Oh, hey! I had a baby! Three weeks ago! Andrew “Drew” Jay joined us on June 8th. We are overcome with love and happiness. Here is his story.

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On Friday, June 6th, I felt off. I can’t explain it exactly, but I felt differently than I had the previous 39 week. I was also losing my mucus plug (Oops! Sorry! Gross TMI birth stuff a must.), and since the same thing happened the entire day before my labor started with Ryan, I had an inkling this baby’s birthday was not far off. At just four days from my due date and having experienced lots of false contractions near the end of this pregnancy, I didn’t expect much to happen, but I called my mom anyway and told her maybe it was a good idea if she made the 3.5 hour journey my way. She agreed, and I went off to get a much anticipated pre-baby pedicure. I left the appointment with pretty toes, and headed to the grocery store.

While I was in the checkout line, I started to feel tired. SO TIRED. Like, about to fall over with exhaustion tired. It frightened me for a second until it passed, but reiterated what I already knew: something was up. A few hours later my mom arrived and we spent a nice day with the boys playing, planting flowers, and just…waiting for something to start. I was REALLY grumpy all day, too. Just like before Ryan. It did not go unnoticed haha!

Friday came and went without incident. Saturday morning I heard Owen calling for me at 6 a.m. I stood up and had a very mild contraction. I didn’t think much of it (again, lots of false labor), and went about my morning. The contractions continued on and off, but were not very strong nor regular. Sometimes I would have one an hour. Then maybe three. Then none. I was frustrated. I wanted labor to either ramp up, or the contractions to stop. Not this in-between nonsense. I was grumpy and emotional. Michael was supposed to be at work but after lots of back and forth (and an emotional breakdown from me), he decided to stay home. I’m so glad he did, because it was one less thing for me to stress about.

By the afternoon the contractions were stronger, but still not regular. Ten minutes apart. Then 22. Then five. Then THEY WOULD STOP. I started to walk circles around our cul-de-sac, occasionally being stopped by neighbors wanting to chat about how I was doing. By seven p.m., 13 hours after the contractions started, I had fed the boys, given them a bath, and done their nighttime routine. In that way, I was glad the labor had progressed as it had, because I was able to give them that stability and say goodnight to them. I told Owen there was a good chance I wouldn’t be home in the morning and his grandmother would be here instead. He understood what that meant and happily kissed me goodnight.

After the boys went to bed, it was almost as though my brain allowed by body to really get going. I bounced on an exercise ball and the contractions got more intense and closer together. For the first time, I experienced back labor (OW), so my mom would push on my lower back during a contraction. It helped a ton. This went on from 8-10:30 when suddenly…the contractions stopped. Cold turkey. That’s it. I’m done. I’m going to bed, I thought. If I wasn’t going to have a baby tonight, I wanted to go to sleep. I was exhausted from laboring all day. Just before 11, I texted my sister who was almost at my house. I told her to let herself in, lock the door, and I would wake her if anything happened. I got ready for bed, climbed in next to Michael, and we heard the door open.

“Your sister is here,” he said.

“Yeah, I hear her,” I replied, grumpily.

And then my water broke.

YES!

I shuffled to the bathroom to get stuff together as Michael let the hospital know we were on our way, called his mom to come stay with the boys and gathered up last minute items. Those mild and irregular contractions had instantly turned into strong and regular ones after my water broke, so I didn’t feel like hanging around the house much longer. By 11:40 we were in the car and making the short, familiar drive to the hospital. All my babies began their labors at night, so there is something nostalgic about that middle of the night drive for me. Though, contractions in a car are hell. Pure hell.

We arrived in no time at all, and soon enough I was changing into a particularly difficult hospital gown. (It took three of us to figure out the snaps on it!) I was hooked up to the IV and the fetal heartbeat monitor, and tried to find a comfortable position, which proved difficult with the contractions now only seconds apart. Michael applied pressure to my back and I worked through some of them laboring on my hands and knees. When I was checked, I was dilated to about five centimeters, and decided to once again get the epidural. The anesthesiologist was already on the floor, so it wasn’t long before I was being prepped for what I knew would be sweet relief.

I leaned into my wonderful nurse as the epidural was put it, and tried to focus on the sound of my baby’s heart beat coming through the monitor. I told myself the pain was worth it. It was bringing him to me. And soon I would feel relief and could rest. There were no longer breaks between the contractions, and I began to wrestle with my thoughts. I didn’t feel like I could do it any more. The pain so so intense and so constant. I tried to tell myself it would be easier soon, but I didn’t believe my own words.

Finally the epidural was in, and I leaned back onto the bed. I knew from my previous births that relief would come shortly. Only, it didn’t. Suddenly I began to feel intense burning and shouted at the nurse that something was wrong. She calmly said she would check things out, and her check revealed I was fully dilated and the baby was on his way out. Looking back, I realize now I was going through transition while sitting absolutely still for the epidural. Which explains the crazy head games and also ALL THE PAIN.

I am told Andrew was born in just minutes, but it felt like hours. I now understand what women mean when they speak of the “ring of fire”. I had always wanted a natural birth, but changed my mind in the end. This time, I didn’t have a choice. Drew was born the fastest of all my babies at 1:01 a.m., just an hour and a half after my water broke and hard labor began. And…before the epidural kicked in. As a matter of fact, the only thing I got from the epidural before they took it out was tingly feet 10 minutes after he was born. I won’t lie. It was the most painful hour and a half of my life, but I felt amazing afterwards. Like a rock star!

He was placed on my chest and my heart once again filled with love for our new son. He had a full head of dark hair, the longest fingers and toes, and lungs that announced to all he was here. We lay skin-to-skin while I delivered the placenta, and soon he began to nurse.

A few hours later, Michael brought Owen and Ryan to meet their new brother. Suddenly we were a party of five. In the time he’s been here, I find myself delirious both with lack of sleep and love. Every day is more challenging than I thought it would be, but oh. My three little boys. I am so very lucky.

Heading home!

Heading home!

 

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It’s been a long time since I stopped by here. No excuses or anything, it just is what it is. Let’s just dive right in then, shall we?

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Today I am 35-weeks pregnant with our third little guy. I feel fortunate that aside from a really crummy first trimester and the fact that I caught every single illness Owen brought home from preschool this endless winter, this has actually been my easiest pregnancy yet. I’m sleeping, I’m not really waddling, I’ve gained less weight than before and aches and pains have been minimal. Maybe this one knows I can’t possibly handle feeling like crap while chasing the boys around.

I am officially out of cool weather maternity clothes that don’t make me look like a sausage casing, though, so if this warm weather could stick around I would be grateful.

With five weeks to go (and I truly anticipate him staying in the whole five weeks. My babies tend to stick it out till the end.), it’s only just starting to hit me that he’s coming. Soon. Someone recently asked me if I was ready for him. I stared at her a few seconds and then said, I guess I will buy some diapers soon. And…wash some baby clothes? I mean, I do want to set up his nursery and all that jazz. It just hasn’t hit me as pressing yet. Talk to me next week and I might be singing a different tune. I always pack my “just in case” hospital bag at 36 weeks. You know, in case. I won’t need it, though.

As much as I’m excited for him to be here, I’m also not in any rush. Just like I wanted to savor the last days of our family of three before Ryan was born, I am feeling that way again. Before This Little Baby 3 arrives, I want time with my boys. My boys, who alternately drive me crazy and make me want to smother them with love.

Owen, at nearly four, is a BOY now. A smart and curious boy who is writing letters and trying to sound out words. A boy who joined a soccer team and has blossomed in preschool. He is an amazing big brother to Ryan and I am so excited to see him do it again at this age. He is excited for “his” baby and all the help he can give. While he continues to give me tons of “threenager” attitude and challenges my parenting daily, I am overwhelmed with love when I look at him. He is truly an awesome kid.

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At almost 22 months, Ryan is in one of my favorite stages. While he definitely exhibits some Terrible Twos-like behavior, overall he is fantastic. His language has really exploded and he talks to us all day long. Everything is “why?”, and he wants to do absolutely everything Owen does. Monkey see, monkey do. Because of this, he has already climbed onto Owen’s bike, is fearless in most endeavors, and would run head-first onto the soccer field if I let him. After a little rocky transition into a new room, we also moved the boys in together to free up the nursery. After the first month I can say for certain that it was the right idea. They bonded so much more and adore having each other there.

Ryan is my mama’s boy. He will be going a mile a minute, then instantly stop to climb in my lap for a snuggle. I know from experience he will adjust when the baby arrives, especially since he has Owen, but I do worry about him a little bit more. I worry about his transition from baby to big brother, from youngest to middle child. Hopefully it goes well!

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I’m so lucky to be mommy to these boys.

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And I know the gift of a sibling is the best thing I can give them. Come June, my lap and heart are just going to be so full. I can’t wait.

If the way my boys eat now is any indication of how they will eat in the future, I fear for what my grocery bill will be 10 years from now with three very hungry boys. Getting them to actually sit down and eat a meal in its entirety is challenging, but what I find instead is that they graze all day long.

It’s so easy to fall into the packaged snacks trap. I’m definitely guilty of doling out the squeeze applesauce, Goldfish, and graham crackers out of sheer ease and convenience. I don’t plan on stopping that any time soon, but it’s certainly nice to have some easy, healthy, homemade options too.

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Sometime last year I stumbled across a recipe for muffins with very few and very natural ingredients. They seemed perfect for breakfast, or an afternoon snack, and were very portable. I made them once and enjoyed them a lot. I made them again with a few adjustments and was hooked forever.

These muffins are really tasty. They’re moist and versatile, and we almost always have all the ingredients on hand. They’re also gluten-free, if that’s important to you, and VERY kid-friendly. The boys ask for and devour them regularly.

Oatmeal Banana Muffins
Adapted from Green Lite Bites

  • 3 mashed bananas, the riper the better.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups old fashion or rolled oats (not quick cooking oats)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar* (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc., etc., etc. The possibilities are endless.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients together except the raisins (or whichever addition you choose), and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans. (*In regards to the brown sugar: the original recipe is sugar-free. I have made them both ways and enjoy each, but I find that unless the bananas are SUPER over-ripe, they lack a little sweetness. Go in whichever direction your prefer.)

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Stir the raisins into the oatmeal batter.

Divide batter into muffin cups. They should be just about filled. Mine have yielded 12 muffins every time, but yours may vary based on the size of your tin.

Bake 20-30 minutes until the edges just start to brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.

The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.Mine usually come out clean after cooling for 10 minutes. When fully cool, store in an air-tight container or zip-top bag. They never last more than two days in our house!

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I had a moment last week where I totally broke down. After a day of irritability to the extreme — everyone and everything was making me cranky — I lay in my bed and sobbed until the tears ran dry. There really was no one reason for it; more of an accumulation of things from of a really hard, really long month. I just felt done.

Immediately after returning to school after winter break, Owen came down with a horrible cough. He would be unable to catch his breath and as a result, he would throw up. In the kitchen, on the couch, in his bed. It lasted a week, and despite my best efforts to sanitize every thing he touched/looked at, it wasn’t long before I started to feel run down. Without getting TOO whiny about it, my cold turned into a sinus infection that completely and totally put me out of commission. I’m not exaggerating when I say I would rather give birth than have a sinus infection. Especially when you can’t take any good drugs. At the height of it, I parented from the couch, moving only to put on another movie for the boys or go in search of some snacks for them. They ate pancakes for dinner twice in a row because the thought of getting up to make an actual meal was exhausting. Despite all the help he gave when he could, Michael had to work. No way around it. So it was just me and the kids and oh yeah, a polar vortex that kept us housebound and closed school more times than I could count. To say we were going stir crazy was an understatement. Ryan came down with his own version of the cold sometime in the middle of this. I’m really, truly done with kid snot. Really.

In total, at least one of us — mostly me — were sick for an entire month. It wasn’t until last week when I was finally able to take a strong breath, smell things and taste my food. It took a toll on us. As a mother, I felt like a failure. I was tired, grumpy, yelling. We did nothing fun. The boys fought and wrestled and yelled. Ryan climbed things and threw cars at his brother. Owen was defiant and pushed boundaries and yelled no all day long.

For a month, all I felt was guilt. I felt guilty when I sighed with relief after dropping Owen off at school, guilt for looking forward to nap time and bedtime like it was Christmas day. Guilt over the amount of television they were watching. (SO MUCH TV.) I felt guilty for not even smiling when Michael came in the door because I was just too burnt out. I was stretched thin and began to panic. If I feel this way now, how am I going to feel come June? Another baby, another little person with needs. That straw broke the camel’s back, and the tears came.

I woke up the following morning feeling better. Nothing was resolved, but it felt like a new day. A day where I could make a change. Now that I was healthy, it was time to work on my behavior and how I was relating to and dealing with the kids. The yelling, it needs to change. Look, I’m not naive. Sometimes I’m going to yell. Sometimes it will be warranted and hello, it’s part of life. But I don’t have to yell as much as I have been.

In my quest to Do Better, I stumbled across this post and it stopped me in my tracks. If you have a three-year old, you should look at that. Especially a three-and-a-half-year old. The behaviors listed are Owen to a tee right now, and made me feel SO much better. It’s not just him. It’s not just me. We’re all dealing with a crazy child at this age. Some of the less desirable traits (and don’t get me wrong, there’s some awesome stuff going on with him too. But, that’s now what this post is about. Ha!) that stood out to me were:

Three and a Half Years:

“Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simples event or occasion can elicit total rebellion

New- found verbal ability “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining

May refuse to do things a lot, or howl and scream, or say a lot of “I can’t” I won’t” kinds of things

Demanding, bossy, turbulent, troubled but mainly due to emotional insecurity

Mother-child relationship difficult but may also cling to mother

May refuse to take part in daily routine – may do better with almost anyone than Mother”

Oh yeah. That’s Owen right now. Throw in an equally strong willed 19-month old who is in a whiny stage, and you have a recipe for a crazy mother.

The follow-up piece to that post discussed dealing with those behaviors, and a big part of it was about how the parent handles it. I read this passage, teared up (of course), and the light bulb was turned on.

Which, of course, does not always mean that your child will “behave”.  Many attached parents feel like failures when their children hit three or so, as the child’s sense of self and an increased need for boundaries start to come out. As a parent, you cannot count it as a “good day” if your child doesn’t cry or melt-down or not have a temper tantrum… You can count it as a “good day” if you were calm, if you helped to de-escalate the situation, if you held it together. And even then, please be easy with yourself!  Living with small children can be challenging!  This is about the path your child is taking as he or she grows and becomes their own person, this is not about you versus them. – The Parenting Passageway 

So that’s where I stand today. I am determined to be a better mom. My poor little first pancake, Owen. I’m sorry I have to make the mistakes on you, buddy. You are blazing the parenting trail for me. Every day with you is something new and I want you to know I’m trying my best. Together we will make it through this crazy year — and all the crazy years that are to come. I love you, kiddo. So very much.

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If you don’t follow me on my other various forms of social media, you probably don’t know I’m pregnant again. So, surprise! I’m…21 weeks pregnant. With another boy. I feel as though I have failed you as a blogger in withholding this knowledge so long. My apologies! Here, I’ll summarize for you:

- thought I wasn’t pregnant. Peed on a stick to rule it out because I was meeting friends for drinks. Forgot about the test for 20 minutes. Went to throw out what was obviously a negative test…only it was positive.

- begin to show immediately. By the third pregnancy my abs just gave up.

- start to vomit on a multi-times-a-day basis for nearly three months. That was fun!

- finally start to feel better around December.

- find out we are having another boy, which shocks most people except me. I knew it! Owen cried when we told him because he wanted a girl to create his own version of The Fresh Beat Band, which has two boys and two girls. He sobs we already HAVE two boys. Explain the idea of an all-boy band and he converts to Team Blue. Ryan couldn’t care less, but likes to pat my belly and say, “baby!”

That pretty much brings us to now. Baby boy is kicking and squirming, landing some good punches right to my bladder. He has no name yet, but this time I feel little urgency about it. Can’t leave the hospital without one, so he will be named eventually.

I am overjoyed and totally unprepared for the reality of three children, but come early June that will be our reality!

Sorry for holding out on you, friends. Still love you!

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(Last week at 20 weeks. Complete with raging sinus infection and Breathe Right strip. Keeping it real, folks.)

Congratulations to Oh That’s Witte! You win! Check your email soon.

A while back I was contacted by Casetagram to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their custom cell phone cases. It was perfect timing. While I loved the pattern on my (trendy, over-priced clothing store) case, it covered all the buttons and I’m pretty sure contributed to the demise of my power button.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. New case, plus one of my own design.

The process couldn’t have been easier. I simply downloaded the free Casetagram app and got to work. I was able to choose from any of my own photos (Instagram, Facebook, camera roll, etc.), as well as use custom filters and stamps built into the app.

In a matter of minutes I was finished. Simple!

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My case arrived quickly and my initial impression was good. I had picked one of my favorite photos of Owen on the beach. While the photo clarity was decent, I had used an image directly from my Instagram account, and therefore it was a smaller file size and lower image quality. My only advice would be to use a photo with higher pixels to insure the clearest results.

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The case snapped on easily and much to my delight, does not cover any of the buttons.

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At first I wondered if such a thin and lightweight case could really protect my phone, but the boys have dropped it countless times since it arrived and all is good.

Overall I think this is a great product with endless design possibilities. Casetagram is available for the iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPod touch 4, iPod touch 5, iPad, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note I, and Note II, and would make a really nice gift.

Speaking of gifts, do you still need one? There’s still time to get your own Casetagram before Christmas!

Leave a comment telling me who you would gift one to, (or if you would make one for yourself) and you’re entered to win. This is a quick giveaway so the winner will be announced Monday.

Good luck!

my case was provided generously by Casetagram.

I’ve come across mothers both in real life and across the Internet who, when talking about their children, simply melt into this giant puddle of starry-eyed goo. Their children are just so precious, just so amazing, just so awe-inspiring. They talk about their offspring much like a teenager does of a new crush. Those little angels can do no wrong.

It comes as no surprise to me, that these are the same women proclaiming they were meant to be a mom.

I was not “meant to be” a mom.

Now, let me clarify.

I love my children so forcefully that sometimes I think my heart my actually explode out of my body. There are times where I get lost staring into their big brown eyes, am dazzled by their intelligence, sweetness and laughter. The fact that I created them is not a small thing lost on me. In those moments, with all the pieces stacked neatly into place, it all comes easily and I know that I am fulfilling a really important role. In those moments, I’m sure I’m that woman gushing about my little sweetums. I mean, I adore those rascals.

There are also times when the day is endless. The kids are whiny and at each others throats. The toddler poops in the tub (while they’re both in it), the preschooler is drawing on my dining room table, and the house is a disaster. As they push each other down again and start screeching, I sometimes wonder, how is this my life?

I have to work at being a mom every single day. Some of it comes naturally. The love, for sure. But not all of it. Every day challenges me to do better, to BE better. I had wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember and even at the worst of times, I would never go back. But there was no divine intervention, no choosing of me to be a mother. It’s a job I chose and one I’m damn good at (most days), but still, not “meant to be”.

Maybe those Meant to Be moms really do have perfect lives with children who fall right into that picture. I think they’re just showing the world their best cards, but who knows. What I do know is that this morning, as I literally scooped poop out of my tub with my (glove covered!) hands, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself that this was NOT what the mom brochure promised.

I don’t think there’s any shame with having to work at being a parent. I think the regular self-evaluation makes me a better one, actually. If you’re like me, you love being a mom. You LOVE your kids. You might have even uttered “meant to be” once or twice. I might have. Probably while my first born was itty bitty and sleeping on my chest. Maybe not when he was spitting up in my underwear.

Definitely not while the other one was pooping in the tub.

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Congratulations to Erin! Check your email for the details, lady.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Dear Owen,

I was supposed to write you this letter back in September, as in just over a month you will actually be three and a half. You’ve already grown so much since September, but it’s important to me that I document this time.

Back when I intended to write this, you had just started preschool. I was nervous about your first day. You had a history of needing two or three times to get used to new situations. I had seen it firsthand at small things like story hour or toddler gym, and bigger things like swim lessons — so I prepared myself for your tears at the first drop off.

To my surprise, you marched in confidently and full of excitement, kissed us goodbye, waved, and went on your way. No tears at all. Except for mine, of course. I had to hightail it out of there without talking to anyone, because I couldn’t stop my emotions over my baby going to school from running down my cheeks. I had a good cry the whole way home, nervously waited those short three hours, and practically ran back to get you. When we arrived, you were sitting on the rug, and as soon as you saw me your face burst into a big grin. “Mommy!!!”, you shouted as you ran to me. My heart, Owen. Oh, my heart.

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School has been amazing for you and it’s been a real joy to see you blossom into this awesome boy. You’re smart and curious and want to know all the things there are to know. You will talk anyone’s ear off and are sweet and compassionate. It’s so interesting to hear the things you come up with now; the questions you are dying to know the answers to. I can see the wheels turning in your head constantly and it’s exciting to see what you come up with.

As your brother gets bigger, the two of you have gone from happy playmates to complete and total buddies. You are together always. Of course, this is not without issues, as we have been trying to work through some major sharing issues, learning to keep our hands to ourselves and how you are really scaring him when you roar in his face. Please stop that. Overall, though, watching my two little puppies wrestling on the rug (and it IS wrestling now. It’s full WWF Smackdown some days. This has got to be a nature thing, because I sometimes watch in bewilderment and think, where did they learn that?!) makes my heart swell. Yesterday on the way to school, you told me you just LOVED Ryan’s face. “Do you know why I love his face, Mommy?” “Why, Owen?” “Because it looks like my face. Because we’re brothers. And I love my brother.”

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I know you’re still little, but often when I look at you now, I can see the boy you’re going to become. In your jeans and button down shirts, the last remnants of your baby cheeks becoming a memory, you seem so big. Looking at Ryan, I swear that was just you, only moments ago. These little moments really do fly by.

I love you through and through, bugaboo. I love who you are and who you are becoming. You are so great!

Love,

Mommy

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