Buh-Bye, Bump

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I have been pregnant for just over 2 of the last 5 1/2 years, which means I’ve had loads of time with my bump (my bump, of course, being the human child/ren growing inside my womb). It’s surreal for me to think, then, that this stage of my life is nearly over. Forever. In just a few days our last child will be born and I will never again have a bump (flabby trophy tummy excepted, of course). It’s a bitter-sweet realization.

My first pregnancy bump was highly anticipated. I expected my belly to start growing exponentially the moment that pee stick turned positive. I couldn’t wait to have that pregnancy glow and not be able to see my toes. Seriously, this is the stuff dreams my dreams were made of. Each day I would examine my still-flat tummy in the mirror and disappointedly wonder why it still looked so toned (back in those days I was a marathon runner, not a multigravida).

As the months progressed, however, my bump (finally) started to grow.

pregnancy 010And grow (Note the moving boxes. Why do we always move when I’m pregnant?)…

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And grow…

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And grow!

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That baby we’d been waiting for was making his presence known, and I adored my bump. We spent months planning obsessing over every aspect of our baby’s birth and arrival. We painted the baby’s room and I posed with my bump in the baby’s new nursery. I wanted everything to be perfect.

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As holidays approached, I even decorated my bump in celebration. Pregnancy was so much fun!

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I had grown quite attached to my bump, but when my baby’s due date came and went…and 10 more days passed…I gave my bump an official eviction notice. It worked, and on October 27, 2010 our first child entered the world.

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Exactly one year after I said goodbye to Bump #1, I started growing Bump #2. This time around we got to share our baby joy with…our baby. Looking back at some of these photos makes me wonder what we were thinking–seriously, we had TWO BABIES!

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Bump #2 progressed through the natural progression of fruit growth, from the size of a poppyseed, to an orange, to a fully ripe watermelon.15 weeks baby 2 - 0006

It was so much fun sharing Bump #2 with Big Brother and joining him in his wonder and curiosity about the baby that was growing in Mommy’s tummy.
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And although we knew all our lives were about to change, we knew with certainty that it would be a change for the better.IMG_2228

A few years passed, and there was no bump. In those bump-less years our family learned what it was like to raise little boys–to splash in puddles and collect sticks weapons of mass destruction and wrestle before bed. They were sweet years that I will always hold dear.

After we got good and settled into our little life and our routines and our not-needing-diaper-ness, we decided to mix things up again. Enter Bump #3.

I was elated to be pregnant again–and, if I’m totally honest–absolutely terrified. We had a long road getting to Bump #3 and I just wanted everything to go smoothly. That, paired with the fact that I knew this would be our last baby, made me cherish this bump more than I might have otherwise.

From the very beginning, I was in love with Bump #3.
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When we found out that Bump #3 was a she, I absolutely did not believe it. After all, we were a boy family and I had gotten so good at puddles and sticks and wrestles. Once I got past the shock of the whole girl thing, though, I fully embraced it. I’m thrilled that I will get to introduce dolls and dancing and sweet cuddles to our usual routine of puddles and sticks and wrestles.IMG_7946

As this baby (and my belly grew) I got to experience the sheer joy of anticipation with our big boys. This was probably the greatest difference with Bump #3–the fact that we had two older children who totally understood what was happening and absolutely adored their baby. The questions and the cuddles and the doting words and the shirt-lifting-belly-revealing-in-public never end with these two.IMG_8086

And even though each of my bumps has been its own unique experience, each has brought our family one step closer to completeness. I’ll be a bit sad to say goodbye to my bump for the last time–to say goodbye to the excitement and expectation that it has always brought. In the end, though, I know that something even better is coming.

In a few days I will meet my daughter and the wait will finally be over. My bump will be gone forever, but it will signal the start of our next grand adventure. And I’m ready–ready for the goodbye, and even more ready for the

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Reflections at 1 Year Post-Miscarriage

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You know how there are those things in your life that define you–that change you? Those catalyst events that occur, and you know that you will never be the same again. Last year I experienced one such occasion, and it has forever altered my very being.

One year ago this week I miscarried what would have been our third child. I’ve written about this topic several times this year because it’s been cathartic for me and has been a huge part of my healing process. I feel very strongly that my pain should not be wasted, and if my story can help even one other person, then I will continue telling it. Now that it’s been one full year I want to revisit my thoughts–mostly just to check in with myself, but also to share with you about how God has worked in my life this past year. So much has changed…and yet some has still stayed the same.

There is still not a single day that goes by that I don’t think about my lost baby. Even though I know that this was God’s plan for this child–and for me, and my family–it’s still difficult. It’s painful.

I wonder what she would have been like. I wonder if she would have had Jon’s eyes and my nose. I wonder if she would have giggled when her big brothers played peek-a-boo with her. I wonder if she would have enjoyed rice cereal and avocados when we introduced them this month or if she would have spit them out at first taste. I see other babies who are the same age as she would have been now and I wonder if they would have grown up to be friends. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder and the hardest part is that I will just never know. Not in this life, at least, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.

So, you see, some things are still the same. I don’t think I will ever not miss this child. Perhaps some things are meant to never change.

On the other hand, some things have changed profoundly.

For starters, I am stronger. I have learned the power of the heart and soul, and mine have been fortified. I know now that I can weather storms and come out on the other side–not just intact, but more powerful than before.

Along with my personal strength, I have been encouraged by the strength of others. So many of you have shared your own stories of heartache and loss with me this year, and walking through these trials together has motivated me to continue moving forward. Going through a difficult time is so much easier with friends, and for all of you who have shared with me, and in turn supported me, I am grateful.

Most importantly, however, I have learned that God’s plan is always perfect. I knew this before, but now I truly believe it. Even in the messy, chaotic, unexpected, heartbreaking turns that life throws at us, God is sovereign and His plan is perfect.

I would not be where I am today–as an individual, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend–if I had not experienced pain and healing this year. We are not meant to go through life feeling like we are in control, because we aren’t. We are not meant to live in total comfort in this world, because this world is not the prize.  We are not meant to suffer in solitary silence, because Christ suffered publicly for the benefit of all people. We are not meant to walk through life alone, because we are created to live in the community of others. The truth is that we are made for a greater purpose, and sometimes pain and suffering are necessary to move toward that goal.

And then there is hope. Because no storm lasts forever, and new days begin just when we need them. Our joy comes in the morning. That is where I find myself now: a place of profound joy. Not superficial happiness, but joy. Joy because I have walked through this time and still experience grace and love and triumph every day. Joy because the end is not really the end, but just the beginning of something totally new. Joy because my story is still being written, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

May you be encouraged, friend, whatever you are going through. Know that with pain comes power. You are cherished. You are never alone. And finally, find your joy–your joy in today, your joy in tomorrow. Find your joy in the journey, and never let it out of your sight.

One year down, and forever ahead. Bring it on!

 

 

My Favorite Baby Gear From A-Z

With just over two weeks remaining until our “bun” is fully “baked”, I’ve been in full-on baby preparation mode lately. In the past week I have borrowed a bassinet and several boxes of *pink* baby clothes from friends. I’ve washed four loads of doll-sized clothing and sorted them into drawers and closets. I located our infant car seat and toured the birth center at our hospital. And, finally, I got my bags packed for the BIG DAY. We’re officially (almost) ready for show time!

Seeing as I’ve been hyper-focused on all things baby, I thought I’d put together an updated list of some of my favorite baby items (my very first blog entry on this site was on a similar topic, so feel free to cross-reference that post here). And just to challenge my foggy pregnancy brain a bit more, I thought it would be fun to make this list in an A-Z fashion. Where possible, I’ve included links so you can view (and if you so desire, purchase) the products I reference. And now, with no further ado:

Allison’s Favorite Things: The Baby Gear Edition, From A-Z

Amazon PrimeIf there is one single product or service that has most positively impacted my life as a mother, it is Amazon Prime. I love Amazon Prime so much that I’m seriously considering the name “Amazon” for our third child (it’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think?). Seriously, though, it’s amazing. My new-mom dream was to be able to do my shopping in my pajamas while nursing a baby and never have to leave my house–and Amazon Prime makes this wild fantasy come true. With Amazon Prime I can order everything from diapers to nursery furniture and it will be delivered TO MY DOOR in two days (or less) for FREE (well, “free” after you buy a $100 annual membership. But it’s worth every last penny, so just buy it).

71N34lz3t-L._SX522_Baby Bjorn bibs: Oooh! I think I should get bonus points for coming up with one that has not ONE, but THREE B’s! These are my favorite bibs because they are basically plastic troughs that you can attach to your baby’s neck, which is basically what you need if you’re trying to feed a real live baby/toddler. Babies are the messiest eaters in the world and they spill every dang thing you feed them. The “spill pocket” at the bottom of the bib catches all the food that your little darling hurls out of their mouth and, since it’s plastic, you can just toss the whole thing in your dishwasher after the food dismemberment feeding time.

4Carseat Canopy: When you go out in public with a baby, everybody will want to see and touch your baby–never mind if the baby is sleeping or you just don’t want strangers getting near your offspring. Enter the carseat cover. You just strap this bad-boy onto your carseat’s handle and you have an instant privacy shade for your baby (*bonus: it keeps the wind/rain/sun off your baby when you’re out and about). I like the brand Carseat Canopy because they often offer freebies as long as you pay the cost of shipping–just Google “free carseat canopy promo code 2016” and you should come up with a few options for buying your own at a discount.

71sBhaQKMPL._SX522_Diaper bag: You really do not need anything fancy for a diaper bag–as long as you have some sort of receptacle that can carry a few essentials from point A to point B, you’ll be fine. That being said, I do prefer a backpack-type bag because you can wear it along with a baby in a front-carrier and not topple over to one side. And while any old backpack will get the job done, my favorite is the Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack. I’ll be the first to admit that this is a splurge item ($150 for a bag that will literally hold poop), but they’re so dang cute…and practical. They are made of a strong, liquid-resistant outer material (this becomes essential as you realize the fact that babies are basically just tiny liquid-discharging machines) and can be worn as either a backpack or messenger bag. They also have a fold-out diaper changing station and plenty of pockets for storing essentials. Plus, you’ll use it every single day, so you may as well get a sturdy bag that you love.

As an added bonus for the letter D, you’ll want to stock your diaper bag with diaper cream. My choice: Bordeaux’s Butt Paste. It gets the job done.

61C+HfLHDRL._SX522_Ergo baby carrier: With two other busy boys to care for every day, I’m pretty sure baby #3 is going to live in her baby carrier. I’ve had my Ergo since baby #1 was born and it’s still in excellent condition after years of near-constant wear and tear (seriously…boys wear and tear everything they can get their hands/feet/mouths on). It’s comfortable for me to wear, easy to get baby in and out of, and compact enough to stuff into my diaper bag when I’m not using it. I also love that it can be worn in three positions: front (perfect for newborns and babies), side (to be honest, I have no idea how this position works so I’ve never actually worn it this way), or back (great for older babies and toddlers–I can still fit 3-year old Jacob in it this way).

814ykZ+Vs5L._SL1500_Food preparation: When your baby is ready to start eating solids, it’s great to have some options for making and storing your own baby food. Making your own baby food can save you money, plus you know exactly what is going into the food that you serve your baby (and they get a preview of the food that they’ll be enjoying for the entirety of their growing-up years: your cooking). I have a Baby Bullet that I use for making everything from rice cereal to veggie purees (it also comes with food trays and jars for freezing and storing servings). Another type of baby feeding product I love are reusable food pouches. There are several brands available, and they are a great option for baby self-feeding and food on-the-go.

41t+ZTXVOuL._SY300_Gowns: During the first few weeks of life, our babies live in these open-bottomed sleep gowns. During this time frame, babies need approximately 10 thousand diaper changes and everyone is sleep-deprived and groggy and doesn’t want to deal with a single button or snap or zipper. Sleep gowns are the perfect solution because you can just pull the gown up, change the diaper, and nod back off to sleep–all without even having to fully open your eyes.

download (1)High chair: You can spend a pretty penny on a high-end high chair, but you really don’t need to. What I have found to be the most practical (granted, not the most fashionable) high chair is a simple space saver high chair that straps on to a regular dining chair and can transition from baby chair to toddler booster seat. I also love fold-up booster seats for dining out and travel.

Fisher-Price-Cradle-n-Swing----pTRU1-18900932dtInfant swing: Our first baby needed to move All. The. Time. If he was not moving he started fussing (and, by fussing, I mean screaming his bloody head off). This constant need for motion was not conducive to any of us getting sleep. We would not have survived our first few months of parenthood if it were not for our baby swing (which, conveniently, can keep a baby in motion while Mom and Dad pass out on the floor next to him). There are hundreds of baby swings on the market–some go forward and backward, some go side to side,some jiggle around like a kangaroo, some have light shows and play music. My best advice: borrow one from a friend or find a cheap one on Craigslist. While I think a swing is necessary, every baby likes a different type of motion, and some babies (not mine) don’t like motion at all, so it’s really not worth investing hundreds of dollars on a swing right off the bat. Plus, if you borrow one from a friend you won’t have to store a big, clunky swing in your garage after the baby outgrows it in a few months.

71gjkTVIlBL._SX522_Jumparoo: These things are god-sends for busy parents. My babies loved jumping in their Jumparoos, and the Jumparoo gave me a safe spot to set baby while I completed necessary tasks such as cooking dinner or peeing by myself.

koala-baby-deluxe-blanket-matte-satin-gray-41389276-01Koala Baby Blanket: These blankets are well-made, soft, and adorable. David received a Koala blanket as a baby and, five years later, is still one of his favorite lovies (he calls it Gigi).

Lansinoh Lanolin: When you are nursing a newborn for 8-10 hours a day (Yep, you read that right) there are some areas on Mommy’s body that may become a bit…um…tender. I keep a few bottles of this lanolin stashed around my house: 1 on my nightstand, 1 in the nursery, and 1 in my diaper bag for whenever I need a bit of relief.

Madela nursing pads: I have tried just about every type of nursing pad (used to soak up breastmilk leaks…this is a real-world baby post, so no apologies for TMI) and these are my favorite. There are a few reusable types that worked really well for me, but they just added to the already seemingly endless piles of laundry that breed in my house when there’s a new baby. This brand is super absorbent and, due to their sticky backs, they stay in place well.

51-RRZZqrfL._SL1000_Nose Frida nasal aspirator: This one may gross you out–Jon can’t even be in the same room when I’m using it–but it’s one of the most useful tools I have in my baby care arsenal. Babies get all forms of gunk stuck in their tiny noses and, since infants are terrible at following simple directions like “blow your nose into a Kleenex”, nasal aspirators are quite helpful. As long as you can get past the fact that you literally have to suck the snot out of your baby’s nose (don’t worry, there’s a filter in the tube so nothing ever passes from baby’s nose to your mouth), this device works like a charm.

51bqoE-8TcL._SY679_Odor-free diaper pailAdmittedly this one is a bit of a stretch for the letter “O”, but it’s important so I had to fit it in somewhere. I’ve used the popular Diaper Genie but I got fed up with buying pricey liner refills every week or two. My new favorite is the Baby Trend Diaper Champ–it’s simple to operate, it uses standard garbage bags (which you can buy for pennies at Costco), and it does a great job blocking odors.

61JHmam7RlL._SX522_Portable cribThis is an essential baby item in my book. A portable crib is useful for setting up an extra sleep or play space for baby anywhere in your home or for use when you’re traveling. My two favorites are the basic Pac ‘N Play and the KidCo Peapod (basically a tiny tent that folds up into a pouch and can fit in a carry-on bag–awesome for airplane trips or stuffing into an already-packed car).81vFpOKT4fL._SY679_

Quiet book: Think of a quiet book as part story, part activity book. They are engaging for both baby and parent (which is important, because you’re the one who will have to read it 60,000 times). And, while we’re at it, just go ahead and stock up on books in general. The more books, the better!

Rocking chair: You will use your chair every day when you are feeding your baby or helping them fall asleep. A comfortable rocking chair or glider with a foot stool will make your life oh-so-much easier. If you choose a chair for sentimental reasons (you know you’ve had your eye on that old wooden rocker that your grandpa made for your mom when you were a baby) just make sure you find one that doesn’t creak or squeak–the last thing you want is for your chair to wake a just-now-sleeping baby!

51-tH1-Qy4LStroller: I actually have four strollers because I use them all for different purposes. I have a cheap umbrella stroller (seriously cheap…I think I got it for $8 at Target) that folds up compact for those times when I just can’t fit another piece of anything in my car. I have a snap and go stroller for when I want to push around the baby car seat and a few essentials. I have a BOB jogging stroller for when I want to exercise or have an all-terrain “vehicle”. And I have a Phil and Teds double stroller for when I need to transport one or more smallies and still want supreme maneuverability. Excessive? Nah. I mean, you wouldn’t ever just own one pair of shoes, would you?

81zalEX4A9L._SY679_Teethers: You’ve gotta feel for those poor babies when their razor-sharp teeth start poking out. My babies never had terrible teething pain, but there were a few cherished teethers that helped them through the hard times. Sophie the Giraffe is an all-time favorite with her soft rubber body and yummy scent. I also really liked these fresh food feeders by Munchkin–I’d just slip a piece of frozen fruit inside the mesh pocket and baby went to town. Although I’ve never used them, I have friends that swear by amber teething necklaces for baby to wear (they help with inflammation) and silicone teething necklaces for mommy to wear (fashionable and chewable. Trés chic.).

Under garments: Fact: moms need practical, supportive under garments while they are nursing. I’ve never found a nursing bra that I really liked, but I love wearing nursing tanks. They help me stay covered up while nursing…and also help a bit with holding in that lovely post-partum tummy th.

Video monitor: Being able to monitor baby once she moves to her own space can help put your mind at ease. A video monitor is particularly useful because you can spy on baby to see if they truly need your assistance or if they’re just faking it for attention (or you can just look at how stinkin’ cute they are while they’re sleeping).

51GBK5Pv31L._SL1200_Water bottles: When I’m nursing I basically turn into the Sahara Desert: I’m parched all the time. Now I keep water bottles in every room of my house so I can quench my thirst on a whim. My favorites are the no-spill type with a 81KhpJObTvL._SX522_straw like these made by Camelbak and Contigo.

eXersaucer: This little gem keeps baby entertained and your hands free. What’s not to love?

Yum-yums: When baby starts eating solid food, you’ll want a good supply of snacks. Some of my favorites are puffs (they’re truly delicious–make sure to save a few for the baby if you decide to sample them) and yogurt melts. You may also want a snack cup with a lid to serve them in, especially if you’re on the go. I also love squeezy pouch baby food (carried in all grocery stores, and even Costco has a great selection now).

81dhKS8PJOL._SX522_Zippered sleep sacks: Apparently babies are no longer allowed to sleep with traditional blankets, so sleep sacks can help keep baby warm at night. Zippered sleep sacks can also serve a dual purpose: if you have a toddler who is prone to removing their own diaper (ewwwwwww….but it happens), just put the sleep sack on backward and zip it up. Bam: baby straight jacket.

Whew! I did it: the whole alphabet of must-have baby items. Now that you’ve read my list, what are some of your favorite baby products? Just let me know if you need my address so you can send them my way–I’ll even let you use Amazon Prime 😉

Preparing For Baby: #1 versus #3

Jessie's photo shoot 002When a new baby enters the scene there is no shortage of preparation that must be done: the research, the planning, the buying of absolutely necessary tiny things. Well, that’s the theory, anyway. What I have found is that the level and extent of preparation for a new baby is directly (negatively) proportional to the number of children you already have under your care.

Right now we are awaiting baby #3’s imminent arrival, and the contrast between our “preparation” this time around versus when our first baby was born is stark. Here are a few of the standout differences:

Time spent preparing:
Baby #1: From the moment I saw our positive pregnancy test until his birth, I spent some time approximately every waking moment preparing or thinking about preparing for our first baby’s birth.

Baby #3: You may not even remember you’re pregnant until your water breaks. We’ve been so busy lately with work and school and travel and holidays that I nearly forgot WE’RE HAVING A BABY in a few weeks. I went so far as to make an actual entry into my Google calendar this week that said “nesting”. Better late than never.

Critical Research
Baby #1: I researched circumcision doctors.

Baby #3: I researched headbands.

Birth Classes
Baby #1: We went to not one, but THREE sets of birth classes when I was pregnant with baby #1. The first class was this kooky meditation-type class that had us personify our hormones that would be present during labor and delivery and paint pictures of our anticipated birth journey (true story). We made it through approximately 3/4 of one class before we were running for the hills. Birth class #2 was hosted by a hospital and provided lots of practical information like how to change a diaper and not kill your baby (in that order). Birth class #3 was a series of mini-lectures hosted by our midwives that outlined how to have a successful (most likely pain-free) all-natural birth.

Baby #3: Here’s the only lesson you need to learn before you have a baby: just go with it. In the throes of labor there will be no breathing technique or meditation that will save you from a 48-hour labor that won’t progress past 8 cm and a baby with a cord wrapped around his neck. Birth is crazy and awkward and painful and full of unanticipated surprises. Just go with it. It’s good preparation for the next stage that lies ahead: parenthood.

Required Reading
Baby #1: I could start my own traveling library with the number of books I read leading up to the birth of our first child: Books about what to expect and what to think and what to buy. Books, books, books.

Baby #3: I have an app on my phone that reminds me when I have an OB appointment. It’s called my calendar.

Pregnancy Diet
Baby #1: Eat a rainbow of vegetables every day. Avoid cold lunchmeat and soft cheeses. No caffeine. No refined sugar. Healthy fats in moderation. Remember to take your vitamins and midwife-prescribed supplements. Small meals spread out throughout the day to eliminate heartburn.

Baby #3: Pizza, cheeseburgers, and the entire bakery, please.

Rest
Baby #1: I would come home from work every day at about 4:30 and take a little nap before dinner. After dinner I’d relax for a couple of hours before going to bed at a reasonable hour. On the weekends I’d sleep in until I felt good and ready to start my day. After all, I needed to conserve my energy for the baby.

Baby #3: I remember sleep! I love sleep! I want sleep. Alas, I have two highly-energetic little boys who are solely under my care for 10-12 hours a day. They don’t nap, and they don’t approve of the notion of me napping either. Actually, they’d probably love it if I took a nap…then they could finally find out what happens when you run with scissors or color with Sharpie markers on the living room walls.

Setting Up The Nursery
Baby #1: Four months before his arrival, we had the nursery painted, decorated, and stocked with necessities. I hung sweet decals on the walls and crafted hand-made mobiles. It was gorgeous.

Baby #3: Technically, she has a room. It’s currently being used as a guest room/playroom/storage space for all the crap we can’t figure out a better place for. I think we have a Pac ‘n Play in one of our closets that I can set up next to my bed for the short-term. I’ll also buy a box of diapers and wipes the next time I go to Costco.

Medical Decisions
Baby #1: I planned an all-natural out-of-hospital birth with midwives. I wanted ZERO medical intervention. In the unlikely event that it became necessary for me to transfer to a hospital (shudder), I had a detailed birth plan ready to hand over to the insolent doctors who might try to pressure me into something drastic. Like pain medication.

Baby #3: Scheduled C-Section, baby! Not only am I willing to go to a hospital with an actual licensed doctor, but I am thrilled at the idea. I may even do my hair and paint my nails for the occasion.

Emotions
Baby #1: I couldn’t wait to be a mom. My heart swelled every time I thought about this new little person who I already loved but had never met.

Baby #3: I can’t wait to be a mom again. My heart swells every time I think about this new little person who I already love but have never met.

Four more weeks, darling. I’ll be ready!

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Having Two Children Close In Age

Jacob week 1 - 0449As we quickly approach the birth of our third child (holy moly we’re in the single-digit countdown now–9 WEEKS TO GO!) I keep thinking about how this time around will be different from when our boys were born. David and Jacob were born 21 months apart and, now that they’re independent 5 and 3 1/2 year olds, I know that adding another baby to our family will be a completely different experience. I finally have the time and space to reflect on what that stage with two-under-the-age-of-two was like…and simultaneously panic about how it’s all about to change again.

You see, having two children close in age has many benefits. It also has many challenges. For instance:

Pro: you never leave the baby stage between children
The fact that one child is still in diapers (and possibly still nursing) by the time baby #2 arrives on the scene means that you never get complacent in a new (more simple) stage of life before it is disrupted again. You learn to thrive survive on a concoction of caffeine, adrenaline, and silent prayers. Another added bonus in those early years: at least one of your children, probably both of them, still nap: CHA-CHING!

Con: you never leave the baby stage between children
You basically live in a fog for 2 or 3 years and if it weren’t for smartphones and social media you probably wouldn’t have a single recollection of the whole experience. You forget what sleep is, you don’t even know what it’s like to eat a hot meal (let alone a meal where you can use both of your own hands to feed yourself), and your clothes constantly sport some sort of kid-splatter. You never leave the house without your giant diaper bag and double stroller–there is always so. Much. Stuff.

Pro: your children have similar age-appropriate interests
You never have to question if an activity or an outing will be appropriate for both children because, chances are, if it’s good for one of them, it will work for both of them. When they’re toddlers, you can still take both of them to Gymboree and toddler story time at the library–and they both actually enjoy it. When they’re older you can take them to little tikes soccer, and they’re in the same age group so you don’t have to wait around for multiple practices. If they’re like my boys, they LOVE having their sibling with them as the camaraderie helps ease the transition from “our things” to “their things”.

Con: your children have similar age-appropriate interests
You’ve seen Finding Nemo, right? Remember the seagulls? “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!…”

Pro: your kids can share clothes
Laundry multiplies exponentially with each child you add to your family. Thankfully, with kids close in age it’s never a huge concern if half of their clothes are still biding their time in dirty clothes purgatory: just grab an extra shirt or clean pair of pants out of their sibling’s drawer and call it good.

Con: your kids can share clothes
…but they don’t want to. They both want to wear the exact same thing errrrrrrrrrrry day. Oh, he’s wearing the green Ninja Turtle t-shirt? I want to wear the Ninja Turtle t-shirt! NOOOOOO! Not a BLUE one–the GREEN ONE!!!! And since you’re sanity is worth more than a $6 t-shirt from Target, you go out and buy another dang green Ninja Turtle t-shirt.

Pro: your kids will grow up and leave the nest at about the same time
Because of the timing of our boys’ birthdays, they will only be one year apart in school. So, when David is getting ready to graduate as a senior in high school, Jacob will be sending off his college applications. David will turn 18 and supposedly move out to begin his own adult life (at this point in my life it’s difficult for me to even imagine that this day will possibly even happen in the future, but I hear that this time does come…). Then, 12 short months later, Jacob will do the same. Which, if my math is correct, means that in just 13 years we will go from a household of three young children to a household with one independent teenager and two semi-free parents. Crazy.

Con: your kids will grow up and leave the nest at about the same time.
Although I kinda like the idea of my kids growing up and becoming independent adults, I actually can’t think about it for too long or my eyes start to perspire. My BABIES will GROW UP and they will LEAVE ME. I just can’t even.

For all the joys and all the trials of having two children close in age, I wouldn’t change a thing. Those early years were some of the most difficult and most rewarding years of my life, and I can’t wait to see what the years ahead will bring us. For better or worse.

 

 

The Last First Time

FullSizeRender (2)I’ve had a lot of Big Feelings this week.

David, my oldest, is turning 5 (FIVE?!?!) in a few days and I honestly can’t believe it. This little boy–my BABY–who I carried in my belly for 9 months (actually, more like 10 months, the persistent little bugger) is officially NOT a baby any more. When he was toddling around at 2 years old, I was justified in calling him a baby; when he was learning his colors and shapes and the intricacies of Angry Birds at age 3, I could get by calling him a baby–even at age 4 when he still sported the round, chubby face of a cherub could I call him a baby. But not any more.

He is tall and lean and feisty and fantastic and…FIVE. Holy moly, how did that even happen? Last week I was looking back at his baby book with him and I was recounting all of his firsts–his first smile, his first tooth, him eating his first foods, his first steps, his first word (“Mama”, obviously). I realized that in his short life that actually seems quite long, he’s had a lot of firsts. And I’ve been there for all of them, taking pictures and writing them down in his baby book (ok, I mostly just posted everything on Facebook, but that’s the modern day equivalent of a baby book, right?). So, the other day I went shopping for David’s birthday gift and I was pondering all of this–the beauty and the irony of life already moving so quickly.

Then the real kicker came. As I was walking over to the toy section, I happened to (on purpose) walk through the baby section. I hadn’t had a chance to go shopping for our new baby yet, so I decided to take advantage of my solo shopping time and do a quick browse through the baby clothes. Somehow, three of the pinkest, frilliest outfits managed to find their way into my shopping cart. And then it hit me: this was the last first time I’d shop for my new baby. I could vividly remember my first pregnancy and the thrill of shopping for David for the first time. Then, a year or so later, I had the joy of picking out sweet new things for Jacob. But now. NOW. It’s our last baby and this was my LAST first time shopping for her.

I lost it, right there in the middle of the baby section. It’s probably not the first time a pregnant lady started crying over baby clothes at Target, but I still felt like a fool. A fool who really didn’t care because COME ON–this is IT. This is the beginning of the end, and it’s bittersweet.

I am in the last few months of pregnancy…EVER. In the coming months and years, there will be a lot of last first times. I recently began to feel my baby move, for the last first time. I am carrying another human life, for the last first time. In a few short months I will hold my baby in my arms, for the last first time. And every moment with here from there on out, it will be the last first time. It’s glorious and terrifying at the same time, and I almost can’t handle it.

So, this week I’m going to pull up my big girl panties (no, seriously, pregnancy panties are preeeeeeetty big) and I’m going to celebrate my baby-who’s-not-a-baby-anymore. I’m going to relish in his firsts–of past, present, and future–as he blows out those five flickering candles. I’m going to remember the first time he smashed a (homemade organic baked from scratch with no refined sugars) birthday cake and I’m going to smile because he’s come a long way, baby. And I’ll probably dream about the day that my other children will reach these milestones, these firsts, in their time.

And then I’ll probably (definitely) cry. Because that’s what I do.

The Gift Registry You ACTUALLY Need For A Baby Boy

Jacob week 1 - 0459There must be something in the water, because it seems like everyone I know is having a baby in the next few months. New babies, of course, mean baby showers–the silly games (where else is it socially acceptable to sniff melted candy bars in a diaper or measure your friends’ midsections with satin ribbons?), enough pink and blue to make you think you’re going color blind, the gifts.

The gifts are what really got me thinking. Sure, muslin swaddle blankets and frilly onesies are cute–but are they practical? What are the gifts that a new mom or dad truly need as they set out on this adventure of parenthood?

Well, my friends, I have the answer. In order to survive the first few years of parenthood, there are some practical gifts that would make everything oh-so-much easier. Since my parenting experience is limited to the two boys who call me Mommy, I’ll focus this list specifically on what parents of boys need. Hint: there’s nary a frilly onesie in sight.

1. NO clothes
Truth: little boys are just tiny nudists. Each morning I help my boys get dressed for the day and, by the time I emerge from the kitchen with breakfast, their clothes have inevitably been exchanged for the more-comfortable and oh-so-stylish birthday suits that they prefer. This exchange happens at least three times a day. It’s really a wonder I ever get them to wear clothing at all. My advice: just don’t buy them any clothes. Find some cheap second-hand stuff (that you know they’ll ruin anyway, see #7) and call it a day.

2. A storage unit for all of your nice stuff
What do you have that you consider precious or priceless? What do you have that you’d like to still see in one piece a decade from now? Well, take all of those things and lock them away. Because, honestly, there is nothing that is safe from the havoc of growing boys. Nothing.

3. Excellent Health Insurance
I figure that it’s not a matter of if we’ll ever make a trip to the emergency room for our boys, but when. I carry a first-aid kit in my purse, a larger one in my car, and I have a full arsenal of medical equipment in my home. Boys like to explore and experiment…sometimes that goes well, and often times it does not. Just call it like it is, and sign up for the premium health plan.

4. Empty boxes and garbage bags
I don’t know what it is about boxes and bags, but my boys are obsessed with them. Anytime we get a package, the first thing they do is grab the empty box out of my hands and carry it off to their lair where they proceed to fill it with toys or poke it with crayons or dissect it or whatever else strikes their fancy. The same goes for garbage bags (not the safest toy, I admit, but the lowly garbage bag has afforded me countless hours of peace as the boys fill, then dump, then fill, then dump objects from the bag).
*Bonus points if the box is big enough for the boy to fit inside.

5. Tape and ropes
Again, not the safest toys–but, trust me, it’s only a matter of time before your boys find them and discover their magical properties. So, the tape. It doesn’t matter what kind it is: duct, Scotch, packing, electrical, washi, painters…they’re all equally glorious in a boys’ eyes. Tape is sticky and can be pulled and torn and adhered to various objects/people/pets. Perfection. Rope is nearly as exciting as tape, with the added benefit of being able to pull and swing objects that are tied to it. Plus, they’ll come in handy on those days you just need your kids to PLEASE SIT STILL FOR A MOMENT.

6. Heavy duty cleaning supplies
Now, what mom wouldn’t love to get a basket full of cleaning agents for her baby shower? At a minimum, the boy-mom must have Shout, OxiClean, Spot Shot, and about a dozen gallons of Febreze at the ready. You may also consider gifting her with an industrial-grade carpet shampooer and an incinerator. Also, make sure to include a few sets of rubber gloves that she can stash around her house.

7. In-home trampoline park/ rock climbing gym / high-ropes course/ zipline
Because boy = endless energy

8. A fully-laminated, easy to hose down bathroom complete with a full-wall urinal
See #6

9. Earplugs/ noise-canceling headphones
Because boy = noise

10. Locks
Perhaps the single-most useful object in our house. Locks. We put them on our snack cabinet (because they won’t eat a single meal that I cook, but they have an endless capacity for goldfish crackers and fruit snacks); the front door…and the back door…and, well, just about ever door in our house (because they’re stealthy ninja escapees); our under-sink storage (not because of the potentially-lethal chemicals that are down there, but because they like to steal al of my garbage bags–see #4); their dresser drawers (because their favorite pastime is constructing Mt. Laundry out of the entire contents of their wardrobe); and…you get the picture.

Happy gifting!