Posts for the ‘Leah’ Category

We Are Okay

If it seems quiet over here, you can catch a few posts I’ve written on milk banking and breast pumps, but yeah, we’re still around.

May the Fourth Star Wars fundraiser event

I’m a terrible cold season survivor, and life’s everyday decisions seem SO MUCH HARDER when the sun is hiding. But we’ve managed to find joy among them!

If I look back at my January resolutions, I cringe a little. Work/life balance is a struggle, and it’s especially hard to transition to part-time work and then to part-time work-from-home work. Teetering between priorities, that old friend, guilt, hovers and lingers.

I said I’d say “no” more often. So difficult for a “yes” person who only wants to be helpful and avoid conflict. But, after a few tough situations, I am learning to dig in my heels and do what’s best for my family.

Maisie’s baby dedication Sunday

With so many changes and adjustments in 2018, I needed to find community and accountability. We started regularly attending a different church in October, and like any new environment, it’s taken a while to settle in. However, with my flexible schedule, I’ve been able to be a part of a mother’s group within the church, which is refreshing and encouraging. And I can’t say enough about our neighborhood. It’s wonderful to have friends down the street who look after you so well.

Date night shenanigans

How’s Steven? These days he’s grateful to open the windows and turn off the heat. He secretly loves cold, dark weather and is starting to complain about summer approaching, but for now, he likes the cooler evenings and spring air. He and Wes share a love of rain and thunderstorms, and they looooove watching Interstellar. I mean, it’s on nearly every Friday night. (Friday night is our sacred family time with homemade pizza, sometimes breadsticks and a movie past bedtime.) Steven is home from business travel for a while before more fundraising conferences start to pop up again.

How’s Wes? Well, first grade has been challenging. Not academically, no, but his friendly demeanor has gotten him into occasional trouble. He serves in a leadership role in his classroom, and he doesn’t like the responsibility. (We’ve had many discussions about Moses, the reluctant leader.)

He is quickly progressing in Taekwondo, and when he’s not too busy goofing off or tired, he is very good at his form and continues to get stronger. In fact, he just passed his promotion test the other day and now wears a light blue belt (white-> yellow-> orange-> light blue-> green-> purple-> brown-> red-> dark blue-> black).

He speaks top-notch Spanish, reads and spells at an advanced level, wants a career as an artist and loves his sister well.

How’s Maisie? The little nugget is petite, fair and charming. She was hitting milestones left and right until recently and seems to be in a comfortable rut. She can get around by spinning and pushing backwards, and sometimes she’ll get on all fours and rock, but no crawling yet.

She signs “milk” and “dog.” She loves solid foods (I still enjoy making baby food!) and is perfecting fine motor skills to pick up puffs and soft, melty baby crackers. She prefers to “comfort-nurse” instead of true breastfeeding, so I’ve been pumping-to-bottle more often and combating terrible milk blisters, blebs and clogged ducts.

Her pediatrician is watching her weight, but isn’t yet alarmed. She may have doubled her birth size, but she’s nearly half of gigantic, 8-month-old Wesley! Maisie’s new babble is “bop,” she discovered clapping, and she likes to drop items from a height. Her bright, sometimes goofy-looking smile features two front, bottom teeth.

What about the sleeping trouble? Regarding Maisie, it’s still challenging to get her to nap throughout the day, but she’s become a rock-solid night sleeper. She definitely parties hard before bedtime — eating a ton, nonstop wiggling and squealing — and then crashes.

Wes moans and groans about being left alone in the dark, but he’s better. Melatonin helps tremendously when needed, and I usually cuddle in with him under his bed tent until he gets sleepy enough that I can leave without protest.

I’m coming out through a wintery, end-of-rainy-season/tunnel, and we’re alright. We are okay. (Bring on the sunshine!)

Easter 2019

Posted: May 4th, 2019
Categories: Leah
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Enter Sandman

Exit light | Enter night
Take my hand |We’re off to never-never land

Dreaded Sleep. Everyone I live with is terrible at it. She may be cute as a peach, but Maisie is the worst at night, and daytime naps are a gamble. Wesley has “a scary imagination,” in his own words, which keeps him from resting peacefully. Some nights he’s up for two hours trying to settle himself into slumber. Steven is the lightest sleeper you’ve ever known, startling at any noise (ahem, my snores) and tossing around.

Every night I pray for stamina and endurance and to not get annoyed. I’ve adapted enough that either I 1) drift off quickly (and have one ear open) or 2) function enough on adrenaline to get by. But lately I feel like my life is spent trying to get these three people to sleep, and I’ve tried SO MANY PRODUCTS to survive aid us.

BOOKS
The Natural Baby Sleep Solution (fascinating and pretty accurate)
The Wonder Weeks (just as helpful as with Wesley!)

IN THE BED
Angel Dear lovies (Wes named his “Didi” and so naturally that’s what Maisie will call hers)
Cloud B Twilight Turtle (Wes still sleeps with it at night)
Weighted blanket (A perfect Christmas present! Seems to work well!)
Nested Bean Zen Classic weighted swaddle
Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit (it’s helping, a little)

BED ACCESSORIES
DreamTents bed tent (makes him feel cozy and safe)
Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother (seems to be more distracting than soothing)
Marpac Dohm sound machine (hands down the best)

SLEEP AIDS
RMO Counting Sheep essential oil roller (if nothing else, he smells good)
Lavender essential oil in a difuser
Nuby Soothing teething tablets
Melatonin (so far, this has helped Wes tremendously, but I am cautious about its regular use)

This list looks crazy long. While some things work for a time, the one thing that works every time is, well, time. And proximity. That is, every family member sleeps if they’re physically touching me.

We’re trying a secondary self-soothing technique for Maisie, since I can’t handle another night of crying-it-out. (Steven wins all the awards for his stubbornness. It’s because of ME that we’re even in this mess!) It involves fading – staying right by her side as she falls asleep and slowly moving further away each night. I haven’t yet made it past the crib because she loves holding my hand and trying to grab the hair that falls as I lean into her crib.

My aching back and nearly-numb limbs get a good stretch as I make my way back to our bedroom throughout the night – sometimes as many as four times.

And then there’s sweet Wesley, who hates to be alone, fears the dark and works himself up over strange outside noises. Steven helps get him ready for bed, and I’ll pop in to say goodnight after Maisie’s stable. Some nights it’s thirty minutes before I can calm her down, and I’ll later find Wes with a book and a flashlight.

“Mama, can you stay with me?”

He prefers that I crawl into his bed tent with his comforting lights and weighted blanket and stuffed animal friends and pray and talk until he gets drowsy. Some of the best conversations happen under that tent! I used to get so upset over his dependence; I now (usually) cherish this time.

After I’ve comforted the two kids, there’s hardly an evening left for me to enjoy. Many nights I don’t have the right attitude and grumble over the sacrifice. I sigh and complain and throw the bedcovers to the side. I pray with desperation and plead, “PLEEEEEEASE let us sleep tonight!”

Instead my focus should be praying for discernment. I recently heard a speaker share a few best practices for mothers. Turn my worries into prayers. “What do I do now?” becomes “Show me how to _____ “

This season will pass. Someday. My kids will likely never know how their concerned mother worried over their sleeping habits. I hope they only know how well we loved them.

[With wisdom and understanding] 24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. -Proverbs 3:24

Posted: February 27th, 2019
Categories: Leah
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Intentional Living in 2019

This blog post was written for The Milk Bank, but I added it here, too.

It’s the time for resolutions. There is such a demand on mothers to be everything and more for yourself, your significant other, your kids. After the miraculous process of growing and then birthing a baby, moms are expected to achieve superhero status in home organization, child-rearing and physical activity.

There are also many “life or death” decisions on day cares and schools, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, discipline styles, natural foods and products. It’s often in January that we see women nearly burden themselves to get closer in achieving characteristics of Society’s Ideal Mother.

When my seven-year-old son was a baby, I made a few so-called “mom fails.”

My son at a chunky 4 months old.

My son at a chunky 4 months old.

FAIL 1: I only made it six months of breastfeeding and pumping. Though he was an extremely large baby (97th percentile for weight by 3 months old!), my milk dwindled because I hated pumping at work. It was awkward and cumbersome to sit against an unlocked door to the conference room and haul milk around.

FAIL 2: We used cloth diapers at home for the first year of his life. But once he entered daycare at age 1, we switched to disposables because of the center’s policies.

FAIL 3: I picked up my baby when he cried. I nursed him to sleep.

(There is nothing wrong with the above situations! Feeding, diapering and soothing every baby is different, and I am not endorsing any particular method.)

Though I may not have admitted it, these so-called “failures” made me feel guilty and inadequate. While intended for good, I had bought into ideals and made “resolutions” that, for our family’s situations, were bound to be broken. They were too specific and weren’t appropriate for us at the time.

My daughter, the newest office baby, at 4 months old.

My daughter, the newest office baby, at 4 months old.

Our surprise baby girl was born in August, and I’ve had the opportunity to do it all over again.

I’ve borrowed a term from one of my friends: Intentional Living. Rather than resolutions of hard-to-keep actions and to-do lists or goals, I’m intentionally seeking out behaviors that will form into habits and shape my little world – not society’s expectations – for the better.

Being Available
Making choices that free up my schedule for flexibility (i.e. saying “no” more often). Spending more time with my husband, kids and other loved ones.

One of the hardest decisions followed my recent maternity leave. I returned to a full-time career in which I loved with a two-week resignation notice. Until that moment I never anticipated I would become a stay- or work-at-home-mom (SAHM), but, because we intentionally sought out being more available for our family and friends, our daughter’s arrival created an opportunity for a career change.

Within a couple weeks of my SAHM status, I was offered a part-time position at The Milk Bank in which I could work a few hours at home and bring my daughter with me while in the office. It lined up perfectly with our family’s desires.

The staff has welcomed my daughter as a temporary coworker, knowing how important it is for breastfeeding mothers and infants to remain bonded and available to each other. They have supported us while trying to figure out naps during office hours, ignored her wailing and crying and haven’t flinched when needing to breastfeed in the middle of a meeting.

My adaptable environment and schedule allows me to, as another friend said, “flex my work muscle,” while being available for my family. I am able to use my skills and talents to assist a mission I support and in a time frame where I can be most productive. I can make time for dropping off lunch when my husband has forgotten it, picking up my son from school and watching my daughter hit developmental milestones.

Being Active and Generous
Making choices that engage my brain, body and heart to serve others. Speaking less, listening and doing more. Being kind and empathetic.

Now that my schedule is more open and available than it’s ever been, I have more time to be active and participatory. The baby and I volunteer in my son’s classroom a couple times each month, and I take home projects to help out his teachers. We’re looking into family service projects around our city.

My husband has set up recurring gifts to several organizations. It’s an easy way to financially support causes we believe in without the need to remember to pull out the checkbook. We find we’re more interested in the growth and activity of these organizations after we make an investment in their missions. We can serve more people in our communities by supporting organizations who already have their boots on the ground.

Because my time is precious, I’m not setting a specific book or exercise goal, but I realize the incredible value of continuing education and physical activity. I can learn about people unlike me and grow in understanding and empathy. I can build up strength to use my body for laborious work. For these reasons, I will intentionally stay active in 2019.

skids.jpg

Being Authentic
Making choices that reflect my desires. Allowing myself to be vulnerable and teachable.

While trying to maintain a Perfect Mom image during my son’s infancy, I wasn’t being authentic. I’ve learned better the second time around, but there are still times where I catch myself in comparison to another mom. We’re so critical of ourselves and others.

Being authentic is the hardest of the three intentional behaviors for me to firmly establish. I am still learning to sift through unsolicited advice, standing firm and avoiding guilt or insecurity about our choices. We have a clear vision, so you’d think it wouldn’t be that hard to follow the path, right?

Turns out being transparent and vulnerable with others establishes respect and trust you wouldn’t believe. While sticking with my gut is important, I also want to avoid being stingy enough to shut out opportunities for maturity and understanding. There is much to learn and do.

While I’ve only had a few months’ practice in intentionally adapting these behaviors, I feel like I have more purpose in life. It’s fulfilling and redeeming enough to carry them with me into 2019. Not claiming to be perfect, it’s a daily choice and adjustment, and we don’t get it right every time. But I’ve learned not to dwell on shortcomings and to dust off my pants and try again. For me, it’s much easier to maintain behaviors than a dedicated, cut-and-dry resolution.

I encourage you to adopt an intentional behavior – or, if you’re already doing so, call it out and stick with it – if you haven’t yet made a New Year Resolution.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t lose 10 pounds or finish a project right away. You know yourself and your family better than anyone else. Sure, not every day will be peaches and rainbows, but your intentional behaviors can shape 2019 into a positive and healthy year. You’ve got this!

sfamily.jpg
Posted: January 5th, 2019
Categories: Leah
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Life with Two Kids

There are lots of giggles. Juggling schedules. Adoration. Defiance. And adjustment.

Remember when I was going to be a stay-at-home mom? It lasted all of two weeks before I received my first contract requests, and for the last six weeks I’ve been working on a part-time basis for organizations and businesses. It’s wonderful. I get to use my skills, collaborate with others, bring in a small income and be available for Wes and Maisie.

Figuring out work time vs. feeding schedules, Maisie’s nap and school pick up has been the most challenging part, but we’re all starting to get used to the rhythm. Instead of evening workouts, I bring Maisie with me to morning classes. Whatever is on the agenda for a particular day has a hard stop time at 2 in order to make it to school, help with homework and get started on dinner, and then it’s nearly bedtime. I’ve had to become SUPER PRODUCTIVE during my precious morning and early afternoon hours. But look at this face! It’s worth it.

Wesley still thinks Maisie is the bee’s knees. Now that she’s nearly 4 months old and more responsive, he’s all the more eager to play with her.

“You’re such a sweetheart! I could love you forever and ever and ever!” (We took so many videos this day.)

Maisie practices using her giant hands, grabbing anything she can. She recently discovered she has feet, and it amuses her to kick her little legs. She’s a drool machine, though not teething yet. Her bibs and shirts are nearly always wet, her face and hands get chapped, and she has a stubborn drool rash under her chin that I can’t seem to get rid of. (What else should I try before heading to the pediatrician? Vaseline, Aquafor, Lotramin, coconut oil and neem oil haven’t yet done the trick.)

She fights sleep with everything she’s got. Sometimes it takes 1.5 hours of rocking, nursing and pacifier use to get her finally settled for the night. I still swaddle her, even though she tries to get her arms out. A flailing, loose arm and hand is dangerous – she whacks herself, and we start all over again. She can’t fight the magical swing for long when she’s sleepy, though. And once she’s asleep, she gives us 4-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.

Everything she can grab goes into her mouth. Or she just look at it with her mouth open wide, drooling. She thinks sneezing is funny, her feet are ticklish, and she studies everything. She’s terrible at making eye contact when there’s so much to look at. However, Maisie reserves her biggest smiles when she has one-on-one time with someone: while changing a diaper or buckling her car seat belt.

When it’s just us or it’s relatively quiet, we hear her talk to us. “Ah ooooo!” “Uh uh uh.” “Hooooo!” And a series of grunts.

Maisie wants to “stand” whenever possible, so I wear her when I can (she prefers outfacing now), and she likes her Johnny Jump Up for about 10 minutes. While I’m working or preoccupied with my hands, she will tolerate the Bumbo seat while I finish up a recipe or wrap Christmas presents.

She isn’t rolling over yet, but she’s starting to move her hips and arch her back. Maisie gets lots of praises for small victories from her little cheering section.

As much as he loves her, Wes has struggled to find his place and position. It could be the change from Kindergarten to First Grade, or perhaps turning 7 flipped a switch. Steven and I have had to discipline Wes in a much stricter way than ever before, and it happened around the time of Maisie’s birth.

Defiance, back-talk, a “know-it-all” correcting attitude…our sweet kid is still sweet, but he has a sharper edge to him these days. Though when disciplined, he crumples with guilt. To find the balance, Steven recently re-enrolled him in Taekwondo (we took a hiatus once Maisie was born). Wes loves it, and he’s been able to channel his energy into a sport that teaches self control, obedience and respect. They also have their own father-son hobbies, which gives Wes a sense of exclusiveness and pride.

Additionally, we created a reward chart that compliments his usually good behavior but makes him more aware of the choices he makes. For example, he has to earn his right to watch a TV show after school, which is harder when docked points for bad behavior. It’s a love-hate relationship with the chart, but he has already come up with more reward options, “Monkey Joe’s! Pokemon cards!”

Steven and I take turns volunteering in his classroom. It’s been enlightening to see how he interacts with peers and teachers. Bias aside, he’s a smart kid who just needs a little direction to be a successful leader (and protective big brother). We’re so proud of him.

During advent, we’re reading stories about refugees and displacement, as Jesus and his family found refuge in Egypt. He seems particularly worried about families who have to be separated for any reason. He’s made a similar comment several times about his love for our immediate family.

“I just love my girls. If something ever happened to you or Maisie, I would be so, so sad and cry my eyes out.”

Being parents to TWO kids takes a lot more creativity and energy than anticipated, but wow, it’s good. Really good. Steven and I tag-team well. And being available for them in their unique needs has been such a fulfilling role for me.

Christmas is an exciting time, and I love spending these weeks of anticipation with my three favorite people.

Posted: December 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Next Steps

My fingernails are the longest they’ve been since perhaps my wedding day. I’ve always had a nervous habit of fidgeting with my nails, and it got worse when I started playing guitar in high school because I bit down the nails on my left hand for easier fret fingering. Though I don’t play guitar much, I kept that nasty habit. But on maternity leave, I haven’t stress-bit hardly at all.

The last seven weeks have been filled with joy and adjustment. Wes continues to be helpful (“Mama, you already fed her on that side.”), and Steven has taken on or completed household projects every time I turn around.

I’ve developed some new skills as well:

  • Multitasking with one arm (while breastfeeding). I’m proud of my abilities to shuck corn, make dinner and set the table, feed the dogs, and yes, even use the bathroom while feeding Maisie. I don’t know why I don’t just use a carrier more often, which would make tasks that much easier!
  • Wearing spit up and sweatshirts. I notice these things while sitting in the parent pick up car line at Wesley’s school. I’ve also gotten good at configuring the best time to arrive at school with the least amount of idle waiting.
  • Reorganizing areas of the house. You should see my linen closet! Steven remarked on the Day of Kitchen Cabinets, “It’s like someone actually thought about where things should go.” I take that as a compliment.
  • Stocking the freezer. I’ve discovered how much I enjoy prepping freezer meals for a rainy day. We’ve eaten so well during the last couple months – starting with meals provided by friends the first weeks, and now with these Shattuck family-approved make-ahead meals (many of which are crockpot simple!).
  • Sorting clothes. Gone are the snug-fitting shirts and pants in Wesley’s closet. Maisie has a solid wardrobe for her first 9 months, all organized by size and season. I’ve also gotten good at dropping off bags of donated clothes to various places!
  • (Not) Looking sleep-deprived. Maisie is pretty good at sleeping once she finally gives in, but she can fight it for hours. Thankfully I can usually get enough rest to have a functional day ahead, but I can also call upon a tip given to me by a makeup artist friend: white eyeliner on the top lid makes you look more alert.

It hasn’t been all peaches and rainbows, however. This pregnancy and birth were relatively easy and uneventful, but the postpartum recovery process has been more difficult than anticipated. After initial breastfeeding issues and several infections, I’m not 100% recovered. I’m still fighting off a lingering staph infection, and it’s really frustrating. Some days I could do little more than watch reruns of The Office.

There were (and sadly, still are!) times where I felt like a senior woman who complains to friends and family about her aches and pains. Thankfully I’ve been well looked after and my body seems to be slowly healing, but it has made my big plans for traveling and visiting throughout leave go abandoned. Not to say I/we haven’t done anything fun!

Earlier this month we joined Steven on a day trip to Chicago. He was scheduled to speak at a conference on a late Saturday afternoon, so we bundled up the rental car, caught our familiar train from Hammond, and toted a stroller around downtown Chicago. We visited Millennium Park and the Bean before Steven had to get ready.

 

The kids and I spent the afternoon at Navy Pier and the Chicago Children’s Museum, which was so much better than expected. We had just enough time to walk back to the conference hotel (ugh, that walk was the worst because it happened during Maisie’s prime feeding time), walk to the station and board the train back to our car. We arrived home just before midnight. Steven: “We could do that again.” Maybe a near-future day trip to visit some museums?

Both Steven and I have volunteered in Wesley’s classroom on separate occasions this month. It’s the best way to see how the Spanish immersion experience plays out, and it’s amusing to observe how your kid does and interacts with others. Wesley was thrilled to show off his baby sister to his classmates, and she was Miss Popular at recess and the lunch room.

Our first date night occurred last week! Steven got us great seats to Andrew Bird’s limited symphony tour, Time is a Crooked Bow, as my birthday present earlier this year. The show did not disappoint. I joked with a friend (who generously watched the kids for us!) that I started leaking breast milk from sheer excitement.

We’ve also had entertainment at home during these past few weeks. Maisie has reached an interactive milestone and has been smiling and cooing at us in recent days. At bath time the other night, she was so happy that we all took turns making faces to get the best smiles out of her. We likely looked ridiculous, all three of us gathered around her, talking and giggling in high-pitched babbles. She loved it!

I’m unsure why the video recorded on its side:

I return to work this week, and I’m starting to fidget with my nails again. For good reason: this is the busiest week of the year as the Indianapolis Walk to End Alzheimer’s is happening on Saturday. I have missed the entire fundraising event season and feel very out of the loop. I’m anxious to jump in and be a part of things, contributing to a mission I love and believe in.

But I also believe in my mission to contribute to my family’s needs. Maisie was a gift to us, and it’s my turn to give her my time and service. After this event season wraps up, I’m stepping away from my job to be at home for the foreseeable future. We are in a more stable position than when Wesley was born, and though it’s not something I ever thought I’d do, it’s time for me to take on a new position at home.

This decision was made with lots of influence and encouragement from Steven and Wes. I pretty much blame them for this newest adjustment. Though I have to admit, I’m looking forward to experiencing Maisie’s milestones and spending the holidays together. In January our family will re-evaluate my options, and I may return to the work force in a part-time position if something fitting becomes available.

Though my nails will be bitten to the shreds in the next few weeks – from health concerns, returning to a busy work environment and then leaving it all behind – I find I’m not nearly as anxious as I might have been. God has provided a blanket of peace in which I’m deeply snuggled. There is joy in my heart. All is well.

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.    – Psalm 94:18-19

Posted: September 30th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Resident Baby

As much as she resembles her big brother, little Maisie definitely has her own preferences and personality.

During the last month, we have adjusted to a new normal. We have watched this new person “wake up” from her days-long newborn slumber and start to recognize voices, focus on objects and faces and give us a handful of teaser smiles. (We can’t wait for the real reactionary ones!)

  

Maisie has met and spent time with a lot of people in the last 5 weeks. She appears to enjoy hearing chatter and conversation and has demonstrated her own version of FOMO – she won’t sleep if she hears fun dialogue around her! Once she IS asleep, however, she is extremely difficult to wake.

I can’t successfully wake her to eat every 3 hours, and at first we were a little concerned about her weight. We went to the pediatrician three times before she started to gain a few ounces, and now she’s up a pound from her birth weight. But she doesn’t have nearly the appetite Wesley did. I felt like he nursed every 45 minutes for the first 3 months, and that’s probably not an exaggeration by much.

It’s been fun to reminisce and compare notes to our previous experience.

Wes Maisie
Birth Stats: 8 lbs; 21″ 8 lbs, 1 oz, ; 21″
One Month Stats: 11 lbs; 22.5″ (75th percentile) 9 lbs, 2 oz, ; 21.5″ (38th percentile)
Swaddling: Mandatory Indifferent
Pacifier: Indifferent Indifferent
Feeding: ~1 hour; cluster feeds ~3 hours; cluster feeds at night
Sleeping: Sleeps most of the day & 4-5 hours at night Difficult to fall asleep but sleeps for 4 consecutive hours
Tummy Time: Screams bloody murder Tolerates
Baths: Dislikes Dislikes
GI: Limited gas and spit up Poops so much; lots of burps

Wesley has discovered a few things about his sister, too.

“She likes when I talk to her.”

“You say you’re feeding her, but it’s really drinking milk.”

He thinks he taught her some of her baby reflexes, and it’s too cute to correct him. “Mama! Look! I taught my baby sister how to grab my finger!”

Our family walks are even better now with a little one in tow, and she stops fussing when we’re on the move – either on foot or in the car. Except for a very long 45-minute walk around downtown Chicago last weekend during her prime cluster feed time. Whew, that was rough.

Also rough? Her inability to stay asleep until just about midnight. She cluster feeds from 7-10, usually dosing off several times. But once I lay her on her back, she promptly wakes up and fusses to nurse until she falls asleep again. The cycle continues for several hours, and I’ve caught up on my reading. Thankfully once asleep, she and I get a good 5 hours in before she wakes to eat again.

She tried a bottle for the first time last week. It took a few minutes to get the hang of it, haha.

All that food comes out en force, and she stained so many onesies before I realized it was time to move up a diaper size. She’s still wearing newborn onesies, though sleepers and some outfits are becoming snug. I sorted through the 0-3 month clothes this week and pulled out a few new items to add to the rotation. And based on a friend’s suggestion, I put the extra newborn size diapers and the outgrown sleepers aside for doll clothes. Brilliant.

I took a few photos when she turned one month old. Admittedly I haven’t taken nearly as many as I did of Wesley. Poor second child (or “second born” as Wes likes to say).

We love our little pimple-faced, skin-peelly Nugget, Stink Pot, Fuss Bucket, Little Miss, Maisie Girl.

Posted: September 20th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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One Week Old

We’ve achieved a handful of small accomplishments this week, but mostly we’ve just loved on little Maisie.

(Isn’t this mermaid tail, made by my dear friend Jordan, the sweetest?! She has been gifted additional tails to grow into as well – perfect for our monthly photos!)

HIGHLIGHTS / EVENTFUL THINGS OF THE WEEK:

  • We had our first family outings: pediatrician appointment, Saturday farmers market, church and a Target run today, and a family walk with the dogs (although I think I overexerted myself and am now couch-bound for the immediate future).
  • We have been showered with gifts, meals, cards and messages from colleagues, family members, neighbors, church families and countless friends. We feel the love, folks! Thank you.

MAISIE’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Won the hearts of her family members.
  • Slept – she sleeps SO MUCH with the exception between 9 p.m-1 a.m. when she’s alert and wants to cluster feed.
  • Met her quota of feedings and diaper changes according to hospital recommendations.

Jake has to be close at all times.

WESLEY’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Received an A+ rating from Steven on his eager and helpful performance as a big brother.
  • Jumped into and swam in the deep end of the pool.
  • Made several notable wise decisions and is adjusting to a baby sibling better than expected.

STEVEN’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Waited on me 24/7, but didn’t make me feel like an invalid.
  • Surprised me with our wedding cake for our 11th anniversary.
  • Successfully made Maisie sleep or poop while holding her, every time.

LEAH’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Dropped 15 of the 30 lbs gained!
  • Identified two of Maisie’s cries based on the Dunstan Baby Language (“neh” = hunger; “eh” = gassy).
  • Survived the beginning pains of breastfeeding – though she and I still have a lot to accomplish before it’s second nature and doesn’t hurt like whoa.

The morning after the first night at home: still alive!

Wesley is still on Cloud 9 about his new sister. He has enjoyed having visitors come to see Maisie because he gets to show her off and then play with friends. The last couple days have been more difficult for him as he realizes that we can’t give him all of our attention anymore. He’s not jealous, but he’s having trouble being independent and finding his own fun without getting himself into trouble.

However, he loves to snuggle in close when I’m nursing, and he talks about his future with Maisie. He is incredibly tender toward her, and he is empathetic about my body’s healing – offering to reach something and asking how I’m feeling.

Wes: Maisie! Maisie! Oh, look, I made her smile!
Me: She is looking for you; she knows your voice.
Wes: Do you think she likes me more than you?
Me: I think she likes us both.
Wes: Yeah, you’re the one feeding her. I just can’t believe she’s actually here!
Me: Me neither, Buddy. She’s pretty great, isn’t she?
Wes: I just love her so much that I could cry!
Me: Oh, me, too, Bud.
Wes: Look, we’re both crying now!

We are so thankful for this little surprise person. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

Posted: August 19th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Getting to Know You

She’s been a surprise all along, and she continues to astonish us. Maisie Gale was born four days early on August 12, 2018. She weighs 8 lbs, 1.3 oz and is 21″ long. She just barely beat her brother’s stats – by an ounce and an inch.

I woke from a dream at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, feeling a trickle fall down my legs. I knew it wasn’t an accident, but I went to the bathroom anyway, and lost more fluid on the bathroom floor. Honestly I was slightly annoyed because I had planned to work in the office most of this week, but I was equally amused that it actually happened like all the text books say. (My water didn’t break with the first pregnancy.) I woke Steven up and told him I would finish packing and call the hospital.

As I went downstairs to call my parents, I noticed that our dog Jake had an accident in the family room. I grabbed some tissue to clean it up, squatted to do so, and the flood gates opened. I nearly clogged the half bath after flushing down so much toilet paper from both accidents. And then I went back upstairs to change clothes for the third time.

Mom and Dad hurried over to house/Wes-sit for the early morning hours while we went to the hospital, registered and checked into triage. Within an hour, we were in our room, where we waited for my contractions to gain in intensity. I was about 4cm dilated when we arrived, and hardly felt the every-2-minute contractions. No one tells you that the amniotic fluid keeps escaping after your water breaks. It was quite annoying and uncomfortable to sit in a constant puddle, but there you have it.

Because of the fast progression of Wesley’s birth, the nurses encouraged me to go ahead and get an epidural after we had waited a few hours. I wasn’t in much pain to begin with, and the anesthesiologist complimented me after receiving it: “In 20 years of doing this, I’ve never had a patient ask me questions while getting their epidural. You just made my morning!” When I’m nervous or anxious, I tend to be chatty, so it was the only thing I could do to take my mind away from the stick and pressure of the needle. Steven beamed with pride (and then teased me later).

We got a little rest before my parents and Wes came over to hang out. Wesley’s expression when he entered our hospital room was priceless. He ran up to the side of my bed and put both of his hands over his wide smile: “Mama, I’m SO EXCITED!” The room was perfect and spacious for them to join us. About every 2 hours I had gained another centimeter, so we played the waiting game. It was nice to have company to distract me from the obvious.

To pass the time, Steven made updates to the white board in the room, which has also entertained the nurses on rotation. The board originally said “Have a baby!” under Today’s Plan, and it has periodically changed to “Had a baby!” and “Keep a baby!” Today it said, “Take a baby!” in anticipation of our discharge for home. He later added under Questions for Care Team: “Why is baby?” / “What is baby?” which prompted nervous giggles from staffers.

Around 11:15 I had called the nurse about increased pressure and fluid. She at first didn’t believe me – “maybe in about 50 minutes we’ll be ready to have this baby!” – but after a quick check she changed her mind. She alerted the OB on call (we heard her run down the hallway), Mom and Wes were whisked out the room (Dad went to church earlier that morning while they stayed with us), and all the troops and supplies were wheeled in. By the time they had everything ready, Dad had returned, so he and Mom traded places watching Wes. Mom came in the room just in time to witness the birth.

There’s debate about how many pushes (10?) over how much time in total (20 minutes?), but I was told by a nurse that it was a “perfect birth.” Maisie Gale was born at 11:52 a.m. on a beautiful, sunny day. Steven and I spent the next hour alone with Maisie – our daughter who cried minimally and was extremely alert during those precious first moments.

The extended Shattucks and my sister came that afternoon, and a couple close friends visited yesterday. Everyone agrees: she’s fantastic. We have spent the last couple days getting introduced to each other. A song from the musical King and I has been floating around in my head:

Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you 
Getting to hope you like me

And she certainly is well-liked! Wesley, who she resembles (it’s unreal by how much!), is becoming a pro at holding her, “teaches” others how to keep her warm and safe, and has told everyone who will listen about his new baby sister.

It’s sweet to see Steven with his little girl. He snuggles her close and teases her in his endearing way. Our quiet evenings are my favorite time to watch them.

We’re smitten. It’s so nice to finally meet you, Ms. Maisie. Welcome to the family.

Haven’t you noticed
Suddenly we’re bright and breezy? 
Because of all the beautiful and new 
Things we’re learning about you 
Day by day

More photos of Maisie’s first days!

Posted: August 14th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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The Final Countdown

Summer may be over according to the school district, but we’ve squeezed in a few additional things before life gets up-ended with a newborn.

On Thursday, Wesley started first grade. I didn’t get shopping for clothes or shoes done until the SECOND day of school, but close enough. (I think the best thing about this photo is my bathrobe-clad photobomb.)

He claimed to be nervous, but Wes couldn’t stop talking about his day while at the dinner table that night. He’s in a class with a bunch of buddies, and he’s already served as Class Helper a handful of times.

Friends of ours invited us to dinner on Saturday night, and even though I forgot to bring my swimsuit, another pregnant friend (who’s just a week or so behind us) kindly let me borrow the one she was wearing so I could get a few minutes in the cool water. Yes, it seems strange, but you may not understand how good water feels when you’re this far along! It was also a rather funny experience, confusing the kids in the pool – as we look similarly pregnant.

We had planned to attend family day at GenCon over the weekend. After we were dressed (Mario, Mega Man and pregnant Fiona), Steven discovered the horrible news that tickets were sold out. Wes was super bummed to miss it, but he bounced back with, “it’s okay. Maybe we can go swimming instead.” So we did. Again. This time at Mom’s condo pool.

And afterwards, my parents – who now own a truck and truck camper and I have no idea who they are – came over to test a cast iron dutch oven recipe on us before their approaching camping trip. I also helped Dad figure out how to set up a tent canopy. The pretend camping experience was almost as fun as REAL CAMPING!

Mom and Dad were convinced that I would go into labor the day they left, but here I am. Yesterday’s 38w6d OB appointment was good and uneventful:

  • Heartbeat, Measurements, Blood Pressure: 37 cm, 114/72
  • Weight Gain: No change from last week. Still! By this point I had gained nearly 40-45 lbs with Wesley. This pregnancy is so much different.
  • Movement: Though she didn’t move much during the non stress test (per usual), she has been active ever since. Practice/Braxton Hicks contractions have been constant for the last few days (lots of peaks on the NST!), and I hardly notice them except for slight discomfort. Last night they bothered Maisie so much that she moved all night long.
  • Dilation: 3 cm. I have to credit the practice contractions for the slow and steady progression.
  • Cravings: I got an Egg McMuffin earlier this week, and you know what? It wasn’t nearly as good as I was expecting! I’m hungry for salads and deli meat this week.
  • Moods: Mostly calm, but starting to get antsy. Intermittent sleep is affecting my ability to stay focused.
  • Biggest Gripe: It’s not really a “gripe” but I find it amusing that my coworkers are determined to see my water break in the office and have no doubt that I’ll be in active labor, like, in 10 minutes. Every morning there’s a comment or two: “I can’t believe she’s back today!”
    The thing that has bothered me most this week are loose ligaments in my hips and pelvis. It feels like my leg is popping out of socket. And occasionally I’ll shift positions and a bolt of nerve tingling hits for a moment; super uncomfortable. I decided it’s probably okay to take a break from the gym for several weeks. Saturday is my last planned class, and I’m half expecting to modify the heck out of the workout and then endure an afternoon of contractions.
  • Biggest Like: Checking things off the list! We met with our financial advisor tonight to make adjustments in anticipation of our family of four. Wes is helping pack his own bag for staying with my parents when we’re in the hospital. The newest addition to the bag is a gift from my aunt and cousin – a big brother button!
    Wes asked what Steven and I will be doing for our wedding anniversary next week, and I told him we may be spending it in the hospital. “Oh! Could we order pizza and watch a movie?!” Sure, why not make it a family date if it comes to that?

If Maisie doesn’t arrive on her own next week, we have a scheduled induction for August 22 at 7 a.m. A few more appointments to check on her progress are scheduled between now and then – Oohhhh, it’s the final countdown!

Posted: August 9th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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(Always) Something to Celebrate

Steven pokes fun of my excuses to do something fun – mainly get an ice cream cone somewhere. I grew up accustomed to celebrating small victories (the end of a recital or play, last/first days of ___, Dad on a business trip(!), etc.) and what Steven calls “made-up holidays,” and I guess it stuck with me.

At dinner tonight, I suggested that we celebrate the last day of summer by, you guessed it, getting ice cream! (Tomorrow is Wesley’s first day of first grade – yes, already!) Steven then, for the next hour or so, and during our evening walk with the dogs, came up with the following situations to celebrate:

Hey, let’s celebrate that colonoscopy you just got!
Your third cousin’s nephew graduated from high school!
It’s the 60th anniversary of that couple that you met in Kroger once!
Great job getting a new pair of shorts for school!

I told him that you have to keep life fun and interesting, and why NOT celebrate the last day of summer?! We ended up going to Chick-fil-a because Wes found an unopened kids’ meal toy (which you can turn in for free ice cream), I was hungry for a milkshake, and Steven decided to get fries. “So we ALL get a treat!” said Wes. Yes, see? He gets it.

We celebrated(!) Wesley’s birthday with the Shattucks over the weekend, and as usual, it was an adventure. Every single one of my in-laws is an amazing bowler – including my nieces! On a good game, I can bowl maaaaaybe 140. That’s like chump change for them. They have their own balls (some smell like fruit, no joke!) and shoes and either play on leagues, coach teams or have done so at some point in their lives. We thought it would be fun to bring them to Fountain Square to try their hand at duckpin bowling – and guess what?! I WAS THE HIGHEST SCORE.

Steven, Wes and I stopped at Heidelberg Haus for a cake on the way to the alley, thinking we could share it there. But the building has a strict NO OUTSIDE FOOD policy that we now know about, so everyone took their turn holding the cake box and walking around Fountain Square. When we returned to our house for cake and presents, the combination of the day’s heat and shuffling between people made the cake layers slide all over the place. Debra is still convinced it’s Bill’s fault. Seriously the best moment of the day!

A few other things to celebrate: BABY STATS WEEK 37

  • Heartbeat, Measurements, Blood Pressure: 130 bpm, 114/60
  • Weight Gain: No change from last week.
  • Movement: Today’s non-stress test (NST) was long for a couple reasons: my OB was on vacation, so the doc I visited with wanted to get ample data. The last couple NSTs have been 10-15 minutes, and this one was likely the standard 30 minutes, but it felt ages longer. Also, Maisie had to be zapped again because she just gets too comfortable and doesn’t move as much as they’d like to see on a graph. (Maybe they should schedule these tests for 10 p.m.) At any rate, she passed the test and everything looks great.
  • Dilation: 2.5 cm. I didn’t have too many Braxton-Hicks contractions this week that I know of, but apparently they’re happening because they showed up on the NST graphs.
  • Cravings: Orange juice, salt, ice cream. I still haven’t gotten that Egg McMuffin.
  • Moods: It’s been a good mental week. I’m beginning to see real progress and closure on my projects at work, and it makes me feel less and less stressed that I’ll leave without a big, gaping hole for coworkers to fill.
  • Biggest Gripe(s): Finally had to throw in the towel and start sleeping in the guest room with a plethora of pillows. I don’t like not being with Steven, but he hates my excessive snoring and frequent bathroom breaks and constant tossing and turning.
  • Biggest Like: It sounds mushy, but I’m so blessed by Steven and Wesley. They go out of their way to make me laugh, feel special and beautiful. Both of them complimented me on separate occasions this morning. Wes begged me to take video of Maisie’s heartbeat so he could hear it. Here you go, Buddy.

August has a lot of firsts (and therefore ice cream celebrations!) ahead. Here we go into Week 38!

Posted: August 1st, 2018
Categories: Leah
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