions but usually forgetting to ask their name. I’m a little envious, actually. I am pretty talkative (I am a lawyer after all) but it can still be a struggle for me. Reid loves to be the center of attention, and if you don’t acknowledge him when he comes into a room, he’ll force you to by throwing himself on the floor, asking you to “watch him do something cool” (rarely is it actually cool), ask you a question that doesn’t make sense, or something of that nature. His teachers have consistently mentioned that Reid likes to “roll on his friends.” Not in a snitch way, in a literal rolling over his friends way. If it makes someone laugh, Reid will keep going.

One of the more difficult parts of this extroverted personality is the chatter. It is incessant. He basically goes around all day, relaying his stream of consciousness to me. Sometimes it’s pretty funny- yesterday on the way to school, he told me about his dream that he saw a garbage truck go into some lava, and look at that bird, and can he have a grilled cheese for lunch, and can we go on a walk after school, and why are we stopping here, and Mommy you forgot to turn on your clicker, and Mommy you are going too fast. He has LOTS of opinions about how I drive and which direction I take. But as someone who values my alone time, it is pretty exhausting. Largely because Reid doesn’t just want to talk- he wants to have a conversation. Don’t worry- he’ll tell you what to say. But you still have to participate. I feel bad, because sometimes when Kirk gets home, I need about 20 minutes of silence. Nobody talking to me, or at me, or asking questions. Nobody making screechy noises from her crib, just SILENCE. Kirk likes to come home and talk about our day, catch up, things like that. Normal husband and wife stuff. I feel as though I have a set number of words I can hear in one day, and a lot of the time Reid uses them all. Since he’s in school this year 5x/week, it’s gotten better. But summer is coming…

Off to research noise-cancelling headphones.

Dear Reid

Dear Reid


You are four! I remember talking about your 4th birthday in the hospital with your dad, because we knew that’s the day your birthday would fall on the Kentucky Derby. We had visions of a Derby-themed birthday party for you with cute little 4-year-old jockeys running around. We failed to realize that you, of course, would have your own 4-year-old ideas about your party. So no Derby birthday for you, but you are so excited to play at the Little Gym with all your friends!

You certainly do have lots of opinions about stuff. I know that these are qualities I will appreciate later in life, but they are big personality traits for a 4 year old. You like to tell us directions when we are driving, what you’d like at each meal, which books and songs you want at bedtime, and even who is going to get which slice of cake at your party. Spoiler: I made cupcakes to avoid this problem. You could be described as bossy, demanding, and strong willed; I prefer to describe you as a wonderful kid who knows what he wants, has determination, and doesn’t give up on the things he cares about.

I have so many wishes for you. I wish for you to be happy, to be kind, to love someone. I wish for you to find something in life that beings you joy. I have no doubt about that last one- you are a pretty happy kid.

I could go on, but I can already feel you rolling your eyes at me. You are so loved, my first baby, my sweet boy. Thank you for being the one who made me a mother. I love you. Happy birthday.

All my love,

Mommy

The Milk Bar

The Milk Bar

Spring break was last week, and while we had a great time doing some fun stuff around town, staying in pajamas until mid-morning, and playing with friends, I was pretty excited to get back to our regularly scheduled programming yesterday. Reid does pretty well with a schedule, and it’s no shocker that my super controlling, type A personality does as well. Sunday night I fell asleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of a quiet morning on Monday while Reid was at school.

Then he woke up with pink eye. No school for Reid, no peace and quiet for me.

For those of you whose children have never had it, pink eye is the worst. I mean not literally – it’s not life threatening or anything – but we now have to do eye drops 3x/day. Reid is really sensitive about things touching his eyes, ears, hair, etc. This makes haircuts REALLY fun, and eye drops fall into that category as well. I tried everything to get him to lay down willingly- bribes, taking away TV, threats, and finally sitting on him with his arms pinned to his sides with my legs. I controlled his head with my elbows and got his eye pried open with my fingers. We have to do this a total of 21 times. I told Reid if we didn’t, his eye will fall out of his head on the playground.

Fun times.

Anyway, something has been on my mind lately. When I got pregnant with Reid, I read tons of books, websites, went to classes, and got as prepared as possible. We hired a doula for the birth, and I thought that we were pretty ready. I did not prepare for breastfeeding, because I kept reading about how “natural” it is, how it’s what babies and mamas are meant to do. I didn’t even think twice about it- that’s how I would feed our new baby. I didn’t even learn to use my pump ahead of time because I didn’t think I’d need it. I owned no nursing bras or shirts, no nursing pads or lanolin cream. I didn’t even know half that stuff existed, or why I’d need it. I didn’t know what a lactation consultant did, or why I’d need one. I had no clue that there was more than one position to hold a nursing baby. I was clueless.

Then Reid was born.

It turns out that breastfeeding is really HARD. Reid was a super sleepy baby, so when I finally got him to latch on (a whole process in itself) he would almost immediately fall asleep. I confused this with him being done eating, so I’d try to put him back in his bed. Almost immediately he’d cry, because he was still hungry. This dance of latch-eat for 2 minutes-sleep-cry continued night after night. He never got into that “milk coma” that newborn babies get- he was just crying after eating. I felt so guilty, because this was supposed to be natural and easy, right? But it wasn’t. It was hard, and terrible, and painful (thanks engorgement). I felt lonely- Kirk was asleep in our room, and I was stuck with this baby in the nursery, so unsure of how to handle this, but Kirk couldn’t really help me because he lacked the proper equipment. I started to get a little resentful that I had to grow a baby, push him out, and then single-handedly feed him. This wasn’t fair.

I had my mom run to Target at 9pm on a Friday night to get me a manual pump because my electric one was too confusing for this first time mom to figure out. I pumped a little bottle for Reid, which also eased the pain, and he ate it right up and FELL ASLEEP. This was amazing! We talked to the pediatrician, who also felt that a dairy sensitivity may be at play, and decided about 3 weeks after Reid was born to switch to formula. He became much happier and slept better, and I hardly felt any guilt at all anymore. Sure, I wanted to breastfeed, but it just didn’t work for us. Plus, the difference in Reid’s mood was so clear- we made the right choice.

Three and a half years later, Sydney arrived. This time, I put all my effort into learning about breastfeeding, which I felt a little silly about being a mother already. I hired a private lactation consultant who came to my house to talk with me before Sydney’s arrival, and then came twice after her birth. I bought nursing bras, tank tops and shirts, pads, creams, and watched about 500 YouTube videos on latching properly. I talked to all of my breastfeeding friends about my plan, and lined up as much support as possible. I googled lactation support groups and knew where I could go almost every day of the week. I was prepared for the engorgement, the pain while the baby figures out how to eat, and the endless leaking once my milk came in. I set up goals for myself- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, then the 6 month mark. I WAS READY.

Sydney is a much different baby than Reid was, and she caught on to nursing right away. She was still sleepy, but I could usually keep her awake enough to eat. My lactation consultant, Sam, came over about 5 days after Sydney was born, and helped me figure a few more things out. I struggle with the anxiety of not knowing exactly how much she was eating (one benefit of a bottle-fed baby), and she reminded me to just watch the baby. Syd was happy, slept well (for a newborn, anyway), was content after eating. Kirk and I developed a system where he’d sleep with Sydney in the guest room (her little baby noises would wake me up all night), and change her when she woke up to eat. I then fed her and put her back to bed. It allowed me to stay in bed for the most part, and I felt like Kirk was actually helping where he could. It was a good system.

I made it to my Halloween goal, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Around the 4 month mark, I decided to start supplementing with a bottle of formula before bed to make sure she had a full tummy before bedtime. But for the most part, I kept breastfeeding. We finally made it to the 6 month mark, and I was so happy. I felt pretty proud of how much we had done- I wanted to quit when Sydney had RSV and basically threw up most of what she ate, but I kept going. I wanted to quit when I was so, so tired of getting up in the middle of the night but I didn’t. I really wanted to quit when I got mastitis, and again when I had the flu, but I didn’t. I have so much love and support- it was so needed.

But now, at 6 months, I felt a little different about it. Sydney was becoming more and more distracted when she ate, and it was really difficult to feed her. Nursing took at least 30 minutes a lot of the time. I couldn’t just take her to her room where it was quiet- I still had Reid running around and terrorizing the house. I tried that once and came down to crayon all over the TV. Plus, I selfishly liked the idea that anyone could feed her, and I’d be able to have a little bit more of my body back to myself. So I started pumping and giving her bottles all the time. And guess what? She was still happy and thriving. As pumping got to be more of a chore, I weaned off of that and mixed in more formula. And guess what? She was still happy and thriving.

Today, at 7 months, she is 100% bottle fed. I sometimes miss the connection and bond I had with her with breastfeeding, but I don’t regret my decision. I do feel some guilt- not that I made the wrong choice, but that others will judge me for not going a full year. I’m such a people pleaser, I want everyone to agree with my decisions (on everything, really) regardless of whether it matters or not. I mean, the people who think I should have kept going aren’t exactly going to come over and help me feed my baby.

Sydney is doing great. She’s happy and so am I. Breastmilk, formula, bottles- it all ends up the same, in my opinion- with your toddler eating something they found on the floor at Target.

 

Batman Forever

Batman Forever

Unlike Garfield, I don’t really hate Mondays. I love the predictability of a routine, and for me, that’s what Monday brings. Plus, when you have little kids, the weekends are not for sleeping in and leisurely brunches. Yes, we get to watch cartoons in our pajamas instead of rushing out the door to school, but I’m still up well before 7am.  So, happy Monday! This weekend was more challenging than most since Kirk took his first real trip since Sydney was born. He headed off to St. Louis with some friends for a BBQ trip- I am so glad he got to go. Kirk is one of those people who gets really energized by being around others, whereas I prefer to stay at home and read a book, watch tv, have a glass of wine, etc. I’m not opposed to being social, I am just a bit introverted and need that alone time to recharge. Anyway, I had the kids by myself all weekend and we did not die. Success! Everyone even got a bath or shower at some point. Our really, REALLY awesome neighbors even had us over for a playdate Saturday afternoon (aka I invited myself over) and kept Reid for dinner while I ran across the street to put Sydney to bed. The BEST gift you can give a parent of more than one child is to keep an eye on other kids while she deals with one of them. So, I’m not eager for Kirk to travel again anytime soon, but I can certainly handle it.

On another note, Reid is now the age where he gets invited to birthday parties and birthdays are celebrated at school. He frequently comes home with small bags of little toys, pencils, sometimes a treat. I have a love/hate relationship with this whole idea, although of course I’ll do it when Reid turns 4 in a few weeks. I love that Reid gets so excited about a pencil with rainbows on it (because he gets to use the sharpener mounted on our basement wall), or some Mickey Mouse stickers, or a little piece of candy. I hate that we now have about 55 semi-sharpened pencils and my floor is covered in stickers. Once Reid went to a friend’s birthday and the goodie bag he received was amazing. I mean, it rivaled the Oscars swag bags. A superhero cape and mask, a really cool royal icing cookie, a Superman doll that he still sleeps with, and a kit to design and make your own superhero masks. And that’s just the stuff I remember!

Anyway, last week Reid came home from school with another birthday goodie bag. This one contained temporary tattoos. Now, I was surprised that Reid wanted to put these on. He’s kind of weird about stuff being on his face, and he wanted it on his cheek. He also wanted one on my cheek. No problem, these are temporary tattoos. So we put them on, and I felt like a good mom because it made Reid really happy that we had matching Batman tattoos.

Until that night when I washed my face, expecting it to come off.  It didn’t.

I washed. I scrubbed. It remained as bold and bright as it had ever been.

It seemed like such a rookie mom mistake. Why the hell would I put this on my face? I received a few comments on how to remove it (rubbing alcohol, baby oil, coconut oil) but I decided to leave it for a bit because Reid liked it. I went to crossfit the next morning (hoping the sweat would help, along with a shower afterwards) but no such luck.

This was after several face washes (including one exfoliation), a sweaty workout, and some scrubbing. Eventually, I did get it off with an oil-based makeup remover. Reid asked me over the weekend to try the Finding Dory tattoos he got. I said sure, why not!

I put this one on my hand.

Sleep on it

Sleep on it

Last night Reid hosted his first sleepover. His cousin Brekk came over, and let me just say that Reid is Brekk’s #1 fan. The boys were so great together, and it was a lot of fun to watch. Once they fell asleep around 9, I thought we all did a pretty great job.

Then 3:30am came.

Sydney woke up and was fussing in her crib, so I plugged her up with a pacifier and prayed that’s all she needed. Then I heard little footsteps coming from where the boys were sleeping, so I popped my head in to check. Brekk wanted to know when it would be morning, and Reid was out of bed wanting to know if he could get up for the day. I said no, it’s the middle of the night, and don’t you know how lucky you are to get like 12 solid hours of sleep if you wanted to? Reid didn’t like that answer and started throwing a fit. I just left and went back to bed, figuring Brekk would calm him down since he’s almost 6 and practically of babysitting age.

At 4:00, Reid still wasn’t back in bed. Kirk handled this one, and reported to me this morning that Reid demanded a 4am nail trimming. That he wanted to do himself. So, Kirk got the nail clippers and Reid had a 4am pedicure like a normal person.

At 6:45, the boys got up. Not because they were done sleeping, but because Reid had been jacking around with the alarm clock (probably before his pedi) and turned on the alarm. Definitely taking that out of the room next time.

Overall, everyone had fun and Brekk was super well-behaved. I love seeing them together and hope we have many more of these in our future. ❤