Thursday, March 29, 2012

Going Back

A few things about going back to work:

I am thoroughly loving wearing clothes that DO NOT fall into either of these two categories:
  • Boobs are easily accessible.
  • I don't really care if this gets spit up on.

The lingo and the terminology is all coming back to me.  Back in the middle of my maternity leave I met some coworkers for lunch and of course we ended up talking about something job-related.  While I was out, they were being asked by management to explain something that had to do with one of my projects, so since I was right there they thought they would just ask me.  I literally could not manage to spit out anything that made sense.   It was like the light on that part of my brain had been dimmed for too long, it all felt so… out of context or something, and I just couldn’t find the words.  It was SO WEIRD.   Anyway, thankfully after just a few hours of going through my email and getting back up to speed, I felt competent again. 

I am pretty much starving throughout about 50% of my work day.  Clearly I got pretty used to eating and snacking ALL DAY LONG while on maternity leave, and my body is adjusting.  Today by 11:00 AM I was bugging my brother in the office next door about when he wanted to eat lunch, I was having a hard time concentrating on anything other than how hungry I was.  

I had an epiphany though, when I remembered that the last time I was in this office I was PREGNANT!  So clearly there would be some snacks stashed away in my desk somewhere.  I found them, little mini Luna bars.  Perfection.    

Speaking of my brother, I really missed him.  I didn’t realize how much I missed talking to him.  And it’s not like I haven’t seen him in three months, we live just a few miles away and our families get together quite often, but it’s just different. 

And speaking of LUNCH, oh it is glorious to sit and eat and talk and not manage babies.  Gloooorious.  

I am ravenous for all the office gossip, and so much has gone down since December, I just can’t get enough.  I feel like I can’t stop talking, can’t stop asking questions, I can’t get enough of the “shop talk”.  It is so nice to talk about and think about something other than my children.  

Pumping is going well, I produce so much milk this time around (I’m getting over 20 oz total each day in my three pumping sessions) and it is quite a relief to not really have to stress out about the whole “numbers game”.  I have been pumping every morning since around week four, (which I hated doing at first but just learned to work into my morning routine), so I’ve built up quite the freezer stash of about 200 ounces. 

Louie didn’t sleep very well for either of his grandmas this week, but I’m hoping it’s just a matter of him having to adjust to the new environments and to being away from his mother.  As far as they’ve told me, he’s been perfectly sweet and happy throughout the day, no major freak outs.  But still, he only manages little cat-naps throughout the day, waking up the second he is put down or if grandma dares to try to sit while holding him.   

So my time spent in the evenings this week with the little guy has pretty much  looked like this:
  • Walk in the door  
  • Give Gus a hug and ask him how his day was.  
  • Take Louie from Dan and love on him and smell him and talk to him, trying to make him smile at me so I don’t feel so guilty that me going back to work and leaving him is the reason why he’s so tired.  
  • Maybe manage to get about half a smile out of him, but not much, because he’s just too exhausted for that nonsense. 
  • Immediately after a good nursing session the little guy falls asleep, and is dreaming away in his bassinet by about 6:15-6:30 where he stays until I wake him up at 10:00 to get him into his PJs and nurse again before I go to bed. 

It does make me a little sad that I spent about 45 minutes with him each night, during which he’s mostly nursing, but it won’t always be like that.  He’ll figure out how to sleep without his mother, and in a bed that isn’t his own.  

And it makes it much easier that we only have to do that for three days, the week has gone by so fast and I’ve been so busy at work that I’ve barely had time to get too distressed about it.  Starting tomorrow I have four lovely days to spend with my two boys.  

I think things are going to be okay.   

Oh and I hope it goes without saying that I’ve missed my silly Gus this week as well.   He’s just grown up so much in the past few months, and is getting to be so independent, (not to mention he loves spending time with both of his grandmas), that I don’t really have to worry too much about him. 

However, and this has become very apparent this week, I DO have to worry about what I say around him.  Like really, seriously, shut your trap woman.

Funny story…

He has this little Lightning McQueen mega block car that he has trouble pulling apart, so instead he throws it as hard as he can on the floor so it breaks apart.  Earlier this week I was in the kitchen doing dishes while he was (I thought) in the basement playing, and he snuck up behind me and scared the CRAP out of me by smashing his car on the floor.  

Of course, I jumped and screamed, “JESUS CHRIST!” and sure enough, he immediately incorporated that into a game and proceeded to run around the house throwing his car on the floor yelling, “JESUS CHRIST!”, over and over and over again.  Dan and I had to stifle our laughter and pretend to have no reaction to what he was saying, hoping he’d forget and have a new phrase to obsess over the next day.  However this morning, after a failed potty incident before heading off to grandma’s ended with him peeing all over me, it slipped out of both of our mouths again.   

Ugh.  I just had to shake my head, and of course try soooooo hard not to laugh, because it shouldn’t be funny.  It is terrible!  But something about it coming out of his little mouth in his chirpy little voice?  It’s just so… ADORABLE!  Gah!

Parenting is a trip. 

Monday, March 26, 2012


I go back to work tomorrow.

I'm really excited about getting back to the office, for a number of reasons, but mostly I'm just looking forward to being a part of a group again, a part of a team.  I think that's the hardest part about being at home with kids, it tends to make you feel sort of isolated.  I don't know why this is, but you feel like everyone else (whomever that even refers to) is out there busy being a part of things, running here and there, participating in and contributing to society as a whole.

And you're home with small children, who constantly NEED something from you, and it can be a tedious, thankless job.  Arguably, one of the most important jobs out there, but yeah, the "lows" are certainly unlike any other paid job.

I think if I was going to do this thing, like really full time, no joke, stay home with my children... I'd definitely have to do the mom group thing, at least one or two days a week, and also maybe join a gym.  Because it's that sense of adult camaraderie I'd miss so much, the "office gossip", that sense of we're in this together.

Anyway, so tomorrow is the day.  And it's bittersweet because these past twelve weeks have been such an incredible trip.  In the beginning it felt like I was living someone else's life, and now here at the end, well it's the opposite. The idea of setting my alarm and dressing in something other than a nursing tank and jeans, dropping my kids off at grandma's and picking up coffee on the way to the office where I'll spend hours in meetings with engineers... well that sounds like someone else's life.  (Parts of it do sound just heavenly though, I have to admit.)

I'm going to miss the boys like crazy, particularly I'm a little heartbroken about leaving Louie.  Even though I have the perspective of having done this before, so I know that he will do just fine without his mama and that he and his grandmas will figure each other out and find their own rhythm, (really it's probably a good thing for both of us to spend a little time apart), it still just breaks my heart.  He's so little, and all he has to go on in life so far is what he knows from the last 12 weeks, and pretty much, well, that's me.  Me and his dad and Gus, but mostly, me, his mama.  I've always been there and now I'm not going to be, and he's not going to understand at first, and that makes me so unbelievably sad.  I know.  Ridiculous.  I remember feeling EXACTLY the same way when I went back to work after having Gus, he did just fine and even if he did, he never let on that he felt abandoned by his mother.

Oh gracious me.

Well I could not have lucked out more to have the most incredible weather during the last month of my maternity leave.  Here's a little of what we've been up to.  

Louie taking a good nap on his great-grandma at James's birthday party.

We have taken many walks to many different parks over the last few weeks, and I feel like I'm getting double the workout by carrying Louie in the Moby or BabyHawk.  At least my back is, good lor-ed.

Louie and mom at the park.

Louie loves lounging on the blanket, looking up at the sky and smiling at his mama while Gus runs around on the playground. 

Daddy teaching Gus the appropriate way to swing a bat in our back yard.  Meh.  He went back to doing it his way (one-handed) shortly after this.  He does what he wants.

This girl, our first baby, sometimes gets forgotten.  She needs to be groomed really really badly, even though I've had a whole three months to make an appointment and get her in.  Poor forgotten little sheltie. 

Tummy time isn't so bad, as long as he can manage to get his hand to his mouth. 

Putting together our new double stroller, Gus was SO EXCITED, and of course had to lay down on the floor and get a good look at the wheels and see how it works.  (Future engineer like his dad?)

I suppose I can give some details about why we went with the stroller we did for anyone in the market for something similar.  Warning: Really Boring Stroller Talk coming up...

We went with the Schwinn Turismo, after a lot of debate and research and hours reading a ridiculous number of finicky reviews about various double strollers on Amazon.  So far so good, it's the perfect stroller for us at the right price.  We were looking for something strictly for walks around the neighborhood or hikes of the more adventurous variety.  Walking is pretty much the only way I get exercise these days, and while I'd like for that to change at some point, we are all about the long walks to neighborhood parks, (usually 3 miles plus), and have trained Gus to love them as well.  So we needed something that handles well on both grass and jacked up city streets, with seats and canopies that could be adjusted independent of each other.  The Schwinn is also is one of the only walking/jogging strollers with a pivoting front wheel that has a height-adjustable handle, which is nice for Dan.  At 6'3" he often has a problem with kicking the back of strollers while he walks, but that doesn't happen with this one.  Storage was also something we considered, because the storage on our BOB sucks, it has undoubtedly been our number one complaint with that fancy pants stroller.  So yeah, the storage on this thing is AWESOME.  You can actually get a diaper bag under there while kids are sitting in the stroller.  Amazing.  As an extra bonus, it came with cup holders for us and trays for the kids, no extra add-on accessory costs. 

This thing definitely isn't for the faint of heart.  It's pretty massive and not the kind of thing you'd want to drag all over the place, or have to load in and out of the car very often.  We still want a sit-and-stand of some sort, for less "athletic" outings (i.e. the mall, zoo, vacations, etc.), but when we priced it out, we realized we could get the Schwinn and one of those smaller, lighter tandem strollers for less than the price of one of the really high-end double strollers, like the Double BOB or the City Mini Double.

Phew.  Boring stroller talk over.    

We discovered our new favorite neighborhood park, it's tucked away in a part of our city that we don't usually walk, and it is lovely and quiet in an off-the-beaten-path kind of way.

These two did not purposely dress the same that day.  :)  Goodness they are cute.

Finally, here's the little guy that is causing me a bit of heartbreak today.  Sweetheart, I know you are in good hands with your grandmas and all of your aunts and uncles who dote on you so sweetly.  Thank you for being such a funny, laid back guy.  I've had such a great time hanging out with you and loving on you these past months.  Tomorrow begins our whole new normal, again!  But really, that's just how it is with a little baby, in three months you'll be sitting up and eating cheerios and laughing at your brother at breakfast from your high chair.  It all just goes so crazy fast, and I am just holding on for the ride.  So excited to see what's next for all of us! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Grandmas

The Grandmas have played a very important and special part of the boys' and my lives over the last few months. 

Fact: the grandmas have kept me sane during my maternity leave, getting us out of the house, giving me adults to talk to, helping me beat the isolation blues that creep in when I'm on my own too much.  

I've loved spending so much time with these two women.  They listen when I ramble on about my insecurities.  They take joy in being with my children.  They laugh about the stupid stuff.  They wrangle my toddler when he needs wrangling and I'm trapped under a nursing baby.  They give me a break from parenting two children when I need it. 

And we've all had so much fun, at least I know Gus and I have.  (Louie is pretty much always happy, provided he's not being offered a bottle.)

They've also provided us with a little bit of a varied routine which has been welcome.  I like routine, kids need routine, but I just can't really handle the monotony of staying home in the middle of winter, day after day after day, which goes something like this:  

Out of bed (nurse), breakfast, pump, Thomas episode, Louie down for a nap (nurse), play with Gus, Louie up (nurse), find a way to entertain Gus some more, lunch, nap time (nurse), dishes & tidy up, pull out meat for dinner, watch some TV and play on the internet, boys are up (nurse), entertain Gus some more, Dan home, TALK HIS EAR OFF about the minute details of our dull but nice day.

Those days are good, but I can only handle a few of them each week or I start to crack up, as does Gus. 

Our weekly routine that includes The Grandmas goes something like this:

Monday: School (ECFE) at 9AM, pick up "Grandma Who" at 10:45, go off on some sort of adventure (mall, zoo, library, etc.) that usually includes lunch out, home before 2:00 PM for a late nap (or sometimes Gus goes to Grandma's to spend some time and take a nap), Dan is home before Gus is even awake.

Tuesday: Day at home, usually something like the above described, maybe with some variation like a walk down the street to the coffee shop for a treat (if the weather permits), or a trip to Target/Costco/Grocery store (somewhere where I can strap Gus down in a cart and wear Louie).

Wednesday: Grandma Who's other day off, which means either a full day adventure like the Children's Museum, or we head to toddler playtime at the neighboring community's gym and then meet my mom's friend Karen for Greek or Chinese food.  Usually I get home and I'm completely exhausted and a little sweaty, but we've all had a total blast and Gus got to do something that I wouldn't attempt on my own with two children. 

 Thursday: "Grandma Norstrum"!  We head over to my mother-in-law's home and spend the day playing with the kids, eating hummus and drinking Diet Coke, talking about mothering small children, yelling at the dogs, watching day-time television, and smooching on the babies.  It's relaxing, yet crazy chaotic, all in the same day.  Gus usually doesn't get a nap on these days, which means there's an hour or so (usually around the 3:00 hour) where things are a bit dicey, but then later it also means a 7:00 PM bedtime and lots of husband/wife time in the evening.  Winners all around.

Friday: Another day home, just me and the boys and that's fine with me because the week has been long and exhausting.  We also usually have some plans for the evening as it is, so there's something to look forward to.  Gotta admit, on Fridays I'm super laid back mom and Gus probably watches more TV than on other days.  And that's totally cool.  I like Fridays.            

So yeah, this has been life for the last ten weeks, and it's coming to a close not too long from now.  No doubt, I'm feeling pretty wistful about that.

Thank you to The Grandmas.  You've been such a huge part of what has made these months so wonderful, and I will forever remember this time as a happy time.  Honestly, I've even been able to see what it could be like to be a stay at home mom, and that I might actually not mind it so much.  Just so long as I'd have my village.  My village pretty much consisting of, well, The Grandmas.   

Friday, March 09, 2012

Bath Time

I gave Louie a bath this morning and decided I needed to finally step up my mom game and get a few photos of his glorious rolls and buddha belly.  Oh how I yearn for the warm summer months when I can take in his deliciousness every single day, and dress him in little striped short-sleeved bodysuits and puny short-talls that barely cover his diaper.  But alas, it is March, and I continue to pile on the layers every morning, something it seems I'm almost instinctively driven to do as a mother of an infant. 

Really at this point it's pretty ridiculous how overdressed this child is, because as we get to know each other better, I'm finding out that he is quite warm-blooded.  He gets uncomfortable when dressed in cozy fleece, breaks out in a heat rash covering his whole body after being worn in a wrap on a walk in fifty degree weather, and comes out of the car seat a sweaty mess after even just a few minutes of shrieking on the way to grandma's.

Still, I can't seem to stop myself.  "But what if he gets cold!"


Behold, my fifteen pound two month-old.  I mean look at him, is there anything more beautiful than a baby in his birthday suit?  I think no.  And there quite likely will be no other time in his life when his rolls and butt dimples and double chins will be celebrated and gushed over.  So we must make sure to stop and do so while these things are still admirable.  

Oh my goodness he is just so sweet, those big blue eyes kill me dead.


He locked eyes with me throughout his bath this morning and I can't help wonder what he's thinking.  I'd love to see the world through his eyes.  I wonder if he loves me as much as I love him, it just doesn't seem possible.  

Sunday, March 04, 2012

On my mind

We are amidst a full on battle of the bottle with Louie these days. We did as they say to do, we introduced the bottle when Louie was about four weeks old. Four week old Louie was totally cool with the bottle, drank down a few ounces with absolutely no protest and we breathed a sigh of relief. Phew, dodged that bullet, one less thing to worry about. Cross that one off the list. Bottle, CHECK!

Then we got a bit lazy about it, and I think he only had one other bottle before he was six weeks old. And then we went to give him one and he was all, Oh hell no! What is this?

Likes: smiling and nursing.  Dislikes: bottles and his car seat.

Ugghhhh. So for the last two weeks we've made it our mission to get this figured out. We even took a trip to Babies R Us and bought like a billion different bottles to try, with nipples that more closely resemble the boob. It was worth a shot right? I prayed that we would find that magical perfect nipple that he loved and our problems would be solved. Yeah. Not so much. (Though we have decided that we and Louie all like the Tommy Tippy bottles the best, so we made a little bit of progress there.)

This last week we really got down to business and attempted to at least try a bottle every day. Tuesday night I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown while Dan worked at it with the little guy for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Louie got really upset a number of times, and I was this close to running in there and punching Dan in the face and stealing my poor poor baby from his arms. Mama bear ATTACKS!

It was a terrible night. Though after those two and a half hours he did finally wear Louie down, and he drank four ounces and then nursed from me and fell asleep for the next seven hours or so. Poor guy was tuckered out from all the drama. So was Dan. So was I. Gus was in the basement playing, mostly oblivious, lucky bastard.

We took that as a victory but made sure to try again the next day, and (sigh) it was more of the same, though not quite as drawn out, maybe only an hour of torture this time. I know, I should just leave the house.

Anyway, we stepped back a little and are trying to have perspective about this problem, after a reassuring talk with the pediatrician.  Yeah, it's something we have to figure out, but it may just take a day or two of being away from mama for a long period of time, and he may just need to get truly hungry. When I go back in (holy crap!) three weeks, I only work three days a week, and until my sister-in-law starts watching the kids in June, both grandmas are helping out. He's truly in good, loving, experienced hands.

Maybe he'll be one of those kids that drinks the bare minimum while mama is away, just enough to ward off uncomfortableness. We just don't know, but it's really one of those things that I don't have a lot of control over. We'll keep trying everyday, but not to the point of traumatizing the poor child. If he doesn't take a bottle one day, we will roll with it and won't treat it like the end of the world, or some HUGE PROBLEM that we have to conquer that day. Patience. Perspective.

Packing on the Pounds
Thank goodness I'm referring to Louie here, and not me, (though I'm not exactly where I'd like to be). We had his two month visit with the pediatrician and dude is growing, like whoa. He's topping the charts at 15 lbs even, up nearly six pounds from his birth weight. It'll be interesting to see if he continues to be massive, or if he starts to even out between four and six months like Gus did.

Look how huge he looks here in his dad's arms!  And he's wearing something Gus wore at 5 months.

As for me, I seem to have hit a plateau with my weight loss, and I still have about five pounds to go to get back to my pre-baby weight. Though really, I'd love to lose ten pounds, which would put me at around my lowest weight that I was at while breastfeeding Gus. He started to nurse less and less near the end, to the point where when I got pregnant with Louie (and he was about 20 months) it was probably just around twice a day, and I had gained back some weight.

So how am I going to lose five or ten more pounds when I don't exercise at all and am constantly starving and snacking throughout the day? That is quite the dilemma, isn't it? Oh well, I just don't see myself finding the time to exercise "for real" anytime soon, so I'm looking forward to spring when I can start getting out walking again with the boys. On a related note, I need to get with the program and make a decision on a double stroller in the very near future. Because it's March (wooo!) and spring is right around the corner. Hopefully I have plenty of time before tank-top weather to get in a little bit better shape. ;)

I am thinking, "Ooh, a sucker!  What can I go find to eat?"
Well, the big guy is smiling and cooing up a storm these days, and sleeping really really really well. He sleeps a good chunk at the beginning of the night, usually from around 7:00 or 8:00 in the evening until somewhere between 12:30 to 1:30 AM. After that he's up to eat about every two to three hours. It all feels so manageable, so lovely, compared to the hellish sleep we got with Gus for about two years, so I'm enjoying it while I can, knowing that it could change at a moment's notice. Everything sleep-related really seemed to truly go down-hill around the 4-month wakeful period with Gus, and it never got better. So I'm still afraid to even get used to any of this awesomeness (I may have a little post-traumatic stress from two years of sleep deprivation), but I definitely will enjoy it while it lasts and hold out hope for something different this time.

I'll give this baby credit though, already I can recognize HUGE differences between him and his brother when it comes to sleep. Quite often Louie is able to put himself to sleep without a problem, provided he isn't over-tired or over-stimulated. I can just set him in his bassinet, close the door, and he kicks around a bit, makes some noises, and with really no fuss goes to sleep very quickly.

This is like a dream for us, as Gus NEVER put himself to sleep. EVER. Seriously.  We still, to this day, lay with him at night and at nap time to help him go to sleep. As a baby he was rocked, shushed, cuddled, nursed, bounced, Moby'd, sang to, and just generally hard-core parented to sleep for every nap and at every bedtime. You name the method, we used it at one point or another. And that's okay, I've made some peace with the fact that Gus needed all that, he was a high-needs baby and is still a highly energetic, highly sensitive kid, and it's a part of what makes him Gus.

The non-sleeper playing with his cousin, and some sort of bizarre white tiger.

.Louie, on the other hand, already seems quite a bit more independent, and consequently is less of a cuddler. He reserves his cuddles for his mama while nursing, or if someone wants to hold him while he's asleep, he's cool with that. But otherwise, he'd rather you walk around with him and give him a good view of the world, or lay him on the bed so he can kick and talk and smile and coo at you. He does love the Moby just like his big brother though, and is totally fine with napping in it if you're out and about, and on occasion likes to be worn to sleep at night.

On that note, I definitely am still loving the Moby, it makes life one million times more manageable with a toddler and a baby, especially on errands. On any given day you might find the three of us at Target or the grocery store, Gus kicking around strapped into the cart, eating snacks and demanding one thing or another, and Louie napping or taking in his surroundings snuggled up in the wrap. How do people do this without babywearing?