Getting glimpses into what mornings will look like here. Henry is playing an elaborate Lego game at the kitchen island and Owen is walking about on his own playing with a pushcart. Drinking my big latte and watching all this is sweet and weird. They are self-entertaining and my “quiet” morning might be coming back to me but a part of me wants to scoop up the boys and create the chaos I am accustomed too. You never want what you have, huh?
The signs are already there. Owen is starting to nurse less and less. The world around him is far too interesting and stealing sips from Henry’s sippy cup is exhilarating. As we begin the inevitable end of our nursing relationship, I have so many mixed emotions.
First, I am so grateful to have been able to feed my baby by breast for almost twelve months. I never thought that I would want to nurse my babies but once we established our relationship it felt both natural and significant. I loved every minute of rocking baby Owen in his room while he nodded to bed and he ran his little fingers in my hair. I loved less the moments when he shoved his hand down my throat or grabbed and twisted my nose with all his might but hey he was bored there nursing and wanted to amuse himself. I will miss the way his eyes lit up as I carried him over to our little nook and he knew he could just snuggle in and have alone time together. I will not miss pumping at work to maintain my supply and ensure he had enough to drink while I was away. Those days of running between classes and meetings to the mother’s room were not easy but they were necessary.
Second, I am so grateful that both Owen and my body made it work. While nursing is the most basic and natural human relationship it is SO hard to establish in our society. Without easy access to resources, nursing can be frustrating and isolating. I am grateful to all the women who supported us, cheered for us, and helped normalize this basic human act. And for David for being my lactation consultant and champion.
Third, it felt nice to be a mammal. This might sound weird but I enjoyed remembering that we are not special snowflakes in the universe but part of it and we feed our young just like our mammal friends. We grow our babies, birth our babies, and then feed our babies.
Lastly, I am sad. So sad that Owen is my last baby. That these next three weeks will be the last time I nurse a little human and that my baby is growing up. It feels unsteady to be closing this chapter. It feels bittersweet.
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!
January was a quiet month here. The weather was more consistently cold and it just felt good to slow things down after our big move and the holidays of last month. But even though we generally took things slow, a lot happened in these four weeks for Mr. O.
It became very apparent that little man loves the bath. He could splish and splash all day long. He loves to smack his hands and get covered in the water. He grabs at toys and bangs them against the side of tub, he stands up and babbles and plops back down to make waves. He wants to bang at everything, or throw his toys, food, and anything else he can get his hands on onto the floor! Truly a man in motion these days, he can barely be contained. He prefers to crawl about at ludicrous speed and wants to “get into” all sorts of mischief. He crawls away laughing while he makes a bee-line to the dog water or fireplace poker. Forever Mr. Smiles, it is hard to be “upset” when he is ripping the candles out of the fireplace when he turns to you and flashes that gummy smile and squeals in sheer delight. He is definitely proud of himself. He is in that phase where a bookshelf is the most basic and awesome amusement. To take everything off the shelf is pure delight and books while fun to read are better when you throw them about. He loves to tug off his socks and shoes and be in a natural state, and he loves loves playing with his brother (and stealing Henry’s toys). He has started to cruise more around the furniture and even pushes little carts around the house testing out that walking business. Since he can crawl there faster, he tends to drop down to his trusted form of transit but walking has to be on the horizon, no?! David thinks by month 11 but my guess still is post-first birthday.
Owen is completely a momma’s boy. A true stage-one-clinger, he must be touching me at all times. If I enter a room he drops what he is doing, if I leave a room he bursts into tears, and all he wants is for his Sherpa to hold him, cuddle, and do walkabouts the house. Most mornings he wakes up at 5AM and on weekdays our day begins but some special weekend mornings, I can convince him to snuggle me in bed and go back to sleep and we stay like that for another hour or two and my heart totally melts. At night, I cuddle onto my wild child while he quietly drifts to sleep and think, “who will you become my little fierce one.” He is unaffraid, undeterred, and unbelievably sweet. That boyhood rhyme of “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” suits you.
After momma, comes daddy but the puppies are close behind. He grabs at them for BIG hugs and laughs into their backs while they turn their heads around to lick his head. He pets and pats them and wants them to be nearby. He lets them lick his sticky fingers after meals and has started to drop little bites to them. He laughs and laughs while they eat up his leftovers. I cannot wait to see their bond grow over time. He has a preference for Bella but Buster as a preference for him!
One crazy morning, I took both boys solo to the aquarium and totally fell in love with being a boy mama. They were so hands on and curious and ready to get dirty and stick their little hands in the tanks. It was a crazy idea but it might have been my very favorite morning of the whole month. We ate lunch together and talked about the various fish and spent time observing the octopus. Uncle Andy and Alex came to visit before the month was over and the hugs and snuggles were delightful. Owen takes FOREVER to warm up to new faces but he knew Uncle Andy was special and had no trouble being in his arms.
This child is always hungry. He eats anything you put in front of him: curry soup, dumplings, steak, avocado, pasta, sushi, olive, tomatoes, onions, corn, broccoli, kale, lentils, spinach, and yogurt to name a few. Sitting in a restaurant is a piece of cake as long as he has munchies to play with and snack on. Should I keep everything crossed that it stays like that? Give him a fork or spoon and he is ready to feed himself or cover himself in his smoothie!
“Da da” is his favorite sound but we have been hearing some ma, pa, fa, and ca these days. And he will let you know when he is not happy and he will let you know when he is. His communication might be primitive but it is direct and clear!
When we say hello and say goodbye, he coyly smiles at you and lands one giant open mouth kiss on your lips and I think, “you may never nap for me again you stubborn little one, but gosh do I love you!”
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.