November 10, 2014

For my "Mean Mommy" friend.

During an otherwise crazy and at the same time mundane day today, I got the email I've been dreading for awhile. I knew it was coming.  My friend, Sam, lost her (hard fought and brilliantly endured) battle with colon cancer at the sickeningly young age of 32. And I sat down to write because, this woman, this mom, deserves to be written about. And as usual, words aren't enough. But let me back up...

When Sienna was four months old, I was losing sanity as quickly as I was losing sleep. Some days I felt like I was unraveling and I needed someone to take my string and coil it back up to get me in order. I found a warm comfort in what some might call strange- two other mamas, with kiddos exactly Sienna's age- that I met on an online baby chat forum. Think for new moms, minus the match and with a lot of added stress laden messages.

Sam and Elisabeth quickly became "real "friends to me. I felt like my heart was connected to them in ways I can't quite explain. We sent thousands (or what felt like thousands-  it could have been hundreds) of emails to each other. I could count on them to answer me at 4am and to hear me out. I knew that they were also awake, staring at their smart phones, reading facebook or pinterest, or an email from each other, hoping their baby would start to head back into a sweet slumber instead of wail. We sort of cut through the fog of new motherhood lack of sleep together. Jamie always joked that Sam was my internet boyfriend because her sweet, creative genes meant she always sent us cute handmade cards and gifts. My sister in law once asked me- who is Sam and Kai?! She likes every photo on Instagram. I explained. She giggled. But I was serious when I said they were my rock during crazy infant days... Sam and Elisabeth were never just Internet friends. They knew and heard more about my inner mom brain than any other humans on the planet. Sam always called herself the "Mean Mommy" because she was the most bad-ass sleep trainer out of all of us (I recall once she slept in the basement so she wouldn't get upset by Kai's cries). To be honest, she was pretty bad-ass in general. I always felt like she was telling me one more cool thing about herself each day.

From four months until two and a half years, our emails continued. Birthdays came and cards showed up. Christmas rolled around and Kai's face was mainstay amongst our fav holiday greetings from friends. We celebrated years gone by and survival of early motherhood. But we didn't know Sam would soon learn that survival was far more than sleepless nights with a newborn, potty training, and toddler tantrums. A few months ago, Sam sent us an email. She was diagnosed with colon cancer. My heart stopped when I read the email. I knew it was bad, but she never once let on to how difficult her journey was- and her beautiful emails were laced with positive vibes of ongoing hope....  Still, I worried about her. I felt the emails fade and her instagram posts became less frequent. My worry grew stronger.

Sam always raved about her family, so it was no surprise that when her husband emailed us, the words that littered the screen were heavily emotional and intensely passionate. He let us know that he was losing his wife. That Kai's sweet and brilliant mama was in palliative care. My tears were not just shed for my own sadness but for her hubby and her son. Sienna is Kai's age, and try as I might, I can't convince myself that there is something bigger than me, some plan to this life, when these things happen. It's so damn unfair for a two year old to lose his mom. It's unfair for a young dad to lose his partner in raising him. And it's unfair that one of the most impactful people on me early in Sienna's life- a time that was one of the hardest I've encountered so far- is not going to get to experience the joys and woes of any more little babies or of her first gorgeous son growing up.

Sams husband sent us family photos with his heartbreaking email- and even sick- Sam was decked out in clothes I could only dream of coming up with and putting together- stylish with a side of funky. I always admired and was mildly jealous she could pull off those outfits. She wore gold sequined shoes on her first day of this battle with cancer. Her closet is likely mourning with the rest of us.  Kai's style echoes hers (Daryl I'll try to send kai anything that screams Sammy style to me as the days go on). I will forever be grateful for knowing her. For having a mom friend who got it. For her email titles that made me laugh including one fondly called "Face down baby" when our littles began tummy sleeping.

We used to joke- we should write a book. A book about sleep training, about getting through the early days, about the power of friendship when you're at the end of your rope. We said it would be composed of our endless emails- interjected with reality- which sometimes we missed the boat on when we slept three hours the night before. There's so little you can do when a child loses their mama; you can't possibly fill them up with the memories you with they would carry with them. But, Elisabeth and I both realized as soon as we heard about Sam that we have to do this. So here's our promise- over the next year or so, to start composing a book for Kai. A book where he can see the ways his mom loved him and caringly put effort into every minute with him- from the time he was tiny. A book where he can laugh as he gets older and has his own kids about how crazy having a newborn is and how his mommy was the leader of the pack of emailing friends.
Tonight, I am holding my girls closer. I am shedding tears intermittently between the smiles I show them. I will take in the 1 am and 3am baby wakings, the blow out diapers, the toddler tantrums, the crazy games S asks me to play when it's bed time.  I will hug them extra, smell their sweet baby scents, and nuzzle my nose into their hair and kiss them goodnight, but not without a few extra minutes of their little hands and chests slowly relaxing into me. I will hold my husband's hand longer- and embrace the love that's in front of me. Because, I get to wake up and do it every day. I get to be a mom, a wife, I get to indulge in the real raw emotion that is family. I know Sam would have given anything to get to continue this. When I start to get lost in the mix that is the frustration of motherhood and wifehood and life, I'll think of her.

She lived her life with vigor and hope and love. With dignity and strength and the kind of brilliance and shine that is felt even through an email. Sam, even from afar, we will do everything we can to make sure little guy of yours feels every ounce of love you had for him. Here's to you, mean mommy- you were truly truly one of the best.


November 5, 2014

Maternity Leave.

I read this today:
It got me thinking. The fact that I went back to work after a measly six weeks with Sienna blows my mind now. In retrospect, I wanted so badly to finish fellowship and to be done with training. But goodness, that was not enough time and I think maybe, just maybe, had I known better, I would have put off fellowship for a year. Because here's the secret no one tells you: When you have a real person job, maternity leave is still too short. And the days still fly by. And no one is going to decide that you need more time to bond with your infant and grant you further- never mind paid- leave. It is insanity.
In two weeks, I'll go back to work. I'll pack my pump, my (non dairy) lunch and snacks, and attempt to get out of the house in the morning sneaking in a shower early before either of my girls rise. I'll convince myself it's good for them to have a good working mother role model, when I know damn well my 3 month old would rather have mommy there at home with her than at work. They are too little to grasp that working mom can be a good thing.

Meanwhile, as the WHO and AAP tell me to nurse... returning to work does me no favors. Piper is already a really, really difficult nurser.  When we were at a wedding last weekend, she got three bottles while I was gone. The next day you would have thought I was slaughtering her when I tried to nurse. I have other friends whose babies hate bottles and who basically starve themselves all day waiting for mama to feed them. Those babes reverse cycle, no one sleeps at night, and there is just no way that mom is productive at work. Short maternity leave makes it nearly impossible (though I and other friends have done it- it's not without major stress) to breastfeed for the full year, nevermind beyond that.  The world is telling us to feed our kiddos the healthiest food, but the work force puts a damper on efforts. I will say, I am lucky to be employed by an organization that empowers women to pump by offering quiet nice places with good amenities and breaks, but it is still no walk in the park. It's actually one of my most dreaded parts of returning to work.
And... what about the fact that at three months our babies are just emerging from that fussy period, and that we finally know their personalities enough to keep them happy and soothed during the day. I am one of the infinitely lucky ones: we have my mom or our nanny with our girls. They LOVE my children. They treat them like gold. But they aren't me. Likely, the girls will be fine. Piper will be eating well so her naps should be longer. Sienna can play and amuse Piper as she gets older. But having one person (who isn't me!) watch my tiny baby and my toddler makes me sad.
Don't get me wrong- there are a few things I am looking forward to- namely eating lunch without holding someone in my right arm and being able to write a full email in one sitting. But, those things could wait another few months until P becomes more scheduled and S is fully adjusted.
So here comes the two week countdown. I have two weeks to also transition Piper to her room and pray that the shower at 6am doesn't rise her from her beauty sleep. Two weeks to figure out some semblance of a schedule. Two weeks to hug and cuddle my girls a little extra. Because, in 14 days me, my pump, and my guilty conscience head back to work.
Don't you think we could all use a little more maternity leave?
It's not glorious, but it's the good life. {Sienna is in that cardboard box in the background}

October 16, 2014

And so today, my world, it smiles.

{That was our wedding song, and the words written in my wedding card}
Happy fourth anniversary, J!
You are a stunningly patient and calm partner,
An adoring dad to our two girls.
You are nothing if not determined.
Rebuilding swingsets, playing imaginary train rides with Sienna.
Swaddling Piper and asking her "what's wrong buddy" when she cries.
Putting your arms around me for an extra hug when I need it.
You make us laugh. You keep things light.
You're our happiness at the end of each day.
There's not a day goes by that I am not reminded of your good qualities.
Even when life gets rough, and tiring,
You're there.
And when there's happiness, you're beside me.
I love you today.  I will love you always.


October 8, 2014

Baby Piranha... The case of the difficult nurser.

I hesitate to write about the negatives, the struggles sometimes. It feels self-pitying, and life is pretty good. But with all the ups of parenting and babyness, there are downs too. And while Piper has some of the greatest qualities in a sweet baby (already smiling, sleeping pretty well, loves to cuddle), breastfeeding has not been a walk in the park.

At discharge from the hospital, we were doing awesome. Piper was nursing all the time. But almost as soon as we got home, she was difficult. Head bobbing, crying before nursing, stopping halfway through to scream. Her poop (sorry TMI) was greenish and watery. We also got a lovely major encounter with thrush- both of us. I found myself pulling through the CVS pharmacy with a fussing baby in the back seat waiting for nystatin- for her and diflucan- for me.  It got worse as she got older and by two and a half weeks, I was in tears and on the phone with the pediatrician and lactation consultant after almost a full day of no nursing and uber engorgement.  The ped said to come in, and after a half hour on the phone with the LC, she even suspected something was up: namely reflux. She said it could also be oversupply and to try to get P to nurse longer on one side.

A wailing baby from almost a half day of no nursing and an hour at the ped later, we had a prescription for zantac, a strong recommendation for me to go dairy-free in my diet, and the advice to block feed.

The truth is, since we did all of this at once, I am not sure where the improvement came from. But for a couple weeks, nursing was bearable. Not great but reasonable. Piper was putting on weight and she was happy between feeds.

A few weeks later, right before her six week birthday, she started getting fussier again after a day of two bottles (I went to meet my new niece and wasn't home for two nursings), and totally went on a nursing strike. This lasted for a day - a day of wailing and of me absolutely breaking down in tears from it all. It was too much and I was so sad for both of us. I called the LC again. I asked her to come back and watch Piper feed. We upped her zantac, but my suspicion was that it was the bottles. She said it just may be. Insert fear of going back to work here. She also said Piper is a super efficient and well- greedy! nurser and she gets impatient waiting for the let downs so she pulls off and cries until she gets another one. She also will not nurse if she hasn't pooped that day- a major issue considering that she doesn't go daily. Ohhh drama queen already - definitely my kiddo! When she was here, she taught sienna "how to nurse" with her baby. The cutest thing ever.

She's still not perfect. We are almost 7 weeks into this thing. One and a half months of my twelve month goal. Who knows, I may not make it to a year if this continues. But every feeding we make a new attempt at this. She sleeps so well when she feeds well during the day, so it's also distressing when our last two feeds are difficult because I know there's a hard road ahead for overnight. When she doesn't feed well? She's up and gassy and cranky. It's so sad because I know she can do a good 6 hour snooze for me!

I'm hoping for 12 months of nursing, but I'm thankful for each day longer we make it in this crazy relationship. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all rearing their heads. Because when she nurses well I gaze down at her and see my sweet girl just needing some care from her mama. And when it's bad, we sometimes just cuddle up and throw in the towel for that feeding, me fighting back my own tears. As she gets older I hope it gets easier; I hope we get into a better groove. For the love of god, without the ability to nurse in public places (she won't nurse under a cover and the efforts and screaming that come with it are mind boggling sometimes) I feel like a prisoner in my house some days!

Goal of the week: get both girls out on my own and not let this difficult nursing thing get the worst of me. One day at a time here, one day at a time.

After a good feeding...

Nursing our babies.


October 3, 2014

Sienna says..

After falling down and hitting her elbow, S usually yells mommmyyyy.
Today?  My mom was with her.
And she said "I need to go wake up Piper to make it better! She's my buddy!"

Heart. Melted.


September 25, 2014

To my sweet sweet Sienna

Best Buddy,

Though my patience runs out some days and I know we are both trying to get the hang of this adjusting to a newborn in the house thing... there are things I want you to know.

I miss you painfully at times. Before Piper, it was just you and me on our days home. There was a lot of cuddling (before and after nap), laying in bed watching movies towards the end of my pregnancy, and there was tons of attention for just you. When you scraped your knee outside and yelled for me, I ran. When you wanted a snack, you asked me. When you wanted to laugh, you found humor in the silliest things and we laughed together endlessly.

Sweet girl, things have changed, yes. But you'll always be my baby girl. You are the one who built me up and broke me down in those first days of motherhood over two years ago. You are the one who taught me that crying newborns can still be very happy infants. You showed me the ropes- we grew together. No one- not another sibling nor anyone else- will ever have that bond. We learned how to do this mama and baby thing together- and each milestone you reach shows me again how to navigate the crazy waters of parenting.

It's not perfect right now- you and I are both figuring out how to find our groove again. But I promise you this- I promise that in a few months when Piper doesn't need so much constant care, I have a ton of adventures planned for us. You will always be high on my priority list. And I'll always love you in a way that I will never love anyone else- and you will forever be my little buddy.

Hang in there sweet girl. One day we will look back at these days and laugh.



September 14, 2014

First Family Outing

I probably have five minutes of down time right now while both girls sleep overlaps (miraculous).
Today is a day you dream about- 70 degrees, sunny, a little breeze. So when we got up this morning I declared that after I fed Piper I was taking a shower and this family was getting on the move.  We are members of Hagley Museum in Wilmington and today was the car show- I knew this meant sunshine, yummy food, a place for S to run rampant, and some fresh air for all.
I washed my hair. I dried my hair.
We packed a diaper bag for two kiddos.
Convinced Sienna to get dressed before 9:30 am.
I fed Piper one more time and we piled the girls in the carseats.
I was sort of (very) nervous for the short drive.
The girls were champs.
P started to cry a little and Sienna chirped up,
"Don't worry little one, we just have to park".
A sweet big sister (even though she's still struggling with a sibling).
Piper transferred easily from her carseat to the stroller.
We strolled the grounds.  We ate crab cake sandwiches- delicious.
Sienna had Hawaiian ice and a hot dog. Healthy, I know.
We looked at old cars and S found a fire engine.
She liked the music way better than the cars. Dancing is her jam.
We saw friends. Human contact for the win!
S may have had a second ice on the way out (car bribe and avoiding car naps).
A really good morning with my favorite three people.


September 12, 2014


Life with two kiddos is amazingly mind blowing, but wonderful. Sienna is sweet as pie with Piper most of the time.  She is still learning how to be gentle and thinks it is fun to wake her up from naps, but she's really doing great.
I am sort of in awe of how bonded they already seem. Piper is too little to track and follow Sienna, but she reacts when she hears her voice. She stares at her in the morning as if to ask her what is going on in this crazy world. Sienna is already fiercely protective (okay maybe possessive) of her "baby sister" and told another kiddo in our neighborhood the other day on a walk not to wake up her little baby sister. She goes over to her when she cries and says, "don't worry, you'll be okay" and "aww little lady, what's wrong". I think if I let her she'd tote Piper around like a doll. The outcome of that would likely be tragic so we will hold off.
I can already imagine life next summer- Sienna holding Piper's hand as she starts to stand and toddle- telling her about the ocean and the beach and probably giving instructions on what to do. So far, at just three weeks, Piper seems a bit more laid back than Sienna- maybe she got those Walls genes from daddy. I imagine her rolling her eyes at Sienna at times as they grow up, but going along with her crazy ideas.
I can't wait to see how their sister relationship develops over time. I think this is the greatest gift both of them will ever get- a sister to grow up with and explore the world together!
I love you both little itty bitties.

September 8, 2014

Piper Emily Walls has arrived

Piper is here! After lots of prelabor, she arrived fast and furiously.  Her entrance into the world was wonderful and big sister Sienna did so amazingly at the hospital.

I find I have no time to blog with two kiddos but I know in 6 months when Piper has the same bed time as Sienna and we are all getting more sleep it will come back to me.

For now, here are two of my favorite pictures. Hoping to get Piper's birthday story and more photos up really soon!

Welcome Piper! We adore you!



August 13, 2014

38 weeks, 4 days, and waiting for baby....

Weeks:  38 weeks, 4 days when I took this yesterday. These maternity jeans are still hanging in with me. It was rainy and cooler so I got to wear pants yesterday- what a concept!
Feeling: Contractions super frequently. Tired. I wake up every hour to pee at night if not more. I can't stop drinking because they the crampy contractions get worse.  Doing a lot of questioning if I am in labor but so far, nope!
Belly:  Huge. I can no longer effectively shave my legs or tie shoes. Thank goodness for flip flops!
Movement: A ton- and big movements. I actually had my OB check her position today with a little fear of her being transverse but she was not!
Craving:  Still thirsty alllll the time. Big meals are out, but I want random little snacks through the day. Probably better anyway. Dinner is no longer my friend and I end up with a 8pm little snack instead.
Gender: Girly girl and miss Sienna is super pumped about her "BABY SISTER!" 
Other symptoms: Nausea! Yuck! Still there. Back pain. Nose bleeds almost daily. Umm... peeing 8 billion times a day which I can't wait to stop doing!
Random thoughts: Just like with Sienna, I cannot believe I am progressing so much but not in labor. But last time I was not in pain, this time tons of pain. I hope baby holds on until Monday when my OB is back in office, but Sat or Sun would be okay too.
Looking forward to: Meeting our girl. That's really it. And praying this does not happen middle of night and freak Sienna out!

Here's to hoping this is the last official pregnancy post...


July 29, 2014

Thirty Six Weeks. Five Days.

Weeks:  36 weeks, 5 days. FRIDAY is 37 weeks! Yay! This sweatshirt was the same one I wore in my 20 week shot, it apparently isn't fully doing its job anymore. But it's still super comfy!
Feeling: Crampy contractions and back pain constantly. Waiver between wanting baby to get here and getting some of body back and wanting her to stay put a few more weeks!
Belly:  Oh my goodness, if you can't tell in this photo, it's SO LOW. I don't think I ever dropped this low with Sienna. It's almost comical!
Movement: Losing space in there for sure, so movements are slow but steady.
Craving:  Just liquids all the time. Gatorade mixed with water is still the go to, but occasionally I crave a little bit of soda and am allowing myself to go for it at this point. Bananas and peanut butter are my fav snack.
Gender: I sure hope it's still a girl, Sienna is SURE her name will be Minnie.  
Other symptoms: Nausea! Yuck! Thought I got rid of that first tri but it's back. More nose bleeds. Leg pain that is not fun.
Random thoughts: Thankful to almost be 37 weeks.  Annoyed with all the contractions because I don't think I should be in pain and not sleeping BEFORE the new baby comes, isn't that what the first 6 weeks postpartum is for? Can't wait to see what this little one looks like and if she's Sienna's twin when she arrives.  I AM SO THANKFUL FOR MY PARENTS. They have been helping with Sienna endlessly on my bad days and I cannot even imagine not having them. Jamie and I are the luckiest luckiest people to have them, especially my forever self-less mama.
Looking forward to: Doctor's appointment Friday and getting another update on my status. One day, no day soon, sleeping again for more than a few hours and on my stomach. Seeing Sienna meet baby the first time- she is getting excited and keeps asking when she's coming. J put the double stroller together the other day and she said "I need my baby sister!!!"


Getting Ready... .

First: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MOM & DAD. My parents stepped in big time this week. Ever since my trip to the hospital a few weeks ago for contractions, there is no end in sight. No full labor, but no end of the pain and the annoyance. It's worrisome because I want her to cook longer, and it's tiring because Sienna wants me to run around and I just can't do it all the time.

Sunday my dad came, helped J clean out the baby room, and we now have some semblance of organization. He then insisted he wanted to take Sienna home with him- and the two of them drove back to Yardley to give me a break. A much needed break even though I do miss my little monkey. Having more time in the morning to slowly get up, and last night being able to relax after work were both huge. My parents are my heroes. My mom especially since she was also taking care of my grandma who broke her arm!

Anyway.... here we are. 37 weeks on Friday. And it's becoming a real possibility that this baby will make her appearance in the next few weeks. I am in no huge rush, because I want the last days of Sienna as an only child to be special. And I want this little one's lungs to keep working and developing. But my body is starting to really give out on me and I am frustrated at that- so when she decides to make her appearance, I know it's time.

The room:
A crib is set up! Yay! We made the decision awhile ago to keep the guest bed in that room, so we went with a blue and bright pink theme. Also J hung the tv that was on a stand up on the wall in the corner so when guests visits (or when I'm nursing and Sienna neeeeds to watch Mickey) we still have it there. We ordered Sienna a new dresser for her room and will swap out the changing table to the baby's room once that arrives. She's cool with it because she says she needs a "medium sized" dresser because she has "too many clothes!" True story kiddo. We need to hang the art on the wall but I want to wait until we get the changing table in the right place. Andddd we are going to attempt to fit the glider in there - at some point- maybe.

All set for now. Things are washed and ready. We plan to bring Baby 2.0 home in the same outfit as Sienna as long as it fits her. We have plenty of newborn and 0-3 onesies and a few special outfits for little girl. For now, they are in a big Land of Nod pink and white basket until we set up the changing table and have space for clothes.

Pretty much we have all the newborn things we need. We got a wipes warmer this time, as I previously discussed.  A new pump. A new boppy cover. And some new tommee tippees. We washed the car seat cover and the rock n play cover, the swing is ready.... I mean really we will be nursing, sleeping (god help us I hope...), and amusing big sister while doing those things. I am not as concerned with the "stuff" as I was last time.

Hospital Bag:
Semi packed. I have baby blankets, baby outfit, some comfy clothes for me, socks, and a nursing bra and tank. I'll have to throw things like my brush and contacts in at the last minute anyway. We are super lucky in that we live 5-10 minutes from the hospital and we can have friends or family bring us what we need, when we need it if we do forget.

Big sister Prep:
We've been reading big sister books nightly. We talk about baby.  Sienna asks for her to come out. This will be a huge adjustment, and I know that... but I am so looking forward to seeing the sweet sisters together! We also have some small gifts that the baby can give Sienna. And we ordered a super cute big sis tee for when they first meet!

Overall... I am sick of being pregnant but glad baby has stayed put as long as she has.  I think we are as ready as we will ever be mentally. Hoping to get as much rest as possible before she arrives and spend some good time with big sister Sienna!


July 16, 2014

34 weeks. And why I have a 16 day countdown.

Here we are at 34 weeks. Two days until 35 weeks. Why does 35 matter? That is the point they no longer stop your labor if it starts on its own. I think it's safe to say that they wouldn't stop me two days shy of that either. The contractions I mentioned last post are hanging in strong. 2-6/hr but never getting regular. More of an annoyance and constant worry of real labor kicking in- or my water breaking.

Weeks:  34 weeks, 5 days.
Feeling: At the risk of being the complainy/whiny pregnant woman in the room, I feel lousy. I have my good hours for sure, but the braxton hicks/perhaps real contractions that seem to be occuring every 7-30 minutes are really driving me crazy and they are painful. My back and sides feel crampy constantly and my GI system is wacky. Five more weeks of this feels insane, but I am also praying she hands in another 16 days. That's the countdown until 37 weeks. That's the first goal to make it to. After that, 39 will be my next hoorah!
 On the upside, I am feeling way more prepared for labor and a newborn than the first go round. It's a whole different world with some perspective from the other side.
Belly:  Belly button totally popped out. Belly definitely a lot lower- no more difficulty breathing unless I sit in a bad position. And I have to say, at least everyone knows I'm pregnant and no one is wondering if I am waddling or gaining weight for no reason.
Movement: Huge movements. Especially if laying on my side. Sometimes it is a huge elbow or knee I see protruding, other times I feel her entire butt move across my rib cage. I also feel movement REALLY low down- always makes me have to pee!
Craving:  Waterade (aka half water half gatorade, with ice). Still sleep. Sweets again. Uh oh. And also regular milk which is bizarre because I'm lactose intollerant.
Gender: GIRL. 
Other symptoms: Still worried about this little poptart staying in there long enough. My legs and back feel tired. Oh! And nosebleeds!
Random thoughts: I am so so tired of worrying about impending labor. Every time I get a really painful contraction, I start timing but without fail nothing consistent or regular has occurred yet.  I just want to make it to at least 37 weeks. Sick of sitting around with my feet up for sure!
Looking forward to: Doctor's appointment Friday. Hoping I can make it to friends' wedding this weekend. Not yet, I don't want this just yet... But eventually having my body (half) my body again when I deliver (but am still nursing).


July 10, 2014

33.. almost 34 weeks.

Weeks:  33 weeks, 6 days.
Feeling: Wellllll I sure took a wrong turn last week. I probably way overdid it and was exhausted. We had a wedding on Friday and by Saturday morning I was off. Really off. By 1:30pm I landed myself in L&D for contractions that were super painful and super frequent. After 4.5 hours of being hooked up to monitors, I was released on pelvic rest, told not to lift anything over 10 lbs (umm my kid??), and to take it easy. Since Saturday just feeling off still but better. Less contractions per hour, but still feeling some overall unease. It could just really be that it all made me anxious. We will see! I just want to make it to 37 weeks!

Belly:  Belly button totally popped. Belly feels so heavy!
Movement: Holy moly. No doubting this girlfriend is on the go! I can feel her entire body stretch out sometimes. It's crazy but cool.
Craving:  Waterade (aka half water half gatorade, with ice). Sleep. So much sleep.
Gender: Girly girlfriend.
Other symptoms: Anxiety! All related to Saturday's preterm labor threat, but with each passing day that chills out a bit too.
Random thoughts: The pool is still my best friend. We REALLY need to get on top of ordering things for baby and creating a space for her! Also I am so so so uber thankful for a wonderful nanny, supportive friends, and people rallying behind me this week to make sure I took it easy as the doctor suggested. You're all my gems.
Looking forward to: Doctor's appointment this afternoon to make sure all is still well. My parent's celebrate their 40th anniversary this weekend- a dinner to honor the couple!


July 2, 2014

happy birthday, love

{Posting on the birthday eve!}

For the past week, Sienna has been singing Happy Birthday to daddy! I can't wait to tell her it's finally here. She will be excited, mostly for the inevitable cake that accompanies that song. 

Happy Birthday J.
You are kind. 
You are honest and real.
You are patient and understanding.
You are the source of our laughter.
We are unbelievably grateful for you.

You are our favorite adventurer.
We adore you!


June 30, 2014

We better order a crib soon...

We're in the "home stretch" almost! 32.5 weeks feels that way. At 34 weeks all the major major worries start to assuage as the baby gets bigger and lungs get stronger. I am thinking a nice 39-40 weeks would be wonderful, just like with Sienna, but we will see what the future holds!

We have no crib. We have no baby room set up. Last time I am pretty sure we were all set by 33 weeks. This time? We will be lucky to have the rock n play up from the basement by my due date! 
{Excuse the random sink faucet, snapped this quickly at work}
Weeks:  32 weeks, 4 days.
Feeling: Overall, pretty good! My OB put suggested taking 2 zantac a day and it is amazing what it does to help with acid reflux. I feel really pregnant and wonder how I can last another 8 weeks, but otherwise pretty good!
Belly:  Belly button half popped out. Measuring around where I should, if not a teeny bit big.
Movement: We have moved from the nice gentle kicks to the whole entire body rolls and pushes where I feel hands and feet and a butt pressing out. Still super super active.  
Craving:  Cold water. Cold gatorade. Cold lemonade. These things still. Occasionally a cup of hot coffee or a latte which tells me third tri is really here, I never crave caffeine early on. Loving cold fruit and ice pops too!
Gender: As far as I know, still a little girl.
Other symptoms: Braxton hicks still happening all the time. Especially after a long car ride this weekend. Restless leg syndrome at night like crazy. Tired, but not awful. Starting to nest and think about baby's room and outfits and what life will be like when she gets here!
Random thoughts: The pool is my BEST FRIEND. We should really finish our kitchen table before the baby comes and we have even less time.
Looking forward to: A short work week for 4th of July, a wedding this weekend, hopefully some pool time on Saturday and Sunday, and napping when Sienna does for sure.

Some time for Us.

When we stood and said our vows at the altar, the words that brought me to tears were these;
With all that I am
And all that I have
I honor you.

Some days, all that I am and all that I have is...
enough energy to squeak through the day, put together some semblance of a dinner for Sienna, tuck her into bed cozily with her blankets, and dive into my own state of comatose with my book. 

Some days, all that I am and all that I have is...
enough energy to text Jamie to say "come home." Some days, all that Jamie is and has is to get through the crazy work days that have somehow been laid out in an uneven path in front of him lately. 

I don't mean it negatively, it's a life we built together and that when we take a step back, we adore. When we had Sienna, in the newborn days, when J got home, we'd all cuddle together on the couch before the witching hour began. We'd take in those quiet sweet moments. But toddlers are not into that, and most evenings we play hide and seek or how to keep the kid at the dinner table. We laugh and squeal and run around the house, a house filled with so much love- all that we are. All that we have.

But sometimes, once in awhile, a good break is needed to regroup. To reconnect. Last weekend, we packed up. We took less baggage than usual and planned for the theme of the getaway: low key. 

We had no agendas. No big plans. One dinner reservation was the only standing time set for anything. We didn't need to travel to St. Lucia or Hawaii. A speedy drive down to Rehoboth and a little garage apartment was the absolute perfect setting for our recharging. 

We slept when we wanted. We had no alarm (and no toddler alarm).
We didn't move some mornings until 10am.
We talked. About life. About marriage. About our kid(s). About the new baby coming. 
We worked on but didn't pick a baby name.
We watched too much OITNB and never turned on the news.
We sat on the beach, reading to ourselves, with the sound of the waves.
We soaked in the sun (too much the first day, oops).
We walked on the boardwalk to get ice cream, to get lunch, to just walk.
We I ate ice cream for dinner
We tried new restaurants. 
We recharged. We got back to us.

After four days together, we are rejuvenated.  Ready to take on this parenting thing and work lives and everything else in front of us.

But really, it was a much needed weekend.

(P.S. thanks mom and dad for watching sienna! she had a fun vacation too!)

June 16, 2014

{T E N} weeks to go!

Thirty weeks pregnant. Ten weeks left and this pregnancy is flying by much faster than the last one. It's also reminding me why third tri exists- to prep you for baby and remember how nice it felt to breathe without something pushing on your airway.

Weeks:  30 + a few days.
Feeling: This week I am feeling pretty good. We had an amazing father's day weekend with the family and got to have a little downtime both days during Sienna's nap. I find that if I have an hour or two to rest during the day, I overall feel better. I'm totally looking forward to meeting this little one and find myself talking to her more these days (sometimes about random things, sometimes to tell her to please move away from my ribs).
Belly:  My belly button looks like it may pop out this time! It never did when pregnant with Sienna. At night it feels heavy so I need a pillow under it even when on my side.
Movement: All the darn time. It's honestly such a great feeling. Last pregnancy S gave me a run for my money and even landed me in triage one night to check on her. This pregnancy it's so nice that every few minutes I get a "tap tap hi mom!"
Craving:  Cold water. Cold gatorade. Cold lemonade. It's getting hot. I am wanting less heavy food and more really cold beverages. I carry my insulated cup around 24/7 and am a water monster. Soon I'll float away.
Gender: Still a girl. Sienna now calls her baby SISTER. AH! Adorable! 
Other symptoms: Braxton hicks any time I have to pee. Sort of weird. Insomnia circa 4 am.  Oh and I get random periods when she must be resting funny on my airway but I really can't breathe- I have to take these slow exaggerated breaths. It also happens after dinner but I should blame that on the decreasing stomach space and food and not the baby maybe? But... also a dose of the happy hormones- really getting excited to meet this little girl and picturing her and Sienna loving each other.
Random thoughts: We did join a pool as I said we needed to a couple weeks ago. It's still hot.  What do you do with a toddler on the 15th rainy day of the summer? I have to bring Sienna to my OB appointment tomorrow, I'm terrified.
Looking forward to: A little pseudo babymoon this weekend with J- Rehoboth for a few nights and leaving Sienna with her two favorite humans- grammy and grandpa. Wish I could indulge in a nice glass of wine!


June 15, 2014

happy father's day, daddy

{Two years ago Sienna guest blogged on father's day, this year she's back at it with lots of words. Happy father's day, Jamie. You're one of a kind!}

Dear Daddy,

Hiiiiii! I love you so much. I like to call you daddy but sometimes if you don't answer lately, I call you JAMIE WALLS. That usually gets your attention.

You are the best daddy! I love waiting for you to get home from work and holding the door open for you. Speaking of which, thanks for always letting me play with you the minute you get home. Without even taking off your shoes, I have you running. We play hiding and you make me fly around the house. I can't stop laughing. My favorite hiding place is in my crib when you climb in with me and we hide under the covers- mommy can never find us there! Oh, by the way, I'm really sorry that one time I pooped on your jeans when we were playing in there. Diaper mishap, ya know...

I love your hugs, I love that you always kiss me goodbye before work (And I remind you if you forget now!) You help me learn new things and let me explore. You let me tackle you and jump off the stairs or off the edge of the pool into your arms.

When I get hurt, you scoop me up and give me kisses even if I say I don't want them. You're kind and patient and you really really are good at letting me make up games and following along. Also, I love finding worms outside with you. Some people say they are gross, but we both seem to know how awesome they are.

Most of all, I am thankful that you always put me first. You always want to give me a hug and a kiss. You want to keep me happy, but you also sort of tell me when I can't have what I want. I don't love that, but it helps me understand how this house works a little more.  It seems like sometimes you come home and are really tired, but you play with me anyway. On the weekends, you bound out of bed to get me and bring me downstairs for cartoons and you build tall lego towers with me while mommy sips her coffee slowly and acts like she is still fast asleep. Good thing we have each other, huh?

Daddy, you're my favorite. Thanks for being such a good dad to me. And also, can we please work on you staying in my room until I fall asleep? I mean, what else do you have to do? You can just sit in my chair and we can talk until I am sleeping, okay?
I love you tons and tons,
(Age 2 yrs, 4 months)

June 11, 2014

10 Things I'll do differently with Baby #2.

Last time I had a newborn, I was a new mama. I had no idea about the joy, or the worry, or the countless other emotions that come with having your own tiny little being come home with you from the hospital for the first time. I think we did a pretty good job- we tried our best.  But looking back there are things that I think could have.  And things I'll try to do this time. I say try because we all know what life with a newborn looks like.

1. Pumping: I was so engorged and everyone told me not to pump because I'd produce more milk. That statement was correct- but turns out I needed more milk! Those first few months my supply waxed and waned and I was joyous on the nights I leaked and had too much milk. So I'll pump earlier on if I am engorged. It will be relief and also help me start building my supply and the freezer supply.

2. Nursing in the evenings: I tried really hard to nurse on demand, but between the hours of 6pm and 10pm I often got frustrated. In my mind, if I could hold Sienna off another half hour between feedings I'd have a little more milk and she would be more full. I need to go with the cluster feeding in the evening, especially if it means less screaming from the baby. And there's that supply thing too.

3. Saying no to guests: I was bad at this. ONCE I said no but made Jamie say no for me. This time, if you text or call and I'm crying or nursing and it isn't a good time for a visitor- I will say no. This means at the hospital too. That time is so precious and so exhausting and sometimes the best thing is to have no one bothering you (except you mom, you're welcome anytime).

4. Saying YES when people ask if I need anything: Since becoming a mom, I make every attempt to help my mom friends when their newborns come. I shoot a text saying I'm dropping off dinner. I bring over little presents for the siblings. I throw their dishes in the dishwasher if they are in the sink. Last time when people asked, I would always say I was fine. This time? Yes, please bring me a frozen dinner. Yes, you can indeed throw that load of baby clothes in the washer. Yes, you can take Sienna outside for a half hour. Yes, to whatever you are offering.

5. Not letting it all fall on me: I was under the impression with Sienna that because I was nursing anytime she cried it was totally up to me to make her stop. Jamie was (and is) the best dad and offers continuously to help anytime I need it. I am determined this time to hand her off at 4am if I have already nursed the baby and she's still crying. I'm determined to go take a long hot shower while my dad offers to sing the new little one to sleep when she's fussing. It's too much to do it all alone, and I still struggle with that daily with Sienna. This time, I hope to start off on a better foot.

6. Be more gentle and kind to myself: I beat myself up last time if I ended up a bawling mess when Sienna was crying, or if I was so tired I couldn't see straight. This time, I know it's coming. The crazy hormonal crash after the joy. The feelings of Oh god what did we do... And I know that my mom friends will text or call me back saying, "it's so normal". I also think that due to a few close friends going through it, I will be better prepared to know what is normal vs PPD/PPA and make sure to deal with it if it comes my way.

7. Getting out of the house sooner: I don't mean heading to the club. I mean heading to Target without fearing the newborn will wail. Because she might- but she will be fine and so will I. Taking a shower and walking outside with Sienna to play, going to the grocery store. I might need help, but moving instead of just sitting has always been a good thing for me- no matter what it is that's difficult at that point in life. This shouldn't be any different. And I can take 3 minutes to shower, even if it means frizzy hair, because it makes me feel like more of a person.

8. Taking more photos with me in them: I don't care if I look tired and bleary eyed. I don't care if my hair is a mess- in 20 years I know 100% I will look back thinking I looked way better than I thought. And probably way better than in 20 years.

9. Showing up to groups- breastfeeding, play, whatever before 6 months: Social support has been my #1 gift as a mom. My mom, my friends. My closest mama friend is moving this week (tears) and I know that I will need others to hold me up and share my joys. Since we are keeping our amazing nanny on, there's no reason I can't kick myself out of the house at 8 weeks to get to the breastfeeding groups at the hospital or show up to a 2-4 month old parents as teachers playgroup. Never know where a new good mama friend is lurking. And no one judges if you show up in yoga pants and non-matching shoes. While I'm at it, making sure to thank my friends who support me, whether it be via text or phone calls or showing up with lunch.

10. Be less crazy about sleep (Sarah! don't laugh at me, I said TRY!): This is kid #2. There will be days car naps are necessary. There will be days when I will likely be nursing #2 when #1 wants breakfast and we have to take a break. Sleep is my biggest source of anxiety as a parent, probably because S thrives on good sleep and is so cranky when she doesn't get it- true for all kids but especially true for her. I am going to try to relax. I am going to remember that sleeping "through the night" means 5-6 hours, not 12. I am going to remember that this baby will be happy and loved, and while I will 100% still keep her on a schedule when possible, the days of nazi sleep mom may have to be relinquished. Someone remind me of this when I am texting people at 4 am saying that this is it and I am running away to a convent. 

I'm hoping this will make for an easier newborn transition for me and for the new baby. 10 weeks to go until we try all of this out!

(Then again... doesn't look like we did so bad, right?)


June 2, 2014

Taking it in...

We took Sienna to a pool party Sunday. She woke up an hour into her nap, which was pushed way late, screaming. She managed, between sobs, to tell me she needed milk and for me to rock her in her chair. The glider was going to be moved to the baby's room but each time I consider it,  I end up with a situation like this and think my pregnant back and legs are glad we've got somewhere to cuddle up.

I took my girl in my arms, wrapped in her "auntie sarah" blanket, with her two lambie lovies (carefully given the names"old" baba and "new" or "soft" baba), and pulled her into me. I rocked her until the tears stopped, after some milk and singing. I kissed her head and her soft now-dry pool hair. I usually get annoyed by these mid nap fits, but not yesterday. Yesterday I curled up with her, put the blanket over us, and closed my eyes. She must have sensed my calm because she molded into me, her head on my chest as if she was a newborn again, but this time her feet reaching over the ends of the glider sticking out from her blanket. She fell into a deep sleep- I breathed in with her and felt her little heart beat on mine. For over an hour, we napped together, cuddled in her chair, just like when she was a newborn.  When she woke up, she looked up at me and closed her eyes again. She said "hi mommy" through her heavy eyelids. Then, realizing she did not want to have nap time anymore, she hopped up and said "Go downstairs and play?"

And just like that, my sweet cuddly moment was over.

These days, the toddler days, aren't always easy. I find myself doing internal checks, sometimes by the minute, to keep my cool. I find myself searching for patience that by evening has left the building sometimes.  I don't think they are the terrible twos- just the trying toddler moments. I know she wants control. I know she is seeking my attention and approval.  I have to call my mom or text my mom friends and ask if feeling crazy is normal by the end of some days. I need to take a deep breath and realize I may lose a night of sleep or get a few more grey hairs or even have days when we both end up in tears, but overall we are really lucky to have such a great kid.  And, I'm doing my damn best to be a really good mom. Because kids need that.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can just curl up and smell that sweet little one, take more small moments out of my day, and give her just a few more minutes of cuddles, we will both be better off. The days are slow, but the years are fast. I'll miss this, I know I will...

Two years old.

Four weeks old.


Third Trimester Home Stretch (or so I tell myself as the heat creeps up...)

Friday marked the 28 week third trimester rites of passage. Third trimester is lovely in some ways- no one doubts if you are pregnant, you know there is an end in sight, the baby moves all the time so the worries -for me at least- are easier to keep at bay. It also comes with a bigger belly, more weight to carry around, and the thoughts of oh sh&%t, are we really prepared? Also it appears my cut off jean shots from Pea in the Pod & this GAP long sleeve maternity shirt that is making its second round of wear (a fav during my pregnancy with S too) are my go-tos. Hoping these shorts survive summer!

Weeks: 28.5
Feeling: Pregnancy wise? Pretty good. A little bit of leg cramping and needing to put my feet up once in awhile but have been able to still run around and play with Sienna. Otherwise? I pulled a muscle in my back/shoulder the other day (okay fine maybe from lifting Sienna soooo much) and in the past the best way to cure is to sleep flat on my back with a heating pad. Since that's a no- go and so is ibuprofen, having a little bit of trouble getting it under control. Advice wanted.
Belly:  Bigger daily.  My toes are still in sight, but soon they may be gone too. Belly button is half popped out which actually never fully happened last time!
Movement: Still a ton of movement, mostly at night when I am cuddled up with S reading stories which is adorable, at work in the late morning after tea, and anytime I eat sugar.
Craving: Sweets cravings have FINALLY subsided. Maybe it was that disgusting glucose test that kicked them to the curb. But lately I'm back to menu planning and just trying to put a lot of savory foods on there (side note: make this Orange Chicken in your crock pot- you'll thank me. Throw some broccoli and other veggies in with it too).
Gender: Girly girlfriend, who has been lucky enough lately to collect a few new outfits. Sienna picked out a pair of pink pajamas with cats on them, proudly declaring they were for the baby.
Other symptoms: Braxton hicks are actually less frequent lately, so maybe I'm hydrating better. Still a little bit of leg/butt pain that comes and goes. Reminder not to gain this much weight when not pregnant!
Random thoughts: The glucose test was *as* horrible as I remember. Shaky and nauseous for awhile afterwards. Summer is going to be really hot- we are joining a pool ASAP. Also these pics tell me that my mirrors are dirty and need a good cleaning.
Looking forward to: Sleeping on my stomach again (though last time I nursed that didn't happen for another 6 months post baby), a cold glass of rose on the deck , meeting this little one.


June 1, 2014

Disney World Part Three: Magic Kingdom with Two Year Olds

We decided before we booked our trip to Disney that we would stay somewhere central to Magic Kingdom. Next time we go back, with older kiddos, we will explore more parks. But MK certainly has the most (from my perspective) for toddlers. We stayed Wilderness Lodge so we could take the ferry over. I would seriously highly recommend staying somewhere close to MK with toddlers- either a hotel on the monorail or the ferry. The lines for the other buses and boats looked awful and are a much longer trek to Magic Kingdom. Here are some tips & how we navigated Magic Kingdom!
Get there early: 
1. By 8:30 or 8:45 because you can see the opening ceremony with Mickey and because despite the park saying they open at 9, it is really around 8:45.
2. If you don't stop at the shops on Main Street and take your good old time, you can walk straight to fantasy land and get on rides with no wait (with no fast pass).
3. Bring a stroller. Early day means a long day. Toddlers cannot walk Magic Kingdom.
1. Have some sort of plan, but be flexible. We were told by a cast member as soon as we walked into Fantasy land that Dumbo's line wouldn't be long until 10 or 10:30 and our best use of time was to hit some of the usually longer lines.
2. Book your fast passes ahead of time and if you can, book them in afternoon. In the morning you can get away with finagling your way through without it.
Day 1. {We barely waited for any ride starting at 9:00am}
-Winnie the Pooh
-Dumbo x2  (because we couldn't stop the crazed girls from going there!)
-Ariel's Grotto
-Small World
-Meet Minnie & Daisy at Pete's Side Show (shortest line to meet characters AND air conditioned- we waited about 10 minutes but it was cool and the girls could play around us)
-Note* I wish we brought bathing suits/change of clothes for girls for the water area next to Pete's Side Show*
-Break for lunch & naps-
-Dumbo again
-Carousel (never really a line)
-Dinner at Crystal Palace
-Fast Pass Small World (worth it bc super long line)
-Shops on way out
Day 2. {Also very minimal waiting}
-Peter Pan
-Small World x 2 (girls were obsessed, we had no control)
-Carousel & ice cream break
11:00 Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it! Dance party in Town Square
(get there at 10:50, sit on the sidewalk next to the road. Kids can dance with characters in the street)
-Enchanted Tiki Room bird show (it was hot and this was A/C break)
-Lunch at the Plaza-
- We skipped going back evening #2 because it was 95 degrees.
Food in Magic Kingdom:
- If you can either make reservations for lunch OR head to lunch a half hour before your kiddos normally eat. We actually liked our non- reservation lunch better than our reservation lunch.
-Peco Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café is tucked right inside Fronteir Land and was perfect for all of us!
-The Plaza restaurant for lunch was WAY too slow for toddlers. Good menu but poor service for little ones. We saw a lot of tantrums in here.
-Dinner at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh & Friends. The girls LOVED this. Jamie got food poisoning so I sort of will never be able to go there ever again. But it was awesome for a meal with characters.  Take your chances ;)
-You can bring in your own water, food, etc. Do it! Bring a little soft cooler and attach it to your stroller. We curbed many break downs with some cold water and pretzels/fruit snacks.

Toddlers and Naps
-Let it be known I'm a sleep Nazi crazed mama. But I had heard (and know Sienna) that skipping naps is a horrible idea because of the cranky tired factor.
-Because our hotel was so close to things, the girls napped daily. Not as long some days, but they did. They were much happier after naps.
-If you can't swing getting back to your hotel, get a stroller fan and find somewhere shaded. There are also baby care centers at each park that are air conditioned- take advantage!
-We bought one stuffed animal in the gift shop at the hotel the second day there. Sienna loved it and didn't ask for anything else until the last night when she told my parents she needed a Mickey Mouse Bank (she does love it so guess it was money well spent)
-We brought a few Disney items with us on the plane and those staved off the random asking.
-Avoid the shops and you'll avoid the expensive souvenirs. No need to go in them if you don't want to. Easiest way to save your money.
-1-2 days in Magic Kingdom is plenty for a two year old. But 1-2 days is definitely worth it!
-Bring snacks. Bring water. Lots of water.
-Take breaks. Get ice cream. Know when your kid has had enough
-Be flexible and take a billion photos; the girls smiled so much we could barely keep up!
-If the grandparents offer to go, take them up on it immediately. Extra pairs of adult hands (and arms to carry little ones sometimes) were AMAZING!
Ferry ride to MK
Meeting Pooh!
Waving good morning to Mickey & crew with Grandpa!
The castle early morning
Girls + Grandpa at Dumbo!
Carousel happiness

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