Category Archives: Motherhood

17 Reasons Why Toddlers and Puppies are EXACTLY the Same

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  1. They both like to put inappropriate things in their mouths
  2. They both like nuks and blankets
  3. They both like to dig through the garbage
  4. They both like to unroll the toilet paper from the roll
  5. They both like to eat food off the floor
  6. They both require me to clean up their stinky poops
  7. They both steal things that don’t belong to them
  8. Neither of them understands boundaries
  9. They both impede getting out the door
  10. They both require you to close all the doors to all the other rooms
  11. They both like to rip paper into tiny, tiny pieces
  12. They both move methodically from prohibited item to prohibited item
  13. Neither one can be left alone unsupervised
  14. They both respond to the same commands – out, stay, leave it
  15. They both get ridiculously messy
  16. They both see an open lap as an unequivocal invitation to sit in it
  17. They both invoke hysterical laughter, which combined with their cuteness, means you can’t stay mad at them for long

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Bonus Baby

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This is my first post in seven months. My baby is seven months old. I have so many fragments of posts floating around in my head and what prevents me from writing them down is always this feeling that posts need to be made in chronological order, and how can I fast forward and write about something seven months after the birth of our Grand Finale, without actually writing about her birth or anything else right after that?

(sigh)

But nothing will ever, ever get posted if I follow that rule. Someday I will go back and post about Grand Finale’s birth and the days directly after that period, not because it’s particularly earth shattering or might apply to someone else, but mostly because this blog is an online memory book for our family and I’d like to be able to go back and read it someday.

This post, on the other hand, may be applicable to someone else, and I think it every single day:

Adults generally use the term “bonus baby” as a tongue-in-cheek way to refer to a baby who wasn’t exactly planned. A happy accident. An oops. A bonus baby.

While Grand Finale was very much planned, I very, very much consider her to be my bonus baby.

Every single day, I look at her and think to myself, “What if you never came to be? What if we had been too scared or too nervous to say yes to what we felt in our hearts? What if we had convinced ourselves that we couldn’t handle it, or that we wouldn’t have enough time or money?”

And then I look at her and I THANK GOD that she came to be.

Every day. That’s what I think.

She is SO MUCH a cherished and beloved member of our family. Her sisters adore her. They dote on her, care for her and help us to entertain and occupy her. And she reciprocates with BIG grins when she sees them.

Sisters

Sisters

WE adore her. She is such an easy baby. She was sleeping 11-12 hours a night by the time she was 8 weeks old. At 7 months she’s still very mellow. She’s by far our most snuggly baby.

As Monkey said one day, "She's a cute bug."

As Monkey said one day, “She’s a cute bug.”

When I look at her, I try to picture our family without her — would we be happy? Sure! Would we love our other two kids to death? Of course! Would we parent the same? Pretty much.

If we had remained a family of four, I think there be less chaos, more order, two little girls who would grow up to be BFFs forever and who would be used to receiving more attention and things. I probably would be more stressed out trying to maintain my version of parenting “perfection” (because with “only” two kids it seems more doable).

I think our family-of-five dynamic will be more chaos, less order, three girls who will grow up to be BFFs forever, and who will have a greater understanding of sharing, more selflessness and compassion, and hopefully more appreciation for things because there will be less of them. In place of things, they’ll have what I believe is the greatest gift we could have given them — a sibling.

If we had never had Grand Finale, we would have been a happy family of four.

But we would have never known what we were missing. Even in her seven short months, Grand Finale already added so much depth, richness and perspective to our family.

Love.

Love.

The baby is frosting. And I’m just so, so, so thankful to have her. I’m so happy we trusted our gut, and also so grateful that things worked out and that I had a healthy pregnancy.

And for that reason, although she was very much planned, she is my bonus baby.

And my takeaway to you, is that if you’re feeling like you want another child, but you’re just not sure if you can “handle” it, or if you have “enough” time or money, DO IT. You won’t regret it. That’s how I felt six days after Grand Finale’s birth, and that’s how I still feel today.

I’m So Glad We Get to Do This Again (and, an explanation)

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Blogging has just not been a top priority for me lately — as much as I’ve wanted it to be. Usually I’ll have a story running through my head; a partial post bursting out of my brain; funny or introspective thoughts I’ll want to run by other parents. Normally I’ll be scrambling to get it written down and the words just pour out. But for the past four months I just haven’t had the head space. Not that I haven’t had the constant chatter in my head … because I have … it’s just seemed like an insurmountable task to actually get those thoughts down on paper.

This pregnancy has been much harder on me mentally and emotionally than my pregnancies with Monkey and Bean. I don’t know exactly what accounts for that … except that I know that every pregnancy is different. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it has a lot to do with already having two young kids to take care of. Add to that the overall growing pains of raising a young family, i.e. some terrible two’s, growing independence, and general “WTF am I doing as a parent anxiety,” plus work obligations and ding, ding, ding — you get some major emotional/mental exhaustion which leads to more crabbiness, short temperedness, anxiety. Don’t forget the extra credit — the hormones and physical tiredness and limitations that come with every pregnancy.

I honestly think that the physical limitations of pregnancy sneak up on you so slowly and gradually that it’s almost unnoticeable until one day you’re just SO frustrated that you can’t fit between the bathroom door and the sink to brush your uncooperative 4-year-old’s teeth and you just LOSE it and yell “WOULD YOU COOPERATE SO I CAN BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!?” And then you realize that you just totally overreacted, and yes your 4-year-old is being a pain, but you’re mostly just pissed because dammnit, you cannot MOVE normally.

And as far as the hormones go, all I’ll say is that in the moment your reactions seem rational. And for anyone who’s never been pregnant and thinks that the whole “hormones” thing is just some ploy to act like a crazy person, believe me, it’s not. Because honestly, no one wants to feel like a crazy person.

OH! And the extra, extra credit — being pregnant during the summer of 2012. Do you think that will be a thing that women who are pregnant this summer talk about? “YOU were pregnant during the summer of 2012?? OMG, ME too! That HEAT was just unbearable, and I just didn’t go outside for like three months, unless I could lay in a pool like a beached whale and not move and be jealous of everyone with their fruity drinks, and we kept the air set to 73 degrees, but I was *still* always hot, and it was just miserable, and …”

I think what drove all this home for me (why I’m experiencing this added mental/emotional exhaustion) was being away with my husband for our final “babymoon” this past weekend. We quite literally, did nothing. We ate, we walked, we sat, we walked, we sat, we ate, we slept.” Repeat. No one needed our attention. We didn’t have to follow anyone else’s agenda. We were only concerned about our own needs. There were no stressors or obligations. We watched all the other parents enjoying the three-day holiday weekend with their kids and we were a little sad that our kids weren’t with us, and envious of all the family fun. In the moment, I tried to remind myself how much harder it would be if the kids were with us, how the weekend would not be ours, and that I needed to just relax and enjoy the alone time. I told myself that those kids were probably being pains. But still, I was a tad sad and we were really excited to get home Sunday afternoon.

And then after I got home on Sunday afternoon I wasn’t so excited to be there. Because damn, they need A LOT of attention! And at times they can be pains! And I am TIRED! But seriously. This is what I realized — I did nothing while we were gone. I did nothing except eat, walk, sit and sleep, and I was still physically tired and limited (there was no light hiking as I hoped; baby being in VERY uncomfortable positions made slow walking and sitting the only things comfortable). So take me, already tired, physically limited and uncomfortable, and add caretaking and stressors of everyday life and work, and yeah. I’m kind of crabby! So I guess this weekend made me realize there’s probably nothing earth shattering about why this pregnancy has been more emotionally/mentally draining, except for normal things that have left me with little motivation to tackle extra things.

Hence, not much head space left over for blogging. I guess I feel like I’ve been surviving these past few months as opposed to thriving.

BUT, what I’ve also realized in the last few months, is that I’m so glad we get to do this again.

My brother-in-law is getting married this month to a wonderful girl and in June they asked me to look through my photos to see if I had any of the two of them together. So I started in 2010, the year they started dating and the year Bean was born, and boy. I really started to miss two-year-old Monkey and baby Bean. I may have shed a few tears.

It made me realize how glad I am that we get to have another baby. I can’t wait for the snuggling and the feedings and even the diaper changes. I can’t wait to see how this third person will enliven and enlarge our family. I can’t wait to see what she looks like, and slowly peel back the layers of her temperament and personality. I can’t wait to see Bean in the role of two-year-old big sister, like Monkey was for her. I can only imagine how Monkey will fill her role as biggest sister. She is such a nurturing soul, and already is instructing us about when, how and where she wants to hold and feed her baby sister.

Honestly, they’re both so excited. Have I mentioned that they both walk around with their loveys stuffed up their shirts and ask me if I want to feel their babies move?

This little girl is already such a blessing to our family and I really feel like she completes us. After being so indecisive about should we or shouldn’t we have a third, I feel so privileged that it was even an option.

With Monkey setting the pace for us, I’m just so happy that I get to experience all these stages again one more time.

New Beginnings

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It’s been almost four months since I’ve blogged, and this post isn’t even necessarily about the fact that I’m only about four weeks away (!) from having this baby. Or the fact that we’re having our THIRD girl!

No. What’s top of mind for me tonight is that my first baby is going off to 4k in the morning.

How did that even happen? When she’s sleeping at night and I check on her before I go to bed, I just stare at the long legs, the long hair, and the very big kid sleeping in the bed. I picture her as a teeny newborn and it’s a little mind boggling to realize how very, very quickly this all goes.

I’ve had these realizations before. Especially after having more than one child. The second time around it’s easier to keep things in perspective when your infant isn’t sleeping through the night, or you’re trying to get rid of the pacifier, or struggling through potty training — it’s easier to tell yourself, “This will only last a few [fill-in-the blank — days, weeks, months].”

As a parent, we’re so excited when our child reaches a new level of independence, be it sleeping through the night, being able to wash his/her own hands, getting their own water. Let’s be honest, mostly because it means less work for us.

But my latest realization was different — for the first time, I realized how truly short a time period it is that our kids are 100% completely dependent on us.

I mean, between six and nine months babies are already less dependent on us because they’re crawling. They can move away from us. Bean was walking at 9.5 months.

Wow, right? At nine months old, NINE MONTHS, the amount of time it took you to grow them, they’re already doing things independently. Without you.

And it just snowballs from there. Their independence milestones just keep getting bigger.

As a parent, we feel like our job is to “raise” this new life. To take care of them, provide for their needs. They NEED us, right?

But really, I’m starting to realize that our job as a parent is to teach them how to succeed in life … without us.

And that’s just a little sad, isn’t it?

I remember my mom wistfully telling me (as an adult) “I gave my kids wings so they could fly.” As an adult, I thought that was great! Now as a parent that makes me boo hoo hoo. I think it’s the hardest thing in the world to so lovingly and tenderly put so much time into another human being just to watch them walk away from you.

Monkey’s first day of school tomorrow reminds me of the first time I dropped her off at my mother-in-law’s house to go back to work after maternity leave. The girls’ Nana has been watching them four days a week since they were 10 and 12 weeks old, respectively. They LOVE their Nana and love going to her house. They’re usually a little disappointed on the weekend when we tell them “No, you’re not going to Nana’s house today, you get to stay home with Daddy and me!” (much to our chagrin).

I remember trying to be really brave and matter of fact when I dropped Monkey off that first day back to work. I almost made it too, until I started bawling at the last minute and then basically had to run out the door. I was so sad that someone else was getting the privilege of spending 8-9 hours of the day with MY baby and that someone wasn’t me. Someone else was getting to *be* there. I was jealous.

Ultimately the experiences Monkey has had over the last 4.5 years at Nana’s house — the memories she’s made and the bond she has with her Nana — have been a benefit to everyone, including me and especially her. The same is true for Bean.

And I know that school will be SUCH a blessing for Monkey. She is so looking forward to it. She will love it and she will thrive. She has an inquisitive nature and it will be so wonderful to watch her mind growing right before our eyes.

But it’s definitely bittersweet. It’s hard to watch this child I love so much take another small step away from me. Even though she was in preschool two mornings a week last year, this is a bigger step. Every day there will be another person, aside from her Nana, her dad and me, who will occupy a central role in her life and development. Another person will get to spend 3+ hours a day with her that I won’t get to spend with her.

My friend who is a teacher wrote this last night and I can only hope all of our kids will experience a teacher or teachers like this in their lives:

“I am excited as always for the first day of school. Parents who are nervous about sending their kids to school: remember, your children are spending the day with peers, but they are also being welcomed, taught, challenged, cherished and watched over by teachers who open their classroom doors, their arms and their hearts to your children. Teachers, remember that tomorrow your rooms will be filled with the most important people in the world, and every one of them is their parents’ heart and soul and pride and joy. Handle with care. And parents, remember, we teachers teach because we want to love and guide your children. We know you see your child as a miracle; know that we do, too. Work with us, and know that we take what you say to heart, and we have the very best intentions in what we do to help your child grow and thrive. Most importantly parents, talk to us. Give us the feedback we need to make the most of our time with your child. I know that it is hard to believe that anyone could feel about your child the way you do — but know that your child’s teachers spend the majority of their lives trying to do and give everything they can for the students they’re blessed to work with. Have a beautiful first day of school everyone!”

I’m hoping I can keep my boo hoo hooing to myself.

Why I’m Not Hoping for a Boy

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We have two girls. Two wonderful, lovely, beautiful girls. So must people assume that we’re hoping this baby is a boy. Nah. It’s so cliché, but we’re just hoping for a healthy baby.

There would be pros and cons to having a boy or a girl.

I would love to have a boy because it would be a whole new experience. It would be something totally different. And it’s nice to think of Husband having that dad-boy relationship that I have with my girls. He’s a terrific dad to the girls, and at the same time it would be nice for him to have a boy to balance out the estrogen.

I would love to have a girl because as excited as I would be about the whole new “boy experience,” it simultaneously scares the sh*t out of me. At least with girls I kind of have a clue about what I’m doing. I remember one night at my grandma’s house when my cousin (who’s like my sister) was sitting on the floor with me and we were both changing diapers. My cousin has two boys. I was changing Bean and she was changing her son K. We both looked at each other’s baby’s (opposite) parts and she said, “I have no idea what to do with that.” And I said, “I have no idea what to do with THAT!” At least I’m familiar with my daughters’ parts!

If we have a boy I think it will be easier for me not to compare my kids to each other. Especially when it comes to comparing the baby to the first two. It’s already hard enough for me not to compare Monkey and Bean.

If we have another girl, I’m afraid that the baby will break up the super close bond that the older two girls have. On the other hand, I have two best friends. I know it’s unlikely to have two best friends, and you’re probably thinking that surely I’m closer to one than the other. But I’m not. I truly do have two best friends. And in many instances, having one of us stay neutral while the other two get worked up, has helped resolve conflict faster. So I think it could be awesome for them to each have two sisters.

Regardless of whether it’s a boy or girl, those girls are going to looooooooooove on that baby like you just won’t believe. They were baby obsessed before, but I think they’re going to take it to a new level. They just LOVE babies (real and pretend).

With all of that said, it’s still fun to guess, right!? After all this time, Monkey is still hankering for a brother, while Bean wants a sister. We told them that one of them will get what they want. 😉

For what it’s worth, my intuition told me “boy” from the moment I got a positive pregnancy test. I refer to the baby as “he.” However, lately I have been doubting my intuition because this pregnancy has been pretty much the same as the other two.

Here’s what the old wives tales have said:

  • The Chinese pregnancy calendar says GIRL, and it was correct for both Monkey and Bean
  • The baking soda test says GIRL (pee in a cup and if it sizzles it’s a boy; if it does nothing it’s a girl)
  • The baby’s heartbeat has been over the place. At my six-week ultrasound it was 137. I had another ultrasound at 9 weeks and it was 178. At my last two check-ups it’s been in the 150s. Typically when we listen with the Doppler at home it’s in the 130-140 range. With the girls, the heartbeat was usually in the 150s-160s. The last time I input the heartbeat in the above gender prediction tool it said BOY, but it has said GIRL before, too. So it’s a toss-up.

Husband thinks it’s a girl. We’ll find out tomorrow if my mother’s intuition is right! (it was right for both girls)

What do you think!??

(And if you’re so inclined, please say some prayers for a healthy baby)

I’ve Never Been Pregnant on Mother’s Day Before

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Be Awesome on Mother’s Day

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I know how Mother’s Day is supposed to go in the United States. If you’re a mom, you’re supposed to get a relaxing day where (hopefully) your husband (or someone else) handles all the tedious and exhausting things about motherhood for the day (wiping butts, washing hands, preparing meals, haranguing naps) while you (the mom) get to kick back and enjoy all the fun stuff your kids do. Basically you get to be the dad for the day.

JOKING!

Seriously, I’m joking. My husband is a super awesome dad and definitely does his share of tedious kids’ stuff.

But, hopefully you do get to relax and enjoy the awesome stuff about your kids. Maybe get a little breakfast in bed, possibly a massage, some chocolates. And if you’re really lucky, a homemade craft that involves a lot of glue and dried legumes.

We do it up big here in the United States.

I don’t know how they celebrate Mother’s Day in other countries (although Wikipedia tells me many other countries do celebrate it), but I do know that for the majority of women in the world, Mother’s Day looks absolutely nothing like what it does for us in the States. According to the World Health Organization, every 90 seconds a woman dies from preventable causes related to pregnancy and child birth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing nations, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. For every woman who dies in childbirth, another 30 women incur injuries and infections, which are often preventable. It’s well recognized that these numbers are often under reported.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I know I had some fears about dying during childbirth with my first two children. But only 16.6 women die in childbirth in the U.S. per 100,000 live births (#39 on the list, not great by any stretch compared to No. 1 Italy at 3.9) but can you imagine your risk being 95 times that!?

For these mothers in developing countries, their every day is about finding clean water and food for their children. They’re not concerned about whether they’re getting a massage; they’re concerned about basic survival.

In a very real way, the celebration of Mother’s Day is a first-world luxury.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating moms and giving moms a break. Lord knows, we’re (super)human and we could all use a break. But in case you want to do something just a little bit more, you might consider:

Participating in Bloggers for Birth Kits by donating $10 to purchase 5 clean birth kits for mothers in rural Papua New Guinea where 1 in 7 women die in childbirth. That’s it. It’s only $2 per kit and you could help save a mother and newborn baby’s life. You could make your own if you’re so inclined, or you can just donate.

Donating to Saving Mothers which aims to give women and their health care providers the tools they need to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity through public health initiatives. The organization currently has projects in Guatemala and Liberia. $10 purchases one hemorrhage kit and prevents maternal death from bleeding. $50 transports one woman to the hospital.

Get involved with Every Mother Counts, an organization founded by supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns. Christy hemorrhaged after the delivery of her first child and was fortunate enough to recover. She realized that for many women in the world, such an occurrence is a death sentence.

Every Mother Counts actually has a very comprehensive explanation of the problems with maternal health and mortality, including the five main barriers to care. They also have various options for helping.

All of these organizations have the same common cause: to reduce maternal mortality globally.

Or maybe you just want to give a boost to a mom you know who’s having a hard time, like Momastery just did. I know of a local family who recently lost absolutely everything in a house fire. If you’re interested in donating to them, contact me at jenovotny(at)gmail(dot)com.

Even $5 can make a difference in someone’s life.

Maybe for this Mother’s Day we can do a little more for our fellow mamas who could really use it.

Make yourself feel super awesome this Mother’s Day. It feels great.

What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things.
But we can all do small things, with great love,
and together we can do something wonderful.
— Mother Theresa