Double Digits (and A DAY)

I really, really meant for this post to be all about Harrison and hitting the incredible, amazing, how the heck did we get here so fast, huge milestone of turning Double Digits, but then today happened and my brain is too tired to write two posts, so here I am, combining the tale of my two Bookends into one rambly offering. img_4548

So, the brain fog.

We’re on Day Four of being on the road with our kids and my family and sleeping hasn’t been great while we’ve been away, so even before the craziness of last night came, I was tired and a little foggy. We’ve been making the rounds to different locations and family times in SoDak, which has been good, but you know travel and kids is just hard and trying to keep some semblance of normalcy is hard, too. When you add in sickness, though, everything gets instantly more insane.

Honestly, in our ten years of being parents, I don’t know that we’ve ever encountered a kid sick like this while away from home. And by this, I mean a vomiting baby (who is also celebrating a milestone of 20 months TODAY) who woke us* up at 3AM and kept us hopping until noon when we decided to take a leap and get her checked at local convenient care because her inability to keep down fluids was starting to concern all of us.

*Harrison was one of her roommates last night and he is totally the one who took charge and came to tell Ben and I that the baby was sick, so there’s one point about him in his birthday post: he is a kick ass big brother.

Some Zofran and fever meds, a nap, and a couple hours later and we had a totally different baby on our hands; thank goodness, too,  because she was in rough shape up until that point.

But poor Harrison. We just did not get to spend the same time, energy, or focus on his birthday like we would have had we not had such a nasty distraction for the day.

img_4568Fortunately we still got to do some of the stuff he loves like have Pizza Hut (fact number two about our ten-yr-old) for lunch and two servings of ice cream cake for dessert. He also got to watch a bit extra Zebra Gamer (fact N.3) while we dealt with stuff, and I definitely didn’t hear him complaining about that.

Tacos for supper (#4) and a bit more TV before bed (#5 which is truly a rarity) helped, too. So did getting to go get some lake time and play time (#6) img_4564with his healthy sibs (Dear Lord, please let the rest of the them ALL stay healthy!) and extended family, even though the biting flies were out of their ever-lovin’ minds both times we got near the lake.

Although we haven’t had much read time today, that’s still a highlight in his world (#7) and on this trip, and he’s also had some quality Lego building (#8) as of late, too.

Above all else, he’s still my super smart, super clever, super amazing first born (#9) who is always there to catch a gaffe or insert an observation or a question, and I remain in awe of his big brain on the daily.

And now, just like that, he’s 10. 10! For a whole decade, we’ve been lucky enough to call him ours, and I cannot wait to see where his big brain and his equally big heart (fact #10 about him) take him in the next ten years. If he has any say about it, the answer will be Finland, to work for Angry Birds Land, but that’s Fact No.11, so clearly I’m getting ahead of myself. 😉

Happy Birthday, HD! It may not have been the day we had planned, but you’ve taught us from the very beginning to just roll with it, and we’re so glad you were able to do the same today.

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End of an Era

All the signs have been there for some time now, but oh my goodness, it appears that the actual END has arrived.

After 9.5 years of nursing babies around the clock (there are less than a handful of months in that time span when I wasn’t pregnant, nursing, or both), I’m done. Wilson is apparently, officially over it and my Boppy (OK, Boppies) are ready for retirement.

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In some ways, this breaks my heart.

I weened some of my others because I knew I wanted to get pregnant again, but I would have gladly let Wilson go the distance for as long as she wanted; so even though this is pretty average for a nursing stint for one of my babies, it still feels too soon. How we are already to this point?

In other ways, I know this is perfectly fine.

She’s walking, she’s eating, she’s following her growth charts, and she’s totally typical in all the best ways possible when you consider where we started those 15.5 months ago. These are all amazing, normal things, and this no-more-boob bit is just a natural step in the process of her getting bigger and more independent, which, you know – is the ultimate goal of this parenting gig.

But you guys. A decade is a long time to go between being a solo person in charge of and responsible for only their own body. And while I’m sure I’ll figure it out quickly enough, I legit don’t even know how to be a mom who is not growing or feeding another human being at the same time as the mom-ing and the adulting and the existing.

I guess a lot of it will feel like freedom but enjoying that is going to take some time, as I’m already missing the sweet, sequestered moments with just me and the baby in a rocking chair, doing our thing.

 

ONEderful Wilson

I have been fully anticipating this first birthday of the last baby to be surrounded by ALL the feels. It probably still will be. But here, on the eve of the eve of her turning one, that also happens to be just before Thanksgiving, I find that what I feel most right now is grateful.

The last year has flown by, as they seem to do faster and faster as we age. It has also been a flurry of activity with a house and heart (and van and calendar) full of beautiful children, so it is really no surprise that I blinked and now my baby is turning one. The time warp began, I suppose, during her first three weeks of life at the NICU, when it felt like we lived an entire lifetime on another planet in those 22 days, but now, all these months later, I have finally gained an ounce of perspective and can see it for the blip that so many friends reassured me it would eventually be.

Oh, I am still going to cry on Wilson’s first birthday. Don’t you worry about that. But instead of reliving the trauma and stress of those first, hard weeks, I think the waterworks will be based more in gratitude that we got to survive them and come home with a healthy baby who has made it to the year mark and now has glorious words like “typical” ascribed to her.

Of course to us, she is everything, and I can’t imagine our family without her. I think it is safe to say the rest of the children agree, as they all take such joy in being around her. I mean, she’s clearly been LT’s favorite person in the whole universe since the very beginning, and lately Truman has started calling her “my baby” in conversation, so good luck to those two in figuring out who is her No.1 fan (it’s Lincoln). Raegan loves on her baby sister all the time and has the best-ever baby-talking-to-voice that cracks me up when I hear it because that must be how we coo at WA all the time. And HD has a stellar theory that he’d love to share with you sometime about how babies make everyone happier (he’s not wrong), because Wilson does indeed brighten every day with her snuggles, smiles, and silly sounds.

Many of those snuggles still come directly on my right hip where she still mostly clings when out in public or around non-immediate family. But she also loves to crawl really fast all over our house and she super loves when I get down on the floor with her so she can crawl up, bump into me, spin around, and flop back against my torso in order to lounge belly-up and check out the world (no wonder we’ve started calling her “Puppy” – we totally need to stop doing that, though!). And just like she did in her first three weeks, Wilson has used this entire year to show us that we really don’t know all that much about babies because she has time and time and time again proved that she’s going to do her own thing, in her own way, in her own time.

So here is who Wilson is at One:

She is the baby of head butting and thumb sucking. She clears the entire shelf of board books in less than 10 seconds and then sits in the pile of books playing with them (apple, tree, *ahem*). She wears PJs pretty much 24/7 because she has to be in and out of the van eleventy-billion times each day to get the Bigs to their various schools and footies work better than socks to keep her feet warm. She pulls up next to furniture and is currently flirting with the idea of standing up from her little chair/the middle of nowhere (look out world!). She empties kitchen drawers like a boss and she speed crawls to be next to my speaker so she can sway and bounce and clap to the music I have playing throughout the day (yes, she loves Nahko. I mean, c’mon!). She tucks her head into my shoulder when people try to talk to her and when I sing her a lullaby before naps/bed. She has more hair/curls than any of our others at this age (even Baby HD). She pulls a head-tilt-and-smile charm move that you would swear we taught her but I swear we did not (unless Truman did; that seems plausible).

Even though I will probably spend the next few days reliving the early days of her life to some extent, I plan to stay grounded in the present as much as possible because to be at this incredible milestone with this incredible baby is such a blessing. I give thanks for her every time I get to snuggle her (so, a lot of time each day) and I will continue to do so for all our days.

She is (almost) one. She is full of wonder. She is wonderful. She is, forever, Wonder Wilson.

Dear Wilson

The thought went through my head today at Wilson’s 9 Month well check, and not for the first time, that I am afraid that I am going to be old pile of hot mess come her first birthday. I mean, wouldn’t the first birthday of the last baby be enough to reduce anyone to mush status pretty easily? As it is, with our Wonder girl, I find myself of course celebrating her each passing month, but even now, at 3/4 of the way to 1, there’s still a bit of lamenting happening, too. It’s like I haven’t escaped the trauma of the unexpected, life-saving surgery and NICU stay yet.

Actually, I know I haven’t.

One way I know? When I hear or smell anything that reminds me of the hospital, I get panicky. We’re not talking PTSD here, but still. The smell of hospital brand/grade sanitizer? Yep, that does it. The beeping of a vitals machine as it attempts to take blood pressure and pulse? Oh, wow. That REALLY does it. I flat out wanted to drop kick the little roll-y vitals cart thing at the doctor’s office today because it instantly threw me back into all those times I was trying to hold Wilson in the NICU and the machines kept going off (thankfully not because she was in actual distress but because the little pads don’t stick worth a darn), making it next to impossible to snuggle and feed my baby the way I wanted, longed, wished so badly to do.

Here’s the other way I know I haven’t moved past the trauma of it all: I haven’t mourned the loss of my brand new newborn expectations that I had for her and I, for all of us. And clearly I need to do exactly that. So, here goes…

Dear Wilson,

Sweet, sweet, surprise Baby Girl. When I think back to your birth, it is hands down one of the happiest moments of my life. I had experience under my belt, your daddy at my side, and all the nurses and I were smiling and laughing; and even though of course labor is intense, I cannot think of any other way to describe your labor and birth than joyFULL. In hindsight, I am so glad we did not know what was coming next because I think it would have changed your birth dramatically, and my love, you came into this world in the happiest way possible. What I’m still trying to wrap my head and heart around nine months later is how we had to fight in the days and weeks to come to get back not just to happy but to home.

You were, of course, amazing. Strong, blowing through doctor’s expectations that first week, charming everyone with your sweet face and incredible story (and WONDERful nickname). Everyone surrounding you – doctors, nurses, family, friends, prayer warriors – they were amazing, too. Your dad and I? We flew by the seat of our pants and did our best to rock a previously unimaginable situation that ultimately was so short, so swift, but at the time felt like trying to cross a canyon five miles wide and ten miles deep on foot. That being said, I have never been, for one second, frustrated with you over your first three weeks of life. And perhaps that is why I haven’t found a way to direct my feelings or move past them yet because there is literally no one and no thing that can take the blame for what happened. It just did. And thank the heavens above, we still got to keep you anyway.

What I do feel sad about, mad about, down right cheated about, is not getting to have a typical newborn experience with you. By Baby No. 5 you kind of have a sense for how these things go, but Sweetness, you showed us we knew very little beyond how to love you and hold on for the ride of our lives. I wanted to be at home, curled up in my own bed, nursing you and napping next to your bassinet, and having your siblings loving on us all the time, and your dad home from school for a handful of days, and not too many visitors, and just time to do our thing and start the work of figuring out Life as Seven. Instead we got none of that and my every comfort level and heart string was pushed and stretched tight enough to physically hurt. It still hurts now, sometimes, to the point that I have watched other women welcome babies in the time since your birth and been pissed and judgmental about everything they are out and about doing, only to realize I don’t give a flying flip what they are doing – it’s just that I didn’t get to choose what you and I got to do for 22 days.

22 days.

Doesn’t seem so long when I look at that number now. As you grow, I’m sure it will get even smaller. And of course I know that others have faced far worse, far longer, far less happy in the end. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have yet to meet a mama who would trade to have our birth experience, either. I can’t make it a comparison game, but I can mourn for the 22 days that we didn’t get to call ours alone, that went so far off the plan, they rewrote all the rules. Wilson Ann, you will always be worth it. Never ever doubt that. I am sorry I couldn’t make your first 22 days smoother and less scary (for all of us). But you’ve had my heart from the start. You’ll have it forever.

With All the Love,

Mama

P.S. This is you at 9 months. Total, pure sweetness. img_1297

Velcro Lite

Leave it to Wilson Ann, the 5th baby who taught us that we have much, much to learn about new babies, to continue that trend even as we approach the 9-month mark. True to form, she’s doing all kinds of physical feats early and she managed to pop two teeth months ahead of schedule/her siblings, too. Most remarkable and unique (and exhausting for my back) is her mid-summer appearance of Velcro Baby tendencies.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a pretty aptly named parental conundrum: the baby wants you and only you all the time and how dare you put the baby down ever and therefore the baby is stuck to you as if with Velcro, always. Clever, right? Well, it’s all fun and games until you get a Velcro babe and then, hold on to your hats, folks. Actually, your baby. All you can do is hold on to your baby, so forget your hats.

In our case, we’ve gotten off lucky (*knocks on wood; knocks over a forest*) in that Wilson did not show signs of severe clingyness until right around the 8-month mark. In fact, the real first instance I can recall is a weekend trip we took for HD’s birthday to a cabin with friends where she chose to celebrate his big day (& my broken toe) by refusing to let me put her down or even hand her off, ever, except to Ben and sometimes not very happily then, either.

Thankfully, when we got back to our familiar territory of home, she was fine. Off and running (jk! crawling at warp speed yet) and perfectly content. But ever since, anytime we go anywhere and anytime anyone offers to hold her, she will NOT have it.

She’s perfected the koala clutch move on our arms and the tuck-head-into-parent’s-collarbone nonverbal cue whenever anyone attempts. She’s cool with Ben, thank goodness, and on rare occasions she relents for a grandma or grandpa, but wow. For the most part if other people are around or we’re in public, she is Velcroed in tight to my side and screams like a banshee if I put her down, hand her off, or heaven forbid, walk out of her sight.

img_1152Oh, sweet girl. Thank you for not doing this before now. Thank you for being the cutest thing even when we’re both dripping sweat and all I want to do is eat with two hands or go to the bathroom. Thank you for continuing to be my tiniest, most humbling teacher of what it means to be a mama. Thank you for at least cutting me some slack and going Velcro Lite on us.

Close Proximity

Crickets here on the blog lately as for the last couple weekends, Wilson and I have been sharing sniffles back and forth and back again. You see, she’s awfully darn cute, so when img_1071I got some head cold germies, it was hard to remember to keep my distance from her (plus we still nurse around the clock, so….) and then when I got better and she got them, it was hard to remember not to let her slobber-bobber-ness get too close to me, so….I’m starting off my second Monday in a row with a head fog.

Fitting as we’ve been in a fog these last couple weeks, anyway, awaiting Ben’s grandma’s funeral (happening this weekend) and trying to wrap our (foggy) brains around the fact that school is starting, well, next week! Ben actually went back today for his first round of meetings and dives in full force with those this Thursday with kids starting classes the following Thursday.

We will have two in elementary and two in preschool (after he officially turns 3, for Truman, but knock on wood, potty training is going well, so looks like it is a go), which means this mama has to wrap her (foggy) brain around all the drop off times and split locations and all that again, which is different this year as our kids’ school is doing a two-year remodel, so they have to be taken to a different location, which feels new and little nervous making for all of us, I suppose, even though I know it will go fine once we get the new system figured out.

But we’ve honestly had a strange summer and a strange year, so shifting into the new school year and all the change that comes with it is making me glad to have at least a few more days here with all my babies under one roof (even if we are sharing too many back-to-school germs before back-to-school has even begun). I like it better when Ben is here with us so we can divide and conquer and enjoy just a tad bit more, but that’s what Paw Patrol is for, right? Right.

It may not have been the summer (or spring) we had planned or wanted, but we have been able to be together just the seven of us a lot, and that is always, always a good thing in my book.

Milk, To Go

It’s been a while since my last update on breastfeeding, and the good news is, the blebs seem to be, for now, at bay. It took waaaay longer than anticipated for them to fade which meant the pain lasted WAAAAAY longer than anticipated, too, but for over a month now, things have been (knock on wood) back to normal/good. Fingers (and toes) crossed that this trend continues.

To be fair, we gave the system a good test by taking it on the road for our SoDak trip. Nursing away from home is never easy with a baby this age (so distracted! so many extra-long stops along the way!), but all things considered, Wilson did a great job of rolling with it and not injuring me again as we traveled.

Although I am no stranger to nursing in very public places if need be (can you say Houston Children’s Museum, WHOA), I prefer to sneak away when I can, and fortunately on our trip, 90% of the time, I could do just that. I had one afternoon when we rode the 1880s train from Hill City to Keystone and back where I had to nurse both on the train (for soothing because she HATED it) and on a bench at the station (which was empty when I sat down but then soon filled with other bench sitters even though departure time was still 45 mins out, but hey – we saw a deer up close!), but otherwise we were either back at our cabin with my family or I had access to our van.

Ah, nursing in the minivan. Nowhere near as bad as nursing in a public bathroom (ew) but still strange. But also air conditioned and with the option to sort of hang blankets to block view of the passenger seat and still use my Boppy, so really pretty fantastic. Much of our feedings we looked like this, and yes, most of them also turned into little cat naps for Little Miss:

And really, on our big travel days, the extra long pit stops weren’t such a bad deal, either, because it gave the Bigs a chance to get out and stretch legs, etc. at parks along the way. Bless it, I am a BIG fan of Google Maps satellite view because all you have to do is zoom in and look for a baseball diamond in just about any small town and there ye shall also find a park and public restroom. Modern pioneering, I tell ya.

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Also very modern? Something I discovered (and am very excited about, very grateful for) upon returning home from our trip: a nursing swimsuit! I know, I know. I just bought a new suit this summer, but I am returning it because this is awesome and I had no idea until last week that such a thing even existed. It’s a two piece with extra high, extra comfy and flattering bottoms, and a top that unbuttons from the tops of the shoulders (but still with straps down the front so you still stay covered and everything stays in place) from Latched Mama. I get it that the Internet is a creepy place sometimes, and who knows how it decided to show me an ad for this suit, but bless it (again), I’ll take it!

This will get its official test run this weekend on a little family excursion, but I’m already totally thrilled by the fit and accessibility, not to mention the postpartum-friendly design (no matter how many months or years that’s been, actually). Even though the snaps will eventually be obsolete, I can see wearing this for a few summers for sure.

So, from here to there and there to here, I can nurse just anywhere! 😉