A Year with Will

It all started when I thought I peed my pants. It turned out to be my water breaking and a few hours later, Will was here. I’ve written about his birth story and Design Mom was kind enough to share it on her site. Now, we’ve had a full year with him and it has been nothing short of joyful.

IMG_3906This kid. What can I say? He loves EVERYTHING. If I had to make a list of his favorite things (aside from his family members), I would probably narrow it down to:

  1. closing doors
  2. touching the toilet
  3. putting things in the garbage
  4. eating leaves
  5. playing with (tormenting) Baxter

IMG_3930After a cranky first month or two, he has been a total dream. I’ve done things I said I’d never do like co-sleep, take selfies with him, and neglect to document any of his milestones (#secondchildproblems), but all in all, it has been a great year.

IMG_3898 One of his most remarkable qualities is how well he entertains himself. This time around we invested in a baby jail. It is multi-colored plastic and pretty much takes over our entire living room, but it’s worth it. There are times he plays by himself for over an hour in there.

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Even though the month leading up to his birth was marked by moving, unpacking, finishing renovations, and starting Nolan in a new school, his birth and my time in the hospital was actually really peaceful.
IMG_4256It was totally wild weather with torrential, hurricane-like rain as we drove to the hospital, and then unseasonably freezing temperatures during my stay and release. It was in the 20s when we headed home!

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I was lucky that I didn’t share a room for most of my time in the hospital. I have vivid memories of being alone with Will in the early morning, looking out the window at the beautiful treetops of Huntington Bay.  I can’t say enough how lovely everyone at Huntington Hospital was.
IMG_4471The hospital food? Not lovely.  Matt kindly brought me lots of my local favorites and now every time I eat those foods, I fondly think of Will’s birth. Not to make my son’s birthday sound like a Yelp review, but get yourself a Sausalito sandwich from Sapsuckers, a cappuccino from Southdown Coffee, and a chocolate croissant from Fiorello Dolce. You won’t regret it. IMG_4518

So back to Will. Smiley doesn’t begin to describe how joyful he is. Snuggly, affectionate, giggly, and so loving. Everything Nolan does makes him laugh. If he’s cranky or crying, Nolan can make a silly face and all is forgotten. If that fails, we bring him over to Baxter and Will happily “pets” him while Baxter looks at me pleadingly. IMG_4594

Seriously, couldn’t you just cuddle that all day?? I know I could! Because I have! IMG_4608

So cheers to our little one. And to another year ahead filled with his laughs and smiles. Cue the onslaught of happy baby pictures (and one crying picture)!
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Will’s Birth Story

I’m so honored and excited that my birth story is featured on Gabrielle Blair’s blog Design Mom. Gabrielle is a rockstar in the blogging world and a mother of six (!!!!!!). She also recently published a lovely book called Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide. It has tons of wonderful ideas and strategies for keeping a house kid-friendly while still being beautiful and functional.

Back in 2011, she published Nolan’s birth story, and last week, Will’s made its debut! Will’s birth took a completely different route than Nolan’s did, and you can read all about it here.

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The Double-Edged Sword of Advice

The internet is a melting pot of advice and opinions, especially when it comes to child-rearing. On any given morning you can read how offering your child choices will make him spoiled and controlling and then click to another site to learn about the importance of choices so your little one feels empowered.  (For the record, we haven’t had success giving choices or making choices for him so I need another idea!)

Being a parent for the second time has helped me feel a little more confident in my knowledge and abilities but sometimes I hear people’s advice and think, “Wow, this would really screw with a new parent’s head!”

Feed me!!!
Feed me!!!

The prime example of this is actually something I experienced in the hospital after giving birth to Will in November. First, let me say that I loved Huntington Hospital. I delivered Nolan at Winthrop and had a bad experience from start to finish (aside from getting to meet Nolan, duh). That’s one of the main reasons I switched practices and hospitals when we moved to Greenlawn. On the flip side, everyone at Huntington was kind and helpful and didn’t make me feel like I was a burden, which is exactly what I felt like at Winthrop.

Over the course of my two and a half days in the hospital, I encountered maternity nurses, maternity nursing assistants, nursery nurses, nursery nursing assistants, hospital pediatricians, and my own midwives. And this is what they had to say about feeding:

Newborn babies aren’t born that hungry. Don’t force it.

Even if he doesn’t seem hungry, wake him up and feed him if it has been more than two hours.

Feed the baby every three hours on both breasts.

Feed the baby every two hours, alternating breasts.

Nurse on demand when the baby seems hungry; don’t worry about the timing.

We don’t give out pacifiers anymore because giving one to a baby younger than one month old can cause nipple confusion and then he’ll have trouble nursing.

There’s no such thing as nipple confusion. Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS so you can start using one right away.

Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, so if it does, your baby probably isn’t latched on properly.

Of course breastfeeding hurts in the beginning while your body adjusts.

Now, I’m someone who likes instructions. I like steps to follow. I like schedules. Thankfully, since I’ve done this once before, I could smile and nod at all this conflicting information, but it made me feel terrible for the first time mom who would be so confused!

I can’t even decide for myself what I believe in. The two baby/parenting books I like the most are Bringing Up Bebe and The Happiest Baby on the Block, which basically preach entirely opposite outlooks on parenting. Yet when I read them, they both make TOTAL sense.

And the conflicting advice doesn’t stop at nursing. It applies to how your baby sleeps, poops, plays, eats, etc. New parents need advice (I think?) and yet when it’s given it sometimes causes even more anxiety. Did you receive any conflicting or confusing advice when you had kids (or got married? or bought a house? or started a new job?). How do you muddle through it without making yourself crazy? Any tips?

Being a New Mom: Second Baby Edition

When Nolan was a baby, I read countless articles, blogs, top ten lists etc. about being a new mom. Then when I was pregnant with Will, I read all sorts of things about what you do differently the second time around. One of my favorites was this list I saw on A Cup of Jo. It’s from Jason Good’s book This is Ridiculous, This is Amazing. Some of them made me seriously laugh out loud like,

“TV Rules: First Kid: PBS/Sesame Street only. Two 23-minute shows per day.

Second Kid: Has his own Netflix account.”

Friends and family (and strangers actually) have asked, “Isn’t it so much harder with two?” And in a few ways it is. Leaving the house is a beast. It doesn’t help that in New York we’ve had a brutal winter. Wrestling Nolan and his giant jacket into his car seat is reason enough to move to Southern California; then you add packing up Will and all his stuff and hauling his heavy car seat back and forth everywhere. My back hurts just thinking about it. (And because I did it this morning when it was 10 degrees out.)

The evenings are also tough. I miss having those few quiet hours after Nolan goes to bed when Matt and I catch up on the DVR and drink some wine. Some nights we luck out and Will goes to sleep at 8ish, but most nights he’s up until closer to 9 or 10 and then I end up just going to bed at the same time because I’m exhausted!

But for the most part, I actually find it easier having two. I know this may change once Will is on the move, but I’ll enjoy this time until then. I guess since Will is here, Nolan kind of understands that I can’t do 100% of what he wants me to do and he’s more independent for it. He can keep busy “playing hockey”…

IMG_4363… or trying on my boots.

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Obviously the biggest factor in having an easier time is the experience! When you’ve done it before, you don’t worry about the same silly stuff you did the first time. I also haven’t put the same rules on myself. Through no one’s fault but my own, people’s innocent advice turned into DANGER! DANGER! WARNING! in my head. So here is my advice that I hope will calm any new mom nerves out there.

1. Hold your baby whenever you want. You’re not going to spoil your eight week old baby when you pick her up because she’s crying. If you want to let the baby sleep on your lap for two hours while you binge watch Downton Abbey, great! If you feel totally suffocated and can’t wait for her to sleep in her bassinet, that’s great too!

I was so paranoid about spoiling Nolan when he was a baby that sometimes I let him cry even when I didn’t mind holding him, but more often I held him and then felt guilty about it. Ridiculous! Women in many African countries and Eastern cultures wear their babies nearly all day for months or even years, and I haven’t heard about an epidemic of overly indulged children in Namibia.

PS This also applies to feeding your baby. Just feed him. Even if it hasn’t been the arbitrary number of hours you’ve decided he should wait.

2. Sleeping with your baby doesn’t mean your baby will never sleep on his own. When Nolan was a baby, I didn’t let him sleep in our bed under any circumstances. I remember one instance where I sort of napped next to him on the couch, and I couldn’t believe upon waking up that I hadn’t smothered him. I was actually less worried about hurting him than I was paranoid about, you guessed it, spoiling him. I figured if I let him sleep in my bed, he would never sleep on his own and in a few years I would need a king-sized bed to fit me, my husband, and my teenaged son.

Over the past year and a half we have had some battles about sleeping. We’re in a decent place now where he knows he can’t come in our bed before 7am, but there were nights where he slept on the floor of the hallway because he didn’t want to sleep in his own bed…

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Will slept on my chest for the first few weeks of his life because it’s the only way he would sleep at night. Now he’s three months old and he sleeps in his bassinet (mostly). I usually end up pulling him in around 5am so I can get another hour or two of sleep, but other than that he’s on his own and he’s fine. (Disclaimer: Obviously practice safe co-sleeping if you have your baby in your bed.)

3. Get stuff done when your baby is awake, instead of waiting until he is asleep. When I was home with Nolan, I would spend his waking hours gazing at him and wondering what the hell to do to occupy him.  Then when he was napping I would scramble to take a shower, wash dishes, do laundry, make phone calls, clean up, etc. Big mistake! Once they’re old enough to actually see what’s in front of them, babies can be occupied with watching you do all that stuff. Then when the baby naps, you can do important things like sleep, watch last night’s Tonight Show, eat food with two free hands, etc. (Disclaimer: This works about 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time your baby will not watch you contentedly and instead will cry until you pick him up. See above: Hold your baby.)

Will

I’ll stop here for now. There is more advice but this post has become so long already!

Second (third? fourth?) time parents – what do you wish you knew the first time around? Even if you’re not a second-time parent yet, are there things you’ve already decided you’ll do differently next time around? Leave a comment!

life around here

It’s been an eventful eight weeks since my last post. We celebrated Thanksgiving, prepared our house for the holidays, celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas with our families, cooked up some delicious meals, and oh yeah, I had a baby.

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Will Henry was born on November 17th and his delivery was a complete 180 from Nolan’s. I hope to write up my birth story in the next few weeks before I’ve forgotten everything. Did you know Nolan’s was featured on Design Mom back in 2011?

Nolan has adjusted pretty well to being a brother. With Will being young and immobile, Nolan’s life hasn’t changed too much. We’ll see what happens when Will starts taking Nolan’s toys…

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For now, I’ve been soaking up this cute baby’s smile and cooking up a storm. I made this super fast and healthy-ish pasta for lunch today; this chicken chili was so easy and tasty, but I recommend using half the chili powder; this roast chicken is probably my favorite chicken dish of all time: juicy chicken, crunchy French bread croutons, sweet onions, yum.

 

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IMG_4334Stay warm, friends!
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This is 40 (weeks)

Much like the Judd Apatow movie, This is 40, my pregnancy has been filled with ups and downs and plenty of big life changes. Also like the film, it’s too long.

Nolan was born at 38 weeks and while labor didn’t come as a complete surprise, it was early enough that I hadn’t been sitting around wondering, Was that a contraction? I’m peeing so much, could that be my water breaking? Is this it????

With this pregnancy, everyone told me, “You’ll probably go early.” Even my midwife warned me to be prepared. Well, fast forward to 40 weeks and here I am. Still pregnant. While the second half of October was filled with me keeping my fingers (and legs) crossed hoping I wouldn’t go into labor, now I’m so used to expecting it that I’ve almost forgotten it’s really going to happen. I kind of feel like I’ll just be pregnant forever.

These extra few weeks have added another layer to my pregnancy experience. Something new this time around is that nothing fits. Not even my maternity clothes. It’s like my maternity clothes need their own maternity clothes. The general recommendation when purchasing pregnancy clothes is that you buy them in your pre-pregnancy size. While this looks adorable at six or seven months, 40+ weeks doesn’t look cute in an XS tee-shirt. It’s like I’m a beer-bellied truck driver whose shirts don’t cover the bottom of his gut.

Worse than the shirts are the pants. With the exception of two very thin and sort of obscene pairs of maternity leggings, every pair of pants (and underwear) hurts. Anything that puts even the tiniest bit of pressure on my hips or pelvis is torture.

I have taken great enjoyment in seeing people’s faces when I answer the frequent question, “So when are you due??” The cashiers’ expressions at Home Depot and Target had a mix of horror and disbelief yesterday when I answered them, “Today.”

We prepped Nolan so much that I think he’s starting to wonder if I made this whole baby thing up. Starting a new school was tough for him, so although I’ve been home resting for the last few weeks, we have been telling him that I go to work after I drop him off in the morning. Lately I think he’s starting to doubt me. In the past week he has said things like:

Where’s your blue school bag?

What are you bringing for lunch today?

You’re wearing those pants to work? 

Now that I’ve put this in print, I’m sure I’ll go into labor tonight and wind up skipping my post-40 week testing at the doctor tomorrow. I’ll be relieved, but I will miss my coffee shelf.

coffee shelf

preparing kid #1 for kid #2

As an only child in my 20s, I had definite ideas about how I envisioned my future family. Most importantly, it involved more than one child (and Matt. Duh). I never really minded being an only child when I was a kid. I had cousins to play with, tons of friends who thought their siblings were sooooo annoying, and I was always very close with my parents. Once I became an adult and I started noticing the relationships my friends now had with their sisters and brothers, that’s when it started bothering me. Seeing my parents and husband’s parents care for aging and ailing parents also reminded me that I don’t have siblings with whom I can share that job. (Thankfully, my parents are two fresh-faced crazy kids themselves, so I don’t have to worry about that for a while. Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for letting us live in your house!!)

So back to having more than one child. After Nolan was born, I made up my mind: I am DONE. No more kids. I had a difficult delivery, and he wasn’t the easiest baby. By the time his first birthday rolled around, I turned a blind eye to all that and remembered all the reasons I don’t want just one. Fast forward a few years and here we are, expecting baby #2!

Nolan, like most toddlers, tends to be, let’s call it…persistent. He doesn’t forget anything and he loves nothing more than to repeat himself. For that reason and a few others, we decided to wait about 4.5 months before we told him. The conversation was pretty amusing:

Me: Have you noticed that my belly looks kind of big and round?

Nolan: No, I don’t think your belly looks big.

Me: Oh, well it is. What could be in there that’s making it so big?

Nolan: Ummmm… food? Milk? Yogurt?

Needless to say, he never guessed correctly and we just came out and told him.

That was about a month ago and he hasn’t been too curious since then. He sometimes talks about teaching his baby brother to play hockey and baseball. He periodically rubs my belly and says, “There’s a baby in there?” And tonight he told me we should name the baby Moonaganna.  I think the two books we put into the bedtime rotation have helped quell his curiosity.

The first is a classic that I loved as a child, The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby.

I remembered very little about this book other than Brother Bear outgrowing his bed just in time. Upon rereading it, I was surprised to find that (spoiler alert!) Mama Bear delivers the baby alone in her home while Papa and Brother are out building a new bed. I’m still not sure if I feel empowered or degraded by that.

The next book I bought after seeing it recommended on Rebecca Woolf’s blog. It’s Sophie Blackall’s The Baby Tree.

The Baby Tree is narrated by a little boy who finds out his parents are expecting a new baby, and he doesn’t understand where the baby will come from. He asks people in his family and neighborhood and gets all sorts of backwards and roundabout answers until he asks his parents who finally explain it. At first I was worried that the book was too old for Nolan; not in the sense that it’s inappropriate in any way, but I wasn’t sure he would be interested in the story or understand enough of it. Well, I was wrong and he loves it. The illustrations are beautiful and there is even a page after the story with more specific answers to kids’ questions about conceiving and delivering babies.

How did you prepare your children for new siblings? Did you find that they were excited or did the jealousy begin before the baby even arrived?