The Mommy Trenches

Babies. The boyfriend and I have discussed babies a lot lately. Let me just clarify, I am not pregnant. And thank God for that. Still, as good a time as any to hash out if/when we are married, how many kid(s) we would like to have. It is one of those things you ought to have figured out before you say “I do,” otherwise there might be trouble later. So I guess you could say we have been talking about marriage too, but that is beside the point today.

The boyfriend has been very clear that he would like at least one more chitlen, maybe two. At the minimum.

And I am leaning much more towards one to two kids. I always said two, two years apart…but that was before I met the hurricane, before I found myself divorced, starting my adult life all over again. So really now, really just one kid, like one and done, as in, I am already so done having babies, I think.. And that answer leaves a lot to be desired in the boyfriend’s opinion.

I do not know what to say to him. The further I get from those early days in the trenches, the more clear they become. So, honey, hindsight is twenty/twenty and I am not sure I could willingly go back there. I cannot even read my posts from around that time, not that I probably wrote a whole lot. I know I wrote those monthly baby updates… but did I mention that one week I got four – literally four, one hour “blocks” of sleep – in an entire week? And he was up at least three times a night 99% of the first year, despite every imaginable trick to get him to sleep better. We tried everything, read.every.book. He always had to be held, and he was always so discontent, and he always cried. Then I cried with the worry and guilt that if SIDS took him one night, he would die having never been happy. So deep in the trenches.

Looking back I am almost certain I was depressed. This all screams depression with a bit of post-traumatic stress. Depressed because my then-husband deployed when I was pregnant and did not return until our child was five months old. Depressed because I did not have my village. Depressed because my dreams of motherhood were crushed by a baby who spent a majority of the first year of life crying. And I am not talking the “nyah-nyah” nasally, baby cry (and I know you know what that sounds like), but a full out scream from day one. I have videos to prove it. It was not colic. At least that would have been predictable, at least that would have ended.

I probably sound horrible. I am not looking forward to proofing this post because I know this is definitely not what moms are supposed to say about motherhood, about their children. But my experience with new motherhood was hard. What to Expect When You’re Expecting (and the first year edition) let me down. I know, and am grateful, that my experience is not typical. That alone gives me hope that if I did decide to dive into the trenches for a second baby that I would earn my escape much faster than sometime around the second birthday. I feel I am just now finding a new normal, just now navigating my life with some sort of grace. Diving back in, any time soon, would be the very definition of insanity.

But then… then I think about who I want around my dinner table in ten years. And even after writing my heart out on this screen, after thinking and talking about this for weeks, I see more than just the hurricane and the hopefully then-husband sitting with me. I see at least one more tiny human… at least one more. So who knows. I am really not sold on the idea, but do not count me out just yet. There could be another year of adorable monthly baby photoshoots to look forward to, some day.

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One Year Old

Elliott,

To say it has been a crazy year would be a vast understatement. You are my sunshine, but you are also every bit my hurricane Elliott. Your personality is the number one thing that caught me off guard about being your mom. You are in no way the typical “easy baby,” and with how quiet you were in my belly, I am still surprised at how much you can be at times. You are a very determined, persistent, intense, and intelligent little guy. The colloquial definition for personalities like yours is “spirited” and it fits you to a t. For these reasons, among many others, I know you will be able to accomplish anything you set your mind to in life. I know, I know… that is exactly what most parents say about their children, but I have had complete strangers tell me as much after meeting you.

You smile and you wave and sometimes play shy. Grocery stores are where you work your magic, charming the cashiers and little old ladies by flirting with them and waving goodbye. You are so curious about the world around you, and I just know one day you are going to let go of the couch and take off running. Has not happened yet, thankfully, but Grandma says she practices walking with you while I am at work.. And we are all thankful that you have taken that transition well. Grandma and Grandpa are like second and third parents, and they like to joke that it really does take a village to raise a child. For the record, I hope you never feel that you came from a broken home. There is nothing broken about us, our story just had an unexpected plot twist and if you ask me, most days I would say we are doing just fine.

Your first word was momma.. Or mom or mum. When we first started hearing it, it was not in context, but now you can identify those words as me. It is then sweetest thing, except when you are screaming your head off at me because you want everything and nothing at all, at the same time (and you want it right now please). And those fits are a bit more common lately as you finally got five teeth in a span of about two weeks this past month! Way to go on that one.. from gummy smiles to our own little fang face like it was nothing at all. You have actually handled teething really well, aside from not wanting to eat because your mouth hurts. No change in weight this month, still hovering around twenty pounds and measured in at 31.5″ tonight. Mostly I’m shocked that your feet are already so big. You would be in a size 5, easily, if you were actually wearing hard soled shoes now. Cannot wait to see how the christmas footprint ornaments turn out this year. I think this will probably be the second and last year for those! We will just stick with handprints for a while..

And now here we are.. I am not ready for you to be one year old, but it is your birthday anyway. Just got you down for the night at 11:30pm, which is sadly not all that uncommon. No matter what I have tried, you have been my night owl from the moment you were born, nine minutes to midnight. I still cannot think of that day and not have tears well up in my eyes. Best.day.of.my.life. It is so hard being a single mom sometimes, especially when it feels like you want to be anything but happy, but I was half the person I am now before I had you. You are my motivation to be a better person, to be a better parent. You are and always will be my little boy.

I love you to the moon and to the sun, to forever and back,

Mom

Eleven Months

elevenmonthsoldElliott,

This month has flown by in the blink of an eye. Seems just yesterday you were sitting in a pumpkin for your ten month photo shoot… I’m still surprised you didn’t hate it. Your goofy baby faces are turning into toddler expressions.. Mostly curious or disapproving looks. Your smile is adorable but at times a rare sight. You get so absorbed in everything going on around you that it’s hard to get you to focus, let alone think games like peek-a-boo are funny past the second or third “boo”.

You are too smart for your own good. Climbing on everything, crawling over everything, mualing kitties and never sitting still for a moment, not even when you’re asleep. This is the only reason your pediatrician is okay with your lack of considerable gains in the height and weight department, again. Finally broke the 30 inch mark this month and also stabilized at 20 pounds. If you were one of those babies who sat and watched the world go by, you would be monster sized! But you’re too busy running us all over the house for that. You’re definitely going to be the kind of kid that takes your family for walks, just because you need to burn off the energy.

This month you began showing definite signs of teething, complete with white caps of your teeth pushing on your gums. As sensitive as you are overall, I’m really amazed how well you are handling get at least three teeth at once. And they are top teeth!! Of course Elliott can’t get teeth in the typical fashion, what would be the fun of that. I can tell they really bother you sometimes and you’ll chew on something hard while whimpering (which really is as pathetic as it sounds) but for the most part you are business as usual, with a lot of extra drooling.

You got a new uncle this month! And you did exceptionally well at your Aunt Kat’s wedding. Only spoke up during the ceremony when the pastor mentioned communication, which I thought was very fitting. You had an absolute blast at the reception when you woke up from your nap. You bounced and danced your way into the hearts of many strangers that night, and they all loved the cute little bow tie you wore.

This month we went to the zoo with two of the neighbor girls and you soaked it all in… Smiled at the orangutan and seemed bored of the giraffes. We had a few more play dates and you are such a little love bug. You try holding their hands and giving them hugs. This sometimes translates to you pulling them down and then tackling them, but we can see you mean well. It is soo sweet. You may not yet know how to high five (still working on it) but you can definitely give some awesome little hugs. The best part of my day is coming home to your fussy little face and getting a hug from you. You’re doing so well with me going back to work and Grandma watching you during the day. I figure you know her just about as well as you know me, and I know she knows you.. so it’s a great little setup.

One month to go until your first birthday! And while it doesn’t feel appropriate to throw a massive luau (in the middle of December) like I always heard the Hawaiians would have to celebrate making it through your first year, we will have the cake smash and birthday dinner and mini party for family and close friends. I feel like it should be a big enough deal, if not just for you, than for all of us to celebrate a year of less sleep, more tears, more smiles and definitely more love than before. You changed the lives of everyone who knows you well and loves you, little man. And when it feels like everything about my life is still so far from where I thought it should be, all I have to do is look at your face or watch you learning while you play to realize I am doing the most important thing in the world, just being here for you.

I love you to the moon, to the stars and to forever and back,

Mom

 

 

Nine Months

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Baby Bee,

This month has been a fast one. Going, gone in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to remember that you’re only nine months old when you can play independently and wander the house (supervised) when the baby gates are open. You’re so small and so big at the same time. Your favorite two places are the hallway and the under the kitchen table. You also love the vacuum when it is turned off, but turn it on and you’re pulling on the nearest person’s legs to pick you up.

You still crawl like a broken frog 80% of the time. And even though cruising the living room is so easy for you, I’m hoping walking is still a few months away. That’s not to say that I have encouraged you to take steps towards me. Haha! You haven’t and I’m thankful for that. You’re only going to be this little once. Up to 19lbs 5oz and 29 inches tall! You didn’t grow in height this month, but we all notice that your diapers have been fitted on looser snaps, so you’re chunking up! Sweet baby rolls.

Foods are still a lot of fun for you. Your new favorites are any variety of winter squash and green beans. Grandma feeds you all sorts of new foods though, like homemade “refried beans” without the oil or cheese and even little cream of wheat balls for breakfast. She even sneaks you some sorbet every once in a while when she thinks I’m not looking! And of course, you love it. We always make sure to have some food for you when we go out for dinner, because you expect to sit with us and enjoy your meal too. Although, yesterday at Chipotle you were more interested in talking to everyone than the food we had for you. It was really great because your version of talking is a yell right now. Grandma and I got a kick out of it, making up what you must be saying to everyone. “Save me! She’s not my mom!” while Grandma was holding you, for example.

Your big personality is starting to shine through. For a while there, it was hard to see beyond that wanting what you want, right now attitude you still have. You’re becoming a bit more sweet, and maybe even the tiniest bit shy as you head into this month. It’s right around the time a lot of babies develop separation anxiety and you’ve definitely got it. Screaming and throwing a fit at the baby gate because I walked down the hallway without you? Yeah, that happens now.

Overall though, you are ready to go anywhere, anytime as long as it doesn’t mean getting in and out of your car seat all day. I had a blast trying to get your monthly photo shoot pictures done this afternoon And to think there was once a time when I looked forward to you being able to sit up for your pictures! Wasn’t very long after you could sit that you were crawling all over the place, like today. Three months to one year, need to start planning your first birthday party.

I love you to the moon and to the sun and to forever and back.

Love,

Mom

Seven Months

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Baby Bee,

This month brought a lot of change to our lives. Luckily, you don’t know what it all means yet, so you don’t know to be scared of change or worried about the future. Every day is brand new for you. Some time around eight in the morning rolls around and you wake up, smile at me, and our day begins.

We started you off on baby led solids last month, with some banana and avocado. You enjoyed them well enough and we added in other things like cucumber, asparagus, rice rusks and teething biscuits. It amazes me how messy you can get with so little food. Then we added in purees because you didn’t like carrots or sweet potato in a soft-solid form. The first day you loved sweet potato and ate almost two ounces! Your interest in them has since tapered off to taking a few bites here and there, but no rush. I’ve heard a thousand times, “foods before one are just for fun.” Definitely fun! And you’ve definitely done some tasting of things that you aren’t exactly supposed to have now. Sweet things like italian ice.. “But it’s dairy free!!” Your Grandma lets you get away with so much! You also decided that you absolutely must sit and eat something when we go to restaurants. We weren’t prepared for this sudden shift from wanting to be held while we ate, to wanting to sit on your own and eat. So you’ve also attempted to eat a piece of bread at Panera and a french fry at Red Robin. You were unsuccessful both times, thankfully, but having a piece of food in your hand stops a screaming fit. I know the whole restaurant appreciates that. Let’s just say that Mommy and Grandma carry at least a rice rusk or teething biscuit with us at all times now!

You are growing up way too fast! I would ask you to slow down, but it’s so much fun watching you learn and grow. You’ve been army crawling for about two weeks now, pulling yourself across the living room floor, usually in the direction of Sicily, the big fat cat. Just in the last day or two you starting getting up on your tip toes and elbows to move around. It looks like an odd combination of a plank and the downward dog yoga position. You still aren’t that interested in sitting, but at least you can now. Last month you would topple over as soon as we helped you into a sitting position. Now you’ll play for a little, then hurl yourself forward. Grandpa says it’s a clever way to get around. You get farther by launching forward than you would army crawling. Baby proofing has definitely commenced. Floors are cleared, outlets are covered and we’re working our way up, clearing off higher surfaces because we know it will only be a few short months until you’re pulling yourself to a standing position.

And now, to recount exactly now un-little you are… You’re weighing in at eighteen pounds, and have grown to twenty-eight inches long/tall. Big boy!! We saw another seven month old at the commissary yesterday and he was still comfortably sitting in the same infant car seat you had. To think you outgrew that seat by comfort a few weeks ago and needed a convertible. The convertible seat we had bought before you were born was too cramped feeling and didn’t have strap covers so Mommy splurged on a Diono Radian RXT. One of the longest rear-facing seats on the market with great safety ratings. You love the memory foam shoulder and butt pads too. That seat puts you to sleep better than either of the ones we used before, which is awesome for car trips. So much less fussing in the car now.

Overall, you are doing great. So, so happy visiting Grandma and Grandpa. You also got to meet your Aunts for the first time this month and I would say they love their little nephew. Over half way to your first birthday and my mommy friends are already planning their December birthday bashes. What should your theme be? Until next month, bumble butt…

I love you to the moon and back and a seventeen hour drive,

Mom