Sunday, May 10, 2015

I Just Can't

I've wanted to say something about Mother's Day today.

But I just can't put the words together very well.

First and foremost, I am filled with joy and thankfulness that I am getting to celebrate Mother's Day for the first time. Ava baby is such a blessing to us and I am so happy we have her in our lives. We waited and tried for her for a long time. It got harder and harder as each Mother's Day passed and I was still not pregnant. I have thought a lot today about the journey we went on to get our hearts' deepest wish.

That brings me to my second point: today I am also filled with sadness and grief for those friends who are still hoping for their turn to celebrate Mother's Day as well. In fact, that's what has mostly been on my mind today. I know the pain of infertility and I don't take this day for granted at all. There are so, so many women who want nothing more than to earn those stretch marks and to become a mother themselves. I am thinking of you all today, and everyday!!

Lastly, today I feel at peace at the remembrance of my own mother. Oddly, I don't feel so grief-stricken about it this year. Maybe it's because I have Ava now and I am a mother; I don't know. I am mostly just reminded of the many Mother's Day lunches we would go on and all the homemade cards and oh-so-special pieces of art we would make for her. Coupon books for free foot rubs and attempting to cook for her. Lots of flowers and time together as a family. It was a day of positive reflection on years spent with my mom.

Oh wait...there's been one more thing on my mind today, especially since Ava has been miserably sick all weekend...

I am grateful for all of my mommy friends. I have a great network, near and far, who are always there when I have a parenting question or need someone to bounce ideas off of. I'm glad that we all support each other!

This day brings so many thoughts, memories, and emotions this year.

I just can't even adequately describe them all!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

10 Months of Motherhood

I can't believe it.

I just can't!!

Ava is 10 months old!

And she's acting like such a big girl!

We thought it would take forever of her to crawl and pull up and sidestep. And then one week, it was like an explosion of milestones! She can do it all now, and she's so fast!

She doesn't like her jumper as much, mainly because she can't get around! I have to stick her in there for dinner prep some nights before Chris gets home.  She's not happy in there for very long anymore!

Her favorite thing is to walk around the house with help. She seeks out our hands and grabs them and starts smiling and squealing, pulls to standing, demanding for us to help her walk!

She can now pull to stand, and then stand for a bit without holding onto anything. She's getting so brave!

Last week she surprised me and crawled up a few steps! It gave me a heart attack because I didn't think she could do it! She has really become an adventurous little girl!

I spent about a week following her around to see what she could reach after she started crawling and then I had to find a new place for everything. It's tricky because I can't really leave her unattended for very long to organize elsewhere in the house, so I am feeling like it is harder and harder to get things done! I was happy once I got all the extra stuff lying around put away so now I can just let her play without wondering what she will get into next. I'm having a hard time keeping her away from Duke's toys - they are NASTY. She also enjoys crawling over to his bed and playing with his face. He is SUCH a good boy and lets her do it! I have to go over there and rescue him because she likes to tug on his ears, poke his eyes, and yank on his collar! He always gets lots of praise for being so patient and I tell Ava to be nice. Even good dogs can hit their limits.

She is communicating her likes and dislikes a lot more obviously lately! She's always displayed when she's happy and having fun, and now she is expressing anger and frustration, too! She is a pro at expressing when she is upset that I've redirected her away from something I don't want her to get into!

I have found one thing that will settle her down and keep her happy for a long while.

Ready for it?

Taylor Swift.

Ava has loved her new album since she was 2 months old and Shake It Off was released. It always immediately brings a smile to her face! We've used it in the car, while she plays, and to distract her from a grumpy moment. I'll play the whole album while she plays and usually it keeps her content for the duration of it. Thank you, Taylor Swift!!! No other music does this to her!

I'm not 100% sure yet, but she sometimes makes a "kk" sound when Duke is around. I'm wondering if she's trying to say his name! Her newest consonant sound she is working on is "mam mam mam" and she will look at Chris when I ask "where's daddy?".

She knows what "book" means, and she now gets her teeth "brushed" at bedtime. Her favorite food is everything, and in her spare time she enjoys chewing on mommy and daddy's shoes.

After many weeks of night wakings at 11 and 3, she is back to sleeping 10 hours straight! Wahoo!!! Our trip to Georgia had interrupted her previous weeks of through-the-night sleeping. I had to do a little sleep training again, but after 2 nights she didn't wake anymore. I think her eating cycle gets off balance (I always nurse her at night wakings since she doesn't like to snuggle much) so I have to "reset" her so all her calories are during the day. A similar thing happened in January when Chris had knee surgery, and after I sleep trained her, she slept without waking. She wakes for the day at around 5:30.

Ava has tried spaghetti, pizza, ice cream (which was actually just frozen bananas in a food processor, but I was impressed that she liked something so cold), pot roast, beef stroganoff, and all sorts of grown-up meals. The more flavorful it is, the more she likes it! I still strive to cook low-sodium, low-sugar, but high in healthy fats for baby girl. It's a difficult balance to maintain, I tell ya! It helps that she loves everything! She even went nuts for kiwi at breakfast last week. We went out to dinner with Ava for Chris's work, and we had to order her food off the kids menu - grilled cheese and fruit! And she ate almost all of it by herself!! Little piggy!!!

I have to say, I feel so fortunate that breastfeeding worked out for us. It saves so much money, and there are ZERO bottles unless I pump (oh how I loathe pumping). Breastfeeding was a lot harder (mainly in the beginning) than I ever thought it would be. There are still times when I wonder if she's getting enough. It's tough to trust that she is when I cannot see how much milk she is getting! For a week after she started crawling, she had lost interest in nursing - I was worried about her! I couldn't get her to nurse for more than 5 minutes at a time. And it was constant latch, then unlatch, latch then unlatch. That was hard - it was a really tough week for me. But it was just a phase - a short-lived nursing strike due to her sudden increase in mobility. It's so hard to know what's going on in her little mind!

With that being said, I cannot wait to wean her!!! I'm sure the transition will be bittersweet once it arrives, but I have been counting down since she turned 8 months! I think it will be easy for her since she obviously loves table food and loves her straw sippy cup. I am ready for my body back. I am ready to not be the only one who can feed her. I am ready to be away from her for more than 4 hours at a time if I need to. I am ready to not have to be at home for her bedtime routine if I have somewhere to be. I am ready to not have to think about if what I am wearing is breastfeeding-friendly. I would love to diet (well, I'm sure I won't love to diet) and exercise the way I want without worrying about it affecting my supply. Breastfeeding is a big sacrifice despite all the great things about it! Plus, I need to allow my hormones time to settle so we can start working on baby #2 in the near future! Infertility is not cured by a pregnancy. I still have PCOS and I will still have trouble conceiving another child. As long as I'm breastfeeding, I cannot do anything about it - no medications at all.

Some days I am so overjoyed that I get to stay at home with little Peaches every day. And then some days I think, ughhhhh why?!?!? I literally eat, breathe, and sleep everything AVA. It is my job. All day, everyday. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been away from her for more than just a quick run to the store. Let me tell you, it is very trying sometimes. Fortunately, Ava has been a "good" baby. She's happy 99% of the time (except since the arrival of her attitude and mobility that number is not quite as high!) and she's a good eater and for the most part a good sleeper (she's come a loooooooong way since her 20-30 minute naps, BUT she's a light sleeper), so it's not like I'm losing my mind trying to take care of her. I just....I just want some space. And some free time when my mind is not constantly thinking about her schedule and what she needs and what I should (or shouldn't) be doing. 

Being a stay-at-home mom is deceiving. You are so close to the couch all day long, but you rarely get to sit on it. Your bed is right up the stairs that you so desperately want to go lay on...but you can't. The tv is right there and you could easily just pull up your show on the DVR, but you know you'd be too busy to watch more than 5 minutes of it. You are surrounded by messes that only get cleaned up if you do it, and meals that don't get eaten unless you make them. I eat breakfast and lunch while standing in the kitchen supervising Ava's meals. Sometimes I do the same for dinner. Only once in awhile do I sit down and enjoy my food. Meals have become "eat quick because you have to finish before Ava is done". I miss savoring my food!

And for the most part, I have embraced this change in my life. I waited for motherhood for awhile. I longed for it. I'm in a new season of life, one where I am required to be completely selfless pretty much all the time. Some days it's hard not to have a bad attitude and think of the days where I got to sleep in on the weekends and we could hop in the car and go somewhere without having to plan around nap times or bedtime or mealtimes. It has been SO hard to live away from our network of family and friends - trustworthy and available babysitters!! I've been thinking about how once summer is over we will PCS to Georgia and then have ZERO friends nearby to watch Ava should we need or want to go somewhere without her. Pretty much everyone here has their own kids so they can't just come over to babysit. It makes me appreciate the friends and neighbors here, because we all understand how hard it is without family nearby, and we do what we can to help each other out.

In other news, Chris is finally off crutches!!!!!!!!!!! There are not enough exclamation marks I can use to express our happiness!!!! I still can't believe how little he complained for that long 12 weeks he had to use them. He had knee realignment surgery in which they cut into his bone in his leg and inserted a wedge and put in screws and a plate. Yeah, doesn't that sound nice?? Recovery and physical therapy have been going great overall - his therapists are continuously impressed with how well he is doing. He is able to bear full weight (with a slight limp), go for a mile + on the elliptical, and go for a short bike ride!! He became mobile just in time to chase Ava around!!

I feel like lately Ava has been changing so fast. I know, I know - I'm such a broken record! But I feel like each day she is doing something new or she has a new preference that makes it seem like she is growing up right before my eyes! She is learning so much about her world, and I am continuing to learn so much about her. It's crazy that in just 2 months she will be a one year old!!

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Black Thumb

So, awhile back, I made a post about our first raised flower bed.

We were first-timers.

My vision came to life, and we were pretty proud of ourselves.

For the sake of keeping this blog honest and about how life really is, I'd like to update you on said flower bed.

All the plants died.

I was very sad.

All my little bushes died off, slowly. One by one.

In my defense, I got pregnant and I cared about nothing else in the world. Gardening was just not my priority, plus we had spent $200+ on this flower bed and we were not prepared to invest any more on it while trying to stock a baby room.

So it sat. All dead and lonely.

I pulled the bushes out and left the bed barren.

Here's what happened: we had to dig out so much of this red Tennessee clay and backfill it, and we didn't account for the settling that would happen. I didn't pack down the dirt (mainly because we were tired of buying and hauling the insane amount of bags of dirt it took to fill it up) and so while the dirt settled, the plants' roots were becoming exposed at the top. It probably could have been fixed before they died.

So. Baby arrived, spring was in the I fixed it!

Original attempt:

Here it is, for the second time: Our Second Raised Flower Bed!

Good as new! The bushes are super small, but we didn't want to put much more money into it as we will be moving at the end of the summer. At least the pavers didn't settle! That was the hardest part to do!