Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hope for Spring

I just re-read the post I wrote about Julia's first birthday and it is a little too ironic. I said that I felt like I was starting to find my "groove" and get out of survival mode and that I looked forward to what adventures lay ahead for our little family. Little did I know that just a few short weeks later, I would be back in the throes of survival mode because constant nausea and exhaustion from morning sickness were making it nigh impossible to accomplish much more than preparing 3 meals and getting the girls and I dressed every day. 

But today, the sun came out so brightly and the temperatures climbed into the 60's and we actually got to spend a decent amount of time playing outside, enjoying the fresh air. Maybe the hope of Spring is just the thing to get me through this season of life. I have packets of heirloom seeds waiting to be planted and dreams of a few raised beds in the back yard for the girls and I to dig around in this summer. Easter is around the corner and just a few short weeks after that, we will find out the gender of this new little one. There is plenty to look forward to! 

We Missed You, Daddy!

After a week of torture waiting for Alex to return from his business trip, I finally got to tell him our big news! He was originally supposed to arrive home really late in the evening, so I was going to wait until the following day and tell Natalie the surprise first and then watch as she told him that mommy had a baby in her belly. However, I was worried that she would then tell the entire world our news before we were ready for it to be public knowledge, and Alex ended up coming home several hours earlier, which gave us some down time to catch up with each other before heading to bed. With the extra time together, I knew it was going to kill me to have to stay quiet and stick with my original plan, so I quickly tried to come up with a cute way to tell him without just blurting it out. When he walked in the door, we gave each other a big hug and the idea just came to me. Thank you, Jesus. I followed him around the house like a lost puppy while he slipped in to see the girls in their bedrooms and waited for the right moment. We were cuddled in the recliner and I told him, "We missed you. All five of us." (I was counting Layla) He said, "I missed you, too." *Pause* "Wait. Five of you?...Are you pregnant?" After I said yes, he got this big smile on his face and I told him how I had known for a week and didn't want to stress him out during his trip by telling him before he left. He just shook his head and took it all in. Then he started rationalizing and planning just like I had. We discussed some finances, the need for a vehicle with more room to accommodate three car seats, looked at his preferred SUV online, and I told him how soon we could find out the gender. I'm so glad he is happy and excited! I think he is actually more excited this time than he was the last time, which is kind of crazy to me, but hey, I'll take it! This is the last time there will be a pregnancy to announce, a baby to plan for. We should soak it all in as much as possible! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In the Midst of Indecision

For months now, I have gone back and forth about having another baby. I had always planned on having four kids, but after Natalie was born, three sounded just fine to me. Then Julia was born. She started out a wonderful sleeper, but that ended at three months and even at 12 months old, she still woke up twice every night (now at 14 months old, she wakes once and recently slept through the night twice in a week! Progress!). From birth, she had a throat-grinding, painful sounding scream that took a very long time for Alex and I to get used to. Her temper is fierce and rises to the surface in an instant when you put her down, put her in the car seat, or when life just generally doesn't go her way. She is cute and smart, bashful and brave, but she hasn't made the should-we-have-another-baby-someday decision very easy. In my mind, I hoped that Alex would come around and agree that one more child would complete our little family and that Lord willing, we could become a family of five when Julia was about two and a half. Then I started getting baby fever. I blame it on Julia turning a year old. All the websites and books and baby updates start labeling your precious babe a "toddler" as soon as that one-year milestone is reached. Alex and I agreed that I was insane for feeling this way, lol. He was by no means ready to consider changing our family dynamic yet, if ever.

A couple of friends are having babies or trying to conceive, which I guess is pretty common when you're still in your twenties. Everyone around you gets married and within a few years, babies start coming and conversations change from buying houses, home decor, what recipes you make that are husband-approved to cycle-charting, morning sickness, labor and delivery plans, nursery decor, to how to get the baby to sleep at night. I think that as a twenty-something woman, it's only natural for me to struggle with family planning since I am still in the midst of that "ideal" time in my life to be having babies and keeping up with toddlers and, now that I have a 3 year old, a preschooler. I have had this conversation with more than a dozen people in recent weeks. "How did you know that you were "done"? Was it hard going from 2 to 3, or 4 or 5...? How long did it take for you and your husband to get on the same page? I'm just not sure. He's just not sure. I want my kids to grow up with siblings..."

Then I realized something wasn't quite right. I took a pregnancy test. And 3 minutes later, the future of our family was decided. Two pink lines appeared. I was pregnant. Me. Who struggled for 11 agonizing months to get pregnant the first time around. Who miscarried the second time. Who has to plan and try and endure the stress and heartbreak of things not happening as quickly as I would like for them to. Got pregnant without planning it. Without "trying".  Holy cow. Um, yeah. I was stunned.

I didn't say anything to Alex because he was leaving for a week-long business trip in two days and I didn't want to blurt out that ready or not, he was going to be a daddy again, but have a great time on your trip and work hard! Good luck concentrating now that I've dropped this bombshell in your lap! I tested again the next day and confirmed that the first test wasn't a fluke. Alex left for his trip the following morning, and I spent the week just dying to tell him every time we talked on the phone. Never mind that he was on his lunch break or getting ready to go sight-see with co-workers or step back into a meeting. I have news to tell you and I want to tell you right now!!! Gah! I did call my doula because she was nearly booked up for Julia's birth month when I called her at 6 or 7 weeks pregnant. She is a vital part of my birth plan, so I couldn't take a risk on her not being able to take me on as a client! 

In the midst of my indecision, I feel like God stepped in and said, "Would you chill out, woman?! I have this all figured out and you just need to relax and trust me. I've got this! This is the plan. Go along with it. It's all going to be ok." So now, 4.5 days later as I'm writing this (although I will post it later), I am feeling excited, nervous, a little stressed, still in shock, but I can't wait to tell Alex. I've been praying for God to prepare his heart. I don't want the memory of the moment I tell him to forever be negative because all he says is, "Well, guess there's nothing we can do about it now. We will never get a full night's sleep again!" or "Oh crap!" Ha! And the detail-lover in me is thinking about the finances, the need for a bigger vehicle to fit 3 car seats across the back seat because there is currently something like a meager 6 inches between Natalie and Julia's car seats right now, where is the baby going to sleep, when should Julia move out of the crib, should she move into Natalie's room or stay in her room with the new baby, what will the grandparents think because I know they think I already have my hands full, who cares what they think, who cares what anybody thinks, how much longer until I can tell more people, don't forget to tell so-and-so, don't forget to take your prenatal vitamins! It's a busy place in my brain right now!

Baby G-3 is due in early October. This is just further proof of God's sense of humor: after I miscarried, we purposely waited to try to conceive again to specifically avoid October as the birth month of our second child because there are 5 family birthdays and 2 anniversaries that month, including ours. God says, "Who cares if your kid has to share a birthday party with their cousins or your anniversary?! Ain't no big thang!" (Yes, God does talk like that, in case you were wondering.) So, here we are, our future mapped out before us. Thank you, Lord, for making the decision easier ;) Seriously. I mean that. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Julia at 12 Months

Despite not having posted a single thing in over 8 months, I do think about my little blog from time to time and how I really have zero time to write what has been happening in my life even though I do want to write something so that I can look back years from now and remember what it was like when my kids were little. So here I am. Julia turned one on January 16. She started walking the week of Thanksgiving, so she was getting around really well at her party. We had our families over for finger foods, cake, and ice cream, after Julia's nap. She loved her little slice of carrot cake and ate it all up! She received a stuffed owl pillow that I made to match her nursery, a cloth doll, a giraffe heating pad stuffed animal, a pull along puppy, funds to open a savings account, and a ball/block run that is kind of like a marble run/plinko game combo.

Julia has consistently woken up twice during the night for months now. We have hit a wall and she just will not make any progress in the sleep department! She is weaned during the day and only nurses during the night. Her favorite foods are pretty much anything, but she especially loves grapes, raisins, and spaghetti. She babbles constantly, but only says a few words like Da-da, uh-oh, yeah, hi, yay, and no. She finally said "mom-mom" the other day, but won't say it again! Stinker! Despite her limited vocabulary, she is great at communicating what she wants and shows that she understands what we say to her. If I ask her if she wants to eat a snack, she heads straight for the kitchen. She leans, grunts, and points to what she wants and refuses to use correct sign language and instead has invented her own sign for "more". Her favorite activities are baths, swinging, playing with dolls, and playing in the kitchen cabinets. She loves her big sisters and is interacting with her more and more all the time. It is an answer to prayer that they have grown to love each other. I'm praying that it continues and lasts a lifetime! Julia loves "patting the Bible" while you sing "The B-I-B-L-E". In the church nursery, there is a basket full of little New Testaments that they pass out to the kids while they sing that song and she goes for it immediately when you take her to the nursery and starts patting the Bibles. She dances and enjoys music and singing and loves sitting on my lap and banging on the piano when I try to practice. I pretty much practice in vain because she screams if I put her on the floor and don't let her sit on my lap to "play". She can almost run now and walks very quickly. She can climb the stairs to Alex's office in probably 20 seconds or less. She is super fast! She usually just takes one nap a day and is ready for bed around 7. She wakes up like clockwork as soon as my head hits the pillow (around 11:30 pm) and again usually between 1 and 3 a.m. and wakes up anywhere from 6:45 to 7:45 most mornings. She weighs 19 pounds and is 29 inches tall. 18 month pants are usually too long on her, but we make them work. She adores her family and has a really sweet relationship with all of us. I think I am her favorite person, but Daddy and big sis are close seconds.

This past year has flown by even faster than Natalie's first year and I am afraid that I haven't documented it very well. In true second-child form, I haven't taken as many pictures and obviously didn't write as many monthly updates. But Julia is still so special to us and we treasure every day with her. She has taught me so much about perseverance, flexibility, unconditional love, and my own weaknesses. Mothering two littles is a whole new ball game, but I think I have found my "groove" and don't quite feel like I am still in survival mode. With just Natalie, I used to get bored with the same old routine every single day, but now with two kids, there isn't time to be bored. And I like that. I look forward to watching my girls grow up and grow closer to one another. We have come a long way in just a year! Here's to many new adventures ahead!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Julia at 2 Months

So, I just realized I had written this post, never finished it, and thus never published it. Since blogging has been my girls' only "baby book", I wanted to go ahead and publish it, albeit out of chronolgical order, so that it would be easier to find down the road when I'm feeling nostalgic and want to read what life was like when the kids were babies. So, bear with me as I publish Julia's 2 month update while she is 4.5 months old, because that's how I roll.

Julia turned two months old last Sunday. We went for her well child check up this past week and I had my postpartum check up as well. Miss Julia weighs 12 pounds 1 oz and is 22 inches long, putting her in the 80th and 50th percentiles, respectively. She is definitely more filled out than Natalie ever was, lol. Natalie was 11 pounds 12 oz and 23.5 inches tall at 2 months (75th and 90th percentiles).

Our sweet baby "talks" to us quite a lot and has smiles for anyone who will have a conversation of "coos" with her. She loves being held facing outward or on her belly in a Superman hold, just like her big sis did. She enjoys being worn in my ring sling, which is a lifesaver in the grocery store and outside while Natalie is playing. I remember thinking that Natalie got more fun around 3 months old, but I feel like Julia is already more fun right now because of how much she enjoys interacting with me. I think we have a social butterfly on our hands! Julia DESPISES baths and screams her blood-curdling scream the entire time until she is dry and dressed again. She came really close to rolling over from belly to back yesterday, so I am excited to see her accomplish that soon!

Julia still nurses every 2 hours and usually sleeps anywhere for 5 to 8 hours at night before waking up to eat. Hooray for babies that sleep well!!! I think she has a shallow latch, which is causing me quite a bit of discomfort still. My doula suggested trying different feeding positions to see if that helps.

Natalie still loves her little sister, but she has recently entered deeper into the terrible twos with more frequent tantrums and bad behavior. Alex and I are growing wearing from disciplining her for the same things over and over all.day.long.everyday. I have asked more experienced moms for tips on disciplining a toddler and the resounding answer is that you just survive it and one day they will get better. Not exactly what I was hoping or expecting to hear, but I am hopeful that it will ring true for us in the near future before I lose my mind and pull all my hair out! My mom says to speak out that we are going to have the "Terrific Twos" and I try to do that as I discipline Natalie for the 1, 346,782nd time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Life with a 4 Month Old

Life won't slow down and most days it feels like I am just along for the ride. I blinked and my baby is now 4 months old. I feel like I am on the verge of a breakthrough with figuring out my new normal since Julia was born, prioritizing what needs to be done and what I want to get done around the house, coming to terms with living in "survival mode" and letting go of things that just aren't as important as being present with my girls. I made a chore chart in the hopes of getting more done around the house, but decided it was too much to handle after the first day. As long as we all have clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of, that is enough for now. It's not worth it to me to go and go and go all day long cleaning and playing, running, running, running, and then not have any energy left after the kids are in bed to enjoy my down time. So that is where I am at right now. Tired and trying to find balance.

Miss Julia turned 4 months old on Friday. She started out her life as an amazing sleeper, but right at 3 months, that all changed and she started waking up 3-5 times a night. My seasonal allergies started bothering me and it seemed that Julia's nose became constantly stuffy at the same time, causing her to not sleep as well. She teased me a bit on Friday because she slept all night for the first time in over a month, but went back to waking up a lot again every night since. Combine that with the fact that Natalie comes into bed with us in the middle of the night and this mama isn't getting great sleep.

On a more positive note, I just love Julia's little personality. She is so social and smiles whenever you talk to her. She gets bashful and turns her face away as she smiles at you, which is so sweet. She giggles when you tickle her, which has to be one of the best sounds in the world. My heart was full tonight watching Natalie talk to Julia and watching Julia smile and laugh in response. Natalie will tell me, "I want to talk to Julia! Hello, Julia! Hello, Julia! Hello, Julia!" It's like she doesn't know how to have a one-sided conversation with her baby sister just yet, but I love her heart and know they will keep growing closer as they get older. It has always been my prayer that they would be best friends.

Julia rolled over during the middle of the night one time, but hasn't rolled over again since. She has started reaching for toys and anything within her reach, including my hair, which she tries to eat. Not fun for Mama. The similarities between her and Natalie as a baby are uncanny. Both girls have tempers and scream when they are mad, both love being outdoors and calm right down when we head outside, both girls have a strong attachment to me and don't like to be held by anyone else for very long, they both love moving around a lot and standing up on their feet if being held on someone's lap. The Jumperoo has started getting some use, as well as the Bumbo chair, but Julia doesn't generally enjoy being put down for very long. I bought a Lillebaby carrier to use on walks and while out shopping instead of carrying the carseat into the store and Julia and I both love it. She sucks on her fingers or thumb and sometimes falls asleep in it and I love being close to her while still having my hands free to do things with Natalie.

Natalie seems to still be doing well having a baby sister around, but she is still really rough at times. The instant she hears Julia crying or cooing after a nap, Natalie tells me, "Julia awake!!! I wanna talk to her!" and she runs in the nursery to tell her "Hi!". It is so sweet and Julia usually smiles at her through the crib slats. She likes to hand me diapers and take toys away from Julia, which we are working on with her. She is growing into a little girl more every day. Now she helps me unload the dishwasher and wants to get undressed by herself. She has been saying nursery rhymes and little songs during the day and asks me to sing with her. Some of her favorite songs are If You're Happy and You Know It, Apples and Bananas, 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, The Wheels on the Bus, and The B-I-B-L-E. She still eats non-stop and right now especially loves candy-lope (cantaloupe) and trail mix. There is never a dull moment in our home. I just wish I had half the energy she has. Alex's nickname as a child was Taz, and Natalie sure has inherited his energetic ways.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blog Makeover!

Have you seen my blog's new look? I am so excited about it! My friend, Callie, at Through Clouded Glass blog, generously offered to design a new template for my blog since she is starting her own little business on the side. She knows far more about all that stuff than I do and created something that uses all my favorite colors and captures my personality beautifully.

 I found Callie's blog over 3 years ago when she was expecting her first child and we have become good friends in the years since. She writes honestly about faith and family life and is one of the most thoughtful people I know, so go check her out, make a new friend, and hit her up if you'd like to hire her to give your blog a makeover! Thank you so much, Callie!!!