Carseat Shopping with Preschoolers- Britax Endeavours

As you know, I’ve been confined, a prisoner, if you will, on bed rest for the last month. For someone who LOVES baby things and happens to be pregnant…and in need of baby things…this was torture. So, one of my first stops on my first day of freedom was Buy Buy Baby to check out all that has changed since Bug was cooking in my belly. And, woah! It’s a LOT! One of my favorite things we checked out was the new Britax Endeavours infant carseat. This seat goes from 4-35lbs, which for a mama with a high risk of birthing a premie, this is great news!

 

Obviously, Bug exceeds the max weight limit! But he approves the comfort level!

With the steel anti-rebound bar, there is 30% less rebound in a front or rear crash.

Even Chuck could maneuver its user-friendly design.

“Baby” the cabbage patch doll appreciates the safety measures present both with or without a base. With latch or auto seatbelts, Baby is riding with exceedingly high safety standards.

Chuck really enjoyed learning about how she can help take care of her new baby sibling in this #1 safety-rated seat. Bug, on the other hand, enjoyed torturing his sister. What can I say, they were stoked to get out of the house, too! I dare you to watch to the end without laughing!

Carseat Shopping With Preschoolers- Video

 

*I was compensated to check out this rad seat. All children and their wackado behaviors are my own.

30 Days

Thirty days of confinement, rest, restrictions and caution. Thirty days of figuring out a new normal and a new sense of purpose. Thirty days to dwell in my thoughts and fears and hopes for this baby and our family.

I haven’t done them well. I don’t know how one does. Two young children who need every piece of me that I can’t physically give and one deep-rooted character of pride sitting in my heart; these have been my companions. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being INdependent until this last month. Ladies from bible study asked 10 times before they finally TOLD me they were coming to clean my kitchen. A meal train that ended up being a literal lifeline for my family was set up without me signing off…and I am so, so glad. Several friends grocery shopped, played mom-taxi and entertained my minions…all just by DOING. Because, you see, if there is one thing us moms are great at, it’s LOOKING as if we have it all under control….even if that’s not logistically possible. So, I dedicate the last thirty days to those who just DO. Thank you.

Now, the next thirty days? Who knows?! I was tentatively released from strict bed rest! It turns out the complete placenta previa that was aggravated by a pretty large subchorionic hematoma just…moved. I mean, last week it was bad. Really, really “you’re gonna have a c-section if you don’t go into preterm labor before,” bad. And this week, God said, “move!” and it did! Even my high risk doctor was surprised at the level of progress. The hematoma is still there and relatively large, but without the concern of the previa, it’s not as big of an issue right now. I am still on “light duty,” but I am able to leave the house. I can take Chuck to our Classical Conversations community day without reprimand and I can resume our normal dance/Awana/mops routine. Most exciting to me….TARGET! I know, so basic, right? But really, Chip and Joanna have been waiting for me. I must go!

I am 18.5 weeks at this point and while spending so much time with my own thoughts, I began to count down to different milestones. The most pivotal of these to me is 24 weeks. Twenty four weeks…the point of viability. The placemarker in gestation where I will never hear the words “there’s nothing we can (will) do. Just go home and manage your expectations.” Those words still burn in my ears after our traumatic night in the ER in Vegas. So, 24 weeks comes, get this, on Dec. 24! My little minnow will be statistically “viable,” a saveable miracle on Christmas Eve. How’s that for divine?!

This Sunday, Bug turns three and I can’t help but remember these milestones with him. His pregnancy was easy, for the most part, until the end. When I was 18 weeks with him, we were camping out in the mountains near Kern river, roasting marshmallows, blissfully unaware of just how much could go wrong. And here we are with this one, thanking God for each day closer to viability. It’s that way with life in general, right? We go along whistling until someone bumps us…and then someone bigger, then maybe a car or truck and then the whole dad-gum train runs us flat over and we are like, “good grief! I get it now! Life isn’t promised. Each day is a complete and utter gift. I get it.”

So, on Sunday, we will celebrate another gift of a day with our baby (middle) boy and we will once again get on our knees to thank our Heavenly Father for all the days we’ve had, and hope to have, to bring glory to Him, raising our tribe, sewing seeds of grace and mercy and working so very hard on clipping those ties to pride. Grateful for days and the ways, He shows us gently (or sometimes not SO gently) the reflection of the parts of ourselves we need to give to Him. I do get it now.

 

The Bed Rest Project

We’ve been given a diagnosis.

We drove four hours from Vegas, on pins and needles, because I had started to bleed again Monday morning. It is agonizing, that visualization that your baby is dying inside you and there’s nothing you can do about it. But, we slid into a parking space just in time for my OB to fit me in at the end of his day. We fidgeted in our seats and tried to entertain two car-weary kids in the waiting room in anticipation of what that ultrasound screen would show.

And then, there it was…the blip, blip, blip. We still had a heartbeat! And a subchorionic hemorage. After a visit with the high risk perinatalogist, the SCH was confirmed, as well as partial placenta previa. So, I’ve been prescribed complete bed rest for the foreseeable future. There is always the hope that the placenta moves and the hemorage heals itself, but until then, I will do whatever I’m told to keep this little one growing!

I’m almost 16 weeks and that’s the farthest we’ve made it since Bug. I’m counting everyday I get to feel flutters and hear that heartbeat as a giant blessing. I find myself still in disbelief that we might actually get to meet this one. We might actually get to smell that new baby smell and cradle a tiny little head again. It’s a strange space in which to live, straddling grief and joy. Guardedness and celebration.

The kids are excited. Chuck is sure I am growing a “Crystal Snowflake.” I haven’t the heart to tell her that, I am absolutely not going to be presenting her with either an exotic dancer or a recreational drug. Bug is sure it’s a boy and since the only sweet baby boy he knows is his auntie’s, he calls our baby by the same name. At least they will both be equally disappointed with our name choices!

They’ve been troopers with the bed rest thing. I keep reading blogs from women about how to stay sane on bed rest. They encourage things like, “finishing a good book,” or “catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones.” My favorite, though is “learn a new hobby like crocheting!” These people obviously have no preschoolers to entertain. I’m going to start a series on realistic activities to do from bed when you have kids. It will include things like, “learn to take the fewest steps possible to the bathroom to see what the two year old flushed. Again.” And, “try not to stress as you hear the entire contents of the top pantry shelf crash to the ground.” And my personal pick, “learn a new skill: interpret whether the silence is a blessing or worth investigating.” In the mean time, I’ve decided to document our daily bed rest diaries on Instagram under the hashtag #theBedrestProject. Check it out. Seriously riveting stuff, y’all!

Thank you for the prayers. I know I’ve asked for the reserves over the last year and a half. I’m reminded by those around me that this season (or decade) of life won’t last forever and soon enough, my prayers will be lavishly bestowed on others as theirs have been to us. I’m still waiting for the lesson in all this. Maybe there isn’t one, or at least one that we will know until that Glory day. But, I am thankful for today. So, so thankful for this life growing inside me.

Secondary Infertility and losses

Last summer, I decided to take a break from facebook. We had just experienced the heartbreak of our second miscarriage. The ridiculousness of political rants and petty complaints became a very unwelcomed distraction from processing our pain. Leaving was good for me. I learned to cling tighter to my Savior, instead of drowning my mind in constantly refreshing my feed. Brent and I worked through our raw hurt together, again, this second time, and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. And again. During this year hiatus, we have grasped to a tiny life, five different times, only to be shattered as it slipped away. That’s six in total. Six babies in heaven. I’m still jaw-dropped at those words. Our most recent beloved went to be with Jesus this month, almost a year to the day of his sibling.

I’ve been reminded over and over again that God put us on this earth to live in community, to glorify Him. His love is only reflected by ours. So, this village, the people who’ve brought coffee or embraced snot-drenched sobs on their shoulders…these are the Hands and Feet. These are the ones who, without always the right words, show with action, the cross. Thank you.

There’ve been other tragedies and joys and endless hours of news, both personal and public, through the last year. It’s documented in my heart, instead of my page. Our actions, and inactions, haven’t always been understood or appreciated by those around us, and that’s ok. Healing and grieving and growing are processes, undertaken in intimacy with Jesus. Everyone does it differently. But, all you who’ve suffered, too, know, I know. And I love, too.

My babies all have names. They’ve all been loved for every second of their existence. Every bit of their being was felt and cherished. They will be remembered at due dates and loss dates…even if I have to reference my “list,” because there are so many. What mother doesn’t remember her baby’s birthday? I’m trying.

So, I suppose the point of this is…well, I’m not really sure. Maybe to try to express courage? Or insight for those who’ve wondered? Or just to document some late night, wine-induced rambling from an aching mama-heart.

Chuck and Bug are our world. They perfectly stretch our parent wings and if they complete our family, we are joy- filled. But, we stand in utter confusion at God’s plans for our family. It’s a sense of paralysis. So, I humbly ask, for those who’ve walked through the fire of secondary infertility or recurrent losses, please reach out. I need some anecdotal hope, one way or the other.

And to my husband, thank you for being mine. Thank you for holding my hand so tightly when I’m crashing to the ground. Thank you for carrying the weight this year. You have. All of it. This life hurts, but it’s also full of sweet, sweet joys and I’m so glad you’re the one by my side for them.

 

Snuggle All My Bugs Together

imageChuck is adjusting pretty well. I would say that being 2.5, a precocious little genius and accustomed to being the constant center of attention could all prove to be pretty big hurdles to scale when it comes to adding a baby brother to the mix. But, she loves him, she “just LOVES him SOOO much!” Her words. And actions, as she tries to smother him with All.The.Love!

When Hfoe brought C to the hospital to meet her new comrade, he also brought the Calico Critters and school that I had gotten ahead of time to be the gift her baby gave her. It was a glorious plan in my mind. She would be so enamored with the baby and then he/she would give her a gift, too?! Wow, this sibling thing is pretty awesome! I also thought the little critters would be a perfect “sometimes” toy for her to play with only when I was nursing the baby, thus keeping her both occupied with the “special” toy and blissfully unaware that I was trapped on the couch, plugged in, unable to reprimand her for whatever she happened to be getting into at the moment. The best laid plans…

As they walked into our hospital room, I had baby Bug in his bassinet so the first thing C saw wasn’t HER mama holding a different kid. I squealed with delight to see her and invited her to join me on the bed. We hugged and cuddled and then she said, “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s your brother, G. Would you like to hold him?” “Sure, Mama.” So, hubs took baby boy out of his cozy bed and we cocooned Chuck in pillows as we laid him precariously in her lap. She poked him and kissed him and examined his tiny face…and then she was done. She wanted to explore the interesting hospital room. But, first, the gift! “OOOOH, cooool!” She loved it! That’s it. I was a genius and my plan was going to work perfectly.

Then, Buddy started to cry. I saddled him up to my boob to nurse (at which he was already a pro) and I didn’t think anything of it. She had her magical toys, after all. Oh the sob that broke from her sweet little gut just about broke my heart. I have actually never heard my girl make that sound before. “Nooo, don’t give him milkies! That’s my milkies, mama! Why, mama?!” It makes me tear up writing this two months later. I had no idea that it would hurt her so much to see me share her special mama time with another baby, without ever asking her if it was ok.

C only gets nursed to sleep now, so I guess I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to her. I was very wrong and it has taken a long time to make things right. After lots of explaining that he can’t eat the food she can and involving her help to get burp rags while I breastfeed, she now shares milkies with her brother without a fight. In fact, on occasions when Hfoe has to work late and baby Bug is awake when I put his sister to bed, she will ask to “do milkies all together…so I can snuggle all my bugs.” I love her terminology to describe our tandem nursing sessions. It is such a sweet, sweet time where she caresses his head and he holds her finger and I stare at them both in the dark. I know that C will likely be weaning completely soon, so I am cherishing what little time of this we have left.These two precious little beings, my snuggle bugs, all together, doing their “milkies”…I never want to forget it.

Due date

Photo by Vicki Putnam Photography

Photo by Vicki Putnam Photography

From the moment the home pregnancy test shows that a new bundle is on her way, most moms-to-be  are already trying to figure out the day not so far in the future they will get to meet the new love of their life. The due date. Not always so scientifically accurate and little daunting at times, that red circle on the calendar at least gives the aches and pains of pregnancy a foreseeable climax, a GOAL. But, what if that pregnancy ends before the due date? What if your baby dies? Then that day, the circle that is still prominent on the calendar, becomes a dreaded moment in the future. It’s a day of thoughts of what could have been. It’s a day that, for me, all the feelings I had managed to sort through over the last 8 months come flooding back, with force.

Blue’s due date is today, Tuesday October 14. I kept telling myself that because this is the day before my 32nd birthday and because it falls right in the middle of my favorite month of the year, I would be able to distract myself right out of being sad. And then, I went to Bible study and “my girls.” They just know how to get the ugly cry right out of ya! So, the truth has been revealed and it is…I am so sad. I miss my baby. I miss the little girl I know she would have been and I miss that I won’t ever get to hold her or feed her or smile at her or tell her sweet little face that I love her. I won’t get to watch her and Chuck play and fight and squabble over clothes like sisters do. I won’t get to buy her first Halloween costume or take newborn pictures. Saddest to me is that I won’t get to see her whole and perfect and living….HERE.

I was so lovingly reminded by “my girls” that all of those things, all of that sadness is relevant…here. Here in this life, I will miss her. I will mourn her and she will be a tiny hole in my heart. But, some glorious day, I will get to hold her and see her and tell her I LOVE her, in Heaven. When my Heavenly Father can hold me and tell me himself that HE loves ME, I will be able to do the same for my baby. Until that day, I will hold fast to the promise that Jesus made to His disciples, that He would go and prepare a place for them (and me) in His Father’s house, so that someday, they (I) may dwell there with Him. (John 14:3) What a beautiful promise that is!

MommyCrunch is due with baby #2! Essentials Giveaway!

October is a month full of ups and downs in the Crunchy house. We are touched by mourning as baby Blue’s due date comes and passes on the 14th without the warmth of her squishy little body to hold. But, at the same time we are filled with anticipation as we enter the final stretch before Bug makes his or her first appearance. October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, as well as my birthday month. Because all these things culminate in such a small stretch this 31 days, I decided to celebrate Blue’s short life and rejoice at Bug’s impending arrival with a giveaway. How better to make yourself happy than to make someone else’s day?! So, here it is…three products that I have grown to see as essentials with Chuck and now, I pass this knowledge to you. The list is obviously not exhaustive, but it is definitely a start!

Due With #2 Giveaway

 

Viva La Cloth diapers

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The “Buster” by Viva La Cloth is the perfect cloth solution for any newborn.

 Fitting 5-15+lbs, the Buster is our answer to the issue of babies outgrowing the absorbency of a mini one-size diaper before the diaper size itself.

• Super soft and durable double layer PUL – trim fitting style won’t overbulk your little one

• Modified All-In-One style diaper in five color choices – with a double opening full length pocket – speeds drying time and lets you customize the diaper’s absorbency level

• The entire diaper is lined in bamboo terry for extra absorbency 

• Sewn-in soaker starts you with alternating thirsty sandwiched layers of Bamboo Terry, Microfiber and Heavy Bamboo Fleece

• Stuff the full length pocket with a doubler or an insert for more absorbency as your older baby wets more – or for heavier wetting newborns too

• Crossover waist snap closure has snaps edge to edge to combat wing droop and 3 rise settings to fit even the tiniest of babies

• Machine wash warm or hot / tumble dry low or line dry

Winner will choose their color option.

Abbecote

abbecoté is a lifestyle Brand that inspires women to dress simply and comfortably while radiating Confidence, Dignity and Grace; even under pressure. We’ve created a Smart, Stylish, and Sophisticated apparel and accessories that allow women to establish their own signature look.  

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The abbewrap. Each piece can be Effortlessly worn in multiple ways; on its own, mixed and matched with other abbecoté styles, or with your existing wardrobe. This single item is easy to wear and flexible, adapting to your many activities, moods, and changes throughout your evolving life. Our abbewrap doesnt require much from you, but it gives a whole lot back! Wherever you go, whatever your mood; the abbewrap have got you covered!
MommyCrunch loves the abbewrap as a stylish wardrobe option for cover during nursing as well as an unexpected addition to keep mom and baby warm!
Winner will choose their color option.

Motherlove

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With Motherlove, you can depend on consistent quality products crafted only with the purest ingredients and certified organic herbs. Each of our formulas are time proven and backed with integrity and an intimate knowledge of herbal remedies.

The nipple cream is a life saver for moms with new little nurslings!

Prize package contents to be determined by Motherlove.

 

Win it! One lucky fan will win one of each of these. Use the Rafflecopter form below and GOOD LUCK!

ARV of entire raffle prize estimated at $110.

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Viva La Cloth, Abbecote and Motherlove. MommyCrunch & participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. This giveaway will end October 26th. Giveaway is open to anyone in the US, 18+ & older. Winners will be posted via Rafflecopter. No purchase is necessary & void where prohibited by law! Have questions? Email caragayle82@gmail.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

Back from the Walking Dead- Tales from the Sleep Deprived

Every night is pretty much the same routine around here. It has been since we exited the fog of those newborn, sporadic sleep hours and entered into a more regimented pattern…somewhere around 6 months. Chuck gets a bath, a teeth brushing, a book, a boob and a good rock in the glider. I cherish this time because I know it’s limited. She’s almost two and half and I know my days of nursing her are nearing an end. It makes me sad, but it makes these moments even more cherished. But, I haven’t always found the joy in this…this routine. 

Chuck has never been a good sleeper. She has always woken many times through the night and except for short periods of growth spurts and intellectual developmental milestones keeping her up, it was usually just because she wanted a snuggle and some mama milk. I was happy to oblige. Usually. I swore I would never be a CIO parent…that’s “cry it out” for those of you just learning the lingo. To me, it was cruel and barbaric to expect this tiny human who relies on you for everything to just magically be able to understand that you aren’t coming when he cries (the only means he has to get your attention) because you believe he needs to learn to “self soothe.” It made me angry, truth be told. I wanted this baby more than anything and dang if I wasn’t going to be everything it needed me to be at all times. I didn’t believe the world should revolve around your child, but I did believe that a certain grace should be extended during the infant stage. Afterall, babies don’t have the mental capacity to tell themselves, “you’re only alone for 8 hours. In the dark. Hungry. With poop on your butt. Suck it up bra. You got this.” No. Babies need mamas and papas to reassure them and nurture them and snuggle them at 2:35 am if that’s what they are requesting. 

Enter zombie phase. 
I remember one particular morning when Chuck was about three months old. She hadn’t slept AT ALL the night before and I had been up with her. Bless Hfoe’s heart, he had to work that day and I am sure his eyelids were like lead on his drive to work. Anyway, I remember making breakfast with C in my baby Bjorn (before I knew the “dangers” of non-ergonomic carriers. For shame!) and she wouldn’t stop crying. She had colic and though she had been fed and changed and cuddled and rocked and worn and shhs’d….NOTHING WORKED! I literally felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown as I stood there looking down at this itsy face with a huge voice that was powerful enough to shake my core. I never once thought about shaking her, thank the LORD, but I did think about how much I wanted to run away. I loved her more than anything else on the planet. But love wasn’t enough. I couldn’t help her and there was no one to help me. She needed sleep. It was that simple. Babies need lots and lots of sleep and neither of us were getting ANY. So, I took a huge, gut busting breath and laid her in her crib, swaddled and full-bellied, whispered in her ear that I loved her and walked away. I closed the door on my poor, screaming baby and I cried the fattest tears of my life listening to her, by herself, for thirty minutes of agony. And it was agony. I don’t believe any mother who has ever let their child cry enjoyed a second of it. It physically hurt me. But then, it was quiet. And she slept. And slept. And slept for the longest nap she had taken to that point. I’d love to say I did too, but I was too busy watching the monitor for movement and listening to it on full volume to make sure I could distinguish her breaths. It was like she needed me to release her to herself, to her own devices to get to dreamland because what I was doing wasn’t working. When she woke, I was still exhausted, but she was like a different kid! My little baby actually seemed rested and it did my heart good.
This wasn’t the beginning of some turning point. In fact, we had at least another year of awful nights and horrible naps because I felt so guilty about the time I let her cry. I just couldn’t do it. I read book after book, tried method after method and nothing, NOTHING worked! I even had a benevolent friend who had paid a sleep consultant for help with her son and she relayed all the info she learned to me. Even the expert advice didn’t work on our non-sleeper. 
When Chuckles was about 22 months old, I hit a wall. Do you know what almost two years of minimal sleep does to a persons mental state? I would argue it rivals water torture. Seriously! Those of you who have experienced it can attest! So, around the 22 month mark I just couldn’t take it anymore. She was in a toddler bed (one of the many things suggested to us to help her sleep better) and she would just get up and cry under her door until we would go in to rock her. I wasn’t breast feeding her overnight anymore thinking that would curb the wake ups. It didn’t. In all my desperate glory, I told Hfoe, tonight was the night. Tonight, when she gets out of her bed, she gets one chance to go back and stay in her bed. If she gets up again, she sleeps in the pack and play and if she cries, she cries. And boy, DID she! It was not pretty. Of course she ended up in the pack and play and of course she screamed. And we laid there listening to it. The horror of it. Surely the neighbors would hear or some mom around the corner would pick it up on her monitor and call CPS to find the child abuser on the block. It was horrendous. And then…she slept. And the next night, she ended up in “the baby bed” again. Screamed, a little less this time. And slept. Night three she stayed in her bed and cried. And slept. By the end of the week the crying ceased, the wake ups ceased and she slept. We all SLEPT! 

Someday, I’m sure she will accuse me of being creepy because of all the sleeping pictures I have of her!

Don’t get me wrong, this has not been a fix-all, never-go-back kind of struggle. We repeat this routine every few months because the kiddo wants snuggles. I get it. I want snuggles too and if she COULD sleep in bed with us, she would have since day one. But she can’t. Because she doesn’t sleep well, between her constant tossing and talking in her sleep, something about being with mama and papa makes her restless. So, dispite my own desire to bed-share, it’s not what’s best for her. But, regardless of how many times we must repeat this THING, it works for us. She isn’t abused or mistreated or emotionally stunted or mentally insecure. In fact, if you ask anyone who knows her, she is probably one of the sassiest, most well-adjusted two year olds you may ever have the pleasure of meeting! 

I guess my take-away from this as I sit here rocking and cuddling my silently nursing, snoozing kiddo is that, Mom, you need to do what your gut is telling you to do. I still feel guilty about and wouldn’t recommend letting your newborn cry it out, but if you need to let your toddler cry, they will survive. If you want to bed-share, do it. If your mama instinct says to get up every time your baby cries, for crying out loud, do that!! I did! Only you and your husband can be the judge of what is healthy for your family. But I warn you, you need sleep, too, you are absolutely not being the best you can be for her if you are a zombie. I know. I have been the walking dead and I am finally back from the grave. It’s pretty wonderful.