May 5, 2016

I see you

I see you.

In the baby aisle at Target, I watch as you run your fingers lightly over the toys, and clutch a tiny onesie. You spot me and your eyes drift to the curious boy in the front of my cart - you cast a wobbly smile in my direction, and head the other way.

I see you wielding your purse as a shield as you walk by the Mother's Day cards, head down, slipping on oversize sunglasses on your way out of the store.

I don't know what you're waiting for, but I do know the excruciating pain of waiting - of not knowing if your body will betray you again. I know the happiness you feel for a friend, just as I know the ache it causes your heart as you wait for your turn. I don't know if you've watched an ultrasound screen light up only to be told no.

I don't know your individual pain, but I see you.

Sometimes it helps to hear "I've been there," but sometimes nothing can soothe a shattered heart.

I see you.

It's almost Mother's Day. I know that hurt, I know that pain, I know you may not have the option of staying under the covers all day. You are not forgotten.

I see you.

Whether you are waiting for a phone call to match you with your child, if you're in that "two week wait" after a procedure, whether you're waiting to feel again after a loss, or if you're simply waiting for a positive sign on a pregnancy test.

I see you.

Apr 28, 2016

The twelfth month

*Loves looking at pictures - even if he doesn't know the people in them. But if he's in them? EXTRA big grin. (#vainbaby)
*Still loves running water, the washing machine, and has a healthy interest in the vacuum until it's turned on.
*Continues to make the best faces - I love how expressive he is!
*Gives me so many kisses - I feel like Parks doesn't do that as much with anyone else, so it makes me feel extra special!
*Waves, and can clap his hands, but much prefers to clap yours together instead.
*Loves when Ben chases him down the hallway. P is FAST when he crawls, and he uses me as "base;" when he gets to me he just starts belly laughing even if Ben is still coming after him. (This happens a lot when I'm pumping!)
*Still loves creepy monkey the best but will hug stuffed animals now - for a long time he didn't care about anything soft and would even give stuffed animals looks of disdain (again, expressive!), so to see him hug and cuddle now is pretty sweet!
*Thinks Dad is a pretty terrific jungle gym.
*Says Mama, Dada, lots of babas, hi and bye bye. (Bye bye is really just a ba ba but whatever he's obviously a genius so I'm counting it!)
*Is still super into people - going to the grocery store is like catnip to him - he's constantly twisting in the cart to see everyone, and Lord help you if we're in the same aisle as someone else and they don't acknowledge him. (He starts grunting/yelling at them. "Ehh! Ehh!!")
*Still loves Uptown Funk, but Meghan Trainor is right up there with Bruno now. Parks and I both enjoy her new song "No," but Ben does not - ha!
*Will mimic expressions and words - my favorite is when you start to whisper "ba ba ba," and he copies you or he starts whispering something else. It totally reminds me of the Parseltongue whispering in the Harry Potter movies!
*Still loves baseball - his baseball themed birthday party is this weekend - I can't wait to share pictures!
*Made it to a year of exclusively pumping! Let me say that again. I have been exclusively pumping for a YEAR. We started supplementing with formula right around his 11-month mark because my supply really started dropping, but I've pumped for a year. A YEAR! I've pumped in houses (mine and others), in bathrooms (ugh), in pump rooms at offices, in moving vehicles, early in the morning, and in the middle of the night. As much as our lives have adjusted and been rearranged since Parks made his appearance, my pump schedule has always been a permanent fixture. I've skipped time with friends and going out to run errands because I couldn't make it work time-wise with my pump schedule. I have lugged a pump bag with me  everywhere (in addition to a diaper bag and a baby), I've spent hours not holding or playing with Parks because of pumping, had several clogged ducts, two close calls with mastitis, and have wanted to quit more times than not. At its best I am incredibly proud of what I have provided for my son, and at its worst pumping has caused tears and conversations of "why is this so hard?"

It's been a journey, separate yet co-existing with this first year of his life - I have plenty of thoughts on it (fodder for a later post), and I could not have done it without the incredible community of support from Ben, and our family and friends, but for now I'm just going to sit back in awe of what I have accomplished. I've watched him more then triple his birth weight because of the milk I made for him. He has thigh rolls and chunky arms because of the milk I made for him. The word sacrifice has a whole new meaning now, but I made it! I am weaning now (already down to four pumps per day instead of six - woo!), so hopefully only a few more weeks and I will be completely finished!

*Is humbled Parker's birthday is during National Infertility Awareness Week. We have this incredible miracle baby but it doesn't mean we've forgotten what it's like in the trenches of infertility; it's time to Start Asking why more isn't being done to help with this disease. (Find out more here).

*Survived the first year! There were times I didn't think we'd make it, and especially with the cold that hit our house the past few weeks (first Parks, then Ben, then me), there were days I couldn't even see past the next day, but we did it! I can honestly say this year has brought more joy than Ben and I could have every imagine, but it also brought more challenges. Things that were never an issue before come to light and you have to navigate through new bumps and turns - difficult to begin with, but especially so when you're hormonal or sleep-deprived, or both. I'm proud of us!

Right now we're going to sit back and enjoy the next few days and his party. After that? I'm thinking Baby's first pair of shoes, maybe some walking (he's so close!), and I'm sure more teeth. (Because really, I doubt we'll ever be done - ha!)

I can't believe it's already been a year of having you in our lives - it seems like we've known you forever! Happy Birthday Bubba! We love you so much!

Apr 27, 2016

A letter to my son on his first birthday

Dear Parker Boy,

I cannot believe you are one! A year ago I was in labor, and at one point I tearfully said to your Dad, "he's never coming out!" We had waited and waited and waited, and were just so excited to meet you!

I still remember hearing you cry for the first time. I gasped, and tears filled my eyes as your Dad and I looked at each other in awe. Once they had checked you out, the nurse brought you to me. Your eyes were closed. I whispered, "Hi Parker," and even with eyes still shut, you turned your head toward me. The tears were stronger then as I kissed you over and over, and the nurse cried, "he knows who you are!" My first proud Mama moment.

This year was all about firsts - for you and me.

You've taught me how to go big.

Big with my love, big with my forgiveness. Big with my protectiveness, and my humbleness. I didn't know I had this capacity for love this big, but you showed me how.
So many times during this year your Dad and I have looked at each other in wonder - like we did the first time you cried - sometimes because of something you've done, but more often than not, simply because you're here.

We prayed for you. We wished for you. We hoped for you. We waited almost five years for you.

And yet you are so much more breathtaking than I could have ever dreamed.

This has been the best and hardest year of my life. I can't promise we have it all figured it out, but I promise we'll keep trying.

I will always love you.

I will always show up for you.

Thank you being the sweetest, most hilarious, amazing little man!

Happy Birthday sweet baby - I love you so.

All my love,

Mar 31, 2016

The eleventh month

*Is 11 months old. ELEVEN months, people. In less than a month he will be one year. Howwww is this possible?!
*Was introduced to the swings at the beginning of the month and love love loves them! (See evidence below). Now that it's starting to get warmer outside we're making an effort to take him on a walk or go to a playground to swing as often as we can.
*Got his first shiner! (See above). Just a little bump into a sliding glass door - Parks was upset but calmed down quickly, so we were all surprised when he had a little black eye a few minutes later. I actually think it made him look fierce - ha! We are definitely in the rough and tumble phase and I'm sure it's going to get worse before it gets better. I feel like I'm constantly finding new bruises or scratches on him!
*Is such a people person already - when we're at stores he's constantly turning around and moving in the cart so he can check out the people we're passing, and if there are kids or babies there he kind of yells in an excited way as we go by!
*Still loves water, baseball, and has become even more into cars and trucks than he was before. A friend asked me for a suggestion for his first birthday and my response was, "if it has wheels, you're golden."
*Is a speedster crawling around! He pulls up and cruises - still not too interested in taking steps, but he's standing better now too - he's more stable and will stand for a few seconds without holding onto anything before he plops down.
*Has more teeth. (I mean really, are you surprised at this?) Two of the 12-month molars have already shown up and holy freaking horrible.
*Is still a pretty good eater. I get nervous with new foods because there are so many random allergy issues in our families, but we've gotten better at letting him try new things. (And by food I mean real food not just baby food - he's been eating baby food for months). The first time we gave him chicken I thought he was going to lose his mind - we couldn't give it to him fast enough!
*Has a new hilarious expression! He'll still scrunch his face up when he's pleased with himself, but now when he's excited about something he opens his mouth and makes kind of a frown but in an excited way. That's the worst description, and we have a lot of videos of it but not too many pictures. This is the best we've got right now - and yes, it's even more hilarious in person.
*Said his first word! One night we were all in the kitchen and Parks was looking at our calendar - I made it in Snapfish so each month it's various pictures of him and us with him. I had flipped to April to check a date, and he reached his hand out towards a picture of me, and said, "Mama!" Ben and I looked at each other like "did that just happen?!" It took him a few days before he said it again, but then it was mama, and dada, and he does a lot of ba-ba-bas too. It's like once he decides to do something he fully commits - all in!
*Now babbles himself to sleep which is so sweet. Sometimes he still gives me kisses as I'm walking with him and I have to acknowledge them. I sing to him as he goes to sleep but when he gives me a kiss I'll say, "thank you baby, I love you." One night I didn't say that, and he kept his mouth on my cheek until I did, like "um mom, I am doing this awesome thing, you need to recognize it." So funny! Also, now when he goes to give kisses I automatically say "no biting!" so he doesn't chomp down on my cheek!
*Is going through a Meghan Trainor phase. I think Parks likes her videos because they're colorful and a little crazy, but Better When I'm Dancin' is his favorite. I actually can't play it when he's in the bouncer (and I'm pumping) because he gets really frustrated - we have to be able to dance together while it's on!
*Is waving much more consistently now and it's the best. He does it with both hands and one of them is usually turned towards him so it's like he's waving to you and himself!
*Has been amazed at the silly things that can happen that make for good stories later. A few weeks ago Parks was getting fussy near the end of my evening pump - Ben was at work which means P was in the bouncer/exersaucer so I don't have to wrangle him while pumping. Fussy baby while pumping? No problem, it's not my first rodeo. I pull toys out from where I have them shoved in the glider next to me (for just such an occasion), and the first one I grab is Creepy Monkey. (I've talked about him before but to refresh your memory: this stuffed animal is a blue monkey that has a weird expression on its face and when you push its stomach there are children laughing. It's weird and creepy, hence the name, but P LOVES it). I pushed Creepy Monkey's stomach and the children start laughing. I roll my eyes but he is enthralled, and doesn't seem to mind the noise on top of the music going in the background. Creepy Monkey is annoying but P is no longer whining, so whatever.

A couple minutes later as I'm turning off the pump, I realize the monkey is still laughing. Typically, you push the stomach, the children laugh for 10-15 seconds and then it stops, so you have to push it again. It had been laughing the whole time! I guess I was used to tuning it out, but it had been going for a good three minutes or so. I started pushing the stomach to see if I could get it to stop but here's the thing about Creepy Monkey - there is no on/off switch, and you can't get to the batteries inside. (This is actually the second Creepy Monkey we had because the first one died and the only way to replace whatever battery it runs on is to tear it apart). I COULDN'T MAKE IT STOP LAUGHING!

All I could think was I couldn't listen to this all night. Even if I managed to bury it under a pile of blankets to muffle the sound I would *know* it was still laughing. So when I was finished pumping, I picked up Parks (who was holding the monkey), we went outside, and I locked the monkey in my car. I couldn't think of anything else to do! I don't know when it stopped but the next morning it was quiet in my car when I left for work.  

*Has survived eleven months of pumping. Holy moley! I've talked before about having problems with my supply - Parks pretty much only drinks the minimum amount of milk he has to have each day (and he eats tons of food), but it's gotten to the point where I'm not even producing what he needs for a day. We've gone through the freezer stash, so we started supplementing with formula this past week.

The first day was horrible. We tried Nutramigen, which is a formula typically used for babies with dairy issues - it has the cow milk protein but it's already broken down so it's easier to digest. We knew this formula was gross though - it's not like regular formula - everyone we've talked to that's used it says it's really thick, it smells, and they're always surprised the baby actually drank it. (You know where this is going, right?) When Ben tried to give Parks a bottle of it he screamed and choked and fought him so hard that Parks accidentally scratched Ben and drew blood! Ben spent 20 minutes trying to give him the bottle and P maybe took two sips. The next day we tried a formula that was more normal - it has milk in it but it's partially broken down (it's aimed at babies with sensitive stomachs), and it also has a probiotic in it to help with digestion. We figured this would also blow up in our faces but we wanted to see how he would do with a teeny bit of the milk protein and it was better to eliminate this as an option now before trying other things.

He took it just fine! He's had no physical reactions, no crazy tummy troubles, and we are stunned but grateful. He's only getting about 4 ounces or so a day (I haven't dropped a pump yet so I'm still pumping six times a day), but I'm so grateful he's doing well with the formula - that calmed a lot of my nervousness. (I cried the night before we tried it - this was hard on me for a lot of reasons and I have a post brewing about that, but I'm happy to say that has pretty much disappeared seeing that he's doing well with it).
Ninja baby - who needs throwing stars when you have Easter eggs?
*Need to get better at taking pictures with the three of us - I couldn't find one for this post!
*Are surviving these 12-month molars. Lord knows this boy has plenty of teeth, and we are pros at teething - whiny, clingy, some Tylenol, and maybe some rough nights, but we know what to expect. However, I firmly believe these molars are a circle of hell.

Each molar has four points (instead of two) that have to break through the gums, and they are twice the size of a regular tooth so the pain is more intense. We've learned how to read signs of one coming, but we can have two nights of almost no sleep (him up screaming multiple times), and there only's one point through - meaning there are still three more for one tooth. So, we are surviving!

*Can't believe he's going to be a year so soon. SO soon! At this time last year I was packing a hospital bag (little did I know I wouldn't need it for weeks), and thinking the pregnancy was taking forever, and now I am planning a first birthday party - this first year has flown!

Oh Bubba, we love you so so much! Thank you for bringing unimaginable joy into our lives - there's never a dull moment, but we love the adventure!

Mar 1, 2016

The tenth month

*Is SO sweet. He'll lean in to give kisses now, and when he's just woken up from a nap he's so cuddly it melts my heart!
*Has started to outgrow a few pieces of nine month sized clothes - I'm mentally preparing myself for putting him in twelve month clothes because it's going to be happening before I know it!
*Still makes the best facial expressions! His latest is to scrunch up his nose and huff in and out really fast - it's his "I'm pleased with myself" face and it cracks us up!
*No longer beatboxes at bedtime, now he just full on blows raspberries and essentially spits for ten minutes or so, sometimes alternating that with screeching. The other night he was making noises so loudly and with such enthusiasm (and he hadn't burped), he actually gagged and then puked everywhere. (And by everywhere I mean all. over. me. It's funny now, but at the time...) 
*Is quite the little reader! We read books before bedtime every night, and since most of them are board books he can grip them easily - he even turns the pages! And more often than not, he uses his left hand to do so - double win!
*Speaking of books, he loves the touch and feel ones, but sometimes instead of touching the fuzzy rabbit or fluffy tail of a dog on the page he will lean down and lick it! Weirdo.
*Is holding steady at seven teeth but has been chomping on toys a lot lately so I'm wondering if that last tooth is finally going to make an appearance, or if this is the start of the twelve-month molars. (He doesn't really like to take his time with teeth).
*Loves food. This sounds silly but while he's always been a good eater, he has become SO interested in watching people eat, so we've increased his foods and are trying to slowly introduce more actual foods (instead of just baby foods/purees). Avocado is currently his favorite.
*Has what we call "mad scientist" hair. His hair is slowly starting to come in and is still very light, but there's enough of it now to get messed up, especially in the back! (See above photo!)
*Sticks his tongue out, grins, and kicks his legs when he's happy or thinks something is funny - it's almost as good as his scrunch face!
*Still loves baseball. I mean LOVES baseball. As in, when we watch clips on YouTube he will not acknowledge that I'm talking to him unless I pause it, and then he looks at me like I committed the greatest offense ever. (Maybe a little preview of his teenage years?) I give you Exhibit A:
*Is pulling up on everything, and even cruising - taking little steps while he holds onto something (or someone). He's super fast when he crawls now, so I'm good with that, but let's wait a little bit longer on the walking mmkay bud?
*Will laugh in anticipation of things - before he pulls the blanket down when we're playing peekaboo, and if you're holding up a hand to tickle him he starts to giggle before you even start!
*Looooves making Ben laugh. If Parks does something and it makes Ben laugh, not only will he do it again, Parker will belly laugh along with Ben. I love watching the two of them together.
*Is starting to figure things out - for instance, turning the pages of the books, or when I'm getting him dressed, being able to put his arms (or at least hold them out) so they go into the sleeves. It sounds like something so small but it's so cool when we can almost see his thought process as he masters something new.
 *Um, might have inherited my temper. When he's not pleased with something he lets you know. Or when he's tired and doesn't want to do something he'll arch his back, screech, and sometimes even flail his arms. Most of the time he can be distracted by a silly song, noise, or a toy, but this doesn't bode well for temper tantrums down the line...
*IS STILL PUMPING! I kind of can't believe it! I was having such supply issues that I was convinced we'd be supplementing by now. The fact that I'm still able to provide all the milk for this goofball is a pretty amazing thing. At the nine month mark I had done more than 1,000 pumps - at ten months I've done more almost 1300. Crazy!
*Hasn't taken off my Valentine's Day gift from Ben since it arrived in the mail. I love love love it! (And there was a huge snafu on the part of the post office so I can also vouch for the owner of the shop and say she is considerate and has GREAT customer service!)
*Is having a hard time with Parks being 10 months. I'm better than my last post, but I think part of why I'm struggling being away from him (at work, etc) is because I feel like I'm missing so much. He's learning new skills weekly (if not daily), and sometimes it's hard to hear about it secondhand. I'm just trying to enjoy the time I have with him because there are still plenty of kisses and giggles and love that happen in the evenings and on weekends!
*Ben and I have made an effort to be nicer to each other, which can be hard when you're exhausted and you both aren't home at the same time.
*Are probably going to do a modified version of dairy-free living when I'm finally done pumping. Parks might outgrow this issue at some point, but my body has responded really well to cutting out dairy so we'll see!
*Had our second date night in our "year of dates." In January our date was not at all how we thought - Ben got sick the night before, I'd fallen while holding Parker and while he was fine, my ankle was not, so we ended up staying home, napping, and just rolling with it. Well I'm happy to report our second date night was a success! We had a bookstore date - went to B&N, browsed for a bit, and then sat in the cafe and talked for a couple hours. The point was to spend time together, not just be together doing separate things, so when we browsed we had to find three things that reminded us of the other person, or we think they'd like. It was so much fun! My parents took Parks for an overnight so we had a great date and were totally rested when we picked him up the next day!
*Officially call Parks our little dirt finder. We vacuum more now than ever since he's crawling everywhere, but he will inevitably find a piece of dirt we've missed, crawl over, and pick it up. So far he's been good about not putting it in his mouth and I'm able to take it from him but it's frustrating and hilarious all at once!

Parker boy you are double digits! You're going to be a year before we know it so we're trying to savor all these moments with you as we can! It's incredible to watch you learn and grow and we can't imagine our lives without you - we love you Bubba!

Feb 12, 2016

Separation Anxiety

I just read this post and cried. Big fat, ugly tears, that I tried to smother because I didn't want Parks to hear me (nevermind that we are not in the same room and there's a sound machine on). I cried because I loved the authenticity of the post and because I can relate to so much of it. Ben and I are on opposite work schedules, and sometimes we barely see each other, and when we do the conversations are a series of rapid-fire questions and answers. "How was your day? How did he act? How did he eat? Did he poop? What kind of poop? How long did he nap? Did you give him the gas drops? Do you think he'll sleep tonight?" (Trust me, I could go on). We are making it through, but it's hard. It's hard.

Sarah posted a picture of this necklace on Instagram, and I cried. (Then immediately started following that shop on Instagram). We call Parks baby bird and I think it's just perfect. When I showed Ben and he told me he wanted to get me the necklace for Valentine' Day, I cried.

I've read that we might start to see some separation anxiety with P soon - crying when we're leaving and such. So far so good, but I feel like I'm struggling with this instead. There have been days in the past few weeks where I swear I miss him as much as I did when I first went back to work. It's like a resurgence of hormones, and I cry. (Are you seeing a trend?)

The truth is I've cried more lately than I have in awhile. For the time being I've added middle of the night pumps back into my schedule (to see if this will help my supply), so I'm now pumping seven times a day, one of which is at three in the morning. So yeah, I'm exhausted, which means I cry more easily about things.

But the other truth is motherhood is exactly and nothing like what I expected. I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea the depth of how and what I would worry about, and the dichotomy is how much I want a break, yet at the same time don't ever want to let him go.

I'm learning, and crying, and knowing this too shall pass. And when the house is a mess but Parks has fallen asleep on me, I've gotten really good at plopping on the couch and breathing him in. (After all, it helps with the separation anxiety).

Jan 28, 2016

The ninth month

Now that he's moving the pictures are a little more difficult to take - but at least he's smiling in these!
*Started the month off super cranky - between a developmental leap, crawling (he tends to not sleep well when he gets near physical milestones - sitting up, crawling, etc), and a lovely sleep regression, it was a hard beginning of the month!
*Thinks smashing his face against the side of the pack and play is hilarious. Hilarious! Also, the sleeping picture below is hard to tell but yes, he still sleeps with his butt in the air - just like Mama!
*Is on an orange food kick. He will eat green beans, peas, etc, but his favorites? Squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. (Seriously, I cannot get the carrots into his mouth fast enough).
*Is a little obsessed with feet - he'll grab his whenever he's on his back, but my foot in a sock? Most. Amazing. Thing. Ever. He studies it, grabs it, gets distracted by something else, and then starts the process all over when he spots it again.
*Is still obsessed with the washing machine, and is fascinated by the vacuum until you turn it on - then he demonstrates a hulk-strength grip on you to make sure he is securely in your arms.
*Loves playing peekaboo! He'll put something in front of his face and when I say "where's Parker?" he actually starts giggling before he pulls it away, so when I say, "there he is!" he lets out the biggest belly laugh!
*Already knows how to work his Mama. Instead of fighting bedtime with crying, he now snuggles up to me, gives me kisses, and then giggles. It melts my heart every time, but I just rub his back and say "thank you baby, I love you, time to sleep." Sometimes he'll do it five or six times in a row and it takes everything in me NOT to laugh, because then it's a game, but oh! So sweet!
*Speaking of bedtime - Parks used to hum with me while I sang to him at night, but now that has evolved into this noise where he's part spitting/making raspberry sounds, part almost clucking his tongue; essentially he's beatboxing against my shoulder. Between this and the kisses, I do believe I would win a gold medal in being able to withhold my laughter during bedtime.
*Is really starting to show a preference for books and it makes my heart so happy! The other day he was playing with toys and spotted a book. He picked it up, then handed it to me, and grinned the whole time I was reading it to him. job as a parent is done, yes?
*Is starting to crawl faster now and pulls himself up on anything (or anyone) that he can! Holy moley!
*Is still exclusively pumping. STILL. PUMPING. I have officially been pumping for the length of a pregnancy! Also, according to my pump log app, I have done more than 1,000 pumps. If you asked me two days ago if I was planning to continue, the answer would have been a resounding "no," but for now I'm hanging in there. Parks is going through a growth spurt so he's drinking more than he normally would which is good, but also a whole other level of exhaustion for me. I'm really trying to not let my worth be defined by the number of ounces I pump in a day.  (I might have also started mentioning to Ben that while I'm not a fan of the "push present," I'm warming up to the idea of a "pump present" once I'm finally finished. P's birthstone is diamond...just saying!)
*Has jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon. I don't have a whole lot of time away from curious hands to do this, but my last pump of the night flies by then I have something fun to color. (Have you tried this yet? So relaxing!)
*Feels like month eight to nine has simultaneously been the hardest and the most fun.
*Had a ROUGH start to the month - Ben got sick over New Year's (for the first time ever we actually spent it in two different houses); he had a bacterial joint infection that was caused by strep throat - except he didn't get sick like you do with strep (no sore throat or fever), just craaazy joint pain. He was on antibiotics and steroids, and I thought I would collapse from doing it all. (Single parents, NO idea how you do it). This was also around the time when I was having big supply issues so to say I was a ball of stress at the beginning of the year would be a bit of an understatement.
*Survived the beast of the snowstorm! We got 30 inches of snow! (Remember our white picket fence? The snow was level with the top of it!) Parks was all about watching the snow from the window, and while he thought snow blowers (God bless our neighbors) and plows were fascinating,
 when we took him outside and showed him the snow itself he was less than impressed.
*Have actually started calling him Parker because we want him to know his name, but when Ben and I talk about him, we refer to him as baby bird. When he's asleep but knows a bottle is coming (like when we're sitting in the glider), he makes this little face where his eyes are closed but his mouth is open like a baby bird searching for food, and it's become a funny little joke for Ben and me.
*Have started some baby sign language with him - mostly just the signs for eat when he's getting food, and milk when he's getting a bottle but I'm interested to see if he picks it up!
*Have a date this weekend! I took a page out of Ashlee's book and for Christmas gave Ben a "year of dates." A date once a month, every month, where someone is watching P, and Ben and I are going out and doing something. I'd like to say I have them all planned out, but sometimes arranging childcare ten months in advance is a bit...tricky. However, I do have the ideas for all of them, and the first one is this weekend - it'll be really nice to reconnect just the two of us!

Ohh, nine months baby boy! Next month you will be double digits which means one year is not that far away - sometimes the days seems long, but they truly are flying! We love you so much!

Jan 26, 2016

The Distance from A to Z

No, you're not at the wrong blog, I'm actually doing a book review! Full disclosure - I was approached about reviewing this book and was given a free copy, however all opinions are mine. (But seriously, the chance to actually blog about something that's not a monthly check-in for Parks and maybe I can feel like a functioning adult? I'm in!)

Title: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

My rating: 4 stars

Overview from Goodreads: Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

I was a little nervous to read this book - the premise sounded great, but I sometimes have a hard time relating to young adult books since I'm no longer the intended audience.

However, I really enjoyed it!

The story is engaging right from the start, and after no more than three swipes on my phone (reading on my Kindle app while Parks sleeps on me is the easiest way for me to read these days), I was smiling and somehow felt like I could relate to Abby, even though my family is not obsessed with baseball the way hers is:

"Because all my family talks about is baseball. Baseball and whether the Cubs have a chance at the World Series this year. Or really, how they don't. But how if they just...I'm in a family made up entirely of armchair quarterbacks."

The author does a great job of capturing adolescence -  from how Abby and her roommate bond quickly:

"I've found my spirit animal."

to the emotion in what Abby loves (French), or does not love (talk about baseball). There were times in the book when I thought "wow, she's kind of bitchy right now," or "she is intense about this," but Abby just owned it. When she needed to apologize she did, (in really sweet, thoughtful ways), and when she demonstrated her love for the French language she was fabulously unapologetic about it.

"The fact that in French you don't say I miss you. You say tu me manques: literally, you are missing from me. Because when you miss someone, it's more than just the active feeling of missing, it's like they have actually taken a piece of you with them when they left, the piece of you that was theirs."

I really admired (and related to) her strong sense of self.

I don't want to say too much about specifics in the story because there are a couple twists and I don't want to give anything away, but I laughed more than I expected to and wanted more when the story was over. I took a few French classes in high school and only remember a handful of phrases, but have always thought the language is beautiful; this story made me fall a little bit back in love with it. (Also, with as much as Parks loves baseball, it was kind of fun to read some "baseball talk" because I do believe it will be a part of our life later on!)

I would definitely recommend this book to read!

Have you read this book? Are you a fan of YA stories, or do you start out skeptical like I do?

Jan 6, 2016

The eighth month

And this was the BEST of the bunch - ha!
*Still loves running water - if he had to choose between water in the sink and watching the washing machine, he might just lose his tiny mind.
*Loves making people laugh - he imitates noises you make, and his belly laugh just keeps getting better and better!
*Is officially crawling - we're starting to babyproof!
*He was holding steady at five teeth, and two days after he turned eight months, he got two more! He has SEVEN teeth! He's missing one on bottom, and then he's finished until the 12-month molars! (Although let's be real, those will probably come early because apparently this dude likes teeth).
*Has consistently started sleeping with his butt in the air, which would be funny normally, but is especially funny because I did the same thing when I was a baby!
*Loves to hit things - if he can't hit it, or bang it on something to make noise, he's just not interested.
*Is already a little reader! He's as interested in his books as he is in his toys, which makes my heart so happy!
*Does a GREAT mean muggin' that we call his "thundercloud" face - most of the time it's when he's grinding or working his teeth, but it never fails to crack us up!
*Is finally starting to get some hair - and it's coming in red. #win
*Has started waving! He doesn't really associate the motion with waving yet, so we try to wave back every time we see him do it, but his little hand moving like that is just the sweetest thing.
*Is now a pro at arching his back, and does it whenever he's not pleased with something - specifically when we try to put him in his car seat.
*Is having huge supply issues - I've eaten lactation cookies, drank mother's milk tea, and have once again gotten a replacement pump from Medela. This is my third pump in eight months. I like Medela as a company but this pump is not meant for EP'ing.
*Is pretty impressed with my "stats" though. I started using the Pump Log app when I went back to work and to see that I've done over 900 pumps (or the equivalent of more than 18 days just pumping), makes me feel like a badass.
*Is really enjoying the age Parker's at - he can be frustrating but also really fun!
*Had a lovely little Christmas! We spread it out over three days with our families so we didn't have
 to rush with anyone, and it was so much fun! Parks didn't put wrapping paper in his mouth as much as I expected because he was all about crinkling it - no problem buddy, go for it!
*Are trying to figure out little things to do on a daily basis to help Ben and me feel like we're living, and not just surviving. Parenthood is amazing, yet exhausting, and is re-teaching us all about self-care.

Oh Bubba, I can't believe you're already eight months - it seems like just yesterday I was pregnant, but we also can't really remember life without you! We love you so much!

Dec 18, 2015

Savor, yet remember

"I can't believe Christmas is next week!"

I've uttered that phrase at least a dozen times in the past few days, and while I am so looking forward to Parker's first Christmas, I can't help but think back to Christmases past.

Two years ago
After years of trying, I was finally pregnant. We saw a little bean flickering on the ultrasound screen, and we laughed and cried. I must have looked at the photo they gave us a dozen times that day. 

A couple days later I started bleeding, but after an ER visit and a trip to our fertility specialist, we were assured the baby was still okay. I took it easy, and about a week later we had another appointment to follow up. 

On Christmas Eve we were told the baby's heartbeat was only half the rate it should be, and there was a good chance it would stop beating all together.

I can still remember how my stomach dropped, as we sat in shock. The doctor was wearing a Santa hat. The nurse brought me tissues when I started to cry. 
We clung to hope, but on New Year's Eve the heartbeat wasn't much stronger, and a week later we had our final ultrasound, confirming the heartbeat was gone.
One year ago
Full of fun and anticipation, people would say "next year you'll have a baby at Christmas!" I nodded and tried not to think, "but we should have one now."
Christmas was the day I finally stopped taking my morning sickness medicine, and I wondered if we really would have a baby next year - I still couldn't picture it.

This year
I can't wait to see Parks' reaction as he rips into wrapping paper, and I'm already anticipating the struggle of trying to keep it out of his mouth. I'm excited to see his toothy grin in the Christmas pajamas we have for him, and wondering if maybe he'll be even closer to crawling by Christmas Day.

I'll also wonder if Cece would have had red hair like her brother seems to; it's tricky, because timing-wise we never would have had Cece and Parks - but I'll never stop wanting them both with me.

So I'll savor this first Christmas, and remember the others - knowing that she's in our hearts and I'm sure is getting as much of a kick out of her brother's shenanigans as we are.