Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy First Birthday

Dear Jack,
How has it been a year since I first held you? 12 months since you first looked into my eyes. 365 days since I first breathed in your delicious and intoxicating scent. I remember your birth and the days leading up to it as if it were yesterday. I was anxious about your birth because I wanted to have you naturally but I had had a C-section for Mark. I was incredibly aware that I would have to fight for the  birth plan I wanted. You will learn this about me, I am a fighter. The weekend before you arrived I was just shy of 40 weeks pregnant and convinced I would carry you (like Mimi carried her children) past 41 weeks. But on Sunday, March 17, 2013, you let me know that you were thinking about making your arrival. I did not particularly enjoy the contractions but I was definitely excited to be experiencing them.

Well fast-forward 36 LONG hours, and I delivered you the way I always dreamed. I held you within seconds of being born and I did not have to let you go for some time. You were so stunningly beautiful and you looked into my eyes with those big, beautiful eyes of yours. I was on cloud 9 holding my perfect baby, after delivering you as I planned. Daddy had to spend some time with Mark who was at home so I got lots of cuddles and peaceful time to just stare at you.  I felt so good after my delivery that I wanted to go home the next day, but my doctor wanted us to stay for an extra night. We went home on March 21, 2013.  
Since you came into my life, you have made me a better mother. You have been my reminder that the small stuff really doesn't matter, and there is lots of small stuff. You are the happiest baby I have ever met. You have also been the easiest baby, always content to observe others around you. You were a champion nurser from the beginning and it is with a heavy heart that this chapter in our story is coming to a close. I fear that I will one day not remember what it was like to hold you in my arms and give you life. For you too look up at me and rub my cheek with those chubby fingers. Or when you smile and the milk spills over your cheeks. These memories are sacred for me and I nurse not only because it is best for you, but also for the gift it is to me. You will more than likely never understand this but I assure you, it is and always will be one of my fondest memories of raising my children. You certainly enjoy eating (unlike bubby), and eat a large variety of foods. Your personal favorites at the moment are apples/pear/kale, sweet potatoes, yogurt, and cauliflower/broccoli/parmesan cheese mash.
You are independent but very giving with hugs and snuggles. Thank you, mommy needs that. You
have incredible strength. Seriously, I have to tie my hair back because I think you could rip it from its roots. You get so excited when daddy gets home. You are enamored with your big brother and he makes you laugh regularly. You love music and have taken a particular interest in the drums. You love new people but are most comfortable in my arms. I know this is fleeting so I rarely turn down the opportunity. You are not walking yet but I know it will be soon. You are very curious, and can find unsafe objects where I did not know they existed. You love your big brother and he loves you. Though truth be told, he had a hard time adjusting when you first arrived. He was not thrilled to give up his only child status. However, now he is so concerned with your well-being and is not happy if you are sad. I am so happy that we are blessed to be able to give you to each other. I believe it is the best gift we will ever be able to give you.
Jack, when you first came into our lives on July 13, 2012, mommy was initially shocked. I did not think God would bless us with a baby so soon. But I can say without a doubt, you have been the best surprise of my life. You have brought more joy, peace and happiness to my heart than I thought possible. I love you from my head to my toes. Thank you for being such an amazing son and I look forward to watching you grow. Love always and forever, Mommy

Friday, November 8, 2013

My two sons

Mark and Jack,

My dear boys. Mark, you are 27 months old and Jack you are almost 8 months old. I often reflect on my life and what I imagined it would be. I can transport myself back in time to when I first met your dad and although I knew being a mom was the ultimate blessing and exactly what I wanted, I was not prepared for what was to come. I'm not even talking about the selflessness, the lack of sleep, the constant gogogo that comes with being a mom. I am talking about the fact that it feels like my heart is walking around outside of my body. The feeling that you two are so much a part of me, it is as if I am missing a limb when you are away from me. All of the stress, anxiety, and worry are worth it when I hear that belly laugh of yours Mark, or Jack, when you squeal and grip my face trying to plant a huge wet kiss on me (or bite me....but whatever, semantics). Or the times when Mark asks me to "hold me just a lil bit" before I tuck you into bed. It's so worth it when Jack is nursing and stares into my eyes and pats my chest. Being a mom is the hardest job I have ever had and I believe it is the hardest job that exists. Yes, I truly believe that. I also believe that it is worth it, ten fold, in the small moments that make your heart swell. As Mark is becoming older and his vocabulary expanding, he melts my heart constantly. I wanted to take a moment to record what you two have been up to lately...time flies and I don't want to forget this.

Mark, you, as always, are extremely independent. A boy after my own heart. You are also quite argumentative. Ahem. I'm not sure where you got that. This is a typical conversation: 
Mark: Mommy, what's that? :::points to picture of Ape in one of your favorite books "I love you Stinky Face"
Mommy: That's an Ape. :::reads "But Momma, But momma, What if I were a big, scary Ape, would you still love me then?:::
Mark: No, that's not an Ape, that's a monkey. 
Mommy: Ok Mark. :::reads "But momma, but momma, what if I were a big, scary, monkey, would you still love me then?::::
Mark: No, mommy, that's not a monkey, it's a big scary Ape. 

le sigh. Son, you inherited this trait from me. I hope we can harness this into a positive. I, for one, admire that you think for yourself and see a challenge at every corner but I can assure you, not everyone will feel this way. And no, this does not mean you should go to law school!

When we aren't debating, we are going for walks, playing with playdoh, singing songs and dancing. You love to play the drums and you are actually very good. If you are musically inclined, I am hoping for a more soft/soothing instrument...maybe piano?! You adore your puppies and like to rough house with them. Mickey Mouse is your favorite and I am so looking forward to introducing you to Mickey in a few weeks when we go visit Kaki and Papa. You love all your family and pray for them every night. You know how to melt mommy's heart by asking me to "hold me just a lil bit" when I am tucking you in at night. You often respond to me telling you how much I love you with an enthusiastic "Thaaaaanks Mommy". Your laugh is infectious and your smile can light up a room. You know which teams you support and are quick to follow up a "Geaux" with "TIGERS" and you can chant "who dat?!" with the best of them. You love to play with daddy but I still am the one who comforts you when you are sad or upset. You have no idea what that means to me. Although one day you won't run to me to hug you and kiss away your bobos, I hope you always know I am here for you and will try my hardest to make you feel better. I dread the day when I cannot take away your pain. I know it is imminent and I don't know how parents do it. You love your family and pray for them all every night. It warms my soul to hear you thank God for everyone who is near and dear to you. I love you my sweet, strong, smart Mark. 

Jack, my happy lovable boy. You are the happiest baby I have ever been around. You are a momma's boy and I LOVE that. You are my sweet baby and growing up entirely too fast. I relish the moments where you are enamored with me. You are an amazing sleeper and have been since 5 weeks old. Unlike your brother, you not only sleep well at night but you nap well also. You adore Mark. He makes you smile even when he cries. (he is not amused by this) You get so excited when you get your hands on me you want to bite me. We are working on that :). You are so strong, physically. Just don't start crawling or walking yet...momma's still getting used to life with 2 kiddos. You and your brother remind me so much of each other at times yet you are remarkably different as well. You love to eat! Thank goodness. You have the best belly laugh. You love to cuddle. You make sounds that sound like "dada" but I am holding out for "mama". You are so laid back and easy going. You were the best surprise of my life and my constant reminder to take a step back. I love you more than life itself and am so excited to watch  you grow.

I could write for hours about the memories of you two that I don't want to forget.But at the end of the day, I am just trying to enjoy those moments with the two of you. You both bring so much joy to my life. I am a bit sad about how fast it goes but mostly I am just enjoying it. Every age and stage is fun and I think that will hold true even when you are both grown. I love you both to the moon and back. Love always, Mommy. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happy 6 Months to my sweet Jack

I am starting to feel like a broken record. I cannot wrap my mind around how fast time flies. I thought I understood when I had your big brother Mark. I had no idea. These past 6 months have been the best of my life. Our family is (almost) complete. Six months ago I was probably nursing you to sleep and not wanting to put you down in your bassinet. I had you earlier in the afternoon and we had spent much of that time together. Mark came to meet you and was thoroughly confused. He went home with Grandma and Grandpa and it was just me, you and daddy in our cozy room. I was exhausted. I had been awake for 39 hours. I swear it must have been adrenaline (and pain) that kept me awake. By 9 pm, daddy and I could barely keep our eyes open. I had endured a difficult labor. But I would do it over a thousand times (well maybe not that many, but you get the idea), because your birth healed mommy. I had a goal and I did not lose sight of it, even when things got ugly. I never waivered in wanting a birth where I could walk over to your bassinet after you were born, and pick you up. Where I could be the one who changed your first diaper. Where I could remember those first hours when you looked at me like I was all that mattered. I will cherish those moments for the rest of my life, there is nothing like looking into your child's eyes for the first time. I can still close my eyes and go back to that moment when I delivered you and they placed you on my chest. I sobbed and held you close. Before I had your brother, I never thought it possible to love so deeply and without conditions. I was again reminded on March 19, 2013.

Now, when you are older and reading this as I hope you will one day, you will not be surprised to know that you were our surprise baby. I sometimes refer to you as a miracle because God must have known how much we needed you in our lives that he gave you to me at this time. Even though you were not expected, remember this: I have always wanted YOU. Although the timing was not part of my plan, I have wanted and waited for you all my life. I have always loved you. and I always will.

My labor was no indication of how our time would be with you. You have been the happiest, easiest baby I have ever met. Your brother was a good baby as well, and we referred to him as the happiest baby because he was truly always smiling. You are both one in the same. Two different personalities yet the two best babies I have ever known. You started sleeping through the night at 5.5 weeks old!! You have no idea how amazing that is. You will, though, one day.

You were almost 9 pounds at birth and you were packing on the pounds by the minute. But just like your brother, you are becoming more lean with the most kissable cheeks and thighs! I haven't given you any solids yet but they are coming soon!

You absolutely adore your older brother. He loves to make you laugh. My favorite moments are when the two of you are staring at each other, laughing. The beginning of your relationship was a little rough, Mark had a hard time adjusting to no longer being an only child. But that only lasted a few weeks and now, he loves you so much. He has to kiss you goodbye when he goes to his class at school. He is very concerned when he hears you cry after waking from a nap. I so look forward to watching your relationship grow.

These past  6 months have been full of changes for us, but I am so unbelievably thankful that one of those changes was you. You have filled my heart. You remind me to slow down and appreciate these tender years. You snuggle on me right when I need it. Thank you for that. I love you more than words can say and I am so grateful that on July 13, 2012, I was "surprised."

Monday, August 12, 2013

How it all began

So I finally got around to converting our wedding slideshow from an antiquated power point version to a  legit slideshow. Doing this was like taking a step through time. Bear with me as I don't often write about my marriage, I tend to stick to my kids. Unfortunately, I think that is a pervasive theme applicable in more ways than blog posts.  But taking this step back was just what I needed. In the hustle and bustle of diaper changes, nursings, grilled cheese sandwiches, burp cloths, bill's easy to forget how we got here. But what all started this wonderful life was a remarkable relationship that I hope one day my children are lucky and blessed enough to share with another person. I knew from the beginning that I was going to marry George. As I look at these photographs of the beginning of our life together, I am overjoyed that I got to share this with another human being and continue to do so. Sure the butterflies fade and the excitement and newness wear thinner but at the end of the day, I have my best friend by my side every step of the way. That is a beautiful thing. I am also reminded how very blessed we both are to have such loving family and friends.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Second Birthday, Mark.

In pretty much every post about my babies, I remark about the speed at which times flies. Any parent is no stranger to this idea that time propels forward at a faster rate than it did pre-kiddos. Although I am aware in my head that time goes fast, I don't think my heart has quite grasped the concept. As I look back at where we were one year ago, I am stunned that so much has happened in those 365 days. I am speechless at what has transpired in two years. I can still remember exactly what we were doing the night before your birth. If I close my eyes, I can recall the overall sense of excitement mixed with a healthy dose of fear. When I hold Jack, I struggle to remember what it was like in those early months. As he has started cooing, I find it difficult to remember what your coos sounded like. I am so thankful for the pictures and videos we took. Now, what I do remember with exceptional clarity is that my entire world shifted. There was life before you and life after and the two are totally different. I prefer the latter. My life has been blessed beyond measure the moment I conceived you. When they placed you in my arms, I knew I would never be the same.

In that first year you changed so much in those short twelve months. The change since your first birthday has been possibly even more dramatic. This time one year ago we were in the Florida Keys...and you were hopefully asleep. I had just found out that I was pregnant with Jack. Which turned out to be the best surprise of my life. You and I both felt under the weather that trip but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I remember how much you loved the water, a love that holds true today. You were still nursing as well. It puts a lump in my throat to know that such a tender and beautiful relationship between us has ended. I'm not saying I would still nurse you today, in fact I cannot imagine it.  I know I am raising you to go out into the world and be your own person and these moments are but fleeting. But I will treasure that time all of my life. Those sweet times when you would put your hand on my chest, look into my eyes with those huge, beautiful brown eyes, and smile...and the milk would leak out. Or when I would wake you for your nighttime nursing and you wouldn't even open your eyes. You would just open wide, curl into me, and fill your tummy. Those are some of the most peaceful and fulfilling moments of my life. Those are the moments that take your breath away. I gave you life inside and outside of my body. I am very thankful I am sharing this with Jack. One day you will be embarrassed by this story but I hope that eventually you will appreciate it. When they place your child in your arms, probably not before then. But I am getting ahead of myself, you are only TWO!

This year has been a blast. You have grown from wobbling baby to full-speed ahead toddler (although if I can be honest, you are still my baby. Always will be.) You had a great birthday party where you were able to see how blessed you are with so many friends and family members who love you. You have mastered walking and you have running pretty much down pat. You are a pro at climbing, much to my chagrin. You love an audience and love to make people laugh. You are very independent and grow frustrated when you cannot do for yourself. Your vocabulary is vast. People always comment on how well you speak. I think this is the reason you don't throw many temper tantrums, you can express your wants/dislikes etc. to us with great ease. You love being outside. You LOVE the water and have no fear. Please have a little fear...for mommy. It makes me nervous about what the teenage years will be like. You have really warmed up to "baby Gack" (as you call him). I have spied you petting him when you think I am not looking and saying "it's ok baby". I know too that you like attention and you aren't a fan of the adorable Jack stealing any of it from you. You love taking a bath with your toys "kitty" and "bunny" (literal names for these toys). Your favorite characters are Mickey and Elmo and Barney occasionally. Your favorite movie for most of this year was the Lorax (formerly pronounced "Lolap"). You love to play with daddy but when you are hurt, it is mommy that comforts you. You have no idea what joy it brings me to comfort you and take the pain away, however slight. You have been in 3 schools this year. Just after your first birthday we switched you to Mt. Carmel's Cub Corner where you thrived and flourished. You were so excited to see Ms. Jan on MWF. You wouldn't even look back at me if she was in the play yard when I dropped you off. Now you are in a new school on the Northshore and although you give me quite the performance when I drop you off, I see on the webcams that you are having a blast. We moved into our first home this summer and you LOVE the backyard. I love that you will be able to ride your bike in the neighborhood and have an outdoor childhood (safely).

The biggest change came in March when you were 19 months old and baby Jack arrived. It took you a while to warm up. I know it was hard on you and it broke my heart to see you so distraught. But again, you bounced back with flying colors. I am always amazed at the resiliency of a child, specifically yours. I know you two will grow to be best buds. Sure you will fight, but there is no other love like that of a sibling and I feel so blessed to have given you both this gift. Treat each other well, family is forever.

I could go on and on about the changes we've experienced over the past year but the fact remains that you have changed my life and daddy's life for the better. I won't remember it all but I do have an overall sense of peace that I am savoring this time, enjoying the blessing that is you, and trying to live in the moment. I can only vaguely recall what life was like before you. And if sharing our life with you means less sleep and more worry, I will take it over and over again because the joy that you bring to it is immeasurable. We love you to the moon and back. Love always, Mommy and Daddy

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mark's Second Year in Pictures

Quite honestly, I have not posted because our lives have been hectic as of late. I will post soon on the recent goings on but for now, here is a link to Mark's Second Year slideshow. I told myself I would make these for my children every year and I believe I will because it is just so much fun to go back through the pictures and videos we took over the past year and reminisce. Enjoy.

Happy Second Birthday!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life with 2 far

So I now have two children. two kids. two of them. 2 babies. Maybe if I say it enough it will hit me. It is taking a while for that fact to sink in. At times I still feel like a junior in high school with butterflies clips in my way too short hair and pudgey face. More often, I feel like the 20 old me with butterflies in her stomach because George, my crush, actually wanted to date me. But although those are still a part of me that I will cherish always (well minus the horrible fashion and pudge), my life is better now. ten fold. incomparably so. See now I have this love in my heart that is of the type that makes you fall on your knees and thank God that he has bestowed this miraculous gift on you. That is how I felt in August of 2011 when they placed my wonderful first born son into my arms. My heart grew every day with love for him and continues to do so. A little over five weeks ago, my heart grew to proportions I did not think possible. My sweet Jack came to me via a delivery I dreamed of (well minus the shoulder dystocia) and he healed me. I see my body completely different now. I knew I could sustain life both in utero and afterwards through breastfeeding. And I gotta tell ya, that is powerful knowledge. To know that you provided life, well it takes my breath away. But the love....oh the love. That word seems so small to describe the feeling. And really and truly, it is indescribable. You cannot know it until you experience it. And let me assure you, it is so worth it and then some. It is the hardest thing you will ever do. But the rewards, and they occur on a daily basis, are sweeter than anything you could imagine. I was struck with that when I was holding my 5 week old today. I looked on his perfect face and was brought to tears because I could literally feel something physical, as though my heart were moving. The feeling is so powerful it takes my breath away. Now, before I come across all sunshine and roses, let me be clear that parenting is anything but. It is the hardest, most selfless thing I have ever done. And although there are times when I just want to put on my pj's and watch Teen Mom all day, that life is over for me. But I digress....

Life with two kids is pretty different in some ways and not so much so in others. First of all, the emotional rollercoaster I went on after Mark was born was non-existent for Jack. Specifically, I will admit that every day for 6 weeks after Mark's birth, I cried. Now at first the tears were sobs...even over a preview for the movie Dolphin Tale (yeah I still haven't figured that one out). They gradually lessened to the point where I would just look at my sweet Mark and be so overcome with love that I would get a knot in my throat and shed literally a few tears. But nonetheless, every day for 6 weeks post-partum, I shed tears. I do not think I suffered from true PPD, but rather baby blues. I am not sure if it was also due to my c-section which I was definitely depressed about. Regardless, it happened. I was apprehensive in the months leading up to having Jack because I didn't want to go on that emotional ride again. It was exhausting. and I know I scared my husband. I mean c'mon, who cries for a preview for a movie about a Dolphin getting a prosthetic tail?! (Again, I still can't figure that out). You can imagine my surprise when I am 5 weeks postpartum and have really cried twice and maybe gotten teary-eyed about 6 times. I definitely cried my eyes out as soon as they placed Jack on my chest after I delivered him. I sobbed. But they were unbelievably happy tears. My baby Jack healed me. I got teary-eyed mostly over Mark having a hard time adjusting to his new baby brother. It was upsetting to watch Mark so distraught. I don't know why there is the difference but I am relieved. I think a part of it is that it felt so overwhelming to become a parent for the first time. I literally did not feel like I was myself anymore. When I had Jack I had put the non-parent version of myself to bed when Mark arrived. I no longer partied or thought of myself first, rather my life was my husband and my children. Our family came first and that sense of self no longer overwhelmed me.

The main way that it is different is that you don't really get a break. We had Mark sleeping through the night by 11 weeks old. That meant that eventually, Mark went to bed at 7:30 and slept until 7:00 so we had plenty of time to relax in the evenings. It also meant that if one of us wanted to do something, handling one kid on your own was simple. Now, the same is definitely not true. Mark is only 20 months old, still a baby (atleast to me he is). So leaving one of us alone with both is not to be desired. Now I have juggled both because of the nature of George's job but it is difficult and not ideal. So that is the major change. But overall, I was expecting the same reaction after bringing Jack home and it has not even been close. Maybe that is because I had such a rough time after my first. I know part of it is that God has blessed us with an angel. Seriously. The first night in the hospital, I had to wake Jack to nurse. I should have known then he was good. The week my mom spent helping us, she never heard Jack cry. Now, he does cry I assure you but he didn't really in the first couple weeks. He nursed and he slept. And that was pretty much it. I got a 5 hour stretch of sleep my first night home. Seriously?! Mark did not sleep his first night home. The only reason I got any rest is because of my amazing mother-in-law. Now, we have had a couple of rough nights. One bad day when he was 3 weeks old led me to diagnose him with colic (silly me). And in the evenings, we have to rely on the swing. But even though he is fussy, we know what works and use it immediately (swaddle and swing) But for the past 2 weeks (mind you, he is only 5w, 2d), he nurses every 3 hours. He nurses around 9:30-10pm and not again until 4am and then again at 7:30am. I usually wake him at 4 am because I am scared of him sleeping through the night and it affecting my supply. It is unbelievable to me. Now I have been working really hard as I did with Mark. This doesn't just happen with my kids. You can ask my husband. I keep Babywise within arms reach always. And although I do not apply it rigorously, I do use some key principles that take a lot of work implementing. The result has been 2 kids with incredible sleep patterns. Regardless, my hard work is paying off. I always said I wouldn't hold any stock in the method until I put the principles to work with #2. Well I have and now I am a believer that it works. Jack is such a different baby from Mark in every way. Yet it works. The only way they are similar is their hatred for rubber nipples; i.e., pacifiers and bottles. Mark took a pacifier for a few months but Jack wants nothing to do with it. We are working on the bottle because, for my sanity, I need to know I can leave him in the care of someone else and he will drink.

So although I do not think life has changed that drastically with 2, I know part of that is that I have this unbelievably good baby boy. He is an angel. He has already started smirking at me. I can't wait to watch this precious baby boy grow. It has really been the best part of my life to watch Mark grow and I know the same is true for Jack. Well I could go on and on but I need to nurse Jack and get to bed. Oh, because sleep is more precious with #2 because another way things have changed, I am more drained at the end of the day. See, I can't nap when Mark naps anymore because they are not on the same nap schedule!