Life with 2 Under 2, So Far

Now that we’ve got 3 months under our belts and we’re starting to get into a routine, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on things.

The other day I was thinking about the emotional breakdown I had right after finding out I was pregnant with little Ivor…when Gwen was just 6 months old. SIX MONTHS. Mind you, hormones and emotions while pregnant are not to be trusted. Everything seemed worse than it really was. Everything was heightened. I was a crazy person, not gonna lie. But I was terrified. It wasn’t that it was going to be hard, it was going to be IMPOSSIBLE. Thankfully, those thoughts didn’t last long and I was able to quickly change my attitude and start enjoying my pregnancy and looking forward to the new little life entrusted to us. I look back on that breakdown now and laugh.

Here we are now, almost a year since I saw that positive test (October 4, 2013…I’ll always remember the day!) Is it hard? At times, yes. Of course it is. But impossible? No. We’re surviving. And some days, even thriving! We have many days of dirty dishes and backed-up laundry, seeing more toys on the floor than carpet, dried up milk spots and leftover lunch scraps on the dining room floor. All while kids are screaming in the background. But then we have other days where the house is clean (it does happen, it does…I’ve just had to accept that it doesn’t last long), the kids are happy, we’re all well-rested and we survive a trip to the grocery store. I have to admit, that was one of the biggest hurdles (in my mind at least) that we have overcome. The first trip out of the house, alone, with both kids.

For awhile it was just logistically difficult. The only way it works is to have one kid (Ivor) in the Ergo and the other (Gwen) in the cart. I could’ve used the double-stroller but the basket isn’t big enough for any worthwhile food shopping. So wearing one and pushing the other makes the most sense to me. But until Ivor was big enough to fit in the Ergo without the infant insert, I avoided it. It’s been an extremely hot summer so baby-wearing isn’t a lot fun. And that insert made him even more hot, and he was so tiny he’d curl up into the fetal position, burying his head in my chest, and sweating like crazy. I was convinced he wasn’t breathing. So I didn’t go out until I could safely wear him in the Ergo without that blasted insert. And right now it’s working perfectly for us. Gwen still loves sitting in the cart and hasn’t tried to protest, preferring to walk/run around the store.

I time the trip so that they’ve both eaten and had a diaper change RIGHT before leaving the house. Ivor just sleeps peacefully in the Ergo and Gwen is her usual happy, friendly, loud self when we’re in the store. I make a list and stick to it, so I’m in and out quickly. The only minor issue we’ve run into is going through the checkout line, sometimes Ivor starts to get antsy (he prefers constant motion while being worn. If I stand around for too long he’s not happy). But at that point, I’m on my way out of the store and I don’t really care. Also, he spit-up right down my shirt once as we were walking into the store. But the beauty of the wearing him is that no one else could see it 🙂

Anyway, I say all this to say: there are challenges and hurdles, but you figure it out. You just do what you have to do, because you have to. No one else will do it for you (unless you have that kind of money, we don’t.) And the confidence you gain when you accomplish those things keeps you going and gets you over the next hurdle. I say to myself “hey, remember that time when you thought going to the store alone with the kids was impossible…well, you did it…you can do this too”.

This life with 2 under 2 really isn’t AS difficult as I thought it was going to be. It didn’t help that I read horror stories all over the internet when I first found out about little Ivor. Seriously, the first Google search I did resulted in one of those Yahoo Answers. A woman asked something like “I’m pregnant again right after having my first baby, what do I do? Any tips??” and the “best answer” was “don’t ever do that again.”

Seriously? How is that even remotely helpful???

Sorry. I get annoyed by those kinds of people. Especially after having encountered one directly (read about that here).

So let me be the one to encourage you if you find yourself in my situation (first of all, don’t listen to those internet trolls who will try to scare you, or condemn you). Having kids close together is not just do-able, it can be really enjoyable too. I think of all those other moms who have 3 under 3, or even 4 under 4, and they’re getting along just fine and wouldn’t have it any other way. Our homes may be full of chaos, but it’s a happy chaos. And I know it’s cliche, people say it all the time, but seeing your kids interact and play together “makes all those difficult times worth it”. It really does.

Gwen is starting to interact more with Ivor and it just melts my heart 🙂 I see them and think, “wow, what a blessing it is to have a sibling/playmate”. By having them close together, we’ve given them someone to grow up with, play with, fight with, scheme with, learn from, protect, defend, and love.

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There’s really a lot more to say about this and I’m sure I’ll write more posts. This is just a summary really of what life is like. There’s the whole jealousy issue we’ve dealt with, figuring out a daily routine, having 2 in cloth diapers, bedtimes, what do I actually do when BOTH kids are crying at the same time, how DOES any cleaning get done, etc. Stay tuned!

 

3 Month Update (Ivor Alan)

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This sleepy guy is 3 months old today! What a handsome, happy boy he is. Here’s what’s new:

*Well, this was new last month actually I just forgot to mention it, but he sleeps through the night! I hesitated to even mention it now though because I know how rare it is and how lucky we are. Someone in Whole Foods told me last year, when I shared that Gwen was sleeping through the night around 3 months, that I should never tell any other mom that, ever, lest they all hate me. But…she asked first! What was I going to do, lie? I’m not a liar. Sorry. You want to know how we’re all sleeping? (Let’s be honest, the topic almost always comes up after you have a baby). Well, if you ask I’m going to tell you the truth. It’s not my fault if you can’t handle it. That is all. (and for the record, we still went through some rough patches with Gwen throughout the first year, it wasn’t all happy sleepy time all the time). Anyway, I share it here so I remember (this is basically my online baby book for the kids), not to rub it in anyone’s face. I’m also well aware of possible “sleep regression” in the coming months, but for now… I am enjoying the sleep!

Moving on.

*He is so very smiley! He does have his moments- like when he’s in a particularly clingy mood and I dare leave the room without him, you’d think I just abandoned him on the street or something the way he screams and looks at me like I just betrayed him. BUT, most of the time he’s a very happy boy, giving the biggest, sweetest smiles ever. Especially when I’m changing his diaper or getting him dressed. He thinks it’s so funny when I put his shirt over head 🙂

*He loves bath time. It puts him in such a peaceful mood. He especially loves when I pour water over his head and scrub behind his ears.

*He’s becoming a lot more vocal and “talks” to the hanging toys on his swing, bouncer and play mat.

*He still won’t take a pacifier. This baffles me. I’ve tried different styles, but he isn’t interested in any of them. Either he acts like I’m trying to gag him when I stick it in his mouth, or he spits it out after a few seconds.

*Gwen is starting to “play” with him a bit more now. She makes all of her stuffed animals give him kisses (and provides kissing sound effects to go with it lol). It’s kind of adorable. And of course, he thinks it’s hilarious. It makes me sooooo look forward to when he’s a little older and really can play with her more. I was told that it will make my heart bust seeing the two of them play together, and I believe it! When Gwen walks over to him and uses her sweet higher pitched voice to talk baby talk to him and he smiles back at her……ugh. I can’t even handle that.

*He’s growing right out of his 3-month clothing already. I still haven’t put away his newborn clothes yet. I just can’t. Partly because I haven’t found the time, partly because I’m in denial that he’s not a newborn anymore.

That is all for now. Happy 3 months little dude 🙂

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Gwen’s Language

Gwen is 17-months old now and her vocabulary is suddenly exploding. She’s learning new words every day it seems, and speaking in sentences that SOUND like they make sense, to her anyway. Like she’s getting the hang of this “conversation” concept. I just wanted to take a moment to write down all the words she says, some correctly, some in her own little language 🙂

Words she says correctly:

Up
Mom
Daddy (well, “daaa-eeeey”…but close enough)
Pop-Pop
Apple
Bible
Hi (also means “bye” according to her)
Go
Ball
Off

Words she says incorrectly (and what they really mean):

Aff (bath)
Ack (snack)
Wawa (water)
Ock (sock)
Hop (help)
Dis (this)
Ook (book)
At (for both cat and hat)
Ot (hot and out)
Gee (cheers!)

Phrase:

der ee is! (“there it is”, or “there he is”)

Exclamations:

ooooooo!
mmmmm!
whoa!
uh-oh!
boo! (for peek-a-boo)
*gasp*, complete with gasp face, when something exciting is about to happen (like the Cat in the Hat coming on TV, or daddy getting home from work)

She’s still using sign language occasionally for “please”, “milk”, “thank you”, and “sleepy”.

I think that’s all of them. It’s been so fun to watch her learn new things and grow into a little person. It’s an extremely challenging time, with all the meltdowns and whining and screaming and crying, BUT it’s also a time of crazy growth and exciting new things. The talking in real words thing is just blowing my mind. Because just last year she was a tiny little baby that cooed and babbled (like her little brother), and now she communicates with me. With words. How does that happen so fast!?

Tonight she grabbed a book off the shelf and sat in her chair. It was daddy’s book on Biblical Eldership, lol. Once she realized there were no pictures, she lost interest 🙂

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Embracing the Crazy

Today was the doctor’s appointment. Gwen’s 15-month checkup and Ivor’s 1-month. Big Ivor was at work. So I was on my own with both kids. It started off well:

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Look at her, sitting there all happy and content eating her snack during her brother’s part of the visit.

I wish I could say she stayed this happy the whole time.

Once the doc left the room after Ivor’s exam and I started getting his clothes back on, Gwen decided to hop off the chair and start exploring the office.

Sigh.

Then when the doc came back in for Gwen’s portion of the visit, little Ivor started screaming his head off. So first I tried rocking his carseat with my foot, while trying to hold Gwen still and keep her from opening drawers, pulling things off shelves, etc. all while attempting to listen to what the doc was saying. He still screamed. She still squirmed. So then I decided to pick him up and hold him while the doctor examined Gwen. She was less than cooperative for most of her exam. Swatting away the doctor’s hand, thrashing her body all around, screaming. Especially when she got her shots.  I had switched out little Ivor for Gwen at that point, so he was back in his carseat screaming, and she was in my arms screaming, while the nurse poked her with a needle.

Then I got them both strapped into the double stroller and out we rolled through the lobby, with every eye on us. Thankfully it’s a pediatric doctor’s office, so everyone there was a parent and “got it”. Still couldn’t help but feel like quite the spectacle though lol.

All that to say, it didn’t upset me or stress me out (surprisingly). Was it fun? No. Would I want to do it again? No. But we survived. And I don’t have unrealistic expectations of a toddler and a newborn in a doctor’s office getting poked and prodded.

The scene in that office is my life now. Sure, it’s a little crazy. But instead of fighting it or letting it ruin my day, I’m embracing it! We have lots of great moments (yesterday’s church outing, for example, couldn’t have gone smoother!) Right now they’re both content and quiet, allowing me to write this post.

Gwen has started *attempting* to say “I love you” (after you say it first). And little Ivor has started smiling at us.

As someone recently said in a comment on a friend’s facebook page about having kids, “yes, my hands are full, but my heart is fuller.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!

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2 Weeks, No Sleep

I had forgotten certain things about having a newborn/baby. Yes, Gwen is still my baby…but she’s more of a toddler now. And her toddler activities and the whole pregnancy thing made the last year a blur. So as I’ve been spending the past few nights awake with a tiny human feeding off of me ALL NIGHT, wondering what in the world was going on…it became clear and I remembered those pesky things called…growth spurts. Brief periods of time during a baby’s first year that they act like they’re STARVING and need to eat 24/7. Growing is a good thing. Meeting milestones is a good thing. I get that this needs to happen and the result is good. But for a nursing mama it’s kind of an exhausting process. As my toddler and my husband snooze away at 3am, I’m awake…sitting up in bed with a baby on my boob. Hoping that maybe THIS time when I lay him back down he’ll actually sleep for longer than 1 hour. A solid hour is all I ask for at 3am. Is it too much to ask?

Sigh.

It goes by quickly. It goes by quickly.

Fortunately at his 2-week check up this morning it was confirmed that he has indeed grown. He’s up to 8 1/2 lbs now and 21 1/4 inches long. His head is bigger too. Always reassuring. I’ll be taking BOTH kids in for a check-up in about 2 weeks. It will be Gwen’s 15-month and Ivor’s 1-month. It will likely be the first time taking them somewhere by myself too as that day is also (big) Ivor’s first day back to work. Waa. Pray for me.

Aside from the lack of sleep, we are doing well. He’s such a sweet, handsome little guy. He loves to cuddle and poop in clean diapers 2.5 seconds after I put them on him. When he’s awake, he’s very alert and looks all around and studies faces and objects. He makes lots of funny faces and noises (grunts and squeaks). He doesn’t seem to be phased at all by his sister’s loudness. Speaking of, Gwen has started giving him kisses! I melt.

Also, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has brought a meal to us. We appreciate it SO much! I especially love when these meals include cookies…and wine. Seriously, it’s the best ever. THANK YOU 🙂

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Boy, That Escalated Quickly- a birth story :)

The much anticipated birth story of our 2nd blessing- Ivor Alan Griffiths.

It began on Sunday, June 1st, when I woke up and started getting ready for church. Super mild braxton hicks contractions started happening. It wasn’t anything different than what I had been feeling for the past 2 months or so. Noticeable “practice contractions” as they’re described. Not the least bit painful, just noticeable. The only difference this time was the frequency. Up until then I had only felt about 2-3 each day. But now they were coming about 2-3 every hour. So I just began keeping track of them to see how long they lasted and how frequently they were coming. About 10-15 mins apart, lasting about 1 min each. But they weren’t getting any stronger or lasting longer so I just went about my day as usual. We went to the grocery store after church, ate lunch, watched some TV, took Gwen for a walk, cooked dinner, etc.

And right around dinner time is when I noticed a difference in the strength of these “practice” contractions. They were definitely stronger than before. They got my attention and made me have to close my eyes and breathe through most of them. Still easily managed, but just required some focus. From about 6pm-10pm I kept track of them. They were coming a little more frequently now, about 7-10 mins apart. Still lasting about 1-1:30 mins each. Since this had been going on all day, and there was a noticeable change in strength, we decided it was probably time to call my doctor. The call was made around 10pm I believe. She said to give it another hour and if the contractions remained the same, or started coming more frequently, to go ahead and get to the hospital. She knew that I wanted to do as much of the laboring on my own as possible, without any meds, so she was comfortable having me wait a bit longer and labor more at home. If I definitely planned on getting an epidural, she would’ve had me come in right then.

So we double-checked the hospital bag, threw in some last minute things. Ivor decided to shave, only to have his razor die about 10 seconds in, so he looked fantastic 😉 We were both kind of giddy at this point, realizing this was probably it. Part of me still didn’t want to get my hopes up though because I didn’t want to get sent home for “false labor”. Not sure why it takes me awhile to believe I’m actually in labor. Even with Gwen, when my WATER BROKE to start labor, I wasn’t convinced until we got to the hospital and they told me “yes, you’re in real labor”. Anyway, Ivor charged his razor and was able to finish his shave. Meanwhile I kept track of the contractions. They started out great- the same frequency and strength as before (which would mean we were going to the hospital). But then toward the end of that hour window we were given, they started to vary, getting farther apart. Sigh. It was almost midnight at this point and I was sleepy. Ivor had already started drifting off. I figured if I was to get any rest at all, I should try then. See if I could sleep through these contractions. And I did sleep…for about 2 hours. Until the contractions woke me up. Another increase in strength. Definitely could not ignore these! I woke Ivor up and told him we needed to leave right away. And off we went.

We checked in at the hospital at 3:20am on 6/2. I got set up for “labor evaluation” and my nurse checked me. I was 5-6cm dilated and completely effaced. She felt the “bulging water bag” and predicted it would break soon. Labor evaluation complete: this was the real thing. That’s when Ivor sent out the initial messages to family and close friends that the little man was on his way!

I was still managing contractions well on my own and the baby was doing great. So we did some walking around the halls, which definitely helped move things along…as the contractions came way more frequently whenever I did so. My OB arrived to check on me around 6:30am. She asked if I wanted her to break my water bag, since it hadn’t yet broken on its own, to help speed things up…but she warned me that contractions would get more intense and there might not be time for an epidural (or I’d have very little time to make a decision on that). I decided to just let her do it.  “The sooner this is all over, the better. I want this little guy out,” I thought. So she checked me and I was now 7-8cm dilated. I was so happy! We were almost there. She said she’d check back in with me in an hour and that there would be a good chance I’d be ready to push then.

In the meantime, they wanted to monitor the baby so I was sitting in bed and didn’t really notice the contractions getting “way more intense” like I was told they would. So when my doctor came back in and I said things still kinda felt the same, she told me to get up and move around, which I apparently could’ve been doing anyway because the cords I was hooked up to for monitoring stretch pretty far. Wish I would’ve noticed that.

So, here’s where Ron Burgundy comes in.

When I got out of bed and started moving around the room, things got out of hand quickly. The contractions quadrupled in intensity and I started to feel nauseated, and overheated, like I might pass out. Transition. After about 4-5 of them I made Ivor get the nurse back in the room. She tried talking to me to see how I wanted to get through this final stage, not knowing how quickly this stage was going to go. Do you want to go in the shower and sit on the birthing ball, take Fentanyl (the pain med that “takes the edge off”), etc? But the epidural was for sure out of the question at this point. No time. And as she was trying to talk to me, we kept getting interrupted by contractions coming one right after the other. At some point I said “get me the fentanyl now”. 

And probably a minute later, “I need to push”. So much for the fentanyl idea. No time for that either.

Then everyone was suddenly in the room rushing for delivery, getting me into a better pushing position.

And I’m screaming in agony, feeling as though death were imminent.

I remember them telling me to grab my legs, tuck my chin and push with the next contraction. But in that moment, that was a ridiculous request and I couldn’t imagine being able to do such a thing. Doing anything other than lying there screaming in pain was impossible.

But then the impossible happened. I listened and did what they said. And in about 2 pushes, in 2 mins, he was out and in my arms at 7:55am.

The total time from “I need to push” to “look at your baby!”….5 mins tops?

That’s basically how everyone in the room felt lol. We all just looked around at each other like “well that just happened!”. By the way, my poor nurse had just started her shift when I was transitioning. Our introduction was basically “I’ll take that fentanyl now—wait, I need to push”, aaaaand “here’s your baby!”

I couldn’t believe that happened. I still can’t. Giving birth without any pain meds was something I always wished I could do, but never thought possible.  I always knew I’d give in at some point. I’m a pansy. And I did give in…remember when I asked for the Fentanyl about 1 min before saying I need to push? Yeah. And I certainly didn’t expect to push him out so quickly either. Birth is a crazy thing. So unpredictable. But I am so thankful for such a positive experience with a great support team- my doctor and the nurses were amazing, as was my husband. He’s just as vocal, if not more-so, than the nurses lol. Hearing his voice the whole time and his encouragement meant so much to me and helped me get through that. When I said “I can’t”, he said “yes you can”. And I believed him. He’s an amazing husband.

And the result of this crazy, beautiful, whirlwind of a story…our baby boy:

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He is so precious and we are so in love with him already. He’s soft and warm and cuddly. I had missed having a little newborn 🙂 I didn’t miss the being up all night thing. No, not so much. But I know how quickly time passes and before I know it, he’ll be a toddler causing trouble with his big sister.

I can’t believe we’re a family of 4. We are so blessed. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us and wished us well and encouraged us. Please don’t stop doing that! We’ll need it now more than ever as life with “2 under 2” begins. I’m sure it will make for very entertaining blog posts, so stay tuned 🙂

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High of 99

That was the temperature in San Jose today at 3:05pm. Ew. After almost 3 years of living in the Bay Area I’ve gotten pretty spoiled with mild, ideal weather most of the year. So 2 heat waves in the same month is just unacceptable. I’d say it reminds me of Philly, but there’s no humidity so it’s not quite the same, heh. Sorry PA friends.

In other news, I’ve been spending my time getting all my ducks in a row before little Ivor comes. Made some more purchases, did some more laundry. Got his pack-n-play/bassinet set up in our bedroom. Packed the hospital bag. Typed up Gwen’s “typical day” schedule with instructions for my MIL while we’re in the hospital, and for my husband too since he’ll likely be on Gwen duty for awhile, while I’m attached to the little nursing monster 🙂 Overall, feeling pretty prepared at this point. I mentioned it in my last post, but at my doctor’s appt. last week I was already 2 cms dilated. And I’ve been feeling rather sore lately. So I think he may be coming earlier than expected. I’ll be 37 weeks this Friday, “full term”. So being prepared NOW is necessary.

In the meantime, I’m also soaking in my 1-on-1 time with Gwen. Her days of being an only child are numbered! While I have every intention of making time to spend alone with each of my kids throughout their childhood, I know it’s going to be hard to do for awhile in the beginning. It’ll be an adjustment for both of us for sure. Even just thinking about spending the night away from her for the first time while I’m in the hospital makes me sad 🙁 I pray for her little heart as she adjusts to seeing mama with another baby and that she’ll grow to love her baby brother and quickly become his best friend.

Here’s a brief clip of a typical morning with Gwen. She asks me to read a book then asks to be picked up (she likes to sit on your lap as you read to her).

 

 

Though She Be But Little…

…She is fierce!

This quote by William Shakespeare from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the inspiration for the new Blog Title. It sums up my daughter perfectly I think (she’s barely 3 months old, I know). But it’s how I hope she stays…fierce. I know I may regret saying this when she’s a toddler…and then a teenager. But being fiercely passionate (about things that matter) is an admirable trait in my opinion. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has several definitions for the word, some are not so nice. But what I’m going for here is “unrestrained zeal” or “furiously active or determined”. Not so much the “violently hostile” or “given to fighting or killing” part 🙂 I hope we can teach her to speak up, stand out and fight for what is important to her. Her faith, her family, her passions, etc. I also don’t believe that this is contradictory to having a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). Which is also what I pray for her. I want her to have both! She can be gentle and quiet in spirit, but be fierce about her convictions.  That’s my prayer for her.

I look forward to seeing her little personality develop and finding out what she’s passionate about.  If she’s anything like her daddy, it will be many many things 🙂 Right now, it’s all about milk…..music….and clean diapers.

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Side note: I’m currently trying to find a new “look” for this blog…so you may see something different with each post. Sorry!

Mother’s Day Reflection

Today I celebrate my first mother’s day. I have many thoughts. But instead of re-writing in my own words, I’ll just link to this article I found on facebook. I think it sums up pretty well how I feel about Mother’s Day- having spent it both in mourning, and celebration.

Oh who am I kidding? I have additional thoughts and I will share them 🙂

1. Being a mom really does make you appreciate your own mom a whole lot more.

2. Just giving birth doesn’t make you a mommy.

The other night at approx. 3am while nursing the little one, I thought more about this. When Gwen was born, I loved her immediately. How could you not? But if I’m being honest, I didn’t feel that super strong, unbreakable mother-child bond/connection right away. The labor & delivery & first 2 weeks home was kind of like an out-of-body experience. A whirlwind. Physically rough recovery. Emotionally draining and exhausting. I was in a “what just happened? is this real life?” state of mind. Top that with apartment complex drama, having to relocate, oh, and a postpartum infection. We were in survival mode. Just making sure everyone was well fed and clothed every day was the goal. It was not actual real life. I WISH having meals delivered to our doorstep every day was real life. But alas, it is not.

It wasn’t until recently that I started to experience this intense passionate feeling about my daughter. I’ve physically and emotionally recovered from childbirth. All our visitors have gone home. We’re responsible for our own meals again. The husband is back to work. And it’s just me and Gwen alone everyday. This is now real life. So it makes sense that I’m now in the right state of mind to experience the mother-daughter connection.   One day I just looked at her and it hit me hard. I thought to myself, “man I love this little girl. like A LOT. like the thought of anything ever happening to her devastates me and if anyone ever tries to mess with her I WILL END THEM”. So that’s the feeling everyone was talking about? That’s what my mom felt/feels (which makes all the “annoying” things she did/said while I was growing up make total sense now) 🙂 And it’s only a mere glimpse of the kind of love God has for us. Amazing.

I’ve been a mommy for 7 weeks now. It’s hard. Time-consuming. Exhausting. Draining. But so worth it. It’s only going to get harder. But the joy and the reward, greater.

Happy Mother’s Day!

gwen