Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meggie 'Bolts' VH


My girls before church today.

I tried to get a good one for Daddy, but Miss Alice Virginia was. Not. happy. I think her crying scared Meggie because right after I took this, she jumped off the couch and grabbed bah-bah and paci. :)


But, at least you get the idea.

I thought I had all the answers about parenting before I became a parent. Truly. I did. One of the quirks that I had special opinions about, though, was a child running away from a parent - most likely in a public, dangerous place.

Why can’t they control their child? Don’t they teach them better than that? I even scorned toddler leashes. Why do they need those? Can’t they teach their child to stay with them at all times.

Hear me on this. No matter who you are or how you parent or the nature of your child...at some point, some where, some child of yours WILL bolt and you’ll become like those parents I scorned, like the kind of parent I was today, helplessly galloping after your careening daughter, screaming her name ineffectively, your embarrassment factor outweighed by your fears for her safety.

Yes. I judge no more.

My Meggie loves to run. And she’s fast. As soon as she could walk, she could run and her prowess has only increased with age.

Today, I picked Meggie and Allie V up from church nursery. Last week, I sat Meggie on my lap and had her help me buckle the baby in her carseat. Meggie also loves buckles. Knowing that sleepiness and hunger always trigger mischevious behavior (and she’s always sleepiest, hungriest after two hours at church), I carefully explained what I expected of her this week:

“Meggie, Mama’s picking up baby sissy from the nursery. Mama’s going to need a lot of help from Meggie to buckle baby sissy in her carseat. I want Meggie to stand RIGHT. BY. MAMA. and when Mama’s ready, she’ll ask Meggie to sit in her lap and buckle in baby sissy. Ok? Say, OK, Mama.”

Satisfied with her agreement to comply, I gathered Allie V from the kind nursery ladies and let go of Meggie’s hand for a moment. All was proceeding according to “plan.” Meggie even held onto the straps of Allie’s diaper bag. I crouched down with the baby. And, then, I noticed Meggie notice the pacifier holder strapped to the side of the bag.

Oh. No. Quick as a lick, she snapped it open and popped Alice Virginia’s pacifier in her mouth. And took two tiny steps away from me - she knows baby sissy’s pacifier is a “no-no.”

I tried not to panic. Tried to breathe calmly. She’s like a frightened doe when it comes to how I handle her touching no-nos ... the first move towards her and she bolts. Sigh. We’re working on this.

I placed Allie V carefully in her car seat. I made a fast decision not to mention the pacifier, but instead, to get her refocused on the baby’s buckles. I put one hand slowly, carefully out to Meggie, said, “Meg-gie. Please help me with...”

She took off, was around the corner before I could finish, headed for the wide open door. Y’all. There aren’t words to describe her speed. It’s uncanny - even in a darling, blue-boated smocked dress with white Sunday sandals.

I panicked. What to do? I’ve been having nightmares about what I’d do if I were with both girls in a public place and Meggie took off, trying to visualize a plan of action for every place. What to do at the park? What to do at the zoo? What to do at the Science Museum? What to do _____?

Thank goodness we were in church the first time it happened - a relatively safe, enclosed place. I chose to leave Alice Virginia with my purse and diaper bag by the door to the nursery, trusting that the experienced ladies would deduce the situation and stay until my return.

I took off after Meggie, dodging around other church-goers, ducking behind the coffee bar, trying to keep tabs on the darting blue skirttails up ahead. Every so often she would glance behind her, paci in mouth, before turning to run more.

Finally, finally, I cornered her in an alcove, a dead-end. Out of breath, I snatched her up and made my way as quickly as I could back to Allie V - feeling doubly the irresponsible parent. One for my bolting child. Two for abandoning my baby. Rounding the corner, I spied her where I lay her, happily gurgling and cooing in her car seat.

Not gonna lie. I’m coming to cherish my rides in our luxurious new family van. Oh, what stress relief, what peace of mind to know everybody’s contained and in one place, the only hauling anyone is doing is me - trucking it through young motherhood on a wing and prayer.

Phew. She’s taking her nap now and Alice Virginia miraculously stayed asleep in her car seat once we got home...so I’m letting her take a good nap in there. Praying that the rest of the day is less - ummm - dramatic?! Hoping your Sunday is restful, too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday. Splashes of Sugar, Sprinkles of Spice

Meggie's talking and exploring more now, and in an effort to remember these sweet, childhood days, I'm making a routine Saturday segment where I'll post vignettes from the week before.

Here, you have: Splashes of Sugar, Sprinkles of Spice, and peek into my week with two girlies. Enjoy! :)






6:45 am. I hear a screeching, “MOM-EE!” from Meggie’s room down the hall. As I wake, my three-day-old clothes smell like sour milk, and I feel the itchiness of our bedspread. I forgot. Last night I slept on the mattress pad because I was too tired to wait for our sheets to dry. Sheets that had been pooped, peed, and spit-up on all in the same night before. Allie V grunts in the bassinet, tiny fists disgruntled, hungry.

Later, I’m nursing the newest baby, urgent in my attempt to make it out the door on-time. Behind me, I hear a gagging splutter. Meggie’s drinking hummingbird nectar from the carton. I slide Alice Virginia to the side of the couch, screaming now she’s still hungry, and leap for the phone, dialing poison control. (It’s just sugar water with a little red food coloring, by the way.)

On my way to the phone, I mutter, “Oh, gosh, oh, gosh, oh, gosh, oh, gosh.” I’ve been trying to break this habit. Meggie, oblivious to any danger, dances behind me in her Sunday dress, one ribbon sleeve dangling over her shoulder. She mimics in a perfect imitation, “Oh, gosh! oh, gosh! oh, gosh!” And giggles.

Oh. My.

***

It’s Tuesday nap time. I tried putting Alice Virginia down in her bassinet before starting Meggie’s bedtime routine. Meggie and I get cuddled up with bah-bah and paci, the “Mouse” book ready to go, and we hear the first wail erupt from my bedroom. The. Baby.

Meggie looks up at me. Blinks. “Mama...Check...Baby?”

What? As in, “Mama, go check your baby?” I ask her, just to be sure.

“Hmm.hmmm.” She affirms and gives me a little nudge off the reading chair.

I go check on my baby.

***

Meggie’s figured out that Daddy and I have “other names.” Yesterday, I called to Kyle as I changed Meggie’s diaper, “Hey, Kyyyyy-lllleeee? Have YOU seen the neosporen?”

Today, Meggie shouts from her changing table: “KYYYYY-KKKKKKUUUUULLLL!” It takes me a minute to process who she means.

“Kyle? Kyle? Are you saying Kyle?”

“Yes...Mama...Kyle.” Oh, baby girl, that’s “Daddy” to you.

Tonight, she modifies it. I’m slathering diaper cream on her bottom: “Dadddy - Kyyy-Kul! DADDDY-KYYY-KUUUUL!”

***

“Cheese. Peas.”

“Cheese? You’d like cheese for breakfast?”

She nods. Blinks.

“Ok, I guess that’s ok.” I mean, I guess they do that in France, we can do that here. I pull a stick of cheese, Meggie’s main food group, out of the fridge. We sit down to eat - Meggie with her cheese and cereal, me with my egg-white english muffin and coffee.

She inhales the string cheese. “Mo. Cheese. Peas.” She finishes her cereal, so I let her down from her high chair and hand her another piece of cheese. She snatches it and bolts, running laps around the couch, my little big energy girl.

“Meeegggiiiee,” I say, “you need to eat your cheese at the table. Mama’s gonna take the cheese bye-bye if you leave the table again.”

She zooms around the edge of the island and screeches to a halt in front of me; she plops a gummy handful of melted mozzarella on my plate. I notice a Meggie hair trailing from the end of the mush. OH.

“Mama. Eat.”

“It’s okay, Meggie, Mama’s tummy is full. You can finish your cheese.”

She pushes it closer to me. As she dashes away again she calls over her shoulder:

“Mama. Eat. I. Share - ing.”

Well, at least something’s getting through.

***
My littlest baby girl is tender, easy-going. But, even though she’s more docile (so far) than our biggest baby girl does not mean that she doesn’t get feisty.

She is a redhead after all.

We’re in the van on the way to the farmer’s market. Our fist time since Allie V’s birth. I love the farmer’s market - especially ours; I also love the drive through the back roads to get there - I’m gonna miss this part of Oklahoma should we move. Meggie and I have the music turned up-ish and she’s singing to Jesus Loves Me.

A cry erupts from the other carseat. One cry. Then two. Then, oh my gracious the baby’s having a carseat crisis. I try not to pull the car over when the babies are crying except in the case of an emergency, so we press on. At the next stoplight, I put the van in park, crane myself around the passenger seat, and search, blinded for the pacifier. No avail. The light turns green and I put it back in drive.

She cries harder. And harder.

I can barely hear Meggie: “Baby. Cry - ing. Mama. Baby. Cry -ing.”

And then, more emphatically: “Baby. GO. NIGHT-NIGHT.”

HA. I guess she’s heard that more than a few times in her life.

***

The farmer’s market was my first venture out with the double-stroller...I’ve tried to come up with at least one outing or plan for each day that Kyle’s away...subject to change, of course. I brought my camera for a picture, but it was just too hot to stop. We motored through the stands, picking out our favorite place for peaches, tomatoes, and squash.

We did get slowed down, though, by all the adoring grandparents who wanted a peek at the newest bundle. I was happy to oblige - except that I guess my girls look like BOYS despite all the pink, ruffles, and polkadots.

“Ohhh, look at HIS cheeks - they’re so chubby.”

“He’s so cute, what a BIG boy.”

“What a cute little brother you have.” UH? They did the same thing to Meggie, too. Just this past March, when Meggie’s hair was just starting to get long and curly, I had her dressed in a green sweater for St. Patrick’s Day. I thought she looked precious. So did another lady at my exercise class:

“Ohhh, I just love that you decided to keep his hair long. I love boys with curls.”

Somebody, please. Reassure me and tell me that my girls are unmistakably GIRLS.

***

The farmer’s market sits right next to train tracks. As we made our way around, I heard the train whistle from far away. Quickly, I gathered the girls and pushed the stroller so that we could get a good view as it rumbled by. It would be the first time for Meggie to see a train and understand the meaning of the word: choo-choo.

The sound of it whistling by was deafening. I thought the wind of it almost brushed Meggie’s curls, she sat, eyes captivated. She raised both hands and screamed, “CHOOO - CHOOO.”

After it passed, she looked at me, “Where it go?”

“I don’t know, Baby. The caboose says ‘Indiana’ so maybe to Michigan to visit Papa and Grammy.”

She stares at the tracks, void now, the cross-road sign still blinking. She whispers, “Where it go?”

Such is the joy of parenting: to taste the firsts again, to get to share, in some small way, exploration of this world - and the wonders beyond. That we’re, in a tiny measure, responsible for what they learn, how they experience, and how big their minds grow - what a responsibility, what an undeserved gift.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ups and Downs

When you're married into the military, you get used to being prepared for The Call. The one where you thought you just kissed your hubby good-bye for a "normal" (is there anything routine about the military?) work day, but REALLY something came up and he needs to go. For the next three weeks. And not only that, but his trip may be extended. Except you won't know that until the day he's supposed to come home.

When The Call comes in, you want to be ANGRY at somebody, but he's just so sad about leaving and you KNOW he wants to be home just as badly as you want him there, so you sigh, lift up your chin, and gargle reassurances into the phone - speaking too clearly may make the tears come even faster.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, The Call and I have become well acquainted with each other.

BUT, sometimes you get another call. The call like I got today - or text, rather. The my-jet's-broken-and-they-need-to-fix-it-overnight-I'm-coming-HOME call.

Yippee! :) Kind of seems like a turn of really good luck, but I recognize it now as another tender whisper in the wilderness. :)

We awaited his return with an impromptu splash in our new water table - an early birthday present for Miss Meggie. (sidenote: My girls both celebrated big days yesterday...on the same day, Meggie turned 23 months and AV wrung in 6 weeks. Fun.) So impromptu that we didn't have time to put on a bathing suit, just dove right in in our underpants.

I think this water table, tucked into a tiny corner of shade, just might be our saving grace to get us through the rest of this triple digit summer. And, maybe it will channel her love of water away from Douglass' water dish. :)



"Daddy, home." She says. Yes, Baby Girl, Daddy's home. No matter how long, we'll take it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I had an idea - Week One

So, I had an idea.

Yesterday was our 6 week post-delivery check-up with our midwives. I was up until midnight writing a VERY lengthy post about it and half of Allie V's birth story. Then, I realized it was midnight and I had a sleeping baby and thought: "What AM I DOING?"

I immediately went to bed.

That post is unfinished, but will be soon (maybe, hopefully, depending on how it goes now that I'm officially solo...no more trial runs, this is the real deal!).

In the meantime, I will say that our check-up went well...except for a minor detail that shall be called:

"Oh.My.Word. (looks aghast at the scale)...at this same point with Meggie, I only had 15 pounds to lose but after second baby I now have 25...it's true what they say: thirty pounds comes off with the baby, but everything else you have to work off yourself...and you don't have ten pound babies just gaining 30 pounds...know what I mean?...i'll let you do the math on that one."

Yeah. :)

I put myself on a diet starting now. Today. Immediately. While being mindful that I'm nursing exclusively - that, after all, is more important to me than how much I weigh right now. I want to shake this baby weight and enjoy being able to move, dance, wiggle with my toddler.

My idea?

You know how in pregnancy, you can take one picture per week and watch your belly getting bigger? Well, what if I take a picture maybe every other week or month and (hopefully) watch myself getting smaller? I could even hold baby AV so that we could all watch HER getting bigger, too?

I could definitely use the accountability of blogging about it as well as your encouragement and support.

I think I'm gonna try. Except that Kyle left today and just grabbed this picture of me, Meggie, and my dad on his way out the door. AV was sleeping - so we didn't touch her. It's not really a good, overall shot, but it's just going to have to do for now...



I think I was trying to get Meggie to smile, but we can just imagine this is a shot of how I really feel about everyone leaving me - scared senseless. :) No, really, I do feel confident and capable on my own, knowing that God is near...He's the one who created ME to be a military wife and mother.

and just because I'd gain 100 pounds to have her in my life:






Monday, July 25, 2011

Speaking Tenderly in the Wilderness


Bringing home baby can feel a bit like entering the wilderness. Uncharted territory. Isolating. Books, advice, even prior experience all provide an outline, an idea of the first eight weeks - but that baby is a new, inspired, one-of-a-kind creation who unfolds from the womb, mysterious.

I’m on my second baby, now, and so far, my two seem to have identical features. The similarities stop there. One loved her swing, carseat, bouncy-chair, but was discontent for long stretches in arms. My newest baby wants to be cuddled, snuggled close, breathing the same air. She grunts, squirms, cries out when placed in her bassinet, swing, carseat, bouncy-chair. One was constant motion, the other doll-like. One more studious, the other smiles to fill her entire face. Different.

Even though my days are joyfully full of giggles, smiles, and play, I’m stuck right in the middle of the newborn wilderness - a place not only of figuring out this newest creation and working her quirks and person into our existing family, but surviving on a few hours of sleep, mourning the loss of the one-on-one time I used to have with just one baby, balancing the desire to lose the remaining 25 post-partum baby pounds with I’m-so-starving-I-can-barly-function-let-me-just-grab-a-handful-of-cheetohs-or-two-or-three-to-survive-because-I-missed-lunch-and-dinner, missing my friends, my body, my old life, back-and-forth dinner dance because one of the two always is crying, and nothing is predictable any more (yet).

Lonely.

Grueling.

Scary.

A wilderness, sometimes.

I read in Hosea today at the breakfast table:

“Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2: 14

The first eight weeks, or as my friend gently reminded me, the fourth trimester of pregnancy is designed to be this way: a roping in, a paring down, a labor of love. A wilderness where each one involved emerges a little more bonded, humbled, wise. We’re made to enter the wilderness so that God cannot only move in us, chipping away at the selfishness of who we were before we were parents, but so that we stick to that baby, sacrifice for that baby, nurture that baby - it’s all for a purpose.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of searching, a lot of crying...trying to work through the wondrous changes of the last five weeks. How to be a better mother for Meggie? How to be a better mother for Allie V? How to be who they need me to be, and yes, I’m learning it’s in different ways. Gulp - I haven’t even gotten to How to be a better wife to Kyle while being mother to both Meggie and Allie V.

And, through it all - this sometimes overwhelming wilderness - God speaks tenderly to me and the other mothers with me in this wilderness - that’s what I’ve decided to focus on for now. The ways He’s speaking tenderly, while he leads me and my family through to the weeks beyond these first eight:

1. Meggie, my built-in alarm clock, calling me at 6:45 this morning, “Mommy. Mommmmy! MOOOOOMMMM-EEEEEE!” I don’t know when I became, “Mommy.” Today, I graduated from Ma-ma to Mommy.

can you believe this girl is my sister? so skinny, so tan, so gorgeous.


I told her she had to move in and be my nanny. :)


Meggie was captivated by her bracelets.

2. My dad and sister (who were supposed to arrive on Sunday), surprised me by coming in early - today!

My dad and Allie V quickly became acquainted.


They look quite cozy.

3. A dear friend who invited my girls and me for dinner on our night without Kyle and then after it was all over said, “Hey, why don’t we throw the kids in the bath together - that’s one less thing you have to do when you go home.”

4. The same friend sneaking out with me last night after the babies were in bed to go get Sonic blasts and talk, laugh.

5. Meggie’s overnight, growing vocabulary, coming up each day with words I didn’t know she knew: coffee (toffee), rice (wice), vacuum (cuuming), diaper, (di-pr), fly. Stringing words together: “Mommy’s shoes, Mommy’s coffee, Daddy’s phone (shone), Baby eat-ting, Meggie eat.”


6. Picking Meggie up from a playdate. Before my feet hit the brakes, she’s flying outside, curls dancing, and leaps into my arms. “HIIIIII, Mommy!”

7. Reading books, snuggling, and nursing at the same time. Even if it does mean reading “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse” five times in a row. In July.

8. A best-of-friends friend, a fellow Navy wife who’s more like family, bringing us lunch and staying to comfort my gassy infant and rambunctious toddler - even though her kids were in MDO and even when one of mine slimed her with a huge handful of macaroni and cheese.

9.The same friend reading the comments written around a picture mat on our wedding day - a picture I walk past 100 times a day and barely notice anymore - and saying, “You have so many people that love you.” Yes, oh yes, I needed that reminder.

10. Meggie learning to pray. Clasping her hands, my hands, Alice Virginia’s hands and affirming, “Isaac (I-kick), Kyla (Ky-kee), Maylynn (May-May), Hunter (Huntie),” praying for her friends by name.

11. Afternoon naps with Alice Virginia, her still form nestled in the crook of my arm, her dew drop nose and stargazer eyes inches from mine, her milky breath like sweet honeysuckle to me, her mother; I never gave myself permission to sleep with Meggie like this.

strangers don't believe me when I tell them my beautiful girl is only five weeks old. I can't imagine why. :)


our little nest, carved out in our bed.


12. A feeling that, even though this adjustment to two is challenging right now, our family is still growing in the future. An inner excitement at the thought of pregnancy, birth, nurturing another life - knowing that we still have love to give, that we will always be open to loving a child. Gratitude at God’s graciousness to our family, marvel at his creations, our children:


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Waiting for Baby as Expectant Grandparents

No, not mine anymore. Thank goodness. :)

I'm thinking of a good friend from college today who is waiting on a Baby Girl. Oh, how thinking of her brings back those few short weeks ago before Allie V. Then, I remembered that I never had time to share something Kyle's mom wrote about waiting for Baby because the night she sent it to me, our waiting was over...we had Allie V the next morning.

You're in for a treat today:

Expectant Grandparents
You know you are expectant grandparents when:
1. You lay pens and paper by all the phones in the house "just in case" that is the one that rings and brings the news and you want to be able to write it all down and not forget one bit of information.
2. You check and recheck the paper and pen by the bedside table (mentioned in item #1) to make sure it is there before you fall asleep.
3. You jump every time the phone rings and are bummed when the caller ID says area code 616 - not 850 or 405.
4. You check a certain blog 10 times a day to see if there are any more posts or pictures.
5. You talk to the picture of your adorable granddaughter on your computer screen at work all day long discussing the virtues of being a big sister and wondering if she is at home or playing with Isaac while Mom and Dad are at the hospital.
6. You wake up several times in the night and think "maybe Shannon's in labor and we need to be praying"
so you start praying!
7. You stop and realize God is in control and the timing of grand baby girl # 2's arrival will be in His perfect timing.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Farwells and Fresh Beginnings

We said bye-bye to Grammy and Papa (Kyle's parents) on Sunday morning. We all enjoyed their week-long visit and will miss: hot, home-cooked meals everyday, drinks magically replaced and chilled in the refrigerator, ready hands to hold the baby, clean laundry, fun games like "the elephant-walk," and sleeping in for tired Mama and Daddy. Thank you for taking care of us last week, Grammy and Papa!

While they were here, Kyle rented a chainsaw from base and he and his dad cut down a few dead trees in our front-yard, a chore that's been on our list since they died the summer after we moved in. They had been beautiful trees and though I knew they had to go (it was only a matter of time with the OK wind anyway), it was sad to see them tumble. Our front yard seems barren, now, the missing trees accentuating our brown grass, dry from the incredible heat and drought we're in.
In this picture, too, you can see Kyle's blue passat - which we also said good-bye to this weekend. Kyle's parents drove it home to Michigan for his youngest brother, Uncle Drew, to drive. This parting kind of symbolizes the shift to our new phase in life - a sporty car for Kyle to the family mini-van. Did you know...we went to prom together in his car (gulp) 9 years ago? Kyle learned to drive stick-shift to take me to prom in this car 9 years ago.

Saying farewell to Kyle's parents marked the end of formal help-with-baby visits after Allie V's birth. On Saturday, I sat down to organize my thoughts and draft a tentative schedule for these early days. So far, we've stuck to it in a general sense - except for evenings/nighttimes which can get tricky...especially when I'm here by myself.

Kyle had a night flight last night, so I had a test-run for being by myself. I never used to mind night-flights, but now that I'm a mother of two, they kind of scare me. And by scare, I mean I have to gear myself up for about three hours of non-stop crying while I try to feed, bathe, and put Meggie to bed on my own right. during. Allie's. fussy. time.

Last night was especially difficult because Alice Virginia was crying her Very Angry cry - keeping Meggie awake in her crib for an extra two hours. I knew Meggie was awake because I could hear her banging on the wall, and in the midst of all the single-on-my-own stress, I marched into Meggie's room, crying baby in hand, and (somewhat) yelled: "Meggie, it's bed-time. You need to settle down, lay down, and close your eyes!" I called out: "I love you," as I shut her door - a little harder than I normally do. Immediately, I felt terrible, remorseful, and defeated. Allie V continued to cry for another two hours. A scenario which illustrates another thing with which I'm struggling:

I'm struggling with expecting Meggie to do more/act older than she is because there's a new baby who needs so much more of my time and attention...something I told myself I would try my hardest to avoid. And, yet, I'm finding myself easily frustrated by behaviors that I used to be so patient with. Part of it is REALLY needing Meggie to obey instantly - because I no longer have free hands and time to make sure she is safe and need her to listen right away from afar...and part of it is that our family dynamics DO need to change to accommodate a new life - including Meggie adjusting to her role as big sister and taking more responsibility for herself and her actions - lessons that I keep telling myself will pay off for her in the long-run...but I struggle with how much to realistically expect of her and still wanting her to feel like she's maintaining part of her babyhood despite the new member.

Suggestions?

I'm too tired to think of an eloquent way to put it, so I'll just say it straight: motherhood is difficult right now. The adjustment from one kid to two is one of the hardest challenge I've faced - and the loneliest, too, right now. I never realized how lonely having a baby can make you - when Meggie was a baby, I still felt like I could run a quick errand or call a friend when she napped. Now, there's nothing "quick" about wrangling a toddler and a newborn and I never really have a free moment - ever. Asking for help is not a strong-suit of mine.

We're in a challenging season of new babyhood right now. I know, I know, I know things will get easier, I know our little family will find a new groove, I know it won't always feel so desperate...but right now - and with the fear of feeling like I'm complaining - I feel like I just need to acknowledge that it's hard. It's hard.

And...Kyle leaves for his next deployment. Soon.

It's hard. And, speaking of, I've got to go rescue my #1 who just dumped two boxes of cereal on the floor and dressed herself in a shirt for pants today. :)

Anybody have ideas about making bedtime easier when you're by yourself with two babies?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Month Allie V



Precious Allie V is one month old today. I know I keep saying it, but I really do feel like my pregnancy was a dream and that Alice Virginia has always been a fixture in our family.

Meggie celebrated her one month birthday in OU Children's Hospital. On the same day, Kyle deployed for the first time after she was born (from our hospital room) and we acknowledged our third wedding anniversary. I never wrote much about the whole experience because it was so traumatic, but you can read what I did write here.

So. Thankful. To. Be. Off. To. A. Better. Start. with Allie V.

Allie, you are:

* eating every 2-3 hours during the day. We make it to bed around 10:00-11:00 and you sleep until 2:30 - 4:00 in the morning. Then, you sleep until (the real) morning.

* smiling a tiny, tiny bit and cooing just as much. You're going to be a beauty.

* finally getting over your baby acne, poor little bebe.

* adoring (and tolerant!) of your big sister.

adoring.


tolerant.

* a rocking chair baby. You love motion.

* a cuddler...and of this trait, I'm enamored.

* gentle, quiet, and laid-back. I still can't get over it every time you simply drift to sleep. No pacifier. No sound machine. No swaddle. In the middle of the chaotic floor - whatever. Amazing.

* bursting out of size 1 diapers. Already.

* staying inside as long as we can stand it. Today marks day 26 of 100+ temperatures in OK.

* our doll-baby, cuddle-bug, southern sweetheart, redhead.


nothing in the world like a daddy and his girl.

And...Voila! We're a family of FOUR:


Ready for real life?...

yeah. :)

And just for fun - can you see any family resemblance?

Alice Virginia at 4 weeks


Meggie Girl around 7 weeks with my dear roommate, Lauren.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Woman's World


There is power in being a woman; there is privilege in being a woman. Four weeks ago, I braced myself over a squatting bar, hands held by my husband, eyes clenched, and tapped into that ancient power as my second daughter's body slipped from mine into the waiting hands of our midwife. As they lifted her up to me, this child that will also grow into a woman, I felt tied to the thousands of generations who've gone before and brought out life, mysterious. There is power in being a woman.

A kind friend, fellow mother, and her daughter brought dinner to us, me with my cold and ragged hair, my first daughter running wild. They held this brand new daughter, tender, and inspected her, turning her in their arms.

"She looks like you. Is this how Meggie looked? Oh, her hair, it's just your shade. Her tiny ears! Awww, there are her eyes! Do you think they'll stay this blue?"

I was struck by: this is how it's always been, women connecting over new beings in the world. I'm just one tiny light in the great span of eternity, fawning over my baby. Women have been doing this same thing for ages and ages and ages, birthing, mothering the next generation. And. I'm. a. Part. of. It. Suddenly, I, who've always felt a little out of place in the 21st century, felt at home - like it could have been any moment in any year in any country. There's power in being a woman.

(Meggie loved being a girly-girl with my Mom, who put curlers in her hair every morning...she also entertained her through the 100+ degree weather every day with trips to the store and "driving" the car in the driveway.)

I remember my legs swollen, elephant-like, propped on the sofa. I remember another new life, writhing on my lap, yelling to be fed. I remember my eyes searching out my own mother and beseeching," MOM, oh my goodness! Is it always going to be like this? I mean does the crying ever stop? I mean, how in the world am I ever going to go to the grocery store?"

I didn't recognize my new life anymore.

Her fingers never stopped cutting up fruit for breakfast, her mother's movements a habit from 25 years of experience.

"Oh, Shannon. You'll go when you have to." Oh. You figure it out when there's a necessity.

There's power in being a woman - in accommodating yourself out of necessity. In making work what you have to - in great ingenuity.

Now, I'm here with two. My mother's been and gone, but still texts me almost daily. "How are you doing?"

Kyle's mother is here now, the other grandparent half to our whole.

They are two of the mothers in my girls' lives.

My question to them has been almost exactly the same as it was two years ago: "How am I going to do this? How did YOU do this?"

I don't recognize my new life anymore.

(Grammy and Meggie have read books together, played puzzles, gone shopping. Grammy and Allie V have snuggled for many 'a time.)

And their answer has been the same: you do what you have to do when you have to do it. Hire a Mommy's helper. Set up toys for Meggie in every room. Plan an exit strategy (a place you can put the baby if Meggie needs you). Plan an outing for everyday - it'll keep you sane. Maybe load both girls up for a walk, Sonic happy hour, visit a friend. Change up bathtime, invest in bubbles, put chains on all the doors to keep Meggie inside (check!), enlist Meggie's help.

Don't worry, baby #2 will be more flexible. You won't be able to keep the same schedule.

And, Kyle, don't freak out (which he never would anyways) if you come home from work and Shannon's unshowered, covered in spit up, holding two screaming babies and the house is a mess. Some days will be like this.

Let the house go - your job is in training up the children. Dust will be dust will be dust - it'll still be there in six weeks, but you'll never get that time back with your children.

And when Kyle's gone, you do whatever you have to do - including putting Meggie in the bed with you if that's what it takes. You'll have a camp-out in Mama and Daddy's room, it'll be an adventure.

There's power in being a woman. In birthing, mothering, shepherding life. In adapting, in getting through.

As for me? I, who swore with Meggie that I would never nurse-her-to-sleep-no-matter-what have already nursed Allie V to sleep more times than I can count because that's what works in the short-run sometimes. And as a mother of two less than two years apart, the short-run is sometimes the best I can do right now.

There's power in being a woman; there's privilege in being a woman - in recognizing yourself among all those who've come before and seeing yourself in those two sweet things who'll one day come to me, my then-expert hands whipping out a diaper, soothing the crying newborn, and ask:

"Mom, what am I ever going to do now? How am I ever going to make it?"

I'll sigh, smile, remembering these days right now and reflect, "Don't worry, you'll make it through, it'll be hard at times, but you can do it. I know you and you've got what it takes, my beautiful girl...for there's power in being a woman."

Thinking of and thanking all the mothers in our lives today. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blogging After Baby


Having a baby changes things. But, I'll take this way any day. :)

Daddy's at work. Grammy and Papa took Baby Girl #1 on a special trip to the store. I'm in my house alone with Allie V.

Sigh...Quiet. Solitude. Slumber.

Ok - so what in the world did I ever do with just one baby? Already, life seems like it's always had her here in it. I guess I'm agonna take this opportunity to take a shower - by myself (aka without a toddler playing with cups and bathtoys around my feet) at 11:30 in the morning. Luxury!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You had me at First-Aid.



Someone's in love. And it's with band-aids.



Boo-boos and Owies.



If I had to suppose a guess at this age, I'd reckon she's gonna be a doctor when she grows up.



We're talking we go through boxes of band-aids daily.



And if one foot has a boo-boo with a band-aid, the other one has to match even if it's not hurt.

"Mama (may I have a) nan - an. pease." :)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Learning


I realized that I hadn't taken any new pictures of Allie V in about two weeks.

Shame on me. I tried to rectify this mistake yesterday in the few short minutes I had between Allie's feeding and big sissy's wake-up from nap time.

Our littlest baby girl opened her eyes to a new world three weeks ago today. She continues to be quiet and easy-going. A friend commented yesterday that she's the picture of a perfect baby doll, so still and focused it's easy to pretend she's made of porcelain. She views Meggie's antics as if the rolls were reversed - she being the big sister. I guess ten months of being trampled on from the outside prepared her for life in our house, instilled in her a sense of belonging, and already we can't fathom how we lived without knowing her.





And just like with Meggie, Kyle and I behold our Allie V, the girls in our lives, and breathe: "Ah, yes, of course this was how it was meant to be all along." In week three, we all feel more settled in.

Bless her little redheaded, temporarily-covered-in-baby-acne heart

Several months ago, during a phone call to a dear friend and an overwhelming night of testing by our #1 firecracker, I was given this advice: As much as you're able, let her be her and you be you.

In other words, KNOW her. KNOW myself. Figure out how we can work together in her training and growing. We're a team. Treasure in her how she's different from me, and see her spirit as blessing to her.

Along with this advice came another gem: Keep your ears and eyes open for what God is teaching you about her and about yourself through this process of being a parent. I have a running list of these pieces of advice taped to my refrigerator door so that I won't forget.






In week three, my ears and eyes are open, I'm learning. In the staying home - the only time I've left the house by myself with both girls has been to return a book to the library that's lain, forgotten, on my bedside table since Allie V's birth, accumulating dust and fines - in the paring down, I'm learning.

Allie V prefers taking naps in her bassinet or in my arms. She does not like her swing or bouncy seat. Yet. She grunts and writhes right before she needs a diaper change. I should not confuse these noises with hungry sounds; she'll have a major spit-up emergency if I do. She's got a little acid reflux that makes it hard for her to swallow and breathe at the same time - we're working through it, slowly.

The only time she gets really upset is when she's getting dressed or has a trapped gas bubble in her tummy. Her gas cry is specific to these bubbles - and if I hold her upright long enough, pat her long enough, they always escape. I'm learning the sound of her burp is strangely satisfying to me - validation that maybe only mothers understand.

She doesn't like or need the pacifier like Meggie did. But, when she has this certain Frantic Breathing and Pacifier Sucking, it means she wants to nurse to sleep. I'm learning that I hope this cue doesn't become a habit.

She's soothed by big noises like the vacuum, the dryer, the shower fan. I'm attempting to train her to sleep through the daytime noises because her bed is right next to the thump-thump-thump laundry room. If she can sleep through her sister's signature been-in-my-high-chair/carseat/grocery cart/crib-too-long shriek, I know we're doing ok. And, so far, she does.


I'm learning that I don't have to fear being at home all day. I'm not a true homebody, I love being on the go, busy. Sometimes, during my almost two years with Meggie, I would panic on the days when my schedule was empty. There's no panicking now. I'm on day 10 of being at home and through the fear, there's contentment. I belong here, in a way.

And, I'm learning that my Meggie just may be a quality time love language girl - same as me. I'm learning how to give her as much of this as I can - and working littlest baby girl in to share, too. Even still, I'm learning that I miss being pregnant far more than I thought I would, when sharing time with baby girl meant that I was the only one who could hold her, when I could feel her beneath my ribs, next to Meggie in our reading story-books chair.


Big Sissy is ready to potty-train; I'm learning it's me who's reticent.

What I haven't learned is how to do all these daily things and make sure douglass gets a walk and cook dinner and make the bed. I know I'll get the hang of it with time. I'm learning how to give myself - and everyone else - a little more time.


I'm learning how easy it is to love two. Before these three weeks, I never believed it truly possible...that our human hearts were big enough to hold each one, separately, equally, wholly. But they are. It is. And it's natural.

I'm learning.