Well, three months in, and everyone is still alive.
And I could say that the reason I haven't been writing about it more frequently is because I'm busy (I am), that I'm exhausted (oh, my god), that when I have a moment of free time all I want to do is sit on the couch and veg out (with wine). But really, I think the real reason I've had such a hard time finding the words to share the past 12 weeks is because I've had more postpartum than I'd like to admit. And certainly more than I want documented online for my son to one day potentially read. While I know the kind thing to do would be share it with you in the case that you have or will one day feel the same and know you aren't alone, I just can't.
But I've struggled. A lot. With emotions and feelings that I didn't want to have or share or be judged by, no matter how common this 'side-effect' may be. The bottom line, however, is that my son is perfect, and beautiful, and awesome, and all I want to do is make sure he knows that his father and I will do—and always have done—anything and everything needed to make sure he knows that we're in his corner. Cause, seriously, look at this guy.
So. That said. Moving on.
Looking back at all the research and judgmental observation of other parents we did while I was pregnant, no one just came out and told me what we really needed to hear. And so I'll say it.
Put the pile of books down. Stop worrying about what kind of schedule you're going to put a tiny, helpless human who has been in the world for mere days or weeks on. Stop judging other parents because they are doing it "wrong," because they're doing what they have to do to survive. Seriously. And stop listening to what worked for your best friend/aunt/mom/grandma/neighbor/stranger at the grocery store. Because what you think will happen is not going to happen.
You hear me? It's. Not. Going. To. Happen. You are not in control of this situation. You will never be in control of this situation. I thought I'd be relinquishing some control, sure. And then the boss showed up and let me know I was just a fool for having any preconceived notions at all.
My child was not going to use a pacifier.
And then, on the second night of nonstop crying unless he was being nursed, the nurse informed me he was likely using me as a pacifier. If I wanted to get any sleep at all, she recommended the real thing. I refused, because the book* said not to introduce them before 4 weeks. About 4 days and numerous crying fits (mine, not his) later, I realized I couldn't act as a human pacifier if I wanted to function in the world, and I caved. Nipple confusion, my ass...he still nurses just fine, thank you.
*"The book" refers to any number of books. No need to be specific, because this was always my answer: "But the book says to..."
My child was not going to sleep in our room. He has his own room and a monitor for a reason. Sleep in our bed? Not a chance.
And then, when every peep he made the first night home had me in his room, peering at this tiny little thing in his giant crib wondering if he was ok, it was quickly clear that he needed to be in our room. But as we had no bassinet, we had to fashion a makeshift bed for him (and found a second use for his changing table pad), which we placed between our heads. And then we all slept.
When we bought him a bassinet the next day, after five minutes of sleep he promptly decided that was enough, and the screaming began. And the only way I could get him back out was in the crook of my arm in my bed. Which is precisely where he stayed the next 11 weeks until he decided the Rock and Play next to the bed would suffice. His crib is the next stop...one step at a time.
I didn't need my mom the first week.
But she came anyway. And then one night she wordlessly took the crying child from me as I paced the house, sat up with him from 2-5 am, and I remembered what it was like to sleep during those hours. The next day, she cleaned my house and went grocery shopping. Again. My mom is awesome.
I'd just sleep when he sleeps.
Ha. Hahahahahahaha. Right. This has got to be the single Worst. Piece of Advice. Ever. This child didn't sleep during the day for the first 10 weeks (note: no, this does not mean he slept better during the night), and if he did, it wasn't more than half hour at a time. (It's still only half hour at a time, but at least now we're up to 4 or five naps a day). So how exactly does that give me time to sleep? You at some point have to feed yourself. A non-toasted plain bagel is not exactly the type of meal I was used to. It's no wonder I lost 17 pounds the first week.
And a shower is nice. Shampooed hair is nicer. Blow-dried clean hair totally wins. And since our moms can only visit for a day or so at a time, I've been pretty much on my own to do basic house stuff the rest of the time. Laundry has to get done. (Mine can wait, but this kid knows how to crap his way through multiple outfits a day.) Dishes need to be washed (not optional. We don't have a dishwasher.) Anything that isn't baby centric needs to happen. Cause hello, if I have a half hour to myself, I'm not about to sleep through it.
So what have I learned the past 3 months? Basically, that this is hard. Like, hard in ways I didn't know were possible. Breastfeeding alone is an 8+ hour day (at least the first couple of months—by now we're down to 5 to 6 hours a day. I know because I have an app that times it. Obviously.) Every moment of the day is consumed by the need to care for someone else. And sure, some babies sleep through the night by the second week, nap constantly, or only eat for 10 minutes a side. Some babies only poop once a day—or every three days—by six weeks. Some babies are, well, boring. But E is so, so not that baby.
He is, however, a champion at the toothless grin. He's crazy strong and frustrates himself by constantly trying to sit up by himself. He thinks it's hilarious when I sing Jack Johnson songs to him. He talks constantly. He loves bath time. His favorite thing to cuddle with is whatever t shirt I slept in the night before. He knows that the best time to ruin a diaper is the minute I've put on a clean one. Or, even better, when I hand him to Daddy.
So we're learning. Every day is different, and every day is a challenge. But we're hanging in there.
Happy three months, Mister Man.
For Griffin's 3rd birthday, I transformed my backyard into a play-doh factory. Hopefully with my tips and tricks (not to mention free printables!) you can too!
As I previously mentioned, I was inspired by the us in russ and followed her lead with the play-doh tub invitations. However, I decided to change the text a bit. I created an image file and printed it on address labels AND I've created fill in the blank ones for you to print! Just click the image to download the file.
The time cards
My favorite part of the party was watching all our little workers "clock in" by signing their names and stamping their little time card. Again, just click the image for the file. I printed four to one sheet of paper.
For the actual party, I printed signs for every area of the factory including a welcome sign for the new recruits, a sign for the production line, research and development, and product packaging AND you've guessed it! I've included the printable files for all those as well!
I printed up our recipe and put cards on all the tables and in everyone's treat bag. I also bought little styrofoam containers (I think they were 4 ounces) for everyone to take their play-doh home in. Restaurant supply stores are a great place to find these for cheap. Again, I printed the image on address labels and again I've provided a free printable version for you!
That's pretty much it. I put the treats in a plain paper bag (we'll pretend it was a throw-back to paper bag lunches!) and covered the tables with cheap plastic tablecloths. The most labor intensive part of the party was the cake push pops but that's a tutorial for another day!
~ Sarah Stewart Holland
The best moments in parenting often arrive when I do nothing. I don’t talk. I don’t assist. I don’t offer help. I simply sit back, relax, and let time and space envelope us. When I do this, the magic happens. My son retreats into his fantastical toddler world, his focus narrows, and he becomes engrossed in play—the true sense of it—for hours. And I get to be the lucky observer.
As parents, we spend so much time with our children that we (think) we know everything about them. We indeed know their tired, cranky, and over-stimulated cues. We know their language and that “keer-e-al” means “cereal.” We know they can’t live without their favorite tow truck shirt, that ice cream sandwiches cannot safely be stored in the bottom freezer, and that fresh air always solves all bad moods. We always know when they need hugs the most. But despite this heightened awareness, do we really know their inner thoughts, what makes them tick?
When I have the opportunity to, in many ways, let time stand still and capture a glimpse of my son in his worldof unstructured, self-directed play I’m given my answer.
He is methodical in his thought processes.
He speaks out loud to animate his toys and create his own worlds.
He goes through a few highs and lows as he coaches, corrects, and pushes himself through fitting blocks, gears, and cranks together to make a working, moving masterpiece of parts.
He has the ability to persevere despite frustration.
He is an explorer, tinkerer, and experimenter.
He is comfortable with deliberate messes, yet hates unintentional ones.
He is conceptually attuned at making abstract connections.
He is a problem-solver.
He is an engineer.
He is a creator.
He is skilled like his Papa.
He is more competent than I ever knew two year olds could be.
He is his own bright light, not just my son/sun.
~ The Other Sarah
Griffin turned three last week. When I asked him a few months back what kind of birthday party he wanted, I gave him three theme choices based on his favorite things. Play-Doh. Art. Dinosaurs.
He didn't even hesitate. He wanted a Play-Doh party.
Inspired by the us in russ, I decided to go with a Play-doh Factory theme. A couple weeks back all the invitees received tubs of Play-Doh informing them the Factory was hiring. (Cutest RSVP response goes to Abigail's mom who sent me an email informing me of Abigail's Play-Doh qualifications!)
On the day of the party, we welcomed the new recruits who received aprons and busboy hats. Each guest then had to stamp their "time card" and take a photo for their employee ID card. (I added their names in in Photoshop and intend to send the pics with our thank you notes.)
Then, our new factory employees made their way to the "Production Line" where they made their own magic Play-Doh with Kool-Aid. They each got to pick what color they wanted by chosing a Kool-Aid flavor. We premeasured out the dry ingredients and then had water and oil available for (parent-led) mixing.
Next up, every one made their way to "Research and Development." Some very generous friends had loaned me a wide assortment of Play-Doh toys. I spread them out along two long tables and let them go at it. Griffin literally sat at the R&D table for an hour straight. He didn't even get up to greet his buddies when they arrived.
I turned my dessert table into the Factory itself. I decided to try cake push pops for the first time since I thought they were reminiscent of Play-Doh tubs. I had fallen in love with rainbow mini-cakes a while back and decided to make rainbow push pops instead. My stepdad made a long holder for the pops that I put in the middle of the table to look like a conveyer belt coming out of a cardboard box I covered with gears. I was SO happy with the result.
The push pops were a huge success, as was the party itself I have to say. As everyone left, they came to "Product Packaging" and I gave them their time card, some animal-shaped cutters, little mini rolling pins, and the Play-Doh recipe.
I think every one had a great time, especially Griffin. I will post more details on Thursday as well as some free printables in case you want to open the doors of your own Play-Doh Factory!
~ Sarah Stewart Holland