The Sleep Dilemma

This sleep thing – it isn’t sustainable.

Also, Lewis was exactly the same… so it must be something I’m doing wrong. And if I’m doing something wrong, that means I have to try something different. My ideas:

  • Larger bottles at daycare. More calories during the day = less hungry at night?
  • Night wean – I’ve already been doing max 2 feedings a night even if Ellen wakes up 8 million times. Time to cut it to 1. And after that? BIG FAT ZERO. If her belly stops expecting meals, maybe she won’t wake up?
  • Maybe “sleep training”?

Sleep training seems like a good idea in theory, but I’m a bit confused by it. Ellen doesn’t have any trouble going to sleep. Especially nursing and rocking. She has trouble staying asleep. All of the sleep training stuff I’ve read is about your kid self-soothing to go to sleep, and says nothing about teaching them to stay asleep. So… does sleep training even solve Ellen’s problem? I have no idea.

Maybe sleep training would help her go back to sleep when she does wake up, so I don’t have to get up a million times? If that’s the case, I would like to try putting Ellen down in her crib “drowsy but awake” to teach her to self-soothe. However, the thought of that is hard, and I don’t exactly know how to manage it 1) because Ellen falls asleep at the breast at bedtime, so how would I keep her awake? 2) Feeding/rocking Ellen to sleep works really well. It’s like magic. 3) Ellen’s room is right next to Lewis’, so if I leave her to her own devices, squealing and screeching, he’s going to wake up and then we’re all screwed. And finally 4) I don’t see my sweet girl all day long. Those snuggles as I nurse and rock her to bed are priceless to me. (although…paying with sleep might be too high a price…)

Another aspect of sleep training that is not super appealing to me is that I don’t really mind getting up once or twice a night to feed/snuggle/rock Ellen. Putting her back to sleep doesn’t actually bother me as long as it isn’t more than twice. Waking that often doesn’t damage me with fatigue the following day, and it is such special, precious time. I could sustain that for ages and have no complaints. So fully sleep-training her is… I guess okay? But it seems like overkill given what I’m comfortable with.

We’ll see what happens. This is constantly on my mind. There has to be a way to get the balance I need. And I’ll keep trying to figure it out until I keel over, because… well… this either gets better, or I keel over!

I got approximately 5 hours of sleep last night, broken into 4 tiny chunks, with a few periods of being awake for an hour at a time.

I don’t even think I can go to work today. Maybe if this was the first crappy night. But most nights are crappy, so the fatigue just keeps building and getting worse.

I might die.

Big boy milestone

Lewis had a first! He woke up in the middle of the night to go potty!

Kyle and I were asleep (I was between waking #2 and #3 with Ellen) when we heard over the monitor, “DAD! THE PEE IS ABOUT TO COME OUT! DAD! DAD! MY BLADDER IS FULL!” on repeat, until Kyle swooped in and grabbed Lewis for a trip to the potty.

Pretty amazing!!! He also went right back to bed and to sleep without any protest. Proud mama right here!

Emotions

I would like to invite you into my brain for a bit. Or is it my heart? I’m not sure… but please, come join me in the place where my obsession lives.

I have been up and down with emotions lately. I think fatigue is partially to blame, since Ellen is still not sleeping well (zzzzzzz… so tired). But I don’t think I can pin all the blame on exhaustion – it seems more likely that my baseline is already emotional, and the fatigue simply heightens the highs and lowers the lows.

The summary is that I’m still really struggling with the idea of being done having babies and being pregnant. My thoughts are consumed. Everything makes me think of it. I shed a few tears every time I hear about a new pregnancy or new baby, every time my own sweet babies do something new or wonderful or amusing or grown up, every time I see a commercial for the olympics and think about how proud their parents must be, and what will my children do with their lives?!

All of the joys of my kids and observing other people’s joys with their own parenthood experiences provide me with simultaneous highs and lows. I feel pretty wrecked from wrestling with it constantly – literally everything seems to make me think of babies.

I wish I could figure out how to stop mourning the passing of the childbearing phase of my life so the highs of parenthood could exist without feeling loss at the same time.

Life feels like nonstop excitement and pride and all-around wonderfulness (if you ignore the lack of sleep). In my eyes, my kids are perfect and I’m so full of love for them. And they’re both doing some pretty amazing things right now! Lewis is potty training and doing so great, and he is having full, grown-up conversations and showing ability to reason with logic and starting – ever so slowly – to process his emotions more maturely, and he is growing like a weed (finally hit 30 lbs on our bathroom scale!). And Ellen is rolling over (sporadically), eating solids, sitting up unsupported, laughing, and also growing like a weed…

It is all so, so good. I just wish I could stop feeling so sad. Knowing Ellen’s “firsts” are my last “firsts” makes me feel desperate to soak all of them up and savor them, but no matter how much I soak and savor, it just doesn’t feel like it is enough.

That sounds awful, to say that what I’m getting from my children isn’t enough. How do I express just how enough my kids are, yet still explain why I need more? Lewis and Ellen are more than a dream come true. Every little bit of them is so satisfying and sweet, and I couldn’t love them more, even when they challenge and exhaust me. But they’re so good – so enough – that they make me want more of their sweet goodness. And the only way I can think of to get more enough is to have more of those chubby miracles to give me more of that good stuff.

Like I said, I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m all over the place, feeling so many things.  It is such a challenging emotional combination – Loss and fullness, painful deliciousness, over-the-top satisfaction and deep-in-your-soul craving.

What a mess!

I keep thinking to myself, “just one more. If not one more baby for our family, then one more pregnancy as a surrogate. Then I’ll be ready to say goodbye to this. Then the craving will end.”

But there is no guarantee, is there? Maybe I’ll never feel done. Maybe I’ll never want to stop. Maybe at some point, I just have to accept that I’m done – listen to my head instead of my heart. Maybe that time is…. now?

Roly Poly

Ellen rolled from back to front last night! We knew it was imminent, and yesterday was the big day.

I’m a little bummed though, because no one saw it happen! We were all right next to her, but no one was looking. I had put her down on her back, and a couple minutes later I looked down and she was on her tummy.

Like magic!!

She likes to be on her tummy, so she didn’t get sad or make any noise when she landed. She was happily playing like it was no big deal.

Super proud mommy!

Other updates: Lewis is doing awesome at potty training. He wears undies some days, pull ups others, and he only infrequently has accidents.

Ellen is sleeping terribly. We had a good week of 1-2 wakings (mostly 1!), and now we’re going on a week of 3+ (mostly 4) wakings. I am suffering through it, but boy. It isn’t easy.

We’ve had some battles with Lewis’s bedtime lately. He has been taking forever to fall asleep and getting up out of his bed when he isn’t supposed to. Those are new problems, which means we are back to the drawing board, looking for new tricks and techniques. It is getting better with some hard work. Just like everything else we’ve faced, we will figure this one out too. There’s always a new challenge with kids!

That’s the major stuff. And it is all I have time for. Time to get the day rolling!

Go team!

Yesterday was a HUGE day at our house!

Lewis requested to wear undies. We took a pair to school to see if his teacher would allow it, since we are still pretty early in the potty training process.

Or so I thought!

Kiddo was allowed to wear his undies, and he didn’t have an accident all day!!!

Kyle had his annual performance review at work, and he landed his hard-earned promotion!!!

And lastly, Ellen has been sleeping so well with one arm unswaddled that I decided to set the other arm free. Halfway through the night after an uninterrupted 5 hour stretch, and I already feel confident enough to say that she is rocking it!

Big, joyful milestones for everyone in my sweet little family. I could not be prouder of all of them!

5 months

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Ellen is 5 months old! Isn’t she cute?!

I haven’t posted a ton in the last month, so there are quite a few updates I’d like to share. This will likely end up being a very long post, so brace yourselves!

This month has included a lot of “firsts” for Ellen, most of which have already gotten some mentions on here. But let’s recap and expand.

  • Tried solids – This has been a lot of fun. We started earlier with Ellen than we did with Lewis, and we’re going straight for purees with her. She always makes hilarious, disgusted faces that make you think she doesn’t like it (see video above), but she will always open her mouth for another bite. We did decide to stop/go easy on solids for a while though, because her digestion suddenly went all out of whack when she started them. She went from multiple poos a day to no poos for almost a week. After a couple days without solid foods, “the cork” came out and we had a major laundry day. It seems like her little belly might just need a tiny bit more time to be fully ready. But looooook at my adorable pea-covered baby!20180110_182956.jpg
  • High chair – Along with trying solids came sitting in the high chair for the first time. Ellen loves her high chair! She will sit happily in it for ages just looking around at everyone. It can put an end to her grumpiness in an instant!

  • Laughing – Ellen laughed for the first time this month! She lost her mind at Lewis throwing a parachute army man, and we caught it on video. Lewis enjoyed making her laugh so much that he did it so long he broke the parachute and it had to be thrown away. Without that hilarity, Ellen hasn’t laughed again since that day. She has gone back to sweet little giggles, which are adorable, but not as satisfying as those belly laughs! We’re crossing fingers for more big laughs soon.
  • Weight – Sweet Baby Girl passed 20lbs (by our bathroom scale’s measurement) for the first time. She’s wearing 12 month size clothes in most brands, but is already in 18 month size in a couple. It is wild to watch her grow and grow and grow at light speed. Just look at the comparison above (5 months on the left and a couple days on the right)! On the one hand, I’m so proud of my big, healthy girl. On the other hand, she is (most likely) my last baby, and it is painful for my soul to fast forward through everything like this. I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that she’s already so gigantic!
  • Babbling – Ellen moved on from vowels yesterday! She said, “bababababa”. So cute! That means we’re that much closer to hearing, “mama” for the first time.

  • Raspberries – Little angel learned how to blow raspberries and has been doing so nonstop ever since the skill developed. It’s drooly and adorable! And noisy!

In addition to her “firsts”, Ellen has been doing all kinds of other baby things!

  • She has patterned herself into a two-nap-per-day schedule, which is lovely and predictable, but she is sweet and flexible if we’re out and about at her normal nap times. (I hope I didn’t jinx it by saying that…)
  • She has developed some pretty hardcore separation anxiety. If she is left alone with anyone besides me or her daycare teachers, she loses her mind. Even Kyle doesn’t make the cut! She’ll hang out with whomever, as long as I’m there, but as soon as I depart… game over. This is making it quite difficult for me to leave her, because she ends up screaming, refusing to eat, and being generally distraught for hours on end until I reappear. We have lots of willing caregivers who will tolerate her screaming so I can get away, but I can hardly bear it. I’m hoping this phase passes very, very quickly so I can have time away without my soul being crushed.
  • Ellen seems to love music/singing. When my mom babysat the other day, Ellen screamed nonstop, unless my mom sang to her (and put her in the high chair!). Kyle always plays the guitar for her to bond with her. It’s pretty cool to see how focused she is on the source of the music. Lewis always enjoyed it, but didn’t have such a strong reaction/draw to music. These kids are their own little people, with their own preferences! I love watching those preferences come out, and I love learning more about who my babies are!
  • Rolling over is a hot topic at our house these days! Ellen rolled front to back when she was… 2 months old? I can’t remember. But she only did it that first time and hasn’t done it again since. She’s perfectly content to just hang out on her tummy! Now we’re waiting for back-to-front rolling, which seems very close. She grabs her toes and rolls to her side constantly. It’s only a matter of time before she gets all the way over, which means we have to stop swaddling her when she sleeps. We started that process last night, setting one arm free. We’ll let her get used to that for a week(ish), and then set the other arm loose after that. Verdict after first night? I’m tired. But it wasn’t a complete disaster, and there is hope.

  • Speaking of sleep – Night sleep has been very inconsistent. 10.5 hours and 8+ hour stretches are newsworthy, because they’re definitely still not Ellen’s norm. Most nights she’s still waking up 1-3 times (sometimes even more!). Twice is her average, but it feels like 3+ is coming back into style lately, and I’m not enjoying that at all. I’m toying with the idea of night weaning to see if teaching her that food isn’t coming will stop her from waking up to eat, but nursing her is such a sure-fire way to get her to fall back asleep that I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to give that up. We’ll see where we go with that… I’m just tired. That’s all I know for sure.
  • Ellen’s dark hair is only hanging on in a few little spots, being replaced by blond underneath. The transition is resulting in a strange look of overall baldness, since you can’t really see the blond very well up against what remains of the dark hair, so it just looks like she has a very small amount of very thin dark hair in random patches. Add to that the fact that the dark hair is all quite long, and the blond is very short underneath and…well, she looks goofy!
  • The new diapers we’re trying seem to be making a big difference in blowout-town. Plus they’re cheaper. So I cancelled our diaper subscription from the old company that we got Lewis’ diapers from. Those ones worked best for Lewis, but they clearly aren’t the right fit for Ellen, so time to move on!

What about me? Well, I continue to lose weight slowly but surely. I didn’t really work out in the last month, and I still lost about 3.5 lbs. I had to order smaller pants because my old pants were falling off, but the new pants are too small, so I’m in a funny in-between phase. My solution? Instead of buttoning my new smaller pants, I thread a hair tie through the buttonhole and wrap it around the button to keep my pants closed while also giving myself the tiny bit of extra room I still need before these pants really fit. Changing bodies are so tricky!

This month I plan to pay attention to my eating a little more, and I’m hoping I’ll be successful with eating less cookies/candies now that the holidays are behind us and the temptations are fewer. Shooting for 5 more lbs before 6 months postpartum! Wish me luck!

Also, postpartum hair loss has taken over in the last month – almost the exact same timing as with Lewis, peaking at 5 months postpartum. I pull out fistfuls of hair every day, and as a result, I mostly keep my hair up to try to minimize shedding all over the place. Unfortunately, this time around I have ended up with a bald spot on the left side of my head from all the hair loss, right where I have a big red mole! When I pull my hair up, that spot is on display if I’m not careful to pull some hair over it to cover it, comb-over style. So glamorous…

Overall, we are getting into a pretty good rhythm with Ellen, figuring out who she is, what she likes, how she works. Other than her separation issues, Ellen is one of the most cheerful babies I’ve met, and I just can’t get enough! Kyle struggles to bond with her as thoroughly because of her dependence on me, but as she gets older and more interactive, he’s connecting more, and it’s very sweet to watch.

Whoa there!

Another milestone for sweet Baby Ellen – by our bathroom scale’s estimation, she now weighs in at over 20lbs! Still waiting for her to slow down and “normalize” her growth. But girlfriend seems to have decided that her gigantic stature is normal, which I suppose it is – for her.

Her adorable, big ole bottom is having “compatibility issues” with her diapers, resulting in blowouts every single time she poops. Gross, dude. Also – so much laundry! So we’re trying out a different brand of diapers to see if we can find a better fit for her body shape. (I mentioned this to her daycare teacher, who lovingly joked, “What is her body shape? Marshmallow? hehe!)

She has also started blowing raspberries constantly, resulting in our entire lives being constantly covered in baby spit. But it’s adorable and makes me laugh, so keep it coming, Ellen!

In other, less awesome news – We were rear-ended today! Both the kids were in the car, which scared the pants off me, but we’re all fine. It was a very low-speed impact, and the kids hardly even noticed (Ellen didn’t even stop blowing raspberries!). The guy who hit us stuck around, we exchanged info, he was appropriately horrified at what he had done, and it’s no big deal. Just a dented bumper on my car and some adrenaline that took hours to get out of my system.

The insurance claim is already filed and fault has been established (the other dude is to blame!). The only outstanding items are 1) getting my car repaired and 2) deciding whether to replace the kids’ car seats.

The car seat thing is confusing because our manufacturer says our accident met the criteria to not replace the car seats because it was so minor, but a lot of resources out there say that you should replace them no matter what if they’ve been in an accident, doesn’t matter how minor.

It feels wasteful and like a big unnecessary hassle to scrap/replace perfectly good car seats for no reason. But I obviously want to make sure my kids are 100% safe. Time for a mommy/daddy pow-wow to make an informed, safe choice for our family!

Big week 

It’s been a big week in Ellenville!

Among her accomplishments:

  • Sitting in her high chair for the first time 
  • Trying peas and pears (and eating half a jar of each!)
  • Laughing for the first time
  • Sleeping 8+ hrs two nights out of the last 7.

Go, Ellen, go!

Whoa!

Ellen slept 10.5 hours straight!

I am not going to hold my breath for a repeat performance anytime soon, but boy did I enjoy that! I am so rested.

I may have woken up at 445 myself due to 1) having already gotten a ton of sleep and 2) my breasts being extremely full, but I feel like a million bucks.

I’m up feeding Ellen now, and she was so desperately hungry. I don’t think she was even really awake, but she was moaning and chewing on her hands with her eyes closed, and as soon as I picked her up she started searching for my nipples. Cutie slept so long she was beside herself with hunger!!

4 month checkup

Ellen had her 4 month checkup this morning, and she’s a rockstar! She got her shots and barely cried, and weighed in at 19 lbs 2 oz (99th percentile) and 27.3 inches tall (99th percentile). She’s perfectly proportionate and very healthy.

Ellen does have a very minor infection in her belly button, so we’ll be applying antibiotic cream to that. But it isn’t really concerning. She also has some mild eczema, which the doc just said to keep putting baby Cetaphil on. If either her belly button or her dry patches get red or peely/pussy, we have to go back for some stronger ointments, but that’s about the worst that could happen. So that’s all fine!

I also asked about the little white spot on Ellen’s gums, since no tooth has shown up yet. Guess what! Doc says it isn’t a tooth whitecap afterall. It’s just some sort of normal little blemish on her gums that will resolve on its own. She said when it first appeared, Ellen was probably uncomfortable as it was forming, but it shouldn’t bother her now. So that explains why she was so grumpy on Halloween, but has been basically fine since.

Developmentally, Ellen is hitting all her milestones. Nothing extraordinary to report. She’s right on track!

That’s about it for Ellen’s appointment, but I’d like to share a couple other short bonus updates.

  1. Lewis pooped on the potty again yesterday! Two days of potty training, two days pooping in the potty! Go, buddy!
  2. My 30-workouts-in-30-days challenge is over, and it didn’t go according to plan. I did 22 workouts in 30 days, which is pretty good, but definitely not what I had in mind. I ended up getting sick, and that sort of stopped me in my tracks. Between the sleep deprivation and my own illness and the holidays…well, I didn’t meet the goal. My whole “I can do anything for 30 days” slogan turned out to be wholly inaccurate, but I still lost about 3 lbs, which is more than most people can say over the holidays. So I’ll take it! No use being hard on myself for “failing”, when really I came out of it with a win.

Lewis the big boy

Kyle and I decided to go for real potty training as of the new year. Lewis is not unfamiliar with the concept, and had been casually using the potty after waking in the morning and before bed at night. But with his 3rd birthday approaching, it’s time to make it happen.

We slapped on the pull ups today, one day early, and threw Lewis on the potty frequently to make him try.

Sometimes he went, other times he said he couldn’t and immediately peed in the pull up after getting off the potty. One time he actually told us he needed to go and then went.

We thought this was a pretty victorious first day of real training. But the best was yet to come. 

We have a little potty for Lewis, and we also have little seats that go on the big potties. He willingly pees in both. But when he realized he needed to poo, he did not know what to do.

He sat on the big potty and cried. He got down. He still needed to go (“my tummy hurts!!!). So back on the big potty. No luck, just a sad toddler. 

Then I had an epiphany – he always goes into his playroom to poop. Always. So I went and got his little potty and put it in there. Lewis’s reaction? 

“Great idea mom! That’s my best pooping spot!”

Ha! He tried pooping, but it didn’t work out. So we left his pants off and he ran around in his pull up. I told him that if he needed to go, he could just pull it down and sit on the potty and go. Then I left and started doing dishes. 

No more than 2 minutes later, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, pulling down his pull up and sitting down. I didn’t say anything or go into his playroom, I just let him handle his business, and then BAM! He pooped in the potty!!!

The battle wasn’t over yet, though. He didn’t want to stand up to be wiped. So again, I had a genius idea. I got our portable changing pad and asked him if he wanted to lay down to be wiped. I thought it would be more familiar and less scary. He went for it, Kyle cleaned out the potty, and Lewis got ice cream to celebrate, which we had been promising him for months as a reward for pooping on the potty. 

I asked Lewis what it felt like to be a big boy, and he answered with a resounding, “GOOD!!!”

What a cool 2017 finale. My big boy!!

Mourning

It seems a “decision” has been made. I don’t want to say “we have made a decision”, because I don’t really feel like it was done together, per se. But a decision was definitely made.

No more babies. No more pregnancies.

Can we go back on this decision? Sure. No permanent measures have been taken. But Kyle is pretty firm. AKA extremely firm. AKA will not be moved.

I am somewhat confident about the no more babies part. But I don’t really feel 100% finished with the childbearing phase of my life. I spent so much of my life looking forward to it, seeing it out in my future, that I don’t really know how to turn off the anticipation. To imagine that there isn’t any more of this in my life is strange (read: painful), because the sense of anticipation remains.

So where does no babies but yes pregnancy leave me (me, not us… just me and my feelings)? Surrogacy. I want to be a surrogate for a family who can’t carry their own baby. I want to help someone fill up their lives with baby poop, laughter, sleepless nights, milestones, and endless love. I want to have one final pregnancy to close this chapter of my life with. I don’t need another baby, but I need closure.

Kyle said no.

He didn’t just say no to surrogacy, he said no to even getting more information before deciding. That’s how unwavering he is in his desire to be finished. And because we both have to say “yes” in order to move it forward, the answer is just no. There is no compromise. My feelings count for naught. It’s just a no.

Ouch.

What an odd dynamic, that Kyle’s “no” dictates what happens in my body. What a painful realization that I have to find a way to put childbearing behind me just like that, when I just don’t feel done. Someone else decides for me.

I wish I could be angry at Kyle. That would at least be a direction to point my devastating disappointment. But I certainly can’t fault him for the way he feels. He can’t help that he feels done, just like I can’t help that I don’t. It’s just that, with something like pregnancy – whether you keep the baby or not – if there is a single “no” in the mix, the “no” has to win.

So I’m not angry. But I’m so, so sad. People always say you’ll know when you’re “done”. But what happens if you don’t ever get to get to that point? How do you work through that? I guess time will show me the answer to that question. For now, I mourn. And I try not to wish for Kyle to change his mind, because then I’ll never move on.

I just put Ellen back down after feeding her, and she proceeded to choke and cough so badly on her mucus that she projectile vomited all over her bed and the floor.

I had to do a full outfit change on her, change the bedsheets, and clean the carpet. And of course now she is WIDE awake. 

Dang.

At least we have a fun bonus morning bathtime to look forward to tomorrow. (Or should I say “later today”?)

4 months 

Sweet Ellen is 4 months old today!

Ellen (infrequently) rolls from her tummy to her back, (frequently) smiles, has figured out toys, is strong enough to play upright in her jumper, and talks a ton. She is soothed by music, as long as it is “live” (AKA someone singing or playing guitar), and Lewis loves to sing to her to try to cheer her up when she is blue. I think she is still losing some of her hair. She loves to kick and splash in the bath. Wind freaks her out. She drools constantly and copiously. She averages 1 to 2 blowouts per day. And she is just the sweetest girl!

Her 4 month checkup isn’t until January 2nd, so I don’t have any official stats, but 2 weeks ago when I took her in for illness she was 18+ lbs and about 27 inches. I bet you she’s hit 19 lbs by now, but we shall see!

No matter what she weighs, Ellen is definitely still a chunky monkey. She’s in 12 month size clothes in almost all brands now, and she’s only one diaper size shy of what Lewis wears. 

4 months is when Lewis slowed down his growth in a big (scary) way, mostly due to starting daycare and immediately becoming ill and refusing bottles. Ellen is showing no signs of slowed growth yet, but my lord… It must be coming, right?!

After 4 months with Ellen and over a month back at work, things are feeling pretty good. Ellen is much less newborn-y, I’m much less hormonal, and life is just making more sense.

The sleep thing is probably the only thing that really feels hard right now. That’s not to say I’m excelling in all other areas. Shoot, don’t even ask about the dishes and the laundry! But I am managing everything well enough that I don’t feel super stressed. Except by the lack of sleep. 

I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve two sunnyside up births and two babies who don’t sleep, but it must have been bad. This is rough. 

Let’s not dwell on that, though!

I think I forgot to report in about my weight loss at 3 months, so I get to share a bigger number now than I otherwise would. In the last two months, I’ve lost 6.5 lbs! Still a long, long way to go, but boy does the progress feel satisfying!! My body feels a little more familiar every day.

Yucky news – Our whole family is sick right now – ’tis the season. Ellen’s epic cold has lasted going on 3 weeks. Kyle has a cold that seems to have him thinking he is at death’s door. Lewis has a drippy nose and a bit of a cough. And I’ve – so far – fared better than the rest, but today I’m showing signs of losing the battle myself. The cold is a-comin’!

Two kids in daycare sort of means this is going to be standard procedure for a while. Ooooooooh well!

All in all, things are pretty good over here. Now if I could just get some rest…

2/3

I find myself 20 days into my 30 day workout challenge. Two thirds of the way done. I am behind by 1 workout, so I have 11 to do in the next 10 days.

I would like to stop. Really I would. 10 days feels like a long time this month, with Ellen’s sleep being off, making me so tired, and with the holidays and work and the sun going down so early. I’d so rather snuggle up and relax in the evenings after the kiddos go to bed!

But I’m not going to stop. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, it is going really well, I feel really proud of myself, and my body feels good – sore, but good. So I’ll push through until the end.

The scale has been inching lower. Not very quickly. Honestly, most days it doesn’t change at all. But I’m going to attribute that to the muscle I’m building and all the mint+chocolate treats I can’t resist this time of year. 

And even if the scale doesn’t show a lot of progress, the mirror does. And so does the button on my high waisted jeans! My body is changing shape, slowly getting back to something similar to before babies. Something recognizable.

It is hard for me to be patient. I know it took me 9 months to gain all that weight, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t come off all in a day. But gaining the weight was done with so little effort, and I wasn’t exactly working towards a weight gain goal, so the time didn’t really register. 

Losing the weight, on the other hand, takes considerable effort. And I see that goal out in the distance, so I’m counting progress and milestones very closely. It makes time march so slowly, like watching a pot of water, waiting for it to boil.

I’ll just keep watching. I will see cheekbones again, and those folds in my waist will go away. The stretch marks will get lighter. I’ll need smaller pants.

Maybe not directly because of this 30 day challenge. Maybe this challenge is only a way to prevent gaining weight from those mint+chocolate treats this holiday season. But it will all happen.

Patience and good choices, Carolyn. That’s all it takes.

No sleep till…forever?

Oh man. You know how when things are tough and you know they’re temporary, but because you don’t know exactly when they’ll end, they kind of feel like they’ll last forever? The end of pregnancy felt that way. And now? The sleeplessness!

Like anyone, I’m fishing for solutions here. Or at least explanations. Something to grab a hold of so I can get through this fatigue. Ellen is waking up so often that I basically feel like I’m dying.

First explanation: Ellen’s still got her cold. 10 days? 11? I’ve lost count. My sweet angel is in good spirits, as smiley as ever. If you ask her, ain’t nothin’ wrong! But she chokes on her snot in her sleep and wakes up and doesn’t go back to sleep on her own. You’d think after the noises she makes that she’d be upset, but I waltz into her room and she is grinning from ear to ear like, “oh HEEEEEY mom! Good to see ya!”

I finally remembered to take out and clean the humidifier, and I thought that would help. But alas! She still chokes.

Also working against us is Ellen’s newfound skill – TALKING.

Okay, not really talking. She’s not even 4 months old! But she has figured out how to make noise on purpose, and she is damn proud of it. Girlfriend has a lot to say, and she doesn’t care if the sun is up or not. She’s gonna talk! This morning, for example, she woke up at 5:30am, didn’t even want to eat, and just stared at me grinning and chatting. She didn’t stop for the next 2 hours until she finally went back to sleep at 7:30am – just in time to go to daycare and for mommy to start working! PHEW!

Another possible explanation for the sleeplessness is the infamous “4 month sleep regression”. I guess that’s a thing that happens developmentally and kids just sort of get over it eventually. Sounds like hocus pocus to me. But who am I to argue with countless moms and doctors and other various experts? This could be exactly what is ruining sleep in my world right now.

Or. OR!

Maybe Ellen is just turning into her brother. Lewis slept well until about 4 months. And then he slept like CRAP for the next 18 months. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost 2 damn years old.

The exhausted grump in me is feeling extremely pessimistic and voting for Ellen being a turd like her brother, which means that I am going to die sometime within the next 18 months from sleep deprivation.

The normal human buried somewhere beneath all the caffeine and eye circles thinks that maybe Grumpy Carolyn is being a bit hasty with her conclusions.

All I know is that I could really use a nap.

Whoa, girl!

Ellen took a little trip to the doctor today to get checked for an ear infection. She has had a cold for a week-ish, and over the weekend her snot turned colors and she started tugging on her ear. Despite missing symptoms like fever and grumpiness, I thought it was best to see if the doctor wanted to check her out.

The doctor did, since we can’t ask Ellen how she is feeling. So just to be safe, we went in this afternoon.

Ellen does not have an ear infection. The doctor thinks she is just experiencing some pressure from her cold, which has led her to pull on her ear. Phew!

The doctor also diagnosed me with Ear Infection PTSD from Lewis. HA! I told her I was very comfortable with that diagnosis, and we shared a good laugh.

I was quite relieved that my paranoia was unfounded, and I was happy to go in simply because I got to apply some meaning to Ellen’s actions. It helps me understand her better, and hopefully be better prepared next time she is sick when she does the same things.

Bonus: Ellen got weighed and measured. In the last 1.5 months, she has gained 2.25 lbs (nearly doubling her birth weight!), and has grown nearly THREE whole inches. That really blows my mind. Three inches in 1.5 months. When will Her Royal Roundness slow down!?

Day 10

I worked out 9 days in a row. 

On the 10th day (today), there was a 3 hour Santa experience which was total exhausting mayhem, folding 10 loads of laundry (I wish I was exaggerating), 2 loads in the dishwasher, a visit from the in-laws, and keeping two tiny humans alive. 

There was no workout today. I can’t get up. It is 8:30 and time to go to sleep.

I will just have to double up my workout one of these days to get in my 30 workouts in 30 days. 

The goal used to be “work out every day ay for 30 days. But now it is “30 workouts in 30 days”. Desperate times call for modifying the goal ever so slightly so you can still achieve it.

Here are my sweet kiddos with Santa!

That’s new!

Our kids learned some new tricks!

Ellen rolled over for the first time the other day! 

And Lewis? Well, Kyle put him to bed and about 30 minutes later he heard over the monitor, “dad? I need help. I need a new diaper.”

So Kyle went into Lewis’s room and discovered that he was naked. Jammies off, diaper off. 

Apparently he had peed in his diaper and decided to change it himself. He got to nakedness and then realized he couldn’t finish the job. Ha!

Misc.

It hasn’t been terribly long since my last update, but life is so action-packed lately that I feel like there is a ton to write about!

Both kids are working on new teeth. Lewis is getting the second of four 2-year molars. He sometimes mentions that his mouth hurts, but other than that, you’d never know it was happening if you didn’t peek in his mouth. Ellen is still working on her first one. That little white-cap has been there for ages and hasn’t seemed to change. It is like it worked its way up to that point (on Halloween, remember?!) and then just stopped. I keep imagining that it is getting pokier and it is about to break through, but it keeps not happening. So I must be wrong!

Lewis’ pink eye cleared up with the eyedrops and no one else in the family got it. Ellen does have her first cold, which I’m sure is a gift from her big brother (or a friend at school). She’s been a tough chick about it, though! She’s been sleeping as well as (or better than) normal despite the snot. I have been sucking it out with the fancy snot-sucker device, which she hates but definitely benefits from. (Side note – Lewis thinks it is HILARIOUS and says, “Mommy! You ate her boogers!”) We haven’t seen any signs of a fever or anything more serious, so we’re just riding this out.

Ellen’s daytime sleep has finally fallen into a 3-nap-per-day pattern – at least when she is at school. It took her much longer than it took her brother, but we’re there! I cut out her after-school/evening nap last week after she started a new bad habit of waking up at 10 or 10:30 every night. I took that early wake-up as a sign that something needed to change, and thankfully it did the trick right away! As long as her afternoon nap ends after 4pm sometime, we’re good to go until her 7pm (ish) bedtime.

The new schedule dilemma is my pumping routine. I have two problems with my current routine. 1) I am getting out more milk than Ellen consumes in a day and my freezer is running out of space. And 2) The way Ellen’s bottles are working out at school, she eats right before I pick her up and that means only one of my boobs gets a real-life feeding before bedtime. With her sleeping longer stretches at night again, that means the other boob goes 10-12 hours without getting any action, and that can be pretty rough. So I am trying to figure out a new pump-at-work schedule that works a little better so I don’t keep jamming my freezer full of milk, don’t have to pump at home in the evening, and also don’t end up with an exploding boob. I’m sure there is a solution, but I haven’t found it yet!

My favorite new routine is my workout routine. I decided that, with the holidays working against my waistline, I should actually put in some effort to burn extra calories outside of just breastfeeding. So I gave myself a goal: Work out every single day for 30 days – no skipping!

I have workout DVD with 20-25 minute workouts that I really enjoy. So I am just doing one of those workouts every day from December 1st through December 30th. I nailed days 1-4, and my body is already loving it. I’m sore, which hurts but feels amazing, I think I can already see my tummy deflating, and it has given me a mental boost because I feel really proud of myself.

I don’t plan to keep up a daily workout routine forever, but I figured I could do anything for 30 days. Especially if it just takes 20 (ish) minutes. So far, I’ve been able to squeeze the workouts in during a work-at-home lunch break, while Kyle played with the kids, while I was home alone with the kids, and after the kids’ bedtimes. If the workouts were longer, I’d never be able to make it happen. But this particular DVD is designed to kick your butt in a short spurt, and it is great!

The only other big news is that Christmas is coming and I am definitely in the Christmas spirit. It feels somehow more special than ever this year, now that we have two kids and Lewis is old enough to get it. I just want them to experience the magic like I remember it when I was a kid. For that reason, we’re going to see Santa with the cousins this coming weekend, we’re going to bake cookies with my mom, Lewis helped decorate the tree, and we’ve got a yummy advent calendar (from my Granny) that Lewis gets excited for every morning.

In the interest of mommy and daddy being able to enjoy the holidays too, we have kept the decorations and pressure to a minimum. We just have the tree, our stockings, and one decorative Santa. Kyle and I aren’t getting each other gifts, and we’re just generally approaching the holiday oriented towards the kids having fun instead of stuff and effort. It feels awesome, and even more festive this way!

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.