Category Archives: Sprout

Happy Birthday, Sprout!

Sprout turned one year old today.  It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since her precipitous arrival 2 1/2 weeks before my due date and 28 minutes after we arrived at the hospital.  I feel like she should still be a tiny baby, but every day she is showing us more evidence that she is becoming a toddler.

She took her first independent steps last week.  She practices standing up All The Time, especially in really unhelpful situations like when she’s in her high chair.  She’s crazy about animals.  She loves Tad’s stuffed animals (especially his lemur, which is twice as tall as she is), books with pictures of animals, and real dogs who we see on walks.  She’s also crazy about these tiny duck magnets that are on our microwave (perfectly horrible choking hazards, so of course she loves them!).  She is finding lots of ways to communicate her wants and needs, including a few words (one of which is “duck”!).

We had a small party for extended family and a few friends on Saturday, so tonight was just our little family of four.  Dinner included the mix of joy and chaos and exhaustion that is our life now.  Between Sprout standing up in her high chair, Tadpole being put in time out for bopping his sister on the head, and Roo and I hopping up to get seconds of different dishes, I don’t think we were all sitting at the table together for more than 30 seconds.  But in those 30 seconds Tadpole said, “Thank you for Sprout and for making the whole wonderful world” as part of our before-dinner “thank yous”.  And in the midst of the chaos, Roo and I stole a few moments to hug each other and to thank the other for the hard work she did 365 days ago.  After dinner, Tadpole “helped” Sprout open her presents from us.  Sprout grinned at the stuffed dog Roo had bought for her, reached for it, and bit its nose decisively yet affectionately.  We flipped through the book with pictures of animals that I had bought, and Tad read it to Sprout until she decided to carry it off and try to look at it (and chew on it) by herself.

Here’s to another year of our boisterous menagerie. Happy birthday, Sprout!

 

 

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Filed under Parenthood, Pregnancy, Sprout, Tadpole

Full

Apologies for disappearing again.  I miss this space, and there are the beginnings of numerous posts in my drafts folder and just floating around in my head.  But I’m finding it difficult to fit in time for writing these days.

My life is full of so many good things–a job that I like, a spouse who I adore, these two longed-for kids.  And yet that same fullness means constant scarcity–there’s never enough time or energy for everything that I would like to do.   Time at work means time spent away from my family.   I don’t spend nearly enough time connecting with Roo.  I cannot simultaneously give my attention to both kids at once.

That last one is particularly tricky.  Tadpole is a whirlwind of arms and legs and impulsivity.  He’ll sit still if we’re reading books together, but otherwise is in almost-constant motion.  He’s always exploring and testing–what will happen if he does a headstand in the Ikea chair?  what will happen if he sticks his finger in his sister’s mouth?  And Sprout is an explorer as well.  Her crawling is fast these days, and she pulls herself to standing, which means all sorts of non-baby-safe items have to be relocated to higher ground.  If I focus on one kid, the other is invariably getting into mischief behind my back.  Roo and I are constantly putting out fires, which means we haven’t found the time to do proactive things like putting up baby gates or relocating non-baby-safe items to higher ground.

I hate that one-on-one time with little Sprout is so scarce.  I savor the few moments I have with her during the week–snuggling as she nurses in the morning, making her giggle when I blow raspberries on her belly as I change her into pajamas at night.  But I miss her during the day,  and I wish I could spend more time focused on her.  I love the age that she is (10 months), and I’m aware of how quickly she’s changing.  I only have 4 weekends with a 10-month-old Sprout before I’ll have an 11-month-old one.  That’s only 8 days, and somewhere in each of those days I have to find time for things like grocery shopping and laundry.

Tad’s growth and development isn’t as rapid or as obvious, but this start of kindergarten is an important time for him too.  I want to be sure I’m present to him as well–which is hard when I have to be constantly vigilant to be sure the baby isn’t swallowing pebbles or destroying Tad’s artwork or…

I miss  the slower-paced days of the summer, when I was the only one who had to leave the house before 8:30, and we were all home by 4:15 most afternoons.  Instead of the go-go-go of our current mornings and evenings we had a few minutes to read books on the couch in the morning or to all sit on the porch together before dinner.

I remember with longing the lazy Fridays that I got to spend with Tadpole when he was little.  I worked four days a week, which meant that I had a whole day to focus on Tad.  We went for toddler-paced walks around the block and did storytime at the library and spent entire afternoons watching road construction.  Plus, I had time to start on weekend chores during his nap.  I’m committed to my current job through July of next year, but am wondering if I can find something with a four-day work week after that.  It feels unfair that Sprout (who already has to share our attention with Tad) doesn’t get this kind of focused attention during the school year (though she does have it with Roo during the summers).

I am very lucky in everything that I have–a job is satisfying and that pays well (even if it takes up more time than I would like), two amazing kids (even if it seems impossible that only two children can create the messes that they do), a cozy house (even if it requires endless cleaning and maintenance).  My life is full-to-overflowing and that brings both intense joy and deep-down-in-my-bones exhaustion.

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Filed under blogging, Parenthood, Sprout, Tadpole, Uncategorized

End-of-summer update

Sorry for disappearing there.  It has been a crazy month.  We were out of town for two week-long trips and one weekend trip in the last four weeks.  First was our annual week at the beach with Roo’s family (posts about previous years here and here).  Then a weekend trip to New England for my cousin’s wedding.  And then we spent a week at my parents’ cabin on a lake in New England.

We just got back from that trip last Sunday.   A co-worker asked me when I returned to work if it had been relaxing, and I found myself laughing in her face.  I’m glad we went, but it was definitely not relaxing.  Balancing everyone’s needs was hard work–Tadpole has lots of energy and does best when we are out and about a lot, but Sprout does best when we’re home for her naps.  And Roo and I prefer to have some downtime to do things like lie in the hammock and read, but it’s hard to find time for that.  The cabin is lovely but rustic and not at all baby-proofed, so it was hard to put the newly-mobile baby down anywhere.  A week with a wiggly newly-mobile baby who cannot be easily put down is not a relaxing week.  And then there was the bit where Sprout woke up at 5am almost every morning, (and usually woke up her brother as well).

However, it’s a beautiful area, and we had some great adventures.  We went swimming almost every day and used multiple boats (motor boat, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard).  Tadpole made friends with all of the people staying in neighboring cabins, learned to drive the motorboat, and became a more confident swimmer.  Sprout discovered that she hates her life jacket but made lots of friends with strangers on the airplane.  Roo read a lot and fit in a lot of swimming.  I got to see an aunt and cousin who I haven’t seen in years and jump off a rope swing.

Now we have a somewhat-gradual transition back to our school-year schedule.  This week Roo scrambled to get her classroom set up amid a hectic meeting schedule and Sprout started back at daycare.  Tadpole was at camp this week, and then he starts kindergarten on Monday!  For some individual updates:

Sprout

Her hair is now several inches long, and it still sticks straight up!  Our baby has changed from a mellow, go-with-the-flow newborn to a spunky, determined almost-nine-month old.  She insists on feeding herself, and completely refuses any baby food purees.  As in will not open her mouth and even grabs the spoon and forces it away.  She has started crawling for real, and pulling herself up and even climbed up a few steps the other day.  Her stubbornness plus her motor skills plus the fact that we haven’t really started baby-proofing mean that we’re in so much trouble!!! She has also developed some separation anxiety.  On the one hand, it’s nice to feel like we are special to her, and that she notices when we’re gone.  On the other hand, this coincides with her returning to the daycare where she hasn’t been in two+ months, so the timing is not ideal.

Tadpole

Tadpole continues to be alternately charming (like when he climbs onto my lap and snuggles in to read a book, or when he sings lullabies to his sister) and smart (he was keeping score during a game the other day and correctly added up 100+100+100+5+5 in his head) and infuriating (like when he licked the baby right after I asked him not to lick the baby).  He has recently become an entrepreneur; he has been going door-to-door selling his crayon drawings to our neighbors both at the cabin and at home.

I am excited and nervous about his transition to kindergarten.  He tends to go through a phase of testing limits whenever he starts in a new place.  I hope his teacher is able to set firm limits with him (which usually helps him settle down), and I want her to still love him even if they get off to a rocky start.  His teacher last year did a fabulous job with both of these things, but the one the year before really didn’t.  Fingers crossed.

Roo

Roo is getting ready for another school year.  She’s at the same school where she’s been for a number of years, but taking on a few new challenges this time around.

Me

I’m doing well.   My not-so-new job has been frustrating lately.  I continue to really like my co-workers, and the sessions that I have with clients have felt productive.  But I’ve also had a huge number of clients not showing up for their appointments lately.  I’m trying to remember that my clients have been assigned to this particular program because their lives are crazy and chaotic and they aren’t good at showing up for any kind of appointment.  But it still makes it hard to feel excited about coming to work some days.

I’m sad about the end of summer and of the more relaxed schedule that we’ve been able to have.  I’m not looking forward to hurried mornings and to not having time in the evenings for more than cleaning the house and packing all of our lunches. But I am excited about things settling down a little bit.  I haven’t gone running or to the climbing gym in several weeks, and haven’t been able to make many plans with friends because of all of our traveling.  So I’m looking forward to getting back into all of those things.  And I really like our regular old every-day life–early-morning snuggles with our fuzzy-duckling baby, bedtimes with the big grown-up boy, Friday night dinners out and Sunday evening dinners at home.

So that’s the news from here.  How are you?  Does your life change with the new school year?  How is that transition going in your family?

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Filed under Parenthood, Sprout, Tadpole, Travel

The view from here

This post has been percolating for months, as I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about my experience with breastfeeding so far.

In the beginning breastfeeding was really hard. It was uncomfortable–I said to Roo at some point that it felt like having a vacuum cleaner permanently attached to my nipples. For the 5+ weeks that I had thrush, it was really painful. I had a hard time with positioning the baby, and it often required various tricks to get Sprout settled in to eating (bouncing her while feeding, taking her clothes off so she wouldn’t fall asleep, etc.)  It was incredibly exhausting to be the main one able to feed the baby when she wanted to eat fifty times a day.

Before Sprout was born, I imagined that one of the big advantages of breastfeeding would be being able to feed the baby while in bed and half-asleep. It turns out that I’ve never done this! So far I’ve been too exhausted for it to feel safe. There have been multiple times when I thought I was holding the baby, only to realize that it was just my body pillow. There was even one night when I woke up and couldn’t tell for a moment if I was sitting up in the glider in Sprout’s room or lying on my side in bed! So that piece hasn’t happened, but it’s still far easier to just sit down in the glider, pull up my shirt and latch the baby on than to go downstairs, turn on the lights, make up a bottle (with only warm milk, since that’s all that Her Highness will deign to drink), etc.

Nursing in bed hasn’t happened, but somewhere along the line other aspects of breastfeeding shifted (as I had been told they would). I finally cured the thrush. The other kinds of discomfort lessened. Both Sprout and I got better at making this work.  The baby didn’t need to eat quite so often, so I started to have a little time in the evenings for more than feedthebabyfeedthebabyfeedthebaby. When I wasn’t so exhausted, the time I spent feeding Sprout felt cozy instead of suffocating. During maternity leave, breastfeeding was convenient. I remember back to our early days with Tadpole, when we had a checklist by the diaper bag in order to be sure we had packed everything (bottle, nipple, formula, water, bib, etc.)–and I remember some disasterous outings when we had forgotten one or the other of these items. But with Sprout, I just needed to be sure she and I were in the same place, and maybe bring a nursing cover-up. I was still the main one getting up with the baby at night, but that made sense–I could often get a nap in during the day, while Roo had to be functional at work.

Since I went back to work three months ago, the convenient-inconvenient balance has shifted again.  It continues to be helpful to be able to breastfeed Sprout in the evenings and on weekends.  But I’m also pumping three times a day on weekdays while I’m at work, which is decidedly inconvenient.  My new job is with a huge organization, and the first few weeks involved lots of trainings and meetings, all at different locations and with different instructors.  This meant having to explain my situation again and again, and to find the “mothers’ room” in each of five different buildings.  Fortunately, everyone was very nice, and the conversations were not as uncomfortable as they could have been.  It’s definitely a plus that my new employer has a commitment to supporting breastfeeding, and that these “mothers’ rooms” exist.  But it took a lot of extra work to figure out the location of each one, whether there was a special access code or card needed to get in, whether there is a sink nearby, etc.  The only building that doesn’t have a space for pumping is the building where I am most days, but I have my own office there.  It’s a tiny space (in fact, it used to be a closet!), but it’s all mine.  I had a few awkward conversations with co-workers who were concerned that the “do not disturb” sign that I had put up meant that they had offended me, but they were sweet when my boss explained the situation.  So pumping at work has gone about as well as it could have, but has still been uncomfortable. It’s a pain to find enough times during the day to pump.  I hate washing pump parts over and over and over, and it can be awkward to wash them in the communal bathroom sink.  It has also been tough to synch my pumping with Sprout’s needs since she’s still not on a very consistent schedule.

And despite all of the pumping that I’m doing, it’s still not quite enough to keep up with Sprout’s needs.  We try to send her to daycare with more milk than we think she’ll take, but that sometimes means sending in a bottle or two of formula.  I think I might have been upset about this if Sprout were my first kid, or if I’d had a different experience with Tadpole. I had to make some sort of peace with formula, since it nourished my son for the first year of his life.  Sprout has already had far more breastmilk that Tadpole ever did, which makes me less worried about giving her the occasional bottle of formula.

So I’m not pumping because I believe it’s essential for my baby to get nothing but breastmilk.  Then why am I doing continuing to do it? When I’m anxiously trying to figure out where to fit in a pumping session between work meetings or when I’m explaining to the socially awkward man leading our computer training course why I need certain breaks or when I’m washing my pump parts for the fourth time in a day, I start to wonder how much it would matter if I stopped pumping.  It would be helpful to still be able to breastfeed during the day on weekends, but maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I only breastfeed in the morning and evening.   It might even be good for Roo’s and Sprout’s relationship for her to give the baby more bottles.  I told myself that I would stick it out until Sprout was six months and then re-evaluate.  But I seem to still be pumping.

One reason why I’ve continued is that I really enjoy re-connecting with Sprout through nursing on the weekends, after missing her so much during the week.  I’d like to be able to do that for as long as I can.  Another reason for pumping may be an attempt to compensate for the guilt I feel about all that I can’t do for Sprout.  Having a full-time job and another kid keeps me from devoting as much time and attention to her as I would like, but pumping is something I can do for her when I’m away from her.  In addition, I’m proud of the hard work that Sprout and Roo and I put into building the nursing relationship, and I’m grateful for the luck that enabled it to work out this well.  I’m aware that the time when I have this kind of relationship with Sprout is short, and I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  As much as I yearn for consecutive nights with uninterrupted sleep, I imagine that I’ll be sad when I have no more middle-of-the-night snuggles with a limp sleepy baby.  I hope to never be one of those older women who accost frazzled, sleep-deprived new parents at the grocery store with exhortations to “enjoy every minute”, but I also know that I’ll miss aspects of this time when my kids are older.  My feelings about breastfeeding seem to be part of that perpetual paradox of parenthood (especially early parenthood)–it’s ridiculously hard and exhausting, but also so sweet.

 

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6 months!

Little Sprout turned 6 months old on Saturday so I thought I’d do an update of how we’re all doing, six months into becoming a family of four.

Sprout

Our baby is petite (10th-15th percentile at most visits so far), but still has delicious cheeks and thighs.  She has an adorable little fuzz of light brown hair.  Roo is hoping she’ll be a brunette (like Roo), rather than another blonde (like me and Tadpole).  She has a funny little smile with her tongue sticking out, which we see a lot of.  She also has a crazy maniacal grin with her mouth wide open, which she saves for things she gets really excited about (like the sight of her brother).

So far Sprout is a mellow baby, and is very tolerant when a nap or meal doesn’t come right away.  This is helpful trait in a second baby!  As much as we try to protect her schedule, it’s often thrown off by other things we have going on.  She is very patient with discomforts of various sorts.  A few weeks ago she had an allergic reaction to penicillin (which she was taking for an ear infection) and spent about 72 hours coverd in hives.  Poor baby!  But even then, she was only mildly fussy.

We’ve also been amazingly lucky that she sleeps well.  From early on (and without any sleep training), we’ve been able to put her in the crib and she’ll just…go to sleep!  It’s just in the last few weeks that she has started to cry when we tuck her in, but the fussing doesn’t usually last long.  I’m not sure how we got so lucky!  (And I’m a little nervous about jinxing things just by writing this!) She goes to bed around 7, and then I get her up for a dream feed before I go to bed around 10.  She’s still waking up once in the middle of the night to eat most nights, and I’m very ready to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep.  But I actually prefer the nights when she wakes up to the few instances where she has slept though the night, because when she doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night she is up for the day at 5am!  If she wakes up in the middle of the night, we at least can both then go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour.

The other night we had the first instance where we put Sprout down on the floor, turned around, and came back to find her in a different place than where we had left her!  She has figured out how to log-roll over and over across the floor to get around.  This is both exciting and terrifying.  Up until now we’ve enjoyed a window where Sprout was young enough and Tadpole old enough to each be left unsupervised for a few minutes while I ran upstairs to get a new diaper, went into the kitchen to stir the dinner, etc.  It is going to be less and less possible to do that with Sprout.  Thinking of this has made me grateful for the age gap between our kids–I’m not sure how parents manage when they have more than one kid who needs constant supervision.

Sprout has been grabbing for our food and staring intently at us as we eat for a while now, but we just started feeding her solids a week ago.  Part of the wait was because we wanted to be sure the crazy allergic reaction had settled down.  But part of  it was that we knew just how much work is involved in adding in solids–finding the time for an extra meal, the massive messes, etc.  I’m glad we finally started, though.  Sprout LOVES solids!  Our mellow baby is a fierce eater, and the sight of a baby spoon with some carrots on it gets the crazy open-mouthed smile.  I don’t know what percentage of the food is making it into her belly versus being smeared all over the place, but she’s certainly enjoying the experience.

Tadpole

It’s hard to believe that these are Tadpole’s last few weeks of preschool.  We’ll all be sad to leave the small friendly community that we’ve been a part of for the last three years.  Tad has recently been having more meltdowns than usual (including a half-hour long sobbing fit because we asked him to bring his water bottle in from the car), and I think he’s having lots of big feelings about this transition. This summer he’ll go to a few day camps (mostly at Roo’s work), and then he’ll start kindergarten in the fall!

He’s currently obsessed with sharks and other underwater animals.  We’ve let him order (used) books as his reward for getting a certain number of stickers during his morning routine, and he has chosen about five different shark books.  We read them over and over, and he stores up every bit of information.  He can tell you all about whale sharks versus thresher sharks versus mako sharks.  He knows about shark anatomy and feeding habits and habitats.  He has also taken to drawing underwater scenes with a variety of different creatures.  It’s interesting to watch our kid develop and to see how much of who he is seems to well up from deep inside him, rather than being the result of Roo’s or my influence.  Both Roo and I love to read fiction, and we often bring home some of our favorite kids’ stories from the library for Tad.  He has enjoyed some of our choices, but for most bedtimes he chooses to read more nonfiction, mostly about animals.  If I were reading these books on my own, I would find them horribly dull.  But it’s hard not to enjoy Tad’s excitement about learning new things.  And it is fun to have a shared store of knowledge.  I once mentioned that the cookie cutter shark (look it up) gave me the heebie-jeebies.  So now one of Tad’s favorite things to do is to whisper “cookie cutter shark” to me, or to pretend to be a cookie-cutter shark taking a round bite out of me.  It’s a fabulous game.

Tad is still crazy about his sister.  He comes running into her room as soon as he hears her wake up from a nap, and he has lots of silly nicknames for her.  He also often sticks his head in her lap so that she will pull his hair–and then complains loudly about the hair pulling.

Roo

I think Roo is very ready for the school year to be over.  She has had a good year in terms of interactions with her students, but a couple of her co-workers have been behaving really strangely.  I think she is excited (and a little nervous) about being home with Sprout all summer.

Me

I’ve been at my new job for almost three months now. It’s going well overall. I don’t have very many clients yet, which makes the days feel long, but I think things will pick up soon.  I’m doing good work (or will be doing good work when there’s more work to do!) and helping to support my family.

One thing that I haven’t been able to figure out is where I can fit in exercise in our new life.  At my old job, I worked 11am-8pm one day a week, which meant time to fit in a run after Roo took Tadpole to school that morning.  So I usually was able to go running once a week, go to the climbing gym in the evening every week or two, and maybe fit in a family walk on the weekends.  But my new job is 8-4 every day, and I’m responsible for taking Tadpole to school on my way to work.  The only way to fit in a run in the morning would be to get up at 5-something, which just feels like too much.  It’s hard to exercise in the evenings because I don’t want to waste the little bit of time that I have with the kids, and after their bedtimes it’s hard to find the energy to do more than clean up the kitchen, pack lunches, and maybe watch a little TV.  Weekends are hard because they tend to fill up with family activities (and I’m not good about setting aside time for me).  I’ve managed to go running on the weekends every two or three weeks, but I miss going weekly.  I have been making it to the climbing gym on a weeknight (leaving after dinner but before the kids’ bedtimes) about once every two or three weeks.  Maybe in the summer when it’s light out later I could go for an evening run?  Or I may be able to fit in a morning run during the summer when Roo is able to take Tadpole to camp.  I know that I feel much better both physically and emotionally when I’m going running every week, so I’m working on figuring out how to fit it in.

Logistically, having a second kid has made our lives much more complicated.  Coordinating two drop-offs and two pick-ups each school day can get a little hairy.  And adding one new family member has somehow resulted in about four times more dirty dishes and about seven times as much dirty laundry.  It has meant less sleep and less down time for Roo and me (because there’s almost always someone who needs our attention).

Despite all of this, I’ve found the transition to life with two kids has been less overwhelming than I’d thought it would be.  I think there are a variety of factors that are responsible for this.  Sprout’s mellow personality makes a huge difference (especially in contrast to Tadpole the “frisky fritter”).  One other big difference is that we’re not adjusting to life as parents.  For me, the jump from non-parent to parent-of-a-newborn was a huge transformation.  The jump from parent-of-preschooler to parent-of-preschooler-and-baby just isn’t the same kind of fundamental shift.  Even in terms of logistics, adding a new task to the system (packing two kid lunches instead of one, for example), involves an adjustment to the system, but not creating a new system altogether.  And some routines that we have already created (like taking turns sleeping in on weekend mornings) continue to be very helpful.  Also, the fact that we have done this before helps a lot.  There are many times a day when I remind myself that we somehow survived this particular developmental stage once, so it’s likely that we will again.  And we know more about who we are as parents–there’s lots of big-picture parenting philosophy stuff that we already have negotiated.

So that didn’t end up being so short after all–there’s a lot to catch up on when I don’t post very often.  Overall, we’re doing well.  Happy, exhausted, frazzled, excited.  We’ll see if I still feel this way in a few more months when Sprout becomes more mobile, and both kids are running in opposite directions, Sprout is trying to swallow the tint pieces of Tadpole’s toys that litter the floor, etc.!

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This is it

A few weeks ago we sent in the official notarized form asking Big Scary Fertility Center to destroy to remaining vials of sperm that we had stored there.  This is it.  We’re done with TTC.  It’s an incredible relief to not be in the midst of that struggle.  And I’m so grateful that we are walking away with the family size that we wanted. It didn’t happen the way we’d pictured or in the time-frame we had planned, and there are still scars there (especially for Roo).  But every day I feel grateful that we have Tadpole and Sprout, (even when they are both screaming at the tops of their lungs simultaneously as they were tonight!).

Of course, like lots of bloggers before me, finishing TTC means trying to figure out what the purpose of this blog is.  After some drama-filled months (pregnancy! job layoff! new baby! new job!), things have settled down quite a bit.  There are (knock on wood) no more big changes in our future.  So what do I blog about?  I enjoy writing about the little daily joys and struggles that fill our lives now. Writing about them helps me to be more present to them now, and I hope will help me have a record of this fleeting time for the future.  But I’m not sure how interesting those things are to anyone else.

I’m also not sure what tone to take.  I don’t know how many of my readers are still TTC or are trying to make peace with a smaller family than they wanted.  But I think a lot about any who might be.  Taking too celebratory a tone seems like gloating, like going on and on about the amazing vacation I’m having to the friend whose flight to the same destination was cancelled.  But complaining too much doesn’t seem fair either, given that I know we’re incredibly lucky to be where we are.  And yet, if I avoid both the fabulous things and the hard things about my life, what do I write about?

I’m also struggling with the logistics of finding time to blog.  Our family has settled into our new routines and figured out how to get all of us out the door in the mornings (mostly) on time.  Unfortunately, the secret seems to be doing a lot of tasks (packing lunches, showering, etc.) in the evenings rather than the mornings.  This means less free time in the evening, which means less time for blogging.

I’m still not sure where this blog will go from here.  I’ve found this space useful over the last two-plus years, both as a place to write about my thoughts and feelings and as a place to get feedback from others.  So I don’t think I’m ready to give it up.  I’ll try out some things in the next few weeks/months and see how it goes.  I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like to see here, or how you’ve navigated the transition to a post-TTC blog.

In the spirit of trying things out, and holding onto the small moments, here are a few recent favorites:

  • Snuggling with Sprout every night after I give her her dream feed before I go to bed.  Her whole body is so limp and trusting.  I love the feel of my cheek against her soft one, her soft breath against my neck.
  • Sitting at the dining room table with our little family after dinner a few days ago.  Tadpole “helped” me bounce Sprout on my lap, she looked down at him and giggled her funny squeaky giggle, which led to laughter all around.
  • Sprout and Roo working together last weekend to plant some flowers in the window boxes of his playhouse in our backyard.  He took the task so seriously and was so excited about every step of the process.
  • Sprout and Tadpole having long conversations in the back seat that consist entirely of blowing raspberries at each other.

This is our life now.  We’re tired, but so lucky.

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Filed under blogging, Parenthood, Sprout, Tadpole, TTC #2, Uncategorized

Not a fan

Things of which I am not a fan:

Working five days a week  On weekdays I only see Sprout for about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  She’s changing so fast that it feels like the kid I see each weekend is a totally different one than the weekend before.  She learned to roll from back to front while at daycare last week, and I didn’t see her do it until Saturday.  It’s hard to only have two days a week when we really get to hang out, and those days are full of chores, laundry, trips to the grocery store, etc.  I know that there are plenty of parents who have this schedule (or worse), but it’s still hard.

Power struggles with Tadpole in the mornings Tadpole was doing better at getting himself dressed in the mornings without a fuss, but lately things have gotten tough again.  Some mornings he crawls back into bed and pulls the covers over his head.  On other mornings it takes a threat to take away some important privilege before he puts on each item of clothing.  We had a reward chart, and that seemed to help for a while, but I think we need to adjust it somehow in order to get his attention again.

Things of which I am a fan:

Weekends  In my pre-kid life, weekends were a time to fit in as many fun activities as possible.  This past weekend we went to one event on Saturday and went to the grocery store on Sunday.  Other than that, the four of us hung out at home, and it was so nice.  There was time to catch up on some chores (I think Roo did 7 loads of laundry!), and also time to just be present to each other.

Sunny days and springtime Our little family spent a lot of Sunday afternoon outside in our yard, which was lovely.  With the cold and snowy/rainy winter that we’ve had, it feels like Sprout has hardly seen the sun!  But this weekend she got to roll around on a blanket in the grass.  And the rest of us did some work in the garden and set up our hammock.  Unlike last year, when Tad appropriated most of Roo’s tools and then did almost nothing useful with them, this time he actually did quite a bit of good weeding.

Our many-gendered boy On Saturday we went to a fairytale festival at the local library. There were a variety of costumes that kids could try on, and Tad went back to the costume booth multiple times and created a variety of outfits for his alter egos, “Princess Jack” and “an armored pirate fairy”.  At various points he had on a tutu, a knight’s hat, a purple princess dress, pirate face paint, armor, fairy wings, and a magic wand.

Familiar routines  It hasn’t taken as long as I thought it would to get back into some of our pre-Sprout routines.  I’ve made pancakes or waffles with Tad on several recent weekend mornings.  And we’re back to our old Sunday nights, which include me cooking a big dish for the week and weekly baths for the kids (yes, weekly).

Watching Tadpole and Sprout together Tad loves to be wherever Sprout is, and is constantly touching her, talking to her and making faces at her.  He is so full of affection for her that he often needs reminders to hug her more gently or to give her a little space.  One of his favorite things (and mine!) is when they have a bath together.  On Sunday night in the tub he gently poured water over her and sang her little made up songs.  And she just grinned and grinned and kicked her legs with joy as she looked up at him.   This is the kind of thing I dreamed about when we were TTC, and it’s magical to have a part of that dream come true.

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April 7, 2014 · 9:23 pm

3 Months In

 

Our little Sprout turned 3 months old on Monday.  She really seems to be coming out of the “4th trimester” and seems more “here”, if that makes any sense.  She continues to be more solemn than smiley, but when she does smile it’s awesome.  She stares intently into our eyes, and has long conversations with us (“oooooh”  “aaahgoooo” “strange-gargling-noise”).  Last night she had a long chat with an invisible friend as she was falling asleep, which was adorable.  She has discovered that these things at the end of her arms seem to be attached to her, and she can get them into her mouth regularly.  It’s fun to watch her get closer each day to being able to grab for things.

Sprout continues to be a fairly mellow baby.  She’s usually awake for 1 1/2 hours at a time and then naps for about an hour.  She falls asleep relatively easily, and wakes up in the middle of the night only once most nights.  I was cleaning up yesterday and came across a paper from December on which I had been recording her feeding times.  It has notes like “slept 2 hours!”  There are still plenty of challenging moments, but that time of chaos and crazy sleep deprivation already seems so far away.  I’m not really sure how we got through it, but I’m glad that we won’t have to do it again!

It seems unfair that the time when the baby is finally easier to spend time with is also the time when I have to go back to work.  I ended up accepting the 40-hour-a-week job, and I start in 2 1/2 weeks.  I’m sad about not having found something part time, but am starting to get excited about this job.  I interviewed for several other positions (all full-time), and this one seemed like the best fit.    While I wouldn’t choose the 5-day-a-week schedule,  I think it was helpful to see what else was out there, and to choose this over several other possibilities.  This job is quite different from most work I have done before–it’s with adults rather than kids, and is more connected to somatic health than mental health.  But I think it will be really interesting.  And Roo and I are both excited about what we’ll be able to do with more income.

My new boss has been very flexible, and has let me push my start date back to March 17th.  It will make money tight to be on unemployment for a few more weeks, but it will also let me wait to start work until Sprout is 16 weeks old, which feels quite decadent (not compared to civlilzed places like Canada, but a pretty good deal for here).  Plus, the week that I start work is Roo’s spring break, which means that I have a week to settle into things before we have to start getting all four of us out of the house in the mornings.

From March until June, Sprout will be going to daycare at Roo’s work three days a week, and will be with Roo’s mom (who recently retired) for two days a week.  And then Sprout will be home with Roo over the summer.  Tadpole went to the same daycare and loved it, and I love that Roo can visit her during the day.  I know that Sprout and her grandmother will have a fabulous time hanging out together on Mondays and Fridays.  And then it will be great for Roo and Sprout to spend some quality time together over the summer.  In terms of childcare arrangements, we have it pretty good.  My sadness about going back to work is less for Sprout (since I know she’ll be well cared for in all of the above situations) than for me (since I will be missing out on time with her).  But I’m also excited about getting back a work identity, meeting new co-workers, and using a different part of my brain.

My big worries about going back to work have to do with feeding Sprout.  First of all, she has been refusing to take a bottle lately.  Early on we were doing a really good job of offering her bottles from time to time.  But then Roo went back to work, and Sprout started sleeping longer at night, so it seemed easier for me to just feed her whenever she needed to be fed.  The last few times that we have tried to give her a bottle, she has screamed and refused to eat.  Fortunately, we have 2 1/2 more weeks to work on this, and she has been doing a little better with it in the last few days.

Related to this, I’m nervous about figuring out pumping at a brand-new workplace.  I emailed my new boss about the office arrangements, and she initially said that I would be in a shared office space.  Since a lot of the job involves working in teams to help clients, this makes sense.  But it’s not exactly conducive to pumping.  But when I asked about pumping arrangements, my new boss said she would try hard to make something work, and that (worst-case-scenario), I could use her office.  I’m not thrilled with that idea–it seems pretty awkward to come knocking on my boss’ door three times a day in order to kick her out of her office. But it was nice of her to offer.  And a more recent email said that she was working on finding me a good space and thought she had something.   That seems promising, but I’m still nervous about figuring it all out.  When I went back to work after having Tadpole, he was already mostly on formula anyway.  Plus I was at a familiar place with familiar co-workers, and I worked mostly independently and had my own office.  This time around, I don’t really know what my schedule will look like during the day, and I’m worried that it will be awkward to explain my pumping needs to a brand-new group of colleagues, most of whom I’ll be working with very closely.  I’m glad that my boss seems supportive, but am still not sure how it will all go.

Aside from these worries and my mixed feelings about going back to work, things are going well.  I’m excited about all that this spring will bring–new challenges at work, new adventures with both kids, decisions about Tad’s school for next year (more on that soon), and maybe even some warmer weather.

 

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Filed under Breastfeeding, Parenthood, Sprout, Uncategorized

Up in the air

I’m a planner by nature.  I like to make to-do lists, and have been known to write tasks that I’ve already done on a list just so I can cross them off.  When I have a busy day coming up, I tend to go over the plan for it over and over in my head.  So it’s driving me a little nuts that there’s so much I don’t know about what the future holds.  There’s all of the usual unknowns about what life with Sprout will be like in a few months.  We don’t know much about her personality at this point. She seems fairly laid-back, but that could change.  Her smiles are heartwarming but still rare–will she be a solemn kid?  And Tadpole is eager for her to be more of a playmate than she can be at this point–but will that change when she’s big enough to start getting into his toys?

There are also some other big unknowns about the future.  After getting laid off three weeks before Sprout was born, I’m in the middle of looking for a new job.  And we’re also trying to figure out where Tadpole will go for kindergarten next year.

I’ve been sending out resumes and cover letters since early January, and have been happy to be asked for a number of interviews.  There seem to be a lot of jobs out there for folks with my background, which is promising.  Last week I had two second interviews, and I think my chances of being offered at least one of those jobs is really good.  They both seem interesting, and are both a move away from the kind of work that I’ve done in the past.  There’s two big differences between them though–one would be a regular full-time, 40-hour-a-week position and would pay about what I was making at my old job.  The other would be about 28 hours a week and would involve making a fair amount less (both hourly and total pay) than my old job.  I have a lead on a part time job that could supplement that, but it still wouldn’t be as much as I was making before.

I don’t know if I’ll be offered the part time one, but if I am I’m not sure which to choose.  It has been amazing to have an extra day home with Tadpole for the first five years of his life.  Working most days, but also having one day for library story times or trips to the zoo or adventures on the light rail was the perfect balance for me.  The age Sprout is now is not my favorite, but I also know how quickly Tad became a more interesting companion.  I don’t want Sprout to be short-changed and to miss out on something that Tad had.  And it seems like the time might be even more important to have with her because she is a second kid and won’t have as much one-on-one time with Roo or me.  I know how short these early years can be.

But I’m also really really tired of having money be so tight.  The last several months have been incredibly stressful in terms of money, but they also came on top of the years when money was tight because of putting every available dime into our TTC efforts.  We really need to be putting more (some!) money away for retirement and/or the kids’ college funds.  And it would be nice to be able to chose the best school for Tadpole without having the cost be such a huge consideration.   And it would be lovely to pay for extras like Tad’s soccer program without having to cut something else.  And there are some major expenses (like some home repairs and getting a car to replace mine before it completely falls apart) that we’ve been putting off, and which I’m not sure can be put off much longer.  I know we’re very lucky to have my part time work even be an option, but I’m not sure if I’m up for the belt-tightening that would come with it.

If that weren’t enough stress, we’re also in the midst of having to make decisions about where Tadpole will go to kindergarten next year.  There’s room for a whole post here about why we’re considering the schools that we are.  But for now I’ll just explain that we’ve applied to a number of area charter schools, as well as two private schools.  For the charter schools, the spots are all awarded by lottery so there’s no way to predict which of them he’ll get into (if any).  For the private schools, he first has to get in and then we have to figure out whether we can afford whatever financial aid deal they are offering.  And of course which job I take also has implications there.  So all of this is up in the air as well.

It has been frustrating to have both the job search and the school search take up so much of my maternity leave.  Instead of spending the days staring into my newborn’s eyes, I have been trying to get her to sleep so I can write more cover letters.  And the school application process also involves a huge time commitment–open houses at the different schools we are considering, parent and child interviews at the private schools, digging out all of our financial information to complete the financial aid applications, etc.  I’m not sure how we would have managed it all if I was working now, especially if it were a new job where I hadn’t built up much leave.

In addition to the times when I can’t be physically with Sprout because of job interviews or school interviews, there are also the times when I’m with her but distracted.  I spend a lot of time thinking about the various job prospects and trying to discern which is the right one.  I’m also nervous about pumping/breastfeeding once I’m back at work, so I spend time trying to figure out a plan for that.  But it’s hard to come up with a plan when I have no idea what my schedule will look like or how far from Sprout’s daycare I will be.

I spent so much of my time during the TTC process living in the future, imagining what it would feel like if this try worked, or picturing our kids with the age spread they would have or…  I don’t want to do that now.  I want to be present to Sprout during my last few weeks of leave.  But I also have to do some projecting into the future.  Part of making these big decisions involves picturing myself in various situations and seeing what feels right–how will I feel if I’m dropping Tad off at school x in the fall?  What would it be like to come to this building to go to work?  I want to focus on Sprout, but it is hard when I’m pondering all of these big decisions.

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Settling

One of the parenting books that we have (Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach)  has a chapter on “The Newborn”, followed by a chapter on “The Settled Baby.”  I find this distinction really helpful. Leach explains,

“One day you will find that you have stopped regarding your baby as an unpredictable and therefore rather alarming novelty, and have begun instead to think of him as a person with tastes, preferences, and characteristics of his own.  When that happens you will know that he has moved on from being a “newborn” and has got himself settled into life…A settled baby is a manageable proposition.  If you feel he’s a little devil, at least he is a little devil who you know.  You can tell how he likes to be handled even if it is not the way you would chose to handle him.  You know what to expect from him even if it is the worst, know what frightens him even if it is almost everything.  Above all, you can tell when he is happy…So once your baby is settled you know what you are up against.  Instead of trying to survive from hour to hour, get through another day, avoid thinking about another week, you can begin to work and plan for reasonable compromises between his needs and those of everyone else”

I think we’re approaching having a settled baby.  We know at least a few things about who this kid is, and are starting to find ways to make life with her work.

Mostly we know that she likes to eat!  She goes from “hey guys, I’m feeling a little peckish” to blood-curdling screams and “OMG, I’m starving and no one ever feeds me!!!” in about 30 seconds.  But not much else (wet/dirty diapers, being poked by her brother, etc.) seems to bother her.  When she cries, about 85% of the time it means she’s hungry and the other 15% of the time it’s related to gas.

We’ve fallen in to at least a rough schedule.  Sprout eats pretty constantly all evening long (starting anywhere between 5pm and 8pm and finishing between 10pm and 2am), but then sleeps for a few several-hour stretches after that.  We had one growth spurt where she ate pretty constantly for about 24 hours, which was really tough.  But other than that I’m managing to get a relatively decent amount of sleep as long as I don’t try to leave the house before noon.

We’re finding our way with feeding as well.  Sprout is no longer screaming or sleeping instead of eating when she’s hungry (though I do often have to change her diaper halfway through a feeding to wake her up).  I’m breastfeeding her most of the time, but we’ve started offering her bottles sometimes too.  I feel much less claustrophobic knowing that other people can feed the baby.  And it has been incredibly helpful to know that Roo can give Sprout a bottle when I’m worn out from nursing all evening, or when I need a break in the middle of the night.  I’m pumping some, and trying to find a balance between keeping my supply up and being so worried about it that I lose the benefits of having someone else able to feed the baby.  I think Roo has really enjoyed having time on her own with Sprout, and I have enjoyed being able to give more time and attention to Tad.

We’d had some anxiety about Sprout’s weight gain early on, and we went for yet another weight check at her pediatrician’s office yesterday.  We’d been told that they like to see babies gaining 1/2 to 1 ounce per day.  Yesterday we found out that BabyGirl had gained a pound in ten days!  Our lovely pediatrician said multiple times, “I don’t want you to worry about the feeding.  It’s clear that the breastfeeding is going well.  I just want you to enjoy your baby.”    It’s exciting to feel like the hard work and sleepless nights are paying off.  It’s a huge relief to stop rigorously charting feeding times, number of wet diapers, etc.  And the really fabulous outcome of this is that we no longer have to wake her up to feed her, so we might get a few longer stretches of sleep at night.  I feel so lucky to have a baby who was able to figure this stuff out with relatively little drama.

Tadpole also seems to be settling into this new life.  He did inform us the other day, “did you know that some kids don’t want to have a baby sister or brother?”, and we had a long conversation about how “some kids” might feel.  He has occasionally been not-so-gentle with Sprout.  But he also often asks to hold her and calls her lots of silly affectionate names and usually demands that she be present for his bedtimes.  The other morning I had gone upstairs to get something and left Sprout in her car seat next to Tad, who was eating breakfast.  Sprout started fussing and Tad came over to her and said, “it’s okay!  Your big brother is here” and tried to make faces to entertain her.

Roo and I are finding our way as well.  I’ve been able to help out with Tad’s bedtimes more (though often with the baby attached to me).  Roo is getting up with Tad and getting him to school most days, which has let me get some more sleep.  Of course the next two weeks (when Tad’s preschool is closed) will require reconfiguring everything.  And I’m a little freaked out about how we’ll arrange things when Roo goes back to work the first week of January.  But I feel like I know a lot more about what we’re up against and have a few strategies for managing life with this particular kiddo.  It’s exhausting and overwhelming and still unpredictable.  And it’s hard to get much of anything done outside of keeping the kids clothed and fed.  But I think we’re all settling into life as a family of four.

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