Tag Archives: baby

She Says… 8 Months

Emmett-y. Bonky Bonks. My smiley little buddy.

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This was a big month for you! All of a sudden, it seems, you are a mover and a shaker. While you used to be content snuggling into my lap, now you are ON! THE! GO! A day before you turned 8 months you figured out how to get your knees under yourself in crawling position (a skill you had been working on for weeks). You straightened your legs and jack rabbited forwards right onto your face. Not to be deterred, you got right back up and did it again. And again. And again. And boom. Now you’re crawling all over the place.

Lookout world. Emmett has arrived.

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It seems that your personality is blossoming right along with your gross motor skills. You are expressing yourself in all different ways now. You coo and gurgle and grunt and shout. You have already figured out how to match your brother’s insane volume level! I think we’re going to need earplugs soon. You will shout, and Owen will imitate you, and then you will imitate Owen, and before I know it we’re all shouting and laughing. You guys are HILARIOUS together. Partners in crime, for sure. But perhaps we should start to learn the difference between an inside voice and an outside voice.

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You blow raspberries like it’s your job. All day long, every day. Blowing raspberries and giggling your little “huh, huh” laugh. Your teacher at school told me that yesterday you were laying on the floor with one of your friends, doing your little Emmett chuckle, and she was cracking up at you. The two of you just sat and laughed, you laughing at her and her laughing at you, for several minutes. Adorable. I hope you always keep your sweet sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself. It will serve you well, my joyful little darling. For there will be many things in your life that will make you want to stop smiling and never laugh again. But the truth is, in those moments, the best thing you can do is keep smiling. Keep laughing. Keep your head afloat. And they will pass. They always do.

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Now that you are moving, your relationship with Owen is changing too. You’re no longer the little blob that he pats on the head as he walks by. You are all up in his business — even if I put you across the room, you lock eyes on him and whatever he is playing with and you gather your strength and crawl straight for him. Lately we’ve been saying, “Ahh! Attack of the Giant Baby!” when you start beelining for him, your eyes twinkling with delight. Your favorite game is crashing towers that we have built with blocks, or getting whatever Owen is playing with and putting it right in your mouth. So far I haven’t seen any frustration from Owen regarding your new mobility. Mostly encouragement. When you crawl, he claps his hands and says, “You can do it, Emmett! Crawl!”. When he does something silly now, like put a toy on his head and balance it, he’ll say, “Watch this, Emmett!”. You giggle obediently. You giggle all the time when Owen is around. You are the best audience that little extrovert could have ever asked for. He’ll entertain you and hand you toys and tell me what he thinks you need when you are crying. “I think his teeth hurt, Mommy.”.

And you are always the most engaged little peanut gallery when he dances and sings at the dinner table. You shake your head side to side bobbling along to his crazy songs. You love it. You love him. And we love you.

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Let’s be honest, though. Amidst the brotherly love fest, there are also many times of not-so-gentle touches and accidents. Oh brothers. We have a long road of “accidents” between the two of you. Owen went to the ER last week after falling into the bookshelf at school. The next day (during the photo shoot for this letter!) he tipped you over into the side of your crib and you hit your head. The next day he made a tidal wave in the bathtub and covered your face in water. None of it was on purpose, exactly. You guys are just boys. Rough, tough boys. I love that about you. But let’s try to stay out of the hospital for the most part, mmmkay?

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You have surprised me by preferring to feed yourself rather than me feeding you. Owen could not control his body to feed himself at your age (or just preferred for me to feed him like a baby bird), so I assumed that you wanted to be fed mash as well, just like your big bro. But no. I was wrong. All you want to do is eat what the family is eating, and you want to do it all yourself. So after I wrapped up our appointments with the GI specialist and the allergist, we started giving you little bits of EVERYTHING (except milk — you’re still allergic to milk) on your high chair tray. Your fine motor skills are impressive and you can get just about anything from the tray into your mouth. Little bits, big chunks, long things you hold in your fist and gum into submission. You’re a fantastic eater. Every day I feel like I need to give you more and more and more food. Your favorite foods at the moment are whole peas, green beans, broccoli, green grapes, bananas & oatmeal and Cheerios. Oh you LOVE those Cheerios.

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Oh Emmett. I love watching you grow into yourself. Getting to know who you are under your fuzzy blonde hair, deliciously chubby cheeks and thoughtful blue eyes. I see the twinkle in your eyes and know you are mischievous and daring. I see the way you are insistent and determined, practicing new skills over and over again. I see you exploring your voice and I love every squeak and shout and babble. I see your lip quivering and your brow furrowing when I disappear behind a door. I am always coming back, little one.

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It is quite clear that we delight in you and you delight in us. We love you so much, Emmett-y.

Love,
Mommy

She Says… 7 Months

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My sweet baby-who-is-quickly-feeling-like-not-so-much-of-a-baby,

You are SO MUCH FUN right now. Seriously. You’re the best. Your chubby cheeks and toothless grin and sparkly gray-blue eyes make everyone around you smile right along with you — your joy is contagious. You still have your characteristic easygoing way about you, but recently we’ve seen more and more of another side of your personality. You are driven and focused and determined.

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You practice new skills like rolling (which you rock at) and grabbing (everything) and getting food from your fist into your mouth over and over and over again with the determination of an Olympic athlete. You love to pull hair right now. Especially mine. Especially when I leave it curly and I’m giving you a bottle and you gaze into my eyes so sweetly and dribble a little milk out of your mouth so that I let my guard down, and then BAM! you grab a fist full of what you had been twirling so gently a moment before and PULL. HARD. I wrangle my hair out of your clenched fist, and we start that little dance all over again. You’re sneaky. And strong. And you have hilarious timing.

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Speaking of rolling, you are a rolling machine. You’ve actually developed this amazing ability to maneuver yourself all around a room to get your hands on whatever you want. Most kids do this with crawling, but your preferred method is a carefully planned out series of rolls and pivots. It’s quite impressive and I’m so glad I finally got a video to show you one day. I have to imagine that crawling is just around the corner for you, my active little dude!

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The other day Owen and I ran upstairs to get him a pair of socks and came back down to find that you had rolled yourself right out of the living room and into the kitchen, and you gazed up at us, giggling and proud, with one foot in the dog’s water bowl and gnawing on a magazine. Watch out, Mommy.

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You are growing like a little weed these days. And it’s not a wonder — you down over 35 ounces of formula (that’s a LOT) plus three solid meals of food a day. And recently daycare started asking me to pack snacks because you were hungry. HUNGRY? Must be all that rolling you’re doing. Favorite foods at the moment are peas, corn, sweet potatoes, blueberries and bananas. The only thing I’ve found that you really don’t like is butternut squash. You’ll still eat it, but you make a scrunchy face and spit most of it back out.

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Due to your ongoing tummy issues and some weird rashes and hives, we’re seeing an allergist and a GI specialist. Currently my instructions are to introduce you to as many new foods as possible in the next 4 weeks, so here we go! I’ve been on a baby food making extravaganza and our freezer is filled with different concoctions. I love mixing and matching your meals and I’m excited to branch out into different grains and textures and flavors in the coming months. I’m so glad to see that you seem to like food just as much as your brother and Daddy and I.

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Your brother. Oh, Emmett. I can’t even put into words how much you adore your brother. And how much he adores you. The two of you are obsessed with each other. I can already see the incredible connection that the two of you have that has nothing to do with Daddy or I, and it makes my heart sing.

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At dinner Owen loves to entertain you by making silly faces and shaking his head around. Physical comedy seems to be your thing at the moment and just about anything Owen does that involves climbing/jumping/twirling/dancing/running elicits the most delicious belly laughs from you. You also have the uncanny ability to laugh whenever he says something silly. It’s like you can understand every word he says. He’ll tell us a story and make a joke, and you’re ALWAYS the first one laughing. It is precious.

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He can’t get enough of you either. He asks me to bring you up in his bed so we can all “pretend to sleep” together and he loves to hand you toys and make you put them in your mouth (which you do, every time). He shakes your head around and bobbles you so forcefully I’m still constantly saying, “Gentle hands!” and “Owen, Emmett doesn’t like that, please stop” and you are constantly making a liar out of me by laughing your little butt off at whatever he’s doing.

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Though I know there are wonderful things on the horizon for you, I wish I could bottle this age and keep it in my pocket. You are just… delicious. Jolly. Sweet. Easy.

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Every day I look forward to waking you up just because I get to hold you and squeeze your beautiful baby chub and cover you in kisses. I can’t wait to see more and more of your personality as you grow. What you’ll be like. What you’ll do with your life.

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We’re so lucky to have you, Emmetty. Bonky bonks. Blemett (Owen’s favorite). Chubs.

Couldn’t love you any more if I tried,
Mommy

She Says… 6 Months

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Oh Emmett. My jolly little dude. My cuddler. My giggler. You, my darling, are the type of baby that makes people want to have a million more babies.

I mean, really. Just look at that smile. The twinkly eyes. The delicious cheeks. The rubberband-like rolls at your wrists, ankles, knees, thighs. It’s literally hard for me to stop kissing you some days. You are just so smooshable. You are calm and content. Chill, to the max.

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On top of that, 6 months is a magical time.

  • You are sleeping through the night. You still cry out once in a while, and since we almost never hear you cry anymore, Daddy and I sit and watch you on the monitor, wringing our hands over if we should go in and hold you. When Owen was your age, if I went in ONE TIME he would expect me to come in EVERY TIME, ALL THE TIME when he cried. Going in once just to check on him made the whole sleeping process take about ten steps back. But you, you, my flexible little friend, you are totally cool if I come in one night and give you time to try to get yourself together the next night. You wake at different times’ always keeping me on my toes. Sometimes you want my help calming you down, sometimes you don’t. You’re flexible, but you’re also confusing. You are helping me to learn how to roll with it and just follow my gut.

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  • You are rolling and sitting like a champ. It seems like all of a sudden you went from laying down all the time to being able to flip/roll both ways, pivot around on your tummy, inch your way towards toys and sit for really long periods of time without falling over backwards. It’s amazing to watch – you are SO strong. I used to joke about how you were so deliciously, perfectly plump that it was harder for you to flip that body over or hold it up for a long time. Boy was I wrong. You are an Olympic sitting champion these days, and believe me, it’s ALL you want to do.

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  • You eat food and it’s super fun. You are loving exploring food these days. Some days you chow down, some days you just want to chew on something “big”, some days you want nothing to do with what I put in front of you. But generally we’re doing 2 “meals” a day, in addition to the millions of ounces of formula you drink every day (seriously, WHERE do you put those 38 ounces?!). As with many things with you, every day is different and we’re learning to follow your cues. You have tried homemade avocado, sweet potato, broccoli, green beans, peas, pears, butternut squash and some red and green pepper sticks (that you like to gum to death). You kind of like everything, except the squash which you only like mixed with apple. Unfortunately we’ve recently noticed the beginning of eczema on your cheeks, just like your big bro, so we’re avoiding rice cereal and other grains at the moment, and also apples. I’m being very cautious with all other allergens as well. As with your brother, I’ll continue my scientific food experiments to see if we can figure out what your triggers are, but we’re not there yet.

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  • You love toys. Everything we hand you goes right in your mouth. I love to see which ones are your favorites (wooden giraffe, banana toothbrush, the twirly corner of a random burp cloth), as you are beginning to develop opinions and show us your personality. It’s so fun to watch you grab things and maneuver them into your mouth. In contrast to your brother’s frenetic, wild motions at this age, you are controlled and steady. Your fine motor skills are quite impressive and you’re already starting to pick up teeny tiny little things between your pudgy fingers.

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The past month has been punctuated by lots of doctor’s appointments. You seem to have inherited your brother’s tendency toward respiratory bugs, and you’ve had a nasty cough for the last couple of weeks. In addition, you also have quite the glass stomach, as you’ve gotten a tummy bug twice and both times the projectile vomiting has persisted for almost a week. Phew! I thought I knew everything about baby illnesses after Owen, but again, I was wrong. Let’s try to keep those appointments to a minimum from now on, mmkay?

You, my precious one, are so. much. fun. You have this new screechy laugh that you do whenever Owen walks in the room, and you seem to be constantly amused with watching the world go by. Owen still delights in contorting your body into hilarious positions and bopping you on the head (he does it out of love, I promise). You guys are two peas in a pod. Watching you interact makes my heart swell to the point of bursting.

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I love you. Times a million.

Love,
Mommy

 

She Says… A Solid “Meh”.

A few days after Emmett’s 4 month doctor’s appointment we felt ready for one of my favorite baby milestones. Or, rather, something that was one of my favorite milestones for Owen, so it’s all I’ve ever known. In pure 2nd baby fashion, it went completely differently than what I expected.

FOOD.

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We started playing with solid food on the earlier side (a little over 4 months old) with Emmett for many reasons, not the least of which is that now that he is on gross hypoallergenic formula (another story for another blog post!), I feel strongly that introducing him to some better/more interesting flavors and textures is important. Also, it’s REALLY fun. I love introducing my babies to the tastes and smells and experience of enjoying food.

We were in a similar situation with Owen when he turned 4 months. The minute I put that first bite of avocado in his mouth it was like Christmas morning. His eyes lit up, his lips smacked, his toes curled in happiness. The kid ate like a Hoover from the very first day. And pretty much never stopped (save for some picky eating phases along the way, all of which ebbed and flowed and eventually left again).

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Emmett’s verdict?

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MEH.

I started him with avocado just like his big bro. Lord knows I ate enough avocados while pregnant with/breastfeeding him that he’s practically been eating it since the day he was created. However, that familiarity didn’t seem to help much. He just wasn’t into it.

He tolerated the spoon on his lips. He tolerated me dabbing a little avocado mush onto them. He licked. Scowled. Got full-body shivers. Used his tongue to push it right back out.

Given that he’s still so little (5 months yesterday — another blog post in the works!), I’m totally not sweating it. Or pushing it. After the first time I waited a week before trying again. Since then I’ve been offering a few bites every night when we eat dinner as a family. He sits at the table in his high chair and enjoys the company, if not the food so much. I’ve offered avocado and sweet potato.

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The only time he will really open his mouth and eat? When big brother Owen is doing the feeding.

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Which sort of feels like an accident waiting to happen (I heard myself saying, “Oops! Don’t stick the spoon all the way down his throat!”). But honestly? Both boys love it. Owen loves being the big brother (read: IN CHARGE), and Emmett sits there and giggles nonstop at Owen.

Owen’s new favorite game: Will Emmett swallow or spit his food back out?

So although he’s not exactly Hoovering yet, I’m hoping he’ll warm up to food soon. Yet another reminder of how different 2 kids can be!

She Says… 3 Months

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My sweet Emmett (or Emmett-y, as your brother calls you),

Happy 3 month birthday! Three months feels so… significant. The end of the “4th trimester” and into the big, wide world of being a baby. A baby who coos and gurgles and drools and smiles and laughs. A baby who pushes up with all of his might when placed on his tummy and holds his head up high to take in the world. A baby who grabs my finger with such an iron grip that I swear he has adult strength. A baby who smells so gosh darn delicious that I can’t help but bury my face in his neck at every possible opportunity. A baby who is starting to understand subtle changes in facial expressions and gives a shy half-smile to strangers exclaiming over his unbelievable cuteness (and a HUGE! WIDE! OPEN-MOUTH! SPARKLY EYES! smile to Mommy, Daddy and Owen).

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Oh Emmett. If there’s one word I use to describe you the most on a daily basis it is SMILEY. You are one joyful little person. Even when you’re tired or hungry, you often smile through your tears in this adorable I-can’t-decide-if-I’m-happy-or-sad state. I took you into my office last week to visit my coworkers and you charmed every single one of them, smiling and cooing while they oohed and ahhed over you. After a bit of socializing you always look for me, though, and you need some one-on-one time to recharge.

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I get it. I totally do. I’ll always be here to wrap you up in my arms and be your calm. Your home base. Your comfort.

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Usually you are quite the mama’s boy (and I couldn’t be happier about that), but there’s one situation where I always play second fiddle: when Owen is in the room. You are enthralled with him. Totally in love. Entertained. Amused. In the mornings or after naps he climbs onto the side of your crib and opens your swaddle saying, “Good morning cutie pie!” or “Wake up, sleepyhead” or just “Emmett-eeeeeeeeee”. It takes my breath away every time. I love to watch you love each other.

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When we’re playing together Owen is always all up in your business. Patting your head or climbing on your body or making you clap with your feet or do sign language with your hands. Last night he was dead set on feeding you a potato despite my insistence that you are too little to eat food. I constantly hear myself saying, “Owen, please give Emmett space” or “Back up” or “Face away from his face!”, but you wanna know the truth? YOU LOVE IT. You love all of the manhandling and silliness and physical torture. You’re smiling, egging him on. You guys are going to be quite the pair as you grow up together. Partners in crime. I can see it already.

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You and me, though, we’ve got something special too. I know when you’re older you won’t want to hear about how breastfeeding was this special time between us, but it is. It really is. I am so thankful for the quiet times I get to sit with you and rock you and gaze at your beautiful little body. Even amidst the chaos of Owen playing and breakfast making and Schnitzel barking… when I’m nursing you it’s like there’s this force field around us and we’re the only two people inside. (Believe me, sometimes I feel like I need a force field, since Owen always seems to think that nursing time means “let’s climb all over mom and ask her incessant questions”). Every 2-3 hours you get 20 minutes of time with me all to yourself. And I get you. And at night when it’s quiet and you’re swaddled and our bodies are rocking in sync I wish I could freeze time and remember that feeling forever. It’s my happy place (at the same time, I would also LOVE to know what it feels like to sleep for 6+ hours at a time again!).

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You got sick for the first time over the last few days. Daycare germs, no doubt. The raspy, squeaky sound of your “I’m losing my voice” voice just about broke my heart into a million pieces. It was so sad. We’ve been humidifying and nursing around the clock (remember when you used to get up only once a night? Yeah, that was nice…) and I think you’re starting to feel a bit better today. When you had a decent fever the other day I tried to give you some medicine and learned something about you. You are a TRICKSTER when it comes to medicine. You have already perfected the art of spitting out every last drop. I’m going to have to work on my technique. I hope you don’t have the same reaction when we are ready to try solid food in a couple months!

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I’ve started giving you your vitamins and any medicine in the bath so that when you spit it out it doesn’t make a big mess. Owen thinks this is HILARIOUS and loves to watch me. He instructs, “little by little” and asks me if you spit it out after every gulp. Speaking of bath time, you love baths. Love. No matter how tired or hungry or ready for bed you are, you immediately calm when I start running the water. You and Owen splash and play together and I try my best to make sure he doesn’t drown you with his antics.

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I love you so, little one. You are the perfect addition to our family. I can’t wait to watch you grow up and learn more about who you are.

Love,
Mama

She Says… Textbook

I realize that I haven’t written much about Emmett’s daily schedule or how much he sleeps or eats. You already know why (no, not just that he’s the 2nd child) — my new philosophy no longer hinges on schedules or counting hours or minutes or trying to “work on” changing the way things are. So I haven’t kept sleep logs or written down how many minutes he’s nursing on which sides when. And thank goodness for that.

Though I haven’t cracked open a single parenting or sleep book or website this time around, I think Emmett is pretty textbook for 3 months old.*

SLEEP
He goes to bed around 7pm and wakes up between 6am and 7am. During that time he usually gets up once around 1am or 2am to eat. If I’m lucky (ha!), he gets up twice, usually around 1am and 5am. Aside from those times, he’s totally silent (he never wakes and cries for no reason). There is a small (and getting larger) part of me that really, really wants to “work on” things so that he sticks to getting up once or even eliminates all night feedings altogether. But I’m resisting the urge. It doesn’t really work anyway; he’s on his own schedule.

Last night was one of those lucky nights when he got up twice and I was so physically exhausted by the 2nd time I heard him that I seriously contemplated letting him cry. Don’t judge me. We’ve all been there. But then I realized he’s still only 13 weeks old and some people’s babies wake up many, many more times throughout the night at this age (and older). And he was probably legitimately hungry. So I kicked myself in the butt, shuffled into his room and stuck my boob in his mouth. He was, in fact, hungry. Note to self: Don’t starve your child.

During the day I can see tiny glimmers of a real “schedule” falling into place without my intervention, but we’re still very loose. Emmett can be awake happily for about 1.5 hours before needing to sleep again. So usually I wake him up, change his diaper, feed him, “play” for the next 45-60 minutes, and then put him back down. And repeat. Naps are almost always 1 sleep cycle (45 minutes) but we’ve had the occasional 1.5 hour stretch as well. The old me would have been all, “I’m really working on extending his naps and helping him learn how to consolidate sleep blah blah blah”, but the new me is fine to squeeze my To Do’s into those 45 minute windows since they are pretty much guaranteed. Anything above that is icing on the cake.

He is super easy to put to sleep. Unlike his brother, who needed 30 minutes of rocking and a delicate transfer to the crib, Emmett is happy to pretty much happy to be plopped in the crib and to put himself to sleep. Sometimes I steal a few minutes of rocking him in his swaddle because he’s just too sweet to put down.

And then, of course, there are the random nights when he’s screaming bloody murder despite being fed and tired. But we won’t talk about those nights. They don’t happen very often, and for that I am extremely grateful.

FEEDING
As a result of his sleep schedule, that means he’s eating every 2-3 hours. Sometimes 2 on the dot if he got tired early, and sometimes 3 or even a little longer if he sleeps longer. On average, his nursing sessions take 20 minutes (15 on the fast/big side and 5 on the slow/small side). Sometimes gas gets the best of him and he barely eats anything, twisting and turning away. Other times he’s happy to suck and suck and suck for 45 minutes and it still seems as though he’s getting milk. At night he seems to like 30 minutes. It varies.

Thanks to an awesome supplement (GoLacta), my milk supply has increased and I think I’m making exactly the right amount of milk (as opposed to a few weeks ago when I was regularly supplementing with formula as needed). At night I still opt for a couple ounces of formula or milk I pumped the previous night at my bedtime so I can guarantee I won’t run dry before he’s finished (as I hate to disrupt bedtime with having to take him into the bathroom to make a surprise bottle, and often he really likes to tank up at bedtime). But in general I feel like we’ve hit a really good stride with supply and demand and understanding each other in the nursing department.

MOTOR SKILLS
Emmett’s not a huge fan of tummy time, but he’s very strong. He loves to be held upright and we’ve just started using the Bumbo seat for short periods of time. He also loves his play mat with toys dangling down and has a mean right hook to knock them back and forth. He can hold your finger tighter than a boa constrictor squeezing its prey. He especially likes beating me up while we’re nursing.

All in all, he’s doing awesome. For a 3 month old.

___

* To everyone who I meet on the street and in the grocery line and at the doctor’s office who asks me if he’s sleeping through the night (and balks when I say he is not), SHUT YOUR TRAPS. It is totally, totally fine and normal that my 3 month old is not sleeping through the night yet. So please stop giving me that pitying look. I realize it is a common thing to ask a new parent, but really. Just don’t.

She Says… 2 Months

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My sweet Emmett,

Mr. Smileypants. Bonky Bonks (yup, that nickname has stuck, despite my best efforts to give you a nicer one). You are one happy baby.

Seriously. You are the smiliest.

Every day I fall a little bit more in love with you. Even on the hard days.

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This past weekend we took a trip to see Aunt Ginger and Uncle Seth get married (your first flight!). You know how people say you learn a lot about a person when you travel with them? Well, I certainly learned more about you. You are a Mama’s boy so far; and I mean that in the sweetest, best sense of the term. You loved being passed around from aunt to uncle to cousins to friends to random strangers who just couldn’t help but pinch your beautiful little cheeks for a little while, and then… BOOM. You wanted Mommy. Just Mommy. It was really the first time I’ve heard you cry for more than a few minutes. You were just… overwhelmed, it seemed.

And, my beautiful boy, I gotta tell you. I get it. I really do. I used to be a full-on, 100% extravert, very much like your brother. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve shifted to be more introverted, and I saw so much of that part of myself in you as you relished your alone time this weekend (even happily chilling out by yourself in your crib).

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You are easy as pie to put to sleep. Except, however, for your actual “bedtime” at 7:00pm. The rest of the day you are happy to be put down wide awake and talk yourself to sleep. But at bedtime you want to be nursed all the way to sleep and transferred carefully, quietly, gently. And if I dare to leave the room before you are in deep sleep? You’ll cry and fuss and demand that I come back up to your room and rock you some more, starting from scratch. Sometimes I get frustrated because you are so different/difficult at bedtime… and then I realize that you’re only barely 10 weeks old and you are E.A.S.Y. compared to most (ahem, YOUR BROTHER, ahem).

Maybe that’s just what a 2nd kid has to do to get a little rocking time with Mommy. If that’s the case, keep yelling, little one. Remind me to slow down and snuggle you while I can, because the day will come pretty soon when I won’t be able to. And I’ll miss these days, I guarantee it.

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I am so thankful for our breastfeeding relationship. Feeding you has become one of my most favorite things to do. Even when I feel like all I do in a day is nurse you, you still melt me every time I look down at your peach fuzz hair and your big, blue eyes. Your sharp little fingernails clench and unclench my chest as you eat and my skin is marred with tiny little cuts and pinch-marks. But I wear those scrapes with honor. I am so proud of us for powering through when it was tough, as now I feel that nursing you is one of my greatest accomplishments and one of my favorite parts of the day. Still, though, I am so relieved that you are flexible enough to take a bottle with formula or breastmilk. That makes life easy for both of us. Keep it up, Hoover. You’re doing a great job.

Oh, my little dimpled wonder, you fit into our family like a perfect little puzzle piece. Everyone adores you, including Owen. He dotes on you in a way I never saw coming. He loves to tiptoe into your room with me to wake you up. He climbs onto the side of your crib and asks me to pull you over to him so he can open your swaddle. You beam at him and he gives me the play-by-play, “He’s smiling at me! He’s saying he loves me!”. He watches your tiny fists open and close and is constantly telling me what you are “learning” (the sign for orange, for instance, when you were putting your clenching fist to your chin, or the number 5 when your fingers splayed out wide). When you are playing on your mat in the living room he always, ALWAYS, runs over from whatever he is doing to lay there with you. I’m constantly refereeing with instructions like, “Give Emmett some space!” and “Don’t touch his face so much”, “Don’t climb on his body”, but Owen’s response is always, “He likes it!”. And you do. You laugh and gaze at him with an expression I’ve never seen you use with anyone else.

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I can already see how you will look up to him as you two grow together. I know there will be WWF-worthy wrestling and angry words between you (you are brothers, after all), but I hope what you will remember are the inside jokes and the silliness and the LOVE that you share.

Your brother will be your protector, your confidante, your sidekick and your best friend. Treat him that way.

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I love you, Bonky Bonks. And Daddy too. And Owen adores you. And this weekend your cousins (and aunts and uncles and grandparents!) fought over who got to hold you, like the best baby doll they’ve ever seen.

You have stretched ours hearts to make room for you. You’re just so darn easy to fall in love with. Keep up the good work.

All my love,
Mommy

She Says… 2 Months (and a “then vs. now” comparison)

Emmett is 2 months old! Today we saw the doctor for his 2 month visit.

Having been through this once before with a not-quite-so-easy baby, I can say with confidence that Emmett is SUCH AN EASY BABY. While generally happy and certainly not as hard as they come, Owen was a lot more “high needs” than Emmett. He needed to be held more. Rocked to sleep more. Fed more. It’s hard to say how much of this was his needs or my parenting, but looking back I think it’s safe to say he was a bit more challenging. Emmett, however, is easy peasy. He puts himself to sleep most of the time. He eats really well (aside from those random fussy times). He is insanely happy and smiley and social. He’s happy to lay on his back or sit in a chair and take in his surroundings. He’s even stretching out his night time sleep a little so that I have to stop saying, “Well, he’s perfect except that he isn’t into long stretches at night…”. In short, he’s awesome. I know that, soon enough, we will find his thing that he is not so good at. (Every baby has one. Even the perfect ones.). The thing we will struggle with. But for now? For now he’s making this transition to a family of 4 as easy as it can be.

He’s 24″ (88th %ile) and 11 pounds 11 ounces (35th %ile). That means he gained 3 inches and 3 pounds since his 2 month visit. All of that time we’ve spent nursing and nursing and nursing some more (and making little bottles here and there to top him off) has paid off! He’s round in all the right places and even has some delicious rolls on his legs and under his chin.

SUCH a contrast to his brother at this stage. At 2 months, Owen was 23″ and 10 pounds 10 ounces (19th %ile), and they were the same length and only a few ounces apart at birth. This was the last “regular” checkup we had for Owen because after that his weight took a nosedive and he slowly slipped into the single digit percentiles for weight and was diagnosed with reflux. Thus began the series of events that made me confront our nursing issues. Something tells me that isn’t going to happen this time around with Emmett. I was looking at these pictures of Owen from around this time, wearing an outfit that I had Emmett in the other day. The difference in how they look in the outfit is astonishing!

The blog is such a fantastic resource for me as I go through these newborn stages again. It is so helpful to be able to look back and see what I was doing/thinking/worried about/celebrating.

Speaking of which. When we were cleaning the basement during our staycation this weekend I pulled out our keyboard and put it in the playroom. I figured Owen would have fun playing with it. As we played on it together I had a flashback to him playing on it when he was a toddler. The blog saved this awesome memory for me and I had to share!

Then:

Now:

 

She Says… The Fire Hose and the Drippy Faucet

Let me tell you a tale. A tale of two boobs.

For those who care, an update on how breastfeeding is going the second time around.

The bottom line: It’s working…
It feels a little silly to still marvel that something so natural is actually working the way it’s supposed to, but after my traumatic experience trying to nurse Owen and a very rocky start nursing Emmett filled with cracks and blisters and pain of all kinds… I still marvel. It’s working. I still use the Brest Friend pillow for comfort whenever I’m at home (I like that I can essentially have my hands free and he stays in the right position), but we’ve got our latch down. I can nurse him wherever, whenever I need to.

… almost.
There are 2 times when nursing just doesn’t work, no matter what I try. One, when he is thrashing and shaking his head and wailing, most likely due to gas/stomach issues. This isn’t very often, thankfully. Rather, at least it’s not anymore. There was a phase when Emmett was around 6 weeks when it happened about once a day. I’m not sure what the phase was, but, like all things baby, it has passed and we are into a new phase now. The other time is when I feel like I am out of milk. More on this later.

I have achieved “Breastfeeding Nirvana”. For me.
For those times when nursing just isn’t cutting it (when it’s making one of us, or both of us, miserable, for whatever reason), Emmett gets formula. I knew from the start that I was NOT going to put the same “all or nothing” pressure on myself to exclusively breastfeed like I had with Owen. I think I created a lot of my own stress by using every fiber of my being to force breastfeeding on both of us, and as a result our health and happiness suffered. So this time around I supplemented with formula from the start. Around 3 weeks when my pediatrician and lactation consultant recommended introducing bottles, we made them bottles of formula.

This was, hands down, the best decision I’ve made for us so far.

Breastfeeding success, for me, this time around, is as follows: I would like Emmett to nurse from my breast whenever possible. Whenever that is not possible, I want him to take formula. So far, this is working beautifully. We are both so, so happy about it. I think allowing myself the “out” of offering him formula sometimes actually made me work harder at breastfeeding. I didn’t feel cornered or desperate. He doesn’t feel like food is scarce. Benjamin can easily take over if things are escalating or I need a break. I’m spending my time when I’m not feeding Emmett enjoying him. Being silly with Owen. Making dinner. Going to the playground. I’m not spending it pumping and washing pump parts and crying. It’s… glorious. And freeing. And awesome.

Supply and Demand
Hi! Nice to meet you. Let me introduce you to my boobs.

Rightie is my super-producer. She is, quite literally, a solid 2 cup sizes bigger than my left. It’s awkward. It’s totally normal for breasts to be different sizes and produce different amounts of milk, but this is pretty astonishing. When I have pumped in the past (like on Monday when I had to “pump and dump” after my surgery), Rightie makes easily 3x as much milk as leftie. Easily. For good reason, this is Emmett’s preferred side to drink on. However, she’s also quite powerful. My little fire hose, if you will. Her letdown is STRONG and often makes Emmett sputter and cough and gulp air as soon as the milk comes out. She’s a sprinter too. She sprays every which way for a few minutes, and then slows waaaaaay down. Emmett will gulp, gulp, gulp for 5-7 minutes, and then, nothing. Then he loses interest. If I keep him on there he can sometimes get a second letdown, but he doesn’t always have the patience for this. It’s efficient (he gets a lot of milk during these 7 minutes), but always leaves me wondering if he’s getting enough.

Leftie is more like a drippy faucet. She’s small and meek. I can barely detect her letdown. Emmett will give a few good sucks right at the beginning, but then quickly loses interest. She’s just too darn slow. It’s frustrating, because I know that Emmett’s short attention span for her speed is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy — he doesn’t keep asking for more milk, so she doesn’t keep making it. I’m really not sure how much of the size difference/milk production is a result of him not drinking, or if him not drinking is a result of the slow drip. Chicken or the egg? One will never know.

Hungry for More
Overall it tends to work out — we nurse about 75% of the time on Rightie and 25% of the time on Leftie. For most of the day I’m making just the right amount of milk. I feel full when it’s nursing time and totally empty when he’s finished. I can barely squeeze out another drop when he pulls off. However, about once a day I find that he’s sucking and sucking and there’s no milk coming out. He’s sucking fast, waiting for a letdown that just doesn’t come. He’s hungry, and he usually grunts and furrows his brow and it seems pretty clear that he wants more than he’s getting. I can’t get anything out by hand expressing and only a few drops with a pump. At that point, I usually make him a bottle and he takes 1-2 ounces. And then in the evening at our bedtime feeding, I’m usually almost entirely out of milk. I’ll make him try and there’s just no letdown. Or if there is, it lasts 2 minutes or so before it slows to a stop. So I give him a bottle. At bedtime he usually takes 2-3 ounces.

So over the course of the day, I’m finding I have to supplement anywhere from 1-4 ounces of formula because I just don’t make enough milk. I know lactation consultants and websites always say, “So many moms worry about their milk production when really their production is just fine”, but I actually think I’m in that minority of women who honestly can’t make enough milk (I recently found some evidence to suggest this is common for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which may be an explanation for me).  I’m pretty much ok with this, but I do wish I could just squeeze out those last ounces so I could feed my kid without having to give him bottles. I’m eating oatmeal, taking a fenugreek blend pill (that seems to help a little) and drinking a ton of water every day. I’m doing everything I can think of to boost my supply, short of pumping. See above for how happy I am NOT pumping.

In the end, Emmett and I have found a system that works really well for us. A few weeks ago, in the throes of blisters and shooting pains, I wouldn’t have thought we’d still be going now. But thanks to a tube of All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) and resources like my lactation consultant and Isis Parenting (find their breastfeeding articles and videos here), we’re here. Finding our own Breastfeeding Nirvana.

*Please note: Breastfeeding is still a very personal topic for me. If you’re going to leave a comment that is negative about my decision to give my baby formula, or telling me if I “just work harder, breastfeeding will work out”, just don’t. I will delete it. I do not write this to open myself up to criticism; I do it to share my story and possibly validate the others out there who experience a rocky road to feeding their baby.

She Says… Smileypants

Oh, this guy.

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This guy is SO smiley.

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“They” say babies start to smile at 6 weeks. This guy looked right into my eyes and gave me the biggest, widest, open-mouth grin at 4 1/2 weeks. His eyes twinkle. His toes point like a little ballerina. He smiles with his whole body. This is not just gas, folks.

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Since then we’ve gotten more and more smiles every day. Owen gets them. Daddy gets them. The dog gets them. The wall gets them.

And OH! That dimple (two of them, actually, but the 2nd one only comes out occasionally with a REALLY big smile). Swoon.

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Wanna see? My best attempts at getting him smiling on video are captured on Instagram here and here.

They are SO hard to capture because usually they are a result of eye-to-eye contact and smiling and cooing on my part, which is much, much harder with a phone or camera between us.

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If you touch his head gently, he smiles. Touch his cheek gently, he smiles. Sing to him, he smiles. He isn’t stingy.

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I love that about him already.