Sunday, May 22, 2016

The End of the Fourth Trimester: Liam is 3 Months!

Guys, I'm just going to go ahead and say this.

Life is kinda hard right now. And I'm going to have a pity party real quick.

Being in the trenches with a newborn is hard enough, but this time I have a young toddler, too. The transition from 1 to 2 children has still overall been easier than the transition from 0 to 1 child, but there are different challenges this time.

Ava behaves best when I sit on the floor and play with her and/or when I give her the iPad or the old iPod touch we weren't using. And Liam is happiest when I am holding him most of the time while he is awake. Especially now that he's got more head control - he wants to sit up and see the world! So the problem is, is that its hard for them to both be happy at the same time. I've completely taken away the iPad and iPod from Ava because she wasn't understanding that she couldn't have them all day long, and she was throwing some of the biggest fits I've ever seen from her. And she's a self-biter, so her poor little hands were getting pretty beat up from her frustrations with me. She also hits and throws her toys. It was just getting out of hand. I feel bad because she also acts out when I'm not able to play with her due to tending to Liam or trying to make food or tidying or whatever it is. And I feel bad when I have to make Liam wait and he cries for me. It really messes with my mind! I spend all day going back and forth between the 2 kids trying to give them what they need. If one isn't crying, usually the other one is upset about something! 2 kids under the age of two is really challenging!

Bedtime at 7 is still sticking so I'm done rocking Liam between around 7:30/8. So that gives me a little over an hour or two of kid-free time before I need to go to bed. And then it starts allll over again. Lately Ava has been waking up in the morning and angrily yelling for me, and then when I go to her, she throws a fit because I took her out of her crib and she's mad at me for it. And it's been EVERY morning. It's not the best way to start my day. Liam has lately become a solid cat napper...dang it!! Just like Ava was. 30 minute naps and that's it. I get a long one if I'm lucky!

Liam is kinda high maintenance. It's interesting to compare the two babies - they are completely different! Liam is much more sensitive and quick to get upset than Ava was. He gets tired easily so by the time I'm done feeding him and get him to play and tend to Ava, it's basically time for him to sleep again! I'll have to keep him busy to try and stretch his awake time.

And my pity party continues because I get to do all this by myself for a year because Chris got orders to go to Kuwait.

I'm sad Chris will miss out on a whole year of our kids' lives.

I'm sad Liam probably won't even remember Chris when he gets home.

I'm sad for Ava because she WILL remember daddy and she will miss him terribly.

I'm sad for Chris that he has to be half a world away and miss a lot of Liam's firsts, as well as a year's worth of holidays and birthdays.

And of course, I'm sad that I have to spend a year away from my best friend.

We knew a separation was coming. I mean it's the military so it's inevitable. He's deployed before, but this time there are kids involved so I'm feeling a lot more emotional. There's so much more to think about.

The ONLY good news out of this is that while Chris is overseas, I will move home to Kansas! I am happy that I will get to be surrounded by family and friends during this time.

I'm not sure if my least favorite part of a move is trying to find a place to live or the actual move itself!

So. Much. Stress.

May has been rough so far, y'all.

Ok. Pity party done.

Before Liam was born, throughout my pregnancy, I wondered how it would feel to have a baby boy. I was worried I wouldn't know how to bond with a baby boy. I didn't grow up with any brothers, and my family is teeny tiny and I don't have boy cousins, either! I didn't know a thing about how to raise a boy.

But now that he's here, it is just so special!! I feel like my heart bursts for him. And not that it didn't with Ava, but there is something different between a love for a sweet little girl and a sweet little boy. I don't know. Maybe it is the same. And maybe it's because I know he's my last baby. I love Ava fiercely because she is my first, and she was a definite miracle baby. And Liam is my last, and he was a miracle baby, too! He was a miracle in that we didn't need any help to conceive him. These babies were picked just for us!. It's so much easier to gain perspective once you can get some sleep again! I really do feel blessed to be these babies' momma; it's just hard to feel that way during the hard days!

Ava has really been refining her speech skills! Words she's been saying for a long time sound more clear, and she's beginning to string a couple of words together to make little phrases.

And we got Ava enrolled in gymnastics once a week!

And it's a real struggle...for all 3 of us! Ava doesn't want to follow directions and only wants to do the stations she likes best. I have to chase her around and encourage her to try AND keep Liam happy during the class, and Liam is usually upset that he's not being held or entertained. Whew! I kinda dread going to the class but I know it will eventually get easier and Ava could use some structured activities! (And I also think daddy struggles because I think he wishes he could be there, too!) We get in the car after the half-hour class and I am SWEATING!! So far Ava's favorite things have been walking across the super tall balance beam, jumping on the trampoline, and crawling in the foam pit! And also I think she likes the floor exercise but that's never been an option during class! She sorta liked climbing the rope (except she won't hold on with her hands) and she sorta liked log rolling down the wedge (but she was still mad at me so she was acting like she wasn't having fun) and climbing on anything is also a favorite. She hates any station that requires the coach to help her (rolling backwards over a foam cylinder to emulate a backbend) and turns into a limp noodle when I try to redirect her.

This summary is for any of you who think Ava is always so sweet and well-behaved. She's not!! I've been asking for a lot of suggestions from people recently because my sweet little girl seems to have just disappeared this month. And it's been really, really hard on me. I feel like I'm doing something wrong or not doing enough or somehow it's my doing that she has suddenly become so stubborn. I miss my easy-going girl!! But I guess she is just cruising right along into her "terrible twos" and we are both having to adjust to her insane thirst for control. She's even become a picky eater, something I never thought I would say about her! She literally used to eat everything we gave her!! But she is just exercising and exploring her ability to choose. And I know these things because my background is Early Childhood Ed, but it is so different when it is your child and you are living it 24 hours a day. I'm great in a classroom setting with children who are not mine who go home at the end of the day...but I've been struggling a lot with my Ava girl. She's been a little bit better in the last week so I'm hoping we will get to relax a bit - I'm exhausted!!

And back to little Liam - my little man is still unpredictable at night! He will wake anywhere from 1 to 3 times a night, but overall he sleeps for about 12 hours, so he matches Ava's overnight sleeping as well. It's nice they are on the same schedule but sometimes its hard when they are ready to get up at the same time and are both crying for me! I don't know who to go to first! I usually pick Ava and just change her diaper quick and set her free so I have time to sit and nurse Liam. He gets mad quick!! He's a lot happier now and only gets mad when he's really tired and ready to sleep. He's not real good at entertaining himself, so he still needs a lot of attention during awake time. Ava does a good job of keeping him happy! He watches her while she walks around the room or dances. Sometimes she will bring him toys and just the other day she has started to take his hands and hold them like I do when I'm talking to him! She really does great with him. When we all sit on the floor together she is surprisingly aware of her own body in relation to his, and if she accidentally touches him with her foot, she says "uh oh!" and moves back. She still loves to name his body parts and the other day when they had their bath, she helped by immediately putting a washcloth over his tummy like we always do! I really couldn't be happier with how Ava behaves and interacts with Liam!

And we took our first trip with 2 kids! We met up with some friends in Atlanta for the weekend! We went to the zoo and the aquarium. Liam was pretty much a dream and the Ergo was a lifesaver - he wouldn't have napped without it! Ava was another story, but she was super exhausted from all the excitement and late/missing naps. But it was so nice to get out and do something! It was crazy how much we had to pack in the car for just ONE NIGHT in a hotel! But we had everything we needed! It was good to be home and we decided to not choose to be stuck in a car for more than 2 hours with kids under 2 for awhile! My back was a little tired from wearing Liam so much and nursing him in uncomfortable positions while we were out and about. Overall it was a successful trip! Except for one minor glitch that required washing Ava's car seat after we got home...she was very well-hydrated, apparently! But I learned how to fully disassemble and then reassemble and install her car seat!

It's been a little easier to get through all the baby crying this time around. I'm able to take a step back when Liam is screaming in my ear and remind myself, this won't last forever...he won't always need help falling asleep...and then I'll look back and miss these days... I wasn't able to self-coach like that with Ava because I wasn't sure it ever was going to end! And with Liam being more needy, I've had to quickly find a way to get through it. Having a second child gave me a better perspective to appreciate every day that I'm given with my babies, no matter how hard the day is. This month I've really had to dig deep and find the positive in everything. I can choose to be happy or choose to feed into the screaming and fits and tantrums. I can't always manage to block the frustration, but I'm better at it than I was before, and it has become a necessary skill for raising 2 babies! My days go a lot better when I choose to be happy instead of letting everything get to me. Happiness is a choice even when things are hard!

I'm looking forward to next month when *hopefully* things will be less stressful!

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