Decade

Just two weeks ago my life hit another milestone. It wasn’t the happy kind or one that opens up a world full of promise. It was the kind of milestone that lies heavily upon your heart and you spend the day and the weeks leading up to it full of anger because The Day should be any other day. The Day shouldn’t even register because the world should be different than reality. But it isn’t. And so two weeks ago marked an entire decade without my dad. 

Decade is a weighty word. It’s full and heavy and somber on its own and when paired with the ache of loss, it’s almost unbearable. I took the day off from work, as I always do. Some of my family went on a cruise. We’ve got a lot going on and passed on the trip. We ended up going to the zoo and Ramona’s joy at the animals was wonderful but the zoo here isn’t in great shape and is undergoing some work right now. The bear section that was a major focal point and I remember so well from my childhood has been torn out and is surrounded with fences and dirt piles to make way for the new exhibit. 

But I’m trying to show them the world. I’m trying to show them happiness. And I’m trying to keep memories alive. The world might go on without those we’ve lost but that doesn’t mean that it needs to go on like they were never here. 

Ramona has taken to pointing to pictures while we name the people in them. She even recognizes them and points to the correct picture when we give her names. This weekend she started saying “Boppa!” when we walk past his picture going downstairs. She knows him and that makes my heart happy. She can point to her Grandpa Joe too. That’s all that I need to keep going these days. 

Family Vacation!

So Easter break has come and gone and with it our vacation (and my mandatory two week leave from work). We headed down to my in-laws because they hadn’t seen Ramona since Thanksgiving.  (Well, the rest of us too but babies change a lot.) 

We had a flight full of babies and she slept and played nicely and quietly. Joey couldn’t wait to hold her and show her the world out of the window! For a little boy who was displeased about having a baby sister, he sure does ask to take her a lot!

   

There was snow on the ground when we flew out so the green world was a wonderful shock. And the warm weather was nothing to complain about! 

   

Ramona seemed in her element. She was fascinated by the flora, particularly the palm trees. She would stare up at them whenever we went outside. I loved that she noticed that the world there was different than at home. 

She adapted well to the change in routine too!  

  

We took her down to the playground the first night that we were there, where she had so much fun!

  

And then we took her to the beach and it was all over. She is a beach baby for sure! She loved the sand and water and had so much fun!

  

Don’t hate, kitty scoopers make for good shell finders. 

  

We did a bit of this on the beach too!

 
She also developed an obsession with eating our lemons. 

  

I cannot deal with this hat and this face!

  

Almost every night ended in a walk, weather it was just the two of us or more. We walked all over the neighborhood, sometimes until she fell asleep and other times she stayed awake, chattering and observing. 


Nona spoils Joey with pancakes every morning whenever we are down there. This time was no different. We were there on Easter morning so she went the Pinterest route and successfully too!

  

We were going to go to Busch Gardens but it was nearly 90 that day and yuck. We opted for the air conditioning of the aquarium. I swear if we ever move down there that getting a membership will be the first thing that I do. I could spend hours there, even just in this room. The tank is huge and so full of life. 

   
You can’t see her face but they both passed out on the way home. 

  

And right here is where Joey finally learned how to swim! I told him that it was happening this trip whether he liked it or not. He was jumping in too by the time that we left!

 
 And the flight home went just as wonderfully as the flight down and my heart burst with love and joy just a little bit more. 

 

Ramona Turns One!

 

Something wonderful happened last weekend. Well, it happened a week and a half before, but we finally celebrated last weekend. Ramona turned one! I kept it pretty low-key but everyone seemed to have a good time and I was exhausted so I must have done something right. 

My mom made both cakes. She wanted to get started with her own business and I will link to her as soon as she has one! She had never made a cake like her smash cake before and I’m pretty impressed!

 

And once she figured it out, Ramona fully embraced the concept of a smash cake. Her party was on pause while she bathed.  

I don’t have a pile of pictures because I was busy. But I have the memories and those are so, so much better. 

I planted flowers in painted tin cans for favors and gave away other little things to the kids. We went with a spring theme and included a lot of flowers everywhere. Most of my plants still have butterflies stuck in them. 

 

She’s all grins and giggles so much of the time, even the morning after partying hard. She eats well. She plays hard. And she says forget waking. She’s taken a few steps. She can stand up without holding onto anything but she just won’t walk. In her own time, it’ll happen.  

 

To be honest, I could snuggle and carry this sweet face everywhere for the rest of her life.  

Stay-tuned for my next entry to find out why we waited a week and a half to celebrate!

Defining Normal

Normalcy is a funny concept. It’s supposed to be what we are used to, the regular. But it’s constantly shifting, especially lately. “Normal” has had so many shifts in our lives over the past year or so. Some of the shifts were positive and some were negative and some I’m still wondering how to cope with the fact that this is still normal now. 

But normal is finally really feeling normal. I no longer come home from work and literally hold a baby until I go to bed and then co-sleep with said baby. I can do laundry, pick-up the house a bit, do whatever I need to do. We still nurse shortly after I get home and usually once more before we go up to bed and start the bedtime routine. But I have some time in there now. 

We can get things done on our own now. We’ve been raking while babywearing lately. We were bad at fall clean-up. We were grieving heavily back then while still struggling with normal. When one of us is home with the baby, the world no longer ceases to exist. 

Leaving the house doesn’t feel like a production now. Sure, I have to grab a diaper or three still but it doesn’t feel like such a chore. Ramona doesn’t despise the car. Muscle memory can deal with the car seat buckles with little effort. I’m not trying to figure out if I’ll have to pull over or feed her the second we arrive at our destination. We can give snacks now to stave off the worst of it. We can distract. 

I’m not ready to leave her overnight yet at all. I don’t want to be away at bedtime yet, to be honest. 

I haven’t really done anything other than work that didn’t involve children in the past year, aside from an occasional run to a store or two all by myself. I’m okay with this. I don’t want to miss things. But maybe soon we could be ready for a date afternoon. I don’t know what we’d do and we’d probably still just talk about the kids most of the time.  

This has nothing to do with any of this.

I Saw You Last Night

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I saw you last night. You came to visit in a dream. I know that’s what it was, a visit. It didn’t feel like I dreamt of you. 

Maybe you came to visit because it was my birthday. 

I went to visit my mom, as I often do. You were there, on the couch, startling me when I came out of the kitchen. The couch wasn’t where it always has been though. It was where the chaise part had to be moved to make room for your hospital bed. You were sitting there, criss cross applesauce, as it’s called now, like you often were. 

I hugged you to be certain you weren’t the classic version of a ghost, that I would go through you. I didn’t. 

You told me you were making an occasional visit, which you always planned to do. I believe that you also told me that Ramona gets extra visits. Probably because she’s your gypsy queen. We talked and talked. I think you told me most about what it’s like once we die. I don’t remember. I’m probably not supposed to remember. You probably weren’t even supposed to tell me. 

I don’t remember saying good bye. Maybe we shouldn’t remember saying good bye. That’s the sad part of things and memories of those we love should be happy. 

I hope to see you again soon. 

Nine Months Old!

Ramona turned nine months old last week and I’m working on coming to grips with the fact that she will be one year old in just three months.

We fall more in love with her everyday and her personality is really starting to shine through. She’s very detail-oriented, more so than the average baby. She’s also a giggly, silly girl and we don’t have to work hard for smiles.

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I truly love this age. Every day is an adventure and every week there’s something new. She’s changing so fast and I’ve really been trying to just enjoy it all. I’ve been online a bit less. I’ve abandoned games a bit more. I’m still too involved with my phone but I see that and put it down more now. I just stop and soak in moments, even if she’s just sleeping in my arms.

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She still refuses to crawl with her belly up, though she does a great downward facing dog pretty regularly. It’s how she sits now.

The Co-Sleeping Controversy

Sleep tends to be a very controversial subject to bring up to new parents. There are many camps ranging from cry-it-out in their own room to they can sleep with me forever. I may break the Internet for publicly admitting this, but I tend to fall more towards the latter. Co-sleeping just makes sense to me and it always has. It has a variety of forms, ranging from baby in the bed to baby in their own bed across the room, but still in your room. It doesn’t necessarily mean bed-sharing, though it can and does for many families.

I bed-shared with Joey because it was just me. Since we did not having a nursing relationship, it wasn’t safe and I am publicly putting myself out there and advising against this. But there was less research and far fewer horrifying stories back then. We made it through and I always felt very aware of him and took every other precaution. I do not advocate for this.

John was not comfortable bed-sharing and our bed when Ramona came home was not ideal and I didn’t consider it. She was supposed to sleep in her bassinet, though that rarely happened and we took turns sleeping for a couple of weeks until the co-sleeper entered our home. We were all happy with this arrangement for months. But co-sleepers are only for little babies and Ramona keeps growing. We side-carred her crib a couple of months ago, and this is where it remains. But she’s often quick to roll into our bed, snuggle up to me, and grab a snack. We’ve also since bought a new bed and mattress that is safer. And I keep the blanket down low, which is fine since she and I both make lovely bed heaters and I don’t typically mess the extra warmth. And we sleep in snuggled baby bubble bliss each night. I’m happy to do this. It gives us an opportunity to wash away the day and make up for those hours at daycare. I feel at peace with her by my side. I miss her when she’s in the crib, inches away from me. I leave her be when she successfully sleeps in there because John needs my time too and I love tummy sleeping so much. I know she will be back, usually before I even fall asleep.

But this is what works for us. It may not work for you. Sharing a bed has its risks, but leaving a baby in a crib, all alone in a room, has its own risks that are reduced by the mother’s side. I also don’t believe I would share a bed with a brand new baby again and feel safest with them immediately by my bedside in their own bed. Just remember, a sleep-deprived mother is also not in an ideal place. I do not advocate for switching to bed-sharing after weeks of no sleep. You will sleep far too deeply.

If you make the decision to bring your baby into bed, do your research and take every precaution. Dr. Sears has some guidelines to keep it safe.

Beyond Babies

Of course, I love my children to pieces, but there’s one thing that truly holds this family together and allows it to exist. My relationship with my husband. Our marriage is equal and to keep life moving, it has to be. John is also a home base and a sounding board and the man who listens to his wife talk endlessly about babywearing.

Having a baby is wonderful and exhausting. And in those early weeks, you are entirely consumed by this tiny person that you made together and you’re alright with that and there are plenty of marriage activities that you don’t even want to consider ever again because stitches. But eventually you want to talk occasionally about something other than how amazing it is that her eyes close just so perfectly and oh my gosh her hands are in a fist right now. But you fall asleep before that happens for awhile because you are new parents. Time moves on and you still fall asleep really early and you accept this as your fate forever because it is. Unless you are up and running around the house trying to clean all the things and deal with everything that those once-tiny, perfect babies forgot to tell you were due tomorrow for school. And in that space, I believe, is where you determine what happens within your marriage. Not to say that you can’t change, but it’s a pretty formative point. We are at that point right now. I feel as though I am re-learning how to talk to my husband about something other than how much I love the baby. We naturally go to that point as we lie in bed at night.

I’m not exactly positive how to move our conversations away from the kids or what an appropriate amount of non-parenting topics is per day/week/whatever. But I’m aware now, which is the first step in strengthening us. Ramona needs me less during the day in the desperate way that newborns do, meaning I am better able to share in the duties, though I cannot recommend babywearing enough for earlier and later. It has saved our sanity so much and allowed us to mostly keep up with the house. But John can take her or she can play on the floor while I dust (An old home (nearly 100 years!) and too many darn animals make this a necessity to complete on the regular.). Before Ramona, we talked about so many things but my brain is still baby mush and heck if I could tell you what those things were about.

I know that we are long-overdue for a night out alone. It’s been quite some time since we’ve had one of those. I don’t know that it’ll happen any time soon. I don’t feel ready to be away from Ramona, especially at bedtime. I’m trying to think of alternatives where we can go off, without children, and be just a couple for a little while. Reconnecting is important and at least one of us is always in “parent mode” while not at work. Maybe one of these weekends in the future, we can drop the kids off with my mom and do a lunchtime date. Or maybe we can take a long lunch or afternoon off from work and leave them at their childcare locations while we grab lunch and maybe watch a movie that isn’t animated and in a theater and not on Netflix.

Oh, and for those other fun parts of relationships, all I can say is invest in some quality lube, especially if you are breastfeeding or had any stitches, particularly at weird, sideways, impossible to heal rapidly angles. Just trust me on this one. And babies do eventually sleep.

 

See, we can’t even take a picture alone. (Or seriously, for that matter. John does not look like Anubis.)

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An Unsurprising Blog Direction

I’ve never been one to read parenting books, though I did read a week-by-week baby book while pregnant with Joey because heck if I knew what to expect and was terrified. I gave that book to John to read for the same reason. I’ve found that following my instincts, my gut, my heart, works best. There’s probably a reason why they exist. With Joey, and again with Ramona, I’ve found that babies find my inner hippie and bring her to the surface. Babies bring me back to the Earth, grounding me.

So it’s probably no surprise if you’ve ever spent ten minutes in a parenting forum (you poor thing, you) that this probably makes me closest to following the attachment parenting theory. We do vaccinate. I do believe in science. But I cloth diaper, co-sleep, babywear, breastfeed, and snuggle and hold my babies like crazy.

I’m going to begin working on steering this blog to focus on this experience more. (Or just updating in general.) My experience is a bit outside of the norm for a mother who does attachment parent, as I am building my career out of the home and am parenting a baby and another who is nearly-nine years old.

There will be some real posts very soon. Right now the Internet is about the only way that I can talk thanks to this cold which has left me with a wonderful case of laryngitis.

Breastfeeding and Working: Do You Feel Supported?

IMG_2455.JPGWhen I first came back to work, trusty Medela Symphony in hand, I felt ready to take on the world. I was ready. I was grateful to be able to find a way to balance work and breastfeeding because they were, and still are, both high priorities in my life. I was told that I signed out a key to the rooms at the security desk. They have little arm chairs with a side table attached. There is a sink and refrigerator. There’s nothing special about the rooms but they work. I was excited to begin this next phase of my journey (But not, necessarily to pump. Let’s be realistic, most of us are not excited to pump.).

Four and a half months back to work and I’ve spent hours in these chairs, scrolling through social media, sewing, reading, breathing deeply, making phone calls, and joining conference calls and hoping no one noticed the chugging of my pump. I’ve also moved my desk location, incredibly far away from that security desk. I now spend at least twenty minutes per day walking to and from the desk and the rooms. Twenty minutes that could be spent working. Twenty minutes of walking that haven’t helped me lose an ounce, either, for that matter.

And now, it seems, that the number of women pumping is growing, which is absolutely wonderful. But repeatedly, I’ve gone to get the key and both are signed out. So now I have to waste more time. And be uncomfortable. And leak through everything on more than one occasion (Thank goodness for scarves and blazers!). And one time I ended up with a clogged duct that I fortunately was able to deal with on my own. I also get less milk when this happens.
I made numerous suggestions to a committee and never heard back. I made these same suggestions to the guy in charge to building stuff and his reply was to call security and ask about a key.

This doesn’t fix delays. This doesn’t stop leaking. This doesn’t stop clogged ducts. This won’t prevent mastitis when I hurriedly pump because I had planned on going 45 minutes ago and now have a meeting in 15.

I plan on pumping for almost another year to be honest. (I can’t put it that way. Yikes.) My pumping goal is 18 months. My breastfeeding goal is self-weaning. I don’t just want this fixed for me. I want this fixed for future women. Women prone to mastitis. Women who stress continuously about their supply. Women who can barely squeeze this into their schedule to begin with.

Do you pump? Are you content with your company’s support? Is there more that could be done?

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