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!