So long spring, hello summer!

I’m sad to say May is gone. It’s an annual tragedy. May begins quietly, sweet with budding flowers and not too hot. The humidity waiting in the wings but not yet present. By Memorial Day June is not just knocking at the door but full force body slamming it. Humidity has taken over. The heat has picked up and I’ve given in and turned on the AC. Damn you southern summer. I am not strong enough to keep the windows open.

May, as always, proved to be the best month of the year so far.

We went to the aquarium not once, but twice! (Thank you year long membership!) We finally checked out the Children’s Museum which proved to be a huge hit (more on that tiny adventure later).

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Tiny crab

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Standard post-aquarium position

The family trekked to Winston to see my mom, a trip that included a lot of nostalgia cleaning out her attic, walks in my favorite places and the best fried chicken.

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I got another year older, which is one of my favorite activities. I’m glad it doesn’t happen more than once a year but I’m very grateful to continue on this journey!

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Our garden is starting to show life. Our yard is in bloom. We’ve already been to the pool twice, which is proving popular with Haines.

My dad came for a visit, a long overdue trip! As he lives overseas, he hadn’t gotten to see Haines since he was still new to the world. Not surprisingly he immediately took to his Granddaddy.

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Haines is talking more and more each day, imitating all the words we say to him. Baby #2 is growing away (as am I) and I’ve started to feel him kick and roll around. The summer is off to an incredible start.

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Why We Chose to Find out the Sex

We didn’t know Haines was a boy before he was born. I loved the surprise of it all. I loved the anticipation of finding out. I loved avoiding gifts decorated with trucks or tutus. A lot of people told me they needed to know the sex of their babies to prepare. Prepare for what? It’s a baby. It’s only opinions are about milk (now!), diapers (faster, I hate this!), temperature and being held (NEVER put me down fool!). They don’t care about the room decor or if the onesies you choose are considered more feminine or masculine. This soapbox ramble can go on and on but I’ve already shared most of my feelings on this previously.

Despite feeling pretty strongly that not finding out is awesome, this time I wanted to know. I wanted to be able to picture the baby and more easily imagine them as part of our lives. I want it to feel less surreal. Perhaps, it is naive to think knowing the sex will make a difference and yet I found myself asking to know the sex at our ultrasound regardless. I just wanted more information. If there’s anything to know about this peanut, I want it. Toe count? Yes, please. Belly size? Yes, please. Sex? Okay, I want that too.

If I’m totally honest, I also had a moment of… disbelief and maybe even disappointment when Haines was born and turned out to be a boy. Tyler and I had totally convinced ourselves he would be a girl. For no reason whatsoever, we thought we were definitely having a girl. And when he was placed on my chest, I was shocked. My mental state took a while to recover (as did everything else). I was scared to have a boy, that I wouldn’t know how to connect with him. I feel ashamed that I had that reaction, but it is a part of life and a good lesson to learn about getting your mind set on something that you have no control over! I didn’t want to do that again.

Now, I know that if we had had a girl, then we would not have Haines. And Haines is the best thing to ever happen to us, how could I want anything else?  I also feel strongly that sex tells us very little about what a person will be like. It might inform certain things later on, but not their hobbies or passions. Not their personality. Not who they’ll love or how they’ll love. Not the things I can’t wait to know about them.

So this fall, we’ll be adding… a little boy to our family! Yes, I’m bummed my carefully selected girl name will go unused but I’m ready to start brainstorming others! Baby boy, your mom, dad and big brother anxiously await you. We can’t wait to lay eyes on your precious self.

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Tiny tootsies!

New Mama Mantras

There is nothing about motherhood that is easy. Even when it is relatively simple, even when it is straightforward, even when there are no complications, it is tiring and tough. Joyful, in a deep and incomparable way, but also tough.

I’ve started going to prenatal yoga again (cannot recommend enough!) which re-introduced me to the use of mantras to help me get perspective and calm the … down.

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Let Go//

These are the words that got me through labor. With every contraction I would breath deeply, inhale let, exhale go. But these words have served me well in the rough moments of new motherhood. Being a parent is frustrating. Babies get tired and cranky but can’t tell you what they want. They refuse foods you claim are their favorite.

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On Tuesday he loves Mexican food, on Friday he throws it on the ground. 

Everything is temporary//

This applies to the good and bad. In early childhood especially, everything is temporary. Breastfeeding is incredibly taxing and then suddenly it’s over. The moment you get used to a routine, your baby outgrows it. A bad attitude just needs a nap time. Baby’s favorite food ends up being given to the dog. Sickness takes over your world but only lasts a few hours, a few days. Teething seems endless, then the drool stops and another tooth is in. The constant internal discourse of “who am I now?” quietly dissipates.

Balance is about riding the fluctuations//

My yoga instructor recently shared this while we were practicing tree pose. Perhaps this statement seems obvious to you but I felt like she had smacked me in the face with her words. I have always lived and acted as though having balance as meant everything in its place, everything perfect when it is really about riding waves, flailing around and staying on the board. Why can’t I remember this in the moment? Here’s to trying.

This pregnancy is moving right along- only one week until we have our anatomy scan! I’m starting to feel movement and little kicks which is the best part of being pregnant. But I can tell my energy (and therefore sometimes attitude) is lacking so I am looking to weekly prenatal yoga, on top of increasing my other forms of exercise, as well as my new found/re-found mama mantras to keep me going.

And naps. Also a lot of naps.

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First Trimester Survival: Making It Work the Second Time Around

If you are in or entering your first trimester, you may be experiencing total internal chaos. It’s not a pretty sight. You’re excited and happy (hopefully) but also feeling any sort of degree of terrible and terrified.

I’m coming to the end of my first trimester with my second pregnancy and honestly, it’s a totally different experience.

Morning Sickness

Last time around, the first trimester just felt like a constant mild hangover. My head hurt, I was tired and I was queasy. But my queasiness could always be settled with a few crackers or a banana. It wasn’t much of an issue.

I’m still lucky in that my nausea is mild compared to many, but damn it’s worse. We’re on our fifth bag of jolly ranchers (although in fairness Tyler has been helping me) at our house and I keep other candies in my purse, car, desk drawer and anywhere else I think I could need it. Same with crackers. I’ve started taking Unisom and B6 to help but I feel like it’s mainly a placebo effect. Regardless I’m very unnaturally attached to it.

Survival tools:

  • Sour skittles
  • Jolly ranchers- watermelon preferred
  • Lemonheads
  • Saltines
  • Unisom (at night)
  • B6 (in the morning)
  • Tic tacs/ice breakers mints
  • A lot of other weird new habits like breathing solely through my mouth and mentally waving away bad smells
  • Be physical, be social, do something even for a few minutes. There’s nothing that helps like breaking away from your funk.
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A 20 minute bike ride two weeks ago gave me so much energy!

 

Fatigue

When I was pregnant with Haines I just wanted to sleep my life away. I came home from work and laid on the couch. During dinner I would often eat with my head laying on the table and then immediately go to sleep.

Now I just have to keep moving, which isn’t hard as Haines is always moving. 100% of the time. But at work the moment I sit at my desk, I almost immediately start to slump down. It takes no time at all before I am borderline horizontal. The same happens at Haines’ bed time.

Pregnancy Brain

The first time around I did not believe in pregnancy brain. I was a doubter, I’ll admit it. But after I thought Tyler still spent time in Alaska and I tried to find a dresser that we’d left in Austin I admitted it was a thing.

I thought I was starting off strong but this weekend I left my laptop at work which was the most important thing I needed. I had spent 15 minutes carefully packing my workbag to make sure I had everything and completely missed the mark. I’ve also done some other dumb things but I just blame those on Tyler, which I think is fair.

Peeing all the time

Expectations are everything! Since I didn’t know about peeing all the time in the first trimester last time I thought it was extreme and complained about it constantly.

Now I feel like it’s not even a factor. It’s all about expectations. Sure, I got up 3 times last night but that seems totally fine. Right? That’s just the same for everyone?

Emotional State

With Haines, I was completely terrified from the moment we knew we were pregnant. Even though we were pregnant on purpose, the moment we found out I started questioning the decision. Panic set in. What were we doing? Did we really want to change our lives like this?

Now, I don’t feel any of that. I’m much more terrified of the logistics of having two small children, not of the decision. It doesn’t mean this hasn’t had its emotionally scary moments but the sense of calm, internally, is greater this time around. I know what to expect from myself, from Tyler, at least on some level. I know our strength a little bit more.

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Family!

 

Physical Changes

I was shocked at the changes my body went through in the first trimester last time around. Everything seemed to happen so quickly! I vividly remember laying in bed and thinking, “Are those my organs moving?”

Now I look down and think, “Oh, I remember you.” It’s like welcoming an old friend back. It was only a few months ago that the skinny, tan line on my stomach disappeared. Now, it’s still gone but I’m already showing. I already want to rest my hands on my belly although there’s hardly anything to rest on.

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2016: pregnant but still a secret!

 

And there’s the feeling grateful and excited part. Every day we get closer to the second trimester, I think we’re getting closer to feeling safe, that we can start talking about logistics and other practical things. There’s no such safe zone, anything could happen but I am glad to be here whatever happens.

Growing Family

Children are not logical.  They’re adorable, pretty fun (some of the time), and make your heart explode with joy on a regular basis. They are not; however, logical. They cost lots of money, sleep, time, sanity and home cleanliness.

And yet, here we are, ready to do it again. Not just ready, excited. (ILLOGICAL!) Another little one will be joining our family at the end of October. And if I’m totally honest I’m terrified. Bringing a new person into the world, our little world, could not be more intimidating.  But I don’t think being afraid is a bad thing. It just means something important is at stake.

It was an enormous decision to try for baby number two. There were lots of reasons to go one and done. There were two reasons to try again:

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1. I have loved watching Haines grow. I have loved every milestone, every new word, even every painful new tooth. Watching Haines grow from a fairly boring baby to a tiny, humorous person is joyous in the most quiet, incredible ways.

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2. I have a sibling who is almost 11 years older than me. I love her and our family just the way it is but growing up I often wished we were closer in age. I want Haines to have the full sibling experience… even though I know that means two kids under two, crazy fights over toys, personal space and the like.

These last 16 months have not been very easy. I have a tendency to isolate myself when I feel low and having a young child naturally keeps you at home more. This is something that I constantly have to work through- making sure I get of the house, reminding myself to make plans, to reach out to others. My company, nor Haines’ or Tyler’s, is not quite enough to give me all that I need. I’m not actually sure what does give me all that I need.

I assume that’s because I’m a growing, evolving person whose life has become much more complicated since adding 1 (and soon 2) children. So what I needed once, isn’t exactly what I need now. Plus before Haines I didn’t have it all figured out either.

I thought that by the time I had children I would be a pretty perfect, mentally sound person. I’m actually still me, which is more complicated and will probably make for a better mother overall.

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So, littlest Barrack we are not perfect. We will always make mistakes, but we will love you more than you can possibly imagine. See you in a few months baby B!

 

Baby’s First Year Survival Tools

One of the things expecting mothers always panic about is all the things. You feel you need all the things! In reality, you won’t need half of what you end up with when you have a baby. A lot of people will try to give you things. You’ll most likely accept everything  thinking, how am I to know what I need? You don’t, so cut yourself some slack. I don’t know what you need either, but I do know what I used to get through HEB’s first year. If we have another baby we’ll probably need totally different things! But hopefully not because we’re not buying anything.

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Newborn hell (or 0 to 3 months):

I have to be honest, those newborn days that everyone (without a newborn) glows over… those are pretty intense. Even if you are not breastfeeding you may start to think, surely this is impossible! Horribly enough we all started off as extremely needy, up all hours of the night, feeding every 2 hours, adorable little babies.

  • Netflix– get it, gift it, don’t judge yourself for binging it.
  • Chicco Keyfit stroller caddy– We loved this for the ability to plop our carseat right in and start strolling without ever disturbing our sleeping babe. There’s also tons of storage underneath so I could throw his diaper bag in there. I preferred using this for grocery shopping (heavy things in the caddy, light things in a basket) rather than a cart when he was small.
  • A breastfeeding station- Find yourself a Boppy or a Brest Friend or whatever and keep it near your comfiest chair or couch. Near that fill a basket with granola bars or easy to eat snacks, your kindle or your TV remote and remember to bring water when you’re sitting down to feed. Two minutes in and you’ll suddenly remember you’re DYING of thirst.
  • Rock n Play– Haines slept in the Rock n Play for the first 4 months of his life and absolutely loved it. Admittedly though we never put the batteries in so it didn’t rock him on its own. I would reach out and rock him to sleep in the middle of the night if needed, but never used the actual function. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to stop.

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3-6 months:

This was a pretty tough time for me. I went back to work and Haines’ sleep had really gotten worse so the level of fatigue was high. At the same time though H started to interact with us. He was alert and playful. It really lifted me up.

  • Bouncy chair– This is something we didn’t know we really needed. It was a hand-me-down (as is everything else) and I wasn’t even sure why we would want it. Um… you want to carry this lightweight all over your house so you can get things done! This is what baby lays in while you cook dinner, go to the bathroom, type your blogs- all the important things.
  • Frozen meals- I had fixed some items in advance and my mom and Natalie also stocked my freezer as well. The first few weeks/months we were the beneficiaries of a meal train but that comes to an end well before the fatigue does. Having the world’s easiest meals on hand is very helpful. I also froze muffins to help me with my constant need to snack.
  • Ergo– We started out with a 2nd hand Chicco carrier which worked okay, but it was a huge upgrade when a friend gave us an Ergo. After a little while you start to want options for going out and having some sort of baby wearing device is a must. (Also, I tried a wrap and found it to be an enormous pain the tush.)

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6-9 months:

The first turning point! Everything was fun during these few months (minus sleep training and ear infections). Haines was excited for everything- food, Clara, being outside. There were also so many milestones during this time. He sat up, crawled and walked all between 7 and 9 months.

  • Kiddo food trays- I LOVED using these to make Haines’ baby food. I made all of his food at home which was much easier than I anticipated. When he napped on the weekend, I would dump all the veggies into a steamer before blending in our Nutri-bullet. Any blender will do. The only downside here- HEB moved on from purees pretty quickly. He wanted to feed himself!
  • Baby proofing- This turned out to be much more in depth than I would have expected. We had to get rid of several pieces of furniture that we deemed being too annoying with a baby to keep. If you’re going to try to limit your “No! Don’t touch that!” conversations than I will suggest going beyond outlet covers and cabinet locks. Every trash can in your house should have a heavy lid, your toilet paper should be moved near the ceiling and any knick-knacks resting within 3 feet of the floor should be moved. Probably just get rid of your blinds now.
  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy- For months this was Haines favorite toy. It could entertain him indefinitely. This is probably the only thing we ever tore up the house looking for.
  • Nursery rhymes- Start practicing now. This was the only way we could get perk up a cranky baby during diaper changes or going into his carseat.

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9-12 months:

This was the second turning point. We have a routine. We can mostly anticipate Haines likes and dislikes. He’s fussier and harder to console but also easier to distract. Children are weird.

  • Alphaprints book & The Itsy Bitsy Snowman are Haines two favorite books right now. They are guaranteed to lift his mood!
  • Bathmat– If your baby wants to crawl all around the bathtub then I recommend getting a non-slip bathmat for the tub. It has cut down on his falls tremendously and ours has a hook so it can hang on the shower to dry.
  • Spoutless sippy cup– Haines has struggled with all the other cups we’ve given him but took to this one right away! (Full disclosure: we still use a bottle most of the time, but this cup has helped a lot).

 

If you’re stressing about needing all the things, don’t. Get a carseat. Figure out a safe place for the baby to sleep. Buy a few diapers (and expect many more in gifts). Collect every hand me down you can. You’ll figure out the rest.

And remember, for better or for worse, this is only temporary.

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Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth (Or Prenatal Yoga & Surviving Pregnancy)

I have two pregnant friends right now which has given quite a few opportunities to discuss how much I love prenatal yoga. But clearly not enough or I wouldn’t feel the need to bring it up here.

Being pregnant had its magical moments but overall I can’t say I loved it. Going to prenatal yoga was one of my favorite things about being pregnant if that says anything.

When I shared my excitement for my weekly yoga outing at work, they were… skeptical. They told me to keep my patchouli and mantras to myself. But I just can’t! I must admit, there have been times in the past and in prenatal yoga that I wasn’t wild about. I can only Om so much before you’ve lost me. In a past life the yoga studio I attended played fun, retro music while we worked through poses. It was hip to the max. My prenatal studio, Longwave Yoga in Wilmington, was more traditional with what any skeptic would describe as new age, world music.

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You have to move past all that.

  1. At a certain in pregnant you begin to deal with a lot of physical discomfort and mental anxiety. For me the mental anxiety began almost immediately. Here’s a brief synopsis of my brain during pregnancy:
    • First trimester: Are we making the right choice? Am I going to lose all my freedom? What’s going to happen to my identity?
    • Second trimester: We’re going to be terrible parents.
    • Third trimester: I have to give birth?! I changed my mind.

It was something like that. Physically, my pregnancy was relatively easy but it was still hard. I felt sore, uncomfortable, weak. I started waddling pretty early on. Yoga was the only place I felt I could clear my mind for a few minutes and relax my body. I went every week from about 28 to 39 weeks and eventually it didn’t relieve my physical discomfort anymore. At that point though I had very little motivation to get off the couch and it provided what I needed to get out of the house.

2. When you’re pregnant, all of the sudden you don’t quite fit in the world. Pretty much everything is labeled- pregnant women should use caution or avoid. No alcohol, no hot tubs, exercise class instructors get nervous when you walk in and so on. My work chair was painful no matter how many pillows I brought from home. Prenatal yoga was the only place where it was meant for me. I surrounded my mat with bolsters and blocks to make my poses easier and support my big ol’ belly. The instructor knew what modifications to make to help me and she also knew what was on my mind. It was a safe place to cry through my poses when I needed or just hold my bump and breath for a little while.

3. Even though I was 30 when I had Haines I didn’t know many other young moms or pregnant women. I was desperate to be around women who were going through this same experience or who had just come out the other side. It was so nice to be around women who all understand some element of what I was dealing with, even if just for one quiet hour a week.

4. This is the kicker- the breathing I learned in yoga is the only reason I could survive my contractions. I had wanted to have a natural birth and Haines turned out to be on board for that. He was able to keep things under 12 hours from first contraction to his appearance in the world and I didn’t reach my breaking point until about 10 1/2 or 11 hours. While all the exercise and poses I learned in yoga definitely helped me for the incredibly physical intense experience of delivery the breathing got me through the pain. With each contraction I breathed in slowly silently saying “Let” and then exhaled slowly “go”. Over and over again this was the chant that got me through it. Not the heating pad, not the bath, not the tennis ball on my back, not my husband’s encouragement, not music, nothing but “let go” and slow breathing. Well, that and the living room recliner where I labored and squeezing Tyler’s hand when things got bad.

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I ended up pretty much living in this chair after H was born. 

Obviously yoga isn’t for everyone. Neither is natural childbirth…or childbirth at all for that matter. But if you’re pregnant and looking for relief or even remotely considering non-medicated birth, it’s worth your time to check it out. It’s been a year since I last went and I still think about it often.