February 28, 2014

Parenting of Two & Mommy Guilt

A good friend of mine wrote a very honest post today about her fears of life after having a second child. I could have written her entire post myself at that time during my pregnancy and those fears are still very fresh in my mind. We are only six weeks into this thing, after all. And it got me thinking -- I haven't had much time to write lately because, well, LIFE. But it struck a chord with me and I needed to get some thoughts and emotions down, not only for her, but for myself, too.

I will admit that I have been very vocal about how difficult adjusting to two (especially two UNDER two!) has been. Not necessarily here, but in other places (hi, twitter!) and to other people. It was a rough go at first, this whole parenting of two thing. Maybe things would have been different had the things that happened not, you know, actually  happened. But they did, and a new baby, a toddler, a hospital visit, a family death -- it adds up. Especially while you're trying to figure out your new routine & dealing with those pesky post-partum hormones. The fact that I made it through that first month alive is a friggin' miracle, people. Truth be told, I'm not quite sure how I managed that.

I'm not going to lie and say that it has gotten easier, because at this point it really hasn't. Those first couple of weeks were the hardest, and I have had more than my fair share of guilt through all of it up to this point.  There are days where I don't feel like I spend enough time with Lucas, or give him enough snuggles, or engage with him the way that I want to. The TV has been on more than I care to admit, just so that we can get through the day. There are also times when I feel awful for putting Max down in the swing or pack & play immediately after feeding him. And then leaving him there for a couple of hours while he sleeps. He's my last baby, and I should be holding him more & taking advantage of these fleeting moments, but I don't always.

Figuring out how to balance the needs of a newborn while also spending quality time with my nearly two year old has been a challenge, one that I haven't quite mastered yet. I go to bed some nights angry at myself for being so short tempered that day, or a little too distant with both my boys. For snapping one too many times. For grabbing Lucas away from something he shouldn't be in a little too hard. For leaving Max in the pack and play for three hours during his nap and just sitting on the couch. For letting him cry longer than I EVER would have let Lucas cry because I'm dealing with other things and can't quite get to him THAT SECOND. These thing, they hurt my heart. Honestly. Most days end with me feeling like a total failure at life and motherhood (let's not even discuss as a wife, because I'm pretty sure I'm failing on an even bigger front there) & every night I vow to be better when I wake up. Sometimes I am. Most times I am not. This adjustment is hard, and every single day I go into it with no clue as to how we are going to do it. I just know that it WILL happen, and through hell or high water, we will make it through the day. Whether my sanity is in tact or not is another question, but we do it the best we can.

But that's just it -- I'm doing the best that I can. I am not very good at reminding myself of this but every once in a while I sneak it in there, when I'm having a particularly rough day. My boys? They don't love me any less because I'm not crafting together some expertly planned at-home curriculum. In fact, I'm sure Lucas loves me a little more because he's gotten to watch Bubble Guppies for the 50th time today. He doesn't mind playing with the same cars over and over. And even though he is upset if I yell or snap at him, there are always hugs minutes later and we are back to life as normal. All is forgotten and we laugh, giggle, play ... whatever we need to do. Despite my shortcomings as a mother with him, he continues to lavish me with hugs and kisses on a daily basis. The snuggles that I lack with Max during the day, I make up at night after our late-night feedings, often sacrificing sleep to get the quite alone-time and snuggles that we missed during the day. Even through the bad moments, the ones that come after them more than make up for the guilt that I feel.

I am far from perfect, and in my head, the bad-mom moments far outweigh the good-mom moments. But this is still so new. And hard. It is what it is, however, and despite venting my frustrations from time to time, I wouldn't trade it for anything. We figure it out, we change when things don't work, and even though I tell myself that I am doing my best, I still go to bed feeling bad. But it's not forever, and I know that eventually, we will get into a good routine. Someday the boys will grow up and not need me. Right now? They need me. So we keep at it. All those fears that I had before having Max (the fears that my friend is having right now) are all still there, and I live them every day. I wish I could say that there was some magic button that made all those fears go away after giving birth, but in actuality they were probably intensified. But we wade through them, attempting to make the best of it. I am not very good at forgiving myself for the bad days, but deep down I know that the boys won't remember these moments like I will, so I keep doing my best, telling myself to just keep swimming, and working on bettering the moments that we have together. Because really, what else can I do? At the end of the day, no matter how awful I feel about what happened during waking hours, it is still amazing that I am the mother to these two wonderful kids. It's a balancing act, one that I am still working on mastering.

In the end, we are healthy & happy, and that's all that really matters. Mommy failures or not.

February 17, 2014

One Month

This past Friday, baby Max hit one month old. It was always my intention to do weekly updates like I did with Lucas, but reality hit and life got in the way. With everything that has happened over the past five weeks, blogging was the least of my worries, but I want to make sure that I at least document our time through this so that I can look back and remember these moments.

It's shocking to me how quick this first month went. In my head, his delivery is still so fresh, but at the same time seems like a distant memory. My tiny baby isn't quite as tiny anymore, and is growing at a rate quicker than anybody is ready for. I tearfully packed up all of his newborn clothes, aside from a couple of newer pieces he still fits into, and shed tears through the whole process. This is it. The last of our babies. A choice we made as a couple, but it is making great moments a little more bittersweet as well.

It amazes us how different Max is compared to Lucas, at least in these early days. Sleep is a big noticeable difference, in that he doesn't really like to do it, during the day at least. Nights are normal, with wakeups every 3-4 hours (sometimes every two hours like the past couple of nights -- growth spurt?) and every once in a rare while he gives us a nice five hour stretch, usually at the beginning of the night. I am quick to go to bed as soon as I can get him to sleep because I know that Big Brother will be up bright and early. During the day, he is a great cat napper. Thirty minutes here and there UNLESS somebody is holding him! If Max is in the arms of mom or dad or grandma, then bring it on. A three hour nap is no big deal, although it does render the holder completely useless during that time.

And we don't care.

We frequently find ourselves reminding each other to enjoy the moments. The house can be cleaned or picked up another day, but our babies are only small for so long and won't snuggle us forever. And during the night, when we are up for feedings, I am not so quick to put him back in his bed, but instead keep him on my shoulder for just a few more minutes, sleep be damned. I'm not at all ready for how quick the time is passing, and these moments I know won't last forever. Baby doesn't care that I've been in the same yoga pants for three days, or haven't showered in two. So the snuggles and the loving are lasting as long as he will let it.

Max is already becoming aware of his surrounding, and it has been fun to watch him see what is in his environment. He has giggled once -- in his sleep -- but smiles are becoming less gas-induced and more social. His eyes are becoming bluer every day and we are pretty sure that he will have blond hair just like his brother. Whether or not it will be curly is yet to be determined! Floor time is a favorite every day activity, but only when Big Brother is napping and isn't trying to be on top of him! The crazy infatuation has lessened although Lucas still loves Max and is learning to help out through "holding" bottles (aka he sticks one finger on it and calls it good), grabbing items that I need, or simply holding him on the couch with Mommy and boppy pillow close at hand. These two are going to be great friends, and I cannot wait.

We definitely haven't been short of visitors either. Because Max was sick with RSV, we haven't had nearly as many people by as we would have liked, and sadly still have some close friends who have yet to meet the little guy. But my sister, Aimie, was out his first week in a pre-arranged trip, and my mom, bless her freaking heart, came to our rescue ALL THE WAY FROM GERMANY when Marshall had to head back to Oregon. In both instances, I have never been more sad to see family go, and am looking forward to seeing them both again. My mom, especially, helped out in a time when I really needed it the most. I was not at all prepared to handle two children alone, and while I had to tackle that challenge the last full week, having her here in the meantime was a blessing. The help she provided was huge and I will never ever forget it. In fact, she was so great that I sort of went through mom-withdrawals for the first couple of days after she left! Who would have thought that at 33 years old, you would still need your mom that much. :)

As for myself? I have to say that I am feeling pretty amazing. Maybe it was because labor was SO QUICK, or maybe it's because I was in slightly better shape (although not really that much) this time around but I bounced back fairly quickly. After those first couple of weeks, I was ready to resume life as normal. The baby blues also were not present like they were last time. So aside from physically feeling amazing, mentally I was feeling fantastic as well. That right there is half the battle. I've lost all but three pounds of my baby weight (25 pounds total is what I gained), and while I did nothing to get there, I am eager to start going back to the gym again. However, I am not pushing myself due to the insane work I have put in to get my breast milk supply up (another post in the works) and I don't want to endanger that.

All in all, while it has been a challenging first month of life with two, it has been amazing as well. Now that Marshall is back home, he is making up for missing two and a half weeks of Max's beginning to life, and we are slowly but surely finding our new routine as a family of four. We most definitely don't have it down yet, and there are still struggles, but we love it and are enjoying every moment, and even every struggle, thrown our way.

February 11, 2014

Alive & Well!

We are here, and we are alive! Today is the last day of solo parenting, and while this week has been full of challenges, the boys and I have had some great quality time together. 

And in a rare weather event, we got dumped on with snow today. A great way to end our solo week. 

Normal blogging will resume soon! 

February 6, 2014

Bringing Home Baby

Seeing as how Max will be one month old in just a few short days (REALLY?) this post is a little overdue, but I wanted to get it down none the less so that I could remember how these times were. While it's been a very overwhelming three weeks, full of ups & downs, overall things have been very good. Life with a new baby is no doubt challenging, not to mention figuring how how to balance the schedule of not just the new baby, but the toddler as well, but every day we are figuring things out a little more and coming into our own new routine.

The adjustment with Lucas & Max has had it's own ups & downs as well. Lucas was immediately excited about Max being in the house. A little too much at first, honestly. It took everything we had to not let Lucas squish him -- he literally wanted to be on top of  "baby" around the clock and hold him constantly. It was adorable but often let to massive meltdowns as we learned what the boundaries needed to be. This became a little harder when Lucas came down with croup and we needed to keep them away from each other as much as possible (which was very hard to do in our very small house).

After this initial "new" phase wore off, we then started to deal with realizing baby wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. I was starting to struggle with breast feeding (another post for another day) and a good majority of my day was spent nursing, sometimes locked away in the bedroom for an hour and a half at a time. Lucas wasn't too keen on me spending all of my time with Max & we started to have some outbursts of a different time. Balancing my time between needing to be with Max & keep him happy while also making sure Lucas didn't feel neglected was hard. I was so grateful for my sister being here in town & M being home from work, because it made it easier to distract him while I did what I needed to do, but it wasn't a fool-proof plan and Lucas quickly became a stage five clinger.

After those first two weeks, however, things have seemed to ease up a little. Lucas has lost a little interest, in that he's not wanting to be completely all over Max ALL THE TIME. He has also been spending some time with a friend & her two year old, which has helped tremendously in him getting some energy out & additional attention. With M still being out of town dealing with the death of his father, it's been tough for me to manage two kids all on my own for the first time. I am BEYOND grateful that my mom was able to fly in from Germany for a week to help out & ease the transition a bit, and now that the kids & I are solo, we are managing the day to day as best we can, something that would have eventually needed to happen anyways. In all honesty, its been a heartbreaking adjustment for me at times -- there is nothing like a mom's guilt to send you over the edge, but we, myself specifically, are learning and adjusting, figuring out ways to include all in the process, whatever that may be. I in NO WAY have mastered this yet, and Lucas makes sure to push all of my buttons when I can't get up to take care of him right that minute (part of this, I think, is general toddler attitude, as we are quickly approaching two!) but slowly we will get there -- it just may be at a snail's pace.

Lucas's love for Max, however, remains adorable, even if at times it crosses into the "too much" category as far as the little guys personal space. But I have never doubted for a second that Lucas would be an amazing big brother, and I cannot wait for the time when Max can interact more with him (although I'm not quite ready YET. Stay small, little dude!) Two boys has already proven to be such a rewarding experience, on so many levels. My heart is more full today than it was when we brought Max home three weeks ago.

February 1, 2014


I'm sitting here at the hospital, feeling like since Max is sleeping & my mom is currently hogging him, I should take advantage of the time and do some updating. I have wanted to update the blog for a while -- I missed both the one week and two week updates for Max -- as I have a lot to say about bringing a second child home, helping the first adjust, breast feeding, and just life in general. 

But then things happened, as they always do. When Max was just 10 days old, we raced to the hospital late one night with Lucas, who had a nasty, nasty case of croup. It was bad. Like, the poor kid was struggling to breath & scared the shit out of us, and Lucas, bad. THANK GOODNESS my sister was here & she was able to stay at the house with Max. Taking him to a germy hospital was not ideal & I'm glad she was able to stay behind. 

Just a few days later, my husband got a phone call from his aunt. His father had passed away from a suspected heart attack earlier that morning & he flew out the next day. As I type this, he is still in Oregon, trying to take care of all the details -- he is the last surviving family member so the list is daunting and long, including cleaning out my FIL's house which could serve as it's own episode of a Hoarders. 

One week later, at seventeen days new -- just YESTERDAY -- Max was diagnosed with RSV. Which brings us here, having spent one night so far in the hospital already to be monitored & treated. 

When we found out about my FIL, my mom booked a ticket to come out to help. All the way from Germany, y'all. And I can honestly say I don't know what I would do without her. She has been a huge help as we managed the day to day, and has been here at the hospital with me helping with Max and trading sleep shifts. Words cannot express enough how grateful I am for another friend who took Lucas for the night -- no questions asked -- and is keeping him until we get out. Hopefully today. 

But man -- you guys. Post-partum is hard enough. My emotions & hormones are already all over the place as I figure out the balance of our new life & "come down" from pregnancy. Adding all of this? I feel one of two things is going to happen. I'm either going to glide through all of this like it was no big deal, or there is a very epic breakdown waiting to happen on the other side when I have two minutes to decompress and breath. I'm hoping for the gliding. REALLY hoping for the gliding. 

So there we have it. Life these days. It's been a rough start to our new chapter but if what they say is true and bad things come in threes, then we are done for a while. Fingers crossed, right?