Our Summer Bubble

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In my part of the world, children started back to school this week, their summer coming to an end.  The pool shut down, the town quieted down during the day, and routines resumed.  I, for one, believe it should be illegal to start school back up until after Labor Day.  It just makes sense to this summer loving girl.  So now Cora and I are forced back into her little plastic pool in the backyard to soak up the last of the summer.

Two summers ago I was pregnant and lets just face it, pregnant in the summer can be a bummer.  Last summer Cora was itty bitty and while we could get out and do things, it wasn’t the same.  I was waiting for this summer with such anticipation.  We could do all the fun summer things! And that we have.

We took the summer off from swim lessons, ditched our play dates and I took the summer off from going to Piyo classes.  Basically, I didn’t want any scheduled things so we could just do as we wanted.  I mean, I still had to work my three days but otherwise we were free to do what sounded like fun. Me and my girl left to soak up the sun and the long days of summer.

There has been fairs, rodeos, pool days, long walks, shopping trips, lazy rainy days, the zoo and everything in between.  Naps skipped, late nights outside and a sweaty, dirty, toddler going to bed some nights without a bath.

My husband and I have worked on him and I/our future a lot this summer too.  Which is weird considering this is his busiest time but something seriously had to give.  Without going into a ton of detail, he took control of his career and a lot of changes have been made and will be made.  By this time next summer, things should be very different.  The beginning phase has already been a huge relief and Cora gets to see her Dad more than just on the weekends.

The hubs and I are also getting out every Sunday morning for a standing golf date.  It seems to be much easier than coordinating an evening out.  Honestly, our marriage is really damn good right now and I’m really proud of us.  We work hard on our marriage, we put the time and effort into it and one another so it is nice to see how far we have come and how good the future looks.  I just didn’t have that with my first marriage.

All in all, a summer spent in a bubble that I don’t want to end.  We still have a vacation next week and warm days ahead that I will hold onto tightly.  My friends are cheering the start of school, the impending onset of fall and all things that come with it and I have my fingers in my ears, completely ignoring them.

I’m seriously finding it easier to just live in this moment that we are in.  I’m finding it easier to be content with the NOW instead of rushing to the next phase. Perhaps it is because I look back, at the end of each season, and see how much Cora has grown in just that short amount of time. I don’t want to rush it all away because she will be even bigger the next season.  I really don’t want to wish any of it away.  (Yes, I’m totally writing one of those disgusting blog posts that is full of happy and sunshine, it happens.)  So for all those asking, summer doesn’t officially end until September 22 and then you can talk to me about pumpkin spice everything.

 

The day my baby had a baby

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I have all of these drafts that I have started, some are actually finished, some thick with anger, others dripping in disappointment, all on the same topic.

Rebecca.

I don’t know why I can’t bring myself to publish them.  Probably because I write them for myself in the moment and no one really need to read them.  Probably because this is a battle I mostly fight away from people.  They don’t ask because they don’t know what to say or they don’t understand enough about our situation.  Hell, most people I work with don’t even know about any of it.  But damn, it gets lonely when you are having a bad day sometimes.

I started raising a baby when she turned 6 weeks old.  Not by choice, by happenstance.  I raised that baby and tried to do the best for her every day.  A little over a year ago, as a 14 year old, she backed away from me and made poor choices.  Yesterday, at 15, she had a baby boy.  I knew it was coming, the announcement, but fuck it was a sucker punch.  Big time.  As luck would have it, I was standing in the wine aisle with my husband.  Our second stop after that was to actually pick up some pictures I was having printed, I finally felt the need to replace some of her pictures in the house.  I can’t even make this shit up.

Again, comes all the information.  Safe delivery, healthy Mom but baby is very small.  Too small for 36 weeks cooked.  Baby will remain in NICU for awhile.

I won’t go into the tiny details, even though that is what fills my mind sometimes, but ultimately it doesn’t matter.

How can I look at my time hop and see a happy Rebecca, next to me, at a baseball game, in the sweltering heat, while on vacation.  Just two short years ago everything was normal.  Had you told me that day what would change in two years, I would have never believed you.  It is a hard one to swallow, I won’t lie.

There isn’t much for me to do.  I go about my life, I process my emotions.  Sometimes I process them with alcohol, sometimes with a cookie, because drinking at work is frowned upon.  Sometimes I just sit and rock my little one because there isn’t anything more important to do than memorize that moment knowing life changes quickly.  And then I thank God for my little one because if I didn’t have her for these moments I don’t know how I would function.

 

 

Hold your own baby

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A friend of mine recently had herself a wonderful, beautiful, baby girl.  This friend of mine and I go round and round sometimes.  She is the type that I still don’t know why I’m friends with her except to say it has been 12+ years and she is a stage 5 friend clinger.

She recently joined my daughter and I for a lunch out to a restaurant.  I’ve seen her baby a couple of times in her 20 days here on earth.  I happily held her while waiting for our food, my child content to color her menu, while we chatted.  No big deal, aside from the fact that the conversation was a bit all over and was starting to get on my nerves.  Cora’s food came early so I passed the baby back to her mother but the mother shoved her right back at me.  Hold her, cuddle, isn’t it great.  Yes, it is precious holding a baby but my child needs her food set up so take your own kid.

This occurrence, shoving her child at me, kept on.  Hold her, she would demand. She followed me back to my house where I needed to lay my toddler down for a nap and the dog was demanding my attention and she kept shoving that baby at me like it was cocaine.  Listen, I sniffed that baby’s head, I cuddled her, cooed at her but now I have shit to do and my kid needs rocked longer because she has been putting up this new fight when we put her down.

Doesn’t holding her make you want another? You aren’t getting younger.  It was in fact the day of my 35th birthday but thanks for reminding me about my eggs slowly shriveling away.

No, consistently holding your child is actually making my anxiety go through the ceiling because my kid needs me in the other room and the dog is getting worked up because she thinks it is her time since the baby is in said other room “napping.”  So no, it is doing the reverse effect from what you want.  I’m realizing I can’t handle it at all.

Please leave.

She left.

And you know what, this isn’t the first time someone has done this to me! Is this a thing? Shove a baby at someone so their ovaries cry?

I sat and rocked my almost two year old and rubbed the side of her face for 15 minutes until she fell asleep.  Her teeth are killing and she suddenly doesn’t lie down on her own. You know what makes it okay?  I don’t have another child to tend to, aside from the dog, just her.  There isn’t a baby crying in the next room to send my anxiety through the ceiling.  Just her.  We can tackle these hurdles together.

I just literally know that right now, I can’t and don’t want to do it, the second child thing.  I’m cool with that but some apparently aren’t.  So I’m going to go on strike holding other babies.  I can still sniff my own child’s head and it smells good:)

Second Baby Gifts

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Lately I have been purchasing a lot of gifts for that second, third and even fourth baby in a family.  I can certainly say that my baby gift giving has changed since having Cora.  I will never buy another baby “outfit” because mamma isn’t going to wrangle baby into a four piece, uncomfortable outfit, to only have baby vomit all over it.  Sleepers all day, every day.

Hands down, I will always buy off the registry for the first baby.  But what about the siblings that follow?

  • Number one thing I have heard is a small gift for the older sibling(s) so they aren’t left out.  Anything that makes note of them being a big sibling is even better-shirt, book, tote bag, activity book, hat or even jewelry.
  • Diapers and wipes.  Advice though-never buy them newborn diapers.
  • Baby Tylenol, Motrin, Orajel, gas drops, diaper rash cream, etc.  All the over the counter things you don’t think about until it is the middle of the night and someone has a fever. Along these same lines- bath lotion, wash, shampoo, etc.
  • Bath toys.  Bath toys get moldy and gross.  Chances are a new round of bath toys would be appreciated.
  • New infant wash cloths and bath towels.  These all get stained, ripped, and just plain tired looking.  A nice, new, fluffy set would make baby happy.
  • Other items that get a bit worn down and could be replaced are bibs and burp rags.
  • Something personalized for new baby.  That way they have something specifically theirs that isn’t a hand me down.
  • If mamma is breast feeding then perhaps she needs new parts for her pump, a new nursing tank, shirt or bra.
  • New pacifiers, bottles, bottle nipples, or bottle brushes.  These things get used and some of it is stuff that you wouldn’t want to reuse.
  • A double stroller!
  • Is there a big item that their first kid destroyed?
  • If it has been several years since their last baby then maybe there is a hot item on the market that you know would make their life easier.
  • Gift cards.  Target, Babies R Us, Amazon, etc.  Then they can just go get what they actually need. May not seem as personal but it is the most practical.
  • Clothing.  This is one you have to be careful with.  If it is a different gender, great, buy!  If it is born opposite season, same gender, ask mamma if there are specific clothing items she needs. Same gender, same season, you are best to spend your money on something else.
  • Something special for Mom.  Spa day gift card, a meal that you can drop off, cleaning services, offer to babysit (and actually do it!) or WINE!

A few items I have heard some mom’s actually cringe over.

  • Blankets. I have to agree with this one.  We were given SO many for Cora.
  • Toys.  Most parents are drowning in these anyways and don’t want anymore.
  • Books.  Especially board books.  Again, drowning in them.
  • Stuffed animals.  These things multiply at night when we aren’t looking.
  • Clothing. Like I said, this goes both ways.

Personally I believe every new baby deserves a gift and something new of their own!

What are your ideas for second, third, fourth baby gifts? What are the things you would never buy?

Parenting: It gets easier

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It is getting easier, this parenting thing.  We are having more good days than bad.  Quieter nights, less teething, eating better, more understanding and more independence in our household.  I don’t second guess myself as much.  All of this makes for a happier and calmer mamma.  I feel like we are getting somewhere.

As we are hitting the 19 month mark (I swear I don’t use months anymore IRL) I feel like we are rounding a serious corner.  Last summer was hard to fully enjoy with a wee one that wasn’t as mobile.  We had to be ultra careful about sun, heat and where the baby was crawling to.  Hell, the summer before that, I was pregnant and that was hard to enjoy anything.  So here we are in a place where she can run around the yard, chase the dog, get in and out of her little pool and I can water the flowers without panic.  We can explore together, play games and she doesn’t get bored at all.  The little energizer bunny just keeps going.

I feel like it is okay to put my feet up, sit back and enjoy those little moments.

Sure we have our toddler fits, which I just walk away from and she gets bored quickly and comes to get me.  Sure she throws a shit load of food on the floor for the dog but damn, she is finally eating her fruits and veges (still no meat) like it is her job. Sure there are days where I just need her to lay down for her nap already because I can’t keep up. I seriously do not have my shit together a lot of days.

BUT…

She talks or signs and answers me when I ask a question so that eliminates a ton of frustration on both our parts.  When she doesn’t know a word she tries so hard to get us to understand. Can I just say how nice it is to have her be able to follow directions? Wait here with the dog so I can grab your bag.  Go get your coat.  Put that in the trash.  She loves to have something to do!  She soaks up everything.  A circle! Yes, we have that down.  What is this? A square! Cool! Half our A,B,S’s…sure! She learns something new everyday and that is pretty cool to watch.

I’m saying, it gets easier.  We are out of the baby phase and are certainly on to the next and I can tell you, I’m grateful.  Sure, the baby phase is sweet and fun but it can be exhausting and it is HARD.  I have held newborn babies lately and was happy to hand them back, no nagging feeling deep down.  Instead I was happy to walk away and my kid just walked next to me.  I have friends who would marinade in that baby phase for life if they could and I say more power to ya!  Us mammas are all built differently!

The older Cora gets though, the more people question us about a second.  My doc brought it up at my yearly appointment last week.  However, we have put the topic away until our January trip. (Aruba!)  Why then? Just a deadline in time. A time when my head will be clear enough to be able to have that conversation revisited with my husband.  I am soaking this up. I’m not ready for the newborn phase again.  I don’t know if or when I will be but right now isn’t it.

How’s the toddler phase in your household?

18 Months

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To the shortest one in the house,

We just started letting you watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and you love it.  Just a few minutes in the morning and it helps me get everything ready to go.  The funny thing is you call it the “puppies” show.  You wake up asking for puppies and point to the TV. You don’t sit watching it long but if they yell “Oh toodles!” then you yell it.  When the intro comes on and everyone waves, you wave right back.  At the end you dance your heart out to that hot dog song.

We just broke down and bought an Ipad, not for you but to you know, join the world.  You do enjoy watching puppy and baby videos on there instead of our phones.  Which has always been the only way you will sit still long enough to let us cut your nails.

Can you see the obsession with puppies yet? You and your puppy are two peas in a pod. You really love all dogs except for the neighbors boxer, Bacon, that comes to visit everyday.  You tell him to “home night night!”

You have been really good with your words for awhile now but everyday new ones just fall out.  You have more words than babble at this time and sign right along with it.  Unless of course your Grandparents are over, then you tuck away that signing like they are the ones who need it the least.  But kid, they are the reason you are learning to sign, they can’t hear you:)

You are super into coloring and your favorite color is yellow.  We buy a cheap pack of cards for each holiday and while I make dinner, you sit and color your heart out on those cards.  You also ask for a few stickers to smash in the card and we eventually pick a few friends or family members to mail them to. Sometimes I have caught you randomly licking the cards so that is nice of you.

You are becoming more and more helpful around the house. You know where to put your dirty laundry and that your shoes go next to the door.  You like to pick up your toys and wipe down your high chair when you are done eating.  Don’t even get me started on your love of switching the laundry and vacuuming. I mean, you hug and kiss the vacuum every time we pull it out.  You LOVE that thing.

You are starting to know how to put on your own pants, shoes and socks.  You know where the shirt goes but aren’t quite there yet.  Unfortunately you also know how to take your clothes and diaper off.  You LOVE to be naked and wipe your own bum.  Thank God for onesies.

Recently you discovered dirt and a shovel.  You have decided that you can put a hat on just like daddy and do the things he does.  Be still my heart when you were out there working right next to him, all red cheeks and sweaty hair, stuck with dirt.  You love being outside, thank goodness.  You sit happily in your swing, play fetch with your puppy and pick flowers.

The weather has finally warmed up enough for us to get back to our walks, down the mud road.  It has been a few months since I’ve thrown you in the Ergo and let me tell you, I can’t front carry you any longer.  So with a lot of practice, laughter, and tipping over, I finally got you in the back carry.  I think I need to adjust it more but you seemed fine with it.  You did keep patting my front and trying to climb up on me to get back to the spot you are used to.  Your little feet and legs aren’t ready for our hiking adventures quite yet:)

Every Friday we have swim lessons and you walk into the place like you own it.  Waving at the now familiar faces and going about your routine.  Then, every Monday we have been going out to a place just for you.  The gym, the zoo, children’s museum.  Some sort of kid thing.  You still aren’t good about other kids and you really hate all adults.  You like to stand back and watch kids, maybe wave at them but you aren’t one to join in.  I was the same way.  I was a stand back and watch person so I don’t shove you in to play.  I let you go at your own pace.  But when you do find a friend you like you are quite sweet.  Most of the time you do share your toys and play nicely.

Our food fights come and go.  Something I see be so normal for some families and yet we have a weird struggle.  You don’t eat meat and we live in the Midwest for gosh sakes.  You do have a love for pasta, peas and mandarin oranges.  I can tell you that you swallow those peas whole and you do not chew them.  It is as gross as you think.

Your Daddy is your world and you are realizing he is gone more than home.  Come Monday mornings, you don’t like to accept this fact.  Every time you hear a truck, mower or really anything with an engine, you assume it is Daddy.  You are starting to follow him around and want to help him more.  You let him do all sorts of things with you and you don’t fight him on it.  Examples, changing your diaper, clothes, putting on shoes or really anything.  Sigh.

Your Aunt is your best buddy and when she comes home you are so excited to go downstairs with her and chase the cats around.  You know how to say her name but have decided to call her Aunt Mamma all on your own.  Don’t know where you got this from but it cracks us up.  She pretty much will answer to you no matter what.

You are in 18 months clothing and look to be there for the foreseeable future.  At your 18 month appointment your doctor was quite happy to see you finally making strides in the weight gaining department.  22lbs! You are finally in the 26th percentile! Man, these little things we worry over.

A few weeks ago you fell at Grandmas for the first time and busted open your lip.  You did about 3 seconds of crying, while blood poured out of your mouth, and then realized licking a washcloth is fun.  Two minutes later you were off and running again.  If we make it till you are 3 without an ER visit, I’ll be shocked.

You are also super into buckles right now.  Any and everything you can buckle makes you happy.  Car seat included and you are darn close to getting it unbuckled yourself so that will soon be a problem.  We give you Fenway’s collars to walk around and work with because it is the easiest thing not attached to something.  Well, you try to then attach them back to Fenway which pisses her off.  You have your Dad’s brain when it comes to this stuff and it scares me how quickly you figure out how things work.

You are now a full on toddler, with an opinion and fight for everything. I want you to be a strong willed woman but raising it is a whole different ball game.  It actually surprises me how much I can get down to your level, reason with you and you KNOW what I’m talking about.  I see your brain working on whether or not you then want to follow through with your actions or not.  I have to say this does help, this communication, or I would probably be drinking way more:)

But kid you are our world and I’m truly loving this phase.  For the most part, each day gets easier and I do soak it all up.  I love being able to get you and take you places.  I love watching you learn and explore the world around you from the big things to the little things.  I love seeing you gain preferences for certain things.  More than anything I love watching you become your own little person.  This parent gig is a pretty damn great thing to do with you.

 

Why swim lessons were one of the smartest things I did for my baby this winter

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Before winter set in I had a plan set up to make sure we got our butts out of the house and didn’t just wander Target for hours.  I researched a few places and decided that I would stick not just my baby but myself in swim lessons.  I can swim but she can’t so it becomes a mommy and me thing.  We are on our third session and let me tell you, I freakin love it.  Truly.

Every Friday I load us and our gear in the truck and head into the city for our 30 minutes class.  We chose a place that starts babies as young as 4 months old.  Our class holds up to 7 babies and their mammas.  The locker room is hot as hell but at least your little one doesn’t freeze to death and the pool is kept warmer than your average.  So the worry I had about dunking my kid around in the cold rooms and water after being outside in the cold is not that much of an issue.

The other moms are all really great and very laid back.  Our teacher is a college student who not only knows her shit but my kid will go to her.  If you have read long enough, you know my child doesn’t go to anyone so this is huge! Cora willingly takes her turn with her to practice jumps and to go down the slide.

Before we started, I remember thinking this was probably going to be pointless considering her age but I could not have been more wrong.  We have had some of the same friends in our class since we started and I have seen progress with each and every one of them.  Cora can climb out of the pool on her own, knows how to sit on the side, jump in, go down the slide by herself, knows to hold her breath under water, knows how to blow bubbles, isn’t afraid to be dunked, and last week, for the first time she did her back float by herself. She has such a comfort level in the water that I know it took me forever to gain as a child.

It took me awhile to realize that this isn’t just something to fill our time but something that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.  It is about safety in the long run as well. I’m here to tell you that if you are on the fence about it, do it.  But mamma, you have to shave those legs and keep the bikini line clear for the entire winter because it is always swim suit season when you have to get in the pool as well!

 

 

 

How many kids do you have?

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Yesterday I took Cora to the park and a mother pulled up shortly there after.  Her 8 year old son jumped out, she left the car running and soon followed him.  Eventually Cora realized there was a big kid to follow around and the mother and I started chatting.  She asked how old Cora is, mentioning her 14 year old daughter was sitting in the car.  The daughter, deciding she is to old for such things, would rather sit on her phone.  The mother saying how frustrating it can be and how much she misses the age Cora is now.  How the time flies.

Is Cora your only child?

Pause.

This should be an easy question but it never has been for me.  In the past when it was just Rebecca and I, I would pause.  I would pause because my journey of parenthood isn’t relatable.  Parents ask normal follow up questions that I can’t simply answer without them becoming curious or asking further questions and what was supposed to be mindless chatter then becomes something further.

Here I was, standing with another mother, who had a same age child and we should have been able to share conversation.  She couldn’t relate to me though. I glanced at her daughter sitting in the car and wanted to say “At least she isn’t pregnant.” But instead I glanced away and said “Yes, Cora is my only child.”

It has always been an odd questions for me to answer and part of me feels guilty for just saying this is my only child, digging in the sand.  I’ve lost one little girl to heaven early, I’ve lost another to strange life circumstances and yes, this is my one little.  This mother didn’t care about my motherhood journey though.  She was just making small talk, as our children played, on a beautiful Monday afternoon.

We all have our own parenting struggles, our own journey.  Hell, maybe this mom had one of her own but glossed over it just as I had. Good thing we don’t have our life stories stamped on our foreheads.  There are a million ways motherhood can be tough, this is just one of mine.