Dear Amelia {Twelve Months}

arl12months

Dear Amelia,

Happy First Birthday, a week late! I have been nothing if not consistently late with these letters to you all year. I apologize, but better late than never, right?

I’m happy to report, though, you had a quite nice first birthday. We did your favorite things: Went grocery shopping (you love all the people and things to see), played with new toys, and had cake. I think the last one might be your all time favorite thing ever.

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since you were born. It both feels like yesterday and also eons ago. Part of me can close my eyes and feel your tiny body snuggled into me, in the crook of my arm, late at night, and the other part of me can hardly believe that same tiny baby is now this crawling, yelling, excited girl.

You are all over the place all the time now. You’re not walking yet, but that’s okay. You’ll get there on your own pace. You love music and dance every time you hear it. You love all forms of it, too, from classical to country to alternative rock. You are not picky about your tunes, as long as you can jam along with it, you’re good.

You have six teeth, which beats last month’s prediction you would close out your first year with five. You use them well, too. You eat a lot and often, though you would not know it by your size. You are still tiny. In fact the other day a teacher at your daycare asked, “When is her birthday?” When I replied “last week,” she was stunned. “Wow,” she said, “she is small!” And you are. You are more or less the size of most 8-9 month olds. You still fit in 6-9 month onesies. I’ve just started putting you in 9-12 month clothes.

I don’t mind the smallness. You will grow bigger quickly, and I’m not ready for that yet.

Your already big personality has gotten even bigger. You are happy, almost all the time. You very rarely throw tantrums, but when you do…YIKES. Your daddy and I have our work cut out for us. You are fiercely independent. You can and will figure out how to do most things on your own. Including but not limited to working out iPhones/iPads, the television remote, and your baby monitor. You test your boundaries daily. You definitely know what “no” means, but you often choose to ignore it.

I love watching you figure out your world. If your daddy or I laugh at something, you laugh too. You get that we found something funny, and you want to be a part of it. If you sneeze, you will stare at me until I say “Bless you.” You clap whenever something good happens. And in your eyes, “something good” is almost anything (except maybe a bath).

It has been such an amazing year with you, Boo Bear. I know the the next year will be just as amazing. I can’t wait to see everything you learn and to see how you will grow. I’m so thankful I get to be your mama.

I love you to the moon and back.

XOXO,

Mama

Reminiscing on a year of motherhood

This time last year, I was totally exhausted, totally confused, and totally lost. Also, probably suffering from some slight PPD. It seemed every time I searched for an answer to a question I had (was nursing supposed to hurt? Or not supposed to hurt? Is it okay to bed-share? Am I supposed to cry about EVERYTHING?!) I got conflicting answers that just caused more confusion, and in some cases, more fear (thinking about SIDS kept me awake for nights on end, seriously).

I was a mess.

Now, a year later, I am still a mess. I do, however, know how to manage it better. I’ve learned a lot about being a mom. I’ve learned a lot about babies and toddlers and life with them. I know to ignore most of the advice you get from well meaning individuals. I know to trust my instinct (it’s usually right). With that said, I’d like to take this opportunity to dispense some advice of my own.

Take care of yourself. You needed to eat, sleep, and shower before you had a baby, and guess what? You still do after the baby is born. Being sane is the first step to being a good mom, and no one can be sane if they are exhausted, hungry and dirty.

Make time for yourself. Make time for what’s important to you. For me, that’s writing this blog and playing on my iPad uninterrupted.

Ask for help. I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t SuperMom. You can’t do everything. And you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the help you need.

Accept help that is offered. If someone offers to do your dishes, fold your laundry, cook you dinner, don’t be a martyr. They’re offering, so that means they don’t mind helping. Just say yes and take a nap.

Trust your partner. They know what to do as much as you know what to do, even if they don’t do it in the same way.

Know you’ll make mistakes. You will never be perfect, perfection doesn’t exist. My favorite motherhood quote says so: “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” -Jill Churchill

STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER MOTHERS. No two families, moms, kids, or situations are the same. And I guarantee you aren’t getting the whole story from Facebook or a comment on a blog.

Find someone you can bitch to. Whether it’s a friend or a family member, find someone you are comfortable bitching to about everything (but not about your husband). It should be noted ahead of time all bitch sessions are judge free zones.

It’s okay to not love being a mom all of the time. It’s not all fun and games. The sore nipples, the sheer exhaustion, the colic, the spit up, diaper explosions, temper tantrums, teething…it’s not all roses, people. Enjoy the good moments and know the bad ones are fleeting and you won’t remember them as well, anyway.

It’s also okay to miss your old life. Even if it’s all you’ve ever wanted your whole life, being a mom is a huge sacrifice. I still miss my old life from time to time, especially when my friends go on fabulous vacations at the drop of the hat, or my co-workers get together for impromptu drinks after work.

Sleep whenever you can, for as long as you can. No, seriously. And not just when that baby is a newborn, either. I say sleep when the baby sleeps until that baby is no longer napping.

You will ignore all of this advice and learn it the hard way…

…just like I did.

One year later

Today is Baby A’s birthday! It’s hard to believe this was a whole year ago:

(247 of 269)

It’s been a crazy, amazing year. I can honestly say being a mom is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I never knew how much it would mean to be one. A has changed my life forever, in the best ways possible. Today has been bittersweet. My baby isn’t a baby anymore. I have a toddler now. It’s exciting and sad all at the same time.

Even though A has no idea what today is, we already had a birthday party for her, and John is out of town (unfortunately), I’ve been celebrating today for A. It’s a big deal, even for me. This past year was hard in so many ways; I feel like I should get a patch or something for surviving it with most of my sanity and no gray hairs. So we’ve been doing all our favorite things, playing with new toys, eating cake, and later we’ll take a walk outside. (I wanted to take her 12 month pictures so I could post her 12 month letter, but we had a butt load of rain the past few days and the ground is wet so that thwarted my plans.)

A toddler, y’all. A is a toddler. Life is crazy.

(I’m still calling her a baby, probably for the rest of her life.)

 

A well balanced meal

Since starting solids with A, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect balance between convenience and health. It’s harder than you think. Making baby food at home is everyone’s answer for this, but frankly, I didn’t have the time or patience. Also her daycare in Louisiana required all baby food be brought in sealed containers. Starting table foods a few months ago has helped out in this regard tremendously.

In a perfect world, A would just eat whatever John and I eat at mealtimes, but some nights I don’t cook, we eat random snacks or we don’t eat at all.  John is often out of town, too, so that limits how much/often I prepare meals.

So after several months, I’ve finally figured out some baby/toddler friendly foods that marry convenience and well balanced meals. All require minimal prep and are pretty versatile so I can throw them together for her quickly. These are all Baby A/HSM approved:

Frozen waffles–A LOVES waffles, and as far as ease goes, it doesn’t get much easier than this. I get her Van’s All Natural Gluten Free Blueberry Waffles and she gobbles the whole thing up in record time. Daycare provides breakfast during the week, but this is our go to breakfast on weekends.

Low maintenance fruit–I consider low maintenance fruit to be anything with minimal prep. If I have to do anything beyond peel it, I’m  not interested. So, really, this means bananas, blueberries, or quartered grapes. If I’m feeling particularly crazy, I’ll get some cut up cantaloupe or watermelon and put it in her mesh teether.

Shredded cheese–A quick and easy snack option A loves. We’re partial to cheddar.

Frozen veggies–I always keep a bag of frozen peas and carrots in the freezer. Other favorites include broccoli and green beans. You can say whatever you want, but I will never stop loving frozen veggies. For us, they just work. Our local grocery is always running sales on frozen veggies, so not only is this practical but it’s cheap too.

Fruit pouches–I will never stop loving these either. I know you’ve seen them. Motts, DelMont, Go Go fruits, and Plum Organics make them. I always keep a couple different varieties on hand, and one brand or another is always on sale somewhere. A can now suck the fruit straight out of the pouch which is awesome.

Whole grain pasta–I boil a whole box of over the weekend and A and I both eat off of it during the week. I use it for pasta salads for work, and I toss it with parmesan cheese for dinner for A.

Chicken–I’m not a big meat eater, but we do eat a lot of chicken. When I do cook it, I cook an extra breast or two to shred up for A.

I also keep Cheerios and those puff snacks (we prefer Plum Organics Strawberry Beet or Happy Organics Sweet Potato) on hand at all times. I put a handful on her tray while I get meals ready and she stays quiet. And as a special treat, A loves graham crackers.

Granted, this list is not exhaustive, but it’s a good example of some of my staples. Anyway, between all of these and others, I can (usually) get meals together for A quickly with little prep, which makes everyone happy.

51 weeks

Since A was born, I have been getting the weekly emails from BabyCenter and The Bump all about “Your Baby This Week”. I stopped reading most of them when I stopped counting A’s age in weeks (roughly four months). Yesterday though, one came that caught my attention (and quite honestly brought me to tears):

How?

How?

I know A’s birthday is next week. I’ve been planning her 12 month photo shoot, drafting her (possibly) last monthly letter, and figuring out her birthday festivities. I’m aware of her birthday, certainly not in denial about it, so why did this particular happenstance cause me to get so schmoopy yesterday?

It’s probably because I’ve been super nostalgic lately (which is not really the best thing for someone as sensitive as me). The other night John and I were going through some old pictures and found ourselves looking at some from A’s first days home. It seems like just yesterday A was newly born. While I don’t necessarily miss those hazy, exhausting, endless days and nights, I do miss the snugly baby she used to be. I miss being able to hold her all day long, rock her, nurse her, take naps with her. I miss un-mobility and maternity leave, especially.

I can’t believe how much has changed in a year. I can’t believe the perpetually happy baby, almost toddler, I have now is the same fussy, colicky newborn I had many months ago. I can’t believe the baby that never slept now sleeps 12+ hours a night. I can’t believe the baby who never wanted to be put down now crawls everywhere and happily plays on her own.

But as I write all of this, A is sitting next to me, in her highchair, smiling her six-toothed smile at me as she babbles away, eating bananas and drinking milk. While I miss all of those things, I can’t say I’d trade the girl I have now to go back to them. She’s pretty stinking amazing, and I feel incredibly blessed to be her mama. It’s okay to feel nostalgic from time to time–natural, even, on the eve of a big event like a first birthday–but we shouldn’t let it get in the way of enjoying the here and now.

And I won’t. I’m going to savor this last week of babyhood.

And then I’ll eat cake.

Home wasn’t built in a day

I knew it would happen eventually.

I am officially homesick.

I miss my family and my friends. I miss my old house and my old city. I miss being able to run errands and know exactly where I’m going. I even miss my old job and my old co-workers. (I’m getting into the hard part of my job and have had a couple rough days. I’m sure this is partly to blame for these emotions.) It’s not that Indianapolis is a miserable place, it’s quite nice, and everyone I’ve met here is quite nice. But it’s not my home yet, and they aren’t my good friends yet.

I miss being able to pick up my phone and have someone to text/call and go hang out with. I miss being able to make plans with family and friends. I never truly appreciated how lucky I was to have such an amazing support system of family and friends in place. Now that I don’t have that, I wish I had taken better advantage of it the months before moving. Like my best friend often says to me, “Sometimes life gets in the way of things.”

I know it’s true, but it stinks. This is part of the hindsight is twenty/twenty thing that comes with being an adult, isn’t it?

Even though right now I’m feeling sad, I know it’s not permanent. When I moved to Boston for grad school I went through the same thing (and I even had family up there). Eventually, I got used to it and the people I met became good friends. I’m sure the same thing will happen here. And of course I have the added bonus of being with the two people that mean the most to me here.

In the end, home is wherever we’re all together.

N-A-P spells…

A has never been the world’s greatest napper. She’s pretty terrible at it. Over the past 11 months, we have struggled to maintain an effective nap schedule. At daycare, she’s the worst. She takes one, sometimes two, very short naps a day. And by short I mean less than 30 minutes each. As a result, by the time I pick her up, she is cranky and irritable and ready for an early bedtime.

Even on weekends, I have to fight for her to take naps. Take right now, for instance. A started exhibiting the signs of being tired around nine. This is about normal, as I usually go get her from her room around seven (she may be awake before that, but that’s when she usually starts making noise). Our nap routine is pretty simple: Put her in her crib, hand her her lovie, she sucks her thumb and plops down. Lights out. I don’t make a big deal out of it because I don’t want her to have to do certain things to get to sleep during the day, since I know it’s going to be pretty cut and dry in the toddler room at daycare.

Some days, she goes right to sleep and stays that way for a while. Today, it’s been a challenge. I listened to her babble to herself for about 20 minutes before the babbling turned into crying. The crying eventually turned into screaming before I finally went and got her. I’d like to say she just wasn’t ready for a nap, but I know she was. Even when I let her play, she kept laying down on the living room floor, sucking her thumb and rubbing her eyes: Three tell-tale signs she is sleepy. I just put her back down, hopefully she’ll go to sleep this time.

Naps are important because A needs that reset a couple times a day. Her weekdays are pretty long, though not as long as they were when we were in Baton Rouge (a big perk of my new job is she is not at daycare as long). On weekends, her naps are equally important for me. John is gone most weekends, and if I want to get anything done, it needs to be done when she naps. And I feel really bad about this, especially since I work all week, but, honestly? Mama needs some down time, too. When she doesn’t nap, we’re both cranky.

From here on, I’m thinking we’re just going to refer to nap time as “quiet time” in this house, and she can do with it what she wants. If she sleeps, great. If she cries, okay. If she talks to herself for an hour, well, that’s fine too. But I think it’s important we both have time to recharge during our day. After all, happy mama = happy baby. And vice versa.