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Long time no see

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For some time now, every time I think about this lonely little blog I’m overcome with a sense of foreboding and anxiety. What was once a beautiful outlet for me to share my musings on motherhood and life has become one more item on my never ending to-do list.

This makes me so sad.

I’d like to say that with the new year, I’m vowing to visit this space more often, to let my creative expression flow more frequently, but if I’m honest with myself, I just don’t know how likely that is.

See, this crazy thing called life and all it encompasses – motherhood, family, career, community – seems to creep in and get in the way of any sense of solitude that once existed for me.

So, for now, we’ll have to settle with the occasional letter to my children (which are recognizably always months past due) and a promise that I haven’t abandoned this space altogether. Thank you to those who continue to check in – I appreciate the encouragement to keep up with my writing.

Soon, I assure you, soon. There will be time to think again.

Until then…with love,

N

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To you, Savs…on your 3rd birthday!

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Dear Savannah,

And just like that, you are three!

When I think back to the crazy day you were born I can’t believe it’s been three years already. I remember every detail of that day as if were yesterday – the clothes I wore to the hospital, the crucifix hanging above the door of the delivery room, the feel of your dad’s forehead against mine as I pushed you into the world, and the beeping of the fetal heart monitor. It was the scariest, most painful, and absolutely, completely wonderful day of my life. You made me a mommy!

The last six months have been the most eventful in your short life so far. First of all, your baby sister was born and you assumed the role of Big Sister without skipping a beat. You fell in love with her instantly and we never saw you regress or act out after we brought her home. There were a couple of weeks immediately following Scarlett’s birth where I felt a little rejected by you – let’s just say you were in a SERIOUS “daddy phase” – but we quickly adjusted to our new normal and got back on track which was a big relief for this hormonal mommy.

You have also perfected the art of potty training. You still wear a diaper to bed at night but you dropped the nap time diaper shortly after the new year and you’ve been pooping in the potty consistently since before the holidays. You like to go to the bathroom by yourself and have yet to have an accident in public (knock on wood!). Although the process began shortly after your second birthday, we took it slowly and potty training ended up being one of the easier milestones we’ve conquered together.

Sleep, on the other hand, was a bit of a nightmare. We knew we were in for a whole lot of trouble when we chose not to sleep train you early. You slept in our room up until you were almost two and a half so we had to expect the transition to your own room was going to be a doozy. And it was. We all suffered six very long weeks last summer trying to get you to sleep in your big girl bed in your big girl room and there were moments we were pretty sure you were going to conquer us in the battle of wills. Your daddy and I alternated nights sleeping on an air mattress next to your bed and eventually in the hall. If we had carpet you would’ve worn a path in the hall leading from your room to ours, that’s how many times you got up at night. And bedtime took about 3 hours on average. It was rough!

But now you love your bed and your room. We have an awesome bedtime routine which varies slightly depending on which one of us is putting you down. You and I have our special songs – A Bushel and a Peck by Doris Day and Downtown by Petula Clark. We watch the YouTube videos and sing along. Even though we’ve been doing this night after night for months now, I still get tears in my eyes every time we get to the chorus where Doris Day sings, “About you” and you wrap your little arms around my neck and say, “No, about YOU!” or when we throw our arms in the air and yell “Downtown” as loud as we can while giggling at the same time. Seriously Savs, those are the moments that made me want to be a mom. We also lay in the dark and talk about our days and you tell me about your friends, what you learned in school, lessons your teacher shared etc. You always make a point to ask me how my day was as well and correct me if I don’t give you enough details to satisfy your curiosity.

And while sleep is going well for the most part, you’ve developed sleep terrors and wake up at least once every night in a cold sweat. You are usually murmuring unintelligibly and whimpering. We manage to get you back to sleep within minutes but seeing you so scared and upset still kills me every time. You never remember what woke you up in the morning and we’re hoping this is just a phase that you’ll outgrow soon.

For being so little, your heart is bigger and more full of love than I ever could’ve imagined. Don’t get me wrong, you most certainly have your “threenager” moments but you are also the kindest, sweetest, most compassionate kid. I see it when I watch you interact with your classmates, or when you cry during movies because the “girl is sad.” I see it when you rush to Belly Baby’s side the minute she makes a peep or the way you greet your family when they walk in the door.

When you tell me that you no longer like one of your friends from school I almost laugh because before I even have a chance to provide a teachable moment you are correcting yourself and reminding me that it’s okay because you’ll like him again tomorrow. We’d like to take credit for your sweet disposition but we are far from perfect so all I can do is thank God yet again for blessing our family with such a magnificent little human. You remind us to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, to forgive, offer second chances and empathize with other people’s pain.

Savs, you are coming out of your shell and growing more experimental every day. It’s been exciting to see you express interest in activities that you previously shied away from – i.e. bounce houses, petting zoos, etc. We continue to follow your lead and try not to force you to do anything just because it’s supposed to be “fun” but we do encourage you to at least try things once before determining that you don’t like them and you’re usually pretty open to the idea.

You started preschool last fall and it’s been so fun watching you adjust to sharing a class with the “big kids.” At first, they intimidated you but as time went on you managed to find your place in the pecking order. You have your best friends and one of my favorite things to do is eavesdrop on your conversations with each other. You are both my baby and so grown up at the very same time. It makes me proud while simultaneously breaking my heart.

Speaking of being way too grown up, you’ve started calling me “Mom” sometimes which is just way too weird. You shout it from other rooms of the house and I stand there wondering when exactly Mama or Mommy gave way to MOM. I know it’s just my imagination but I swear your articulate little voice has the tone of an irritated teenager when you say it and I cringe at the thought of what’s ahead of us in the years to come.

Your imagination is running wild and every time I turn around you are playing pretend. You love to dress up and lately you’ve been assigning us roles in your adventures. We spend full afternoons as characters from Frozen – you and I alternate between Anna and Elsa depending on your mood but daddy is always Christophe, Belly Baby is Olaf and Lola is always Sven. You also love your stuffed animal friends and baby dolls and have perfected your nurturing skills – sometimes I think you’re a better, more attentive mommy than me!

Your appetite has been insatiable lately so I think you’re about to grow. You may be the only three year old who requests vegetables and you especially love broccoli, asparagus and green beans. You’re a goof ball and mealtimes fluctuate between being really fun for all of us and totally miserable when you’re indecisive nature takes hold.

Your memory astounds us and we’re always shocked when you recall events or conversations from months ago. Daddy already knows he doesn’t stand a chance with all girls in the house but if your memory is anything like mine, he’s really in trouble. You are still a gullible little bird though and seem content with our explanations for why the world operates the way it does. Your willingness to believe in magic makes our life with you even that much sweeter and we have a blast coming up with silly explanations for some of your more random questions.

That’s not to say that you don’t give us a run for our money sometimes. You are very quick to challenge our authority and sometimes I feel like I spend entire weekends counting to five and disciplining you. It can be exhausting. I caught you on the monitor one day after I sent you to your room telling your stuffed animals how much you don’t like your mommy anymore because she’s SO mean and I just had to laugh at your irrational justification for being mad at me. I know that pushing limits is normal at this stage but there are days where I think your daddy or I might just crack from the pressure of living with such a stubborn little miss.

Fortunately, the good times far outweigh the bad around here.

The other night I told you that the day you were born was the best day of my life. You responded by saying with your cute little stutter that comes out when you’re thinking really hard, “The day you were born, my heart was so happy, mommy.” I know that our relationship will have its peaks and valleys and that I won’t always be the most important person in your little world so for now, I hold onto moments like that one. I try to lock it away in my memory and hope that it’ll get us through the rough patches that are inevitably ahead of us.

3 At A Glance

Weight: 36.3 lbs – 90th percentile

Length: 38.5 inches – 75th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: You’re potty trained and you love to sleep in your own bed. Hallelujah! You’ve become an expert at pretend play and you know many of your books by heart. You can sit through an entire feature film.

Likes: You love to dance and sing, dress yourself and pick out your own clothes. The beach is still one of your most favorite places on Earth. You enjoy “activities,” playing with your baby sister and Lola and giving daddy check ups.

Dislikes: Waking up early and getting ready for school, getting help with anything, when we interfere with your agenda, having your hair brushed or washed.

Favorite Books: The Princess Stories, Off We Go to Mexico, We All Went on Safari, Hooper Humperdink, and pretty much every other book you can get your hands on.

Favorite Songs: Bushel and a Peck, Downtown, “The Star Song” (Sky Full of Stars), “Belly Baby’s Song (Home), and the “Wagon Wheel Song.”

Our Favorite Things About this Age: You are a funny, funny kid and whether you’re repeating things we said or coming up with your own one liners, you constantly have us in stitches. You are still a snuggle bug and love to curl up in my lap or sit with our arms around you. You adore your baby sister and burst at the chance to teach her something new or console her when she’s upset. My most favorite thing about this age has got to be our bedtime chats though. You are my little best friend and I spend all day looking forward to those 10 minutes we spend together in the dark every night.

Nicknames: Nana, Savs, Banana Face, Banana Bear, Poppy, Mama, Babycakers, Savi, Bugs, Savarina, Baby Girl, and Savi Bear.

My love for you, my darling, consumes me in a way I never thought possible and although I say it all the time, I really mean it: You and your sister represent everything good in the world. Thank you for your sense of humor, kindred spirit, tight little hugs and wet, peanut butter filled kisses.

I adore you.

Love,

Your mama (Mom)

Outtakes:

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Dear Scarlett, at 3 months

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Dear Scarlett,

You are our angel baby, made of pure sweetness and joy. Your smiles are fairly permanent nowadays and when you’re not smiling and sleeping you are cooing nonstop. In fact, you just might rival your sister for being the biggest chatterbox in our house.

You and I have had a glorious month together. Although my maternity leave began in November it didn’t feel like it really it kicked in until February. We just had so much going on between holidays, houseguests and flu season. But we’ve finally hit our stride and I’m sad to see it start to wind down. I return to work in just four short weeks and you start daycare in just three. I’m going to work hard to make sure we get as much snuggle time and quiet relaxation together before that day comes though, I promise.

You will be going to daycare with your sister. You are both so lucky to go to school at daddy’s work and it makes me feel especially confident knowing that he’s right upstairs should you need him. With Savannah, we were still living in LA and it was impossible for me to visit her during the day. Since I’m only 10 minutes up the road now, I’m going to do my best to sneak over at lunch to nurse you as often as possible. Otherwise, I just don’t know how I’m going to go a full 10 hours without seeing your sweet face!

You stayed with a babysitter for the first time this month while we went out to dinner for your auntie Kim’s birthday. Your sister was at nona and poppy’s house for the night and you did great by yourself. I realized that it was the first time in nearly three months that I was away from you for a significant period of time. I missed you terribly but I also have to admit that it was very nice to have some adult conversation- and adult beverages – for a few hours.

You are getting so big and strong. You hold your head up without any assistance and I don’t worry that you’ll fling yourself backward much anymore. Everyone who meets you comments on how alert you are because you love to make eye contact and explore your surroundings. Lately, you’ve been especially fascinated by your hands and I catch you staring cross-eyed at them for minutes at a time. You love swinging in both the swing and the egg and I can usually keep you content in one or the other long enough to squeeze in a workout and shower each day. You also enjoy sitting up, supported of course, in my lap and resting comfortably in the boppy. You’re still not a big fan of tummy time but it gets a little more bearable each month.

You have way less hair than your sis did at this age. You’ve got barely anything on top and the hair you had in the back is starting to fall out as well. You have the bald stripe around the back of your head that all babies get and everyone’s starting to speculate whether you’ll end up a blonde or a brunette. We’ve decided that while you still look a ton like Savannah, you definitely have different eyes. They’re deeper set and a little closer together like your daddy’s. You are also longer and leaner with less rolls than she had at this age. You’ve started to puff out your lower lip when you get upset which is the most heartbreakingly adorable thing in the world. Savs did the same thing and I could never decide if I loved it or hated it.

You are totally enamored with your big sister. Anytime she’s close enough, you reach out and put your hand, foot or leg on top of her. Once in a while it annoys her but for the most part she’s very tolerant and actually loves being close to you too. One of her favorite things to do is to move her rocking chair next to your egg where she sits and reads you stories or shares her toys with you. She’s the first to jump when you cry and races us to put your pacifier in your mouth or yell to me that “belly baby needs to eat your boobies.” (according to her, every cry is a hungry cry).

I wonder sometimes what my life would’ve been like had I not chosen motherhood. You and your sister have given me such purpose and joy. I never imagined it was possible to live so selflessly and without resentment until you two came along. I’m taking these newborn days in much greater stride than I did with Savannah, accepting the interruptions, lack of sleep, and out of control moments with a sense of ease that I didn’t have before. I think I’m much more aware of how fleeting these moments are and since you will be the last little babycakes to grace our lives I’m committed to relishing every minute of every day – even the difficult ones.

Thank you for taking it easy on your mama so far and for making our time together so lovely. Auntie Kim summed it up perfectly when she called you a “sweet, sweet baby” because that’s exactly what you are. A total lover and something tells me you’re going to have a kindred spirit just like your big sis.

3 Months At A Glance

Weight: 12 lbs. 2 ozs. – 35th percentile

Length: 25 inches – 96th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: You love exploring your hands and pretty much anything we put in front of you. Sometimes I catch you zoning out to the tv and I think you can see pretty far distances by now. You are trying to pull yourself up to sitting and I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re early to roll over.

Likes: You love to suck and alternate between your hands, middle fingers, and your pacifier. You also enjoy being carried and prefer the baby bjorn or baby ktan to the ergo. You enjoy long car rides, stretching out after being swaddled all night, getting your diaper changed and of course, eating! You also prefer to be held upright either over our shoulders or facing out to see the world. You love sitting in my lap like a big girl and seeing your sister’s face makes you happier than anything. Except eating – clearly.

Dislikes: You really don’t enjoy those moments right after the bath when you’re laying naked on the changing table. You also get really upset when I interrupt a feeding to burp you or change positions. You’re starting to get a little irritated when we disappear out of your line of sight so I try to make sure you can see or hear us whenever we put you down for long periods of time.

Nicknames: Belly Baby, Letti, Letti Lou, Scarlett Johansson, Baby Girl

I love you up and down and inside out. You are everything good in the world and I thank God for your life every day.

Love,

Your mama

Outtakes:

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Dear Scarlett, at 2 months

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Dear sweet, baby girl:

There’s something so magical about you. The way you look at us, the smile that brightens your face when you hear our voices, the loving way you grip our fingers in your teeny tiny hands. You have the power to warm our hearts in a split second and like your sister, you’re a wonderful reminder that their is so much good in this world.

You and I have really gotten to know each other well this month. I can now differentiate your various cries although that’s not a huge accomplishment since you only have a few. I definitely think you know that I’m your mommy because you brighten like no other when I come into your line of sight (there really is no better way to feed my ego!). You fit perfectly in my arms and I’m beginning to learn your preferences – when you want to rock, get propped upright, take a ride in your swing, snuggle in the Baby Ktan, etc. We fit the way only a mother and child can and the only other time I’ve ever experienced this awesome feeling is when I was just getting to know your sister.

Unfortunately, our household has been fighting one illness after another this month. Savannah and I have shared a number of different colds between us and just when I thought you and daddy would escape you came down with RSV, bronchiolitis and a double ear infection. It’s been a rough week; one that landed us in the doctor’s office twice and urgent care once. At only two months old, you’re already on an antibiotic for your ears and we are now the proud owners of a nebulizer which is supposed to help clear your lungs so you can breathe better. You are on the mend and have managed to smile throughout all of this for which I am eternally grateful. Nursing you and your sister back to health has given me such perspective and made me realize how much we take for granted the overall health of our family.

The term “sunny disposition” perfectly describes you. There are very few things that rattle your cage and your daddy loves to say that “you’re cooler than the other side of the pillow.” Don’t get me wrong, you have some lungs on you and have no fear letting us know when you’re hungry or wet but for the most part, you tolerate a lot. Emotions run high in our household so it would probably be a very good thing to have our latest addition bring an even keel personality to the mix.

You’re still an excellent sleeper and the doctor said that if you were going to develop colic or reflux we’d probably see the signs by now. I keep praying we escape both because not having those extra stresses with Savs made our early months with her ever so sweet. You tend to make the sweetest noises in your sleep – like little coos – and sometimes they’re accompanied by the cutest smile too almost as if you’re dreaming of something lovely. You usually wake up to eat about once a night depending on what time your last feeding was. Some nights you go straight through until morning and it’s not uncommon for you to sleep up to seven hour stretches. This has been going on since six weeks.

No joke.

Unlike Savannah, I do not let you nurse all night long. You’ve been going to sleep awake and self-soothing by either sucking on your hands or a pacifier and when you fall asleep during your midnight session, you stop suckling. Your sister was a different story altogether. That child held onto my boob for dear life and I often joke that she never needed a pacifier because she had me! I’m not going to lie, this way is much better and we both get more restful sleep.

You also sleep for a long time in the mornings giving me a nice opportunity to workout, take care of some stuff around the house, check emails, etc. Maternity leave has been busier than I would’ve liked but I’m also enjoying every minute of it. It’s so nice to have the extra hours in the day to take care of our household responsibilities. When your daddy and I are both at work all week we’re forced to deal with our chores and errands on the weekends and evenings leaving very limited time for us to relax as a family.

It’ll be nice to return to work in March but I am going to miss this “found” time that I have right now. And of course, I’m going to miss being with you every minute of every day. You are my little buddy and I treasure our down time during the days when daddy is at work and your sissy is at school. We rock in the rocking chair, nap in the bed, take walks with Lola, hang out with nona, and snuggle, snuggle, snuggle as much as possible. I start to get anxious when I think of sending you off to daycare soon but then I remember I still have almost two whole months with you and I’m going to soak up every minute of it.

Your sissy still loves you more than anything. We did have one incident where we caught her playing “doctor” with you and giving you shots on the forehead with her plastic syringe. You let out a blood curdling scream which scared her almost as much as us. We had to explain that you’re too little to play such a big girl game. I’m pretty sure she only understood about 50% of our explanation but we’re working on it. We’ve also been talking to her a lot about how it’s possible to “love too much.” She really can’t help herself because she’s so overtaken with emotion when it comes to you but we catch her trying to hug you to death, lay on you to snuggle or grip your tiny hands and feet like she’s holding on for dear life. It’s a little intense but she’s slowly starting to understand that she needs to be gentle – our reminders help a lot. And I know she’s starting to get it because just this morning while I was changing your diaper she grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Gently mommy. Just like I taught you. Are you paying attention? Don’t make me tell you again, okay?” Yep, pretty much verbatim how I talk to her.

I’m pretty sure you will be called Belly Baby long after you have grown into a woman. Sorry about that, sweet girl. I hope you know it’s a term of endearment and a habit that we’re all having a hard time breaking. I have started calling you Scarlett Johansson pretty regularly as well which may actually be worse than Belly Baby. I’m not sure. So far, we’ve avoided anyone calling you Scar so that’s good.

We spend evenings rocking in the rocking chair reading bedtime stories to Savannah. It’s a tight fit for all three of us and Savs takes great pride in the fact that your legs have to rest on her lap. She gets really irritated if you start crying in the middle of her stories though and has been known to yell, “Stop crying, Belly Baby. Now!” I correct her immediately but I’m not going to lie, I do laugh on the inside. After all, it is her time of day that she’s sharing with you. How dare you cry and disrupt it!

You are a long baby with lean arms and legs. Your body type is different than Savannah’s – she had more rolls and you are lankier. We definitely make big, healthy babies though which I absolutely love! You hair is starting to fall out and you’re developing the best receding hairline in town. I can’t wait to see it’s color and texture once it all grows back but I’m also looking forward to your bald head. That was one of of Savannah’s cutest stages although it didn’t last all that long.

Everything checked out at your two month check up. You are right on track developmentally and the doctor is impressed with your good eating and sleeping habits. You got two shots which royally pissed you off but you bounced back pretty quickly. You didn’t have nearly as many of those tiny white dots on your nose that most newborns, including your sister, had. I used to love staring at her and memorizing every single one. I kind of missed that in you.

You’ve been wearing all of Savannah’s hand me downs and I can’t lie, one of the reasons I was hoping for another girl was for the chance to recycle some of my favorite outfits. It’s been so fun to bring out those itty bitty onesies and pajamas again and if you didn’t already look just like your big sister when she was a baby you are pretty much her twin when you’re wearing her clothes. Not to worry, you’ve gotten some new outfits of your own too and there are already a couple which I’ve deemed my favorites and will plan to save for you should you decide to have your own children some day.

2 Months At A Glance

Weight: 11 lbs. 9 ozs – 75th percentile

Length: 24 inches – 90th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: sleeping, holding your head high, swimming during tummy time, hanging out independently for long stretches of time, cooing, seeing further distances, recognizing faces

Likes: snuggling, sleeping, eating, hanging in the baby carrier, riding in the car, bath time, rocking, watching your sis

Dislikes: Poopy diapers, being hungry, cradle hold

Our Favorite Things About this Age: I’ve decided that with the exception of the constant spit up, I absolutely LOVE the newborn stage. Yes, I realize I’ve had two very easy babies and other mothers may disagree completely but it’s just so fun to watch you change everyday. You are also such a snuggly love bug and between all of the love showered upon me by you and your sis, I am a very full woman.

Nicknames: Scarlett Johansson, Scar Mar, Belly Baby

All in all, you’re pretty much perfect. At least in this mommy’s eyes. My love for you grows by the minute and I frequently tell your father that I’m obsessed with you. He likes to remind me that there was a time before you were born that I worried I wouldn’t love you as much as Savannah. Ha Ha – fat chance. You two girls are my entire life. You’re everything that’s right in the world and the best little reminders that I was put on this earth for a purpose. To be your mommy.

Loving you always, sweet pea.

Love,

Your mama

Outtakes:

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Scarlett’s Birth Story

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Scarlett Marie

November 23, 2014 – 12:19 pm – 9 pounds 10 ounces – 20 inches

Scarlett was born on November 23, 2014, exactly seven days after her due date. Those last couple of weeks of pregnancy were tough. Because I was so sure she would arrive early, I was especially anxious to meet our little bird. Throw in sciatica, pain in my pubic bone that you would not believe and night after night of horrible sleep and I was very ready to say goodbye to my pregnant days.

Because of all the nagging aches and pains, I originally had an induction scheduled for the day after my due date but cancelled it the week before. I was committed to induce labor as naturally as possible and so I spent those final weeks eating copious amounts of pineapple, curry and dates, practicing self-hypnosis, going to daily acupuncture sessions and walking my brains out. Despite all my efforts, five days after my due date, I learned that I was 4 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I’d made good progress but not enough to be noteworthy.

We were heading into Thanksgiving week and the only induction appointment I could get was on the Sunday before, my 41 week mark. I booked it reluctantly and spent those last couple of days willing labor to start. Every time I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I prayed that my water would break (because that’s how it happened with Savannah). I meditated and tried to convince the baby it was time to come out but by Saturday night I knew the induction was a reality.

I was emotional wreck – having a hard time accepting the “planned” part of my birth story and struggling at the thought of Savannah transitioning from a baby to a big sister. To distract ourselves, we took Savannah to see her first movie in a theater, kind of a last hurrah to our days as a threesome, and dropped her off at my parents’ for the night. Mike and I went to dinner where he gave me a much needed pep talk, reminding me that it’s not how our baby arrives but that she enter the world safely that matters.

After a very restless night’s sleep, we arrived at the hospital at 7:00 am. The doctor broke my water and started a very slow Pitocin drip at 10:15 am and Scarlett was born at 12:19 pm. It was a whirlwind of a morning and the exact opposite of my last labor. Savannah’s delivery felt like a battle zone. It was violent and gory and we were both exhausted and beat up by the time it ended.

Scarlett’s birth, on the other hand, was beautiful, peaceful and exactly what I’d dreamed birthing could be. First of all, the epidural worked and after living through the agony of natural childbirth the first time, I was relieved by the pain-free experience. Secondly, my nurse, Sue, and Dr. James were an incredible team. Totally in sync and reassuring. All morning, Sue kept promising that when the time came, I was going to “sneeze that baby out” and Dr. James predicted the delivery time down to a half hour.

I pushed for less than 10 minutes – I think it was three pushes in total. Nothing was hectic or rushed. In fact, between contractions, Dr. James was watching the football game on TV and cracking jokes. He had me laughing up until the minute he held the baby up in front of me and asked me to identify the gender. I was in such shock that she arrived so quickly that I couldn’t formulate the words to say, “It’s a girl!” and instead just stared at her in awe.

And just like that it was over. I was holding our new baby GIRL with one arm and Mike’s hand with the other. My mom was thanking James profusely while documenting every moment for us on film. We were crying and saying “I can’t believe it’s done” repeatedly. And we got to spend a full a half hour bonding before they even weighed her or cleaned her up.

It was beautiful.

Perfect.

And I’d do it all over again in a second.

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To you, Savannah…at 2 1/2!

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Savs,

You are two and a half years old. How is that actually possible, my sweet girl?

So much has happened in these past six months that I don’t know how I’m going to capture it all here. I’ll do my best but I may have to start writing these letters more frequently.

Let’s discuss your big milestones.

School – You endured a lot of transition these past couple of months. You moved into the Toddler 2 group only to be followed a few weeks later by a big jump to Preschool 1! You handled each transition with incredible ease (your adaptability still amazes us) and while you always miss your teachers and still have to sneak in to say good morning to Miss Denise each day, you’re loving your time in the “big kid” class. You have been with the majority of your peer group since you were all five months old so it’s been really fun to watch you grow together and I can’t wait to tell you stories someday about your first friends – Jacob of course, but also Miles, Shawn and Connor.

Potty Training – You, my dear, are pretty much potty trained. Sure, you still have accidents sometimes – mainly when we forget to remind you to take a break and go to the potty – and you still put up a fight about going poop on the potty at home but all in all you’re doing great. You hand delivered your cloth diapers to Belly Baby’s doorstep the other day and proudly announced that you were done with them. We’re thrilled at this breakthrough and even more pleased that it came without too much fuss or struggle on our part. You were just kind of ready and led us through the process. Hallelujah.

Sleep Training – Sleep, on the other hand, was a slightly different story. You fought us hard on this one and we had about six weeks of pure torture trying to get you out of our bed and into your own room. I could and should write an entire post about our sleep training journey but for now you’ll just have to trust me when I say, it was hell! But we’ve turned a corner and you are pretty much a sleep pro by now. Your bedtime routine is quick and enjoyable – we read three books, you tell us what you’re going to dream about and then you say your prayers, arrange your babies and blankets and we kiss good night. From there, you fidget a bit on your own and rearrange your babies 20 more times but eventually you put yourself right to sleep. If I do your bedtime routine then you always insist that daddy come up and give you the last kiss of the night – it’s pretty sweet. We have a deal that you can come into our room when the sun shines so shortly after 6 am, you come thumping down the hall to crawl in bed with us. Even though you usually wake me up, it’s actually the very best way to start the day.

Verbal Development – You are an articulate little bird and a chatty kathy. You have a huge vocabulary and put together full sentences with the greatest of ease. You still mispronounce words a lot and we never correct you because it’s the cutest thing we’ve ever seen. You are a parrot and pretty much repeat everything that is told to you or said around you (which means we all have to be more mindful of what we say!). Conversations with you crack us up especially when you tell us about your day. You share the funniest anecdotes and always end it with “And how was your day, mommy/daddy? Good?” You’re amazing!

Physical Development – I don’t think there’s anything you can’t do. You run, dance, climb, jump, kick, throw, etc. etc. You’re still a fairly cautious kid but you love challenging yourself and your independence shines through as you regularly announce, “My Do It!” You love to get in and out of your car seat on your own and would even climb in and out of the bathtub if we let you.

Emotional Development – You are growing up right before our eyes and while it makes us so proud, it breaks my heart a little too. I don’t know if you’re subconsciously preparing to be a big sister or if this is normal for your age but you are totally transitioning from a baby/toddler to a little girl. You are very mature when you want to be. You are capable of understanding consequences, sensing emotions, and practicing compassion. But you still like to be “snuggled” and revert to your younger clingier ways when you’re tired or crabby.

You are a stubborn little bird and lately mornings have become the thorn in our side. You do not like being rushed and getting ready for school upsets you every single day. You wake up fine but as soon as we say it’s time to shower or start getting dressed you fall apart on us and from there, each step of the way is a battle. We introduced “Savannah’s Wake Up Chart” complete with a variety of stickers last week and I think that may help us overcome this hurdle. Fingers crossed.

I fought it for as long as possible but we finally introduced TV and you are obsessed. The Frozen Frenzy has officially taken over our house and while I cringe every time you zone out in front of the boob toob, you daddy has reminded me that it makes you so incredibly happy. I’d put up more of a fight if you weren’t at school all day being stimulated in the most artistic and creative ways. I’m still guessing you watch less TV than most kids so for now, you’ve won this battle, Bug!

Your favorite thing to do is go to the beach and all week long you ask us if we can go “next weekend.” We try to make it there at least once a week and you are in absolute heaven the minute you see the ocean. You used to be pretty afraid of the water but you started venturing in with daddy and now you’re a pro. You love to splash and kick and find the waves crashing absolutely hilarious. The only thing about the beach that you don’t like are the birds – after all, you are your mother’s daughter!

You are still a very kind little girl and your sweet spirit almost always shines through when you interact with others. You have your moments and have definitely been scolded for hitting and pushing your friends (and even spitting – what is that about?) but for the most part you’re the first one to jump up and console one of the other kids when they get hurt or upset at school. You love to give hugs and remind everyone that “it’s going to be alright.”

For the most part, you practice that same compassion with Belly Baby. You kiss my belly every day and get real close and whisper secrets to the baby as well. You classmate’s mom brings her infant into the class regularly and she pointed out that you’re always asking to touch the baby and sharing that you have a belly baby coming too. She assured us that you are handling this pending transition way better than her daughter did so that’s a good sign. We’re not kidding ourselves and we know that those first months are going to be hard but I think you’re going to do just fine. In fact, I think you are going to make an incredible big sister!

You are everything good about the world. I say it every time I write a post but you have the most gentle and kind spirit. You know how to have fun, how to laugh hysterically, how to feel sad and mad and also how to empathize with other’s feelings. You are very smart and your memory is astounding. You’re overcoming your shyness and you’re slowly coming out of your shell and greeting strangers with a shy smile or meek “hello.” You are strong-willed, stubborn at times, and pretty independent for a two-year-old. You love your people (including your Lola) with all of your being and get very protective of us. You are a book-reading, puzzle-obsessed, imaginative kid who loves to play pretend.

2 1/2 At A Glance

Weight: 33.5 lbs – 90th percentile

Length: 37.5 inches – 90th percentile

Cool Things You’re Doing: Going potty on the big toilet, sleeping in your big girl bed in your own room every night – all night, putting yourself to sleep unassisted, singing, dancing, “reading” books independently, practicing your “activities,” practicing your compassion and adaptability, exercising your independence and very strong will.

Likes: You love the beach, arts and crafts, puzzles, all books including ours, saying your prayers, being a “clean baby,” FROZEN, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First, cuddling with and giving kisses to belly baby, your soft baby and soft blanket, burritos, ice cream, granola bars, cottage cheese, berries, and cream cheese (string cheese), dates with poppy, listening to your ocean sounds, the Star song (Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars”), watching the train at Nona and Poppy’s house, seeing your friends at school.

Dislikes: Waking up early and getting ready for school, getting help with anything, when we interfere with your agenda, having your hair brushed.

Favorite Books: The Girl Who Got Out of Bed (or, the “Out the Bed book” as you call it), Brown Bear Brown Bear (you’ve got this one memorized and refer to it as Brown Panda Bear), The Princess of the Potty, Polar Bear Polar Bear, Put Me in the Zoo, The Peace Book, Goodnight Moon, and Who is Jesus

Our Favorite Things About this Age: Pretty much everything that comes out of your mouth (when it isn’t a whine)! You are a funny, funny girl. We love watching you care for soft baby, read books to your stuffed animals, sing songs to yourself and problem solve. Watching you eat is still a favorite pastime. Hearing about and witnessing your incredible compassion for others keeps us in awe. And my all time favorite thing in the world, when you put my arm around you and ask for snuggles.

Nicknames: Nana, Savs, Banana Face, Banana Bear, Poppy, Mama, Babycakers, Savi, Bug, Buggy, Baby Girl, and Savi Bear.

You are my heart of heart and the love of my life. Thank you for teaching us new lessons everyday and for bringing a tremendous amount of joy to our household.

Loving you always,

Your mama

Outtakes:

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To you…at 29-31 weeks

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Dear Belly Baby,

I’m growing at an outrageous rate nowadays but to be honest, I’m having a really hard time keeping up with all of these belly shots. Plus it’s been hotter than hell around here lately so I haven’t felt all that photogenic. In fact, air conditioner or not, I just feel like a sweaty mess most of the time.

While I may be struggling to keep cool and stay comfortable, you are doing great!

On most days I feel like you are literally busting through the walls of my abdomen. You kick, punch, roll and hiccup – sometimes simultaneously so it’s pretty intense. I have no idea if this is a sign that you’re going to be a very active baby or if you’re just eager to see this crazy world but either way, you’re keeping me on my toes.

I’ve started having Braxton Hicks contractions which I don’t recall ever feeling with Savannah. It’s a strange feeling – my uterus suddenly tightens up on me but without any pain. You tend to fight back a little whenever it happens so I’m guessing that you don’t care much for the sensation. Everything I read says this is normal but for some reason I have it in my head that this is a sign you’re going to make an early appearance.

Speaking of, work is really intense right now. Good but really intense. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to my two weeks of maternity leave before my due date. The opportunity to just sit still for an extended period of time sounds really good right now and I’m looking forward to some mommy/daughter dates with your sis before your big debut. So, if you are going to come early can you please practice some restraint and make it as close to November 15 as possible?

Like I said last time I wrote, everyone I meet is so sure that you’re a boy that I’m beginning to believe it myself. Still, something inside of me is feeling like you’re a girl and always has. So who knows! I can promise you that we have absolutely no preference either way. Boy or girl, your existence will complete our family in the most perfect way. And to be honest, the mystery of your gender, while making others crazy for sure, has been really fun for me and your Daddy. We love imagining what you’ll look like, how you’ll interact with your sister, which ways you’ll be similar and all of the traits that will be so uniquely yours.

I feel like the countdown is officially on. Less than 9 weeks to go – I can’t hardly believe it!

Since we’re delivering at a new hospital with a new doctor, we’re encountering a lot of “firsts” again which is fun. We took the official “hospital tour” last week and got to see first hand where the magic will happen. We feel very comfortable with our choice in hospitals and the more I read about Saddleback the more I’m sure it’s going to be the perfect place for you and I to take this journey together.

I’ve started creating my Belly Baby To-Do List which really isn’t filled with anything too earth shattering but thinking about newborn cloth diapers and your very special “gift” for your big sis makes me realize how my due date really is around the corner. And names…we are still undecided but we have narrowed it down to two boys names and two girls names that we like. Assuming we don’t change our minds or throw another option into the mix, I think we’ll be making a game time decision when we see your cute face.

I hope you sense how much this mama loves her baby. I worry sometimes that my heart isn’t big enough for all the love I feel for you, your sister, your daddy and Lola. I seriously think when I meet you, my heart may swell so much it’ll burst right out of my body and that’ll be that. Other mommies keep assuring me that it all works out but I just can’t imagine how. The day your sister was born was hands down the most important day of my life and to know that we get to do it all over again with you is absolutely mind boggling to me. Creating the two of you, showering you with love, building you up, and giving you the foundation to live happy, productive lives will be my life’s work in a nutshell.

Thank you for giving me the chance to be your mommy. We are going to have quite the adventure together, baby cakes!

Loving you always,

Your mama

31 Weeks – Pregnancy #1

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