Baby #3: 34 weeks – Action-packed weekend, school days, entering the home stretch

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Date: July 22, 2014 (photos taken July 21)

Photo thoughts: Thanks to Julia giving birth, I now have a few new things to get me through these final weeks! Wore this cute striped dress to work yesterday but it didn’t work too well for weekly pics since I couldn’t hike it up to show the belly! So we did the official pics once I was changed and all scrubby. Forgive the dirty mirror in the last one. This was just before bed the other night – I just love this belly, man.

Size of baby: Nearly 5 pounds and 18 inches long – just read this week’s page that says “if you’ve been worried about pre-term labor, you’ll be happy to know that babies born between 34-37 weeks who have no other health problems generally do fine. They may need a short stay in the NICU and may have a few short-term health issues, but in the long run, they usually do as well as full-term babies.” Definitely comforting to read! Obviously do NOT want this baby to come any sooner than three or four more weeks, but of course pre-term labor is always a scary thought and some reassurance that things would likely be ok at this point is nice!

What I’m loving: This belly, as always. I can’t get enough of touching it and pressing on it and being able to feel a real baby right there. Also, summer. Never loved it more.

What I’m anticipating: My sprinkle on Saturday! Though as I said to several friends today, it’s not really a sprinkle. It’s a shower. It’s a torrential downpour even. It’s at a fancy place, it’s with many of my favorite people, I registered, there will be nice gifts, it is a rain storm. And I feel ridiculously spoiled and lucky to be having it and I can’t wait!

I’m also starting to anticipate winding things down at work. I’ve given myself the next three weeks to get a lot of big planning and projects DONE so that I can coast a bit my final weeks, and so that I’m in a good place should I go out on leave early.

And we’re anticipating the purchase of our new (used) minivan. We’ve been looking online, reading reviews, comparing models… I think we’ll go for the Honda Odyssey or the Toyota Sienna, and while we don’t want to spend a huge amount, I think it’s probably inevitable since leather interior, automatic sliding doors and an automatic hatch on the back are all pretty much non-negotiables. Still hoping we can get a decent deal!

What I’m stressing about/worries: See above. Between the increased cost of childcare and an increased car payment – with no increase in our pay coming anytime soon – we’re going to be in a money crunch as soon as this baby gets here. It worries me, but I also remind myself that it’s temporary, we’ll do our best and we’ll figure it out.

We’ve never leased a car before and I’ve always said it seems dumb, but we might now be considering it for our van. We’ll explore our options, but we feel a little stuck right now … we want something nice and new/newer, and yet we can’t afford a $450-$550/month payment when we’re already increasing our childcare costs so much at the same time. Doing a three-year lease at $300/month would save us a significant amount of cash every month, plus allow us to drive a new car and not have to worry about any maintenance or repairs. And yes, we’ll then have to buy a van anyway in three years, but I anticipate our financial situation being different then, too, with two kids in school full-time and potentially/hopefully higher paying jobs. I hate the idea of throwing our money away, and yet cars aren’t a great investment anyway, and we rented for years before we could afford a house, too. It’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s similar. I just don’t know – I go back and forth constantly. I just know that a huge payment on a newer van will totally stress me out, too. Ugh.

Miss anything? I miss sleeping on my back. I find myself on my back in bed often and have to force myself to roll over since I know it’s not good for me or the baby, and since it obviously becomes uncomfortable pretty quickly.

Camera Roll-832Cravings: No major cravings, but this right here is my ideal, perfect, most delicious snack on a night when I’m extra hungry before bed. We don’t often keep sausage in the house, but Dave surprised me with some when he grocery shopped last week, and mmmm, is it good! Cheese and sausage and crackers, raspberries and a little bit of chocolate. Heaven!

Weight gain: About 32-33 pounds now. (Ha, funny how that question comes right after I talk about eating sausage and chocolate. Eh! It’s temporary!)

Differences between pregnancies: We bought my Honda Accord when I was 34 weeks pregnant with Henry. I also wrote him a letter this week in which I say right away that he may be here in three weeks, and that he will “almost definitely” be here in less than six weeks. Not so much – I had six weeks and four days to go! I also talked about how well I had taken care of myself during the pregnancy (I’ve maybe been a little more lax this time…) and how Dave couldn’t keep his hands off my belly. (That part’s a bit different this time, too. He touches it, but I almost always have to ask him to!) We had had two of our three baby showers and I was feeling very blessed and excited.

At 34 weeks with Ben, I was a part of Julia’s fun gender reveal with Cece and I said how if we had a third kid, I definitely wanted to do a fun gender reveal of my own. (So glad I did!) I kind of can’t believe I was speaking in terms of “if,” since I never, ever considered Ben’s pregnancy my last! That same weekend I turned 30 and we had a party at our house that day. I also started musing about birth and noted how I had very few concrete memories of my birth with Henry and his first days and weeks of life. I vowed to document that time with Ben better and to remember it all more – and I think I definitely did/do!

How I’m feeling: I feel the need to knock on wood when I write this, but I am feeling really good still. By the end of the day, I’m tired, and my back is a little sore, but overall, I still feel pretty great. I’m very, very thankful for this and enjoying it while I can.

Also getting tons of Braxton Hicks contractions now. At least a dozen a day, maybe more. Sometimes they happen when I’ve done something strenuous, and other times they just come out of nowhere when I’m sitting at my desk or at the computer or on the couch at home.

(Also, I’m now finishing this up in the evening and I am exhausted. Some days, I swear, she must be growing a lot and she zaps all the life right out of me. I have heartburn and my back’s a bit sore and I’m very much looking forward to crawling into my bed in a couple of hours!)

Sleep: Mostly good. Some nights Ben wakes up (like the horrible night two nights ago) and some nights like last night I wake up and have a hard time falling back to sleep for awhile, but mostly I fall asleep fast and can sleep well all night, aside from my multiple trips to the bathroom to pee.

Exercise: Not much.

Movement: Tons and tons and I love it so much. Seriously can’t get over how big and real she feels in there. Body parts poking out everywhere. LOVE!!

Boy or girl: Girl! Sure can’t wait to lay my eyes on her.

Milestones: Hmmm, none that I can really think of this week. I did take another step toward preparing for baby – went up in the attic over the weekend and pulled down our bouncy seat, the car seat, my two breast pumps and some bottles and blankets, which are now strewn around her room til I find the motivation to go through it all and get organized. I want to wash the car seat cover, sheets, blankets and all of her newborn and 3-month clothes in the next week or two.

Due date predictions: I told Julia today I’m trying really hard not to make predictions as to when I think baby E will get here, or to wish for a certain day or week … but of course, I can’t help it. I KNOW she’ll get here in her own good time, and as long as she’s healthy and safe, I truly don’t care when she comes! But as I’ve said, Henry’s first day of school is on my due date, and oh, how I want to be home for that.

I also found out today that the open house for his school will be Wednesday, August 27, during which time the kids can come in and see their classroom, drop off their supplies and meet their teacher. I SO want to be around for this, maybe even more than for the first day of school! I really want to see his little classroom and meet his teacher, and be there with him when he experiences all that for the first time, too. Honestly, I get a little choked up just thinking about it, and I will be really, really sad if I have to miss out on that big milestone. So now I have to wish for her to come even earlier if she’s going to come early, so that I’m back at home by the 27th!

If baby girl came when Ben came (38 weeks, 3 days) she’d arrive on Friday, August 22. That’d be pretty perfect, as I’d be back home with a few days to spare! I told J I think 39 weeks sounds about right – later than Ben but earlier than Henry – but then of course, that’d be August 26, and I’d for sure be in the hospital for the open house. But 39 weeks, 2 days, the day after the open house, would be ideal, too.

So I’m pulling for August 22-24 or August 28-30. Then I get to be home for both big events for Henry, AND I won’t be overdue. A girl can hope, right?! So fun to think about how we have no idea … and yet in just a few weeks we will!

Superficial/random: Today I met a new guy at my office – he was here from L.A. interviewing for a chef position with our company. Very handsome. I shook his hand and he looked at my belly and congratulated me. I thanked him and he asked “is that a boy?” and I said why no, I have two boys but this one’s a girl. And he said something about how I didn’t even look that pregnant. And I said well thanks, I have about six weeks to go! And he said “oh, I didn’t mean your belly, I meant the rest of you.” Ha. So my belly is large and in charge, but the rest of me doesn’t look huge – so that was nice. Thanks handsome. ;)

Two random updates – our credit card had a fraudulent purchase on it last night and Chase got in touch with us right away, so now we have to get new cards. Annoying, but good that they caught it so fast.

Also, Dave and I are now watching House of Cards on Netflix and we’re loving it. We’re about six episodes in. It feels like SOOOO long ago that we watched all of Breaking Bad, and we still miss it. I was pregnant for all of that, too – makes me realize how looooong pregnancy is! Then we started Friday Night Lights and got about halfway through season 2 before I stopped to watch season two of Orange is the New Black. Once I was done with that, neither of us really wanted to pick back up with FNL. So many of my friends just loved it, but we couldn’t get that into it. House of Cards is pretty awesome, though.

Highlights of the week: We’ve been keeping busy this summer, as evidenced by this category week after week! But this past weekend took the cake as far as being totally packed, and I was seriously exhausted by Sunday night and really looked forward to going to work yesterday just so I could sit down!

Dave works later on Fridays, and my mom had mentioned meeting at the hot air balloon festival taking place in Waterford. I thought it sounded fun, so we planned for that. Of course, when I got home Friday, fed the boys and loaded them in the car to meet mom and Dale by 6:30, I started to wonder what I had been thinking. I’m so drained by Friday each week, and here I was taking the boys by myself to an outdoor festival. We got there and parked in a field about a half a mile from where the festival was taking place. I’d brought the umbrella stroller for Ben, forgetting that it was broken and no longer opened all the way, so I realized he’d have to walk all that way. I was attempting to keep the boys near me while cars parked all around us, and I remember thinking oh my gosh, shoot me now, why did I think this was a good idea?

And yet, the evening turned out to be AWESOME. So much better than what I expected, and thankfully so much easier than what I had anticipated in those first moments. The weather was perfection, the boys were fairly well-behaved and the hot air balloons were beautiful. We saw some take off, and then later at dusk they did the ‘evening glow’ where they’d count down and all the balloons would light their fires at the same time and light up. It was really neat! (Here’s a little video of it.)

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We ate some cheese curds and cookies, and Dale surprised the boys with hot air balloon balloons, which of course they spent much of the time throwing around and whacking each other with. We stayed til probably 9 p.m., so after the drive home and getting the boys into their pjs, they weren’t in bed til nearly 10 p.m. I thought Henry would sleep on the way home and Ben would stay awake, but it was the opposite – Henry stayed awake and chatted with me the whole way home while Ben slept. And he was so out of it when we got home, he stayed asleep the entire time as I brought him upstairs, laid him on the floor to change his diaper and clothes and put him into his bed.

Thankfully, both boys slept til nearly 7:30 Saturday morning. That morning we hung out at home while Dave went to his parents’ house to shoot his new gun with his bro. We did some cleaning and played outside and took a walk and then got the baby stuff down from the attic. Dave got home around lunchtime, and after Ben went down from his nap, Dave took Henry out to run some errands so I had some time to myself to lay on the couch and read a magazine. That was my one little bit of relaxation for the weekend!

Saturday night we met Julia and Nate and fam at the pool for a members-only luau, which we attended with them last year, too, with their guest passes. Very nice of them! The place was packed, and the little kids wanted to spend most of the time in the sand rather than the pool anyway. That was fine by me, since I got to chat with the adults, and since I unfortunately wasn’t going to swim anyway, as much as I love to swim! I don’t have a maternity suit, and this body is beyond the bikini-rocking stage now. The boobs cannot be contained in my normal top, and the love handles and thighs are just kind of scary, so alas, I kept my skirt and tank top on over my suit.

It was fun to see little Porter man again! Boy is he cute. I held him and just couldn’t get over how teeny he is! It’s also crazy to see Julia and Nate with three kids now. Even months later, when I see Dizzy and fam, either in person or in pictures, I still want to shout “holy crap, three kids!” I mean, I came from a family of three kids and have always wanted three of my own, and I don’t think it’s a crazy number. And yet, to see it, it just seems like so much more than two kids!

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They left to go get frozen yogurt, but we stayed at the pool til the very end, Henry having a blast in the water and Benny even finally going in with me in the shallow end. They had a guy singing and playing his ukelele, and Benny and I held hands and swayed to the music in the knee-deep water. It was a gorgeous summer night and a really special moment with my little guy!

The luau ended at 9 p.m., and then the boys were hungry when they got home, so for the second night in a row, they didn’t get to bed til 10 p.m.! Benny woke up by 6:45 the next morning, too, which was certainly not late enough.

Sunday I did a big Target run and then baked brownies and a double batch of cookies for a cookout at my dad’s later that day. (A double batch so that we could keep a bunch for ourselves, of course!) By the time it was time to leave for the cookout around 3 pm, all the shopping, baking and showering and getting ready had worn me out. I wasn’t overly looking forward to spending the next however many hours at a family get-together when all I wanted to do was put my feet up and close my eyes!

But once again, the day turned out to be so much more fun than what I was anticipating. First of all, I got to see Alex and Kristen, who I obviously knew were in town for the weekend for a wedding, but I did not know they’d be at dad’s! It was a nice surprise. I got to see my cousin Sarah and her fam, and visit with all of my aunts and uncles. Dad and Barb’s yard is beautiful and yet again, the day was magnificent, and it was nice to sit outside and just enjoy the weather and the company. Barb had two pools set up for the kids as well as plenty of water guns on hand, and they all had a blast.

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That night the boys were finally able to get to bed at their normal time, and both slept in yesterday morning, pooped from our action-packed weekend. Henry actually refused to get up, finally getting out of bed at 7:15, 20 minutes before we had to leave the house. So I barely saw him before work! Last night we got them to bed earlier than normal, and now I think everyone’s finally rested up and feeling good again. But whew! What a weekend.

Summary: I’m tired / feeling good / happy / semi-stressed / large /  loving being pregnant. I want time to slow down and speed up at the same time. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a birth date for baby girl that works around Henry’s big moments. I love her so much and am getting very anxious to lay my eyes and arms on her. I’m in the home stretch and just a few weeks away from the it-could-be-any-day mind games. Fun stuff ahead, folks.

A terrifying five seconds in the night last night.

I don’t know why I feel the need to document this, but I do. I feel like maybe I’m a crazy person, but I don’t know that there’s much I can do about it.

Last night in the middle of the night I had what was honestly the scariest five seconds of my life. Five little seconds, but it was like my worst nightmare was happening in those five seconds. I feel traumatized. It’s so ridiculous.

I’ve always been a scaredy cat. I’ve talked about how I have anxiety about dying and about people I love dying. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember, and not a night goes by when I don’t go to bed and just thank God that I didn’t die today, and that no one I love died today. I leave daycare each morning and think “just be safe today, boys.” These thoughts are just always, always in my head, like I’m just constantly waiting for the worst to happen.

I really do function fine in life, though, despite this. I don’t worry too much while driving on the freeway, even though that’s probably when I’m most likely to have something bad happen! I do fun things and live my life and mostly operate as a normal human being. I think the bad thoughts are manageable. But last night’s incident showed me how truly on edge I am – especially at night!

Ben woke up around 2 a.m. and was crying, so I brought him into our bed for about 10 minutes. I put him back to bed, and 20 minutes later he was crying again. Dave went into him this time and spent a few minutes in his room. He came back to bed, and then about 15 minutes later, just before 3 a.m., Ben was crying yet again. I was mad now, as I’d been awake for an hour because of him and there was just no reason for him to be crying. I got out of bed and angrily stomped into his room. I said something about this being “unbelievable,” and Henry sat up and looked at me and said “YOU’RE unbelievable, Mom!” as if it was MY fault he was awake. Sheesh. Ben was just crying and crying, so I demanded he get out of his bed so that I could bring him into our bed again so he’d stop disturbing Henry.

This is where time slows down and about a thousand things and thoughts happened in about five seconds.

Two pieces of background, too – I always check the doors at night before heading up to bed, and last night when I checked the back door, it was unlocked and cracked open and had been like that all day apparently. That did not make me happy. Then the first time Ben woke up in the night, I came back to bed and heard a noise. I laid there for a minute listening, wondering what it was, but it only happened once. Probably just a normal night noise, but I had definitely noted it.

So I had Ben in my arms as I walked out of his room and along the railing that is atop the staircase. I sensed a light flicker, and I glanced down the stairs and saw nothing out of the ordinary, so I thought hmmm, did the front porch light just flicker a bit?

I kept walking and was then at the top of the stairs when I looked down again. And there was a person heading up the stairs toward me. Lit from behind by the porch light coming through the top of the front door behind him, and impossible to make out because of that. A person who had not been on the stairs one second earlier when I glanced down. In my mind, Dave was in bed asleep. I had not heard him go down the stairs.

Alarm bells just exploded in my head. I remember putting my hand around Ben’s head as if to protect him. I took a step back. And Dave tells me that I let out a cry.

He immediately said “Erin, it’s me, it’s me!” and it took my brain like half a second more to compute that the dark figure walking up the stairs was in fact my husband. And I just started BAWLING, loudly. I remember myself saying through my sobs “Why did you DO that?!”

I took Ben and collapsed into my bed and just cried and cried. Then I started hyperventilating. Dave was standing over me saying “calm down, just breathe” and I finally shooed him away and curled up with Ben, wiping the tears from my eyes and trying to gain my composure. It was awful.

A few second later, Ben sat up and in his cute little voice said “what happened? what happened, Mom? Are you ok, Mom?”

Dave said he’d gone downstairs to turn the thermostat down so that the air would kick on. He said he was just a few steps behind me when I went to get Ben, and that he’d even opened the baby gate loudly so that I’d know he was up. I heard none of this, of course, because I’d been stomping around loudly myself. The light that flickered was the dining room light turning off.

Truly, for those one or two seconds, I thought that my worst nightmare was coming true, that there was someone in my house coming upstairs to murder us. It was so, so awful, and even just recounting it this morning to Dave from my perspective, I got choked up again. I just hate having to be so fearful. I hate thinking about the worst happening. And I hate that for two little seconds, I was faced with what it would actually feel like. How helpless and vulnerable and terrified I’d feel.

I laid there awake, breathing and thinking about my baby and hoping that such a scare wouldn’t throw me into labor. Ben fell asleep curled up next to me, and Dave finally took him back to his bed a bit later. I slept finally from like 3:45-5:30 and when I woke up, I felt so tired and seriously emotionally drained from that little episode.

No takeaways from this, really – I just wanted to get it down and remember it. So glad it was a false alarm, obviously. I also think I may be on higher alert because I’m pregnant, because ALL of my emotions have been dialed up to 11 this go-around. As much as I really am loving being pregnant (and as baby girl rumbles around like crazy as I type this!), I think we’re all ready for me to be back to my old self again…

To Henry and Ben: Life with you right now

Dear Henry and Ben,

My two little boys. My whole world. I want to write this today to capture a little bit of what life is like with you right now, in the summer of 2014, when you, Henry, are nearly five years old, and you, Ben, are nearly 2 1/2 years old.

You’re both growing and changing at lightning speed, and you’re on the cusp of becoming big brothers to a little girl whose arrival is sure to turn your world upside down for awhile, but who I imagine you will love as much or even more than you even love each other.

And you sure do love each other (video), even though it’s not always easy to see. You’ve always been pretty into one another, but over these past few months, you’ve really become friends. Your relationship is evolving and growing, and it’s turning into what I imagined for you when I found out I would have two boys. You drive each other crazy, just as you drive us crazy, but underneath all the craziness-driving is a deep level of love and joy that exists within our little family, and I am grateful for that every second of my life.

You are the two cutest, most hilarious little boys I know, and most days, I still can’t even believe you’re mine. You’re both thriving, and I don’t really know how much that does or doesn’t have to do with me, but I feel so proud nonetheless. And as I get more excited by the day to meet this little girl in my belly, I get more and more excited, too, to watch you boys get a new sister. I don’t doubt we’ll have our tough moments as we all adjust to life as a family of five, and as you have to learn to share your parents with another little person, but I also just know how sweet and loving and excited you both will be as you welcome this new person into our family. I just can’t wait.

And yet I can wait, too.

These next few weeks are our last ever as a family of four. Right now, Mom, Dad, Henry and Ben is our normal. This is our family. And yet someday in the not-too-distant future, we will look back and these days of “just” the four of us will seem like a dream in some ways. Forever moving forward, we will be Mom, Dad, Henry, Ben and Eleanor, and in the whole scheme of things, the period of “just” us four will be only a blip. It’s pretty crazy to think about, really.

Here are all the little things I want to remember about you at this stage in your lives …

Camera Roll-857- You, like us, are relishing in the fact that summer is FINALLY here, and we hear “can we go outside?” every single day, morning and night. “I want to ride my bike!” “I want to ride my scooter!” “I want to ride my motorcycle!” “Let’s go to the park!”

We have already taken countless walks around the neighborhood and dozens of trips to the park, and we’ve eaten a majority of our dinners outside, as long as the weather allows. Henry, you are riding your bike without training wheels like a champ and you balance on that Razor scooter of yours far better than I ever thought a 4-year-old would be able to. And Benny, you love your Thomas Big Wheel (“motorcycle”) and want to ride it on our walks, which of course frustrates all of us since you’ve just recently learned how to pedal and you’re pokey as can be on it. I’m always relieved when you agree to ride in your stroller or wagon instead.

- Henry, you are slowly learning the rules of the road, getting better and better at looking both ways every time you take your bike or scooter out into the street, and staying on the side of the street on walks, or at least when a car is coming. You’re very friendly, waving at pretty much every car that goes by as you’re stopped waiting for them to pass, and if someone doesn’t wave, you ask me why.

- You’re both pretty obsessed with bugs. Henry, you like to pick up worms and point out big crawly things to me, and Benny, you’re the mighty ant-stomper in the family, pointing them out everywhere and proceeding to crush them with your little Croc-ed feet before we can stop you. You little terrorist, you.

- Other requests we hear just about every day of our lives right now include: “I want to watch Team Umizoomi!” (Ben) “Let’s take a COLOR bath!” (Ben) “Can I have my vitamins?” (both) “Can we have bomb pops?” (both) “Let’s jump on the bed!” (both) (video)

- Ben, you’re absolutely obsessed with fire trucks and motorcycles. You have five toy fire trucks you play with, lining them up and laying your head on the floor so you can see them at eye-level. You have a Lego motorcycle that you like to play with, and you’ll sit at the dining room table and zoom it around and say “mo-tor-cy-cle” in this gruff little voice. You are so good at playing on your own still, it’s awesome.

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- You, however, also live to terrorize your big brother, and you insist on playing with anything he has right at this moment. There is absolutely no rationalizing with you, as when we say “Ben, Henry had it first,” you’ll simply cry and yell back, “No, IIII had it first!!” You also will quite often knock down whatever Henry is building, almost as if you enjoy making him cry. You get many a time-out for these types of things, and when we sit you on the bottom step, you almost always move your butt over to the side of the step or up one step and say “I will sit RIGHT HERE!” in a naughty voice, just to be combative and rebellious.

- You also hate hate hate having your teeth brushed, and you hate going to bed. While Henry crashes hard and fast most nights, you are up there in your room talking, yelling, singing, whining or doing all of the above for a good hour or more after we’ve put you down. If you’re asleep within a half hour of bedtime, that’s a GOOD night.

- Being little boys who, I guess, go through these phases, you’re both a little obsessed with your “wieners.” Especially you, Ben. I remember Henry going through the same thing around 2 1/2. Your hand goes immediately for it anytime there’s no diaper on you, and in the morning when, ahem, it’s … well, you know … you smile and say “that’s a big wiener!” It cracks me up. Henry, you tend to be a bit inappropriate at times, too, and we’ve had to have talks with you about what is ok and what is not!

- On the way to Kelly’s house, you often ask to switch car seats, and it seems to give you both a thrill to be riding in the other’s seat. You’re there three days a week, and Henry, you keep track of whose turn it is each day to ring the doorbell. Ben of course thinks it’s ALWAYS his turn, but Henry, you’re very good about saying “yup, it’s Ben’s turn today!” when it’s his turn.

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- Speaking of Kelly’s house, Henry, as of this week you no longer have to take naps there, which was a very exciting development for you. On the morning after that was decided, you woke up and said “happy no-nap day!” and gave me a high-five. Kelly said you’d start doing workbooks during that time with the big kids, so I ordered you two new workbooks on Amazon.

You’re so good at writing and knowing your numbers and letters, I sometimes worry you’ll be a little bored in pre-school and kindergarten. But I know school will still be so fun for the structure and social aspect, and I’m glad that you’ll be able to focus on acclimating to school and having peers and teachers and following directions rather than stressing about not knowing what they’re teaching. You start school in less than seven weeks now, and I kind of can’t get over it. It feels like this HUGE thing, this enormous milestone you are about to hit, and I never til now understood why the first day of school was such a big deal for parents. But it is! It’s like an official slamming of the door on the little kid years, and you are officially entering a whole new life and adventure! I hope you love school just like I did.

- Ben, you continue to be one smart little cookie, too. The way you talk just baffles us, as you are talking constantly and using nearly every word absolutely correctly and speaking in full and complete sentences the way many three- and four-year-olds do. To hear you say something wrong is actually really amusing, since it happens so rarely! You’ll say things like “Yes. I. ARE!” when you’re mad sometimes, or “No. You. Doesn’t!” It seems you only make mistakes when you’re really mad and trying to emphasize that anger. I can’t help but laugh. As well as you speak, though, you still can’t say the “L” sound, or you’re too lazy to, anyway. “Let’s go downstairs” is “Yet’s go downstairs.” “Yellow” is “yey-yow.”

- The other night your dad reminded me that you used to count things constantly and you don’t really count so much anymore. So we asked you to start counting, and you counted up to 20 as if it was nothing, and we recalled that up until a few months ago, even your big brother couldn’t do that, since he always forgot 15 in there! You know almost all of your shapes, and you’ve been able to recognize all your numbers for months now, which seems nuts. You are still sloooowly learning your colors … I’d say you know about half of them now. It’s funny how you seem to have a mental block with colors. I don’t think you’re color blind, though, since we’ve tested that theory and you’ve passed our tests. You also love to sing and are singing to yourself pretty often these days. You know the words to so many little songs and it’s adorable to hear.

- When you’re doing something naughty (like sitting on the table) and you know it, you will smile at me, wave, and say “hi mom” in an extra cute voice, as if that will make me not mad – and it often works, I hate to say. Henry, you are pretty sassy at times these days, yelling at me and rolling your eyes if I tell you to do something you don’t want to do. I have to remind you pretty often to say “please” and “thank you,” and I probably sound like a broken record, but you seem to have slipped in your manners as of late and we need to remedy that!

Your moods are quite unpredictable, especially in the morning – I never know what I’m going to get when you emerge from your room in the morning. Sometimes you’re happy as heck and give me a big hug; other times you cover your eyes as you walk by, or you just ignore me or you whine about getting up. Other days you emerge with a blanket over your head and walk toward me like a ghost, and I’m not sure if I’ll find happy Henry or grumpy Henry underneath. You keep life interesting, that’s for sure. Just this morning you got mad at me when you finally got up at 6:40 a.m., yelling “you always do that, Mom!” And I’m like “what do I do?” and you said, tears in your eyes, “you get up from bed before I’m ready and then I can’t come lay in bed with you!” And I had to explain that I have to get up and get ready for work, but that I’m always willing to get back into bed and snuggle once you’re up!

- You also show some OCD tendencies these days, mostly about doors, windows and lights. “Did you lock the front door, mom?” “We need to close the garage.” “I’ll turn out this light!” If I say we can leave the light on since we’ll be back inside in just a few minutes, you will not take that for an answer and turn it off anyway. You also get really upset if we pretend like we’re going to leave Ben somewhere because he’s being pokey. We’ll say “ok, bye bye Ben!” and you’ll cry out “Noooo! Wait for Ben, Mom!!” There was an instance recently where you were REALLY stressed out about something having to do with a light, though I can’t remember the details. But it made me realize that probably have a little loonyness in your head, just like your dad and mom do, each in their own way. I guess we all have our “things!”

- You’re both very aware of my baby belly and acknowledge it at random times and in different ways. Henry, it’s right at your head level so when you’re being sassy or annoying, I jokingly like to bonk you in the head with it. The other morning as I was leaving for work, you hugged and kissed me and then you hugged and kissed the belly, too. Benny, you like to lay your head on my belly when we sit on the couch together, and a few times recently, you’ve sat on top of my belly and said “I’m sitting on baby sister.” and then “I ride your belly like a motorcycle!” (video)

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- Being pregnant this time around has made me less than pleasant on many occasions, and I know that my patience level with you guys is not what it should be. I hope you’ll forgive me and forget all about those times when I was a big meanie, snapping at you and getting mad faster than I should have. Baby sis will be worth it, and then I’ll hopefully be more calm and rational once she’s out. I make no guarantees, though. ;)

- I obviously take a lot of pictures of you guys, and Henry, you almost always cooperate, and Ben, you almost never do. The faces you make lately absolutely crack us up and also make us wonder where this STRANGE little boy came from. And it’s not just when I take pictures, either. It’s like all the time. You meet our eyes and make a goofy face, and then laugh and laugh when we give you a reaction. You are a ham bone and a half, and we comment often on how we think you’ll never have a hard time making friends in this life.

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- Henry, you’ve become a slightly better eater as late, at least agreeing to try most of the things we make. And the things you do eat, you eat well. Benny, you’re pretty much a terrible, awful eater, and we can’t figure out why. You will gobble up your favorite things – pizza, eggs and sausage, yogurt, cereal, and of course anything that’s a “snack” – but you refuse to try anything new, and you don’t like normal things that most kids like, like hot dogs and any fruit besides banana. We’ve begun putting our foot down about dessert if you don’t eat well, and you are just so hilariously combative about it to the very end. “Ben, you’re not getting a popsicle unless you eat your dinner.” You respond with “I do get a popsicle!” in a cheerful little voice. Over and over again.

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- This summer has been awesome with you guys, and we’ve done really fun things every weekend together. It’s so nice to be in a stage where you really enjoy so much of what we want to do with you, and it makes me so excited for all the years ahead and all the fun memories we’ll make together.

- To hear you guys converse and play together is awesome. At night you play a “game” in your bunk beds where Henry, you reach your hand down and Ben, you reach your hand up and you hold hands momentarily while in your respective beds. As we get ready to potty train you, Ben, big brother has been trying to show you the ropes. The other day I heard you, Henry, going through every step as Benny watched you pee. “I left the lid up and go pee, and then I take a piece of toilet paper and dab my wiener, and then I put the seat back down and flush it away! See Ben? You can do that just like big brother!”

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- Henry, you just seem so old and grown-up to us lately, and we talk often about how baffled we feel by it. Where did our baby go? The way you look, the way you move, the way you talk and tell us stories and remember things and understand the world around you more and more … it’s just something really spectacular to witness. It’s both exciting and sad at the very same time. It’s amazing to watch you become this real kid who’s more independent by the day, and it’s also sad to have such a vivid and in-your-face reminder every day of how quickly time passes.

- Benny, as much as you give us a run for our money lately, particularly while out in public, running away from us, and at bedtime, simply refusing to go to sleep, you really are such a delight most of the time, and we can’t get over how big you seem all of the sudden, too. You have had to go through so many transitions in the past few months – switching bedrooms, ditching your crib, ditching your nuks – and you’ve handled them all quite well. We’re going to embark on potty training very soon, and I hope you will handle that transition as well as you have all the others!

- I check on you guys every single night before I go to bed, and it continues to be a highlight of my day. Your beauty and innocence and how much I love you both literally takes my breath away many nights. I feel compelled to thank God for you, and I ask Him or the universe or whatever power will take notice to please please keep you safe and protected always.

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I just love you both more than words could ever say. This time in your lives will be barely memorable to you one day, but I hope that through the words I write and all the pictures I take, you will be able to see what a happy, special time this was in our family. I hope we are laying the foundation right now for a lifetime of loving one another and enjoying each other’s company, and for you guys to turn out to be confident, smart and caring individuals.

There’s so much excitement to come as we anticipate adding someone new to our family. None of us know Miss Eleanor just yet, but one thing I do know is how very lucky she will be right away to have you two as her big brothers!

You’re the best and I adore you. That’s all.

Love, Mom

Baby #3: 33 weeks – Feeling pretty pregnant, boys on a good streak, and Porter’s here!

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Date: July 14, 2014

Photo thoughts: New pics on the wall behind me! This belly’s getting big! And Ben’s a character, like always. He deserves his own post one of these days soon. Both boys do, really. Need to get on that!

Size of baby: Over 4 lbs and more than 17 inches – an honest-to-goodness baby in there, folks!

What I’m loving: That I’m pretty much in the home stretch. That the light at the end of the tunnel is finally within sight. The weeks are flying and my due date is seriously going to be here before I know it. I’m loving summer, as I’ve said every week. Why oh why can’t the nice weather last longer in this stupid state of ours? I kind of want to cry when I think about enduring another long winter after this fleeting beautiful time of year. Soaking it up!!

I’m also loving that my boys are such a delight lately. I still have plenty of moments of being wayyyy too impatient with them and getting annoyed by them, because I’m moody and tired and uncomfortable – not to mention that they’re just typical little boys – but overall, they are both just so freakin adorable and hilarious and sweet lately. And Dave and I have both noticed a change in their behavior over the past few weeks, too. Obviously, there’s still plenty of fighting and whining and crying and all that jazz. (#goeswithoutsaying) But they’re both getting older and with that comes a change in their personalities. They’re playing nicely together slightly more often than they were a month or two ago. They’re conversing more regularly and really enjoying one another. It’s really fun to watch.

And they’re becoming more self-sufficient by the day, too! Henry takes his plate to the sink without even being reminded many nights now, and he puts up a little less of a stink than he used to about eating a vegetable with his dinner. They’re getting better about cleaning up toys when asked, and they can get themselves into the car and into their seats so all I have to do is buckle them in. This morning I went upstairs to get dressed for work and said “get your shoes on, boys.” I came back down three minutes later and voila, they both had their shoes on and were ready to go! It’s awesome to see that happening and to feel the pressure on me to do every little thing for them lessen a bit as time goes by.

Dave and I sure appreciate that things are slightly less insane at our house these days. Of course that happens just before we’re going to shake things up again! But I’m certainly not complaining.

Camera Roll-815 What I’m anticipating: Making final preparations for baby. I made a list and put it on the fridge yesterday of the things we need to do before she gets here. I feel like I’ve been pregnant for a LOOOOONG time, and yet it’s always crazy when this final stretch hits and it’s like, whoa! We’re here already!

Also just looking forward to all the fun things to come in the next seven weeks. Our last seven weeks of summer; Henry’s last seven weeks before he starts school; our last seven weeks as a family of four. The days are counting down fast to lots of big changes.

What I’m stressing about/worries: Same, same, same. I love this baby girl so much and I am getting so very eager to lay my eyes on her and hold her in my arms. And to watch my precious boys be her big brothers! Just stay healthy and safe, sweet girl!

Miss anything? Same two major things – drinking alcohol and doing yoga. I’m a-ok with having a glass of wine here and there while pregnant, but I realized this past week that I no longer think it’s worth it. I went out to dinner twice this past week, and that’s normally when I’d have a glass of wine. But I stuck with sparkling water with lime, since the glass of wine isn’t worth the small side of guilt that inevitably comes with it, and it’s just not even enjoyable when I know I can only have one. I look forward to being not pregnant and being able to enjoy alcohol again! And I did some yoga in the back yard yesterday just to stretch my muscles, and boy, it’s not easy to bend this body right now!

Weight gain: A little over 30 pounds.

Camera Roll-812 Weather (new category this week): Had to post about the weather since whoa, it’s been amazing. People keep complaining about the rain, but I swear, I haven’t noticed it. I think it’s because we’ve been lucky and it’s all hit during the week, so I’m at work anyway! The weekends have been glorious – not too hot, not too cool, just right. And now this week is looking to be mild, too. I know it’s not ideal July weather for boating, swimming and all the other summertime activities people want to get out and do, but for a pregnant woman in her third trimester, it’s pretty much perfect!

It’s been hot, like in the mid-eighties, a handful of times, and that’s when we close up and turn the air on. I especially love sleeping when the air is on – so cozy.

The summer five years ago when I was pregnant with Henry was also abnormally mild, and the winter I was pregnant with Benny was pretty mild, too. I have been pretty darn lucky with the weather as a pregnant woman. … Actually, as I was just looking back to compare my pregnancies, I found this post from when I was pregnant with Ben, talking about how lucky I had been with the weather!

Differences between pregnancies: At 33 weeks with Henry, I posted this awesome and prolific post. (I was just shy of 34 weeks actually.) I talked about how being pregnant was “all-consuming,” how I spent so much of my time doing things to prepare for baby, whether exercising or reading or preparing things around the house or talking to him or thinking about him. I was feeling a little overwhelmed at how much my life was about to change FOR-E-VER, and how different, when life was so EASY up to this point … and it’s funny to read now, since even though it’s clear I had some idea how life-changing a baby would be, I still really had no clue! Because you just can’t.

Another especially comical part – me talking about how much I love my sleep. And how it would soon be weeks, months – maybe even years – of getting not a lot of sleep. That’s one area where I certainly had no idea what I was in for!! Sleep will never be the same again, dear Erin of five years ago!

I was scared, for sure – and it warms my heart to look back on that and to know now how beautiful motherhood is. The past five years have been the absolute happiest of my life – sleeplessness and all.

At 33 weeks with Ben, he was moving like a wild man in my belly, which baby E has been doing a lot lately, too. Not quite an earthquake, but she’s moving a ton!! And I posted about how Ben was very real to me now.

How I’m feeling: My answer to this goes back and forth depending on when you ask. Overall, I’m feeling good. I’m actually amazed that I’m 33 weeks pregnant and feeling so physically good, especially since I’m carrying around 30 freakin extra pounds. My belly does feel heavy, and I’m feeling PREGNANT lately, for sure. Like when I get up from my desk at work after sitting awhile, I feel the weight of my belly as I walk. Rolling over in bed is now a chore. And I have all the fun (read: annoying) side effects that come with pregnancy – heartburn, leg cramps at night, peeing a lot.

I also think Miss E has had a growth spurt again these past few days. I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been ravenously hungry and needed to eat immediately or I may have passed out.

Oh, and I had a tough day one day last week with a ton of contractions, which I posted about that afternoon. When all was said and done, baby girl had completely shifted in my belly, and I’m not sure if her moving like that caused the contractions, or if the contractions caused her to change positions. But either way, she most definitely is different in there now. For weeks before, I could feel her feet on my upper right side constantly. After this day, her butt was suddenly up on my right side and her feet were kicking me on my upper left side, and that’s how she remains now. So strange!

Sleep: Not so good now. Last night I got a good night of sleep, because I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. I still woke up two or three times, but that was nothing compared to the rest of the week. The night before that, I saw the clock at literally every hour of the night. I can fall asleep really easily still, and I feel comfortable in my bed laying on either side, but I can’t seem to stay asleep for more than a couple of hours at a time anymore. Maybe it’s just a fluke this past week (there was a full moon) and I’ll go back to sleeping well – it would be nice!

But I had a few rough days of just feeling SO tired, and I’m just not a pleasant person when I’m that tired. I hate being a grump to Dave and my kids and the other people around me, but it’s hard to be anything but when you’re that exhausted. Exhausted-with-a-newborn is a different kind of exhausted! Exhausted-while-largely-pregnant is much, much less tolerable.

Exercise: Walks, a little stretching here and there.

Movement: Amazing, so cool, love it so freaking much. It’s SO fun to be at the point where the baby fills the entire belly. When she’s awake and moving I can feel her up high, down low, with both hands, and there are just body parts sticking out everywhere. I so never want to forget how this feels!! My mom finally felt her moving really good on Saturday, and she said “I so remember that feeling!” Hopefully when I’m older I’ll have a daughter and friends who let me touch their bellies and experience that feeling again. ;)

Boy or girl: Girl! Henry’s really excited to be getting a sister, it’s so cute.

Milestones: We paid off my car today! We bought my Honda Accord two months before Henry was born, and now here we are about to buy a new vehicle in anticipation of baby #3. We were dumb dumb dumb and took out a five-PLUS year loan to keep the payments fairly low (seriously, what were we thinking?) and up til about a year ago, I never paid an extra dime on the payments. Sigh. Live and learn. So anyway, I had to make a big payment today, but it feels GOOD to own it outright. That leaves us one month where we own both of our vehicles outright, and we will enjoy that feeling while we can!

Next month we’ll trade in Dave’s Saab as a down payment on a minivan, and he’ll start driving my Accord. I feel bad for him, since it’s his turn to drive the newer vehicle, and he’s definitely downgrading when he goes from a cool Saab to a plain old Honda Accord – but oh well. Have to keep driving the paid-for car! And hopefully in two years or so he can buy a nicer car that he actually wants.

Superficial (another new category this week): Another thing I wanted to make note of was the comments I’ve been getting as of late. It’s funny how even as I feel large and a little self-conscious about my 30-pounds-heavier frame, I’ve been getting so many positive comments from people around me. Which of course are very nice to hear!

Compared to my last job, I encounter a lot – a lot – more people on a daily basis at this job than I did during my first two pregnancies. Coworkers, people I have meetings with, people in the restaurants, etc. And I will admit that I don’t tire of hearing from these folks how “cute” and “small” I look, and how I’m “all belly.” (Ha! Not!) Tonight I heard from a neighbor how I look “really good for only having seven weeks to go!” and how he would swear I was pregnant with a boy, since usually women “gain all over” when pregnant with girls. (Which I have, but thank you, sir!) I think Kelly has said “you look so cute!” every time I’ve walked through her door the past few weeks, and Shelly said last week “I hope you’re taking a lot of pictures – you wear pregnancy so well!” I assured her that she was talking to the picture-taking queen. ;)

Of course, there are some not-as-nice comments sprinkled in, too, though thankfully not many … a woman at work turned around and saw me the other day in the kitchen and just said “whoa!”  when she looked at my belly. Which I’m sure wasn’t meant to be anything, but of course made me feel a little self-conscious. And then my Gram said on Saturday “I think you’re bigger this time.” Leave it to old folks to just speak their minds!

Highlights of the week: Biggest, best highlight – baby Porter is here!!

Julia’s baby boy finally arrived Friday, three days past her due date, and everything went just beautifully. He’s her biggest babe and so.freakin.adorable. I was at lunch on Friday when he was born, and when I checked my phone in the car after lunch, I saw the news and was so excited! I had to pull over so I could see his picture and text Nate back! I don’t think the smile left my face the entire drive back to the office. There is just nothing like the joy a new baby brings, and the relief that comes with knowing he/she is here safe and sound!

I went to visit Julia, Nate and Porter in the hospital that evening around 8 p.m., so he was just about eight hours old. So new! Dizzy was there, too, and while I intended for the visit to be short so as to not overstay my welcome or impose on that precious time, we both ended up staying probably an hour and a half – everyone was just doing so well and we had a great time holding the baby and visiting.

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I emailed J tonight to gush over how happy I am and how much I am loving all of the photos on Flickr. I’m actually a little surprised at myself about how much I’m just bursting over this baby … I mean, I knew I’d be excited, but it’s beyond that. I said in my email – maybe it’s because I’m pregnant, too, and that all of this is right around the corner for me; maybe it’s that we’ve been friends for six years now and have gone through this wild ride of motherhood together; maybe it’s that everything went so well and that her family is just the cutest and pretty much feels like family to us now – probably all of the above!

Watching Julia go through this has made me so excited to go through it all again soon. It’s just an absolutely magical time.

Other highlights of the week …

Henry and I posed together in front of the mirror one morning last week. And the boys greeted me after work one day by hopping into my front seat together when I pulled up, and it was adorable.

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I went out to eat a lot! Tuesday evening I was at our company’s steakhouse out on the patio (lovely!) with Amy and the guy who’s going to do our website for Grateful Hearts – very exciting! Then Wednesday night I took the fam to our newest restaurant for the preview night, then we went to the cute little park across the street from the restaurant. The food was great, the boys were well-behaved and the weather was perfection. It was a lovely summer evening.

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On Thursday, I went to Bastille Days for lunch with coworkers on what was another glorious summer day, and while I did that, the boys hit up a new park with Shelly and fed the ducks, and she sent me photos via text. It was an extra awesome day in which I really felt like being a working mom with a nanny is just a win-win … I get to do grown-up things like go out to lunch, my kids get to do fun things like go to the park, and I still get plenty of time with them to do all the fun things we do together, too. Love those days when everything just feels good and right.

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Saturday morning I took a few belly pics when I woke up because I felt like my belly looked pretty small first thing in the morning. Crazy how much it can change by the end of the day!

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Saturday we stayed home and cleaned the house and just hung out, then that evening mom and Gram came over and I took them to dinner at our company’s supper club. I knew my Gram would enjoy it since it’s a throwback to her era – and she made sure everyone who dealt with us knew it – “this was my era, you know.” Ha. Oh, Gram. We had a great meal and it was nice to have some time with them together.

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Then Sunday we hung out at home some more, played outside, hit up the park, and then in the afternoon while Benny napped, Henry and I went with Mom and Dale to Bastille Days. We’d gone as a family last year and loved it, and Henry was most excited about hitting up the craft tent again. We walked around and drank lemonade and snapped some pics and enjoyed some beignets before heading back home. I wasn’t in the best mood after not sleeping well the night before, but it was still enjoyable. Oh, and before we left, Dale got a pic with the boys in all their matching hats. So cute!

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Summary: Still (mostly) loving life over here. My boys are awesome. This little girl in my belly is so loved already. Summer and new babies are two of the best things EVER. We’re just about in the home stretch, and I am so very excited to meet this little person soon.

Holy contractions …

I am having a rough pregnant-girl day.

I was out late last night and ate bad-for-me food and then that contributed to not being able to sleep well last night, so I’m tired. And now sitting here at work, for the past five hours or so, I have been having contractions like crazy!

Of course, they’re of the Braxton Hicks variety and not progressing into anything, thank God, but man are they uncomfortable. I just feel icky, and when I get up and walk, I have crazy pressure in my lower abdomen.

I haven’t really had much of this yet – just a few BH here and there – and this today is my first real, physical sign reminding me that – hey! I’m going to be birthing a baby in the next month or two! It’s wild.

I keep telling people – I had NOTHING like this with my first pregnancy, until I was 40 weeks, 4 days pregnant and my water broke. With Ben, though, I had crazy strong contractions and icky feelings for probably a month on and off before he was born. All that false labor put me in a pretty bad place mentally on some days – but then when he did decide to come, he arrived 11 days early, over eight pounds and healthy as can be, and he came fast!

So of course, the mind games are already beginning.

Earlier today when I was having contractions literally every two minutes for nearly an hour, I started to panic a little and envisioned having this baby super early and her being very small and spending time in the NICU and me being back to work by the beginning of fall instead of just starting my maternity leave! I Googled babies born at 32 weeks, just to assure myself that babies born now mostly end up just fine. But man do I not want a pre-term baby! Duh. I mean, no one WANTS that. But wow, it’s just so scary.

On the flip side, I think, hmmm, first time around – nothing, and I went late. Second time around, a month of labor nonsense – and he came early. So now the third time around – will I deal with all this for TWO months? Will I go early because of all that? Will she come even FASTER than Ben did? Seriously, not making it to the hospital is one of my biggest fears. Not being able to get an epidural is also a fear, though I guess if she comes that fast, it won’t matter all that much!

OR – maybe I’ll have all this crap going on and go in thinking she’ll come fast, and she’ll be overdue and/or my labor will be my longest/most torturous yet, and I will curse myself for speculating at all!

Because the reality is, none of us knows a darn thing about how labor will go down. When it’ll happen, how long it’ll last – none of it. We drive ourselves mad trying to predict, and making wishes, and hoping for just the right timing (OUR perfect timing) and for a quick and as-painless-as-possible delivery. It’s ridiculous, when obviously the only thing that matters is that baby arrives healthy and safely and that we come out of it all ok, too!

This is all very real to me right now, too, because my dear Julia is a day overdue with baby boy, and we were all certain she’d go early! Why? No idea. Probably because it’s #3, she never made it to her due date before, and she was having crazy contractions and labor nonsense for weeks and weeks leading up to this! Just more proof that no one knows. She’s hanging in, and we’ve been texting this afternoon – her advice is good, that we (we being me and Andrea, who’s due a week after me!) should truly mentally prepare ourselves to go til our due date, or we’ll drive ourselves crazy in those final weeks! Easier said than done, of course, but I’m really going to do my best.

Please, baby girl, just stay put for another six weeks. Stay healthy and grow strong, and don’t cause mama too much anxiety or discomfort as we lead up to d-day! I am beyond excited to see your beautiful face and hold you in my arms – but I will happily wait until my time comes!! No matter how uncomfortable and mentally taxing these next 7-8 weeks may end up being …

32 weeks, 1 day pregnant

Baby #3: 32 weeks – Stretch marks, maybe a new middle name, baby watch, 4th of July weekend

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Date: July 7, 2014

Photo thoughts: This shirt has always made my belly look big! And whoa, is this belly high still compared to my boy bellies. Ben is a ham bone. Refused to smile again tonight in lieu of making a silly face. Dave looked at the pics and said “you’ve birthed a turtle.” Glad Henry wanted to be in the pic this week. :)

Size of baby: Nearly four pounds and nearly 17 inches long – growing, growing!

What I’m loving: All this insane movement in my belly. I feel her nearly constantly, and I can easily make out body parts. She is just so REAL in there now. I also simply cannot stop saying it – I LOVE SUMMER. I don’t think I have ever appreciated summer more. I want this baby to get here, but I also do not want summer to end!!

What I’m anticipating: So many things! The top one right now being the arrival of Juila‘s baby boy! She’s due tomorrow and still no baby. She’s been having contractions and keeping us updated but it’s still not go time. Come ooooon, baby boy! She’s never reached her due date before, so this is new territory for her. Kind of brutal with #3! I was four days late with Henry and 11 days early with Ben, so I’ve been on both sides. And boy oh boy, do I hope this baby girl doesn’t make me wait all the way til my due date! So fun to think about being in Julia’s place in mere weeks … but right now it’s super fun to be on baby watch, too!!

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We got one last belly picture together on Friday, the 4th at the parade – didn’t think we’d get any more, but that boy is taking his time!

Also anticipating all the fun things that this month will hold. We have at least one thing planned every weekend in July – and then as I was looking today, I saw that August is still completely wide open, which is awesome, too. This month includes dinner out with my mom and Gram this Saturday, Bastille Days on Sunday hopefully; a family cookout next weekend; my sprinkle (!) and a Brewers game the following weekend – and then it’ll be August!

The invitation came Thursday for my sprinkle and it’s just adorable. We’re having high tea at a fancy little tea shop in downtown Milwaukee! I’m sure it’ll be such fun and so adorable, and Amanda is the sweetest to be hosting it for me. I can’t wait!

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What I’m stressing about/worries: Same as always – I just want this baby to stay safe and healthy and growing, and to get here when she’s supposed to – not too early! (or too late for that matter, but early would be worse.) And money, always money. Minivan purchase time is getting closer! Holding off as long as we possibly can, thinking early to mid August.

Miss anything? Being thin, working out, drinking.

Weight gain: According to the scale this morning (and after the holiday weekend…) I’m up almost 30 pounds now. I gained 35 with each of my boys, so I’ll definitely gain the most with this pregnancy. I mostly don’t care, since I feel good and seriously don’t feel like I’m carrying around 30 extra pounds! Maybe 20 or 25 – but 30 just seems like a lot. But eh, I’ll likely keep it under 40 (fingers crossed!) and then deal with losing it once baby is here. Breastfeeding works wonders.

But – I discovered the last few days that I’m getting stretch marks this time. Yuck! I had one little stretchy on the front of my belly from when I was pregnant with Ben, but this time around I’m getting them on my sides, too. Not cool, but I’m going to try not to stress about them, since I really don’t think there’s much I could do to avoid them. Just hoping they don’t get too awful by the end.

Also breaking out more on my face lately. That doesn’t really fall into the weight gain category, but it’s worth noting.

Differences between pregnancies: At 32 weeks with Henry, I’d just had my second of three showers, and I posted about feeling pretty “large and in charge.” I was also very emotional at the thought of having him and noted that I talked, read and sang to him. Baby E doesn’t really get that too much, though she does get to listen to a lot more ruckus on the outside than Henry ever did!

At 32 weeks with Benny, I posted this week about how pregnancy is long. And I feel like I could have written that exact post, nearly word for word, this week with baby #3. All of the sudden, I’m feeling like she’s both really close but still oh so far from arriving!

I see with Ben we’d just done things to get ready for him, including bringing out car seats bases, putting bottles in the pantry, etc. We haven’t done any of that this time, and yet I do feel mostly ready for her. We have diapers and clothes, her nursery is ready. I’m starting to feel impatient to just meet her, and again, to just know how it all goes down, and that she gets here safely. To see her face and hold her in my arms and begin the crazy rollercoaster of life with a newborn again!

But also, as always, I KNOW I should enjoy this time, this calm (well, ‘calm’) before the storm before our lives change forever again! And I definitely am!

How I’m feeling: Still good. I’m waiting for the weekly post where I can’t say this anymore. Back pain is minimal. I sleep well and get around pretty well. (Though sitting on the floor hurts my back – and getting up? Ugh.)

Dave is ready to have his non-pregnant wife back. I love my husband to death, but I will admit to just being ANNOYED by so much of what he does lately. And I have no idea why. The poor guy, it’s not his fault. He’s the same old Dave. I’m just irritable.

And I’ve always been a worrier, which I now realize is likely my own form of some kind of anxiety disorder. I mean, it gets bad at times. And I think this pregnancy has amplified it. Last night I laid awake for nearly an hour in the 1 a.m. hour and had just the most terrible, awful things flashing in my head, and I could not make them stop. This morning I told Dave about it, and how pregnancy has made it worse, and he said “I think pregnancy has made ALL of your emotions turn up to an 11 this time around.” I said it’s a good thing I wasn’t like this when pregnant with my boys, or it would have been a lot harder to convince him to go for number three!

I hope it’s not anything chemical, and just me being me, only more so… I’d hate to think about having to deal with any sort of postpartum anxiety or depression or anything. I had none of that after my boys, not even the baby blues really (though I of course had my moments!) and I hope it’s the same this time, that I can just enjoy my new baby girl!

Sleep: Pretty good! Am just now finding it a wee bit annoying to roll over from side to side at night, but it’s mostly still manageable and not that bad. I know that time is coming, though – when it’s just SUCH an ordeal to switch sides! I also find myself waking up on my back some nights still, and that does a number on my lower back. I also still moan in my sleep when in a weird position, and Dave has to wake me up and tell me me to cut it out.

Exercise: Nada. It’s just too much effort now, man. I do look forward to the day when I can work out and be fit again!

Movement: One of my greatest joys right now!! Though I actually had the thought the other day that I waited SO long to feel it with this baby, and I know when I’m done being pregnant I will miss it, but right now, it’s like a feast or famine thing and I’m in the feasting stage – so I almost take it for granted! I try SO hard not to and to make note of and put my hands on my belly every time she moves. But it’s so much that it’s sort of like “yup, there it is again.” But I want to savor each and every poke and roll!

It’s hard to get a video of it since she likes to stop as soon as the camera clicks on, but I actually got a pretty good 30-second video of her movements tonight! (Hope it goes without saying, but that tattoo on my belly is temporary.)

I also feel like the movement is different this time around. I swear, so much is different this time around! Even her movements feel more girl-like, though maybe that’s just me being nuts. But she doesn’t rumble and shake my belly like an earthquake the way my boys did. (Ok, well sometimes she does.) But really, she more just pokes and stretches. Her feet are ALWAYS sticking out of my belly in the very same spot on my upper right side, to the point that it almost starts to feel sore there – like give me a break, little lady! This weekend she was poking a foot so far out, I felt like I could almost grab it! No hiccups yet from her, either. Not once. I find that weird.

Boy or girl: Girl! And I think she may have a new middle name. I’m not committing one way or another yet! But I think she may be Eleanor Claire now.

Grace is a gorgeous name, and I love the word. But it doesn’t really have any meaning to us. (Though I guess Henry, Benjamin, George, and Eleanor don’t, either! The only one with sort of a meaning is Oliver, since we lived on Olive St. when he was born, and I liked that name anyway.) But Grace is, I think, like THE middle name right now, kind of like “Marie” was in my generation.

Claire is a name I have always just loved. Dave would never let me have it for a girl name, though. Says it’s a “fat girl name,” a la The Breakfast Club. I wanted a one-syllable name with Eleanor. And even though it really doesn’t matter, Ben already has G as his middle initial, so this would be ushering in another whole letter into our repertoire of letters in our family.

I still think Eleanor Grace probably has a slightly prettier ring to it. We may stick with it. But I think I really like Eleanor Claire, too. We will see!

Milestones: Had my 32-week appointment today, and then scheduled my next one for in two weeks. Exciting to be on that schedule now!! Belly is measuring right on track, baby’s heart rate was 145 or so, and blood pressure was good.

Highlights of the week: Another weekend, another round of awesome highlights. I am on a mission to make the absolute most of this summer, and I feel like we’re doing a pretty darn good job so far!

Thursday after work I took the boys to the mall, and that kicked off the weekend well, with some quality time with and fun purchases for my goobs. And a sweet interaction with a fellow mom-of-three.

Friday was the 4th of July and I think it was the most gorgeous day we’ve had yet this summer. Blue skies, sunshine and mid-70s … it was glorious. We got going bright and early and met Julia and Nate for the Tosa parade that started at 9 a.m. The parking was easy and we arrived by the parade route just in time for it to start – it was perfect. Met Dizzy and Andy and Dizzy’s family there, too. Julia’s and my kids matched in their Old Navy tees and were freakin adorable. And everyone enjoyed the parade!

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Then it was off to Dave’s parents’ house for a cookout. Delicious food, lots of outside time in their beautiful, quiet yard, and catching up with family – it was great. And I finally got to see my new niece Ebby again! She’s a month old already and boy is she cute!! We were there most of the day and got home mid-evening, and man, we were tuckered out after such a busy day.

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Saturday we bummed around home in the morning, and then Amanda, Mark and Owen came for a visit around 11:30. We made lunch and caught up and watched the boys play together – it was really nice! Then Ben napped (and I think I did, too – I’m all about sneaking in little cat naps on the weekends now when Benny naps!) and once he woke up, we got ourselves ready and headed down to the lakefront for the evening. We thought about staying put, but the day was beautiful and, once again, I figured we ought to take advantage and do something fun while we actually could, since these are the days we absolutely long for during the cold winter!

I’m SO glad we went. As I said on Instagram that evening, as with any outing with kids, it was not without plenty of annoyances and whining and little fights between the boys, and frustration on our part. Such is life with little kids. But knowing that those things are inevitable allows you to then move on and focus on all the good parts, of which there were also many!

We parked in Veterans Park and went inside the kite store. The plan had been to stop at Target and get some cheapie kites, but then I didn’t feel like making an extra stop, and figured I’d be willing to pay a bit more just to avoid it. Of course, as expected, the absolute cheapest kite was $10, and it was flimsy plastic, like the kind you can get for a buck or two at Target. So we went the next step up and got a vinyl kite for $17. A bit much and totally unnecessary, but oh well – it ended up being worth it!

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We flew our kite surrounded by the beautiful lake on one side and the pretty skyline on the other. Henry got such a kick out of flying a kite for the first time, and I so enjoyed witnessing that. (Here’s a cute video of him flying it – and crashing it.) Ben was kind of a beast much of the time, whining and crying and throwing tantrum after tantrum over wanting to fly the kite. When we’d give it to him, he’d immediately chuck the handle onto the ground! (Here’s a little video.)

We drove down to Northpoint for a delicious dinner and a sundae to share, and then drove back to Veterans Park to fly our kite some more. We were down there til 8 p.m., which is when the boys usually go to bed, so they were up pretty late that evening. It was really a lot of fun.

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Then Sunday (yesterday) we pretty much just hung out. Hit up the garden store, pulled out Henry’s latest Kiwi Crate (which was SO COOL), cleaned a bit, played outside. Love Sundays with no plans.

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Summary: Long weekends rule. Summer is the best. I’m getting impatient to meet my girl, but I’m also really enjoying this time. I can’t wait to meet J’s baby, and I sort of can’t believe it’ll be my turn next.

Heard at the mall tonight

I got off work early this afternoon and since Dave was working late and there were a few things I really wanted to get, I took the boys to the mall. I relayed two stories from the trip to Dave when he got home, and I realized I wanted to put them here, too.

First, a funny one -

We were in Gymboree and there were three women in there with their kids and they were all wearing scarves on their heads. When they left, Henry watched them and then turned to me and asked, “Mom, why were they all wearing those things on their heads?” and I explained that it was part of their culture, that they or their family are likely from another country and that’s what they do in their country. He thought about that for a second and then said “wow, they’re going to have to drive a REALLY long way home!” The sales girl overheard and just laughed and laughed with me.

Then, a sweet one -

We were leaving the mall and I was pushing Ben in his stroller, so I had Henry push open the door for me. A woman, probably in her mid to late 50s, was walking out next to us, and as she watched Henry help me out, she said “you’re going to love having three.” For a second I wasn’t sure if she was being sarcastic or not, but then she smiled and said “truly, you will love it.” And I responded, “I know, I can’t wait.”

We were outside Boston Store by now and she stopped next to us on the sidewalk. I said something about having always wanted three kids. She asked “do you know what you’re having?” and I said “a girl” and she lit up and said “oh, that’s what we had, too – two boys and then a girl.” She went on and said “We have one still at home, she’s about to go to college. … What are their names?” “Henry and Ben,” I said, and she said “awww” and rubbed Henry’s head while saying “nice to meet you guys.”

Then she looked at them in this nostalgic way, then looked at me and said “being a mother is the greatest gift.” And I said “I know” and smiled at her. I told her to have a nice weekend, and she said “you, too – and have a happy delivery.” I thanked her and we walked to the car, and I thought about how that would be me someday, probably looking at young moms with a bit of an aching heart, while also (hopefully anyway) feeling so happy about all the joy that motherhood has brought me over the years.

The mall trip was a success – I got Henry a hat just like Benny’s at Crazy 8; I got the boys flag t-shirts at Old Navy for tomorrow, plus another new t-shirt each; I got myself two tank tops at Motherhood; and then I got Julia’s babe a little something at Gymboree. And while were there, I eyed up the pajamas, all of which were on sale, and I ended up getting the boys each a new pair – the one unplanned purchase of the trip. We also stopped for about 10 minutes at the playground, since the boys were (mostly) good. Henry’s a good boy anytime we’re out in public, but wow, that Benny is a wild man. Luckily he’s still content to be in his stroller some of the time, but he also likes to get out and walk/run, and when that’s the scenario, he’s pretty naughty. Not staying by me, not listening when I call him back, touching things he shouldn’t.

Two and a half is a fun age but it’s also no joke when it comes to being out in public. Too old to be totally confined, and yet not old enough to totally understand how to behave in certain places. Ben just has zero regard for danger or the possibility of getting lost or the consequences he might face when he doesn’t listen to me. We were at the mall for about an hour and a half and I was worn out when we got home! But it was a fun little outing with my boys.

Tonight the boys got into their new pajamas after their bath and I snapped away with my phone as they wrestled and jumped on our bed before bedtime. All I wanted was one cute pic of them in their new jams, but boy, it’s nearly impossible to get a clear shot when they – mostly Ben – won’t stop moving! I did capture some great moments, though, with Benny riding his brother like a motorcycle, and Henry trying to wrangle Ben for a photo by the wall.

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I adore these boys of mine.

Now bring on the three-day weekend! :)

Henry is 4 years, 8 1/2 months old
Ben is 2 years, 4 1/2 months old
I’m 31 weeks, 2 days pregnant