Thursday, September 4, 2014

Charlie: 4&5 months

Poor third child Charlie must settle for a combo 4-5 month post... but I'm getting it in before he turns 6 months! (Love this little fella more than words, just can't keep up with life right now!)
Most significant development from Charlie in July was his baptism on July 6. 
He gets 4 godparents: Ben, Candice and Maggie and Chris. 
And, of course, sisters were there to cheer him on at the ceremony at St. Peter's. We were also lucky enough to have family in from St. Louis.
Had to include this picture of cousin Ila holding Charlie... mostly because it's SO unlike him. Our little man is still so happy and smiley 99 percent of the time. I think at this moment during the baptism weekend, he'd simply reached the end of his rope :)
Charging on to August, Charlie made his first trip to Whitecap and enjoyed the box below (while mom and dad enjoyed its contents).
 He loves, loves his exersaucer and is so good at standing (with some support). Did I mention his killer smile?
 And the hair. He's always just a split second from having a mohawk or some other crazy 'do.
 Finally, Charlie made his first trip to the pool in August. He cheered Ellie on as she went off the diving board for the first time... but he mostly lounged on the deck and worked on avoiding any sort of tan or sun exposure.
Our little man is getting big too fast, just like the girls did. He laughs, he says "dada," he snorts (a lot), he's had a cold since birth, he must be teething since he constantly chews those fingers... and he makes us so happy every single day.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ellie is 5!

Hard to believe Ellie turned 5 last weekend. There are so many adjectives I could use to describe her these days: funny, dramatic, loud, sweet, smart, energetic and talkative... just to name a few.
Here are the 5 things to know about Ellie:
1. She's 37.7 pounds and 42 inches, according to the measurements from her kindergarten physical this week. That puts her in the 40th percentile-ish for both height and weight. She loves to eat... all the time... but it works out because she almost never stops moving :)
2. She loves singing, especially the Frozen songs and Little Mermaid. She does it with gusto. She's pretty great.
3. She loves reading. This girl even reads some books to us. OK, mostly she reads the books she has memorized, but she is starting to be able to sound out words.
4. Ellie might not always admit it, but she loves her sister. They are like peas in a pod during play time. And she loves to boss her little sister around left and right. She is over the moon for Charlie, too. And he gives her some of the biggest smiles he has whenever she comes over to play in his face.
5. Brian and I joke about how tough Ellie is for us to handle much of the time. She's got A LOT of energy, she argues with almost everything we say and she is a bit of a troublemaker... in other words, she's what I remember being as a child. Brian was guilty of most of that, too. So we've got some karma on our hands. But I also hope, and expect, that Ellie is going to channel all of these traits into so many positive attributes as she gets older. She's so smart and funny. She's really amazing. We love her so. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Charlie: 3 months

 Charlie at 3 months! (just a bit late...)
1. Super smiley. Love it, love it, love it.
2. Had a cold for about a month now, lots of boogers and not sleeping great... that includes mom and dad, too.
3. Getting acclimated at daycare. His teachers flagged a possible allergy to the formula because he spits up sometimes and gets hives sometimes while eating... but doc says not to worry and it seems like he's no more or less vomitty than the girls were. Still, he's not the easiest to feed at daycare, so they are doing what they can. He mostly prefers mom all the time...
4. He can support his entire body weight (mostly) if we steady him while he's standing on his legs. Big, strong man!
5. His hair is insane. (See below) If we don't mat it down ASAP after bathtime, all bets are off.
6. He laughs... especially when tickled in one of his 100 tickle spots. Ellie loves tickling him,
7. He's surviving his sisters, sometimes in spite of their best efforts to get in his face, press on him, grab his face or pull on an appendage. He'll grow up tough.
8. Prolific pooper. Lots of diaper changes with this one, especially compared to once-a-day Katie.
9. Loves bath time. He could soak for hours, I think, if we let him. Has fun getting washed while we referee Ellie and Katie in the big tub on bath nights.
10. Talking. Lots of coos and funny sounds coming from this guy, who no doubt it trying to get a word in edgewise with this crew.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Charlie: 2 months

Must. Do. Monthly. Updates. I've getting Charlie's 2 month update in just under the wire. It's still May and he's not yet 3 months, so I'm counting it :)
Here's what he's up to these days:
1. Smiles abound. His grin just kills us, and we do just about anything to coax one out of him. Love it.
2. Sleeping like a champ. (Please don't let this be a jinx.) He only is waking up once or twice a night, and he goes back to sleep pretty easily.
3. Homer Simpson, when it comes to belching. We have to be careful after that first burp because there's usually something that follows...
4. Rocking the cute baby boy clothes, My favorite so far has been the baby cargo pants, lots of pockets for all his belongings.
5. Hair styles. Charlie's hair is amazing. He gets a natural mohawk after every bath.
6. Eating more. His bottle intake is growing, up to 4 ounces at a time. I stopped nursing and pumping at the 2 month mark. It was hard (for me), but Charlie is doing great.
7. Loves his "soaks." That's what I call bath time for Charlie. He sits and relaxes in his baby tub while the girls are crazy in the bath across the room. He loves it and somehow relaxes through the super noisy process.
8. Talking. Charlie makes all sorts of fun coos and other noises these days. Ellie and Katie think it's hilarious.
9. Dazzling them at daycare. Charlie started at Trinity with the girls this past week, and even though he has some crying time they say he's mostly happy.
10. Running. He's my buddy in the running stroller for a few miles here and there. He sleep through most of the workout, but I feel the burn. He loves the fresh air.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Charlie and I feel the same about my last week of full-time leave from work wrapping up :(  Starting next week, I head into the office for half days and Charlie will stay with my mom. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to ease back into work, and for my mom's willingness to help us out with day care... but it's still hard. Third time around and this whole juggling motherhood and work thing isn't any easier. Even though a part of me is looking forward to getting back into my job and being around adults again, my stomach fills with knots when I think about spending hours away from Charlie. When I returned to work after Ellie was born, I was surprised to find out how much it hurts to be away from baby. I know it will all be OK, Charlie will be fine and so will I... but I also know it sucks. Plain and simple. 
But for now I'm soaking up my time with Charlie. I'm enjoying the first hints of smiles (when he's not making his sour face like above), and we're cuddling and playing as much as we can. I'm so in love with this little guy!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Photo shoot cuteness

 I've been wanting to get some shots of the kiddos in their respective "sister" and "brother" shirts... and the stars aligned this morning for a brief photo shoot. Katie is a super middle sister, Charlie is the cutest little brother ever (hey, the shirt doesn't lie) and Ellie is always the big sister in charge.
Obviously this is the kind of affection the siblings will always show each other for the rest of their lives, right?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Doggie daycare

Looks like Muzzy's got this... so I'll go take a nap. Our dogs are tested warriors now in the baby department, but we've sensed some sighing from them in the weeks since we brought Charlie home. Sure, Radar and Muzzy were our first babies. But they've had to take a back seat in recent years to the human babies. Both dogs are good with the kids, but we have to keep an eagle eye on Muzzy... who will eat diapers, diaper rash cream, baby socks, breast pump pieces and anything else we leave in her reach. And the girls have learned the hard way they have to keep snack bowls out of reach. It's a juggling act! Still, we love our canine kiddos, too.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Motherhood magic

In my post earlier this week about some of the struggles I've had in these early weeks I didn't want to overshadow the elation I have as a new mom about 90 percent of the time. Here are some of my favorite moments with new baby boy:
Cat naps with Charlie asleep on my chest. There's nothing better.
His bright eyes looking up at me while he eats.
Hearing squeak with contentment as he sleeps in my arms or the baby sling.
Watching the growing love between Charlie and his big sisters.
Baby bath time (when he's content in the warm water... not screaming the whole time. It's about a 50-50 chance).
Putting one of Charlie's fun baby outfits on (though I'm not changing his clothes nearly enough to fit in every 0-3 month outfit we've gotten as gifts or hand-me-downs... I need to get cracking!)

I'm over the moon over this little guy, and even when it's hard or overwhelming I wouldn't trade this mom gig for anything in the world.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Charlie: 1 month

 Charlie just hit the one month milestone. He's getting bigger (rough calculations at home suggest he's somewhere in the 11-12 lb range, but we'll visit the doc next week for an official report). He's sleeping at somewhat more regular intervals. He's gaining more head control, checking out everything around him (when he's awake) and making plenty of dirty diapers. Oh, and he's sporting some impressive baby acne this week...
It's such a happy-sad time to see our little man growing. Can't believe we already have a whole month under our belts with this one. Fighting the urge to want to stop time because I know there so much fun ahead of us in the smiling, talking and moving phases of the months ahead. Happy 1 month, Charlie!

**As of Charlie's doc appointment on 4/22, he weighed 11 lbs, 2 oz and was 22 inches long; 77th percentile for weight and around 50th percentile for length. Doctor said he's doing great!**

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sweetness sliding away?

Pretty much from Day 1 we've been awed by our little Katie's laid back attitude and sweetness. Don't get me wrong... this little cutie is still melting our hearts on a daily basis, but our 2-year-old is also developing some 'tude.
Katie is a total sponge and has a stunning vocabulary from listening to all the chatter around her, especially from big sister. This morning she told me at breakfast, "I sing 'Let it go' in my crib." Ellie confirmed that she was woken up this morning by Katie's rendition of the Frozen theme song. And Brian was greeted this morning by Katie informing him, "Scout needs new batteries," in reference to her favorite stuffed animal.
Knowing her language skills, it gets even more frustrating for me and Brian when Katie dissolves into a screaming or crying fit. She's becoming increasingly independent and wants to get dressed, get into her chair at the table and put shoes away in the closet all by herself. That's great, and we're encouraging her... but when something trips her up all we hear is a shriek or wail. We tell her to ask us for help or to use her words, but she's 2.
Katie is also testing out some defiance and we're hearing the word "No" come out of her more often in recent weeks. Not loving it, but I understand that it goes with the territory. I remember when Ellie started down this road... and I wish I knew then that the battles will only intensify (not abate) with age. Sigh. So, wish us luck in this next round of terrible 2 territory.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My biggest critic: Me

When it comes to anything baby, parents face pressure from every direction.
I didn't realize until this third time home with a newborn just how much of of this second-guessing and criticism I pile on myself. I have supportive family and friends surrounding me, texting and emailing, dropping off food and gifts for Charlie... and still I feel at times like I'm all alone in this and failing.
In my head I know it's the normal baby blues mixed with sleep deprivation, but I have a hard time explaining that to my heart. More than once this past month Brian has watched me dissolve into tears over just about nothing (even though it felt to me like everything was falling apart).
This is something I don't think new moms talk about it enough. When well-wishers ask how things are going they expect the canned replies and would probably run the other direction if I launched into a weepy tale about sleepless nights or the constant anxiety that I'm not doing enough for my baby or his big sisters.
With each passing day I feel the hormones leveling out and Charlie falling into the early inklings of a routine (which gives me hope for a steadier supply of sleep somewhere in the future). But I've had some low points in these early weeks and had to remind myself that it's OK.
During this pregnancy I promised myself (and Brian) that my motto with Charlie would be "I will not make myself crazy." Beyond the normal new mom stuff, we talked about this because of the roller coaster I've had with low supply issues and breastfeeding.
(The cause stems back to a surgery I had at 18, and while I knew about the risks of interference with breastfeeding back then I didn't have babies in the forefront of my mind. Ten years later as I was struggling to feed my baby and failing to see her gain weight, I put a whole lot of blame on myself. I battled these crazy feelings of inadequacy as a mom when Brian and I had to supplement formula into Ellie's diet. When Katie was born I adopted a moderately insane regimen of nursing and pumping round the clock, added herbal supplements and even a prescription medication into the mix... and still wound up needing to supplement. More on that here.)
With Charlie, I've mostly stuck to my vow to be realistic in my expectations for feeding. He started off as a strong nurser but has gotten frustrated in recent weeks when he wakes up super hungry and I'm not full enough to give him all he needs, or get it to him fast enough. So I've worked out a combo of nursing and pumping and supplementing. It's helping Charlie get about as much breast milk from me as he can. (When I pumped with Katie I ultimately realized I could pump every hour or two and get an ounce each time or pump every 3-4 hours and get two ounces at a time. So I'm pumping 4-5 times a day instead of the 8 times I did with Katie, we're nursing when Charlie will allow it and we're using formula, too.
It's fine. Really it is. I know that I've tried everything in my power to build supply, and I know there's more to being a good mom than solely breastfeeding.
It's another case where my brain knows that Charlie is doing great and will be absolutely fine with what we're giving him. But this silly part of me still feels like a failure. I think there's something primal in new moms that makes us feel like we have to give our babies anything (and everything) they need. When I can't do that, when I have to mix up a bottle instead of just nursing him, I get a knot in my stomach. Does it sound crazy to want to be the only thing Charlie needs for sustenance (just like I was for the 40 weeks he spent inside me)?
And yet, I know other moms out there who at times hate the dependency of nursing. They'd like sometimes to be able to mix up a bottle and hand baby off for just one feeding.
I know moms who've never tried breastfeeding and turned straight to formula, and I know moms who are still breastfeeding their toddlers. I support the decisions I've watched my friends and family make with their children. But I'm ridiculously hard on myself for this shortcoming as a mom, for what my body just won't do, for something that I have no control over.
I'm working through this every day and trying to give myself a break.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nighttime stories

Story time is still one of my favorite parts of the day. We've been doing this routine since Ellie was just a few months old. These days Ellie and Katie show up to the couch or mom-and-dads-bed each night with a stack of books, so I'd say they enjoy it, too. After stories the girls drag as many books as we'll allow into their beds and usually stay up "reading" on their own for another 30 minutes or longer. I love their enthusiasm for books even though it sometimes means grumpy girls the next morning if Brian and I don't go in at some point to enforce "lights out."
We're getting Charlie into the mix now, and Ellie loves to help hold little brother during stories when his mood allows for it. Hopefully we're raising another bookworm. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


One... Ellie in October 2009
Two... Ellie and Katie in March 2012
And three... last week :)
Three is not as easy as anything, never mind what song lyrics might lead you to believe. Our lives right now are absolute chaos. A haze of sleep, eating and feeding, work, cleaning ... and repeat. Luckily I've been assured by friends with this many (or more) kids, that life will be like this for the next 18 or so years. I won't lie. I've had a few "what have we done?!" moments since we brought Charlie home from the hospital... but we're having a lot of laughs and fun amid the madness.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Soaking it in

Wondering what Charlie and I are up to in recent weeks? Well he's either doing this:
Or this:

But we also get a little of this calm awake time from our little man.
In short, Charlie and I are doing great. It's weird how life with a newborn is both completely monotonous (feed, change, lull to sleep, repeat) and completely chaotic. I don't know what each day and night will bring -- whether Charlie will sleep for 10 minutes or 2 hours; whether he'll insist on being carried around all day or be content outside of mom's arms for a bit; whether he'll save some extra pee to release mid-diaper change or be kind to mom...
As these days of my maternity leave too quickly turn into weeks and fly by, I'm trying to soak up every moment with Charlie. I treasure our cat naps together, and I even try to appreciate our middle of the night feedings. Love this little guy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A quick rewind

Yes, I was smiling in this picture... but I don't miss the days of that belly. I know I will somewhere down the line, but for now I'm enjoying the freedom of being able to sit down for story time with the girls without packing into the chair like sardines. Of course, just because Charlie is on the outside now doesn't mean he wants to be left out. He usually decides to wake up and fuss right when one or both of us is trying to settle down for stories with the girls. Also, like any self-respecting baby he senses when we've all finally assembled at the dinner table and makes sure to pipe up right then. Charlie is making sure he's still a big part of it all. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Love from sisters

Ellie and Katie are moderately obsessed with their new brother. We hear 100 times a day, "Look at the little baby!" in a sing-songy voice from Ellie, as she prepared to kiss and maul Charlie. Katie chimes in when she can and loves to offer kisses and hugs to little bro.
They are usually somewhat gentle, but neither totally gets how fragile Charlie is (despite his birth weight!). The blue chair pictured above rocks a little and the girls have nearly catapulted Charlie out in their efforts to push him up and down in it. He's going to grow up a tough little man.
I've seen hints of jealousy from both girls in these first couple weeks. Katie is asking for me to pick her up and to sit in my lap more than she has in recent months, and Ellie is acting out to try to draw attention away from the baby. It's adding some stress in a household with already sleep-deprived parents, but we're working through it.
Overall I'd say Ellie and Katie are handling the new addition to the family pretty well. I see they truly love this little man... and I foresee each of them teaching him bad things in the years to come!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Let's play... Ellie or Charlie?

 We have some baby picture twins on our hands! Can you tell apart the Ellie and Charlie photos?

(Pics 1, 3 and 5 are Charlie... 2, 4 and 6 are Ellie.) 

Charlie's big debut

Have to share the story of Charlie's arrival while it's still fresh in my mind. Two weeks ago today I went in for a checkup with the doctor. I was cranky, exhausted from lugging around my massive belly, and uncomfortable. I expected the doc to give me a sympathetic look and send me off with a "let's wait and see what happens."
But instead Brian and I found out I was already dilated to 4 cm and the doctor was ready to sign off on speeding up the delivery process a bit. The ultrasound that morning showed Charlie was already measuring 9 lbs, 6 oz and since I wanted to try to avoid a c-section, the doctor didn't want the baby getting any bigger. (I was also fine with that... and I was hoping the ultrasound size estimate was on the large side, like it was when Katie was born smaller than anticipated.)
A couple hours later, Brian and I were checked into Rockford Memorial. I was a ball of nerves. There are definitely pros and cons to having been through labor before... I knew it was a big job ahead, and more than likely Charlie was a bigger baby than I'd ever delivered.
My water was broken, which helped speed up contractions. (Side note: as evidence of how tight the quarters were in my belly, when they broke my water not much came out. The medical staff found out later that was because a huge pocket of it was plugged up near the top of my belly by Charlie's body. It doused the floor and some of the doctors and nurses later in the evening after Charlie came out. Oops!)
I got an epidural somewhere around 6 p.m. and they inserted an internal monitor to track Charlie's heartbeat and my contractions. The contractions, though they felt plenty strong to me before getting the epidural, weren't moving things along very well so I got some pitocin. However, they soon had to back off the pitocin because Charlie's heart rate was dropping from the strong contractions. They put me on oxygen to help improve oxygen to the baby. We waited a bit longer and finally I was at 10 cm.
The doctor came in and asked me to do a test push on the next contraction. After one round of pushing, at 8:25 p.m., she called for the labor bed to be broken down. Charlie was coming.
Now the scary part. I pushed so incredibly hard, eyes shut and all of my energy into it. Brian was so supportive, and the nurses surrounding me kept saying what a good job I was doing. The head was out after the second round of pushing. I didn't know what was going on, but Brian told me later they had to cut the umbilical cord from around Charlie's neck. They wanted to get the rest of him out pronto.
I still wasn't really sure what was happening, but kept pushing beyond belief when told to. In those find rounds of pushing (just lasting a few minutes more), the doctor had to do some wrangling to free Charlie. He had shoulder distotia, and Brian told me later how scary it was to watch them sweep one shoulder out and press his head down to free the other shoulder.
At 8:33 p.m. Charlie was born. They rushed him across the room to the newborn bed and I waited to hear his cry. I kept waiting and asking why he wasn't crying. Brian told me everything was fine, but unfortunately he's a terrible liar and I could see the fear in his eyes. He watched them work on Charlie's limp, purple body for what felt like an eternity. I guess it was just moments or minutes. FINALLY, we heard Charlie crying and I dissolved.

Our little prince was fine, though his face and shoulders were bruised from the rough delivery. I certainly was worse for the wear, too. But as soon as I got to hold Charlie in my arms, nothing else mattered. He was perfect. I once again got to experience the limitless mother's love. I couldn't imagine loving anything more than this little person who was finally in my arms after 40 weeks of waiting.
The nurses immediately started guessing his weight. At RMH they wait an hour after birth to do weight and other measurements on the baby, instead giving that time for skin-to-skin contact with the mom. I was NOT complaining. When I finally did give Charlie back to the nurse, we found out he weighed 9 lbs, 15.6 oz. He was 21 inches long. Our little man was not so little!
What a perfect bundle, though. Thankfully his bruising disappeared in the first few days and he seems to bear no scars from what could have been a much more traumatic birth. We are so blessed to have this healthy, happy St. Paddy's Day baby boy.