I haven’t forgotten my middle child! (Ben these days…)

Cue the mom guilt …. there hasn’t been a post about Benny around these parts in a long time. The last update post about him was at 27 months, and that was five months ago. Then there was the documentation of his Spiderman face in June, and finally, the announcement that he was done with nuks finally in July, four months ago. So it’s been months since I’ve talked about just Ben, and I’m due for an update on my beloved middle child!

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Benny Ben Ben … where do I begin?

We’ve long said that Ben was a classic middle child from the day he was born. Easygoing and fun-loving and a total spitfire in equal measures. I think that most children tend to be Jekyl and Hyde by nature, but Ben epitomizes this more than any kid I know. He’s the middle child, yes, but he rarely falls in the middle of any spectrum – he’s either way on one side or way on the other. He’s the SWEETEST, cuddliest, funniest, most entertaining boy and also the naughtiest, loudest, most stubborn child, too.

Take being in public. Henry’s a bit of a sass pot these days, but he has always been an incredibly well-behaved child anytime we take him out in public. Stays by us, doesn’t throw tantrums, listens – for the most part anyway. But Ben? He’s had me seriously rethink the whole “I don’t believe in leashes for kids” thing on several occasions. If he’s not in a cart, he’ll bolt. Run through the aisles and turn a corner without looking back. And if he’s confined and not happy about it, he’ll cry – loudly. If he wants something and he’s told no, he’ll cry – loudly. He has embarrassed us in public on more than a few occasions, and each time I think wow, I’m the mom in the store with the crying kid! This is new!

Camera Roll-289When I tell him not to do something, he’ll often outright defy me and keep doing it. Sometimes he’ll smile or do this funny face where he stretches his neck up and raises his eyebrows like “who me? I’m not doing anything,” and I can’t help but laugh, which defeats the whole scolding him thing. If he does something naughty (like the other night when he threw a book across the room at bedtime and hit me with it) I’ll yell at him and say “why did you do that?” He’ll give me this sassy, hilarious, lowered-eyebrow look like “what did I do?” and then mimic what he did and say “I was just doing this!” – and he shows me exactly what he just did. I’m like yeah! That’s not ok! But again, he’s so FUNNY when he says things like that that I just can’t stay mad.

If I tell him to do something, like go eat his food or go put on his shoes, he’ll often respond with a cheerful “nope” or “in a second!” It’s baffling sometimes how defiant he can be! He gets a lot of time-outs and will move a bit on the step or chair and say “I’ll sit right HERE.” The past week or two he’s taken to getting up immediately and saying “I want to be a good boy!” and I have to keep putting him back.

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He and Henry fight a lot, as brothers tend to do, and boy is Henry going to be in for it real soon. Ben is a bruiser and has zero fear. If Henry hits him and starts a fight, Ben is always the one to ratchet it up much higher than one would expect. Just yesterday Henry picked up one of their (soft) chairs and bonked Ben on the head with it. Ben proceeded to pick up his red tricycle and throw it at Henry, which of course made Henry cry and made me have to try really hard not to laugh and have my eyes bug right out of my head. He looked like the incredible Hulk picking that thing up! They roughhouse a lot and chase each other around, and there are a lot of laughs and oh so much noise, but often someone ends up in tears. They play hide and seek, they shoot Nerf guns at each other, they wrestle. They are just all BOY, both of them, and when you put them together, it’s just pretty much constant loudness and chaos.

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Ben is a very physical, active child, and we wonder how he – and all of us – will survive the impending winter in our small little house. We will have to get out and keep busy whenever possible! Ben loves being outside and asks every day, multiple times a day, to go outside and ride in his police car. He’s recently learned how to turn doorknobs and open doors, so now we have to keep our front door chained at the top when Ben’s inside since he’d definitely be the kid to escape and be across the neighborhood in no time.

He also continues to be a really terrible eater, like the pickiest of the picky. Won’t eat any vegetables, only likes bananas and apples for fruit, and absolutely refuses to try pretty much anything we make for dinner. We’re not really sure how to remedy the situation, since we can’t sit there and force-feed him. We just keep offering things, and he just keeps picking them up off his plate and putting the on the table (or sometimes the floor) saying “I don’t want this.” He sticks with his tried and true faves – eggs and sausage, pizza, pb&j, yogurt, yogurt raisins, crackers, oatmeal. And anything sweet, of course. So frustrating. Henry has always been picky, too, but is verrrry slowly coming around ever so slightly. He still “hates” most of what we cook and offer, but he’ll at least try new things now – some nights even without tears! But dinnertime continues to be our least favorite time of day in this house.

But! There are soooo many positives about my Ben that I must note!

I can’t overstate how funny he is. Dave has said multiple times that Ben is the funniest person he’s ever known. We think that Ben will likely have an easy time in life, making friends and making people laugh and just taking things in stride. I can’t say the same for all my children, but the jury’s still out. ;)

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He’s also a very loving child. He needs to give us “10 hugs” before bed every night. He hugs Henry many mornings before Henry leaves for school, and when he gets back home, Ben will ask “how was your day at school, Henry?” He asks me often out of the blue “how’s your day, Mom?” He looooves his baby sister, getting in her face often to rub his head on hers or kiss her forehead. He talks in a high-pitched voice to her and calls her “Eleanor” or “baby Ellie,” and he’ll say “she is so a-DOR-able!”

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He’s been pretty stubborn about potty training so far but just this week is making some major strides. Shelly puts him in a pull-up on the days he’s at her house, and he pees in the froggy toilet there without much issue. He didn’t want to do it at home, though, which was odd, but then finally yesterday he peed on our frog toilet – like a lot – and we all celebrated and cheered and he got to pick out candy as a treat. Changing his poop is awwwwwful and we can’t wait til he’ll finally poop on the toilet. Henry was potty trained right at 2 1/2, so Ben’s a bit behind. He’s just stubborn stubborn and apparently doesn’t have an issue still with being in diapers. He’ll say “Mom, I’m peeing” and then “Change my diaper please.” Or he’ll go in another room to poop and if we come upon him, he’ll run and say “No, don’t look at me, I’m pooping!” So not cool, Ben. But we’ll get there!

He also continues to be ridiculously smart and beyond his years with how he speaks and things he knows. It still surprises us on a regular basis what a smart cookie he is. Too smart for his own good sometimes!

A few other random things to note -

- He’s obsessed with America’s Funniest Videos, which we watch as a family every Sunday night. Our DVR records it and we keep the last episode on there until there’s a new one – and the past couple of weeks, he’s asked to watch it EVERY DAY, so we’ve watched the first two episodes of the season probably 25 times each.

- He’s been calling me “mama” for the past few months and I love it. He tacks it onto nearly everything he says or asks.

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- He says Henry “Hen-ray” and it makes me giggle nearly every time he says it.

- He loves to sing and knows so many nursery rhyme songs. He’s also learned a few songs from riding in the car with Shelly, though, including Shake It Off and … All About That Bass. And it’s super embarrassing but I knew neither of those songs until my kids came home singing them. Obviously Shake It Off was a couple months (weeks?) ago now, but I’m so not up on new music, and suddenly my kids are singing “I’m outta biss I’m outta biss no trouble!” and I’m like what? So then I heard it and figured out the real words, and now Benny comes home singing “I’m bringin booty baaaaack!” I told Shelly I wasn’t sure that I approved, but darn is it funny.

- And to make up for the fact (ha, not really) that she’s letting my boys listen to pop music about booties, Shelly and her mother-in-law, “Granny,” who the boys just love, too, have been teaching them the presidents in order. They know the first six, and listening to Benny recite them is the cutest thing! Here’s a little video of it I put on Instagram.

- He loves all things Halloween right now, and there’s a “scary house” at the end of Shelly’s block. Every single day that Shelly picks him up, the first thing he asks – without fail – is “can we go past the scary house?” (scar-ray) When we’re driving, he’ll ask over and over, “did you see that scary guy, mama?” and “did you see that pumpkin, mama?” about pretty much every Halloween decoration he sees.

- Ben has lots of random funny things he does to make us laugh. He’ll ask to have shorts on his head and then run around in circles yelling “I … have … shorts … on my head! I … have … shorts … on my head!” He also likes to yell the name of Henry’s teacher – “Mrs. Hojnacki! Mrs. Hojnacki!” (Hoy-nacki) When Henry comes home, Ben will ask “did you talk to Mrs. Hojnacki today, Hen-ray?” and Henry will say “yes, Ben, I talk to her every day!” And still he asks again the next day, it’s so cute.

I may come back and add to this list as he does things I want to remember about this stage. You forget so fast! Dave and I sometimes look back on my Henry updates and so often we’ll say “oh yeah! I forgot about that!”

Ben’s such a little love, and so exasperating at times, and he plays a big role in the fun and crazyness that is our family of five. We love you, Benny boy!

Ellie at 8 weeks old

Ellie is eight weeks old today!

I’m not sure I can find words to express just how enamored I am with this baby girl of mine. If you’d asked me who my perfect, most dream-worthy baby would be before I met her, I’m really not sure I could have dreamed her up.

Everyone probably thinks their baby is the cutest baby on the planet, right? Because, whoa. And along with that precious little face comes just the sweetest little personality, too. She’s just so darn HAPPY all the time, and so soft and kissable – mmm! Honestly, I kind of can’t handle it. I can’t handle the cute.

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She’s a dream, seriously. People have said this about third babies – they tend to be the easy ones. I didn’t dare believe that, though (and obviously I know it’s not the case for everyone!) – but in my case, it has actually turned out to be true so far. She sleeps (more on that momentarily!), she smiles constantly, she nurses like a champ, she’s calm and content, she’s growing like a weed.

The sleep thing is actually pretty nuts. She’s nearly two months old and she still sleeps as much as a newborn. Maybe more. It’s actually concerning some days, but most of the time it’s just kind of comical. The girl’s naps just roll one right into the next, with short periods of awake time in between. Some days she’ll be awake more than others, but some days she’ll still sleep LITERALLY all day. And on those days I think whoa, I’m in for it tonight – but then she sleeps at night, too! She’s definitely sleeping 20 hours a day still, I’d bet.

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The “toughest” aspect of the sleep situation (and I say “toughest” since this ain’t nothing compared to what I went through with the boys, and compared to how most two-month-olds sleep!) continues to be the late evening, which is when she wants to be awake for the longest period of time. Some nights it’s not so bad, and she’ll go to bed by 10 or 11, but most nights she wants to be awake til midnight or later. She sort of turns into a different baby in those hours, fighting sleep, not wanting to eat as much, not really able to relax in my arms. I often get so exhausted sitting in the nursery with her trying to get her to sleep that I’ll finally say uncle and bring her into my bed with me. That usually puts her to sleep, and then when I wake up after an hour or so, I take her into her room.

From week one, she’s given me 4 and 5-hour stretches of sleep, but the past week or two she’s increased that. Last week she gave me her first 8-hour stretch, which of course freaked me out when I woke up! Then she had a few nights of seven hours at a time, and the past few it’s been about six again – which is still amazing. I often only get to sleep five or six hours a night because of her being night owl and her brothers being early birds, but it’s still much better than it could be, so I’m thankful for the sleep I am getting!

Some nights, like last night, she’s even unhappy in bed with me, and I feel a little lost on what to do to get her to sleep. Then I get mad at her, which makes me feel super guilty since she’s such a good baby most of the time. I put her down awake last night at midnight, because I just couldn’t stay up another minute. I thought, well, if she starts fussing, at least I’ll get a few minutes in my bed first. I just need a few minutes! But amazingly she went to sleep. She awoke at 6 a.m. to eat, and then went back to sleep til 9:15! I brought her downstairs and she ate again, and now she’s right back to sleep on my chest. Such a silly girl.

I do hope she’ll start figuring out her days and nights a bit better here soon, since I want to be able to push her bedtime back and have a bit of evening to myself and with Dave again. And I just don’t want to be up til 11 or 12 every night! Plus when she’s up at 5 or 6 a.m. for the first time to eat, she of course wants to go back to sleep – and that’s not going to fly when I have to be back to work – I want to see my baby before I leave for the day! But wow – I may have actually gotten that great sleeper I was so hoping for.

A few other updates on Ellie (and me while we’re at it) …

Camera Roll-206She and I have been out and about quite a bit lately – and it’s seriously so nice to not have to worry hardly at all about how she’ll behave or if I’ll have to deal with fussy or a super hungry baby. That answer is pretty much always nope! I take her to stores and wear her in my Moby and she just snoozes. Monday night I took her to my first It Works team meeting at Starbucks. We were there for two hours and since it was evening, it was her awake time, and she barely made a peep. She snuggled with a team member of mine for awhile, and then just hung out in her car seat or in my arms. I had to stand at one point and bounce her a bit, but otherwise she was totally content. Then today I went to lunch with my friend, Amy, and my friend, Matt, who’s designing our website for Grateful Hearts Giving Network, and there, too, she just sat in the booth next to me and chilled, sleeping half the time, and sitting there awake and making a few cute little noises the other half of the time. As I was leaving, the waiter said “that’s quite the content baby you have there – made it through that whole lunch!” I still kind of can’t believe what a chill baby she is.

I mentioned when she was one month old that she had a loose hip and had an ultrasound scheduled to get it checked out. We had that appointment two weeks ago and it went well – she was awake and so cute as the technician moved the probe around each of her hips. I came home, wondering if she’d have to wear a harness, which wouldn’t have been the end of the world but would have been a bummer and an inconvenience, and I wasn’t even home an hour before a nurse from our pediatrician’s office called to say that her ultrasound results looked totally normal. So that was that! I was very relieved.

Ellie’s out of newborn clothes now and has been for probably two weeks. She’s in 0-3 and 3-month stuff, though a lot of the 3-month pants are still pretty big on her. I love getting her dressed and I can’t get over all the cute girl clothes in her closet and in the stores, and it makes me so excited to dress her as she gets bigger. I always knew how cute girl clothes were, but I didn’t let myself dwell on it since I thought I might never have a girl. But now that I do have one – oh my gosh, bring on the ruffle butts and polka dots and flowers and the pink and the accessories – I love it all!!

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She hasn’t lost any of that glorious hair of hers, and it just keeps on growing. It gets super greasy really fast, so I bathe her every other day – sometimes more. I’m sure her hair is part of the reason she gets so much attention, but I swear, I can’t believe the attention she gets everywhere I take her. People just swoon over her. I remember my boys getting attention – people love babies! – but it wasn’t like this. Someone said recently that baby girls tend to get more attention, and I think it might be true. Makes me sad for my sweet boys and for all little boys – boys are awesome and so very sweet!! I myself swoon just as much over baby boys, that’s for sure.

The one update on me I wanted to note here was my postpartum weight loss – or lack thereof.

I’m not too worried, as I know it’ll come off, but it’s a little frustrating when it came off so much faster with the boys, and since I have to be back into my work clothes in less than four weeks. I’m still up about 12-13 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight of 145, which is actually 17-18 pounds over my happy/ideal weight of 140. When Ben was 10 weeks old, I had less than five pounds left to lose. It was similar or probably even better with Henry. Boo!

I know I’m older this time, and it’s my third baby. You know what else I think is contributing to it, though? Ellie eats far less than her big brothers did, and so my milk supply isn’t as abundant as it was with them. I’m making less milk and thus burning fewer calories each day. I only pump a few times a week, even though I keep telling myself I should do it once a day! Maybe once I’m back to work and regularly pumping 2-3 times each day, the weight will come off a bit faster. Of course, with Ben at 8 weeks, he was still only giving me 3- or 4- hour stretches of sleep at the most, so there are certainly trade-offs with each babe. ;)

Life with Ellie is really wonderful. And I’ve said it several times already but whoa, the transition to three kids has been eight million times easier than the transition to two. It helps to have a good baby, no doubt, but I was also more prepared this time, too. I knew it’d be crazy town around here, and it is, but it’s mostly a good crazy. I mean, let’s be real – there’s plenty of chaos and noise and tears and mom snapping at her boys too often (which is a post for another day) but despite it all, we are all doing pretty great, and I love having three kids.

Five.

My sweet Henry turned five yesterday. FIVE.

Five’s a big one. A closing of the door on the little kid years, on that first chapter of a child’s story, when he belongs totally to us. Now suddenly he’s in school and little by little, we’re going to watch as he becomes more independent and starts making his way in the world; starts being influenced by people and forces beyond our control. It’s scary but also exciting to be at this milestone birthday, and I’m looking forward to seeing what five will bring for him and for us.

It was a great day, even though I was so exhausted all day I could barely keep my eyes open. Baby girl has really not figured out her days and nights yet still, so I’m up so late every night and feeling quite tired these days. But that’s another post for another day.

We baked funfetti cupcakes Sunday night for him to take to school, and he’d picked out spider, bat and skull rings to put on top. We got the whole family ready yesterday morning so that we could get in the van and meet him off the bus at school, cupcakes in hand. We all got to go inside the school, and while Henry went into the gym to stand with his class before the bell rang, we went into his classroom with his teacher for a minute. We actually have our first parent/teacher conference with her tomorrow night, but she still took a minute to rave about Henry and show us a picture he’d drawn for her on one of the first days of school that she had taped to the door (a “surprised lemon”), all by itself. It made me very proud!

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Monday is library day and in all the excitement of bringing the cupcakes, we forgot to grab his books to return. I discovered this as soon as we got home, so I ran back to school to bring them to him. School had already started and the principal was talking over the loud speaker, and I kind of think it was meant to be that we forgot the books. I was able to hear the principal announce Henry’s birthday, and then I got to peek into the classroom as they all said the pledge of allegiance. It was so fun to see Henry in that environment.

Oh, and one thing I wanted to remember – last week he came home from school and said that his birthday was going to be on “Hummus Day.” We were like … huh? Then we figured it out – Columbus Day. Close, bud.

So I picked him up from school a couple hours later, and when we got home he told us about how the class sang him happy birthday, and how he got to go to the office and get a birthday card and a new pencil. After a quick lunch we headed to Monkey Joe’s in Waukesha. Those bounce house places are rather hellish for me, but the kids love them so I deal. I just feel caged in and surrounded by rambunctious kids and germs and noise – blech. Ellie slept the whole time and I wore her in the Moby while the boys bounced and played arcade games. We came home so Ben could nap, and after pumping a bottle for Ellie, Henry and I headed out into the rain to get some Starbucks and then hit up Toys R Us. We sat in Starbucks for a few minutes since Henry didn’t want to spill his hot chocolate in the van, and I marveled at the big boy across the table from me as I sipped my much-needed coffee.

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I usually put a lot of thought into Henry’s birthday gifts, buying them weeks in advance and wrapping them up nice, but this year, there was just nothing we could think to get him. There were a few very specific things he wanted – a Kiwi Crate subscription, Frozen on DVD, craft supplies – and I already gave those ideas away to family. I did get him a like-new winter coat last week at a local kids’ consignment store, and I saved that to give him yesterday, though I didn’t wrap it.

At Toys R Us, I told him he could pick out something he wanted. We made our way through the store and nothing really spoke to him. Seriously, the kid is just not into toys. He finally got really excited about a Star Wars Nerf gun, and I told him we shouldn’t get that because one of his grandparents was getting him one of those, since he’d asked for one. But we rationalized that with two, he could play with Ben or daddy, so I let him get that, and some extra bullets.

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Dave got the boys Culver’s for dinner, and then he took Henry to soccer while I stayed home with the littles. When they got home we did cake, which was just a little cake in a bread pan made with leftover cupcake batter. ;) Henry had a good day, and the celebration will continue this weekend when we have family over on Saturday, and in early November when we celebrate with our little group of friends.

Henry at age five is … all over the board. Sweet, but also quite sassy. Smart, but frustrates easily. Emotional and dramatic, but sociable and kind. Adventurous yet cautious. Responsible, but self-centered. Hilarious, adorable, creative and curious. He keeps us on our toes and drains us and makes us laugh and makes us proud. He’s a charmer and a great big brother and we love him fiercely. Five years seems like so long and hardly any time at all at the same time. I love being his mom, and I love watching him become this unique and beautiful person he’s becoming.

Happy birthday, bud.

A few thoughts on Ellie’s birth; and on having a daughter

I remember in the hospital room the night Ellie was born I said to Dave with wide eyes and a smile – “yep, I’m definitely ok with never having to do THAT again!” It was so painful and boy, did I have zero desire to ever go through that again.

We agreed to three kids and I knew this would be my last time going through pregnancy and childbirth. I savored my pregnancy as best I could, and now I’m soaking up my sweet newborn as much as I can, too. I get sad sometimes looking at her and knowing this is as little as she’ll ever be, and that I’ll never get to have a newborn again. But I know I’d feel that way with a fourth baby, too, and I can’t just keep having babies just to enjoy that fleeting time again and again! I’m at peace with our family as it is, and I feel so beyond grateful that I have the three healthy and beautiful children I always dreamed of.

Camera Roll-451I’m slowly realizing, though, that even though I’m obviously so thankful that Ellie arrived safely and perfectly healthy, I feel a little gipped when it comes to her birth. Certainly no one can predict how a birth will go down, and every birth is different, and there are definitely no guarantees with any of it. I’m very fortunate it all turned out beautifully – I know that.

But it happened SO FAST that I didn’t get to enjoy any part of it.

Now, one may argue that birth is not meant to be “enjoyable.” But despite the pain, I think it is seriously enjoyable! You’re bringing new life into the world!

I had a good deal of pain with each of the boys, but I was able to get an epidural and have some relief during the pushing stage. I worked to get that baby out each time and then relish that moment of seeing him for the first time, watching him cry his first cries and be put in my arms and laid on my chest. Such a sweet, unbelievably beautiful moment that is. As much as I was anxious about giving birth again, I was also SO looking forward to the whole experience again, and particularly to that moment.

But I didn’t get that moment this time. (And it kind of bums me out. I also realize that if I were a childless woman reading that – or maybe anyone reading that – I’d think wow, what a brat. I mean, I got my healthy baby.)

I did, and I’m thankful. I’ve mentioned that, right? SO THANKFUL. I look at Ellie and I could just weep over how blessed I feel to have her here safe in my arms. But all that aside, I do still wish my birth experience had been different. There are so many emotions that come with giving birth, and I didn’t have time to really feel many of them.

I’ve also said to quite a few people that, even though I’ve never even really entertained the thought of NOT finding out the gender of my babies, this birth experience totally solidified for me that that was the right choice for me! For one thing, finding out each time was always one of the most fun, exciting experiences of my life. Three of the best days of my whole life were my gender reveal days! But also? Had I kept this one a secret til the end, I know I would have built up that moment in my head for my whole pregnancy. That moment when the baby came out and the doctor held her up and either the doctor or Dave said “it’s a girl!”

I was in such a daze after she came out that it took me a good few minutes to really get my bearings. Plus no doctor was there to deliver her, so she was lying there in a heap on the bed behind me. I vaguely remember looking at her and thinking yup, no penis there, she’s a girl. But talk about anticlimactic had I not known!

I also remember the nurse handing her over to me, and I know that for those first few minutes, I wasn’t totally able to feel happy and excited and really take in my brand new baby girl who I’d been waiting months and months to meet. She felt a little foreign in my arms, and I was actually pretty grossed out by the blood and gunk (and pee!) she got on me, and I know I didn’t feel that way with my boys. I was just so shaken up by her crazy fast birth that I could not enjoy those first few minutes at all. I think this picture sums it up pretty well.

Now, again, I totally get that in the grand scheme of things, it’s seriously no big deal. I don’t dwell on it. But when I do think about how I’ll never get to do it again, I find myself wishing it had gone differently.

But alas, I’m done giving birth forever, and I guess at least I have a good story for the last one. And I do remind myself, too, that the fast birth may have meant not really getting to enjoy any part of the birth experience, but it also meant finding out what it feels like to have a natural birth, which I certainly wouldn’t have done by choice, and it meant a really easy recovery this time, too – and I am super thankful for that part!

The other thing I’ve realized pretty quickly these past few weeks is how very, very much I wanted a daughter.

I didn’t want to admit how badly I wanted this one to be a girl. Oh, how I wanted boys and how I adore my boys. But truly, when I pictured my future family, of course I pictured both genders. And while I know I would have been so happy about and so in love with a third boy, I also know that deep down, I would have felt some disappointment at never having a daughter – and I can’t say for sure how long that feeling would have lasted. Maybe a day or two, or maybe, in some ways, for my whole life.

I didn’t think having a girl would feel all that different right away, since babies are babies, right? But it does feel different already, in so many ways. She’s just such a girl already. The way she cries, the way she nurses, the way she holds her hands – she’s a girl. And I love love love being able to experience having a girl. I love getting her dressed. I love her dainty little face and her gorgeous hair and her beautiful little smile. I love thinking about what she’ll be like as she grows up. I love that she has two big brothers who love her so much and will be there for her throughout her life. It’s just … amazing. And I adore her more than words could ever say.

Those are just some thoughts I wanted to get out. I wish my birth had gone a bit differently. But I have my baby girl here now – my daughter – and for that, I feel blessed beyond measure.

Ellie is 6 weeks old

Ellie at 5 weeks old / One-month check-up

Ellie had her one-month check-up a few days late yesterday, at 5 weeks old. She’s a peanut at 9 lbs, 7 oz. – I think my boys probably weighed that within their first week or so! But that just means more little baby time for me and I am loving it. She’s tall, too – 22.5 inches, a full two inches taller than when she was born. Girl’s been growing! So right now she’s in the 50th percentile for weight and 95th for height.

She has some pretty bad baby acne going on right now, and the pedi said that peaks right around one month and should be clearing up. She’s also now on baby Zantac, 1/2 mL 2x/day for her spitting up. Both boys were on it by this point, too, and it helped a lot.

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At her two-week appointment the doc had noted that her hip was loose, so I was nervously awaiting what she’d have to say about it at this appointment. Sure enough, Ellie’s hip is still not fused in its socket like it should be, so we have to go to another clinic next week to have an ultrasound. Worst case scenario is that she’ll have to be in a harness for a couple of months. I have a cousin and a friend whose kids had to have this, and while I obviously hope it won’t be necessary, if it is, I know we’ll just have to deal with it and be thankful that it’s a fairly easy fix.

Ellie continues to wake up to the world around her more every day. She still sleeps a ton, but when she’s awake she’s super alert and adorable, meeting our eyes, following us with her eyes when we move, and smiling and cooing when we talk to her. The smiles are still quick and sporadic, but they’re beautiful! Can’t wait til she’s smiling all the time. Soon!

She prefers to have the bulk of her awake time be in the evening, from 7 pm until 11 pm or sometimes midnight. She still sleeps well once she goes to sleep, usually sleeping five or six hours for her first stretch at night, but those late nights have been a bit rough. When I’ve been up since 5:30 or 6:30 a.m. and I’m only getting five or six hours of sleep a night, I’m SO tired by 11 pm and just want to go to bed. And while she welcomes sleep all day, she fights it at night! Her eyes will be so heavy, but she’ll just keep popping them back open when it’s time for bed. Last night I attempted to put her to bed earlier, like right after the boys went to bed, and while it still took probably 90 minutes to get her to sleep, we were both sleeping by 9:30 pm instead of 11 or 12. She slept by me in bed til 11 pm or so when I moved her to her room, and then she slept til after 5 am.

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Nursing has still been going quite well, though her appetite is just so little compared to her brothers at this same stage. My supply isn’t as big as it was with the boys because of that, and I just realized that I should probably start pumping more to actually get a freezer stash going. So I’ve pumped the past couple of days in addition to her feedings, and I got about 4 oz. each time, so that’s a decent start. She’ll down a 4 oz. bottle no problem when I pump, but there’s no way she eats that much when she nurses, except on the rare occasion that she has an extra long feeding. But she usually eats for about five minutes and then falls asleep. So she’s still eating probably every two hours during the day, sometimes more. I’m very thankful that’s not the case at night!

She’s crying and fussing a bit more than she was during her first month of life, but it’s still very minimal compared to most babies, I’d think. She’s usually just pretty content. Her household is loud as can be and she doesn’t seem phased by that. She does get a bit annoyed when her brothers are up close and in her face, which is fairly often.

I didn’t think either of my boys would dislike their baby sister, but I did think that maybe they’d be indifferent to her for awhile. But they are just so in love with her, it’s really sweet. Henry especially. He says things like “I just love my sister so much” and  “I love her so much I could cry, mom” and “I’m so glad I got a sister.” Ben loves to help and get her her nuk when it falls out or take her diapers to the garbage for me, and he takes the “Ellie Belly” nickname to another whole level by saying “hiiiii Ellie Belly Jelly Belly Ellie Jelly Jelly” or some variation of that. He may have gotten that from his obnoxious mama and ran with it. ;)

She’s just a complete doll, our Eleanor. It’s funny – we named her Eleanor and thought that’d be her name, but we also intended to probably call her Ellie sometimes as a nickname. But oh, how Ellie has stuck, and quickly. She’s just an Ellie.

Ellie Bear. Ellie Claire. Ellie Belly. We all love her so much!

Ellie is 5 weeks, 1 day old

School days

Camera Roll-92Henry started school a month ago, the day after Labor Day, just after we brought baby Ellie home. I was so excited all summer for this big milestone ahead of us, and now here we are a month in and it’s going better than I could have hoped. Henry LOVES school, and I love that he loves it.

He takes the bus to school and has been so brave and excited about it from day one, which is awesome. Also slightly surprising since he tends to be kind of a baby about the unknown (and, well, lots of things) … But he gets right on there with a smile and a wave and my heart could burst as I watch the bus drive away.

The first day of school, our whole family drove him down to the bus stop after we’d taken the requisite first-day photos at home, and I couldn’t contain my tears as I watched him get on. I was all out sobbing by the time Dave drove the van up the street to pick me up. I’m sure the postpartum hormones didn’t help, either, but still – it was quite the emotional moment! The very first day of what will now be years and years of going to school and growing up and experiencing all kinds of new things. It’s a big deal.

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He goes to school every day, with the bus picking him up around 8:15 and dropping him back off around 11:25. His school is a few minutes away, he loves his teacher, and he says he has 21 kids in his class. Whenever I ask him who he talked to that day, it’s almost always girls he mentions. He comes home with worksheets and art projects and new songs that he sings for us. All of September they had color days where they were to wear a certain color, and October starts a reading challenge where he needs to read with us for 15 minutes a day. Monday is library day, and he comes home with three new books on those days. He packs a snack in his backpack each morning. He can recite the entire pledge of allegiance. It’s all just so fun.

Camera Roll-349I mentioned the bus stop … the bus situation has been a bit of a fiasco since day one but it’s finally figured out. Prior to this week, the bus would pick him up two blocks away, so each day I had to pack up the other kids twice a day to get him down there and pick him up. On the days Shelly takes the boys, she would get Henry at the bus after school. But what an inconvenience, especially with winter on its way.

And it’d be fine, I get that they can’t pick up every kid at his/her own house – but the kicker is that after we took Henry down to the bus stop, the bus would then drive right past our house two minutes later! So I had to make a couple calls and send an email, but we finally got the route changed so Henry now gets picked up and dropped off right in front of our house, as of Monday. So much better, obviously! And I wouldn’t have put up a stink had it not been for the fact that the darn bus drove right past us. I feel so relieved that it was taken care of and now Shelly won’t have to pack up Ben and Ellie to get Henry to and from the bus stop each day when it’s cold outside. Obviously one of the huge perks of having a nanny is that the kids don’t have to go out in the freezing cold every day!

One other thing to note – extracurricular activities. Henry really wanted to do tee-ball this summer, so we got him into a six-week program that taught 3-5 year olds the fundamentals. It was a bit boring for us after the excitement of the newness of it wore off, but he had fun. And now he’s doing the same thing with soccer on Monday nights. He’s gone twice and will go for four more weeks, and it’s been really fun so far. I like baseball more than soccer as a sport, but when it comes to my kid playing, there’s certainly a lot more action taking place with soccer! It’ll be interesting to see what sports and activities Henry takes a liking to. And my other kids, too, of course! For now, Benny is the cute little brother who comes to watch and wants so badly to participate, too. He has been joining the group at soccer and it’s hilarious to watch. Particularly because Ben is more coordinated than a lot of the kids in the course – maybe even his bro. But shhh, don’t tell Henry I said that. ;)

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These are a few pics from this morning of Henry waiting outside the front door for the bus to come. He told me to close the door, that he could wait all by himself. I’d open the door and he’d hide and then squeal when I spotted him. Or I’d open the door and tickle him, making him erupt in giggles. Shelly had just driven away with Ben, and Henry told me, as he has before, that he likes Shelly better than me. But not to worry, because he LOVES me more than Shelly.

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My sassy little school kid.

Henry is 11 days shy of 5 years old
Benny is 2 years, 7 1/2 months old
Ellie is 5 weeks, 1 day old

Life on maternity leave the third time around

Ah, maternity leave. How I love thee.

A chance to check out a real life, be home and just soak in my sweet baby. I’m five weeks into my leave, with seven weeks left. I’m enjoying it SO much.

This leave has been very different than my last two, and in different ways. I think when people picture maternity leave, they picture lazy days spent napping and snuggling one’s little baby, but I’ve quickly learned that that scenario is really only possible with your first baby. On my 13 weeks off with Henry, I spent probably 75% of my time on the couch, nursing, letting him nap on me, and watching Gilmore Girls. All seven seasons, straight through. It was lazy and completely blissful.

My leave with Ben was the polar opposite from that – not lazy, not blissful, and honestly, not really that enjoyable at all. Having two kids rocked my world and I was so severely sleep-deprived. I only had Henry in daycare two days a week, and I had to do all the transportation on those days, cutting my time with just Benny fairly short. The time I did have to snuggle and spend with my sweet Ben was awesome, but I feel like I didn’t get much time to do that.

This time around has been anything but lazy – quite the opposite, really – but it’s also been pretty darn blissful. There’s not a ton of just sitting on the couch and taking it easy, or even just getting outside and taking leisurely walks, and I fear I may look back one day and regret that, but I’m just not good at ‘down time’ these days. My to-do list is eight miles long and it drives me kind of crazy to feel like I’m not getting those things done. Even though I know, I know – babies don’t keep, and I do soak in my sweet Ellie every second I can. She sleeps a lot, of course, and often I’ll wear her in the Moby while I’m on the computer or doing something around the house, just so we can be close.

Life is just different now, with a house and two other kids to take care of, a new business with It Works that I’m working hard to build, a nonprofit, a blog, and about a thousand more things to take care of and manage than I had even five years ago. And that’s ok. It’s overwhelming at times, but this is how I prefer life to be – big and full and busy. And then when the quiet, calm moments come, I take a deep breath and enjoy them.

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Since my recovery was so easy this time, since I’m sleeping more than I did with my last two newborns (though still not enough!), and since this time of year is just so gorgeous, I’ve been out and about much more during this leave than with my last ones.

I wish there were more hours in the day, but that will never change, I suppose. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll manage it all once I’m back to work, but then I realize that so much will actually be easier. Right now I’m home all day and can’t ignore the messes and dirt and house stuff that needs attention. When I’m back at work I can ignore them, and/or Shelly will take care of some of them. Right now it’s easy to get interrupted when I need to call for an appointment or pay a bill or do something on the computer. I have to really plan for when I’m going to take a shower, between Henry’s school times, Shelly times, when the baby needs to eat, when we have plans, etc. When I’m back at work, I just need to shower when I wake up, no questions asked!

But it’s been really awesome so far, and I’m super lucky that I’m able to have part-time childcare for the boys during my leave. I have all the kids home with me on Mondays and Fridays, and while I still contend that this transition from two to three has been SO much smoother than the transition from one to two, it’s still a tall order taking care of three young kids all day. I am enjoying the extra time with my boys, though, too.

Shelly takes the boys on Tuesday afternoon and then all day on Wednesday and Thursday. Those days with just Ellie are so quiet and lovely! And Shelly does all the transportation, too, except when Dave picks the boys up on Wed/Thurs. She even comes back at mid-day to get Henry after school so I can stay put with the baby. It’s amazing, to say the least! And it’s been so nice to be able to chat with her and have her hold Ellie and see how much she’s changing. Going back to work after having a baby is never easy, but it sure will be easier knowing that Ellie will be home and with someone who already cares about her so much!

I have about five more blog posts I want to compose, so I’ll leave this one at that. I know I wanted to get down how this maternity leave has been going, and how busy and different it’s been from my previous two, and how much I’m enjoying it, especially knowing it’s my last one. It feels so luxurious and incredible to be off work for an extended amount of time! Especially in the fall, and especially with a sweet newborn baby girl to hang out with all day. I love it.

Ellie is five weeks old