Thursday, April 10, 2014

The First Year

I can't recall the date, or even the month, or really even what year it was, but sometime after Lukas turned 1 but before I was pregnant with Julian, a close friend and I met for drinks at some random bar at Atlantic Station.  No, now that I think about it, I was pregnant with Julian because I ordered an orange juice (great memory I've got here, really).  Anyway, we were sitting at the bar and I was eating a flat bread pizza and we were talking about working and life and trying to find the balance.  And in that conversation I remember discussing with her how it is a bad idea to make any major life changes in the first year of your baby's life.  And the one I was talking about specifically was work.  And more precisely, not quitting it.  I don't recall what lead to this conversation or where I was in my emotional well-being (or lack thereof) at the time, but this conversation has been ringing in my ears lately.
 
The first year with a new baby is hard stuff.  There's the lack of sleep; the teething; the uncertainty of what you're doing; the worry; the breastfeeding and leaky boobs and plugged ducts; the never-ending flow of laundry; the changing postpartum body and daily question of what in my closet fits today; there's a lot of poop; sometimes there's colic; did I mention the lack of sleep?; there's runny noses and daycare sniffles; and it's all wrapped in a shiny bow of postpartum hormones.  This is hard stuff without the added layer of working outside the home.  (And I don't say that to incite any mommy war on SAHM vs. working mom, they're both rough, but for purposes of this blog post and my life, I can only give the working mom perspective on this one, um-kay?) 
 
I remember the first year with Lukas was hard for all the above-mentioned reasons.  And I think a first baby comes along with its own brand of difficulty that lucky you don't experience the second time around because you are just a bit more relaxed.  You know it all works out and the baby will do what the baby will do regardless of your good intentions.  But this working mom thing has been equally as hard the second time around.  And I'm trying to remember that conversation with my friend about not making major changes in the first year of a baby's life.
 
When the baby is itty bitty, it's hard to hand them over to someone else every day and be apart from them.  I don't think it matters who your caregiver is - I adore Julian's teachers at Primrose and have all the faith in them to take care of him and love him.  I honestly wouldn't feel any "better" about being away from him all day, every day if he were being watched by my mom or even my husband.  It's the fact that I, his mommy, am not with him for the majority of our day. There are plenty of days where I sit in my office staring at his pictures and ask myself why I'm doing this.  Being apart is just hard on the heart when they're so tiny. 
 
And the breastfeeding.  Oh the breastfeeding.  Actually, its the pumping while working that is a pain.  Having to stop working 2 or 3 times a day, hook up to my machine and literally milk my boobs like a cow, is disruptive to getting work done and frustrating because my body has decided it can't make enough milk to keep up with my little guy's eating schedule, so I have to supplement with formula anyway.  I often wonder why I bother continuing to breastfeed if he's getting formula, but I can't seem to get over the hump and quit.  Perhaps I'm worried about the hormonal shift that comes along with weaning and the possible post-weaning depression that might await me again.
 
And I'm tired.  Julian is still not consistently sleeping through the night.  I'd say he's 50/50 for sleeping all night long versus waking once a night to eat.  So half of my days at work have me feeling like a zombie and I'm sure it takes me twice as long to do anything due to the lack of sleep.  I'm not at my most efficient, that's for sure. 
 
I could really use a 25th hour in the day.  Preferably spent working out for 30 minutes and playing with the boys for 30 minutes, as most of my days don't allow enough time for those important activities.  I wish I had more time.  I want more time with the boys.  I want more time for myself.  I want to fit in my jeans again.  I want to go running outside and blare my crappy music loudly.  I want to go to a yoga class. I want to make Julian laugh and hear him yell MAMA MAMA MAMA over and over again.  I want to read books with Lukas.  I want to pretend to be superwoman while he runs around the house in his Spiderman outfit.  I want to make a floury mess in the kitchen while cooking dinner with Lukas.  I want to dance around the house holding on to both boys.  I want to do this every day.  But there's just not enough time between 6:15 when we get home from work/school and 7:45 when its bedtime for the boys.  1.5-2 hours an evening isn't enough time.  And this is the working mom struggle I'm yet again feeling so strongly.
 
I know it will lessen as my baby becomes a toddler.  I know that from experience this time, which is more than I knew when Lukas was an infant.  But juggling it all is hard.  And sometimes I just feel like all the balls have fallen on the ground and that I'm a complete failure.  But even worse is the constant wonder and worry if I'll look back on this time and regret the choices that I've made.  Maybe playing in the kitchen is more important than the kitchen you're playing in.  I know that my career is more than just the money I make and the things that money allows us to buy.  I've worked hard to be where I am.  The degrees and debt say this is true.  If it weren't for the degrees and the debt I think it'd be a lot easier to walk away and decide that time with my children supersedes everything else.  I just don't know.
 
For now, I keep telling myself that it is the quality rather than the quantity of time with the boys that matters.  I think there is truth to that, but I also think it's partially something I say to get myself to accept being away from them all day.
 
I think that I just never realized how truly strong my love for my children was going to be.  I didn't know how life altering having them would be.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true.  Those two boys have changed me.  And there is nothing in my world as important as the two of them.  So I just hope I'm doing what's best for them.  Which is what is at the root of my questioning - what is best for them?  And is it the same thing that is best for me?  I have absolutely no idea.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fight Childhood Cancer

In three weeks I'll be participating for the third year in a row in CURE's Lauren's Run, an annual fundraising event to fight childhood cancer.  If you've read my blog regularly, then you've heard me talk about our friends Chris and Emily whose son, Marco, died in the fall of 2011 from an aggressive form of brain cancer.  Marco was only 9 months old.

Marco and Lukas should be friends today - they were born a mere three weeks apart.  They should be running around in Emily's backyard and playing on her swing set.  They should be chatting about superheros together during our regular breakfasts with the Giovinazzos.  But they're not because of cancer. 

Emily and Chris are only getting to raise two of their beautiful children, not all three.  Every day someone is missing from their lives.  They've lived every parent's worst nightmare.  Actually, they continue to live it.  I'm pretty sure the death of a child never leaves you and a void always remains.

So we run in memory of Marco.  We run to raise awareness of childhood cancers.  We run to raise money to fight it. 

And so I ask you to run with me.  Help me raise money for this worthy cause that is so dear to our hearts.  Any amount of money will help - nothing is too small. 

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/ryanswanson/2014-laurens-run-and-cure-annual-picnic

Thanks for your support! 

And let us all remember that every day is precious.  Our loved ones are a blessing and their time is not eternal - hug your babies tight, kiss your spouse, call your mom and tell someone "I love you".

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Toddler Talks - Car Ride with Daddy

[As retold by Daddy]....So in the car this morning Lukas asked "Daddy, why do the Green lights for go go down and the red lights for stop go up?"  I said "Well buddy, they put the green on bottom and the red on top because some people can't see colors.  That way those people know that top light means stop and bottom light means go.  Its called being colorblind."  And his eyes bugged out and he said "who can't see colors?"  I said "Well Up (my dad) can't see colors?"
 
Then this is what followed:
 
"Daddy, can you see colors"
"Yes, I can"
"Can Ronnie (husband's childhood BFF who lives in Chicago) see colors?"
"yes"
"Can sip sip (my mom) see colors?"
"yes"
"Can Pop Pop (husband's dad) see colors?"
"Yes"
"Can Nana (husband's mom) see colors?"
"Yup"
"Can Up see colors?"
"No buddy."
"Who else can't see colors?"
"I don't know anyone else"
"Can mommy see colors?"
"Yes"
"Can Ronnie's Daddy see colors?"
"Yes"
"Can Ronnie's Mommy see colors?"
"Yes"
"Can Wrigley (our dog) see colors?"
"Actually, I think Dogs can't see colors too.  If they do, they see them differently"
"Yeah.  Can Bailey (our cat) see colors?"
"Yes buddy."
- a minute goes by -
"My Up and My Wrigley can't see colors, right?"
"Yes Buddy."
"Um-hmm" (nodding head)
 
Just thought I would share.
 

 


 
 
 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Home No More

In 23 days we'll sign some papers and our house will no longer be our home.  It will belong to someone else.  Strangers.  We'll pack up our things in brown, cardboard boxes and movers will come take all our furniture and possessions away.  And these strangers will move their belongings in.  They'll shower in our bathroom. They'll break bread with friends in our kitchen.  Maybe their dog will run around in our yard.
 
The place we've called home for over 5 years will be missed. 
 
It was the first home my husband and I bought together.  It feels like yesterday that we giddily left the closing attorney's office with keys in hand, in disbelief that we just bought our first home.
 
It is where we spent the very early years of our marriage and learned to be husband and wife.
 
It is the place we left in the middle of the night in November of 2010 as husband and wife, only to return 2 days later a family of three.   
 
It holds the living room where Lukas took his first steps.
 
It is the place where I snuck in Lukas' room in the middle of the night in July of 2013 to give him one last kiss before he was no longer an only child.
 
It is the only home our boys have ever known. 
 
Its rooms have been painted by our hands and those of our family.  Its porch was screened in by my husband and his father.  Its kids' room has been enriched by built-ins made from scratch from my husband and his father.  Its windows are all adorned with custom-designed and sewn treatments from my mom.  Its backyard was designed and executed by my good friend.  Its flowers bloom from our planting.
 
Its four walls have been filled with more love than I knew was possible.
 
I'm having a hard time letting go and feeling very emotional about saying goodbye.  I know in my heart that it is time.  I know that moving to a new house is best for our family.  I know that we will fill whatever new house we find with joyous memories.  I know that another house will become our home. 
 
But I'm still sad about parting ways.
 
 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Julian @ 8 months


Julian turned 8 months old last week!  Where does the time go?!?  So in an effort to keep the virtual baby book going, let's see what he's up to.  (For comparison, check out Lukas' 8 month update here!)
 
  
- J bird loves to do yoga.  He is a plank and downward dog expert!  He's a strong little dude and can pull to standing, which he loves, unless it is the middle of the night and he is in his crib.  In which case he just screams.  He's learning to sit down from standing, but for the most part he just falls over once he's done standing.

- He is crawling like a maniac.  You cannot put him down and expect him to stay still.  He does not know how to stay in one spot.  He is crawling on all fours with his belly off the ground and he is FAST man! I think he's trying to keep up with big brother Lukas!

- He has FOUR teeth.  The bottom two were the first to come in.  Next was the upper middle Left tooth.  And just last week the upper second left tooth has appeared.  So yes, they are coming in very odd and he doesn't have the upper middle right tooth yet! 

- He's not a big breastfeeder and I'm really struggling with this.  He is too busy to stop and eat.  He'll only eat if he's starving and in a quiet dark room without any sounds.  There are even mornings where he hasn't eaten in 12 hours but still doesn't stop to nurse.  And he bite me today.  Twice.  I highly doubt he'll hit the 18 month mark like his brother.  Honestly, I'm doubting we'll make it a year...

-J loves food.  He loves to feed himself so we're starting to start more finger foods.  He's eating stage 2-3 baby food plus puffs, peas and other random soft foods that we're eating (he tried pancakes last weekend and loved them)!  He seems to be an independent little one and would rather do things himself than have momma do it for him!

- He's a happy, happy baby.  He flirts with all the ladies and loves to smile.

- His sleep is still all over the board.  He CAN sleep through the night but chooses not to most of the time.  He usually wakes up 1-2 times per night and I give in and feed him (strangely, he LOVES to nurse in the middle of the night...go figure).  He's OK at self-soothing, but we're not consistent about it, so it's probably user error on our part!  He and Lukas are sharing a room and he starts every night out in his crib with his lovey and a paci.  He's started sleeping with Lukas' baby blanket this past week.  I love that it's something they've shared!  And 6 out of 7 nights J ends up finishing the night cuddled up next to me in our bed.

- Ju ju, J-bird and JR are his nicknames.  And Mr. Cob and Lukas lovingly call him "the little shark".
 
- He loves his teachers at Primrose - Ms. Mays and Ms. Angela - and they're so sweet with him!  He has a few girlfriends he crawls around with and hangs with all day.  I think he's a ladies man in the making!

- Despite the pictures on this post, J is still wearing his helmet.  He's had it for 3.5 months now and we go again in 2 weeks for more scans.  We're settling in for the long haul at this point.  The helmet has become a part of him and I find myself kissing it, instead of his head (since I can't kiss his head easily).  It is part of his journey and I think he's pretty darn cute in his little spaceman helmet.  And as an added bonus, it's definitely helped in this "fall down a lot and bonk our head" phase of learning to crawl/stand - so I'll be OK if he still has it when he learns to walk!
 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cleanse Update: The Chicken and the Egg

Day 11 here.  As of the morning of Day 10 I was still going strong.  I'd been completely meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan for 9 days.  Yesterday morning I broke the vegan part of that by eating a scrambled egg for breakfast because low and behold, my milk supply began to plummet.  This could be because a certain little mister has started sleeping through the night (hallelujah!!!!) or it could be because I'm not eating enough protein.  Or maybe it's a combination of the two.  Whatever the cause, I started popping Fenugreek pills again and I ate an egg.  Soon I'll be smelling like maple syrup (thanks to the Fenugreek) and hopefully producing more milk.  9 ounces is not enough to feed my little man while I'm away at work all day (for you non-baby readers, I typically send a total of 18 ounces for the day).  And while I'm OK giving him formula, apparently I'm not OK with the idea of my boobs drying up like a prune and stopping nursing completely.  Hence, the egg.

And then a funny thing happened.  I started craving chicken.  Chicken, yes chicken.  So we went out to eat last night to my fave chicken place in Atlanta (Bantam + Biddy) and I ate some rotisserie chicken.  And it was good.  I also had a side of beets with goat cheese (oops, again breaking the vegan thing, well and the dairy thing, sort of - is goat dairy considered "dairy dairy"?) and collards (again breaking the vegan thing by accident...I didn't realize until I was eating that there was some bacon hanging out with my collards, which I happily ate).  But I didn't eat my cornbread muffin.  I did however eat the gluten free no-bake cookie the boys bought.  Chocolate isn't on the cleanse, but do I get points for the gluten free part?

So if you want to be all technical about it, I didn't finish the cleanse.  But I'm back on the wagon today - homemade granola with almond milk and berries for lunch, a green smoothie (kale, coconut water, kiwi, apple, avocado) for snack and my vegan quinoa salad for lunch with raspberries and pepitas to follow for a snack.  I'm totally off my coffee addiction (and am now wondering if there is a link between my elimination of caffeine and Julian's sleeping through the night?).  And generally I feel good.  I'm thinking that this "cleanse", even though I'm not following it to a T for the full 21 days, is a sort of fresh start and new way of eating for me.  I've been a big fan of clean eating for some time, but this has brought it to a new level.  I've eating better than I ever have and I'm feeling great.  And what's more, I LOVE the food.  It tastes good and is satisfying.

My weight had been consistently dropping each day the first week of the cleanse.  I started this cleanse at 156 (yup, I just put that out there).  I dropped down to 149.6 as of Tuesday (cue super happy dance for being in the 140s again...130s here I come), but then, THEN, even with all the clean, vegan eating, before my chicken and egg day, I gained 2 WHOLE POUNDS.  Yesterday morning I weighed 151.6.  And today I'm up to 152.2 again.  What. the. fuck.  I'm trying to stay calm and be happy that my clothes definitely feel looser and I look like I've lost weight, but for the love, if I can't keep weight off eating practically only fruits and vegetables, how am I going to lose this baby weight for good?  It is so infuriating.  And so it goes.  I know the number on the scale isn't an indicator of overall health.  Yada yada yada.  When you have gained 40+ pounds from having a baby, the number on the scale does matter because it tells you whether or not you have lost the weight.  I have not. 

I know I need to start exercising regularly again and hopefully then the weight will come off, but I feel so overextended as it is that I'm really not sure where to find the time.  Last night I was up until almost 11 preparing bottles for today, folding laundry, making healthy food for today and doing all the other boring life things that must get done every day.  I need another hour in my day, stat.

I know I'm being hard on myself.  I know I need to give myself grace and remember that my body likes to hold on to at least 5 pounds while I'm nursing. I know these new eating habits will eventually get the weight off.  I know all of this.  I'd just really like to be able to wear the clothes in my closet again.  And I'd like to do that soon.  Sigh.

At least my boobs are still big for the time being.  Which is good because they're helping to balance out my ass.