Cheddar Biscuits


It has been over a year since I felt like I owned my body. It is a funny thing to say since I live in it everyday, but when you carry a baby, give birth to that baby, and then nurse that baby for 12 months, you share your body. It is an amazing experience. In these moments, I felt in awe of everything that these cells could do without my conscious self dictating or driving the ship.  But that is always part of it, your body just sort of takes over and the part of you that makes you you, goes for the ride. It might be a ride of a lifetime but it is quite a ride. Becoming a mother might very will be the best thing I ever do in my life. It is a daily gift and a daily reminder that things are really really good in life. And it is a reminder that no matter how much I want to control all that is around me, I can’t and even my own body is at times (probably more often than I realize) out of my control.

Today though marks the one week mark since I last nursed little Owen. With him drinking out of sippy cups and fully transitioned to other nourishment, I find myself a little bit perplexed. What do I do with this body now? How exactly do I feel post-nursing my last baby?  It has been a HUGE transition and these last 7 days were really hard and really dark. Add to the transition of weaning, the flu and some marital strife and these last seven days were a bit of a misery march.  I know the title of this post is deceiving but I promise I will get to those biscuits and why those cheddar biscuits are so important to this tale.

But first, let’s talk about weaning. It happens. For some the weaning process is immediate, even before a nursing relationship is able to fully establish in those first hours or days of motherhood. For others the weaning process is longer, it takes 15+ months for mom and baby to negotiate a truce over who “owns” the boob and who gets to “access” the boob. For me, both of my boys sort of “broke up” with me. Henry was earlier than Owen. At 10/11 months, Henry grew impatient waiting for my milk and much preferred to get going after chugging on his sippy. Owen, I thought would be different. He loved nursing. And I loved nursing him. I thought about how maybe this baby, this baby that I have been told was my last baby, would linger a little longer in his babyhood. Unfortunately, on his first birthday something shifted (maybe hormones or maybe my body just gave a massive sigh of relief), but I was struggling to keep up my supply almost within 24 hours. It felt dire. We had not introduced a sippy cup yet! We had not introduced milk yet! We were rushing head first to an inevitable confrontation and I felt out of control (yet again) of this body which was no longer willing or able to feed Owen. My body started to reject nursing and started to show signs of ‘weaning sickness.” I had a constant headache that was blinding, I felt nauseous, and dizzy, and feverish, and all sorts of awful. It felt like I was both PMSing and pregnant simultaneously and I spent so much money on pregnancy tests over the next few days, and crossed everything hoping that maybe just maybe there would be one more baby for us and that it wasn’t just my body throwing in the towel. David made some moves to end our reproduction future and all of this was too much for me. I was ready to crawl into a big pit of pity and never come out. I felt (and still do a little) that everyone was against me. David was done having babies, Owen was done nursing, my body was done making milk & having babies, and the identity I had crafted and lived in comfortably for 3 years was shifted against my will and I was told to just: deal with it.

Then, the flu hit and our nursing days were truly done. I could not get out of bed, I could not feed Owen. Of course, like it was NO BIG DEAL Owen just drank milk from a cup! It is funny how I made myself sick with worry about how would this child eat and without blinking an eye he just transitioned. He resiliently said “okay,” while I rolled in bed sobbing my eyes out because I was sick from weaning, and sick from the flu, and sick in my heart because too much was happening all at once. Things still feel fragile 7 days later. Owen and Henry are just going about their days as usual, drinking milk like a boss and playing endlessly. But, I still feel a little removed from it all. Surely, I am not alone in the struggle with transitions and I know this story is not unique, yet it is affecting me right now and I am hoping with some more time I will continue to reconcile myself to some BIG changes: I am done having babies, I am done nursing babies, I am done weaning babies, and I am done sharing my body. And while all those things will inevitably happen, it feels so weird actually saying it, seeing it, and living it. I wonder if even ten years from now, I will still ache for this chapter in my life.

So here come the cheddar biscuits. In sharing and giving so much of my cellular essence to someone else and everyone else, I forgot that there are things I like to do with my time but could not do for a long time because I was too tired or busy or overwhelmed or involved in the chapter I am now closing. Like cooking and I mean really cooking from scratch with complicated recipes with lots of ingredients and multiple steps. And yes it will probably be two steps forward and a step back as I figure out these new steps as a mother to two boys who will continue to grow up and potentially grow away from their mama, but there are great things we can do together as they grow up, and as their immediate baby needs shift and change to new horizons, interests, and abilities. And while we all grow into this family dynamic, I know now that I can also bake a pretty delicious cheddar biscuit from scratch. Not the most complicated recipe, but you got to start somewhere. Anyway, I am working on it. I wish there was a script we could follow when adulting gets hard. I wish there was a pause button I could hit so I could just sit a little longer in this moment so that my heart can catch up to the reality it is now living in. It would be so much easier that way. At least the cheddar biscuits tasted good.


 

Owen Edward: 11 Months


How can it possibly be that in 30 days our baby is one year old!!  This will sound cliche but truly this year was the longest shortest year with Owen joining us as the fourth and final member to the clan. This month will be filled with many joyful tears as we mark the milestone. So much growth and development has occurred and I am both nostalgic for my tiny baby and excited for all that our little toddler-to-be is able to do now and will continue to be able to do into this next year! For starters, this month, at 30 inches in length, Owen abandoned his baby infant carseat carrier and transitioned into the toddler carseat. I would like to say that this solved our fussy transporter’s issues around car travel but, alas, he remains underwhelmed by travel. Perhaps he will be similar to Henry and change his mind about the car once he is able to turn around and face forward in his seat.



Project smile is at a standstill. Everyday we are convinced that the next set of two bottom teeth and the two front teeth will erupt from the gums, and everyday we are left waiting. He clearing is teething as they inch closer and closer to the surface. We can see them! But, they remain submerged. But, the two-teethed boy is not deterred in his eating. He continues to prefer solid foods to puree and relishes in sausage, kale, spinach, pasta, fish, olives, berries, and cries out to try anything and everything he sees us eating. You truly cannot snack in front of Owen without offering him a bite. He refuses to let a single mealtime experience or opportunity pass him by. In order to convey this, Owen squawks at us, opens his mouth as wide as it physically can go, and reaches out with open hands to grab hold of that morsel. He has started to make the sound for “more” and taps his fingers together to sign to us that he wants more, more, more food!


You might call us crazy, but it also seems like he can say “ball.” This is perfect considering his favorite toy is a ball. He will crawl his way over to a bag of balls or a kick ball, grab ahold of it and start smiling from ear to ear. He cannot contain his delight and squeals with glee as he taps and bops and hits the balls between his hands or onto the floor and says something like “baa laa” while playing. His other go to toys these days are: a dump truck full of balls, shaker eggs, a book that plays the song Old MacDonald, and a xylophone. His grabs the little kid table in the playroom and reaches for his mallet and then you begin to hear the sound of the musician at work. This is the most hysterical thing to the maestro who turns about smiling and laughing and waits for his applause. Music and dancing are definitely the preferred activities for Mr. Owen.


As with every month, there were many celebrations to enjoy from Owen’s first Valentine’s day to singing happy birthday and FaceTiming with family around the country as they  commemorated their own years. Owen tumbled at Jack’s birthday part and played in little gyms throughout the suburbs of Boston as both a way to explore and learn and as an attempt to avoid these last frigid days of old man winter. But whether we are home or out exploring, Owen is in a very clingy phase where he prefers to be snuggled and carried about. When he is ready to get down, he twists out of your arms and let’s you know that this place or this thing is very exciting and he has got to go! Like when it is time for a diaper change he much prefers to be doing anything else, so I am left sweating while I try to wiggle him into his new attire before he scampers off naked. No matter how wiggly he gets though, he is the king of the hug and cuddle. He nestles his little head into my neck and just quietly lays against my cheek while he pats my back and I think, okay let’s stay like this forever or for at least the next 30 years.


David won the bet!  For the past two months, we have been patiently waiting to see when Owen would take his first shaky steps. The deadline was March 11 for David’s victory and on March 8th, Owen let go of the coffee table and took four caution and independent steps to me. And with that David won himself a pack of Dr. Pepper! Congratulations, David. With Owen even more mobile we are preparing ourselves for the inevitable fights between the boys. We have had a glimpse of what is to come. Henry will be playing at the coffee table when Owen sidles up and grabs a hold of whatever had been capturing Henry’s attention and just like that chaos breaks out and they each dig their little nails into the coveted toy and cry out! Yet when it is time to read stories they easily give up their difference and sit down together to follow along with the tale of Make Way for Little Ducklings or Where is Baby’s Bellybutton? In those moments, I know that they will be friends and siblings, allies and rivals, but forever family and there to encourage and protect and love one another. And, that David and I are there to help them figure out those complexities.


As the month closed out, Owen had an ear infection (his first), but after a round of antibiotics he gifted up with multiple nights of major sleep! Owen went down to bed at 6:30PM and woke for the day at 5:30AM and I did a dance of joy throughout the house. I will absolutely miss our nighttime cuddles and nursing sessions when I would wrap his little Tintin curl around my figure and pet his cheek and smile and marvel, but I am also really excited to be getting more consistent and regular sleep through the night…especially since his naps can be unpredictable (sometimes two hours sometimes 20 minutes). But no matter the “hard” times of this first year getting to know our Owen, it will always be a wonderful year because our son joined us, we loved him, we watched him grow and change and develop and share his personality, we heard him say “ma ma” and “da da,” and are so grateful to continue to be able to do this thing with him and for him.  Much love Owen in this final month before we celebrate your very first birthday!


 

Permission, Support, Courage


On Friday, I went to a SoulCyle class because it had been a year since I last hopped onto a bike and I finally felt “ready” to get back in the saddle. Clicking into the pedals, the nerves hit and I started to think that I made a mistake. Was I ready to really push myself? Was I awake enough to make this session “worth” the price of the entrance ticket? The instructor came in and started doing that thing that SoulCycle instructors do where they positive talk about goals, body image, and motivation. It may seem sappy but it was exactly the message that resonated most with me. As she turned out the lights and turned up the music, it hit me that almost a year ago to the day, I took my last SoulCycle class and I was not alone. Tucked inside  was baby Owen who seemingly slept through the rigorous class. I remember taking that final class and thinking about meeting my baby soon after, about what he would be like, what he would look like, and when he would arrive. It was hard to be on the bike with a bulging belly and it was weird to be back on that bike without one. That class had been for Owen. It was to give him a fit pregnancy, healthy environment, and ideally an easy delivery. This class was for me. The instructor Charlotte started to talk about three words: Permission, Support and Courage. And, I am not going to lie, I might have teared up a bit in class as she shared her message and as I reflected on all that happened in those 365 days since I last saw Charlotte.

After baby, looking in the mirror can be a little tough and rough. A deflated belly is hard to process. Shouldn’t everything just go back into place upon the little one’s arrival, no?  It was hard the first time with Henry to see the transformation that occurs in the postpartum period and it was just as hard the second time even though I had my previous knowledge. This is where Charlotte’s message about permission hit most. We don’t give ourselves enough permission to heal and be and recover. Often when grocery shopping, I will see a magazine cover that says something like “So and so is back to pre-baby body in just 2 weeks!” and she is lauded and praised and touted as the norm. Good for her! Seriously that is some impressive sh*t! But, I have learned for myself that I need to give myself permission. Permission to soak in all that just happened: I grew a human. This baby took over my entire body cavity. He moved all of my organs, he stretched out my skin, he took my nourishment, he grew strong and fat and pushed my bones to their limits. This is a point of pride! It took 9 months to get to that point and I need to give my body permission to heal and slowly return to a settled place. It is also so important to give permission to just be in awe: WOW.  And permission to not exercise until my body really feels ready to tackle that. And you know what, it might always be a little soft and a little “flabby” or it might always look like I have a “baby bump” but then again I did have two babies and my body will wear those experiences because I am only human.

Charlotte also shared a lot about support. When you are on a stationary bike you can let the wheel fly. This means not having any resistance and just allowing your legs to rotate freely and quickly as though you were sprinting along. This feels good but it is not always productive as you coast. When you add that resistance by turning the knob, Charlotte calls out “add support!” and then you feel the tension on the wheel and your legs have to work to rotate around that axis. You feel the support as though the ground became thicker and you muscles start to say hello. Mommying can be very isolating. Some nights when you are awake 3 or 4 times in the night with your baby you know that you need to be there for them and comfort them but you ache for sleep and I ached for someone to help me.  “What happens if you don’t stand in your own way,” Charlotte asks  “what would happen if you actually pushed yourself?” It took months for me to really ask for help with Owen’s sleep. I thought that with baby 2, I should just know how to get him to be comforted and to sleep. Working full-time and having a toddler on top of a new baby was a new equation. When I finally really let David in to support me at night, we all started to sleep better. Yes, David woke up and yes he cradled Owen and rocked him as Owen screamed into David’s face for what felt like hours, but Owen learned to be supported by David and I learned to be supported by David and we learned that we are WAY stronger when we work together than when we think “we got this” alone.

The class ended with Charlotte talking about courage. She had us working our way up a hill and adding more and more support to the bike when she said, “Are you giving it all you got? What would happen if you didn’t hold back? Maybe you would fall but you would learn something. You would learn how strong you are and how strong you can be!” Owen is working on walking. He fearlessly let’s go of the coffee table and takes a few steps. He falls a lot, he smashes his face sometimes on that table, but he smiles and tries again and again and he is getting better. You can see his balance improving, his steps becoming more confident, and his legs getting stronger. He is one courageous little dude. And sometimes we have to remember to take those steps too in life. To get out of our comfort zone. To give ourselves permission to try and to be courageous enough to get back into that saddle!

Mommy and boys date

Sometimes I avoid taking “risks” with the boys because I worry that in the midst of being far away chaos will strike or that naps and meals will be so messed up. But you know what?! Today was really awesome, dare I say magical! The boys were totally into the aquarium. We did not have a single fuss and we stopped at every tank, observed this world and even did lunch and double diaper duty. Lesson: take more risks with these two, they can totally handle it.

Owen Edward: 9 months



Okay, okay….9 months is the SWEET SPOT! Owen is just the most sweet and wiggly baby and I could do this month over again and again. He has really opened up and shared his little personality and though there were sleepless nights, I believe it was because he was really growing, changing, and becoming a little individual.  One of my absolute favorite moments is when I walk into daycare and he spots me at the door. He immediately gets on to his hands and knees and crawls over as fast as he can making a “mmm mmm” sound, clearly, trying to say mom 😉 I scoop the little nugget up and he grabs me around the neck and starts bouncing up and down in my arms. I could just about die in that moment. I LOVE it so much. It is so hard to be away from him from 6:00AM until 4:15PM Monday through Friday, but that moment makes my heart melt and I just savor our evenings so much. I could be his mother forever….good thing this is a lifetime’s work!


This month was an absolute explosion in the movement department for Owen. It can be hard to always have him on the ground exploring with very little caution on his own part, but it is part of his learning process. He is up on those hands and knees and crawling ALL over the house. Up the stairs, around coffee tables, in and out of rooms, pulling up to stand in his crib and crawling onto the backs of the pups, he laughs all the way. This little active man cannot be stopped. He is so curious and just wants to explore, touch, and taste everything. David and I have a bet on the line for when this little dude will start walking independently. Currently, once he has firm feet on the ground and hands on the coffee table, he has attempted to release his hands one at time to stand. As a result of his dare-deviling, David believes that Owen will take his first steps on or before March 11, I however think more likely after said date. On the line is a 6 pack of Dr. Pepper or a Starbucks latte! To the best guesser goes the spoils. Owen has attempted to walk by pushing a little cart and this might indicate which parent will more accurately predict those first steps. And guesses on your part? Once he gets to his destination, he turns around and smiles a cheeky grin waving his little hand. Waving is just the best these days and he waves to everyone and everything. He laughs at us all the time like an emphysema machine gun, and I just want to bottle that sound for lonely nights when I am a mom to two teenage boys!


He has started to enjoy books. Previously we would read and he would crawl away but now books are fascinating to him. He sits or lays in our lap when we read and it is clear that he is listening to the stories, tracking pages with his eyes, and now wants to help turn pages, lift the peek-a-boo flaps and point his finger to images on the page. His little ET finger is everywhere. He holds his pointed index finger up and laughs gleefully when you touch fingertip to fingertip. He also is starting to  know that something is hidden under a blanket and delights in lifting up the blanket and surprise there is a toy there!


We moved! In the middle of December we shifted over two towns and had David’s mom and step-dad over to help us settle in. We unpacked on the first day and began to live together under a new roof. It was a big transition for all of us. The boys gained a much larger playroom and bedrooms, but it was hard for them to sleep alone in their new rooms that first week. Owen woke up every night every 90 minutes and I just about to plug into an IV of coffee to get through the day. The sleeplessness made that week of christmas challenging because whoa sleep is so important, but thankfully the boys’ joy for opening presents and watching the snow fall pushed the “grinchy” feelings away. At the end of the Christmas holiday week, Owen had two teeth and started sleeping from 6:30PM-4:30AM without waking up!!! David had taken on some sleep training in order to help Owen transition away from the 10PM wake-up and I want to knock on all the wood that we keep the routine going. This is SO much more manageable for everyone and even little Mr. Owen is such a happy camper now that he is in a good sleep routine. We have two naps in place from about 8:30AM-10:30AM and 1:30PM-3:00PM and this more predictable schedule is awesome! Thank you Owen, thank you!


There were some fun adventures this month too. Not only did we move houses but Owen celebrated his first Christmas! He was great at opening presents but really wanted to play with all of his brother’s toys and vice versa. He cuddled and snuggled with his grandparents and those two weeks home together made me want to hide away in the woods indefinitely. Owen bounced about at a trampoline park and we were all surprised by how much he wanted to bounce and crawl into the foam pit. He is a fearless little peanut! David pulled him around on his first sleigh ride in the snow and he laughed when Henry fed him snowballs. To end this month, we trekked out to see Discovering the Dinosaurs.


This child can eat. He loves to eat everything and often and is quite frustrated by puree food much preferring real bites of his cuisine. He enjoys pancakes, peanut butter, salad, peas, carrots, raspberries, banana, meat, turkey, avocado, apples, carrots, everything! He wants to feed himself and touch all the textures, particularly enjoying yogurt between his fingers and in his hair. Oh and there was that one time he ate a dog kibble (oops!)


Owen is such a cuddle bug! He loves to be held and snuggled. He rests his end on my shoulder and “digs in” to be as close to me physically as possible and I am not going to lie it is the very best! He squeals with delight when he is tickled, he is crazy for the dogs, and when Henry plays with him and hugs him, I think Owen might explode from his absolute joy. I am ready to freeze time because right now this family amazes me everyday. David just knows how to read his babies, he plays with them in such creative, beautiful ways and I never want this shortest longest time to end.