Thursday, January 29, 2015

First Year Surprises

With Felicity's birthday right around the corner, approaching much more quickly than I'd like, I've of course got all the feels. I'm reflecting a lot on her first year and, as I begin one of her scrapbooks (*cough* the one of the day she was born... get on it, Stacy, amiright?), I'm feeling so much wistfulness over the tiny newborn in the pictures that I hardly remember! Today it has me thinking about all the things that surprised me about her first year. It will be interesting to compare when (God willing) #2 comes along to see what's the same, what's different, or at least what doesn't surprise me the second time around as a 'seasoned' mom.

  • I struggled for way longer after she was born than I ever thought I would. As I've said before, my milk supply issues and her tongue/lip tie and weight issues certainly contributed to it, but I really thought after like a month or two, I'd have this mom thing down. That was probably pretty naive of me as, in reality, it was probably a good 6 months until I really felt like we'd hit our stride as a mommy/baby duo. And to add to that, I didn't think about how every stage would bring a new challenge (but also lots of new joys!), and that I'd have to re-figure her/us out at each step of the way! Now I know that when I find something that works, it will probably change in a week or two.
  • I had to lower my standards regarding housework a LOT. Pre-baby, Steven and I cleaned the house top to bottom weekly. Now that he's working more hours and I'm home, housework has mostly fallen on my shoulders (though he's happy to help if asked/needed). Weekly is just not doable for me, even now! That last part, the fact that I *still* struggle, has surprised me as well. Dusting happens way less often, and bathrooms and the kitchen are about the only things that get done every single week, because those spaces gross me out if they aren't super clean. I actually do vacuum more (about every other day, and that's probably pushing it) now that I have a crumb catcher of a baby, but everything else has taken more of a back seat than I'd like. I try to remember that being with and playing with my baby is more important and that I won't look back and think "gee, I wish I had cleaned more". It's a balance though, because dirtiness and clutter stresses me out.  
I do not remember being this big!
  • Oh, let me go back to the beginning for a minute. The post partum healing. Good grief. I know it's not like that for everyone, but it took me FOREVER to heal! I thought after a month or so I'd be good as new but it was probably a good 5 months before I was back to normal and closer to the 10 month mark before I felt like my old self (yes, that's just a month ago!). It's largely because of how quickly Felicity came, so here's to hoping the next baby takes a little more time!
  • Well here's a good surprise. Steven and I fared better than I thought we would. We did have new parent challenges and it took us a while to figure out how to be both parents and spouses, but I think we actually handled it pretty well. I should say "are handling it". There are still aspects of our pre-baby relationship that we both miss, but also new aspects we really enjoy. I think a big reason we are doing as well as we are is that we set aside intentional time together almost every single day. It's easy to zone out once the baby is asleep and just do our own thing, but we make sure to spend some time together whether it's board games, just sitting and talking, working on hobbies while we chat, or cuddling and watching a show together. We also try to go on a date about once a month, and we do family dates as well. 

  • I didn't expect that our baby would still be in our bed at a year old. We were both open to the idea of cosleeping from the get go (clearly since we bought a cosleeper) and also somewhat open to the idea of bedsharing. But, if I'm being honest, I probably imagined something like her transitioning to her crib around six months, or napping there or something. Well, it just hasn't worked for her OR us, and we're ok with that. We figure when it stops working for one of us, that's when we'll address it (we actually have a plan in place for a slow/gentle transition when that happens, but none of us is ready yet). Also if I'm being honest, we both love it way more than I thought we would. Some of our best moments as a family are when Steven and I go to bed or wake up with Felicity there. Sometimes when we get in bed, she'll start laughing in her sleep. She will often times wake up in the morning by patting my face, kissing me, or blowing raspberries. They have made some of the best memories! Yes, there are downsides... it'd be nice to have our bed for us, and I can't get anything done in our room during the day because she naps in there. But the pros vastly outweigh the cons for us. We get SO much more sleep because we never have to get up! No trudging across the house or rocking the baby in the wee hours of the morning. She's right there in bed with us for us to comfort. We bought a king size bed about 6 months after she was born, which has really improved any space issues we had before (though it's amazing how a ~20lb human can still crowd you lol). Basically, it's working for us and that's all that matters, but the pregnant me would not have thought we'd have a(n almost) one year old in our bed!
  • And, cliche to say maybe, I'm surprised at just how much love I have for this tiny person. Not at all surprised that I do love her; I knew I would. But at the vast amount of love in my heart for her. I'm surprised that, a year in, she can do something she's done a billion times (wave, blow a kiss, "dance") and my heart still feels like it's going to explode right out of my chest. I can literally be with her around the clock for weeks, and then have 2 hours of "me time" and be missing her terribly by hour 2. Felicity is absolutely a piece of my heart walking around on the outside. Goodness, my heart wants to burst just writing this. I love that little girl so much and it's such a beautiful thing watching Steven love her just as much! 
I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton, but that's what stands out to me as I think back over the past several months. I'd love to hear some things that surprised you about your first year with your baby!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Felicity Marian: 11 Months

*cries a little*
Every month is a little hard, but this one especially. How is my baby girl going to be ONE next month? I know people always do this... are amazed at how fast time goes and constantly talk about it. I'm no exception because her first year has flown. It's so much fun to see her personality blossom and she can do SO much more fun stuff now, but I almost don't even remember her as a tiny baby and that breaks my heart! Ok, I'll save it for the one year post :P. Moving on! Besides the fact that Felicity and I seem trade off on who is sick, it's been a great month. She continues to pick up SO many new skills! 

Weight: By our unofficial home weigh in, 21 lbs!!

Height: Also by our unofficial home measurements, 27 inches (which would mean she got chunkier but not taller since last month lol). 

Medical issues: Mostly just sickness crud. She currently is on day 3 of a fever, cough, and runny nose but she seems to be doing better. 

Sleep: Sleep has remained pretty steady. She goes down around 7 or 7:30, stirs a few times before we come to bed, then sleeps pretty solidly until about 5am. She stirs quite a bit between 5 and 7 and then is usually up at 7. She takes a short morning nap and a long (well...for her) afternoon nap. She was fighting sleep for a while, I think because of all her new skills, but has gone down pretty easily the last week or so. 

Clothes/Diaper Size: We finally ran out of our size 3 diapers (they go slow since we also do cloth, which is only bad when you need to switch sizes!) and 4 is SO much better! I've changed the rise snaps on all her cloth now, and they also are fitting better. She's in all 12 month clothing. 

Likes: Stacking cups, "Cat the Cat" and "Kitty Catkin" books, things that crinkle, her vtech singing bear, pressing any and all buttons whether they are 3d or not (she likes to press the magnifying 'button' on my Sims game), LOVES puzzles, and likes bananas which, as of last month, she wouldn't touch, playing chase, her "wubanub" pacifier... because it's totally normal for a baby to decide to use a paci at the age of 11 months after 7 months of not touching it, right? :P

Dislikes: when mommy showers (this is an ongoing thing but it's actually gotten worse. She's terrified when I shower no matter if I put her in with me or not.), having her nose wiped, avocado (used to love it!)

Nicknames: Baby girl girl, The Tickle, Stinkamonk

Milestones: You know how I said she had 2 teeth, canines? Yeah... no... a friend of mine cracked the code on that. Apparently they were epstein pearls which can resemble teeth. But there are no actual teeth there! However, she has had 3 teeth break through this month. Her first was a bottom middle on 12/31 and shortly after she got a top middle and the other bottom middle. She is a champion teether, and I am a huge amber necklace and zoli teether fan!!! Felicity has been taking steps here and there since December 26th (plus that one random step on December 10th I wrote about last month), but as of 1/14 is actually walking. Yes a 10.5 month old walker and boy is she a cute, wobbly mess :). She still intersperses crawling and walking but can actually get across a room walking if she wants. Slow down, baby girl! Although I'm hoping she'll eat less stuff off the ground the more she walks! Felicity also signs nursie now. She did it once at like 6 months and then never again, but now she does it multiple times a day (I'll let it slide that she signed it to my friend over my shoulder at church last weekend lol). On 1/15 she began pointing which is so incredibly cute. There's a lot of "ET phone home" going on here since she likes to point at us and stare. 

I don't want to forget this: 
One day in December, Steven got home and Felicity and I were playing on the floor. She was leaning over me, looked up at Steven, and waved, saying "Dada!". It was the first time she used Dada in context and we pretty much melted on the spot. She also started using mama more than just when crying, though not really in context yet. 

As of about a week ago, Felicity started taking a puzzle piece out and being able to put it back in. It's one of those things that shows me just how smart babies can be. She seems way too little to correctly put a puzzle piece in! 

Last weekend in Mass, Felicity stayed in the ergo the entire time. Not only was I able to focus more, but it was a great hour long cuddle! And no worry about little hands in the communion line :).

Felicity is obsessed with waving at and kissing the 'baby in the mirror' during diaper changes. She LOVES her reflection. She even kisses her reflection in the dishwasher door! She tries the oven but we redirect lol. 

We went to a birthday party last weekend and Steven walked Felicity from the car up to the picnic shelter. Seeing my tiny girl hold her daddy's hand and walk through the parking lot was almost more than I could handle! 

And last, her first Christmas, of course! I was pretty sick but thankfully still able to enjoy the morning with my family around the tree. Steven and I opened presents as she played with hers and it was just as sweet as I imagined it would be. I love my little family so much! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Struggle is Real

It has been almost one year since I stopped working to begin my new job as a stay at home mom (how???!!!). It's the best and hardest thing I've ever done. I don't so much mean hardest as in it's hard being home with Felicity. Of course motherhood is challenging, but I truly feel like there is nowhere else I want to be. As much as I struggled to adjust to being a mom, I don't feel like I struggled with the office-to-home transition. I just feel in my element at home, even if the house hasn't been as clean as I want it since, oh, last February... I'm so extremely grateful for Steven for seeing the value in having me home, because it takes a lot of sacrifice on his part for this to work. But making this work is where the hard part comes in. It is hands down the hardest thing we've done. 

The first few months after Felicity was born, we just flew by the seat of our pants. Well, in lots of respects, but I'm referring to finances. We had a really nice padding in our savings and a decent padding in our checking, and had done it that way knowing that life would be crazy and we didn't want to stress about money right away. However, we took that too far and basically didn't change the way we were living at all. Not that we've ever lived extravagantly, but eating out once or twice a week, even at places like Subway, can really add up when your income has been slashed by about 40%. And buying something "for the baby" (ahem, our Little People obsession) over and over at consignment sales doesn't seem like much at the time, but add a couple of consignment sales together and you have a bill we could have paid instead! So anyways, on top of that we accrued quite a bit of medical bills with Felicity's tie issues and trying to get nursing going- all worth the money, of course. Then we decided to get a new bed when a spring popped out of ours, and we knew we needed to get a good mattress to last us a while. So a worthwhile investment, but an investment. Anyways, I could go on, but you get the drift. All of a sudden we realized, hey, this savings account isn't going to replenish itself. We realized that the money we currently have should be able to pay our current bills, but it might not cover extras, surprises, and it certainly wasn't going to darken the doorway of our savings account any time soon. We had to find another way to bring in some money. We sold off quite a few things that we didn't need/want anymore, but that's obviously a short term plan as we ran out of things we want to get rid of! So I started looking for babysitting jobs and we started cutting costs. 

New duds from her aunties!

Cutting costs on an already bare budget is hard! We're still working on that. We are basically doing simpler meals, less meat, and snacking less (which is good since we started weight watchers). We can't do much to any of our fixed bills, and our power (which we pay the same amount each month) has gone up... makes sense since I'm now at home, but woof, another thing to account for. We eat out on gift cards when we get them and the Chickfila calendar card. Every now and again we "splurge" on a $10 pizza meal- $10 being for both of us. Yeah, we like a good deal :). We've done surveys for amazon cards and used the cards to get stuff for the house, like toilet paper, razors, etc. But you can only cut so much especially, like I mentioned, on a budget that was already cut a lot in order for me to stay home. The next step was me bringing in money. I freak out a lot easier than Steven does and threatened to try to find daycare jobs or something like that, where Felicity could at least be on the same premise even if not right with me. Steven, thankfully, told me to hold my horses, that we aren't in dire straits, and to ramp up trying to find babysitting jobs where she could be with me directly. Can I tell you that we prayed about it for maybe the first time ever a week or so ago after an (appropriately named) Come to Jesus talk about our finances, and within a week I had 5 new opportunities? It was totally one of those goosebump feeling moments, especially since I've been looking for months and had only found one opportunity in all that time. And now I'm keeping a calendar to keep it all straight! Any little bit I bring in is really helpful to our day to day bills, or extra bills we didn't plan on, and finally to go into savings. Over all, it's still not much, but it's a lot to us. 

It's hard struggling with money because it seems like in our area most people are pretty well off. Most SAHMs don't seem to be counting pennies or worrying about what things cost. When I try to join play groups, I quickly realize it's not going to work when they are eating lunch out together every week. So I've had to be creative in the friendships I put my energy toward and the activities I choose. Felicity and I both enjoy being out of the house, but obviously it's not helpful if I'm out spending money as quickly as Steven is earning it. Luckily, we live in an area with a LOT of free activities, and I've found a few good friends who are content doing free or super cheap things with us. It's tough, and I do worry for the future when we have more children and (I would imagine) I will have less of an ability to bring in money. But, I know we have to be resourceful now, trust in God's plan for our family, and not borrow worry from the future. I'm so, so happy to be home and it's worth extra stress and work. I love being with my baby, even when she drives me crazy :), and I love all the time we get to spend with Steven with his wacky schedule that we wouldn't get to enjoy if I was working and Felicity was in daycare. I need to focus more on what I do have, and less on what I don't or what I wish I had, because I am very richly blessed. 

Time with this girl is worth everything we've given up!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cliche New Year's Move in 3...2...1...

So today I bit the bullet and rejoined Weight Watchers after hemming and hawing about it for months. Steven is wonderful and did not even question the price, as tight as money is for us. He reminded me that it's an investment in not only my health, but the long term health of the family as Felicity learns eating habits, and as I'm the one who prepares most meals.

Felicity is almost a year old, so I've had plenty of time to drop the baby weight, and I haven't. I take that back... I did lose about 15 lbs shortly after she was born (of the 30 I gained while pregnant). But between lack of motivation, really enjoying ice cream these past 10 months, and a thyroid that is again giving me flack, I weighed in today at- no, sorry, I can't bring myself to type it. Let's just say that I weigh the same today as I did the day I gave birth. And I had weight to lose before I got pregnant. Yeah, people. It was high time to rejoin. The first time I did weight watchers, I lost about 65 lbs over the course of a year. I lost it all through food changes, very rarely exercising. When I was in maintenance, I got cocky thinking I could do it on my own. Then I started letting certain holidays "not count", then certain big events, and, before I knew it, I wasn't counting anything. The pounds piled back on over the course of a few years, culminating in the "baby" weight I'm still carrying around. Then I did it online shortly before I got pregnant, but weighing in at home and not being accountable to anyone was a stumbling block for me. I might have lost 5-10 lbs but that was it. It basically only helped me maintain. This time, I'm back to going to meetings, and even have a meeting buddy that I met online in a parenting group who happens to live near me. Steven is unofficially doing it at home, which will help. I want to lose weight eating "real" foods, which I strongly believe in (eating very limited processed foods, choosing whole foods over others, eating things like dairy as they come and not in their fat free counterparts, etc). I also want to lose weight exercising, since it has so many health benefits. Luckily, I already walk 45 minutes quite a few times a week with my neighbor, which is way more than I've ever done before, and for a way longer time. Man, accountability is apparently a necessity for me!

I have so many reasons for wanting to lose weight. They asked us at the meeting tonight to name one, and I chose the most important one to me- that I want to attempt to break the cycle of obesity for Felicity. When I make a decision about what to put in my mouth, it affects more than just me. She sees it and she will learn from us, so we owe it, of course to ourselves and each other, but to Felicity to learn and practice better habits. Beyond that, I'd love my blood pressure to not be a problem next pregnancy (it's normal right now but I want to do what I can to keep it that way if I can!). I'd love my progesterone levels to improve. I want my PCOS to be more managed and maybe even cycle on my own! I want Steven and I to improve for each other. I want to be able to wear my closet full of clothes. I want to not feel disgusting. So, so many reasons to get healthy! I don't know how long this journey will last because we may want to get pregnant again before I reach goal (assuming it takes around the same amount of time as last time), which would obviously put things on hold. But regardless, I need to be healthier no matter if I do the program for a month, a year, or multiple years before becoming pregnant again. And it'll be there waiting for me when I'm ready- and I'll need it! I'm so tired of being controlled by food. Let's do this thing.