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Thursday Tidbits: Happy Birth-Day!

September 2015 008This week, our oldest son turned 12! I can hardly believe that it has been twelve years since Mark and I were snuggled up in bed marveling over our new baby boy! Lann is an amazing big brother, a helpful, responsible son, and a creative, imaginative, sensitive kid. He loves Minecraft, computer games in general, and making gaming videos for YouTube.

We had his birthday party earlier this month, so his actual birthday was pretty low-key (minus me scrambling to catch up with backlogged work from being away and poor Tanner being a crying, stumbling around, stressed out little mess from the same). We put up his nice new birthday trampoline and went out to dinner and had cake with my parents.September 2015 137Twelve years ago this is what I was doing…

…I felt very internally focused and yet still aware of the people around me, though I wasn’t talking to them much and spent a lot of time with my eyes closed. They kept commenting to me and to each other about how calm and focused I was being and how “in control” I appeared. I don’t think I was really showing how intense and back-to-back these contractions were for me. I also started to have lots of internal pressure feelings during contractions when I was on my hands and knees.

My First Birth | Talk Birth

On Sunday night, Alaina, Tanner, and I got back home from Kansas after five days away. Gaea Goddess Gathering was an experience, as always. Vending was a rewarding experience with lots of lovely connections woven, but many other elements felt like something we survived! It is quite physically taxing to be there–not enough food, water, or sleep, too much climbing up seventy steps up a steep hillside while breastfeeding + babywearing! And, weather extremes this year—90+ degrees, then rain and wind, then cool. I couldn’t have done it without my mom, who helped me way more than I should have expected her to. It was also fun to spend so much time with my sister-in-law and my little nephew (she also helped me a lot!)

September 2015 077The other day I told my husband that it is interesting to me how I was “maxed out” when I only had one little baby. And, now I have four and I’m still maxed out (but that first little baby is now a twelve-year-old who helps take care of the other babies, so in some sense it is easier to have more kids than less kids!). I also told my mom what the midwife for my second baby told me: one kid takes all of your time, so a second one can’t possibly take any more.

There are a lot of things that are easier about having an older kid and some things that are harder:

And, I no longer smell like piss. So, there’s that.

Sure things have gotten easier in ways. I can leave the house now without small humans attached to me. I sleep for stretches longer than three hours. And I haven’t been vomited on in at least a few months. But in some ways, it’s so very much harder. (Plus they aren’t as cute and easy to forgive anymore.)

Source: It’s a Lie; Mothering Doesn’t Get Any Easier Scary Mommy

What this article doesn’t address is the complexities of having both big kids and little kids at the same time. That is what feels hardest right now and I think it may get harder before it gets easier. Time always feels shorter than I dream of it feeling.

When I was nursing infant Lann, a moment with my then-teenage brother still stands out to me: he walked in while I was nursing Lann to sleep at my parents’ house and said, “oh, he’s having nursies.” The normality of “nursies” to a teenage boy is important (and now that teenage boy is in his twenties and has a breastfed baby boy of his own). I’m surprised to realize that Lann will remember more about me nursing Tanner than Tanner ever will.

What did they learn from those experiences? Well, hopefully, they learned that human bodies are just that, bodies. We respect them and we revere them and we don’t shame them. Because they don’t deserve any of that.

This is where the change starts. With my kids and your kids and the kids who see us feeding our babies without embarrassment. Things become normalized one act a time.

I’ve given my kids the opportunity to see something I hope will serve them in their lives. My son’s partners will never have to be concerned that they won’t be supported. My daughters will know the normalcy that is child birthing and feeding and rearing.

Source: Breastfeeding and Teenage Boys | The Leaky B@@b

Thinking about the swift passage of time from that tender, new mother and soft, fresh baby of twelve years ago to the boy whose head is now past my shoulder and who records tutorial videos, reads about the solar system, totes his little brother on his hip, and fixes breakfast for everyone, I feel oddly comforted by the information that some cells from each of my kids, might be with me forever:

The new study suggests that women almost always acquire fetal cells each time they are pregnant. They have been detected as early as seven weeks into a pregnancy. In later years, the cells may disappear, but sometimes, the cells settle in for a lifetime. In a 2012 study, Dr. Nelson and her colleagues examined the brains of 59 deceased older women and found Y chromosomes in 63 percent of them. (Many studies on fetal microchimerism focus on the cells left behind by sons, because they are easier to distinguish from the cells of their mother.) Experts now believe that microchimerism is far from rare. “Most of us think that it’s very common, if not universal,” Dr. Nelson said. But it remains quite mysterious.

Fetal cells are frequently found in breast tissue, even in milk, for instance. The researchers argue that children might thrive more if their fetal cells drove up milk production.

Mothers also nurture their babies with body heat. The thyroid gland, located in the neck, acts like a thermostat, and fetal cells in the thyroid gland in theory could cause mothers to generate more heat than they would otherwise.

Source: A Pregnancy Souvenir: Cells That Are Not Your Own – The New York Times

 

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Tuesday Tidbits: Parenting Big and Little Kids at the Same Time

July 2015 146

The biggest (almost 12) and the littlest (9 months) at Alley Spring at the end of July.

I’ve been trying to post this post since last week. But, then Zander stood on my closed laptop and broke the screen. (Luckily, Mark is a genius and Amazon has overnight shipping so it had the screen replaced within 24 hours and was ready for me to take to the first night of class at the Fort). Then, while we were at Mamafest on Saturday, there was a big storm that took out our internet and apparently our dryer too. The ISP can’t fix said internet until possibly Friday, which creates a near crisis survival state in a home with two work at home parents. It is hard to teach online and to ship orders with only one little iPhone’s connection to the outside world!

I’ve been really crying out for rest lately and interestingly, this forced hiatus has felt like a welcome change. We spent the morning sitting on the back deck, drinking tea, reading magazines (that with working internet perhaps would have remained unread for 6 months), while the kids played (alternating with wigging out about spiders and screeching about Tanner getting too close to the edge of the deck). 

This was going to begin as a much different post, but a lot happens in a week as well as a little refreshment and perspective offered by some time off “verandahing” (as Leonie Dawson would say). I woke up yesterday morning telling Mark, “today I will be full of enthusiasm…and making lists.” And, indeed, I did make lists. I made lists of what matters to me/us to include in every day, every week, every month, every other month, and every year. I’m ready for our home to be our haven, our own “retreat” space, and to have it feel as nice and nurturing on a regular basis as it feels to be on vacation. I’m ready to stop pushing and forcing and trying so hard to take care of everything…and then one more thing after that. This is going to mean some significant changes to my blogging here, but I will save that for a separate post. 

It is hard sometimes to feel so full to bursting with inspiration and ideas constantly, while coupled with the realities of the needs of a household of six people. I’ve been feeling down and discouraged about changes in friendships, homeschooling, projects, and more. Tanner has been teething (maybe), sleeping poorly and napping worse, and has morphed suddenly into a full-scale walking baby. Adequately parenting a multi-age range of kids feels virtually impossible. Meeting the needs of one usually means another’s needs are left unmet. I usually feel like I am not “enough” for my kids, while in the rest of my life I feel like “too much,” like I’m overwhelming and too intense for the people around me.

Tanner is a baby-on-wheels walking baby (leaving totally impressive destruction in his wake) and suddenly saying lots of new words intentionally: “ball” and “cat” and “ow,” “Dad,” “rock” and “yum.” Alaina is perpetually in need of attention and help. The older boys blessedly give each other attention and are helpful with Tanner, but increasingly pick on Alaina and taunt her in a way that really needs to stop. When they have things to tell me, I usually have to say, “not now,” or “hold the baby.” Instead of having those fabled bonding-with-pre-teen-boys conversations in the car I always read about, instead we are all loudly singing, “bay-bee, bay-bee, baby, baby, baby,” in an effort to keep Tanner from crying so hard in the car he throws up. “We HAVE to listen to them talk about Minecraft now,” I lament to Mark, “or when someone offers them cocaine, they won’t feel like they can tell us!!!!”

My mom, also a parent of four, split by age much the same as my own, tells me it actually gets harder from here!

So, my posts I highlight today are a potpourri of offerings about big kids and parenting in general…

First, a spot of humor:

The research found that despite using the same disciplinary methods, 100% of the children were more responsive to instructions spoken at a normal voice level if they came from someone other than their mother. To receive similar behavioral results, the women in the group had to raise their voices to that of someone being attacked by several large animals.

via Study: Children Are 800% Worse When Their Mothers Are In The Room | Mom News Daily.

And, then the bad news. Research on the happiness of German parents drew some grim conclusions…

Life has its ups and downs, but parenthood is supposed to be among the most joyous. At least that’s what the movies and Target ads tell us. In reality, it turns out that having a child can have a pretty strong negative impact on a person’s happiness, according to a new study published in the journal Demography. In fact, on average, the effect of a new baby on a person’s life in the first year is devastatingly bad — worse than divorce, worse than unemployment and worse even than the death of a partner.

via It turns out parenthood is worse than divorce, unemployment — even the death of a partner – The Washington Post.

It was interesting to note that the effect was even stronger in parents who are over 30 and have a higher level of education.

Luckily, it turns out that the whole four kids thing is a winner though in the parental life satisfaction arena!

Families with four or more children enjoy the greatest life satisfaction, a five-year study by Perth’s Edith Cowan University has found. Bronwyn Harman, a lecturer in the School of Psychology and Social Science, asked parents from different family types about resilience, social support and self-esteem. She found that parents with four or more children had the best ratings in each of these areas. The second-highest life-satisfaction scores, separated by just 0.25 per cent, were parents who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). “With large families, we think they have social support within the family,” Dr Harman said. “The kids are never bored, they have someone to play with and they get independence quite early on.”

via Bigger is better: Parents with four or more children happiest despite chaos, research finds – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

A couple of years ago, I spent some time musing about why parenting feels so hard and why do new mothers often say, “why didn’t anyone tell me?!” The individual pieces of parenting aren’t that hard and it is hard to point specifically to anything as “the reason” (which is why remarks about said hardness are so frustrating and mystifying to first-time parents while still pregnant), but I settled on the fact that it is relentless. That’s what’s hard. It never stops. And, once you start it, it basically keeps going to the end of your life!

I sink down onto the kitchen floor and cry.

I cry because the work of motherhood is relentless.

I cry because I’m tired.

And I need a shower.

I cry because it’s taking me half an hour to cut up these damn plums.

And I cry because I love these kids so much. They’re beautiful and curious and funny and complicated and completely exasperating. They deserve my patience, and I want to give it to them, but today it’s buried under a heaping pile of demands and I yelled at them instead.

via I’m Not Taking A Break. I’m Breaking. – Scary Mommy Scary Mommy

Moving on to the big kids though and those car conversations we don’t get to have…

I am sorry that when you are starting to explore girls, finding your own independence, and wanting some adult conversation, the toddler is saying the same thing a hundred times in a row at the top of her lungs and we cannot hear you.

I am sorry that every time you want our attention, the baby starts crying or needs something. I am sorry that when you first wanted to drive, we did not trust you with the kids in the car and so it took awhile before you could get your hours up on your learner’s permit.

I am sorry we do not pick you up at the train station when you finish work more often, because we are either settling your baby brother, feeding him, or fell asleep waiting for your text.

I am sorry I cannot remember what time your game is on Sunday – or anything you have told me, for that matter – because I have not slept a full night in over a year.

via Dear Teenager, Sorry About The Toddler And The Baby Scary Mommy.

And this ode to big kids that rings so true for me right now:

You didn’t sign up for this position. You didn’t choose to be the ones born first, a few years earlier, and if you asked to be in this situation, you probably didn’t know what being the older one actually entailed. Real babies and real toddlers, well, they’re a whole lot different than the stuffed animals you used to push in the toy stroller and put to bed in shoe boxes, aren’t they? Yet, you handle the younger ones with an unexpected patience and gentleness (OK, usually), and a lot of the time, you “Big Kids” do a better job of not totally losing it in the face of an unruly 2-year old’s demands than most adults. It’s inspiring. Big Kids are a parent’s unsung heroes. Thank you for holding the fussy baby while we fumble through our trashcan of a purse looking for our credit card so we can just pay for these diapers and get the hell out of the store and home before nap time.

via A Thank You To The Big Kids Scary Mommy

In the midst of all these ups and downs and multitudinous chaos’ of daily life, I am stunned by the bookended realities of my biggest boy and my littlest boy. In looking at the two of them together, it is all right there, in a heart-rending way that means, in fact, I am paying good enough attention and I am, myself, enough after all.

I knew that it would all go very fast, but I still, somehow, forgot just a little bit that once those years were gone, they were gone forever and irretrievable. I forgot, for a moment or many, that it’s a special grief that parents must continually and consistently endure: being at once nothing but grateful our children are growing and healthy, and yet at the same time, painfully aware of the loss of something with each year they put behind them…

via Just Like That Scary Mommy.

At the same time I’ve been feeling this tension and strain and perpetual “push,” I felt moved to create a new sculpture. She was created to remind me to be tender with my heart and to hold my own center with as much love as I’ve cradled my babies, all ages of them, for the last twelve years.

IMG_7256

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Ninemonthababy!

July 2015 045I find the NINO point with all my babies to be bittersweet: nine months in, nine months out. As I think about things I did last year and see old pictures going past via the “memory” feature on Facebook, I’m regularly stunned by how quickly time has passed and what an integral part of our lives our little T-bot is. It is also interesting to me how the Return to Non-Pregnant Woman feels. Pregnancy is so encompassing and then, it is over, and the physicality of it, the unity of it, the specialness of it–that thoroughly embodied and yet somehow transcendent state–becomes a memory. A poignant memory, yes, but one I find that fades in terms of being able to thoroughly mentally “touch.” On the same note, I also notice that I am only two pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight (which was actually about 10 pounds over where I feel most comfortable/happy). I’m fascinated by how it takes nine months to transform into Fully Pregnant Woman and nine months to restore one’s old self.

Speaking of poignancy and NINO, my brother, SIL, and nephew were visiting at the end of the month during his first birthday and we took some more re-creation pictures based on the tandem pregnancy pictures my mom took of us while we were waiting in July of last year for the birth of their baby. I notice now after excavating last year’s pictures, that I did not actually pick out the same outfit to wear even though I was certain I had picked it correctly!

What a difference a year makes! I also wish we would have re-created this one somehow:

IMG_5959Okay, so back to the ninemonthababy. He has his first tooth and his second! (7/23 and 7/31) He loves music, especially rattling rattles (which he also bangs on the floor really hard). One of his dancing moves is to wiggle his arms really fast and enthusiastically. I put a short clip of dance action with arm skillz is on Instagram here and the longer video is on my Facebook. I’m so glad my mom took it! Super cute!

While not clearly enunciated by any means, he seems to say: raisin, more (+ the babysign), brother, yay, mama, kitty, and that sound that means “icky” that moms make to tell babies not to touch stuff. As I’ve noted before, he also seems to ask to nurse by requesting, “mama, wa-wa” (mama water!).

He points and claps. He likes to find rocks to eat. Also, he used his talents to “catch” a leech at the river on our mini vacation. Yes. I looked down to see him carefully pinching up an absolutely gigantic leech and kind rolling it thoughtfully around (I suspect in preparation to eat it). He still makes his cute little “Cabbage Patch” face (see opening photo) and I’ll be sad to see it go now that the teeth have come in.

He seems to have dropped his second nap. He pinches the tender skin on the back of my arm in a horrible manner and leaves bruises all over me.

July 2015 023He loves Daddy extra-much. Mark told me the other day, “he likes me the way I always hoped our babies would like me.” He will go to Mark when sad and loves to go with him to explore outside (often, leaning out of my arms and into Mark’s and then looking back and waving, “bye” to me!). He crawls super fast to greet Mark when he comes inside and in the mornings leans over from my arms to give him a “hello again!” hug and snuggle.

July 2015 030

Featuring Cabbage Patch face!

Mark describes Tanner as being like a “force of nature”—i.e. not caring what destruction it may leave in its wake!

He remains a super up-down, up-down, up-down baby, meaning that as soon as he is picked up, he wants down and vice versa. Repeat. It can be extremely wearing! He also doesn’t hold on to be carried, but instead leans forward, propelling you with his momentum and almost flinging himself out of your arms. He pivots and twists and leans forward and “surfs” with only his feet touching your body and the rest straining into mid-air. He retains the keen sense of injustice that I think may be most acutely experienced by those who are the youngest of four. He has a funny little half kneel, half squat that he does to reach up. He stands alone all the time (plus can squat up and down unsupported) and has taken two steps in a row unsupported.

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Soon to be a scene of the past!

We went to Six Flags in late July. I hope to write a separate blog post about it soon, because it was such a great time! We also went on a mini-vacation to a lakeside cabin near the river at the very end of July. He still hates the car, but does okay if I’m sitting in the back with him and Mark is driving (not always possible).

July 2015 058

Looking down from the top of Colossus (ferris wheel).

It is hard to find time to write a nine month blog post because said nine month old absorbs a lot of energy! And, he bangs the keys and eats the mouse whenever possible.

July 2015 003I took the kids to playgroup at the skating rink in July and Tanner was playing on the slide for the first time. I sat at the bottom looking up at him and remembering the other babies and little children I’ve waited for at the bottom of this same slide. For him, it was new. A discovery. For me, a bittersweet déjà vu and pang of re-recognition: the world spins so fast. I thought of how much changes and how much stays the same. The different friends who’ve opened their arms to babies at the end of that same slide with me and how many of them have moved away, had more babies, experienced changes, and I’m still there: at the bottom of the slide. My oldest son is almost 12. Yesterday, he was a baby on the slide. I wondered if in 11 more years, I’ll still be taking kids to that skating rink….the wheel rolls.

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Eightmonthababy!

June 2015 037

At river!

I’m mired down in paper grading and classwork right now, but I don’t want to let too many more days pass without a quick update about my eightmonthababy! This little guy continues to speed his way through life.

As of 8 months, this is what we’ve got going on:

  • Climbs stuff. For real. If he sees a box or an unsteady lid, or a stack of toys or laundry, he climbs up to boost his reach.
  • Smiles a funny, quirky closed mouth smile more often than a huge gumbly grin. It is kind of wryly amused smirky smile. I don’t remember my other babies doing this.
  • No teef! Not sure where they are, but its okay.
  • Claps to music. Loves music.
  • Also still loves to go outside. And, loves, loves, loves, water and swimming and baths.
  • Waves and says bye and hi and mama and wa-wa. More than once, has pulled my shirt and said “Mama, wa-wa,” which I take to mean he wants “Mama Water” (i.e. nursing). Had total Helen Keller moment with washing his hands and while they were under the water he June 2015 065suddenly made the connection. Later, when recounting the story of this lightbulb moment to others, he, sitting and looking with his little smirk, announced “wa-wa, indicating he had heard story and was confirming account!
  • Has specific noise that means, “something fell on me.” Happens with relative frequency due to aforementioned tendency to find things to climb on.
  • Weighs 22lbs! Is a big chunk. Is heavy and long.
  • Stands up alone from ground periodically. Also, stands unsupported when you set him down on the floor. And, just yesterday, took two steps alone supported only by bacon. Yes, was eating bacon (locally raised and nitrateless! Crunchy points intact?!?!). Had it sticking out of his mouth and Mark reached out for it for some reason and had one end of the piece and Tanner walked towards him like he would if his hand was held.
  • Is extremely energetic, grabby, reachy. Always spinning around trying to reach things and leans forward while you’re carrying him to “steer” you in proper direction. Very hard to hold! My dad described him as being like trying to hold “liquid metal.” This is very true.
  • Speaking of my dad, Tanner loves him very much! He also loves my mom and he goes over to their house with June 2015 039the rest of the big kids almost every day!
  • Realized that the days of the “softly furred scalp” have passed. He has tons of blondie-blonderson hair instead. I miss the little ripe-peach head, but the fuzzy hair head is very nice too.
  • Crawls fast. Puts on a burst of speed to catch up. Goes to find me. Looks in rooms for me.
  • I don’t take enough video!!!! My other kids are always after me about this in a semi-accusatory manner. My iphone is perpetually out of storage space and that’s why. I need to get with the program because he isn’t going to be an adorable, burst-of-speed crawler for much longer!
  • I still sit next to him at naps. Takes a long mid-day nap (with much flopping around and back-patting to stay asleep, hence the sitting next to him) and a short late-afternoon nap (usually on my chest). I finally feel like he nurses enough during the day and my milk supply is in sync now with how often I often to nurse him and how much he actually wants to nurse. This has led to much better night sleep for me, which for a while was a challenge—he was nursing probably eight times a night or more for a while (to make up for only little snacks during the day, due to being so on the go) and now it is more like three times. Clearly, at 22 pounds, all is well.

June 2015 013I think that the most unconditional love I’ve experienced is from my babies TO me. I’ve never been loved so intensely and wholeheartedly as my babies love me. I know that might sound weird and that we think of parents as the ones having unconditional love for their babies, not vice versa, but the depth of the mother-baby attachment is extremely profound and incomparable. It is also feels so simple and uncomplicated. I had the same depth of attachment with all my children, but with each one I feel more aware of how short-lasting this period of intensity is and I just love how much my baby loves me. While we’ll always love each other deeply, right now we are a motherbaby—a single psychobiological organism and there just isn’t anything else like it.

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At summer party/family ritual. I am nursing, babywearing, eating homemade cotton candy, and scattering rose petals in our summer mandala + holding scissors for trimming flowers…all at the same time.

Sevenmonthababy!

Molly 033I saved my seven month update post until we got our pictures back from our spring family photo shoot. I decided I really wanted new family pictures for Mother’s Day this year. It took a lot of date-wrangling, but we finally got them to work out at the end of May with our favorite family photographer (Karen has been chronicling important moments for us for more than five years!). We got some family pictures:

Molly 105Some grandparent pictures:

Some kid pictures:

Some couple pictures:

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Lots of just baby pictures:

Some mama-baby pictures:

cropMolly 115 and some new profile pictures for me:

Molly 180Okay, seven month Tanner tidbits! He dances! That’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen since the last time I had a dancing baby. He loves the guitar. Mark plays daily and it is a sure way to attract baby-attention. He also still loves to go outside—writhes and twists to try to direct adult-transport-unit out of doorway. He claps hands and sort of waves. Also still seems to say with accuracy, “hi,” “love you,” and now “ma” (while crawling after me or looking for where I’ve gone). Since he is on the move so much, I’ve found we’ve fallen off the EC bandwagon almost completely, except for mornings and after naps. I remember going through a similar stag with other kids. His army crawl is ancient history and I’m afraid the only video I have is one the kids took of him! He speeds around the house in a normal crawl now and pulls up, including on flat surfaces with no handholds (like the front of the dishwasher). He cruises with impunity and even occasionally lets go for a second or just holds on with an elbow or part of one arm. He continues to push a little beyond what he is actually physically ready for and as such misjudges and bonks head more often than I’d like!

He is a little leaner and smaller than my past babies and he has become a pretty terrible sleeper. AND, he suddenly seems to think he only needs one nap during the day! I’m feeling pretty exhausted and worn down, similar to keeping up with the mobility and destructiveness of someone closer to one. He is like a rabid squirrel monkey on steroids. Wears me out! I can’t describe how constantly on the go he is with roving/waving/scanning-to-grab hands while riding along and twisting/leaning to jump out of arms and speed away (but, often when put down then frustratingly pulling immediately back up on my legs and crying and looking desperate even though he was clearly leaping down!). It feels like Alaina is constantly yelling “choking hazard.” He has an obsession with obtaining my chapstick, my laptop and mouse, and my iphone/ipad and pursues each with dogged determination. Luckily, he gives precious hugs and kisses to make up for wild-baby-on-wheels-style.

Molly 121 The age range span of all my kids feels really hard to manage lately. Just any one of them on their own (or the two older ones together) seems easy. All together, it feels like someone always getting overlooked, having to wait, or not getting needs met and that’s hard. We’ve definitely reached maximum household capacity!

Even though I’m worn out and feel “old” to be doing this (in the context of the age range of my kids and the fact that I’ve been toting a small person around nonstop for almost 12 years. If I was the same age and only had him, I might feel differently!), there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t marvel at what a treasure he is and how lucky we are to have him. He’s really amazing! And, I’m surprised by how surprising and exciting all of his developments are—you’d think I’d feel like, “been there, done that,” but instead he seems quite a bit different than other babies I have known. He’s so baby. We say it all the time, check out the babyness of this totally baby baby…

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Nine is Divine!

May 2015 001Zander is NINE today! He is independent, empathetic, loyal, brave, outrageous, perplexing, intense, and completely ZANDER! He is loud and impulsive and generous and energetic. He’s always got his brother’s back. He is super interested in dinosaurs, animals, and monsters. He can have a very intense, laser focus when he is working on a project. He draws almost every day and his reading skills have finally improved so that he can even competently read over my shoulder when I’m reading to them at bedtime (side note to other frustrated homeschooling mothers of reluctant readers, particularly boys. Apparently, 8-9 is the magic point when it finally clicks. Whew. My older son was exactly the same and it gave me headaches for six years!)

It is weird for me somehow to look back at his birth while currently holding and nursing another baby boy. Is it possible that the next time I blink my eyes, this baby boy will be nine too?!?! My heart!

That said, I’d never wish Zander back to babyhood, because who he is now is so dynamic and so HIM. It is just a bittersweet juxtaposition to be holding one, while watching another get so big.

Presents have been opened and enjoyed today. Birthday breakfast request of link sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, and fresh mango has also been enjoyed. Bacon sandwiches are on the lunch menu and biscuits and gravy for dinner. (It is a pork theme today, apparently.) Birthday party is later this weekend, which is nice because we can just enjoy the day rather than preparing for company.

Zander’s birth was a super quick and intense train ride of a birth, two hours total, that literally drove me to my knees. You can read his birth story here: My Second Birth | Talk Birth. He was born in the living room of our little temporary house at 2:45 in the morning and parenting him has been an intense ride ever since!

Blink…

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First nursing, 2006

Sixmonthababy!

IMG_4367So…THIS BABY! Somehow, he is six months old already. Somehow, he acts more like a ten month old! One of the things that is different about being a fourth baby than a first baby, is that you accept being zoomed around on a tiny car as a normal part of your morning…

Speaking of mornings, I’d like to comment that whomever said, “the days are long, but the years are short,” was totally wrong. Both the days AND the years are short. So, so short. I mentioned before that I am definitely feeling maxed out in my caregiving powers in an average day (and, one can only reduce household tasks so far without becoming disgusting). It is unbelievable to me how many things I DON’T get to do in a day and that I have to release or let go of. At the same time it is amazing how many things I actually do, but the number of important things that slip through my fingers is feeling rough to accept lately. It feels like much of my relationship work is being sacrificed. Activism, local events, friendships, relationships in general, doing things with my other kids, going places, self-care basics—these are all getting pared away, reduced, or feel like they are suffering, untended, or neglected. As one small example, I didn’t read most of or reply to hardly any of the birthday greetings I had on Facebook last week, I can’t respond to simple midwifery activism action alerts, and so forth. What I have been having time for is time to work next to my sleeping baby, since I have to sit in a quiet room with him and actively keep him asleep for naps. This is handy for blog posts, newsletters, etsy work, class preparation, and writing projects!

Okay, enough whining, and back to this baby. He is mobile! Very mobile. He crawls—mostly army style, but also on knees and then launch forward and then knees again and launch forward (sort of inch-worm style). He pulls to standing on everything. He gets himself back to a seated position after being flat on his belly. He lets go while standing and holds on with only one hand. He does some transferring between surfaces, but not cruising yet…that is coming any day now I think. He practices getting down from bed and chair by sliding off the edge (with help) over and over again—slide down, reach to be lifted back up, slide down again. You can see the practiced concentration. He does things like get canned goods out of the cabinet while standing there holding on with one hand (that’s what I mean about feeling like I have a ten month old). He’s only six months old! By the same token I feel like he bonks his head or hurts himself more often than he should as only a six month old baby—he tries things that are just a little out of his actual capacity. (Such as holding on to the laundry basket with one hand and leaning over and swiping other hand toward the couch trying to transfer surfaces even though he isn’t quite close enough to reach.)

Along with this mobility comes some struggling with our nursing relationship. He clearly feels “bored” or held down by needing to stop for “nonnies.” Some day, despite lots of offering and two minute long nursing sessions, it feels like he is only really, truly nursing at naptimes and then all night long (to make up for the busyness during the day). I pretty much have to shut myself up in the bedroom with him to nurse him very well at all. Along with this, he is eating a ton of solid food. Way more than any of my kids have ever done at the same age and he started doing so with no real fanfare or lead-in or episodes of gagging over textures and spitting things out. He grabs, he chomps, he gobbles, he has a specific “desperate” (horrible!) sound he makes when he wants a snack or something from our meals. Despite having a pile of other kids, until this month with Tanner, I have been pretty judgey towards other parents about their solid food choices with their babies. Since my other three were only passingly interested at this age and would gag and spit out almost everything, I assumed other parents who said their six month old loved to eat, were exaggerating or almost “forcing” the babies to have solids when they weren’t really ready. Apparently, no matter how many years you parent, there is always room to be humbled yet again!

He still weighs about 18 pounds (maybe 19. We get varying results.) The other thing he does that is different than my other kids is suddenly degenerate into extreme crying fits when it is time to go to sleep, usually when we’re changing his clothes/diaper and I’m brushing my teeth to get in bed. It is an abrupt shift into crying hard and he shrieks in a desperate, agitated, really over-the-top manner. He also continues with the car crying horror to the extent that we only actually leave the house once or twice a week! Oh, that said though, he as started to make some visits over to my parents’ house when the other kids go to visit during the day. The first time he left with them, I cried three times! Now, I’m seeing the advantage. Mark and I really benefit from focused time to work together instead of shouting to each other over the tops of people’s heads (not ideal for running a collaborative business). I’ve also left Tanner with Mark twice while I teach, instead of dragging them with me to sit in the hall. I’m almost to another session break and I also got it arranged to do my next two classes partially online, meaning I won’t be gone for the entire time and can get home to my baby in a timely fashion, instead of having to bring him + Mark along with me. While I do enjoy “grinding my corn” with my baby and having him close by while I teach, I do have to admit that I do a better job and feel much more satisfied when I am on my own at class and not worrying about them out in the hallway waiting for me!

He also got to visit with his great grandma last month!

April 2015 015Something Tanner does do that all of our co-sleeping babies have done is touch our faces in the night to ID who he’s got—since Mark has a beard, when he reaches up and feels Mark’s scratchy face, he knows to roll away and back towards me! In the night, I’ll feel a little hand patting at my cheek…checking in…right person? And, then snuggling up to nurse. He still sleeps on my arm all night long, but he rolls to face different directions while still being on my arm.

Despite the maxing and the chaos and the juggling and the paring away, I literally cannot believe I ever worried about not loving him. He is the baby I didn’t know I needed. The member of the family that was missing. He totally belongs and is so much a part of me and our lives that I can barely remember him not being here and can certainly not imagine that we might never have had him!

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