Baby’s First Birthday Party

It was officially time for Cora’s first birthday party!

I learned people either believe first birthday parties are over done and too much or they are just like me and love a reason to celebrate.  Maybe I fall somewhere in the middle. Of course I didn’t over do it because my husband killed my bounce house idea:)  But I also realize I have one, maybe two years tops, of doing her party the way I want to do it before she has her own opinion.  So pumpkins and pink and gold glitter it was.  Just at our home surrounded by loads of friends and family.  We had cupcakes from the same bakery that made our wedding cake, baby shower cake, baptism cake, and all the birthday cakes in between.  We had food and we had booze.  We asked people to show up at 1pm but they showed up at 11am instead.  We had windows thrown open, people crammed in corners, laughter from all angles and the dog happily underfoot picking up the crumbs.

Cora had a pumpkin onesie and pink and gold tutu with matching headband.  All carefully picked from Etsy.  She, amazingly, handled all the people quite well after a well-timed morning nap.  She had no problem figuring out how to open presents and happily showed each one to her little cousin.  She got 6 John Deere tractors, several cars and one dump truck.  (She loves anything with wheels!) She got a ton of wooden puzzles, touch and feel books, legos and balls.  She got one of the worst outfits I have ever seen and an outfit in a size 6?!  Our house is now overflowing with every gadget that has noise and lights.

We all gathered around her and lit her first candle while we sang happy birthday. She looked, wide-eyed, at the flame in front of her and continually tried to grab at it.  Eventually I blew it out for her.  It took her some time but she eventually dug in.  The mess that resulted required a rinse down in the sink and an outfit no longer fit for a party but we didn’t care by then.

Later she settled in for a nap and people settled in for more bottles of wine.  I looked around at all of my amazing friends and family.  You know, some people don’t understand a one year old’s birthday party because the baby will never remember.  I get it, I do.  But it wasn’t just about celebrating her first birthday. It was about my husband and I celebrating the survival of our first year of parenting a baby together.  Keeping her alive for the first year.  Making it through the 4 month sleep regression, the first teeth, the first baby flu, the never-ending first nights, and all the other firsts with her.  It was about celebrating with our friends, who stood by us, supported us, were patient with us, and love our child even though they don’t have to.

I have to say it was even a bit emotional as all these women and I gathered around Cora in her high chair to take a picture.  All these amazing, strong, women who she can look to for support and guidance as she grows older.  These women who each have their crazy own stories and journey’s.  My village.  My people.  My family.  Her village.  Her people.  Her family.

The last person left the party at 11pm that night.  Cora lasted till 9pm before crashing.  I sat on the couch with my husband, lingering over a glass of wine, talking about the party.  Talking about where we were at in our lives a year ago.  Two years ago.  Talking about how happy we were to just be there in that moment.

Tomorrow, on her actual birthday, just the Husband and I will take the day off.  We will take her to the Children’s Museum in the city and walk around downtown looking at the fall trees.  We will go home and carve pumpkins while watching Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin.  Again, she won’t know what the day means but we will because we will know that a year prior our lives were changing.  Then this weekend the hubby and I will go to dinner and celebrate our 4th anniversary.  Another day that changed our lives.  I can truly tell you, I don’t know where I would be without all of our Octobers.  I also can’t wait to see what the next year holds for us.





This is 11 months

Let the mimicking begin! I love this phase.  Cora is becoming more and more interactive by the day.  She repeats words and actions so we really have to watch our pirate mouths around her now.  She has her words she actually knows and then she has her own words for things such as Fenway.  I don’t know how she says it, but we know when she is yelling her own version of the word.  She will stand at the back door and yell for her to come in or come up the steps.  They are just the best of buds.

When she turned 11 months we started getting rid of bottles.  You can read about that here.

She is obsessed with wipes. If I turn my back she will find a wipe container or pull them out of her diaper bag.  She will then go around the house scrubbing everything from the floor to the counters.  I guess that is a good habit for her to pick up.  She also loves to have her own wipe when we change her diaper and she likes to wipe her own business.

She loves cars.  When she was about 9 months old she started making car noises, running her cars all over people and things.  Now it is full blown.  She especially loves to fill up her dump truck and push her important things around in it.  Sippy in back, binky in the cab. Apparently all the kids at day care are also into cars so they sit in a circle and push them back and forth to one another.  Also, it kinda helps daddy drives all these big trucks too!

Every day we go over where our belly button, nose, eyes and mouth are at.  Then one day as I was going over them she stayed one step ahead and pointed them all out to me.  It was a yea, I got this mom, we don’t have to keep talking about it moment.  Now when you ask her where a nose is, you should be prepared, she will aggressively point out your nose.

She has also spent some time perfecting her tantrum as well. I don’t particularly love this phase and I know it will only get worse.  Unfortunately I know she is mimicking the daycare provider’s daughter, who is two, and who has quite the attitude.  Sigh.  This includes throwing herself backwards or forwards onto the floor. Good times.  Picking up bad habits from her friends already.

This month we also had our first code brown situation in the bath tub.  My sister was giving her a bath when we heard the screams for help.  Apparently a side lift happened, she looked right at her aunt and then…floaters.  She was quickly whisked away, dumped in my arms, while the husband was left to Clorox.  Auntie has yet to give another bath.

We have finally moved her into 12 month clothing and I think she has almost hit 19 lbs.  We will find out at her 1 year appointment.  As I finish writing this we are just two days away from her 1st birthday.  These past few weeks have been full of remembering just where we were at last year at this time.  The waiting, the preparation, the bouncing on that damn exercise ball.  And more waiting….amazing how quickly a year flies by versus those 9 months of pregnancy.


Family Dynamics

It is amazing how having a baby changes a family’s dynamic.  Suddenly some family becomes closer to you and your new or growing family.  Sometimes it pushes some family further away.  And then there are other times it just brings out the true colors in the rest.  While we are busy preparing for Cora’s first birthday party this weekend, I am looking back on her first year with all of this family and seeing what she has done for us all.

I have watched my Husband’s parents struggle with their relationship with our daughter.  I think there are several factors that go into this, that with time will get easier.  These are factors though, that I don’t think my Husband or I thought would play such a big part.

Then there are my husbands siblings.  They have more important things to attend to than her baptism, birth or birthday.  They have only seen her very few times, have no relationship with her and don’t know anything about her unless it is posted on Facebook.

On the other hand, I have watched how Cora has brought my siblings and I closer.  My brother called today, as he stood in the toy aisle at Walmart, he was overwhelmed by all the options for a perfect birthday gift.  He didn’t want to screw it up.  Him, his wife, and my nephew drive out more often and join us for more adventures with the kids than they ever did before.

My sister lives with us, so that is a given.

Cora has given my Mom more hope and happiness as we continue to deal with my Dad and his declining Alzheimer’s.

Then there is even more extended family on both sides.  They haven’t made a move to come meet her and for that matter we haven’t made a move to go to them.  Others we have seen more in the past year than we have in the past 5 years combined! It isn’t just about meeting up for the obligatory Christmas dinner anymore because there is a baby to be held on a random day in May!

And then there are the friends we consider family.  The ones that aren’t hesitating giving up their Saturday to attend a 1 years olds birthday party.  (I promised wine though!) These are the ones that Cora also has a relationship with. The ones that lay on the floor with her while she plays whack-a-mole on their heads.  The ones that keep tabs on her.  The ones that ask for more pictures on social media.  (I post too much, I think.)  The ones that are near and far that love her very much and enjoy seeing her grow. The ones that could have distanced themselves from me because they enjoy a kid free life and lets face it, those with babies, can kill a social life.

I’m not pitting this as one family against the other or one friend against the other. I remember when I was pregnant, the hubby and I would talk about the relationships some may have with our child.  You dream about those first meetings after her birth, the holiday get-togethers, the birthday parties.  We eventually had to let all those preconceived notions fly out the window.  They were wrong.  What we have today is a lot of love surrounding us in a way we never could have imagined.  At the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters?

This is where we are at today

We haven’t seen Rebecca since the last week of May.  This week things that have been spiraling out of control with her and have hit an all time low. I fear they will go lower though.  There is so much going on that I can’t write about it, I don’t know how to explain it and quite honestly I don’t want to.  How do you start from the beginning?

It plagues my mind at all hours, I fear my worst nightmares are coming true.  I have no control.

7:30pm- I walked, on the treadmill, at a fierce incline, while I spoke on the phone, getting the latest updates.  Hearing how, once again, people seem to have their own story of what happened years ago.  They still blame me.  Whatever happens today, they blame me.  Even though I was not given that control.

Sweat it out. Keep climbing that hill, huffing and puffing into the phone. Chugged water.

I spent a lot in therapy for this.  Well, this and my divorce.  It was worth it, right?

Later I spent an hour sobbing on the phone with my ex-husband. He reassured me.  He gave me a pep talk.  He reiterated how we fought hard in court when she was younger.  We can fight again.  We will fight again.  We will go day by day.  He reminded me how we knew this was going to happen and that time has come.  He is literally the only one who knows exactly how I feel in this moment.

I said I don’t know if I have it in me all over again.  Maybe I should start going back to my therapist.

]I thanked God for an ex-husband who I do not hate.  A man who is a good man.  I thanked God he married a woman, who may struggle with this situation, but wants to support our decisions.

I poured a glass of wine.

I cried to my husband. I thanked God for a husband who lets me sit and sob in the phone to my ex-husband and then lets me cry on his shoulder.   A man who supports us in our decisions as well and loves that little girl.

I checked the baby monitor.  Thanked God for a safe, sleeping baby in the next room.  I packed the diaper bag for the next day.  No matter what she does as a teenager, it won’t hit this level so I have that going for me.

I poured another glass of wine and took it to the bathroom with me, to take a shower. I blasted the hot water and stepped in, closing my eyes, feeling the exhaustion come over me as it does every night.  The quicker the shower, the quicker I can fall asleep.  Why haven’t they made a way to just sleep in the shower because seriously, I could fall asleep here.

I mentally run through my check list for the next day.  My brain goes right back to Rebecca.  Horrible scenarios creep back in.  I need to remember to order Cora’s 1st birthday cupcakes.  What if Rebecca fails 8th grade? What will the lawyer say when I call him after all these years?  What will I say?  Do we need to do that yet?  I need tights for under Cora’s birthday tutu.  I wonder if I can run to Target at lunch tomorrow?  The old me, pre-second marriage, pre-baby, would be pounding away into my computer, blogging my frustration.  All I can do is write this in my head.

I click off the shower.  I sit on the edge of the bathtub, in my towel and breathe.  I take a sip of wine.  And breathe.  I need to remember to breathe.  Why am I hungry?  Did I finish my dinner?  No, Cora was crying at my feet.  I put her to bed. I forgot about my plate of food.  I should grab a quick snack.  First I need pajamas.

I fall into bed with no snack.  My mind runs.  I swear the only thing that baby wakes to is my head hitting the pillow.  I watch, on the monitor, as she rolls around whining on and off for 30 minutes.  I fight the urge to go in there with a bottle.  I fight the urge to fall asleep because I know I’ll give in.  I wonder ways to break the middle of the night bottle while I wonder how to get through to the 14 year old falling apart at the seams.  I wonder when I should call the nurse back on the diaper rash and I wonder what to text the teenager the next day.  I thank God we have made it till she is 14. I don’t know how we have.  The next 4 years could kill me though.

Tears slide down my face.  I don’t know if I can do it all again.  I worry it will take away from Cora.  I feel the weight of it all.  How did this become my life?  This thing that no one seems to understand.  The few that do understand shake their heads at me, I feel their sympathy because they too know how fucked up the system is for kids.  They don’t have the answers either.  None of my friends have asked how Rebecca is.  They haven’t asked where she has been.  We are an island. At least I’m not on it completely alone.

I give in, get a bottle, and go get Cora out of her crib.  The sooner she gets back to sleep the sooner I can go to sleep.  We snuggle up in the rocking chair and I breathe her in.  I think about all of the things parents worry about with their babies.  When they walk, what they eat, what diapers are the best, formula vs the breast, when to start preschool, the best developmental toys and oh yes, this damn middle of the night bottle we can’t get rid of.   All those things, sometimes make me shake my head.  Do you know how much harder it gets?  How much harder it could be.

I stop and make myself breathe in this quiet moment in her room.  Her sleepy body, curled up against mine.  But then she breaks that moment by screaming as she has emptied that 2oz bottle quicker than what she wanted.  I give her the binky, she throws it across the room, throws herself backwards, screams at the top of her lungs and I just move her back to the crib.  By the time I’m back to my room she has rolled over and fell asleep.

We can always try again tomorrow night with that bottle situation.  Tomorrow is another day.  Maybe it will be better.  Maybe it will be worse.  Where was I at in my checklist?  I’m still hungry.  I should take tomorrow off.  No, I’ll get up in 3 1/2 hours and do it all over again.  Because that is where we are at right now.  1:34am.


Preparing for Winter

I only work three days a week, Tues-Thurs.  While our weekends are filled with family activities, that leaves Cora and I with two days, to ourselves, to get into trouble.  Right now, Monday’s tend to be our wind down day at home to relax and Friday’s are our errand running day.  In between, on those days, we spend a lot of time outside.  Whether that means hikes with the dog, picnics, walks in town, going to the park or swinging on the porch, we just love to be outside.

As fall is fully upon us here in the Midwest, we are now needing a sweatshirt in the morning, and I’m realizing our schedule will change as winter creeps in.  Meaning, we are going to be stuck inside if I don’t find something more fulfilling than wandering Target every Friday and Monday this winter. Fun for me, not as fun for the kiddo.

It may also seem crazy to be so worried about impending winter with beautiful fall currently surrounding us but I truly hate winter.  Hate the weather, hate the cold, hate being stuck inside, and hate my husband gone for long days plowing the snow.  It gets harder on me each year and I find planning things to look forward really helps.  So yea, protecting my sanity.

We don’t have crap in our small town besides the YMCA.  A quick search shows story time at the library is on Wednesdays and doesn’t offer much more for her age.  So we broadened our search into the city.  After a talk with a few other parents, we decided to look into swim lessons for Cora.  The kid already swims all over the bath tub and has no water fear!  We talked to several places, went last week to check one out and got her signed up to start the day after her birthday.  Every Friday morning, this winter, her and I will plop in a 90 degree pool to learn how to kick, blow bubbles, and who knows what else, with a few other Mom’s and their babes.  Very exciting!

While we already have a zoo pass, that is even quite useful in the winter, we are also looking into a pass for the children’s museum.  Ours really rocks here and that place is a bit easier for me to take her to by myself, so she can burn off energy when it turns to complete winter shit outside.  After that we have a little kiddo gym that we would also like to visit where she can safely climb her heart out and jump everywhere.

I even tried, once more, to look for any play groups to join.  Fail.  I just can’t.  I’m kind of hoping the more we get out to these places maybe both Cora and I can naturally make friends instead of forcing ourselves into a group that we probably won’t fit into.

Anyone else have go-to ideas to fend off winter before it hits us?


What you don’t see in pictures

We sat on the back deck last night, in the dark, soaking in the last night of summer.  I sipped a glass of wine, my husband smoking a cigar, the baby monitor on the table between us.

I had that pressure building in my chest all day.  It started with those memory photos that Facebook so kindly shows you.  It showed me, two years ago, smiling in front of hot air balloons with my sister and Rebecca.  If anyone looked at that photo you would just see a couple of happy, smiling, girls.  That is how Facebook can make you look to the world, like nothing is wrong. If you were to know the truth, I was standing there forcing that smile, hiding my baby bump behind that sweatshirt, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, no make-up on my face because I cried constantly.

I was pregnant in that photo and many others from that day.  Pregnant and carrying a baby whose heartbeat, we had just learned and saw, had stopped.  We went on with our weekend because that is what happens, life goes on and we had to do something to fill the space before surgery was scheduled.

It was just two years ago but the end of summer and change to a fresh season will forever be marked by the loss of our first little girl.  It is hard to just let the day go by.  Several days of pain and waiting, marked in my memories.

So there we sat last night, my husband and I, suddenly I let the tears go.  For him, it is harder to understand.  For him, he looks at the sleeping baby on the monitor and knows everything worked out and it all happened for a reason.  For him, as he said, he didn’t have the physical attachment.  It isn’t that he doesn’t care, he does, but I think for him it is easier to look at Cora and just be okay with it.

For me, I wish I could move on from it and not let it bother me.  I wish it wasn’t such a painful reminder that comes around once a year.  I want to look at Cora and say that she erases that painful time.  But it did happen and from time to time my heart strings get tugged and I’m right back at that place.  It is such a fucked up thing to think if our first little girl made it to this world, we wouldn’t have Cora.  So I can’t wish for one over another.  I feel bad wondering what one would be like today when there is a healthy, little girl, sleeping away in her crib.

There is a baby book at the top of Cora’s closet that was started.  It holds words that I wrote, several ultrasound photos and I bet if you closed your eyes, you can hear the conversations my husband and I already had about that little girls life. Cora’s holds the same starting words, the same ultrasound photo’s but hers keeps going.  The babies that make it and the ones that don’t for reasons we don’t always understand.  For the mamma’s that carry them around in their hearts, wondering what they would be like.

I dried my tears last night, sitting there in the dark.  My husband slowly easing the conversation to something less heavy.  The life we lead because life does move on.  We are looking at swim lessons, planning a first birthday party and easing our family into fall.  I finished my drink, he finished his cigar, we blew out the candles and he gave me a hug.  Grateful for the baby here on earth and the baby in our hearts, the memories will always be there.



Building an immunity

One of the pros to putting Cora in daycare was for her to build her immune system up.  To literally have my kid pick up a few colds and other germs so that her little body could learn to fight these things off.  We have manage the flu bug, HFM disease and a few colds.  Nothing we couldn’t get through and I feel like she has been sick less than what I anticipated.

What I didn’t anticipate was how sick the Hubs and I would be.  Seriously.  Apparently we are also building our immune systems back up.  I used to work in daycare.  I used to have the immune system of a steel box.  I haven’t had a flu shot in 10+ years and never had the flu during the time.  The only thing I managed to contact was a sinus infection due to my allergies.

But then I went and put my baby in daycare. I have never been so sick.  Apparently wine doesn’t kill all germs?  Flu, colds, and now bronchitis.  To be fair, the flu would have happened with or without that stupid flu shot, as it was July when it hit our house.  The Hubs and I are sick more often than the baby which means she drags home the germs, licks us and then we are dying the next day.

So, so gross.

No one warned me of this.

Just to be clear, I’m on my third week of bronchitis and have made two trips to the doctor while begging for all the drugs. I have spent no less than $200 on this sort of fun.

So back to the pros of daycare.  The baby builds an immune system and so do Mom and Dad. #blessed #eyeroll