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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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We were pretty well stocked with baby stuff after Owen was born, so we didn’t really need to get much for Ryan. As it turns out, though, there were some items that I feel I wouldn’t have survived without the second time around, and since I’ve seen some bloggy moms who are pregnant with their second asking what they could possibly need, I thought I would share what I found helpful.

Baby Carriers

I wore Owen a fair amount, but this time it has become an absolute necessity that I wear Ryan. There’s no way around it, with a toddler, I need my hands to be free. When Ryan was new the Moby wrap worked wonders at calming him during fussy times. I use it less now at three months, but occasionally I’ll wrap him in a hug hold if he’s being a pill and he will chill out.

Three-ish weeks old.

Unless he’s sleeping, Ryan does NOT like the car seat, so when we go shopping, putting it in the cart isn’t an option. Owen still rides in the cart anyway, so if I were to put the seat in the big part I’d basically have no room for groceries. Because of this, the Bjorn is always in my car ready to go. If he’s sleepy, I’ll face him towards my chest and he’ll conk right out. If hes’ awake, he faces outward and takes everything in. I also use the Bjorn when I take Owen to the playground or just playing outside at home. That way I’m free to push him on the swing, play with cars, etc.

If Ryan is anything like his brother, he will eventually become too chunka munka for me to carry him in the Bjorn comfortably, so at that time I will switch to our Boba, which works all the way through toddler years.

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper

Both of my kids hated the bassinet. It felt like the minute I lay them down in it, their eyes would pop right back open. Fail. Owen spent many of his early weeks sleeping in the bouncy seat, but with a toddler that comes into our room in the morning, I didn’t want Ryan on the floor in the feet zone. I mentioned this to a friend, who offered to loan me her Rock and Play. I had read reviews of it at some point and knew people loved it, but I didn’t know how much of a convert I would become.

The design keeps baby at a slight angle much like a bouncy seat, which helped with that newborn reflux. It’s high enough off the ground that I could reach him from bed and if he just needed a little soothing, I could gently rock it back and forth. We moved him out of our room and into his own by four weeks when he started sleeping longer stretches. I would set it up in the center of the room, and easily fold it up in the morning. We used the R&P for about 5 weeks before I transitioned him into the crib. I probably would have used it longer, but because he sleeps swaddled I was unable to latch him in, so as soon as he started wiggling around I didn’t feel it was safe for him any longer. That being said, by snapping baby in, the Rock and Play is designed to hold baby up to 25 pounds. I wasn’t willing to give up swaddling for that, though. Which brings me to…

The Miracle Blanket

When Owen was born he didn’t like to be swaddled. After a week or so of trying to force it, I gave up until around four months old when I brought it back to help transition him out of our room and into his crib. I can’t help but wonder if it was just first-time parenting naivety on my part. I may have done us all a disservice by not finding a swaddling solution that worked for him. Maybe we would have slept more! There’s no going back now, but when I heard about The Miracle Blanket, I knew I wanted to have it from the get-go this time.

(Not my baby)

 

I’m glad I did! This baby straightjacket kept him from smacking himself in the face and I thought it worked better than any of the Velcro ones I had tried. I can’t give the blanket all the credit, but Ryan is a really great sleeper, and I know the blanket has contributed to that. We used the Miracle Blanket from day one until just now at 12 weeks when he started to break free and wake himself up. We are now using a double swaddle method with a muslin blanket and a sleep sack, but I am tucking these blankets away for future children for sure.

(Actually my baby)

We also purchased a double BOB jogging stroller, but I haven’t used it too much since Ryan is too small to sit in the seat and I have to use the car seat attachment. Which works awesome when he’s screaming!

So really, we didn’t need that many new things at all. Got any must-haves to add to the list?

I was not compensated in any way for these reviews. I just really like this stuff!

– My baby turns two years old tomorrow. I’m kind of blown away by this. I can’t believe I will be posting the first quarterly letter of his second year wishing him the happiest of birthdays, because it’s hard to believe that just two years ago today I went into labor with him. Be prepared for some sap tomorrow.

– Last year we did the big first birthday party, but this year will be low-key with just a family dinner with the in-laws, cake and presents. We will probably do a second cake when the baby comes and my family is in town too. Owen is getting his first bike and helmet — both red (his choice!) — which will, I’m sure, provide hours of entertainment for him, and heart palpitations for his mother.

– In preparation, I’ve pinned about half a dozen cake recipes, so I just have to decide which one to make today. Yum!

– I’m 37 weeks pregnant now, officially full term and ready for this kid to come out. I’m not uncomfortable, I’m just impatient. I really want to meet him! The only two days I’d like to avoid is tomorrow (it would be nice for the kids to have their own birthdays, even if they are close together), and the fourth of July. Being a holiday baby myself (New Years Eve), I know how annoying sharing your birthday with the entire country can be when you’re a kid. Other than that, he can come. I have a feeling he’s not going to make an appearance until at LEAST the 39th week, but I’m willing him out all the same.

I’ve had three real contractions the past few days that were uncomfortable and familiar enough for me pause and think, “now???”, but obviously, they didn’t mean anything. Saturday I was in the mood to clean…and clean, and clean, and clean. Somewhere around 9:30 p.m. while steam mopping my kitchen and planning on tackling the bathrooms next, it hit me that this was exactly what happened the night I went into labor with Owen. I had two schools of thought: one…baby time!, followed by two…wishful thinking slash nesting to the extreme. Guess it was number two.

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Not out, still in.

My appointment on Friday confirmed dilation has started — like, barely — but all that means is hey, guess what? You’re going to have a baby at some point. Duh. I know, I know. Babies come when they want to come. I was just hoping that him being my second would mean he’d come out a little sooner, that’s all.

– I think the solution to any sleep issues Owen encounters is to write about them on the internet, because after I do that they tend to resolve themselves a bit. After realizing that the sound of shutting the door was what was upsetting him and causing him to climb out of bed, I started leaving the door open a bit until about 20 minutes after he falls asleep. Success! No more opening the door. He just sleeps.

The main issue is that with the freedom to get out of bed comes the new routine of him waking so freaking early (see last post), and no. That needs to stop. I ordered a special toddler alarm clock that looks like a little alien and rather than making noise, lights up when it’s time to start your day. We’re on day two of using it and while it hasn’t been an overnight success, I can already see progress and he’s definitely excited about using it. I will do a full review of it in a week or so in case any of you are also bleary-eyed and so NOT bushy-tailed while your toddler drives trucks over your face at 5 a.m. and are looking for a solution.

– Owen is trying to climb into the baby swing so I should probably go stop that. Behold my (very near) future.

31 and a half weeks.

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Two months from today is my is due date. I think I’m in denial about it. I’m not really stressed; as a matter of fact if he came a little early, I’d be totally ok with that. It’s not like last time where there were so many questions that come from going through birth the first time. I basically know what to expect, assuming it goes as “planned”.

Where I find myself denying the fact that another human will be coming out of me in just 8ish weeks has to do with Owen. I wrote about it last week, how I was starting to get emotional about the time left with just him. If anything, that feeling is getting stronger, and maybe that’s part of the reason I haven’t finalized a paint color for his big boy room, or seriously moved forward with getting him out of the crib. Because he’s still the baby. My baby.

Our Eight Weeks Till Brother day started at the chiropractor. I wish I had been consistent about going last time around, as this pregnancy has felt way easier on my body. Owen likes coming because everyone gives him attention and there’s fish tanks and a train table to play with. He was happy as a clam when we headed over to Homegoods to do some browsing (because who doesn’t love Homegoods?), and was such a good boy as we shopped. I decided to reward him (and my gurgling stomach) with a special pizza lunch. We sat in the near-empty restaurant, just him and me, and shared some slices and a bottle of water. It was just…so nice. On the drive home, he kept telling me “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!”, a leftover phrase learned special for this past weekend. He can keep telling me that as long as he wants.

I’m not “done” with being pregnant yet, but I’m getting there. I waddle. Sleeping is uncomfortable and punctuated by frequent trips to the bathroom. I need Michael’s assistance to hurl myself off the couch. I’m hot all the freaking time. (That sweater I wore today? BAD CHOICE. I was thisclose to stripping naked in the middle of the restaurant. Probably not the best move.)

The other part of the denial is that once he’s here, suddenly I’m a parent to TWO children. Yes, NO DUH. What did I think was going to happen? But woo-boy. Is that a whole new ballgame. Sure, we’ll get used to it. But that unknown factor is chilling. (Oddly, one of my biggest questions is how am I going to shower with two kids? Right now Owen sits in the bathroom and reads books or plays with kid-friendly items like tampons. (What, it’s not like I’m using them right now.) I have no idea how it’s going to go when there’s a distracting little baby sitting  there with eyes and nostrils that just scream for a toddler to stick his finger in them.)

This post is such a brain dump. Too Long; Didn’t Read version:

This kid is coming in two months, my baby is going to be the big kid and I’m overheating. Send ice cream and a wine that I can crack open July 15th.