Saturday, May 29, 2010

True Bromance

The other day at lunch I was bouncing Finn while Will ate his food, and I "walked" the baby toward Will and chirped "Brother!" as their faces were about to meet. Both boys got a kick out of it, but I went to change Finn and forgot about it until a few minutes later when Will called from his high chair:


"More what?" I asked, expecting him to say pineapple or raisins or milk or even Mommy.

"More! Brother!"

So, Dave and I decided to give him as much brother as he could possibly want, and the boys took their first joint bath. I'm sure Mark and Bee will be happy to see that neither Will nor Finn is wearing a shirt this time!

As Finn's personality emerges, the boys are enjoying each other more and more every day. On Thursday, Will spontaneously kissed Finn over and over--I may be projecting, but it looked like he was starting to realize what an asset this little brother might turn out to be--a loyal subject for His Royal Highness, if you will.

I'm so lucky I get to be here to witness it all unfolding.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First Best Friends

Jenny was my first best friend; we met at three (me) and seven (her) months old, and we went to high school together, and then we headed to the Midwest for college and continued fairly regular visits. She might be the only person I can NOT talk to for months and still feel completely at ease with when we do get to catch up.

Last week, Jenny and Tim brought home their baby girl, Fiona May, and we got to meet her on Friday. She is perfect and beautiful, sleeping and eating like a champ--she shouldn't even be born for another month and she's already smiling:

Fiona 2 wks old/Finn 4 mos old

Hopefully Will, Finn and Fiona will continue the tradition of being each other's first best friends.

Congratulations, Sheehan Family!

Not Working For Me

Dear William,

When you go to sleep in the car on the way home from the park--

--while your little brother screams his head off one car seat over--

--and I do an abbreviated version of the sing-and-rock naptime routine because your little bro is continuing his quest to embody BOTH the sound AND the proverbial fury, although he has now been placed in the swing--

--and you decide that that twenty minutes in the car that started before the clock hit one? Yeah, that was enough napping for one day, thanks very much--

--and you stand and sit and babble and kiss your stuffed animals and sing Twinkle Twinkle and roll around--

--(yeah, even though I have to admit that that part is moderately-to-extremely adorable)--

--BUT STILL, I then have to go get you 45 minutes later and try to wear you out before three o'clock hits to try for another nap--

--and then, you see where this is going, you refuse to take THAT nap because like I said before, woman, I'm done with naps for the day--

--I start to vacillate between "He needs to be on a take-no-prisoners wake-and-sleep schedule, stat," and "This is my life now. I need to roll with the punches. I guess he isn't napping anymore today."

Right now, as I watch you stand and whine on the monitor, I can honestly say that I've chosen neither the strict schedule nor the New!Flexible!Joanna 2.0! course of action. Instead, I'm just holding on until four, when I can say that I tried and then transfer you to the double stroller for a lllllllllllllllooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggg walk. Off a short pier. (Who said that?)

your mother


Dear Fintan,

Ooh, you're so cute! Love those dimples. Great hair, too.

So, ummmmmm. I don't know how to say this, but I feel I have to be forthright with you: this hating-the-car thing? It's just not working for me. My ears actually feel like they will start bleeding; my eardrums begin to vibrate when your screams go full-throttle. I don't know if it's gas or motion sickness or being restrained or all/none of the above, but man. It is UNPLEASANT.

If your big brother had been an anti-car guy, at least I might feel confident that the blood-curdling noises would dissipate soon; as I have no prior experience with this, I am purely flummoxed. I sincerely don't know what to do with you. And I can't even keep you home or within walking distance--not just because it would be dull, but also because your brother and I both have people to see, places to go--places that require the use of a car to get to.

All that being said, if you came home and actually, you know, SLEPT WELL afterward, then hey, all would be forgiven. But, yeah. You just catnapped all afternoon, had to be ON TOP OF me no less, and worse, you keep pulling out your pacifier and then wailing as if to say, "Who is this monster who keeps snatching away this pacifier? I need that pacifier! I couldn't make out his face, but his hand looks uncannily like my own. BRING BACK MY PACIFIER!"

I want to say, nay, I have in fact said to you out loud, "Then don't take it out!"

But alas, you are four months old and thus too young for the old cause 'n' effect trick. Silly mama!

your mother

Dear boys,

Thanks for falling asleep, Finn. It really means a lot to me, even though you dropped off while nursing and now I have to find some way of detaching myself and--oh look, Will is standing up again and whining so forcefully that he is gagging on drool in his crib. No, wait, now he has flopped in despair on his mattress and retreated into silence. So the question naptime over? Or has it just gone into effect at 4:08 in the afternoon?

Oh, you two. No one can ever say you don't keep me on my toes.

shdjorbeughflkdshajfhkjbjegjdsryyrurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr [passes out]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where There's a Will

The more confident I feel in my role as a mom of two, and as a mom of Finn, and the more I recognize how fluid my parenting experience is the second time around, the greater (exponentially greater) I appreciate this guy:

How many toddlers does it take to screw in a...screw, with a fake screwdriver?
(Answer: Only one, if he's a highly motivated wannabe handyman, dexterous with his toy "crew-drivuh!" and blessed with an eye for "crews!")

See, I'm impressed that Will survived our inept first-time parenting, and furthermore, I'm in awe at the son and big brother he became--sometimes because of, sometimes despite our best efforts. I mean, the kid's a natural:

Will's big into buckling these days--his carseat, his booster seat, his brother's swing. He also likes to feed everyone in his family, including the everpresent Elmo.

He's my big eater, my happy guy, my dog-lover, my hug-and-kisser, my nonstop talker, my first born, my sweet baby boy. I love him so much it seems impossible sometimes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Auntie Amy's Visit

Amy doesn't love the "Auntie" prefix behind her name, so naturally I use it as often as possible when she's visiting.

She handles it well.

My kids love her.

The real question is, Who doesn't?

*Photos from the wonderful weekend combining Finn's christening and Mother's Day will be posted when I collect them from various sources. (I didn't take any, knowing my family-by-marriage always finds a way to meet or exceed the photo quota.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yummy and Cute

What I learned at Finn's four-month appointment:

1. "Doc-tor Ger-ble* is nice," according to Will.

2. Dr. Gerble uses his stethoscope to "lis-sen. Finn. Har-beat," also according to Will. (The doc gave him two Bob the Builder stickers for being so clever.)

3. My next child will be 15 lbs., 8 oz. and 24.75 inches at his/her four-month visit, because Finn's measurements today were exactly what I predicted for Will way back in January of 2009. Do you see how this works?

4. (In other words, Finn was 16 lbs. even and 25.5 inches long. Same weight as his brother at this age and he has half an inch on him. 75th %ile in both height and chub.)

* Not our doctor's real name, because apparently I think that there are scads of internet stalkers out to track down my children's pediatrician. Paranoia, thy name is motherhood.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finn at Four Months

At three months (see above), I meant to do a write-up of Finn's latest likes and dislikes, something like what I did for Will last year. At four months (see below), I had planned to predict Finn's latest measurements, something I also did for Will before his checkup.

Sadly, Second-Kid Syndrome has a way of derailing the best-laid plans.

Don't look so scornful, Finny. Later is better than never!

Belated Quarteryear Review (I'm comparing bulletpoints with Will's):

Finn is...
  • Drooly, possibly cutting his front/top left tooth
  • Loving the finger-on-bridge-of-nose relaxation technique
  • Ohhhh. Hm. At three months, I said that Will had been "sleeping through the night regularly," meaning a good 10 or 11 hours. Ha. Finn sleeps roughly from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., then wakes up at 4 or 5, then is up at 7 or so, BUT BUT BUT: when he wakes up, he just nurses obliviously, and I sometimes can't remember much of the nursing session, and he goes right back to sleep,, there's no denying, when it comes to "through the night," Will: 1, Finn: 0.
  • Finn doesn't have these so-called "naps" I referenced with Will; he's more of a sleep-is-the-rule-not-the-exception kid, so far. He has begun recently to stay awake for more than an hour at a time, but he sleeps through much of the morning in the Ergo/Bjorn, whether we're at the playground or staying home. Finn, like Will did, has a more clusterfeed-y, awake period in the afternoon, but it's more of a 3-7 p.m. time slot, peppered with catnaps.
  • Yes, I am glad that we recorded Will's baby coos, and I'm similarly entranced with Finn's. Finn woke up a few mornings ago and for the first time just starting "talking" to me, cooing in this moany sort of way, but like he was really trying to communicate something. And he was smiling. It was lovely.
  • I'm pretty sure Finn startles even MORE easily than Will. He's a sensitive soul in that way...he even lurches (and sometimes cries for a moment) if I start talking in a previously silent nursing session.
  • Finn likes to stand, but he isn't insistent on being upright all the time like his big brother. He's happy to sit on our laps facing out or do tummy time or play on the activity mat. But put him down on the couch for even a millisecond to do something selfish like hook up the Bjorn for the purposes of wearing him and THE WRATH OF FINN BE DELIVERED UNTO YOU, foolish caretaker. That being said, I think he will enjoy the jumperoo when he gets in it.
  • "He has begun to appreciate toys," I said of Will at three months. Funny story: When Aunt Jen was visiting for Finn's christening, she asked what he liked to play with. "Oh, he doesn't really play with things," I said dismissively. "Well, isn't he, you know, three months old?" she asked, handing Finn a monkey stroller toy. He loved it. LOVED it and has been playing with it ever since. I guess I just...forgot that almost-four-month-olds are starting to be able to DO things. Foolish caretaker indeed!
  • Today's toxic and timely blowout forced me to move from size 2 disposables (we still had a whole box left! This irks me to no end) to the size 2-3 Swaddlers, and more importantly to wash the batch of cloth diapers set aside for Finn and leave the disposables behind.
  • Finn's smile and laugh are fabulous, but they are far from silent. And his dimples! Oh my God, they are so gratifying. He's gained this real awareness over the last couple of weeks and now just smiles at everyone and everything. Everything except the darn car.
  • Oh, yeah: he hates the car. Still. Passionately. It's the only time he ever squawks with displeasure (slash-screams-with-despair).
  • Finn's still nursing exclusively. I still have moments of anxiety that he'll go through a growth spurt and I just won't be able to keep up, but so far, so good. Since we're always out and about in the sunny spring weather, we nurse in the car a fair amount, so you can put that on the list of things I never thought I'd be doing three times a day (while listening to an Elmo CD on a loop, to boot).
Finally, my predictions for Fintan's four-month well visit tomorrow:

-15 lbs., 8 oz.
-24.75 inches long
-16.5-inch noggin
-not in the least bit ready for solids, which is good because neither am I!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Finn's Birth Story


On Saturday the 16th, I was continuing to have random contractions here and there, but I was frankly a little depressed about the lack of "real labor" contractions. You can witness my dour mood if you read my post on that day. I was sick of being disappointed that I hadn't had the baby yet.

Bee texted to ask about progress and I replied that I had nothing to report and was getting annoyed. She suggested eggplant consumption, so I added it to my list of "bring it on" strategies for the evening. Dave and I took Will over to "Nan's" (my parents') house, where I walked two miles on the treadmill; then the two of us headed out to an Italian restaurant for some eggplant parm.

I was contracting a teensy bit more in the evening but brushed it off, not wanting to get excited for nothing. At 10:30 p.m., the contractions got much sharper, but they were only lasting 30 or 45 seconds and weren't coming more than eight minutes apart. We timed them for a while and then got bored. I tried to go to sleep.

Well. Sleep wasn't happening. We turned on the TV (OK, you caught me, it was the Jersey Shore marathon) and Dave rubbed my back in between contractions. By one a.m., it should have been clear that no sleep would be had, but I was in denial. In fact, I actually turned to Dave at one point and said, "My uterus feels really irritated. Maybe I have a urinary tract infection?"

To which Dave replied, "I think you're just in labor." Yeah.

At two a.m., the contractions went from 6 or 8 minutes apart to WHAAAAAAM!--maybe 30 seconds in between? And the relief of those 30 seconds was tainted by a gentle ache that never went away. So I was having half a minute of sharp, escalating, seizing pain through my lower abdomen, then a dull ache throughout my torso, and then another contraction.

I was still in denial--I'd never entertained the thought that my contractions would just suddenly be coming back-to-back. So I called my sister in the middle of the night and wisely told her about my urinary tract infection theory.

"J. I think you're just in labor. This is what it feels like. You need to go to the hospital."

We summoned my mom for her slumber party with Will, gathered our bags, and waited for Nan to arrive. To survive the contractions, I was rocking in circles on my feet, concentrating on my grandfather's paintings of jagged building exteriors. When a contraction hit, I'd breathe slowly and let my eyes move up the angles of the painting until the pain reached its peak. I had thought that when I reached active labor, I'd have to tune out the world to get through it, but the opposite turned out to be true--I felt hyperaware, not only of the pain but of everything going on around me.

My mother arrived at 3:15 a.m., and Dave and I headed downstairs. I remember waiting for a contraction to subside before hurrying down the stairs to our garage, trying to avoid stopping between point A and point B. When we reached the car, I asked aloud "How am I going to do this?" Being confined to a car and a seatbelt at this point was incomprehensible, but there was no other choice. I tried to rock while seated as wave after wave of pain coursed over me. Twice Dave read my face and pulled over, but it seemed better to just get there as fast as possible.

We arrived at the hospital at 3:30 and slowly walked our way over to the elevators and Labor & Delivery. One nurse (who turned out to be our totally wonderful nurse, Jackie) brought us to an exam room to check me out, but after ten minutes of trying to catch me "between contractions," she decided to just admit us, saying "You're clearly in very active labor."

We were led to the same room where Will was born sixteen months earlier--that was cool--and Jackie finally checked me. I was six centimeters dilated, and I honestly have never been more proud in my life. There had been one primary goal for me in this labor process: To go as far as was bearable without pain medication, and as a corollary, to make decisions based on as much rational thought as I could muster but NOT based on fear. When I discovered that I had made it to six centimeters mostly at home, using my own techniques to keep fear at bay, I felt incredibly satisfied at the preparation I had done and the promises I had made (to myself) to change my opinion of pain, or at least this type of pain.

At this point, it was four o'clock and Jackie wanted to know if there was a chance I'd want an epidural--she'd need to start me on the IV so I'd get to the second bag of fluids before she called the anesthesiologist. I said there was a chance, but I continued to labor through with Dave as my "coach."

Dave was AWESOME. As most of you know, he's by nature a pretty mellow person, and he certainly out-mellows me by a couple football fields. I'd put my hands on his for balance, and he'd lock eyes with me and say things like, "This is normal. You're doing great." He knew that assuaging my fear was just as important as helping me through the pain, and he did both admirably.

Jackie, our nurse, was also phenomenal--she stepped in here to remind me to take a deep breath after a contraction passed, and she repeated a lot of encouraging words as well. She did have to hook me up to antibiotics since I was positive for Group B Strep, but my vein felt like it was on fire and she had to stop and then adjust the dosage.

At one point, both my coaches were telling me to sit down if I needed to. The rocking chair in that room looked so inviting, but the second I sat down a contraction would hit and I'd be stuck between a rock (remaining seated throughout a contraction, horrifying) and a hard place (trying to stand up during a contraction--equally horrifying?). You can see my predicament. But of course, I was in the sort of pain that forces you and your decisions to Be. Here. Now. What can I say? Pain makes me go all Zen. So I kept deciding to sit down, then regretting it and trying to lurch back up out of the rocking chair. The helpful part was that I was making decisions, so it still felt like I had some control even though the pain was unrelenting.

At five o'clock, Jackie told me she could call the anesthesiologist if I wanted an epidural. I asked her if she was going to check my progress first, and she said "I can if you want. If you're at a 9 already, we won't even make it through the epidural before it's time to push, but if you're at a 7 we'll probably have time." I asked her to check me, and I was at a 7. So, epidural it was--and I was surprised at how relieved I felt by having that option. Something about having been up all night in labor and THEN the idea of pushing my son out without any drugs...I was worried that it would be so earth-shakingly exhausting that I'd have to agree to a more invasive intervention at that point.

Up came the anesthesiologist, the same who had given me my epidural (at three centimeters) during Will's birth. Let's call her Lucy. We chatted about having met her before, how she had talked to us about the TV show Criminal Minds while administering the last epidural. I started to nervously ask Lucy and Jackie how I was possibly going to stay still for the needle when my innards seemed to be engaged in one constant contraction; they told me it would be easier than I thought, and it was.

At 5:30 a.m., I hunched over towards Dave (Lucy allows husbands to stay in the room and help) and Jackie stood by my side, telling me to look into her eyes, encouraging me through the one contraction that reared its painful head (no pun intended) during the procedure. I lay back down and spent a few minutes continuing to feel the pain--Lucy said that when you get an epidural so late in labor, it's often quite different than an early-labor dose. Then the pain subsided, although I was left with a very strong feeling of pressure. I had thought I could really feel Will's head as he made his way down during THAT labor, but that was peanuts compared to this!

Around 6 o'clock, I asked Dave to run and get Jackie because the pressure was getting intense. He did, she checked me, I was at 9 1/2. Maybe ten minutes later I made him summon her again, and I was fully dilated with a "little cervical lip." At this point, Jackie warned us that if I had the baby within four hours of receiving antibiotics (which meant anytime before 8 a.m.), Finn might need to take them after the birth. I looked at her incredulously and said, "There's no way we're making it 'til 8. I think he's coming now."

Sure enough, at 6:20 I insisted that I had to push, so Jackie grabbed the attending. At 6:25 I started to push. Four contractions later--although I have to say that I felt like pushing the entire time, and not just during contractions--they told me to look down and I saw Finn's shockingly dark and dense head of hair as I pushed him out. It was 6:33 in the morning.

It was so, so different from last time. The room was dim; the only people in there were me, Dave, Jackie and the doctor, a very nice woman who I didn't see much of before or since. The pushing was calm and went quickly. There was no vacuum, no intervention at all. I was both mentally and physically "present" in a way that I had been, for lack of a better word, anesthetized for during my previous labor.

I laid Finn's body on my chest and we looked at each other for a while; he nursed for an hour after that. His Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes after birth (both measured while he lay on me) were 9s. He weighed 8 lbs, 7 oz. and measured 21 inches long. Because we chose not to circumcise, Dave and I have been with him...well, ever since.

The moral of this story is a very personal one. I had thought I was going into William's birth with a stockpile of informed opinions, and I was--but there was SO MUCH more to know. My labor and delivery with Fintan was many steps closer to what I'd love to experience someday, which is--brace yourselves--a home birth. (Man, cloth diapering is the beginning of a slippery slope, right?) It's not the home birth per se that I need to have, though--it's the process of preparing for it, the fact of choosing it even while I know that it may not happen for me in the end. I mean, I started taking vitamins for these boys while they still lived in utero, and now I parent them as a full-time job...why is there a blip on the radar screen where I just accepted I had to hand the reins over to lots of other people while they made decisions--albeit informed ones--about my children? It's so weird to me in hindsight.

Anyway, I'm off my hippie soapbox now. To finish the story, we did have to stay in the recovery room for one night because Finn hadn't received the full dose of antibiotics (and of course he was FINE without them and if I could do it again I'd say "no thanks" *HIPPIE ALERT HIPPIE ALERT* and go straight home to Will). I was fine physically, just as I was after Will, although while my right leg de-numbed instantly, my left took a little longer until it was useful again. Mainly I was annoyed at being in that cold, impersonal room again, not being able to co-sleep and not being able to see my toddler, whom I missed so much. I know some people just adore the recovery room, but I feel like those people are a different species--that's how much I hate being there.

In the end, though, I was lucky enough to have a second "perfect" birth--perfect because my baby came out with mega-decibel lungs and was in every other way thriving. Perfect because I got what I wanted, and who can ask for more than that? Until next time, that is...*

*No. Still not pregnant.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Want to Hold Your Hand...

We're getting ready for Finn's christening and trying to sell our condo and enduring some weird spring allergy symptoms and doing A MILLION other things that prevent us from checking in here.

All of this is going on and more--most of it wonderful, some of it still too new to share (no, I am NOT pregnant again, Mom)--but I did want to post this photo from last Friday. The boys and I showed up at the park and I immediately began nursing, so Auntie Ceci came over to get Will. I heard Ceci reminding Connor and Will to hold her hand while crossing the street, but as you can see, they ended up holding on to each other's. Even when their feet hit the grass, they held on.

Not everyone gets to make friends this early in life. Not everyone has a collection of surrogate moms and brothers and sisters and dads who feel safe to him, familiar. Not everyone can say he knew his friends practically since birth, but my son can, and I appreciate how lucky that is. Will does, too; he just doesn't know it yet.