Happy 8 Month, Frederick C III!

Sweet boy, I am all sorts of behind on your blog posts but I did remember to make your 8 month board and take pictures; I feel like that counts for something (maybe backdating this entry will help…let’s all pretend it isn’t 11/21)! And while we’re on the subject, this 8 month madness felt familiar so…I looked back and confirmed: we went through the same thing with your sister!

This (last) month, you started picking up food with your two little fingers! Your movements are both clumsy and determined. You sprouted some top teeth too but you don’t like to show them nearly as much as your flash those bottom teeth. All the better to eat with, my dear!

You are on the move now, army crawling like you have somewhere to go. No one would believe you’ve had all these infections and fluid in your ears! It doesn’t slow you down during the day but it does keep you up at night. We’ve tried our best to stay on top of it and although I hate to give you yet another round of antibiotics, I am proud of you for taking your medicine well!

This past month was a whirlwind and although it came and went quickly, you did get to enjoy your buddy’s 1st birthday party and some quick weekend trips with family. You light up rooms wherever you go and make this chaos easier with your easy going demeanor.

Happy 8 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 7 Month, Frederick C III!

I missed your true 7 month mark so what better day to celebrate than on the first official day of Fall? I’m getting ahead of myself but I cannot wait to share my favorite season with you! I have a feeling you will love the crunching leaves the best! And in honor of that, I chose your outfit today! You look like you belong in a baby American Eagle ad. Where’s your football? Why it’s stitched onto your shirt, of course!

This past month you seem to have grown exponentially! At your last checkup, your doctor even warned us that you’d be out of your infant car seat in a matter of weeks. 29 inches long. Your sister was still occupying the next size up so we had to make a flurry of purchases to get everyone sized into their next seats. I’m not complaining. You’ve gotten the hang of this sitting up thing which makes you so much easier to hold!

You. love. food. Honestly, same. Just today your teacher told me that you’re her favorite to feed because you are always excited to eat and you’re so neat and tidy when you do. I agree. I think you realize that months of spitting up was getting old so you’re treating us to the cleanest meals I’ve ever seen out of a babe.

And you’re happy. Easy going. You bop your little legs while you sit in your chair and you look around to take in all that you can see. You belly laugh for your sister (See the bottom left picture? That’s when sissy came into the room) and you snuggle deep into daddy. And momma? Well, you and I have a habit of drawn out bedtimes with books and your heavy weight on my chest. It’s bliss.

Happy 7 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 6 Month, Frederick C III!

I’m behind again but your 6 month celebration fell at the beginning of an amazing time in the UP so it felt right to postpone this post! It was your very first family reunion (held every three years) and it was well worth the wait!

You were the perfect little traveler through car rides and tailgate feedings, pack and play sleeps and pass offs. You changed hands over and over with a smile on your face, and lots of chatter and laughs. And your cousins – oh how they love you! They could watch you all day, holding your hand, announcing your next spit up, and interpreting your baby babbles for me (“He said he wants me not you right now”)!

At reunion, you met new family and you tried a new food: Banana! You LOVE it. You were fine with avocado and peanut butter but bananas are your jam! We can tell you’re getting a hang of the mouth movement required to eat and our fingers are crossed that this is the start of less “happy spitting.”

Over the past month you’ve also been getting so much stronger. You can sit with just a little help of a Boppy behind you and you’re holding yourself upright when held, straining to see your sister and dad. The alligator rolls are getting faster and faster too. We can barely catch you these days! Along with the transition into some 9 month clothing, it’s another sign that time is flying by! We love you, big boy!

Happy 6 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 5 Month, Frederick C III!

This is getting a little ridiculous, little love. Slow down! You shocked your family and your teachers with a new tooth this past month but to look at the pictures here, no one is surprised that one tooth so quickly became two! You are a constant pool of spit up and drool and we are oh-so-glad to have finally purchased respectable burp cloths. Those muslin burp cloths didn’t stand a chance! YUCK.

In addition to a new tooth, you also began to roll over from back to front, completing your cyclone of movement across the floor. You are so eager to move! In a continual state of kicking, wiggling and shimmying in seats, on changing tables, and in arms.

You took your first pontoon ride this month and although you are a smooth sailor in calm water, you’re not about having all that wind whipping at your face! You also celebrated your first annual 4th of July party at our house and slipped smoothly into sleep just before the first firework went off (early for the kids). You slept the whole time!

But our favorite part of this past month has been seeing your love for your sister blossom. She captivates you and you will arch yourself around from any position to see her or hear her. You love catching her eye for a smile and you are sure to reward her wild antics with your contagious belly laughs! It’s the best!

Happy 5 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 4 Month, Frederick C III!

You little weed! You graduated into size 3 diapers and just started rolling over at the end of this month. You’re starting to sit up when we hold you but you show no signs of slowing down the spit up! Doc calls you a “happy spitter.”

In what started as an attempt to curb the constant soaked shirts, you tried oatmeal cereal and now we’ve added avocado and peanut butter to the list. Avocado is by far your fave – just like sissy!

We went to Traverse City to check in on grandma Shier and you attended your first Festival of the Arts to soak in some tunes. You’ve cashed in on our new Costco membership but thankfully you’re a natural in a shopping cart!

You’ve been sleeping through the night since week 6 and we were sure it was a fluke but you continue to show us every day (and night!) just how cool and easy going you really are.

Happy 4 Month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Happy 3 Month, Frederick C III!

Three months flew by so fast I almost missed it altogether!

This was a big month of transition, Freddy. You mastered the art of sleeping through the night before you reached your first day at daycare! We have quite the morning checklist these days but you sail through the morning routine with ease. Your teachers already love you!

Your sister keeps an eye on you at school, skipping class to hang with the babies whenever her teacher will let her. I have to pick her up first so she can give me the full report on your day. You go for walks in the stroller, play with friends, and even had your first fire alarm drill! You slept right through it, of course.

You met quite a bit of family at Easter and loved being passed around from aunts to uncles. And your grandparents? Man, they sure do love you! The chaos and commotion doesn’t rattle you as long as it’s not a surprise attack!

You’re the coolest little dude and I almost feel guilty when I tell people about your demeanor but I can’t! We appreciate you, bud!

Happy 3 month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Currently Watching: Workin’ Moms

I watched it a few weeks ago but it has STUCK with me. This show is brilliant. First of all, and this is a bit of an aside, I have concluded that Canada and the UK are better than the US at producing content that matters. Workin’ Moms tackling pumping, Postpartum Depression (PPD), going back to work, the imbalance between men and women in the workplace in a way that is hilarious without patronizing. Bodyguard for giving us a look at PTSD in such a lovable character that you aren’t afraid of or pity. Those are only two examples but they’re crushing it.

Second: The main character Kate. She’s a successful business woman who is respected in her field. She has a normal marriage. She makes sacrifices in career and at home in an attempt to find balance but she’s not comedically failing at everything or winning. She’s one of the boys but also tries too hard and gets awkward sometimes. I love her.

Third: Frankie. She’s Kate’s friend. A realtor with PPD. Having read other reviews, I will agree that the depiction of PPD does wander dangerously into Postpartum Psychosis… but I process with humor and I laughed until I cried when her head was in the pool and she got up acting completely normal when potential buyers wandered into the backyard.

One of my girlfriends stopped by the other day around noon with a care package from our group of friends because they recognize that I’m riding the struggle bus. I considered pretending that I wasn’t home (where else would I be?) but I ended up answering the door with a big ol’ smile in my day-wear robe and pajamas like it was some new outfit I was proud of (thank God for friends who see you). In other words, I can relate to the image of jumping up out of the water to wipe the wet hair out of your eyes and flash that “Everything is fine!” smile. Nothing to see here, ya’ll!

Anyway, at one point in the show, Frankie received treatment for PPD. She stops nursing and the lactation consultant in the moms group warns her that weaning causes hormone changes that can lead to PPD. Frankie looks at her and says something like, “No, I already had that. It’s like chicken pox so I can’t get it again.”

Umm, hi.

Remember when I said I didn’t think I had PPD this time around? Well. Thank you, Workin’ Moms for teaching me that weaning causes hormone changes that can change that and also that PPD is not like chicken pox.

Do I get a prize? Because I am acing hormonal imbalance: 2/2!

More on that later…

Happy 2 Month, Frederick C III!

Two months old! How time does fly!

Thank you for answering the challenge of earning back your birth weight! You’ve now moved past size 1 diapers and are pushing into 6 month clothes. You’re as big as some of your friends who were born months earlier but not nearly as strong when it comes to tummy time!

You’ve been living up to your uncle’s nickname “Freddy Chill” and encouraging us to believe that your first month of ease wasn’t a fluke. You’re up once or twice a night and we’re grateful. We probably couldn’t handle more!

This month you accompanied your sister to her first professional dental cleaning. You charmed your first babysitter, and started exercise class with your momma. Your trips to Starbucks are still going strong.

You’re happy. Smiling by day and chuckling to yourself in sleep. Your little feet don’t stop moving when you’re on your back and we pretend you run all around the world with those busy legs! Our very own adventurer.

Happy 2 month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.

Postpartum Self Care

The conversations started well before I became pregnant with my son. They came up when people asked me how I felt about pregnancy and about the 4th trimester and about the first year. They came up when one of my friends announced she was pregnant and again when her beautiful baby was born. I was reminded of them when I passed any pregnant woman on the street.

I’ve been having them for years. 4 years, to be exact.

It took me a long time to understand the heart of those conversations. Over time, the shared dialogue about the hard truths of the newborn phase, the darkness felt in that first year, and the loss of self became less about pain and more about understanding and the need for self care.

I was retroactively diagnosed with postpartum depression following my daughter’s birth. I don’t know exactly when my charts were updated, perhaps it was after talking with my OB this time around about the fears I had going into another newborn phase. Perhaps it was after my last pregnancy which ended in miscarriage. I can’t be sure. But I do know that when the nurse in the recovery room read aloud that I had experienced PPD with the last birth and offered to take our sweet baby boy to the nursery for a few hours to love on him so we could get some sleep before going home as a family of 4, I felt seen.

During my daughter’s time as a newborn, the language for postpartum depression focused on sadness and tears. I didn’t have those symptoms. What I had were feelings of anxiety. Obsessive behavior surrounding breast feeding. I felt on the inside the way you feel when you look at a wide-eyed, feral animal in a cage. I felt irreversibly changed. Damaged. Trapped.

I always committed to answer honestly when asked by medical professionals about PPD symptoms but no one seemed to ask just the right question to force me into what felt like a confession. I was unable to offer what I viewed as weakness and therefore consistently flew under the PPD radar.

Fast forward to my second time around:

Postpartum anxiety is now part of the professional conversation. My friends are here with me in this phase of motherhood; they’ve been through it and they’re checking in with me. And I’m open. They’re direct because I’ve told them to be. I’ve tipped them off to my darkest thoughts during my first go as a new mom and I’ve given them signs to watch for in case I don’t recognize those signs in myself. In case I’m unwilling to listen.

The biggest change this time around isn’t in others. It’s in me. I had people who checked in during the first year with Emma and people who pleaded with me to supplement even one night to get some much needed sleep if I refused to ask for help. (Word to the wise: Obsessively setting an alarm every two hours at night in order to alternate pumping and nursing for weeks while your child consistently shows hunger cues and you’re left with mere drops after pumping until you finally wake up one morning with literally nothing to give your child for her next meal is *drum roll, please* INSANITY. Now we both know).

I couldn’t hear anyone the first time around. I couldn’t see it for myself.

I’m a recovering perfectionist, learning to see failure as a step in an ongoing process rather than a condemnation of character. Learning to see it as an opportunity for growth. Learning to see it as a mere fork in the road where one path is now closed for the time being and the other path is just as good albeit different.

Which brings me to back to nursing.

I said I’d try.

I had a traumatic relationship with nursing the first time around but from the outsider perspective, 8 months is respectable enough. You couldn’t see the obsession. The arbitrary measurement of success I had placed upon it. So when I had my first bad latch with baby Freddy and he threw up my very own blood, I felt that anxiety rise but I said I would continue with use of a nursing shield. And the anxiety subsided.

And then my beautiful but sleepy boy began to drop weight so I was scheduled to see a lactation consultant and, to her credit, she did not once shame me for wanting to continue using the shield (a likely cause of weight issues, I came to learn) but instead gave me tips to continue use which involved nursing, then pumping, then immediately feeding what I had pumped. And the newly climbing anxiety began to subside.

Then I actually tried to put into practice what felt so reasonable in her office and it took me 1.5 hours to complete the whole cycle. At which point, I had 30 minutes until I began the cycle again. And so the anxiety began to rise.

When Fred called me on his drive between work engagements to check in, I picked up the phone and immediately began to sob. I felt panicked. Caged. So my husband came home, he took the kids, and he shooed me out of the house to go for a drive. Go to a library, a bookstore, get a coffee. Whatever. And I did. And the anxiety began to subside.

What I’m realizing about self care is that it’s more than simply saying “I will stop before I get to that deep, dark place.”

I didn’t immediately see that I was taking that approach to nursing. “I will try this thing and this other thing to ensure that I can continue nursing even though it is stretching me toward a place I do not want to go. I can still get control of this.”

I don’t believe that I have postpartum depression this time around but I also don’t believe that I need to in order to make self care decisions that may look selfish from the outsider perspective. I am coming to see that self care means allowing yourself more than preventing disaster. It means allowing yourself to thrive.

For me, self care means giving a formula bottle when my supply is fine, knowing that I’m telling my body to produce less. It means nursing only at night, pumping sometimes, and increasing formula. It’s not ideal but it isn’t bad either. It’s giving me room to breathe. It’s taking away some of that anxiety. It’s giving me back control and allowing me to feel whole. And that, my friends, is good.

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Happy 1 Month, Frederick C III!

Baby Freddy, how are you 1 month old already?

You are the sweetest little boy, content to sleep or silently take in your surroundings when your basic needs are met. In fact, your go-with-the-flow attitude had us fooled into thinking you were getting enough to eat when the scale proved otherwise! Let’s get you back up to your fighting weight, okay?

You’re strong and alert, locking eyes, moving toward sounds, and lifting your head. You like fans and lights and your sister’s cuddles. (You are so loved by her!)

So far in life, you’ve been to two dinner parties, a birthday party, several Starbucks runs, to Target and Lowe’s. You’ve met Emma’s friends at school, hung out with your grandparents, made new friends, and heard your first sermon.

You’ve washed the wall in urine and pooped clear across the room, causing considerable panic and even the need for eye drops… but even with all that, you are the cool to our crazy; we are in awe of you!

Happy 1 month, Frederick C III. You are a blessing to this family and a joy.