William: Month 2

Will-

Today you are 2 months old! Ever since you were a few days old, I have felt like you were older than your chronological age and the feeling has only increased as time has gone on. Yesterday we participated in a developmental study and the researcher commented that you looked and acted older than 2 months in every way possible and it was nice to know that other people see it too. You are so grown, yet so small.

2mo5

You are a delight. I can’t underscore this enough. You are just the most pleasant little person on this planet. You sleep like a champ (except yesterday when you decided that napping was just not necessary, but notably you were pleasant about it), you smile, you coo. You’re just an exceptional type of baby and I am persistently baffled by how easy you are.

2mo1

I decided to transition you out of your Rock n Play because your head is getting a little flat on one side (note: not the RnP’s fault, it’s just something I can fix easier in other sleeping settings) and I was scared because your brother’s transition was a 4 month nightmare. But you were like, huh, okay, this is different. I guess I’ll just sleep here instead. I mean, you startled off and on and your hands were basically doing their own Bob Fosse production for half the night, but you slept anyway. That’s just one example, but it’s basically how you are about everything.

2mo8

This month you seemed to really wake up. You smile pretty regularly now and it overtakes your whole face and is pretty much the greatest thing ever. It is impossible to not smile back at you. You coo and happily grunt when you see your dad or me, which is also a pretty great feeling. And I get special happy noises before you nurse. It makes me feel so important in some small way, and it’s great.

2mo7

Speaking of nursing, you continue to be an eater. You’re getting efficient enough that we don’t spend hours nursing, but you still want to eat pretty much constantly from 7-10pm and get pretty outraged when there is not sufficient supply to do that. You took your first bottle this month and you weren’t a big fan, but you drank all 2oz. And then nursed again afterwards. As a celebration, I assume. At 2 months you’re 13 pounds, which is a solid 2 pounds bigger than your brother. You have adorable chubby thighs and rolls and I didn’t even know I could make a chubby baby, but I could eat you alive.

2mo

Your likes this month include: Mom, dad, aunt Claire (she is the baby whisperer), eating, the swing, the floor gym, your own reflection and eating.

2mo3

Your dislikes this month include: the car seat unless it’s in motion, the stroller unless it’s in motion, being put down or handed to your dad between 7 and 10pm. That’s about it.

dislikes

I always imagined having 2 children would be persistently difficult, and there are very difficult moments, but by and large, it’s just not nearly as challenging as I imagined. And it’s because you are just the sweetest, most easy going baby. You are happy to sleep, to play on the floor, to be held or rocked, to sit with someone or just whatever we need you to do in the moment. You go with the flow without a fuss. I do often feel guilty that you don’t get the one-on-one attention that your brother got, but I suppose that’s the nature of being the second born.

2mo2

I return to work in just under 4 weeks and I am so sad. We’ve had quiet Tuesdays and Thursdays while Eli is at preschool and I realized that once I return to work, I won’t get alone time with you any more. Not to mention that we’ll go from never having been apart to spending 24+ hours apart each week. I know it’s good for both of us in a lot of ways and I know it needs to happen since we prefer to have money to put food on the table, but I will miss you tremendously. I’m already dreading it.

2mo6

These past 2 months have been some of the best of my entire life. You have been a bright light in our lives and I cannot imagine a day without you. I found that when Eli was a baby, I wanted time to slow down because I wanted to savor each moment and stage. But with you, I want time to speed up because I’m so excited for all the amazing things you’re going to do. I’m so excited to really know you, to find out who you’re going to be, what you’re going to be like. And more than anything else, I’m excited to spend the rest of my life as your mother. You are a gift and I am just the luckiest person for having you.

2mo4

Happy 2 months, William. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

Childcare Conundrum: Version 2.0

Everything that’s old is new again.

4 weeks from today, I return to work. I don’t particularly want to talk about this because I am devastated about it and there’s nothing I can do to stop the days from passing, but it is happening. And at that time, Will needs to be in daycare. Eli’s preschool situation is great, all sorted out and it seemed for one bright shining moment like Will’s was going to be simple.

My work is moving to a new location and it happens to be in the same parking lot as a daycare. Perfect right? Well, not as perfect as I want it to be.

We’ll call the place next to my work Daycare A. While Daycare A does have space for Will and they are licensed for babies his age, I’m just not sure it’s where I want to send my baby. The space for the infants is small. Like, really small. And that small space will be shared with 7 other kids (for 2 adults to watch), which would be totally fine if all the babies were Will’s age. But they’re not. Daycare A’s infant room goes up to 18 months. I’m concerned that the room is small enough that Will won’t be able to play on the floor without kids falling all over him and the germ sharing seems not just inevitable as it would be in any daycare, but in this space, I cannot imagine that he won’t catch every single bug that any of the other kids brings in.

They have a separate sleeping room with a door connected to the play room, which is fine and well, though no one would be able to see Will easily if he was having difficulties (he has a tendency to spit up A LOT while laying down) and he would have to go into full on hysterics before anyone would know he was awake. Also, while I was visiting, all three of the kids were in “containers” (swing, bouncer, high chair), which I can totally understand because I don’t know how any one person takes care of 3 young kids alone, but it’s not really so much what I want. Also, the person watching the kids was in her early 20s and had pink hair, which cool. I’m just saying. Daycare A is older and dark and basically my first impression was not great.

So, after looking at Daycare A, I decided to look at another option. It’s 3.5 miles away from my work, which translates to a roughly 10 minute drive. Don’t worry, there will be a map.

We will call this Daycare B. Daycare B is run by a major daycare corporation with branches all over the place. They have “curriculum” for the infants, they do tummy time and floor time and art and all that from a very young age. They have a huge, giant, clean, bright play area, separated from an open eating area, separated from an open and easily visible sleeping area. The kids who were at Daycare B when I visited were playing and eating and it was quiet and delightful. Also, the two women who work in the infant room are older and do this for a living. Each has been with this company for over 10 years. The children transition at 14 months, or once they are proficient walkers (so they don’t get trampled in the toddler room).

Now, Daycare A and B cost the same, like, within 4 dollars a month of each other (which, side note: holy shit licensed daycare for infants is INSANELY expensive.). They both provide food once baby is on solid foods, they both provide linens for the bed and both will accommodate a wedge for Will’s crib.

To further complicate matters, there is a secret option Daycare C, which is the same daycare center as Daycare B, but located close to my house, and I’m including it because geography is a huge part of my debate.

If Daycare A and B were equally close/far from my work, I’d pick B in a heartbeat, without a second thought, it’s that much nicer and I feel that much more comfortable with it. But they’re not equally close. At Daycare A I could go nurse Will during a break without missing a beat, it’s literally 25 feet away. I could visit him throughout the day if I wanted. At Daycare B I could go nurse on my lunch break, but it would involve 20 minutes in the car. Daycare B is also kind of a pain in the ass for drop off, but it’s doable. Daycare C has that advantage as it’s super close to home, but is then far from work and I couldn’t go visit during the day if I wanted to unless I had at least 90 minutes to burn.

So, here’s a map. It’s drawn relatively to scale-ish.

map

There is a freeway onramp close to Eli’s school, which I didn’t include. Most of the driving once Eli is dropped off is on the freeway, though I had some side street options if needed.

Basically, if I used Daycare C, I’d drop off Will, then drop off Eli, then drive to work. If I used Daycare B, I’d drop Eli off, then drop Will off, then go to work. Daycare B is one freeway exit from my work, though I think side streets are actually faster.

And that’s it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to prioritize. I don’t know if I’m downgrading Daycare A purely because it’s not as new and shiny as Daycare B, or if my concerns (space, age and quality of providers) is legitimate. I am waaaaaay too emotionally ramped up to be logical. So. Thoughts?

If it was your 12 week old baby, and cost isn’t a factor, which daycare would you go with, and why?

Latched

This is a post about breastfeeding. If that’s not your thing for any reason (like it you don’t like the word nipple, because I use that word way too many times), you’ll want to skip this. I promise it’s not sanctimonious or anything like that, it’s just very boob heavy.

So, quick recap for those who are new-ish here. When Eli was born, he wouldn’t nurse. I mean, absolutely wouldn’t. He didn’t eat until he was 24 hours old and the lactation consultant gave him formula through tubing on her finger. He latched one time without a nipple shield when he was a week old in the LC’s office and then never again. We had some very limited success with the nipple shield, but he’d nurse for over an hour then scream hysterically until he got a bottle. And then I’d pump and 20 minutes later we’d start all over again. So between the marathon shield nursing and still having to pump, it was too much for me. At 5 weeks, I quit trying to nurse and exclusively pumped and supplemented as needed with formula. I was insufferably whiny about it, cried a lot and did it for all the wrong reasons. I vowed that wouldn’t be the case this time and thankfully, it hasn’t.

When Will was about 10 minutes old, I attempted to get him to breastfeed. I had a lot of negative memories about the nursing process and was really apprehensive, but to my surprise and relief, he latched immediately, just like the nurses said he would. It was the weirdest feeling on earth. I can’t even describe it. It wasn’t comfortable, but the relief I felt that he could and would do it, was unbelievable. Within about 2 minutes I realized that for as much effort as I put into Eli’s eating, I had no idea how to breastfeed.

That first night, all Will wanted to do was eat. Eli had slept almost entirely through the first night, despite our attempts to wake and feed him, so we were completely shocked when Will didn’t. That was just the first of about 10 million times Will taught us that hey, not every baby is the same. Anyway, he nursed almost continuously for hours and hours until we both fell asleep sitting up in the hospital bed. By the morning, my nipples were cracked and bleeding and I began to dread nursing as much as I wanted to do it. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but I didn’t know it would outright hurt. And the fact that my uterus contracted every time Will latched (for almost a WEEK) made the process even more unpleasant.

My milk came in on the third or fourth day, not all at once like everyone described, but sort of gradually throughout a day. By the fourth day I was literally asking for something to bite down on when he latched because that’s how painful it was. His spit up was laced with blood from the scabs that would break open every time he nursed. If anyone tells you nursing isn’t painful, they are a lying liar. It hurts.

When Will was 5 days old we went to a breastfeeding clinic where a lactation consultant fixed his latch (it wasn’t deep enough and basically I needed to smother him a bit more). And it was like a miracle. It still hurt for him to latch, but the pain went from toe curling and shriek inducing (I literally cried out every time he latched) to just teeth gritting. The next day it hurt a little less and each day got better. By the time the 2 week growth spurt hit, even nursing for 4 hours was only mildly uncomfortable (and exhausting).

After 2 weeks, I started trying to nurse out of the house. Once again, it was much more stressful than I imagined. I think I had this idealized version of nursing where it was easy and natural and simple and though it can be all those things eventually, it isn’t that way at first. There’s not a lot of space at tables at restaurants for your arms and the baby. There’s nothing to support the baby on your lap except your arms, which you need to get things lined up. The blanket fell down repeatedly (we now use a cover with a neck strap and my life has changed). The baby latched and unlatched a hundred times and milk got everywhere. There were times where I really wished I could just pull out a bottle and feed him that way.

As with most things, it really has gotten easier with time. Will is a voracious eater- he’s up to 11lb 4oz at 6.5 weeks and is gaining almost a pound each week (for comparison, Eli was 10lb 14oz at 2 months…). I never made enough milk pumping for Eli and supplemented from the very first week, but somehow I’m keeping up with Will and he’s not yet had a drop of anything other than breast milk. While I’m not one of those militant breastfeeders who quote studies all day long, Eli and I both caught a miserable cold and Will escaped it (not for a lack of the toddler coughing on everything), so the breastmilk must be doing something.

And, as much as I didn’t want it to be true before, there is something kind of unique and special about nursing. I don’t want to imply that you can’t bond with a bottle fed baby because that’s not true at all. Eli and I bonded very well over his bottles. But there’s something about being the only person that can provide what is wanted/needed that is very different and admittedly, really cool. Will is happiest when he’s eating (though he is a very content baby) and feeling his little body relax as he latches and eats is just the sweetest thing in the world.

So. That’s a thousand words to basically say that hey, nursing is hard and it hurts at first, but we’re doing it! It’s working! I’m enjoying it! And also, in case you wondered, every baby is different.

Let’s Talk About Car Seats: Graco 4Ever Review!

Before we get started on this I want to be completely transparent with this post. When I heard about this seat, I reached out to Graco and asked if I could review it. It’s one that has the potential to completely change the car seat market and I really wanted to find out for me and for you, if it was all it’s cracked up to be (spoiler alert: it is). I did receive the car seat for free to review, but am not being paid at all to write this, nor was I given suggestions about what to write. All my opinions are mine and mine alone and are not at all influenced by the free car seat. I pinkie swear and promise and all of that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Talk About Car Seats: Preventing Accidental Hyperthermia [and Giveaway!]

While in some parts of the country the warm season is winding down, here on the west coast it is still blazing hot. And with the heat comes a scary and serious problem: hyperthermia. We’ve all read the stories about parents accidentally leaving their children in the car (and sometimes not so accidentally, but that is a different story altogether) and the tragic consequences, but all to often we think it could never happen to us. I think part of that is ignorance and part of it is not wanting to imagine the possibility.

I don’t believe that accidental death due to hyperthermia is the result of someone being a bad parent, but rather the result of our lives being rushed, of lack of sleep and/or of ever changing routines. I do believe that these deaths are entirely preventable and need to be a part of every parent’s routine. While I’m sure there are many ways to do this, I thought I would share a few that I’ve heard have been successful.

The easiest way is to put your purse, briefcase or wallet in the backseat next to the car seat. By doing that, you absolutely have to get into the backseat and will (hopefully) notice that your child is there. It doesn’t take any extra time to do this and after you drop your kids off, you can move your things to the front seat. It’s easy and highly effective.

Another option is to put something in the front seat as a reminder. I’ve heard of some parents putting a stuffed animal in the front seat whenever their child is in the car seat (and then put the animal in the seat when the child’s gone) as a visual reminder that their child is there.

A third option is an alarm of some sort. You can set an alarm on your phone for the time you would drop off or arrive at work to remind you to check. You could have a plan with daycare to call if the child isn’t there by a certain time or have your spouse, significant other or a friend call you to make sure.

While this option isn’t quite as simple as the others, there is a wonderful car seat that takes this concern into account. The First Year’s True Fit with iAlert is a car seat with a sensor inside of it, which not only tells you the temperature in the car, but also shows the angle of the car seat, if the seat becomes unbuckled while the car is in motion and will call or text you if the car is turned off and the child is still in the car seat. It’s a great seat for a parent who’s extra concerned about this particular issue.

All these options are great and for the most part, quick and easy. And now Dorel, who makes Safety 1st, Maxi Cosi and Cosco products, to name a few, has come up with another way. Thirty years ago this month, they introduced the Baby on Board sign that we now see on cars all over the country. The yellow triangle serves to alert other drivers, parents, first aid workers, etc, that a child rides in that vehicle. Safety 1st says that it has helped “unite families everywhere on the journey of parenthood” and it has no doubt become a very recognizable image.

As times have changed, so that the focus of Safety 1st and starting in 2015, they will be introducing another sign aimed to reduce accidental deaths due to hyperthermia. Each Baby on Board sign will come with a “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock” sign, used as a reminder to parents to check their cars. It may not seem like a huge deal, but a small visual reminder like that, even on someone else’s vehicle, may be all it takes to trigger a parent’s memory and save a child’s life.

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Safety 1st reached out to me and offered to giveaway 30 “Baby on Board” signs to readers here. The first 30 commenters will receive the signs. I will do one per vehicle- up to 2 per person, if desired, and the comments will stay open until all the signs are taken. Please make sure your email address is one I can reasonably reach you at. A big thank you to Safety 1st for continuing to put children’s safety ahead of all else. Hopefully this campaign, in addition to some of the steps above, will go a long way to making sure that we don’t lose more children to hyperthermia in cars.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. Safety 1st reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a giveaway and I decided to do it. No money or products were exchanged!

What a Difference a Month Makes!

Time for round 2 of the monthly growth photos. We were lucky to get another adorable animal made by the same person. And I have told her that if she opens an etsy shop I will link it here because I love these animals.

1 day!
1 day

1 month and 1 day!
1 month

The raccoon is about the same size torso as the lion, but the raccoon head is smaller. So Will isn’t a giant, necessarily, he’s just got a smaller ruler.

Let’s Talk About Car Seats: Aftermarket Products

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week and as such I’m going to try hard to get back on the blogging train. In addition to this post there will be a small giveaway as well as a car seat review I’ve been working on. I have an unexpected out of town funeral on Friday, so depending upon how much time I have, the “week” may last more than 7 days.

So today we’re going to talk about aftermarket products. What is an aftermarket product? In this context, it’s anything you add to your car or car seat that did not come with it. And every car seat manufacturer forbids them. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your child more comfortable in their car seat.

Strap Covers
One of the most common aftermarket products that I see, and that I used before I knew better, were harness strap covers. Now, if your car seat comes with them, you’re fine, use as directed in the manual, however, if your car seat did not come with them, you shouldn’t be adding any to the seat. The fact is, we don’t know how those strap covers will impact the performance in a crash. Maybe your seat didn’t come with them because when crash tested with strap covers, something went wrong. Maybe the strap covers add so much bulk, like a thick coat, that you’re not getting the harness as snug as you think. The bottom line is that your car seat forbids them and they void the warranty.

Since I myself used them before I knew better, I empathize with the reason behind these. The harness straps can irritate sensitive skin on a child’s neck and may be uncomfortable. If your seat didn’t come with strap covers, you have 2 options. First, you can call your car seat manufacturer and ask if there are any approved strap covers. Some companies will send you some that have been crash tested with their seat and are safe for use. This won’t work for every seat/company, but it’s worth trying. If that doesn’t work, pulling a child’s shirt up will help somewhat. If you pull the shirt collar up so that it goes between the harness and the neck, the skin won’t get as irritated. Bonus points if the shirt has ears on it. Obviously.

neck

Head Supports
Another very common aftermarket product, particularly found in infant bucket seats, are head supports. Some car seats come with these (and even then, I personally don’t love all of them), but adding an aftermarket support to a seat can present a very serious and real risk. Very commonly, these head supports cause the head to be pushed forward in the seat, which can cause the airway to be obstructed. This is obviously a very serious issue and I can’t overstate how important it is not to use these.

If your newborn has a hard time maintaining an upright head in their car seat (my boys practically look decapitated at times), there is a safe option to keep the head upright and keep them centered in the seat. Take 2 thin receiving blankets or small towels, roll them up and tuck them on the sides of the seat next to baby. This will keep their body centered in the seat and support the head without pushing it forward. It works like a charm. Will sleeps so much better in his seat when I do this.

blankets

Car Seat Covers
If you look online, there are a number of very cute handmade car seat covers. I know it happens where a seat cover gets destroyed by a child or you have a baby of a different sex and want a new cover. But, purchasing a handmade cover, especially one that goes over an existing cover, is not a safe option. Car seats in the US are required to have fire retardants present on the seat covers which may prevent a child from being injured in a car fire. In addition, the car seat covers that go over the cover that came with the seat add an extra layer between the child and the harness, which could be dangerous in a crash and may mask an improperly tightened harness.

So, what do you do if your cover gets ruined or if you need to change a pink seat to blue? Call the company. They can very, very frequently help you with this. You can use another cover from the same make/model car seat if you have one or have access to it, but be sure it’s the same and fits the seat properly.

Clip on Fans
One common reason for turning a child around to forward face is that they don’t get adequate air flow. As it is going to be over 100 degrees all this week and I have two rear facing boys, I totally get this. I’ve seen a lot of people recommend a clip on fan to provide airflow to rear facers and the idea is good, but the reality is dangerous. In a crash, that fan would very easily come unclipped and hit a child in the face, hard. Imagine having one of those fans thrown at your face and that’s what your child would experience in a crash.

So, how can you keep your kids cool? You can cool the car before you get in or use a cover or towel to keep the seat cool. We purchased something called a Noggle earlier this year and it is the best. It attaches to your a/c vents and funnels the air to wherever you point it. It works very well and is easy to use. They post discounts on their FB page occasionally, but for us it was worth the full price.

noggle2

noggle

Mirrors
So this one is tricky. There are a few mirrors I will absolutely recommend against. The ones with lights and speakers and all that should not be used for the same reason as the clip on fans. They’re heavy and in a crash they can become a heavy and dangerous projectile pointed at your child’s head.

That said, I have mirrors in my car. I will not tell you to use them (in fact, if you ask I’ll tell you not to) or guarantee their safety, but I’ll share my personal rationale. I use the lightest weight plastic mirrors on the market. Ones that I would totally be okay throwing at my kids (which is to say they’re light and wouldn’t do any damage). I use them because I’m not comfortable not being able to see my kids. I drive less distractedly when I can see the boys than when I have to call back to Eli or hope Will’s head isn’t falling off his neck.

mirror

Seat Protectors
This is a common aftermarket product in newer cars and cars with leather. Parents are worried, reasonably, about the car seat damaging their seats, so they purchase “seat protectors” which are typically thick mats that go under the car seat. Unfortunately, these are known far and wide to mask a poor installation. That is, they make the car seat seem like it moves less than it really does by adding friction under the base.

If you are super concerned about your seats you have a few choices. One, you can take your car seats out occasionally and oil your seats (if they’re leather. I can’t say I would recommend oiling fabric seats…), which will help protect the vehicle seats. The other option is a very lightweight receiving blanket under the car seat. Check with your manual as some will strictly forbid ANYTHING from going under the seat, but most companies are okay with this. There are a few companies who have made seat protectors for their car seats. You can always call your car seat manufacturer and ask if there are any and where to buy them.

That doesn’t cover every aftermarket product, but it’s the most common ones I’ve seen and even a few I’ve used. If you have questions about specific products, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I have a free moment/hand.

William: Month 1

Will-

Today you are one month old! This month flew by for us, I can’t believe it’s over. And at the same time, I feel like I’ve known you forever.

will1

I don’t want to spend all these letters comparing you to Eli, but it will happen. I don’t mean for it to, but as parents, Eli is all we know so far, so he’s sort of our measuring stick. Before you were born, we were a little scared to have a second baby. I think some form of sleep deprivation amnesia convinced me that your brother was an easy baby and we were scared we’d get a “difficult” baby this time. Instead, we got you. And if anything, you’ve served to show me that your brother was not an easy baby.

will2

You are a born nurser. You latched within the first ten minutes you were alive and pretty much have yet to stop. At one week old you weighed 6lb 14oz and yesterday at 4 weeks old you were almost 9.5 pounds. If you have access to milk, you are the most content person on the earth.

will9

Each morning you take a 1.5-2 hour nap in the swing and each afternoon you take a 2+ hour nap on me. You cat nap throughout the day but those big naps are delightfully reliable. I should be putting you down somewhere in the afternoon, but I don’t want to. I want to soak up your babyhood because I know how quickly it vanishes.

will5

You unfortunately inherited your fathers very significant gastro-esophageal reflux, which is pretty heartbreaking to watch. You gag and cough and cry out multiple times a day and I really can’t blame you for being upset. It looks unbelievably unpleasant and we’re working on a plan to make you more comfortable, starting with excluding dairy from my diet (see, I love you more than cheese, and I love cheese A LOT). You have a particular knack for spitting up down my shirt, usually right as we’re walking out the door. We do a lot of laundry these days.

will10

Your likes this month include: eating, mom, eating, sleeping on mom, Aunt Claire the baby whisperer, eating and having a full stomach.

will11

Your dislikes this month include: hunger, the car seat, the car, riding in the car in the car seat while hungry, reflux.

will12

On Saturday morning I reached down and grabbed you out of your bed to nurse you. You looked at me, really looked at me, and then you gave me your first ever intentional smile. I’ve gotten one more since then and it too was preceded with a very clear and careful examination of my face. You seem to have this very conscientious way about you, even though that sounds ridiculous since you’re a tiny infant. You watch things so careful, with so much intent, and it makes you seem wise far, far beyond your age. I sometimes forget just how little you are.

will8

One of the things I fought so hard for with your brother was the mother/baby bond that nursing was supposed to give us. And this time it’s just there. I’m your person. Sometimes you cry and all you want is me. All I have to do is sit down nearby or call your name and the relief is almost palpable. It’s an indescribably cool feeling and honestly, I feel the same way about you sometimes. When I’m feeling stressed or frustrated, a few minutes with you in my arms seems to make that all melt away.

will4

I know your family loves to see and hold and love you, but at times I feel incomplete without you at my side. You have stretched our hearts and extended our family into this beautiful group of four. The love we all feel for you and for one another is a feeling I can’t describe. We are just the luckiest four souls on this earth and it’s because you and your brother made us into this incredible little family.

will6

I won’t say our family is complete now, but your presence has gone a long way to making us whole and reminding us how very lucky we are.

will 4

William, we have only known you for a month, but already we love you so very much. And we can’t wait to see what next month will bring.

Love,
Mom

To the Woman at Target

To the Woman at Target-

I don’t know if you even remember me. Our encounter on Wednesday was very brief, and I know I thanked you repeatedly, but I wanted to take a minute to elaborate on how grateful I am.

Two weeks ago at the same checkout stand at the same Target, my son had a meltdown. Not the baby this time, but my 2 year old. It was our fault. He had been struggling with the big brother transition, threw a major fit when we were leaving, which pushed my husband and me into an argument and we ended up not leaving until an hour later than we had planned. Which meant it was lunch time, and if you’ve never encountered a hungry toddler, you are lucky.

Anyway, Eli wanted to touch the conveyer belt, but it was time to get out of the way for the next person and he lost it. He fell to the floor as though all the bones fell out of his body, he cried (not screamed). I went and grabbed him quickly and let my husband pay. I also had the baby with me, who was only a few days old and was thankfully sleeping. As all this happened, the person in line behind us got irritated. She sighed, audibly, several times. She made eye contact with me and rolled her eyes. She ended up mumbling something about people controlling their kids and then moved to a different register. Eli’s fit lasted all of 10-15 seconds before I pulled him away, but she was so obviously inconvenienced by it and I was mortified and angry.

So on Wednesday, when a similar scene started to play out, I wanted badly to run away.

You couldn’t have known how hard that day had already been. It was my very first day home with both boys without any help. Will and I had been awake for at least a part of every hour that night and we were both exhausted as a result. Eli had a sinus infection and pink eye and had woken up hysterical because he couldn’t open his eye. We had to get out of the house for an 8:45 pediatrician appointment which resulted in me carrying two crying children to the car and all of us being at the pediatrician in various parts of our pajamas, 5 minutes late.

There was no place I wanted to be less than Target, but it’s the pharmacy we use and I needed to get Eli’s eye drops asap. I almost cried when they said it would be a half an hour to get his prescriptions ready because I knew that there was no way both boys would be okay for 30 minutes. But there wasn’t much I could do. Coming back later would be even worse, and so I plopped Eli in the cart (with a cart cover, I was trying to minimize him touching anything) and put Will in his car seat in the back of the cart and we started killing time.

For 15 minutes, we were okay. And then Will lost it. He was just so tired. I tried a pacifier, I even let him suck on my finger, but nothing helped. He was beet red and wailing. I didn’t think he was hungry, but I knew we needed to sit down somewhere so I could take him out and try. So I went to the checkout area, where we met. Will was in hysterics and all the registers were full. The checker told me to go to customer service since I only had 4 items, but the line there was even longer.

As I was pulling Will out of his car seat to try to calm him down (while in line and pushing my cart), you approached me. You said that I could go in front of you. And then you helped me push my cart, unloaded my items, waited for me to pay and then reloaded them. Our encounter lasted all of 2 minutes, max. I never would’ve asked for help, but you saw me, really saw what was going on despite my attempts to seem fine, and didn’t hesitate to help. I was so worried I was inconveniencing people with my crying baby and feeling so embarrassed when you extended that kindness.

I have been told many times that it takes a village to raise children. Two weeks ago, I cried after a trip to Target because I felt so alone, as though there was no village left. But on Wednesday, which had all the makings of a terrible day, I walked out of the store feeling supported. Those two minutes of your time, the two minutes of caring you gave to me and my boys will not be forgotten. And someday, when I have my act more together and I see someone struggling, I hope to provide the same kind of help to another mother or father who is struggling.

Thank you so very much for being a part of my village.

Katie

The Transition

In the months and weeks leading up to Will’s birth, we did everything we could to help prepare Eli for the impending change. At first, he would just outright deny that there was going to be a baby. If you asked him anything about a baby or a big brother, the answer was no. Period. Even when the question was not a yes or no one.

But as time passed, he began to get a little more with the program. He would say that yes, he was going to have a little brother (he would still say no if you said baby, oddly) and yes, he was going to be a good big brother. We read a book one night where a big brother saves a little brother and it was like there was a light switch that flipped. He kept exclaiming “big brudder!” and pointing to himself and the book. We breathed a small sigh of relief that at the very least, he seemed to be understanding.

He did great the 2 days we were in the hospital, including when we Facetimed and he got to see the baby. I was hopeful that it wasn’t going to be as rough of a transition as we had imagined.

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When we got home Saturday night, he heard us open the door, yelled Mama! took one look at the baby and turned around and ran away. He wouldn’t look at me, hug me or give me the time of day. When I took the baby out of his car seat, he flipped. He repeatedly yelled “ALL DONE” over and over until I handed Will off to someone else and picked him up instead. He got a little more okay with the baby that evening and went to bed pretty easily, which was a surprise to me. Again, I thought maybe things weren’t going to be so tough.

Spoiler alert here: I was wrong.

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Everyday since Will has come home has been a different struggle. There was one night where Eli just could not go to sleep. He screamed and cried and wanted to sleep with a sippy cup of milk and wanted up and hugs and it was just awful. And after an hour, my husband had to rock him to sleep. He has never been rocked to sleep a day in his life. My once easy going kid now picks every single battle known to man. WHe threw his biggest tantrum to date last week because we wanted to take him to the pool (for some one-on-one time with dad) which he very, very much wanted to do, but he wouldn’t put on his shoes and only wanted to wear my shoes, which I needed to wear. It went on for seriously like 30 minutes, if not longer. And it was so sad to watch because you knew that it wasn’t really about shoes.

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And that’s kind of how things have gone. So many fits and battles and you can just tell that he just wants order in his world again. After a month or two off, he’s back to lining up cars pretty obsessively every day, several times a day. He will only wear certain shoes, he will only eat certain foods, he will only wear certain clothes. It’s like a lot of the progress we made getting him to be less rigid in the past few months has been completely undone. He’s the most rigid he’s ever been with everything.

Logically, I know that this is a normal kind of reaction (mostly). Everything he had ever known has changed. He’s no longer the center of attention, there’s this brother he doesn’t understand, who cries a lot. His world has been rocked and is out of order. Emotionally, I feel like a monster. As if I have broken his spirit completely. I hate that he’s fighting so hard to control things because it’s such a grown up response and he’s still so little. I don’t want him to feel like he can’t rely on us to keep his life stable because that’s our job.

(We are not going to be discussing this haircut except to say that it is NOT what I requested and soooooooob.)
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There are good moments amongst the angst. He gave William a kiss on the head the other day, he told him goodnight (unprompted) another night. He asks to sit next to me, and will climb onto our laps while we have the baby at times. He plays happily for much of the day, though he’s definitely testing limits there too. It’s not all bad and I don’t want to make it seem that way, it’s just been so different and it’s challenging on a number of levels. He is still the same sweet boy he has always been, he’s just got a shorter fuse and a lot more tears.

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It’s a challenge for both of us, really. The guilt for me, of having changed his life so much. And the struggle for him, of making sense of all these changes. When I imagined this transition, I expected more tears, more clinginess, tantrums and sleep disruptions. I didn’t expect the obvious anxiety that Eli feels. I didn’t expect him to reject me as often as he does now (though I understand it). We are both learning how to make sense of things again and what our new normal is. I tell him a hundred times a day how much I love him and I hope that in the end, that will be enough to carry us both through this transition.

Welcome!
I'm Katie, a 30-year-old, wife, mom, former teacher-turned PT, who also had brain surgery in November of 2007. This blog chronicles my daily life, from mundane to crazy, often with far too much detail. Sit down, get comfortable and stay for a while.
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