Wednesday, November 4, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Chicken Little

All dressed up and ready to go



Mom, do I really have to wear this?



Where's Nate's belly? There it is!



Me. Want. Candy.



Chicken Little flew the coop...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big News: Better Late Than Never

I know from the title and my two-and-a-half-week absence you're expecting to see a picture of a pee stick with two brazen lines but you're about to feel cheated. I'm sorry to disappoint but I do have other exciting news to share.

DH and I are BUYING OUR FIRST HOUSE!

I know, I know, we just moved to this house back in February. Our lease isn't even up for another year. WTF are we thinking, moving again so soon?! But this just sorta landed in our lap and it was too good a deal to pass up. It's a brand spankin' new home. Energy efficient. Good neighborhood. Room to grow. Did I mention it is brand new? After weighing the risks vs. the benefits, we decided to jump on it. The $8k government tax credit certainly won't hurt. And we're confident our current residence will rent quickly. We've only had it posted for four days and we already have two showings scheduled. Hopefully, we won't end up having two payments. Cross your fingers.

We've ordered the appliances (all stainless), cabinets, countertops and the flooring. We're pretty much ready to settle right before Thanksgiving. It will be hectic but we'll be able to relax in our new home just in time for Christmas. Yippee!

Owning a home has been a dream of ours for what seems like eons. We are finally bringing that dream to life. Our hard work and our sacrifices are paying off. We couldn't be happier.
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It's cycle day... oh, I don't know. I've lost count. But I believe it's in the early fifties. I spotted for two days and then nada. I'm so over it. I have enough to occupy my time at the moment so it's not driving me too insane. Yet. I'm sure as the holidays approach, the baby fever will burn bright. But I digress.

Nate is doing great, although he did manage to get his first fat lip last week. DH was playing with him on the bed when he flipped off and either hit or bit through his lip. There were copious amounts of blood and I freaked out. I believe screaming was involved, actually. We rushed him to the hospital but thankfully, he didn't need stitches. At first, I felt like the world's worst mother but after much consolation from friends and family, I feel less inadequate. The wound has pretty much closed up now and you can hardly tell there was ever an incident. Needless to say, Nate is no longer allowed on our bed. I'd rather be a party pooper than see my baby with stitches in his face. I did manage to take a picture to document this unfortunate "first".



Oh, and did I mention my little man now sleeps through the night? Seriously. It's been a solid week of sleeping straight through from 8pm to 7am. After several teasers, I thought this would never happen. It only took 14.5 months. Better late than never!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pity Party of One

CD 33. I tested with a cheapie Aimstick. Got the most beautiful evap you've ever laid eyes on. Confirmed when Answer test came revealed a singular pink line. Enter string symphony.

I have no right to be upset. I have a beautiful boy playing at my feet to ease the pain. For that I am eternally grateful. But I feel stupid. Stupid. Stoopid.

After more than two years of this very same disappointment, I should have known better. Did I really think that giving birth would somehow hit the reset button on my reproductive system? Was I so naive to believe that a couple of pregnancy dreams would really set the stage for reality? And most importantly, did I honestly think that we'd be so lucky as to conceive on the first month of trying? Sure, it could happen and does happen to some. But I am not some. I am undeniably different. And odds are, I will never be the urban legend.

My cycles have always been irregular and will inevitably remain so. By not temping this month, I'm in complete disarray - not knowing if I've ovulated at all. I'm just waiting, perplexed. I hate lacking knowledge. Lacking control. I feel helpess. There's nothing I can do. I'm in limbo until my dear aunt decides to appease me.

I have to face facts and stop allowing hope to upstage reason. I've been here before. But how quickly we forget.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Blogoversary to Me

I've been blogging for almost 3 years but today marks 1 year since I made the transition from IF blogger to mommy blogger. In some ways, it feels like it's been forever. But yet it also feels as if it just kinda snuck up on me.

Have I really been a mom for 13+ months? Somebody pinch me.

Let's see...what have we been up to? Well, we took a much needed vacation to Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA. It was Nate's first time at the beach and he celebrated by double-fisting sand by the bucketfuls. Not sure what food group that would count toward. Protein?

I'm amazed by how he develops each day. He can play pattycake, high/low five, dance, do "so big" and wave on command now and makes sure to perform his circus tricks anytime we're in public. He can even play ball, picking up a ball and throwing it to me. He hasn't quite gotten the hang of catching the ball but he will fetch it. LOL He's become a complete ham and makes everyone around him smile whether we're at the grocery store or grabbing a bite to eat. I just grin with pride as they comment how adorable he is. If they only knew how he acts at home, they might not think he's that cute *wink wink*

He's also growing more vocal everyday. But he's not really consistent. He's said "stinky", "sock", "block" and "bird" just in the last week. But after he says it once or twice or even three times, he stops and moves onto the next thing. It makes me second guess myself whether or not he actually said what he said. Apparently, he's inherited his daddy's ADD. That or I'm schizophrenic and my voices are playing tricks on me.

Sleeping through the night is back on track now that the bottom molars are through. Whew, that was rough. I'm not relaxing yet though because I know the top ones will be next. But I am enjoying the uninterrupted sleep in the meantime.

Weaning is at a standstill. We're still at 3-4 times a day, although while we were on vacation there were a few times we dropped down to two. We're doing what works for us and that's all that matters. I've ceased having expectations in this department or caring about what anyone else has to say about it, including some stupid doctor. As long as Nate and I are both happy, I will continue offering the breast. Who knows how long it will last but until he is ready to give up more feedings, I will continue on the current path. He will take just about any sippy cup these days so we are making progress there. He prefers water and milk to juice, which I am thrilled about. I'd like to avoid as much sugar in his diet as I can so he doesn't grow up to be a sugar junkie like his mama.

As for TTC #2, I never quite gathered the courage to pull out the thermometer. So, no charting this month for me. My first PPAF was super light but lasted 9 days. Very strange. We haven't been timing BD. We're just being very casual. Who knows when my fertile window is. Right now, I'm not too concerned. I just want to play the part of the naive chick for once. The one who does things spontaneously and not because its a certain day. The one who wouldn't know all the acronyms.

The one who doesn't know the pain that we know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Wel-come Ba-ack

No, you haven't flashed back 30 years. But I found the theme song appropriate in this case.

After 22 months, PPAF has finally made her appearance.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's been nice being able to avoid the tampon aisle for as long as I have. I knew, logically, she had to come back sometime. And with Nate sleeping better at night, I knew it was imminent. But it still surprised me to look down today and see the evidence. It does reinforce that the weaning process is indeed working.

Tonight, I'll be pulling out the BBT that has been tucked away in my bedside table drawer for almost two years. We're not preventing. We're just seeing what happens.

I'm not sure if I'm ready for all this again. The charting. The timing. The waiting. The inevitable disappointment.

But when I look at Nate's sweet smile, I get a sense of hope. That, like the first go round, it will all be worth it in the end.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Molars and Monkey Wrenches

I don't know what's wrong with me lately but I'm having some serious writer's block. Nothing stupendous has happened since the big birthday bash so I'm struggling to find something interesting enough in our daily routine to share. I know if I look deep enough, I have so much to say yet the words escape me. I can't write a marginally entertaining post to save my life. But I will at least try to give an update on the minor happenings here so the cricket symphony will fade.

We've been taking advantage of the remaining summer days by swimming and playing. I think Nate has gills hidden somewhere on his body. He's such a little fish. He adores the pool, splashing in the water and kicking his feet like a frog. If we're not at the pool, we're out in the backyard playing in the water table or his new toddler playhouse we scored for $30 from a neighbor. At least for as long as the heat is tolerable. Just keeping busy so I don't get stir crazy indoors all day.

Weaning is going slowly but surely. Today, I was actually able to get Nate to drink 8 oz. of water out of his sippy. That is a small miracle since I could only get him to take several sips for the past month. We've fully eliminated night feedings and are down to 4 nursing sessions a day. Some days, we have even gotten down to 3. It's sad but liberating at the same time. I've happily been a 24-7 buffet for over a year but it does feel strangely good to get a glimpse of what it's like to have my body all back to myself. As conflicted as I am about starting this process, for once, it is starting to feel like the right decision. I'm sure I'll be more devastated as we get closer to the ultimate end. But for now, I'm okay with it.

It seems teeth #9 and #10 will be making their apperance anyday now. I can see the white tips emerging from the gum and they are thisclose to breaking through. These first-year molars are much more of a beast than the previous eight. Nate cut those like a champ. You would hardly notice he was teething at all. In comparison, these suckers are huge and judging from the size of the lumps on his gums, quite painful. He's been drooling and crying and clinging to me much more than usual, begging for me to relieve him of the agony. We've been alternating the Hyland's and Motrin daily and that has helped us to keep the ratio of smiles to tears out of the red.

As a result of the emerging teeth, his already meager diet has dwindled down even more. Today, his diet consisted of a fistful of Cheerios, a handful of Cheez-its, a single green bean, and 4 oz. of banana berry puree. It's so frustrating when I go through the trouble of making meals, including every color of the rainbow, for him to toss it aside without even taking a bite. He'll clench his lips and turn his head so I can't even spoon feed him. I try to be patient but there are days - like today - where it takes its toll on me. The world of toddler nutrition (if such a thing exists) is not so welcoming.

Mealtime has obviously been a hassle but one thing is going smoothly is sleep. Nate has been sleeping 6-8 hour stretches just about every night. Once, there was a 9-hour stretch. And boy oh boy, it feels good! It makes you realize how sleep deprived you really were. There have been a few minor setbacks with the teething but I still have to give credit where credit is due. I *might* even venture to say he is officially "sleeping through the night" these days. And it only took a year! My little guy, the late-blooming insomniac.

And if I can politely shift the focus over to moi, I'm sad to report that I've gained 5 lbs. over the past month. Yes, I'm wearing my pouty face as the scale mocks me. I'm sure it has something to do with all the leftovers from the party as well as the weaning. I've never really had to watch what I ate before but I guess my metabolism had to slow down eventually. No more late night rendezvous with Chips Ahoy or Ben & Jerry. Bummer.

Nate and I can agree on one thing. Getting older is rough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can We Do It? Yes, We Can!

Thank you all for your supportive comments on my last post. Even though I've been at this parenting thing for over a year now, there are times when you feel like an expert and others where you feel like a novice. After that appointment, I certainly fell into the latter category. But as you all suggested, I have been following my instincts and have been better off physically and mentally as a result.

After a spontaneous trip to VA to spend some quality time with my sister-in-law and the niece and nephews, I feel refreshed. We will get through this somehow, someway. Call me a linebacker 'cause I'm ready to tackle anything that lies ahead.

We're still introducing more table foods to Nate. He is a carb maniac so we struggle getting the proper amounts of fruits and veggies into his diet. Meats are hit or miss as well. I realize Atkins is so five years ago but can we have a resurgence, pretty please? I am continuing to offer him colorful meals to ensure a variety of vitamins, with the hopes that at least some of it will be ingested. We're still at 4 nursing sessions per day but for now, I am content with that. It's progress from the 5-6 sessions we had just a month ago. I'm gently phasing out the "baby food" although I still have some in reserve, just in case we have a particularly bad day. I can always count on my 'ole friend S.P. (Sweet Potato) to bail me out of a jam.

On the sippy front, DING DING DING! I *think* we may have found a winner. The Munchkin Mighty Grip cup has been working quite well the past few days. Perhaps it's because there are no handles or the spout is especially soft but Nate will voluntarily drink out of this one. He has some trouble tipping it but that is to be expected. It's a skill to be acquired in time.

And how could I forget...we've hit a MAJOR milestone this past week. For the past FOUR nights, Nate has slept through the night. Hear that?! It's the angels in heaven exclaiming Hallelujah! But its the truth. He's slept consistently from 9pm to 6am. If not more. Without waking. It started during our trip when he slept all night in his Pack 'n Play with nary a peep. Surely, this was a freak accident, I thought. The kids just wore him out since he's not used to that much rowdiness. The next night, the same thing. Again, I figured it was just sheer exhaustion. But it happened the next two nights at home sans kiddos. Please tell me its true. That there will be more divine sleep in my future. I had forgotten how good it feels to wake up somewhat energized. I am so proud of my little man. Despite all the changes we are implementing (i.e., torture we are performing on him), he is still sweet enough to give mama a much-needed break. ____________________________________________

I just remembered that I am long overdue on Nate's 12-month "can do" post. So without further ado, my not-so-little man can:

Run! Walking is old news. Of course, he has a Y chromosome. If you can go faster, why go slower?! We're having a bit of trouble transitioning to hard soled shoes, as they are much heavier, but after a bit more practice, I think he'll get the hang of it.

Walk down stairs assisted. It's the sweetest thing to hold one of his hands as he places his other hand on the wall and hesitantly steps down. He looks like such a big boy.

Imitate others' actions. If he sees me scoop a piece of food with a spoon, he will attempt to do the same. If he sees me bang a drum, he will bang on it too. And if I bounce a ball, he also tries to dribble it.

Throw a ball for a dog. Well, more like drop it. But he knows how to get my parents' dogs to play fetch. He'll also feed them from the table but that's another story.

Remember the steps to get things to operate. He knows to dunk his bath toy underwater and lift it up for the water to flow from the bottom. He knows to press his Elmo's tummy to get him to talk. And he knows just what buttons to press to turn on his radio. Ah, he's so smart.

Babble regularly. He is laughing and shrieking more and more each day. As a matter of fact, he's become quite the ham in front of the camera. I guess all those months of mamarazzi paid off.

Wave hi/goodbye much more consistently. He'll even do it without us prompting him now. That element of surprise makes it even more adorable.

Understands simple commands and tones of voice. All I have to give is a look or a grunt and he knows exactly what I'm saying. Not that he always obeys but he at least stops to take notice.

Be wary of strangers. I would call it "acquaintance anxiety". He draws into me and studies people that approach him intently. Sometimes, he plays bashful and buries his head in my neck. Sometimes, he smirks and flirts, playfully looking away. But if we spend enough time, he will eventually warm up to said person and interact more with them.

Climb and leap. He uses his ride-on toys as stepstools now and wants to jump or roll from them onto the floor. You can understand why my panic disorder is on overdrive right now. He also wants to climb onto the couch and leap off into my arms. That's my fearless daredevil. Not afraid of a thing.

Read books. He is now showing interest in his board books and will turn them page by page, examining the pictures and words. He turns them in different directions, analyzing the pages from all angles. Before confusing the corners as teething snacks. *sigh*

Give kisses. Not consistently but I do believe he knows what we are asking for when we prompt him. He's just a stinker and does it on his terms only. Typical macho man - not one for the PDA.

I could go on and on with the bragging rights but it's getting late so I'll put the brakes on tonight. Twelve months ago, his biggest skill was gripping my finger. I remember looking at him and wondering if I could ever love him more than that very moment. And to my surprise, yes. I could. And I do.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weaning Worries

I owe you all an apology for being so behind on my posting. Actually, my ISP should apologize since we've had some Internet connection issues but they appear to be resolved now. Back in business.

Nate had his 1-year appointment with his new pediatrician on Friday. He now weighs 21 lbs, 4 oz. and is 30.5 inches long. 25th and 75th percentiles respectively. Tall and thin. Male model-to-be, perhaps?

She examined him and issued him a clean bill of health. She asked about his verbal and physical capabilities and seemed satisfied with my answers. Everything was going perfectly.

Until I innocently inquired about weaning.

I explained to the doctor that Nate was still breastfeeding around 5x/day (every 2-3 hours) and I would like to begin the weaning process soon but I wasn't sure how to go about it. I described his picky choosy eating habits and illustrated my concern over eliminating this nourishment when it is currently filling the nutritional and caloric gaps. Also, since he hasn't fully adopted the sippy cup, how could I successfully replace breastmilk with whole milk? I explained that he is not consistently STTN and usually wakes to nurse once or twice a night – could this mean that he is not getting enough calories during the day? I wanted to nip all of these issues in the bud but didn't have a clue where to start. I was beyond overwhelmed.

Her advice: cut out breastfeeding entirely. Give him no other option and he'll have no choice but to eat solids and drink from a sippy. And whatever I do, don't give in. Children at this age have the “power to manipulate” and if I breastfeed him after a meal, he is just going to fight me at the next feed until he gets the breast. She told me I could start weaning as soon as I felt ready but the longer I waited, the harder it would be. Soon, breastmilk won't be enough nutritionally so she suggested I think about that when making my decision. Regarding night weaning, she said he is not STTN because I am instilling poor sleep habits. Not because he is not eating enough during the day. A 1-year old is fully capable of STTN for 10 hours or more without food. I should use the CIO method so that he learns to self-soothe and can put himself back to sleep when he wakes. I also shouldn't nurse and rock him to sleep initially or else I'll be doing it to a preschooler. I should put him down fully awake and let him cry if necessary.

I was aghast. Was she serious? I was hoping to wean gradually. Over time. Not change everything all at once without warning. That hardly seems like a healthy approach for Nate or for myself. More physically and emotionally traumatic than anything. Not to mention the backhanded irony of "do it when you're ready but it better be soon or else".

Does she think my son is a robot – a machine that should fall into place on the assembly line of social acceptability? It couldn't possibly be in his best interest to starve him until he succumbs to self-feeding. Okay, maybe he wouldn't starve per se, but it still seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to me. I wouldn't want to be treated in such a way. How could I do something like that to my own flesh and blood?

I nodded in disbelief as she made her way out the door. Nate shed pools of tears from his three vaccinations and I wanted to cry right alongside him. It seemed like I was doomed to fail before I even began. Why does everything have to be so black and white? Is there no gray area here? When it comes to breastfeeding, is it truly all or nothing?

I should have left the office thrilled to have a healthy toddler but instead, I left confused, angry and defeated. I felt strangely guilty – for what I'm not sure. For not starting to research this sooner? For not being more insistent with solid feeding? For allowing myself to become a human pacifier for my son when he needed comfort at night? I just felt ashamed, as if I was solely responsible for the sleep and feeding issues we are having.

Making the decision to wean is inevitable (either baby-led or mommy-led) but it is also an extremely emotional one. I was feeling guilty enough knowing that I would be the one to break the tie that has bonded us so tightly over this past year. I didn't need to be shot down with derision.

I never would have thought I'd say this a year ago but I see nothing wrong with extended breastfeeding. My plan was always to breastfeed for 6 months, possibly a year. But the best laid plans don't always come to fruition. Now that I have bonded with my son and we are in a routine, my plans have changed. My feelings have changed. I want to nurse Nate as long as it remains a positive experience for the both of us. I cherish that time together, especially at night before bed and first thing in the morning. When he looks up and smiles at me with milk running out of the sides of his teeny mouth. But I also want my body back. Is that too selfish? It's been over a year and I have yet to get PPAF. DH and I would like to begin TTC #2 later this year, but without AF, it will be unlikely. We have some time but I wanted to start now because, with Nate being so adverse to change, I know that it will probably take months for us to see progress.

I came home and put Nate down for his morning nap while I did some research online, looking for any tips I could find about weaning. Out of the roughly twenty sites I viewed, NOT ONE suggested a sudden, voluntary cold-turkey approach. Each site recommended a gradual, patient, gentle approach so as to avoid physical and emotional repercussions in the mother (such as plugged ducts, mastitis, depression from hormone fluctuations) as well as the obvious stress for the baby.

In all of my venting and my desperate search for solutions, a friend of mine referred me to a La Leche League coordinator. She lended me her supportive ears and shoulders and sent me some valuable links to help ease the transition. We came to the same conclusion.

This doctor is a QUACK with a capital Q. She certainly has never breastfed and has no business giving advice about such sensitive subject matter. I will possibly be choosing yet another pediatrician due to this experience. That, or I will request that I NEVER see that particular doctor again and will go out of my way to ensure Nate's well visits will be conducted by other pediatricians in the practice. The final verdict has yet to be made.

DH and I had a long talk about how we wanted to implement this change and came up with our own plan of action. We are working on eliminating night feeds as top priority. When Nate wakes during the night, DH is going in to comfort him. We will continue to Ferberize if need be, but so far (knock on wood) we haven't needed to go in more than twice in 20 minutes for him to soothe himself back to sleep. The past four nights, he has only been waking once during the night and goes back down fairly easily, sleeping in his crib until our usual wakeup time of 7am. That's 11-12 hours total. Not too shabby.

I am now offering 3-4 solid meals a day (plus snacks) and am offering a sippy with milk, juice or water with each meal. If he wants to nurse, I offer solids first. Sometimes he is satisfied with the solids and other times he wants to breastfeed afterward. Either way is okay with me. I am just letting him lead the way, as I encourage him to try different flavors and textures. I am confident that with consistency, he will eventually come around and accept these new noshes. I did hit up BRU and practically bought out their sippy cup department so hopefully, soon, we will find one that is up to Mr. Picky's standards.

As he becomes more accustomed to our new routine, I will attempt to remove midday nursing sessions. Last to go will be the first AM and last PM feeds. We'll take it a day at a time until we get there.

He has really surpassed my expectations these past several days. He is eating many more finger foods in addition to his purees. He still fights me sometimes - maybe I time it wrong and he's not really hungry or maybe he's just being obstinate - but as I offer more variety, I can see his interest is peaked. You should have seen his facial expression upon discovering kiwi for the first time. Whoa.

I think I'm still in a bit of denial that our breastfeeding relationship will soon come to an end. I can't imagine not sharing that with him anymore. The thought saddens me deeply. Being able to breastfeed for a year and counting is one of my biggest achievements to date. I am so proud to have been able to give my son this precious gift. But I know all good things must come to an end.

It's just too ironic that all of this happened just in time for World Breastfeeding Week, eh?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Party's Over

It's official. I'm now the mommy of a 1-year old. One year plus two days to be exact.

The party on Saturday can be summed up in two words: delightful chaos. While the details remain one big blur, I will attempt an account to share.

I spent most of Friday doing some last minute cleaning (windows, floors, etc.) and organizing for the party. DH got off work a little early and stopped by a local farm to pick up some hay bales as seating in the backyard. I baked Nate's smash cake, filled the favor bags and assembled the party hats and blowouts.

Saturday morning, we woke up early to pick up the guest cake at the bakery and prep the food. I set up the food table, hung the decorations and blew up balloons. I had just enough time to shower and take a deep breath before the doorbell rang at noon with the first group of arrivals.

Nate was in the middle of his morning nap at the start of the party so I was able to finish up some last minute prep and socialize while DH grilled. I received some phone calls and texts from friends and family who were stuck in traffic. Apparently, there was a 9-mile backup at the Bay Bridge and many of our guests were unable to avoid it. This meant that many of them arrived late and understandably disheveled. Our party seemed to occur in shifts. I apologized profusely out of guilt for the poor timing.

The weather was sunny. A little too sunny, in fact. The high was about 88 degrees and it was simply too hot for many guests to stay outside. So, everyone piled into our house, which dwarfed with 40 people inside. At one point, it was standing room only. I'm sure I wasn't the only one that felt like a sardine. But despite the close quarters, everyone maintained good spirits - even the youngsters.

Around 230pm, the majority of our guests had arrived and we decided to roll out the cake. Nate looked a bit nonplussed as everyone sang Happy Birthday. He wasn't sure what the big deal was. We put the cake in front of him and he picked at the fondant lettering daintily, suspicious of the contents. Being ever the evil mama, I took his hand and shoveled it into the cake. What can I say? I was desperate for a photo opp. I let him taste some of the buttercream icing off of my finger and he licked his fingers clean from the mess we made. But after that, he was through with the sweets and voiced his dissatisfaction being on display upon his throne. He would much rather play with the other kiddos that were grounded.

Once everyone had been served and indulged in their dessert, it was time to open gifts. Mommy and Daddy gave him a Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Home and Bounce and Spin Zebra. But our lucky little guy received so many other generous presents including a water table, trike, ride-on, puzzles, board books and clothes. His favorite had to be his Elmo Live from Grandma. His eyes just lit up the moment he spotted the furry red monster. The kids just about tackled each other to get closer. He was definitely the highlight of the party for the little ones.

After the last of the cards and gifts had been opened, many of our guests hit the road. Some family lingered for a while longer but by 5pm, it was back to just the three of us. Nate passed out early from sheer exhaustion. Before I retired to bed myself, I looked around the room at the clutter of empty food plates and loose wrapping paper. I never felt more blessed.
___________________________________________

On Sunday, we decided to spend the day celebrating as the unit we created one year ago. As a family of three.

We took Nate on his first trip to the Baltimore Zoo. He marveled at the animals and the sights. His favorite exhibit was the giraffe house. He couldn't take his eyes off of them. He was so enthralled with the long-necked creatures that we stopped by the gift shop on our way out and got him a little stuffed giraffe so he could take a piece of our safari adventure home with him. He smiled at and cuddled with it the entire way home. It was so incredibly adorable.

The amazing thing was that he was on his best behavior all day. It's as if he knew it was his special day. No temper tantrums, like he has perfected as of late. No obstinence. He was in an unusually good mood - laughing, smiling, shrieking. He didn't shed a tear at all, all day long. I'd never seen him so happy. And I don't think I could have been happier either.

I tucked him in that night and shed a few tears as I reminisced about the happenings of the last year. It's always a little sad to close a chapter. After all, we had so many good times and learned so much about each other in the past 12 months.

But like any good story, I anticipate what's to come next. It can only get better from here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On The Eve of Your Birthday

My son,

Your first birthday party has ended and as you sleep soundly in your crib, I am sitting here - surrounded by your countless gifts - with balloons, favors and trinkets strewn about. And I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to have you in my life. I truly believe you were handpicked from the heavens for Daddy and I. Just for us.

Tomorrow, you will be one year old. I'm in disbelief with a dash of denial. I can't imagine there was life before you. And yet, it seems like just yesterday I was giving birth to you and meeting you for the very first time. As a matter of fact, at this very moment one year ago, I was laboring at home, waiting for permission to make that fateful drive into the hospital.

There are days like today in which I soak in each minute, trying to freeze-frame it in my mind. There are things about you that will inevitably change as you grow older, but I never want to forget you right now, as is. So, in an attempt to capture these moments in time, I will document them here. These special little things I love.

You are strong. You were never a wobbly-headed newborn. You had control of your neck muscles from the get go and could lift your head well, even if you despised tummy time. You even wanted to stand holding onto our fingers at just a month old. Your legs are powerful and you love to exercise, particularly by bouncing. If you were permanently suspended by coils, you would be a happy camper.

You are the handsome, rugged type. You are adventurous. An explorer. If you can see it, you can reach it is your motto. You love to examine things, take them apart or put them together. I think you might be an engineer like your Daddy. It's in your blood.

But you are sensitive. You are in tune with the emotions of those around you. If your friend cries, you will often look sad or cry right along with them. You are empathetic.

You are a social creature. You love cuddle time with Mommy and Daddy and playdates with friends. Even though you play independently, you don't like to be left alone.

You are stubborn and resistant to change. Something you get from both Daddy and myself. It takes you a long time to warm up to new things. But once you do, you embrace it with open arms.

You are determined. You never want to settle for less. You are not afraid to speak your mind if you are unhappy about something.

You have the cutest crease that runs horizontally across your nose when your nurse. It makes me smile each time I see it.

I love when you wake up in the morning and flash me the cheesiest grin. It starts my day off right even if I'm more sleep-deprived than ever.

Your hair is as blonde as blonde can get. Almost white. It's getting a bit long in the back and it's almost starting to look like a rat tail. I love to twirl it around my fingers. And its the funniest thing when it fluffs up in the wind, making you look like Albert Einstein.

You're a thin baby but you have the sweetest fat folds in your thighs and knees. I want to kiss them and squeeze them all the time. You are ticklish in the upper part of your thighs and you let out the most insane giggle when I get you just in the right spot.

You have wide, fat feet. Like Barney Rubble. I could nibble your chunky toes.

You have hairy ears. It's light blonde hair so you can't really tell at a distance but when you nurse, I can see the fine hair on your lobes up close.

Your eyes are a beautiful, bright blue. You have Daddy's eyes and I find them striking.

You stand up in the bathtub to play at bathtime and your little white tush gleams from the water. It's such an adorable baby booty.

You smile and laugh on the boob sometimes. Some of my fondest memories of us involve you nursing, pulling off to smile while milk trickles down your lips and chin.

You can be shy around strangers and I love when you bury your head in my chest when others try to hold you.

In reviewing all of these things I love about you, I get a glimpse of the man you'll someday become. And I am so proud. But I must admit a part of me is sad to let go of my baby. You'll always and forever be "my baby" but with this milestone comes new terminology. You will henceforth be referred to as a toddler. At least for the next couple of years. And rightfully so. You have accomplished so much and deserve to don that title as you graduate to this next phase.

I am amazed at how far we've come in twelve months. And I can't wait to see what's in store for the next twelve months. And beyond.

Happy First Birthday (Eve), my Sunshine. I'll love you to the moon and back.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

T Minus 5

5 days until partytime. Actually closer to 4 at this hour. And mama is stressed to the max.

I've been absorbed in cleaning the entire house top to bottom. Deep cleaning. We're talking white glove test kind of clean. I want the house to be pretty much immaculate in time for the big day. I am naturally a slob but I will get my ass in gear when I have guests. I guess I don't want the viewing public to see the way I really live.

I've been panicking over everything from the weather to the food to the seating. The forecasters were calling for scattered thunderstorms but it now reads a clear and sunny 85 degrees. But what if it changes again? What if it rains? Will we have enough room in the house for everyone? Will we have enough food?

At 40+ people having RSVP'd - with 11 kids - I'm concerned about it becoming a circus. Will we have enough activities to keep everyone entertained? Will I be able to mingle with everyone so the newcomers won't feel out of place? It's a party and the bottom line is I want it to be fun. But it's exhausting for me to scheme the outcome for every possible scenario.

I'm confident it will be a success and I will look back on it with fond memories. But I'll be happy when it's all over.
__________________________________________

As I predicted, STTN did not last. We were fortunate enough to get two nights of uninterrupted, unadulterated sleep. But I haven't quite figured out the surefire recipe for the suspension of consciousness. I've tried putting him down at the same exact time, dressing him in the same footed sleeper, same room temperature. But alas, what produces eight hours gives us four the next.

Perhaps by the time he's two, he'll have this down pat. Let's hope.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Call For Support

Remember how I mentioned in this post that I had devastating news about a friend? I wanted to elaborate because it has been on my mind everyday since then and I can't seem to shake it.

One of my dear online friends, Shauna, has a son, Christian, who is just a week younger than Nate. Christian always stood out to me because as a newborn, he and Nate could have been twins. I remember finding their resemblence uncanny. As they've gotten older, it's not as apparent but I still remember him as Nate's look-a-like.

On July 8, 2009, tragedy struck. Christian suffered a near drowning incident at their home. After an hour with little to no oxygen, it was uncertain whether he would make it. But he defied the odds. He is alive - Praise God! - but it is very likely that he has sustained a brain injury from the accident.

Christian continues to baffle the doctors with his progress. He has come much further than they ever expected. He is a fighter. There are small miracles everyday and we celebrate. But he still has a long road ahead. A questionable one as they are still testing and waiting to see the extent of his injuries. So prayers, thoughts - whatever you can spare - are very much needed and appreciated.

Shauna has set up a blog to chronicle Christian's progress, so please pay a visit and leave her some love. She is understandably feeling tremendous guilt right now and I know she could use all the well wishes she can get.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Have A Winner

The winner of the Laugh & Learn DVD giveaway is: Kim!

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 16
Result: 2
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Congratulations! You will be receiving an email from me shortly and will have 48 hours to contact me or else I will have to choose another winner.

Thank you to all who entered and thank you to Alice and Tadessa at Laugh and Learn for the opportunity!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: And The Award Goes To...

Biggest Ham:



I have another video nomination for Most Theatrical but it appears to be corrupted. It will only play on my camera - not the computer. Hmph. If I can find a way to repair it, I will post it here later.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Local Celebrity

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending our esteemed infertility advocate, Mel's first book reading in D.C. at Politics and Prose. It had been well over a year since I'd met up with my girls of OOTPU fame and I couldn't think of a better reason to make my long-anticipated resurgence.

When I first stepped into the bookstore, I saw Mel's book front and center on display. I smiled smugly to myself. That's right. Infertility should not be hidden away in the depths of the Health or Self-Help aisles. It should be out in the open for all to see. After all, 1 out of every 6-8 patrons will likely have need for the material.

As I greeted Mel (and her hubby!) and waited for her to take the podium, I admit I got a little vaclempt. This little project, this dream that began way back in 2006 had now suddenly come to life. It was all coming full circle. Here she was. Our Mel. A local celebrity, shining light on the topic of which we've all become passionate. Albeit against our will. But the one good thing that has come of our inhabitance on the Land of IF is that we found each other. We built our community from the ground up. I was so proud. I had butterflies as Mel spoke of "peace of heart" and described scenarios that brought back so many memories of my journey.

After the reading and Q&A (which Mel has shared on her blog), I was able to converse with new and old faces. Some, like myself, had come a long way in a year - culminating with the pitter patter of little feet. Others were still waiting in limbo. But yet we all stood hand in virtual hand. It was empowering and in an ironic way, uplifting.

I even got an autograph from the author herself. So, years in the future when this book takes its rightful place on the throne shelf as the IF Bible, I can flaunt it and say I was there from its inception. I was an apostle.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just A Motivating Monday



My friend Amanda launched her brainchild today: Just a Motivating Monday. It's a sort of inspirational blog carnival, bringing people together to hold each other up on the roughest day of the week. We can share inspirational words or stories to motivate each other and get through the rest of the week.

This week, she queried about our purpose. What do you feel your purpose is in life? Why exactly are you living? It's a question I've asked myself many times in my life and I've always had different answers. My passions are always evolving - they are like living, breathing entities in themselves.

At this moment, I know:

I want to remain true to my wedding vows and deep down be the same woman my husband married three years ago.

I want to raise my son (and future children if I am so blessed) to be healthy, happy and independent. I want to instill solid values and morals in Nate so he is an upstanding young man.

I want to constantly seek ways to expand my mind and skill sets so that I can be a well-rounded individual. I want to create new boundaries for myself - never growing too comfortable in the present.

I want to tap more into my spirituality. I want to lead a more confident, Christian life.

As an IF survivor, I feel it is my duty to share my story. To educate but also inspire or support others in their journey toward parenthood.

I will conclude with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that is dear to my heart and helped me in my darker days:

"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope."

Jinx

Pssst...I have something to tell you.

Why am I whispering, you ask? Because if I utter the words aloud, I am afraid it will never happen again. You might want to sit for this one.

Nate slept through the night last night.

Yes, my son - the chronically sleep-impaired - stayed down in his crib from 930pm to just shy of 6am. That would be 8+ hours of sleep, my friends. It only took 11.5 months to witness this phenomenon but it was indeed miraculous. When I awoke to see the time on the alarm clock, I about fainted. I had forgotten what it feels like to rest uninterrupted and wake up somewhat refreshed. For the first time in nearly a year, I didn't have to fight an inherent need for caffeine.

I'm not a very superstitious person by nature but in this case, I'm sure that by sharing this information, I just jinxed myself.

I don't have my hopes up that this is the start of a new trend. Don't get me wrong - that would be sweet. But if history has taught me anything, it's that we'll be back to wake-ups every 2 to 3 hours tonight. I'd rather find comfort in the fact that, contrary to popular belief, STTN really isn't just a myth. It does exist. And maybe one day, I will experience it again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

17 Going on 16

Days, that is. Until a certain someone's first birthday.

With a little over two weeks to go, I've been engrossed in party planning. Engrossed meaning admittedly going overboard. My vision is coming together but not without its share of stress. As of this moment, we have 40+ invitees and I estimate that aside from a few declines, most will likely show. And our home is simply too small to accomodate that many guests in one place at one time. So, we are depending on Mother Nature to cooperate for an outdoor fiesta. (No silly tricks like a thunderstorm or tornado, ya hear me?!) I've been paranoid that we don't have enough outdoor seating for everyone, so I'm currently researching local farms to purchase some hay bales. To fit in with the whole cowboy theme and all.

Our wooded backyard is quite the hangout for mosquitos so we've been treating the lawn with every chemical known to man to keep them at bay. The last thing I want is for my guests to be attacked by bloodsucking insects and leave with favors of welts.

The biggest stressor is that DH and I just aren't seeing eye to eye about the fundamentals of this affair. I see a first birthday as a fairly big deal. He sees it as just another birthday - one that the kid won't even remember - and so, he thinks we should cheap out as much as we can. Granted, I'm no longer working and money is tight. But I still want to celebrate and do it up right. After all, he's our first son (and possibly only since I am well aware there are no guarantees) and he is only turning one once. It's been a battle of wills and lesson on compromise. After a dramatic "negotiation" regarding the cost of the cake, we are now in agreement and satisfied with our remaining budget. A quick visit to the crafts store and some grub from the grocery store and our corral will be complete.

All in all, I think we'll stay below $300, including invitations, food, decor and gifts. Astronomical, maybe. But it is an important day and I want to treat it as such. We can scale back for future years. But there's something about the first birthday.

________________________________________________

Today is the second anniversary of our second miscarriage. Two years since my little Snowflake was lost. It was fitting that today was pretty shitty in and of itself. Devastating news about a friend. A lingering headache. A disastrous dinner. I'm surprised I'm not in bed already, trying to forget the past 24 hours.

I remember my grief so profoundly. Of course, the knowledge that a real live baby is sleeping upstairs dulls the pain. But I still remember. And I still feel that gaping hole where a part of me is missing.

I've been going back and forth in my mind lately, pondering if I should give names to the babies I lost. Calling them Angel and Snowflake just seems so inconsequential as of late. Part of me feels like they deserve real names. And I should honor them like so. But on the other hand, I never knew their genders. I only have wild guesses linked to ancient instincts. Is it really suitable to name them under these circumstances?

I am still wavering. But no matter the final decision, these anniversaries are always tinged with heartache. I know my babies live in Heaven and serve a much higher purpose than I could imagine but what I wouldn't give to touch their tiny hands and kiss their tiny mouths. I miss them oh so much.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

I hope everyone had (or is having) a safe, happy 4th of July!

Last year on this day, I remember my belly looking as if I were smuggling a watermelon and my feet so swollen that my toes resembled little vienna sausages. Too much taco dip I recall. I couldn't drink then and I didn't drink today. But at least I could indulge in all the food I wanted and still recognize my extremities.

Fireworks are still exploding outside of my living room window and I can see the flashes of colored light between our venetian blinds. The boy is currently checking his eyelids for pinholes after our long day. The noise doesn't seem to be affecting him. Score.

As I was rocking him to sleep tonight, I realized that this holiday would be his last "first". It made the day a little bittersweet but I took heart knowing we celebrated the day to the fullest.

Here are some outtakes:

You know you're in Maryland when crab is served as dinner
and dessert

Daddy trying to coax a smile...unsuccessfully

Ahh, but Mommy has the magic touch!

Happy 4th of July, everybody!

To the little man that colors my world - I love you more than words can say. Happy first Independence Day.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Popping the Question

With Nate rapidly approaching O-N-E (or perhaps love is in the air as we're in peak wedding season?) it seems as if everyone is proposing to me.

"So, when are you going to give Nate a brother or a sister?"

"Are you working on #2 yet?"

"Aren't you ready for another one?"

"You want them close in age, right? You'd better get started/get to practicing!"

"Now that you already have a baby, you can relax and it will happen when you least expect it."

That last one is my personal favorite. What a zinger. It implies that because I was able to carry a baby to term as a result of fertility treatment, I surely overreacted about my condition. If I had just relaxed...silly me. I could have saved myself thousands of dollars if I would have just taken this gem of assvice.

Not only have the suitors above infringed upon my privacy by delving into the topic that is (or rather is not) my sex life, but they've likely never experienced infertility or loss. Or else they'd know what a weighty, complex decision this is. It's not as simple as planning my children X years apart. Because we all know what a joke that is. I mean, my ovaries run amok, popping eggs at their random discretion. And my uterus acts like a choosy bouncer at a private, elite nightclub.

The likelihood that giving birth has somehow hit the reset button on my reproductive system is pretty low. Sure, I secretly hope that I've been miraculously healed but I'm trying to shuck the naivety and live in the land of cynicism. All in the name of self-preservation.

Despite all of the above, I have to admit I've been feeling the pressure to say yes. In the blogworld and in real life, BFPs abound. Most of them welcome surprises - sans third party intervention. And I find myself strangely battling jealousy. I feel selfish for wishing the same for myself. And greedy for craving another so soon when I've already been blessed with one amazing boy. I fear people may look at me and think, "why can't you just be happy with what you have?" They would have a point.

The only answer I have to that is: our family doesn't yet feel complete. I've always seen myself with two or three kids but after all we went through to get here, I wasn't initially sure I wanted to get back on the wagon. I was entitled to change my mind. But seeing how Nate adores other children - how our frequent playdates really bring out the best in him - I am positive about trying for a sibling. He prefers social situations to being alone so I don't feel as though having another baby would detract from him at all. And with me wearing the SAHM badge these days, I feel like there's no better time than the present. Well, we're actually considering October or November around the holidays but we're not preventing so anything could happen. Right?

I know it's foolishly optimistic of me to think I could be one of the urban legends that has an oopsie second. Especially when PPAF has yet to make her grand appearance. But yet this morning I found myself peeing on a stick. Just in case the headaches, fatigue and nausea I've had the past two days were more than just overnight interruptions and one too many cookies. Oh, and lest I forget the gas bubbles disguised as phantom kicks. I fell right back into old habits. Dumb. Dumb. DUMB. The blaring NOT PREGNANT was the wake-up call I needed. At least the expiration date on the stick was this month so I have an excuse. A poor one. But I couldn't stand to let it go to waste.

So, on one hand, I'm gung ho to pull out the BBT. But then I hesitate. I know what I could be up against. Realistically, the journey could be just as long as it was for Nate. Possibly longer. I could lose more babies. Nate doesn't sleep through the night - do I really want to perpetuate the sleeplessness? Especially when I'm home alone all day and sometimes at night as DH works two jobs? What if my recovery is just as hard or even harder? Could I honestly, truly love another baby like I love Nate?

It's hard to imagine I could be so lucky. I feel like I'm on the game show, Press Your Luck. I could win it all or a Whammy could pop up, taunt me and take it all away. But I guess I won't know unless I try.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Laugh and Learn DVD Series - Review and Giveaway!

It's only been about a year but it feels like eons since I was pregnant, sporting a big 'ole belly and wondering what in the world to expect next. I had become an expert on infertility and trying to conceive but I had no clue about how to handle actually being successful. Everyone assured me my life was about to change and I wanted to do everything I could to prepare for the main event. I spent a fortune - buying up every book I could get my hands on in the Pregnancy/Parenting section at Borders to educate myself. From the time those two pink lines popped up on the pee stick, my mind was consumed with questions. Some so embarrassing that I was too intimidated to ask my own doctor, much less my family and friends. As my tummy protruded, I was given so much unwelcome advice and told so many horror stories that my fears overwhelmed me. I looked forward to our scheduled childbirth and breastfeeding classes so I could get the real scoop and make the right decisions for our soon-to-be family.

So, when I was contacted to review the Laugh and Learn DVD series, I happily obliged. I could wax nostalgic about all the first-time wonder, excitement and anticipation. And having now been there done that, I thought I could provide a true objective opinion on the content.

The Laugh and Learn series is hosted by Sheri Bayles, RN, an award-winning Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She draws upon her extensive career as a OB/GYN nurse, her education and her own personal experience as mom to twin boys to provide us with 4 videos that chronicle everything from labor to taking baby home.

A 2-DVD set, Laugh and Learn about Childbirth is an all-inclusive childbirth class divided into (6) 45-minute segments covering labor, delivery (both Cesarean and vaginal births are discussed in detail) and postpartum. There is also a special feature on cord blood banking.

I was very impressed with this class. It certainly lived up to its name, as I found myself chuckling at many points in the video. Sheri was very personable and created a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. I felt as though I was sitting in her class, observing her as she spoke with other expectant couples. She included the fathers just as much as the mothers in the discussion, which was refreshing. There were no "crotch shots" or up-close-and-personal videos of live birth. Just conversational lecture, some visual aids and Q&A. It is apparent that Sheri is a natural childbirth advocate but was respectful and realistic in the fact that natural is not always possible. She also advised mothers to trust their body and motherly instincts and that it is okay to question medical staff, which I found interesting (in a good way) considering her profession.

I was particularly happy that Sheri did not gloss over the postpartum recovery for vaginal deliveries. The class I attended did not focus much on this and I found myself unprepared to handle the pain and complications that arose after my second degree tear. I was relieved to hear an honest explanation of what to expect physically after the baby arrives.

I wasn't expecting to learn anything new - having recently experienced this all firsthand - but surprisingly, there was information tailored to subsequent pregnancies and births. Not only would this DVD be useful to first-timers but it would also serve as a great refresher course for second or even third timers.

The only minor thing I wish I could change would be to cover more breathing techniques. I found those to be particular helpful during my personal labor experience, but I understand that the majority of couples focus on the most popular approach featured in the video.

The next DVD, Laugh and Learn about Breastfeeding, is a 45-minute class covering topics such as nursing positions, burping techniques, pumping, breastmilk storage guidelines, diet, apparel and challenges. Breastfeeding multiples is also discussed. Demonstrations of breastfeeding positions were given with baby dolls but live examples were also provided, which I found particularly helpful.

I found this DVD to be comprehensive and Sheri was just as witty as in the Childbirth class. I do think more attention could have been paid to the subject of pumping, perhaps with demonstrations of how to work both electric and manual pumps. The task of pumping can be daunting so a presentation would have been helpful for me.

The final DVD in the series, Laugh and Learn about Newborn Baby Care, is a 45-minute class covering bathing, dressing, diapering and swaddling. I personally found this session to be common sense. There wasn't much here that I didn't already know or couldn't figure out on my own. I believe this DVD would be best for those who have little to no experience with newborns. I would have liked to see some discussion regarding sleep issues and colic, but Happiest Baby on the Block remains my favored resource in that area. Formula feeding guidelines for those not breastfeeding would also be a good addition.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with the Laugh and Learn set and would highly recommend for any expectant mom or dad. I wish I had known about the series last year. Not only could I have saved myself over $50 - I spent $130 on our local hospital classes and the retail value of these DVDs are $79.95 - but I could have watched them at my convenience from the comfort of my own home. How perfect would this be for bedrest mamas? Or for the couples with hectic, incompatible schedules?

It's not hard to see why Laugh and Learn are the #1 DVD classes for pregnant couples in America, with their entertaining, easy-to-comprehend style.

BUY IT: Purchase the Laugh and Learn DVDs for $79.95 or watch the series online for $69.95. For a limited time, you can watch the Anatomy and Preliminary Signs of Labor segment online for free!

WIN IT: Laugh and Learn is offering one lucky reader the entire 4-DVD set! Interested? Read on!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:

1.) Visit Laugh and Learn and leave me a comment telling me which DVD you are most interested in and why. Feel free to share if this is for you or a loved one. This entry is mandatory and no other entries will be counted unless this one is fulfilled. If your email address is not visible on your profile, please leave it in your comment(s) so I can contact you if you win!

Bonus entries (max 1 entry for each):

2.) Follow my blog (see sidebar) and leave a comment telling me so. If you're already following me, this counts! Just leave a comment telling me you're a follower.

3.) Follow me on Twitter (see sidebar) and tweet this giveaway. Leave a comment with your Twitter name and/or tweet link.

4.) Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with the post link.

5.) Expectant moms: what is your biggest fear about childbirth or breastfeeding? BTDT moms: was your labor and delivery experience better or worse than you thought it would be?

Giveaway will run from July 1 through July 15, 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. addresses only. One winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond or prize will be forfeited. In case of forfeit, a second winner will be chosen.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Last Month

Update: I'm still a bit shaken up from our experience on Thursday. I am trying to focus on the positives - Nate is no worse for the wear and is not acting out of the ordinary. Thank God. But the thought that my carelessness could have led to something grave is overwhelming. So much so that I've been tempted to take my anti-anxiety medication to take the edge off. The only thing that has stopped me is that it's not exactly safe for breastfeeding and I refuse to end our nursing relationship due to these circumstances.

I've been slightly traumatized by the whole ordeal. I feel fragile. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. But somehow I feel like I ought to be. For Nate's sake. I am my harshest critic and the hardest person for me to forgive is often myself. I just need time to get over the guilt and I'm confident that with each passing day, happiness will prevail.
________________________________________________

Yesterday, Nate turned 11 months old. T minus 29 days until his big birthday. The supplies have been ordered and are en route to our address. Once those are received, I will send out the invitations, visit the bakery to order the cake(s) and finalize the menu. I have a few more decorations to purchase in the coming weeks and then it's just a matter of bringing the vision to life. My excitement is mounting as we grow closer to the big day. It goes without saying that I'm amazed by how much he has blossomed in such a short amount of time.

At 11 months, my little guy:

Walks all over the place - all by his lonesome! At this point, he prefers walking over crawling unless he is tired or lazy (like if he falls mid-walk and decides crawling is an easier method of transportation to his destination). I'd estimate we're at 75/25 ratio to walking and crawling. He can also crouch down to pick up a toy and stand back up to walk. All that jumping in his jumperoo has given him some seriously strong legs.

Is starting to wave bye-bye. Backwards, as if waving to himself. He's not consistent but I've seen him do it a few times when he thought he'd go under the radar. I guess he'd rather not go public just yet with this new skill.

Can say mama and dada to the correct parent. Dada still comes out more like "baba" which makes me second guess whether or not he associates the word with DH. But since he tends to say it when DH is around or to mimic what we say, I believe he really does. For some reason, he is having trouble enunciating "d" sounds. I'm not concerned yet but will talk to the pediatrician about it at his next visit. You know, just in case speech therapy is an order.

Can throw a temper tantrum fit for a 2-year old. Gone are the days of casually removing an object from his grasp. Something as simple as a piece of paper causes a gargantuan meltdown, complete with arching of the back, stomping and waterworks so marvelous I should charge people to view them. Seriously. This kind of acting is sure to garner an Academy Award.

Understands "no" and "come". Of course, comprehension does not equal obedience. Though he may stop and look at me when he hears the dreaded "n-word", my insubordinate son typically continues on with his destructive, dangerous or bothersome behavior until I physically remove him from the situation. Aforementioned temper tantrum sure to follow.

Can boogie. To the radio. To television theme songs. His moves resemble squatting exercises but it's ever so cute to watch. He can get his groove on to any beat but seems to dance mostly to hip-hop and pop. Oh, and his newly discovered favorite, Yo Gabba Gabba. (Am I the only one who feels like I'm tripping on acid when I watch that show?)

Is a picky eater. We are going through a bizarre food phase right now. He is refusing almost all purees, eating maybe 2-3 oz. at a sitting before putting his dukes up. But finger foods are hit or miss. Most end up thrown over the side of his highchair for the thrill of the plop or splatter. It's so hard to get anything in that belly of his besides Cheerios and breastmilk. I assume he will eat when he is hungry so I am just riding this out until it gets old. To him. It's already getting pretty old to me.

Is back to two naps per day. Hallelujah! After a rough week of limited naptime, and ergo cranky baby, I am ecstatic to report that we are back on track. I'm chalking it up to a growth spurt or perhaps teething. 1030am and 3pm are necessary downtimes in this house. Any deviation from this makes for an unhappy baby and Mommy.

Is still not sleeping through the night. Some nights we get 5+ hour stretches and other nights, only 2-3 hours. I am unsure of how to handle it but I think CIO may be involved, as much as I wish to avoid it. He is now trained to eat several times during the night - which I admit is my fault since I never reestablished sleep training when his reflux waned - but I'd like to try and cut back on the night feeds so he will eat more calories during the day. I'm okay with one, possibly two, night feeds but I know he is capable of sleeping through. We just have to figure out what method is best for all of us to get there.

I think that about sums it up. This is the last month I will have a "baby". In 29 days, I will have a "toddler". So I'm soaking up as much as I can.

ETA: Another "skill" I forgot to mention - opening and closing doors and cabinets. He's strategically figured out how to get into the pots and pans in the kitchen so he can bang them together and create a ruckus. He's also learned how to open the front door (when it's unlocked of course) so he can peep outside at the dogwalkers. With opening, he's also learned its opposite - closing. A few times on his poor appendages. I once was talking on the phone and heard whining coming from the bathroom. Sure enough, he had closed the door and shut himself inside. Quite amusing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Am Not Worthy

Have you ever had a day so horrific, you wished it was all just a nightmare? Like you could pretend you were an ostrich, pulling your head out of the ground to find a new reality?

Today was one of those days for me.

It started out well enough. The weather was hot and sunny. 90 degrees. Nate and I played for a bit outdoors, taking in the sunshine before retiring indoors to chill - literally - in the marvel that is central air. After his second nap, I decided to take advantage of Nate's good mood and run some errands. At the top of the list was hitting the grocery store to pick up some items for dinner.

I unlocked the Jeep and tossed my keys and purse onto the front seat. I buckled Nate in his carseat in the back and closed the door. But when I pulled on the door handle to hop into the driver's seat, I couldn't get in.

I was locked out.

When I flung my keys, it must have activated the automatic lock. My keys. My purse. My cell phone. My baby. All locked inside. Thank the Lord, I had cracked one of the back windows earlier so there was a tiny bit of fresh air making its way in amidst the humid, scorching heat.

I frantically pulled at all four doors and the trunk, using all my might and hoping by some grace of God, one would come loose. Of course, I knew it was a long shot but I was desperate and perhaps in shock at the situation. I peeked inside at Nate and he smiled, assuming we were playing yet another game of peek-a-boo. I ran to our backyard to see if I could find anything that could jostle the door lock. With no luck, I peeked inside again to a check on Nate (who was still in good spirits) and raced off around the corner to my parent's house to use their phone and call the fire department to rescue my baby. As I erratically explained our predicament, extreme guilt washed over me. I was ashamed that I had allowed this to happen.

With help on the way, I ran back to the scene of the crime. Beads of sweat had formed on Nate's face. His hair was matted. He looked uncomfortable. He was no longer smiling but he wasn't in distress. I grew slightly alarmed. My mom followed behind me and kept me company as we waited for the tell-tale red truck. She spouted off statistics on infant death due to similar circumstances that she had seen on the news. I assured her that those numbers were not comforting me and, in so many words, told her to knock the shit off. My fear rose as I imagined my son passing out from heat stroke. Panic set in.

Every minute that passed felt like an hour. I debated whether or not I should just screw it all, find a heavy rock and break a window. I was desperate to hold my son. I'm so sorry, baby. If you hang in there...stay with me...I promise, I'll never disappoint you again. I will find any way I can to make it up to you.

As my thoughts rambled, I heard the sirens blaring around the bend. I looked up and saw the rescue team heading toward me. One worker asked me a few questions while another hurriedly jimmied the lock until it clicked. Success! I rushed to the door and fumbled with the straps on Nate's carseat, freeing him from the restraint. His t-shirt was drenched in sweat. Droplets fell from his brow. I could have wrung him out to dry.

I tore off his clothes in an attempt to cool him down. I clutched him tightly to my chest, kissing his wet forehead. He was a little lethargic but his temperature was a perfect 98.6. I declined a hospital visit and signed a liability form. They told me if I were to change my mind, I could give them a call at anytime. I thanked them profusely. Then it was all over.

Or so I thought. As I walked in the house, I noticed my underwear was damp. Apparently, in all of the hustle and bustle, I had peed myself. Lovely. So I can add my overactive bladder to the list of things out of my control.

I had held it together this whole time, my determination outweighing the emotions bubbling beneath the surface. But now that all was said and done, I broke down, trembling with terror over what could've been. I was ever so thankful the situation did not escalate into something much more serious. But I am still overwrought with terror. My baby could have been that top local news story. A headline on tomorrow's newspaper.

I took Nate upstairs for a cool bath and kneeled beside the tub, tears falling from my swollen eyes, creating ripples in the bathwater. He splashed about independently, aloof, as if it were any other uneventful day. Sure, we can all agree this was an accident. And yes, it could have happened to anyone - and has happened to some. But it's my duty to protect him. And I failed miserably this time. While he'll never remember this incident, it will forever haunt me. Just how close we were to catastrophe.

I can't help but feel undeserving of this beautiful baby who has been bestowed upon me. I'm simply not worthy of such a blessing when I am obviously incapable of requisite multi-tasking.

We are taking appropriate measures to ensure this incident is never repeated. Car and house keys are being replicated tomorrow.

But it feels like too little too late. What's done is done. Irrevocable damage has been done to my self-esteem. Just when I thought I was getting good at this mothering thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three

Three years ago at this time, we had said our vows and were dancing at our reception. As the sun set below the horizon in favor of a starry night sky, I remember we made a wish. For a real live baby to fill our arms and our hearts.

Today, three years later, our soon to be 11-month old son is waddling about, babbling "dada" while experimenting with volume control.

In three short years, we became a family of three. So much has changed yet our love remains the same.

Our lives have become quite hectic lately - with me staying at home and you working two jobs - and we don't have as much time alone as we would like. Things aren't perfect. But we are ultimately happy. Our ups and downs over the years have made us stronger. I have no doubt we can make it through just about anything. As long as we are together.

Happy Anniversary, my love. And Happy First Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lost & Found

My beloved mommy necklace has gone missing. I first noticed its displacement on Mother's Day. I checked all the usual suspects - jewelry box, dresser, bedside table drawers - and it was nowhere to be found. I thought about the last time I wore it. Moving day. I recalled seeing it as we were in the throes of last minute packing and I stuck it in my pocket for safe keeping. But I can't for the life of me remember taking it out of my pocket. Or ever seeing it again for that matter.

I was immediately overwashed with guilt. How could I allow such a sentimental piece such as this to slip away from me like this? How could I show such little attention to something that was supposed to mean so much to me? I admit the discovery - or lack thereof - made me feel despondent on a day I should have been completely and utterly joyful. But I was hopeful it would turn up. Surely, we would find it in our array of unopened boxes. Somehow, someway.

Both DH and I have searched high and low, leaving no stone unturned, but to no avail. I'm trying to convince myself that it's gone. Reasoning that it fell out of my pocket in transit. Or that it is in some secret, hidden place where I am unlikely to find it for years. But that is unacceptable to me. I need something tangible. Something to wear proudly, close to my heart. A token to signify my triumph. A gentle reminder of the journey that brought me full circle.

I feel absolutely empty without it.
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As I was frantically rummaging through my closet trying to find the necklace, I uncovered a plastic tub of old clothes and accessories that I hadn't seen in years. I pulled out the articles one by one, holding them up to admire them in their entirety. They conjured up so many memories of high school and college. Those were chaotic times and in many ways, my life is simpler now. Even if there are aspects I miss sometimes - being a size 2/4 or my sole responsibility being to myself - I certainly don't want to trade places with my 19-year old self permanently. I traded the superficiality and angst for a much more enriching life. I feel much more wholesome and proud of myself now. I've lived a little bit. And while I still have a long way to go, I have more of an appreciation for life in general, and the little twists and turns you encounter along the way.

I came across a pair of low-rise pale blue corduroys courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch. Size 0. They were cut a little big. More like a size 2. But I remember they made my ass look marvelous. Ah, the days of bare midriffs. I looked down at my tummy flab and love handles - my postpartum badges of honor. My body has written its own autobiography.

I recalled how healthy and alive I felt back then. When these pants adorned my hips. I had the energy to work out six days a week. I had the best figure I had ever had in my life. I had no problem working a full-time job during the day and attending school full-time in the evenings. Now I struggle to wake up in the morning. If I don't have a dose of caffeine, I can barely function. I have so much more to enjoy in my life right now but I have less vigor. So unfair.

I came to the bottom of the tub. The trip back in time was pleasant while it lasted.

I decided then and there to consign them. I can declutter our eaves and get some extra cash to afford a refreshing, new, mature yet stylish wardrobe. After all, I'll never be able to wear these again. That ship has long ago sailed. So what's the point in keeping them around? They're just taking up valuable space.

Although I admit it crossed my mind to keep the blue cords. For memory's sake.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Force To Be Reckoned With

The apple must not fall far from the tree. I think DH's passion for engineering may have been instilled on Nate. I predict a major in the field of physics, with a minor in mathematical theory.

It appears he has grasped the concept of gravity. Thank you so much, Sir Isaac Newton. I can attest your contributions are laudable. (Grab your umbrella. It's dripping sarcasm in here.)

Feeding time has become quite the frenzy, as every last bit of food pretty much lands on the floor. Even once favorite treats like biter biscuits and cheese puffs are lobbed like grenades over the side of his highchair tray. Spoons, bowls, sippy cups - they all go over the wayside just for the thrill of the plop. All I can say is thank goodness for splat mats. But I have a hard enough time getting food into him as it is without this new "discovery".

It's not solely at mealtime. We've had to eliminate stoller toys after several teethers have mysteriously gone missing. Anything that can be clutched is now subject to a science experiment in gravitational pull.

This is an important lesson, I presume, albeit a frustrating one. 52 Pickup is going to get really old. Really fast.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Walkers Are For Sissies

My not-so-little baby is taking more and more steps each day. All by himself.

As you may recall, he took his first steps about a month ago, but needed to gain the confidence to persevere. In the past week, he has gone from taking 6-8 unassisted steps at a time to walking across the room (20 or more steps) without falling. He's dared to walk longer distances and on varied terrain (carpet, hardwood, gravel, grass, etc.). He has proven yet another facet to his independence and hence, is now a part-time walker. Crawling is still necessary to travel at lightening speed but walking provides another perspective, fostering his curious nature. I suppose the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare would be a useful tale to introduce at our next storytime.

He's still a little bow-legged but it is endearing to watch him wobble from one end of the room to another. So eager. So proud. But all the while careful to concentrate and steady himself. And when he completes his mission, he falls on his bottom and delivers the most magnificent, boastful smile. I pick him up in my arms and twirl him around in praise. Its moments like those where I feel as if nothing in the world could bring me down from my high. I feel so incredibly lucky to be in a position so as not to miss any of the milestones. I get to be right in the thick of it - every moment of every day. There is nowhere else I'd rather be, honestly.

The walking phase is exciting, yet terrifying. We've already endured some painful bumps and bruises as a result of this quantum leap. I feel as if I hold my breath with fear each time he gains the courage to stand up and go for it. Waiting with bated breath for him to fall so I can race to his rescue. But to witness him succeed is indescribable. I'm watching his rebirth into a toddler with his every traipse.

Now, for your viewing pleasure:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Crime and Punishment

As you can tell from this week's lovely Wordless Wednesday pictorial, we have an ankle biter on our hands. Well, not the ankle exclusively. Shoulders, chest, arms, thighs - even my big toe has fallen victim to Nate's overzealous chompers. The origin of this loathsome new habit of biting - insanely hard - is quite the enigma. My best guess is that he is the latest devotee of the Twilight/True Blood "fanpire" series'. Damn television. Already warping my kid.

In all seriousness, I'm unsure of the exact time this mannerism started. I remember his rooting reflex as a newborn, as he bobbed his head, pecking for a nipple like a hen for grain. This instinct disappeared just in time for the drool and discomfort of teething. I recall a smidge of toothless "gumming" originating around the 6-month mark, just prior to when teeth first made their grand entrance. Mostly on his own fingers. But now that said teeth have fully emerged, he seems to have discovered a novel way to put them to use. At 10.5 months, the biting is getting worse by the day. And with eight teeth, it certainly doesn't tickle. As a matter of fact, he has bitten me hard enough to leave welts and bruises on my skin.

It has to end. STOP. NOW. I absolutely, positively do NOT want to be the mom who gets a phone call that her child bit a classmate in preschool. The mom who avoids playdates because her son can't control his animalistic tendencies. The mere thought is mortifying. Not to mention it FREAKIN' HURTS. I do not like wearing long sleeves in summer to hide the evidence of abuse.

Let me say, I don't *think* this is in any way related to teething. I've been scrutinizing his behavior and searching for triggers so I can preempt the munching. Instead, it seems to occur as the result of (a) overstimulation or excitement and (b) frustration.

As far back as I can remember, Nate has been easily overstimulated. I personally believe that his colic, in large part, was due to his inability to process his environmental cues. He can better manage his senses these days but he can still become excitable. For example, if we've been playfully crawling around together and I collapse on the floor, he will crawl over to me and nuzzle affectionately. Charming, right? WRONG. That sweet, innocent hug quickly turns into a piercing "love bite".

Furthermore, if I'm on the computer or phone and he wants my undivided attention, he will accost me, crawl or walk over to me and bite me on the closest appendage. Since he is incapable of verbalizing his irritation, he bites as a way of communicating his disgruntlement. Sometimes, I think the bugger does it because he knows he'll get a reaction out of me.

Both situations - while understandable for a baby his age - are simply unacceptable. He HAS to learn. But how?

They say the punishment should fit the crime. But at this age, he doesn't have the capacity to understand right from wrong. He's not 2 or 3 years old. He has no idea that what he is doing hurts others. Nor can he tell me exactly what is bothering him.

I will NOT go medieval as some have suggested and bite him back. While it may, in fact, relieve the biting, what exactly does this teach? It's okay for Mommy to bite but not you? I don't want to reinforce that violence is an appropriate method of handling his emotions. Besides, I can't in good conscience bite my baby, even if it is to teach a lesson. There has to be a less aggressive means to get my point across.

I tried substituting a teething toy after the incident but it did nothing to hinder the situation. He'd just toss it aside listlessly. I even tried to put on an act, pretending to wail. But all he did was look at me and laugh in my face. Real sympathetic.

The only action that has shown any relative success is a stern "NO BITING" along with a time-out. Saying "NO" seems like common sense but when your first instinct is to scream, "F^%&*#$@! OUCH!", maintaining your composure can be problematic. After a firm rejection, I remove him from my body and ignore him for 60 seconds. Most times, this results in tears and a tantrum. But I walk away or put him down and leave him to his devices for one whole minute. When I return and pick him up, I sometimes get a second bite and other times, I am in the clear. My odds are about 50/50 right now.

I want him to learn that biting isn't going to get my attention - it's going to lose it. I'm hoping that with consistency in the punishment, my stubborn offspring will get the hint and quit cold turkey.

Do you think I'm on the right track? How would you handle this?