The Groove

I think I’ve found it. My groove, that is.

We are on day 2 of week 3 back at work, and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m tired and stretched thin, but I’m starting to recognize this new life as “normal”, which is great! After Lewis was born, I don’t remember how long it took me to accept working motherhood as normal, but I know it was much longer than this.

Don’t get me wrong, being away from my infant still doesn’t feel natural. But natural and normal are different things.

I have a rhythm and pattern figured out enough that things are predictable and manageable. I have a semi-schedule for laundry, dishes, groceries, getting up in the morning, bathing the kids, keeping up my own hygiene etc., and people end up with full bellies at dinnertime without too much stress.

The key? Relaxing my expectations.

Dinner, for example, is definitely not gourmet, and rarely made from scratch. Mac-n-cheese, quesadillas, take-n-bake pizza, chicken nuggets, eggs and hashbrowns, green beans from a can, pasta with sauce from a jar… it’s food. We’re full. Mission accomplished. I DID IT!

Laundry never gets folded the same day it is washed. That’s ok.

I only shower on days when I have to be in the office. Also ok.

The kids get bathed every other day. More than ok.

Sometimes we get our clean dishes straight out of the dishwasher because I haven’t unloaded it, and the counters are covered in dirty dishes. Sounds like a fail, but WRONG! We are eating off of clean dishes – Another win!

I  miss my babies all day, every day. I also miss my maternity leave and getting chores done more easily. This isn’t the way I dreamed of spending my infant’s early days. But I am absolutely killing it. If you count beating hearts, fully bellies, and happy humans, I’m coming in at 4 out of 4 every day. Go me!

3 Months

Ellen turned 3 months yesterday. It also happened to be Thanksgiving, so while I did get her 3 month picture taken, I did not have time to write a post.

Here she is! Our sweet little angel.
According to our bathroom scale, she is about 18 lbs. She will smile at just about anything. Sometimes it almost sounds like she is giggling, so I think that milestone must be just around the corner. She is getting really good at holding her head up and steady both being held upright/sitting, and during tummy time. And she is starting to hate tummy time less now that her face isn’t smashed into the ground.

This past week, we found a bottle that Ellen doesn’t turn down, so daycare is going better than ever, and my mama heart is feeling more at peace.

Ellen still sleeps like an infant, waking 2 times most nights, but sometimes more (or less!). I’m holding up just fine in the fatigue department thanks to going to bed early, falling asleep quickly, and Ellen going back to sleep easily after nighttime feedings. Glad to have an “average” sleeper this time around (so far).

Things are good around here in general. Lewis is being treated for pink eye and has some sort of dormant bacteria in his throat that the doctor said might stay dormant or cause more problems (like ear infections – yikes!). So we’re on alert for fevers and complaints.

Both kids were amazing during big family celebrations on Wednesday and Thursday where they were out way past their bedtimes. Kyle and I were so proud we could burst, and it was so nice to be able to enjoy the time with family without being completely stressed by wrangling the kids.

Best part of the holiday? 5 more of my family members got to meet Ellen. Up until this week, only my mom had met her. Now 6 of my relatives know her, including both my brothers. That was so special for me that I shed a couple tears.

Funny side note – I asked Kyle what his favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner was, and we both agreed that it was the fact that Ellen slept while we ate, and that Lewis actually ate some dinner without putting up a fight. Long gone are the days where our favorite part would be “the stuffing” or “the wine”. Ha!

Week one – DONE!

Well, it is day 5 of week 1 back at work, which means we’ve made it!

Ellen was a star at school, for the most part, napping and playing like an angel. Her weak spot remained taking bottles, but towards the end of the week she started to show some improvements there.

The teachers tried a bunch of tricks to get Ellen to eat. Everything from sticking the bottle in their armpits so it was in a similar position to a breast, to varying the temperatures of the bottles, to spacing the feedings out differently, to holding her different ways, and beyond! But the only trick they tried that seemed to help was holding one of my dirty shirts while they fed her so she could smell me.

We know she knows how to take the bottles, because she will take them from me, so stinky, dirty laundry introduced me back into the equation even when I wasn’t there. Good thing the teachers are so open-minded and didn’t seem weirded out by snuggling a dirty shirt!

Ellen was still a bit inconsistent even with the stinky shirt, so at her teacher’s request, I did order a bunch of different bottles to try (like…12 of them), just in case a different nipple might make her happier. She has been trending in a positive direction, so we’re going to keep at it with the same bottles a while longer, and I am keeping the new bottles in reserve. But I have a feeling I’ll get to return all of them because Ellen will figure this eating thing out if we let time work its magic.

As for me, I’m settling into being a working mom-of-two pretty quickly. I’m pleasantly surprised by my mind’s ability to adapt, and somehow I’ve gotten through this week without any major blunders or breakdowns on either the home-front or at the office.

Ellen is sleeping decently most nights, which certainly helps with my ability to cope. As does my survival instinct, which I think kicked in because of my anxiety over how I would manage. But I think the best thing has been my two work-from-home days.

Yes, they’re filled with working. But I am able to get laundry and dishes done, I can prepare dinner (in the crockpot, for example) during the day, and I even ran to the store during my lunch break on Wednesday and picked up groceries. Without my two work-from-home days, I don’t know how we would have ended up clothed, fed, and stocked up! We probably would have ended the week naked, surviving on water and DumDums (I have a surplus after Halloween) eaten off of paper plates.

Knowing how little time I have, and how much I need to do, every second is precious. Gone are the days of lounging around in the evenings. Also gone are the at-home lunch-breaks where I catch up on a TV show. I have to use all my available time to get things done and keep the house running. Actually, I should say “we”, because Kyle is in the same boat. He’s amazing and has been cooking dinners, doing chores, and wrangling kids right alongside me.

Maybe someday Kyle and I won’t be living parallel to each other, and we’ll actually get to spend some time together… maybe…

I have never felt more productive. And honestly, the high and the adrenaline are preventing me from slowing down and feeling exhausted. I’m like an Energizer Bunny this week! I’m sure the fatigue will hit me someday, but for now I’m just grateful that I’ve not only survived the first week, but absolutely nailed it. No blowout, tantrum, after-hours work call, traffic jam, or pantry supply shortage can get me down. Not this week!


Day 2

I’m currently feeding Ellen before she goes to bed for the night, and I’m feeling decent about how day 2 back at work went.

Work itself went swimmingly. I’m already getting my groove back and feeling productive. 

Ellen took an extremely long nap at school this afternoon, which is similar to what she would do at home. That’s an excellent sign. Her teacher reports that she was mostly in good spirits as well, and did tummy time and played really well.

Where we’re still not doing great is the bottles. She only took 3 oz total from her teachers all day – less than she should have in one single feeding. Yikes!

When I arrived to pick the kids up, I grabbed the active bottle and coaxed her into drinking the whole 5 ounces. It took her opening her eyes from her screaming to see it was me, and then a little song, and then she chugged the whole thing.

So we know she knows how to drink from a bottle. It’s clearly a matter of who is delivering it. Maybe she’ll pull a Lewis and never get on board with bottles and lose a bunch of weight, or – more likely – it will just take her a few days to begin to trust other people to keep her alive. I’m holding off on drawing conclusions until more time has passed.

The evening was mayhem again. Kyle came home early for the second day in a row so I’d have reinforcements, which was so lovely of him to think to do. But even with him home, it was crazy town.

We are at the calm part of the evening now, getting the kids in bed and winding down. Building up to this point was certainly not easy, though.

I was out of clean pump parts (must buy more!), so the dishwasher had to be emptied, reloaded, and run. Ellen had a blowout at school, so laundry had to be done. And since I did one load, might as well throw in a second. Ellen needed an evening nap. Mail needed to be checked. Dinner cooked and eaten. Breast pump parts for one session hand washed for an evening pump due to skipping an evening feeding in favor of the daycare bottle. Breastmilk from all day stored and labeled. Toddler tantrum over peanut butter vs. Nutella sorted out. Ice pack applied to toddler head bonk. Groceries ordered, because of course we ran out of milk and bread mid-week.

All I have to say is that I’m glad it wasn’t bath night on top of everything else.

Ellen did get to have some playtime during all the madness, and this was the reward for the day. She showed off a new skill -grabbing stuff!!! She has been working on it for a while, and today she nailed it. Then she took it a step further and almost rolled over. Below is an action shot (kind of) showing both. Slow down, little lady! Don’t grow up so fast!

First day back

I worked today. A full day. At the office. Away from my baby.

Some general high (and low) lights:

  • I didn’t cry. As a matter of fact, my eyes are exceptionally dry! It turns out staring at a computer screen all day for the first time in months is not friendly to the eyes.
  • My brain still works. I was catching errors, advising my “minions” (who still turn to me for help! They still need me!), making decisions, retaining information, remembering processes… go, brain, go!
  • I had no appetite. All day. Could hardly eat. I forced a few things down, but it was rough.
  • Ellen apparently also had a reduced appetite. She drank about 4 oz at school. Meanwhile, her milky mama pumped out 18 oz during the day. I guess that gives you an idea of how much she would normally eat, if we were together. Hopefully tomorrow goes better with the bottles.
  • I enjoyed my kid-free lunch. It was lovely to eat where I wanted, when I wanted, and what I wanted.
  • Ellen didn’t scream and cry all day long, like I feared.
  • I gave myself a headache from being tense all day, worrying and missing my girl.
  • I’m hoping for better sleep tonight to help power me through day 2. Last night was not great, between Ellen waking up, me having trouble sleeping from all the worrying, and a midnight hurricane outside (crazy fall weather!!).
  • I survived. Ellen survived. And we will never have another first day apart again. We did it! That’s one “first” I’m happy to put in the rear view.

Overall, it went way better than I thought, both for myself and, more importantly, for Ellen. My heart still ached to be with her, a true, physical pain. So if I could, I would stay home with her at least until she turns one, but since that is an absolute impossibility, I think this is about as good as I could expect.

It’s funny 

It’s funny how, as a mom, most of my days are spent barely seeing past the next 5 minutes. On a particularly good day, maybe I’ll be able to see dinnertime through all the diaper changes. On an exceptional day, maybe I’ll be able to look at what next week might hold. 

And then there are the days like today, where I feel like I can see forever.

Today is my last day of maternity leave home with just Ellen. She’s currently sleeping sweetly in my arms, and I have visions of the future dancing through my head.

I’ve had nearly 3 months of one-on-one time with this perfect little chunky baby. I feel like I know her so well… But she’s still so little. Who is she really? Who is she going to be? What is she going to accomplish? Will she do something so extraordinary that the whole world knows her name? Or will her exceptional gifts, whatever they may be, be kept dear just to those who know and love her?

And what about my first baby, Lewis? We know him even better. We kind of even know who he is, what he is all about. But beyond his love for cars, his sweet disposition, his concern for others… what does the world have in store for him? Or perhaps the better question is: what does he have in store for the world?

We’re at the end of a special time, Ellen and I. The beginning of something new. It makes me ache, this ending, down to the deepest depths. But even as the tears roll while I stare at my sweet girl, I’m also exploding with the joy of the visions of her future, and of Lewis’s too. 

Sure, she’s just starting daycare on Monday. It feels huge, but really, it is so small. But that step is the first of so many that lay ahead of her which will take her to all the places she will go. On Monday, she belongs a little more to the world, and a little less to me.

Today, though, today I will snuggle her so tight. Because today she hasn’t gotten her first taste of independence. Today she’s still mine, all mine.

Lewis’ 2.5 year appointment

We had Lewis’ 2.5 year appointment this morning, and I just want to start out by saying…


Ellen screamed the entire time we were there, but other than that minor (loud) blip, I only have good news. You may recall that Lewis was a bit of an “under-performer” in the weight department at his 2 year appointment. You may even recall that we were told he would need to see some specialists to help him gain weight if we didn’t see a more healthy trajectory by 2.5 years.

Well, people. I repeat: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!

Lewis’ height slowed down a bit, which is unconcerning. It seems that his weight and height were just evening out to a more proportionate ratio, and the doctor was so, so pleased with his growth. No specialists needed!

Weight: 29 lbs, 38th percentile (up from 14th)

Height: almost 36 inches, 40th percentile (down from 68th)

BMI: 40th percentile (up from sub-2nd percentile!)

I am so very proud of my little buddy. We’ve put the perfect storm of ear infections, teething, and power struggles behind us, and now getting enough sustenance is no longer an issue. Lewis is growing, and is back on his own personal healthy trajectory. Like I’ve said before, I don’t care what size he is, as long as he is healthy. And today’s appointment says he is!

In the interest of staying healthy, Lewis also got a flu shot today, which warrants almost no mention because it was such a non-issue. He just laid down, got poked, and then accepted his stickers and lollipop. Didn’t even flinch. Not a single tear. I was so grateful to only have one screaming child, you have no idea.

Obviously, Lewis is a badass. But I also take some credit for his reaction to the shot because of the way I prepared him for it. I made him come with me and Kyle when we got ours, so he saw us handle it like no big deal. And then I reminded him all morning that it was going to happen by casually mentioning it in the list of things that were going to happen at the doctor’s office, and then reminding him that mommy and daddy did it and that it was just a poke, no big deal. He would respond with a shrug and say, “no big deal! just a poke!”, so I knew the message had gotten in his head. And sure enough, it was no big deal!

I’m breathing a big sigh of relief today. Proud mama right here!


Since my last post, quite a bit has been happening in our little family. I’ll attempt to put together a short update today (yea right, it won’t be short!).

After Halloween was over (sigh…), Kyle was due in Salt Lake City for “racing school”. He got a free pass to go to racing school when we bought his (race)car, and with the additional purchases of a plane ticket and a hotel room, off he went. I was home alone with both kids for two days, and I was pretty anxious.

Kyle’s mom and my mom came to help me with bedtime one evening each. That way, when Ellen’s witching hour arrived, I didn’t have to choose who to pay attention to and try to figure out how to do bedtime with both kids. The backup was much appreciated, and with their help, bedtimes went pretty smoothly.

One of the two nights was rougher than the other, with both kids waking up twice each at the exact same times. But we got through it, and Kyle arrived home in one piece on Friday. Once he was home safely, I was finally able to be happy for him to have the trip. Before he left, I was so nervous that I was having a hard time being happy for him. But he had so much fun with a once in a lifetime experience, he survived (didn’t die, didn’t crash the cars), and I made it through with the kids. So now I’m so happy he went!

Ellen’s little whitecap/tooth situation seems to have improved since Halloween. The tooth hasn’t come through still, but it seems to be bothering her much, much less. Whatever the reason for that is, I’m glad she isn’t suffering anymore.

Lewis’s first 2 year molar is now about 75% of the way out, so we’re on watch for the next one. He has been waking up a lot more at night than he used to the past couple months, but we’re still not attributing that to the molars. He has been handling the teething way better this time around than with any of his previous teeth. We think he has been waking up from nightmares, mostly.

He has always said he dreams about dinosaurs, and recently he seems to have realized that dinosaurs can be scary. Recently, he says he dreamed about dinosaurs that were “bad” and kicked or bit him. Usually he says they came into his bed and made him “upset”. But the other day he slept through the night and I asked him in the morning what he had dreamed about and he said, “nothing! Dinosaurs didn’t come last night!” And they haven’t been back since, apparently. Woohoo!

Now the heavy stuff – I go back to work one week from today.

Cue the crocodile tears.

In reality, I haven’t shed any tears (yet). But I think that’s just because I’m sort of paralyzed with anxiety about it and can’t really wallow in the sadness of it because I’m too busy trying to worry my way to solutions to anticipated/imagined/possible problems Ellen will have at daycare. My planning instinct has kicked in to the maximum degree.

I was away yesterday for about 3.5 hours to have some fun with friends, and Ellen and Lewis were home with Kyle. Ellen screamed for all 3.5 hours I was gone. So… I suppose you can say that I am concerned with how Ellen is going to do being separated from me all day, 5 days a week. She also won’t nap when it is noisy (dangit!), which is another major concern.

Will she figure it all out eventually? Oh yes. She will. I don’t have any long-term concerns about Ellen at daycare. Especially since she’s going to a place I know is wonderful. But the transition may be hard for her, and it will definitely be hard for me. I am so uncomfortable relinquishing control, so I’m trying to anticipate everything I can in order to maintain my sanity. If I can’t be with Ellen, at least I can equip her teachers.

We’ve coordinated all the “stuff”, and I’ve got a decent freezer stash of breastmilk. That’s the easy part. The hard per is that the teachers are going to have to get to know her, just like I did. They’ll have to learn her signals and how to comfort her. They’ll have to figure out how to get her to sleep and take a bottle. I can’t teach them that, so I just have to let go and trust. And that is hard.

She’s my baby, you know? Yes, it’s easier this time than it was with Lewis – for a whole host of reasons. But she’s still my baby, and leaving your tiny baby in someone else’s care when they’re this young is still just so…against a mother’s instincts. She still needs me, literally physically. And we’re still so in the throes of early bonding…

I’ll never be able to get these early days back. It is so devastating to turn her over and walk away. Even knowing how it all turns out fine when they’re older, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m supposed to be the one taking care of Ellen still. She and I are not ready.
But our readiness matters naught. We have no other solution. I have to work. We are drowning in medical bills (and regular bills!), and two incomes are a must. Even with two incomes, it will be a struggle financially. So I just have to toughen up and deal with it. Not exactly an easy feat for a still-hormonal, less-than-3-months-postpartum mother.

Missing my babies is a physical sensation, and I’m already feeling it ahead of leaving Ellen next week. I have to try to soak up and enjoy every minute of her this week, and put those feelings of dread away, lest they sour the time we have left together.

am grateful for the time I’ve had at home with Ellen. I’m luckier than a lot of other American moms. If I really think hard about it, I can see that. But it is definitely tough to see the silver linings of going back to work, when being home with Ellen is pure gold. I’ll just miss her so, so much. All I can hope for is that all my concerns don’t turn into reality, and she handles the transition better than I will.

A doozy

Yesterday was a doozy. I waited to write about it because I didn’t want to be too “hot” and complain too much, but I do want to document it because… well… even the not great days are worth remembering, I think.

It was Halloween. The day started out with me exhausted and frustrated at Ellen’s sleep habits, admittedly not a good place to kick off from. Then Lewis yelled at us and defied us about everything from wearing socks to eating breakfast to how he walked down the stairs. Kyle carted him off to daycare screaming his face off because Kyle put his shoes on for him when he wanted to do it himself. Toddlers, amiright?!

I zipped off to a doctor’s appointment, Ellen in tow, got a suspect mole frozen off, and headed home. That was the last easy part of the day, because then Ellen started to scream.

She spent her entire day screaming. The only time she stopped was when I was working extremely hard at getting her to sleep. The only way I could get her to sleep was if I was rocking, bouncing, or patting her, and if I put her down for even a second, or stopped “working” at keeping her asleep, the screaming restarted.

At some point during all the screaming, I looked into her mouth and saw a white cap – that’s right, my 2 month old is teething already. Seriously. And she’s worse at teething than her brother, which I didn’t even think was possible. At least he kept his issues for the night time and we got a break during the day… and he waited until he was 6 months to start the madness and sprout a tooth. Miss Ellen is out of the gate early. But at least the screaming is explained and we know what we’re working with. Phew!

At some point in the afternoon, I decided that I would toss Ellen in the bathtub. She stunk, and she likes baths. So it was a win-win – clean baby, and a break in the crying.

Then she shit in the tub.

In case you’re not familiar, baby poop is not solid. So, we had a nicely blended poo/soap/water cocktail mixed up.

At that exact moment, Lewis’ teacher texted me and said that he had skipped his nap. She had tried everything, and recommended picking him up early and doing a car nap if we could swing it, because he was exhausted and she wasn’t sure he’d make it through trick or treating.

Sure. That sounds like excellent advice. Let me just scrub the poop out of my baby’s hair and armpits, and neck folds, and toes. Then I’ll clean the bathtub… and you know what? I’m just going to throw away the poop covered infant tub-sling. And the washcloth. Then, sure… I’ll pick the toddler up early. Except wait, the baby is screaming again, and I need to feed her, and she just pooped again so she needs a new diaper, and it is already 4pm so I’m not sure when exactly this “car nap” is going to happen.

I called Kyle. And hallelujah, praise the lord, he said he could leave work early and do a car nap with Lewis. BUT he gets stuck in traffic and doesn’t get to daycare until 5, and we’re supposed to be at our friends’ house for trick-or-treating by 6. Again, not sure when the “car nap” is supposed to happen.

Kyle comes to get me and Ellen, which results in Ellen being awakened from her lap-nap. Oh well, let’s go. We pack up and take the loooooooooong way to our friends’ house. Lewis does not nap in the car. Instead, he screams about how he “really, really” wants his bike. We appease him with candy (parents of the year? definitely). Ellen stays awake the whole time because of the screaming.

We arrive at our friends’ house, I take Ellen out of her car seat, she starts to scream, and I try to feed her. She eats a little, but mostly is distracted. She seems to get enough, though, because she won’t take the breast again. Did she really get enough? Because she won’t stop screaming.

Everyone else eats pizza. I walk around with the screaming infant.

I eat one slice of pizza in about 90 seconds flat, while Kyle holds the screaming infant. I take the screaming infant back and continue to pace while everyone suits up in their Halloween costumes.

They all leave to trick or treat, and Ellen and I stay behind. She screams and screams until she discovers her fist, which she chews on. She finds comfort in this, and the screaming stops. I begin to cry, both from relief and from disappointment.

I was exhausted, and so, so sad. I missed out on trick or treating with Lewis, and Ellen never even got to wear her costume, which I will now be returning – unused – to the store. Some first Halloween…

These babies will never exist again. These exact versions of them are here just for a blink. And I missed a blink of Lewis’ life yesterday while tending to a blink of Ellen’s.

I felt literal pain while Ellen was feeling pain. Not even Tylenol cut through her suffering, and I seemed to be the only thing that came close to helping her, until she found her fist. I would give up a million dollars to help one of my babies weather their suffering. I’d give up anything to help them.

But it is such a tricky feeling to have give up a moment with one of my babies to help the other. What do you do when what you give up for your baby is…your other baby?! I was where I needed to be, but my soul was torn. I had to triage my babies and decide who needed me most. Ouch.

That was…hard. I wish I had a better word to describe it. I hurt on so many levels yesterday. Parenting is painful sometimes. They don’t really tell you that.

The good news is that Lewis was a champ. He rocked trick or treating (or so I hear) even without a nap. He had so much fun that he wouldn’t stop talking about it the whole way home! My heart broke a little bit again when he asked if I would come with him next year… and he kept asking me if I was sad I didn’t get to go this year. But he had fun with his friends and with Kyle, and that’s what matters.

And Ellen is amazing. She’s just a tiny little baby. If she needs me, I’ll be there. She’s doing her best, and I’ll give her my best.

I won’t even go into the night we had last night after arriving back home. Suffice it to say that Ellen slept great, but Kyle and Lewis did not, so I didn’t get much sleep – like always. And Ellen has already had one blowout today and seems to be on another scream-unless-you’re-holding-me kick. And Kyle left on a 2 day trip so I’m going to be on my own with these two teething demons angels.

Sorry. I said I wasn’t going to complain. But man, some days are rough, you know? I’m looking forward to when we come out of this rough patch and can look back and laugh. I’m sure I’ll laugh reading back through this someday. I’m sure.