Maya is 1 Year Old!

We’re baaaaack!!! Whew, it’s been a whirlwind of a year and I’m here to give you the cliff notes now that life has settled down!

First thing first – Maya is 1 year old!!!

This girl – she is the most beautiful little being I’ve ever set eyes on. Her smile lights up a room. Her giggles make you laugh along with her.  And those bright blue eyes simply speak to you and make you melt.

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Maya gets excited by the sheer sight or sound of her brother. She begins to wiggle and kick as she and I walk downstairs and her brother’s voice comes into earshot.

She loves to walk, holding ever so slightly to my hand.  She’s been doing it for months, yet still too timid to take more than a step on her own.

She is attached to me with such ferocity that I’m lucky if I can step out of the room before tears fall and she’s chasing after me.  I love the feeling of being needed and appreciate that the warmth of my arms will not be enough to create such a sense of calm for much longer but it is exhausting as well.  She refuses to let anyone else, except Simon (and even with him, not all of the time), hold her, soothe her or care for her.

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Today her ped described her as precocious because she has mastered the ability to throw a world class tantrum at an earlier age than most others in addition to her intense stranger danger. I would not claim for a moment that she is an easy-going baby.  But her intensity also means that she loves deeply and has great passion for things she loves like reading, walking, and her family.

Maya is my sweet, itty bitty (5th percentile for wt. and ht.), fiery little girl.  We love her so.

And then there is Toby. This kid is so amazing.  And is literally changing every.single.day. He’s learning, he’s growing, his passion for the things that he loves is remarkable.

Toby loves all things fire truck, garbage truck, trains, bikes, cars, car carriers, and puzzles. He loves biking, running, swinging.  He loves to wait for the school bus every morning and watch as the “big” kids get on. He loves to sing songs to his sister when she cries, he loves to ask questions and questions and more questions. He loves to make believe. And he loves to wear his big boy underwear.

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Toby loves his little sister. And there are moments – many, in fact – that they laugh and play together.  Moments where he’ll share his trains with her or explain new concepts to her. But he’s struggled to learn how to be gentle with her.  And fun and games can often end in tears when hugs turn into tackles and pats turn in to pushes. I’m struggling to navigate this area of my parenting and find myself at a loss of what to do. Traditional discipline doesn’t seem to work.

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As for our lives – we’ve moved across country. Back to DC and the east coast. We feel so much more ‘at home’ here. The east coast is where I belong, that’s for sure. When we moved in July, I became a stay-at-home mom.  The transition has been a positive one, albeit difficult. It’s certainly the hardest job I’ve ever had.  I plan to go back to work sometime next year, but this time has been so precious and I have had the opportunity to get to know my kids in a way I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

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Simon is working for an organization that has been affected quite dramatically from the recent election so he’s working long hours helping his team rethink their approach to policy advocacy. And he’s rocking it!

My family is now driving distance from us and I am grateful to have them closer although I still wish they were right down the road.

It’s Christmas time and I love this time of year. Life is pretty good over here and I’m happy to have found the time to get back to you.

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A Turning Point in Motherhood: Adding to Our Family of Three…in Just Three Short Months!

What a spectacular time in motherhood.

I am 28 weeks and expect to meet my baby girl in less than 3 short months.  How incredible is that!? How lucky I am.

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But that’s just the icing on the cake.  While I wait for her arrival, I spend my days falling deeper and deeper in love with my little man whose been the center of my world for the past 20 months. My god, I really am so lucky.

Toby has hit an exceptional period in his development and he is constantly blowing my mind.  He no longer has a bit of baby in him – he’s a full blown toddler and he’s expressing himself in the most wonderful (and let’s be honest, sometimes irritating!) ways.  He’s adding more words to his reperatoire every day, he cannot enter the playroom without insisting we stop to to look for Goldbug in Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, he sits on his big boy potty while we read his Potty book, and has muscled his way into the role of sous chef during the preparation of every meal. He laughs, he dances, he loves to run in circles around just about anything. He’s the most exceptional, sensitive, thoughtful, affectionate, brilliant little boy I have ever known. Sometimes I find myself nuzzling and snuggling into him even more than he does to me.  I’m totally and completely in love.

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And while I soak up every bit of my baby boy, I contemplate what it will be like when we bring his sister home. I’m filled with anxiety about how bringing my daughter home will impact my relationship with my son.  I worry that he’ll feel like I’ve abandoned him or that my love for him has waned.  I worry that I will feel frustrated when I hear my daughter’s cries calling for me when I’m reading my son a book or cuddling before bed.  I worry that I will not have enough time in my day to show them both the amount of love I know that they deserve.

I feel guilty that I do not feel as connected to this pregnancy as I did with my last.  I keep being told that that’s totally normal and that a second time expectant mother is bound to wrestle with these fears.  But it leaves me feeling guilty – like I am already depriving my daughter of something she deserves before she’s even born.  And, for me, the guilt associated with that is magnified by my intense desire to form a healthy bond with my little girl and to show my mother, who has never offered me with unconditional love, that a healthy mother-daughter relationship is in fact possible.

I know these worries will begin to melt away as soon as she is here.  I know my heart will expand and make equal space for Poppy as it has for Toby.  I know that I will fall in love with her just as I have with Toby.  And I know that Toby will be receiving the greatest gift I could ever offer. But right now, I worry.

It’s the Little Things

It really is the little things that fill me with such warmth and joy that I fell like I’ll explode.

Toby is learning so much right now.  You can tell that he’s starting to understand that he is his own person, that he has his own place in the world – a place separate from mom and dad – and one that allows for creativity, freedom, and learning.

We settled down in the big chair in his room to begin to wind down for the night before heading to the bath.  His little legs lay stretched out across mine; his feet dangling over my knees.  Our socks are always the first things to come off as bathtime nears.  I asked him to help me remove them and his little toes began to wiggle as he cast his eyes toward his feet.  He tugged on the tip of the sock and in one swift motion waved his hand in the air, tossing the sock to the other side of the room.  When they were both off, we just sat for a minute and both stared at those ten perfect little toes.  He wiggled them, squeezed them, and pulled them up towards his face.  We counted them together and confirmed that there were five on each foot.  The way he looked at them showed a recognition that those toes on the feet that had moments ago been covered by a sock, were his. They were a part of him.

Toby has changed so significantly in the past month.  I feared we were entering toddler hell shortly after his first brithday when every day seemed to be filled with meltdowns, tantrums, and tears.  But I have come to realize that Toby was releasing intense frustration over the lack of confidence he needed to walk.  He had the strength and the desire, but with every attempt, he let his mind fill with apprehension and fear and he’d drop back down to the floor. He was frustrated and he was letting us know it.

The day he decided he was ready to walk – he just walked and never looked back.  And his mood has shifted in a profound way.  He is always happy and always smiling. His teachers have been as surprised as we have, noting daily how content and happy he is. And it has made our time together so much fun.  I’m having the time of my life, and clearly so is he.

Now that he can walk, Toby is desperate to participate in all the family activities.  Any activity that encourages him to move is where he wants to be.  He loves to put away laundry and empty the dishrack.  He loves to take something from daddy and deliver it to mommy.  He simply loves to play an active part in the world around him.

He is an independent and happy little man taking up his own itty bitty little bit of space within this very big world.

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We have a 1 Year Old

My baby boy turned one last month. We licked frosting from our fingers, shared toys with little friends, drove around the house in our shiny new car, and tore open lots of presents. It goes without saying that this year changed our lives.  I have never felt such intense love, joy, elation, and admiration.  Nor have I felt such intense frustration, agitation, and helplessness. I am learning from Toby every day – learning how to be a better and more confident mom, a more patient person, to appreciate the little things, to truly cherish my family, and to slow down and see the wonderful world through a child’s eyes.

And here you have him, our sweet, gentle, and wildly affectionate13 month old, Toby a.k.a Toblerone, Tobers, Bubba, or Munchkin

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  • Eating…everything
  • Giving big hugs and sweet nuzzles, and getting kisses
  • Reading
  • Going down slides on his own
  • The outdoors
  • Pushing his car, or pretty much anything else, in circles around the house
  • Bath time
  • Throwing food on the floor
  • Picking up everything around him and handing them to us or collecting them in a container
  • Watching and playing with other kids

Dislikes:

  • Riding in the car
  • Diaper changes
  • Not being able to help cook dinner
  • Being ignored
  • Playing independently
  • Daycare drop-offs

Mastered:

  • First word! – Banana or “nanana” (12.5mos)
  • Babbling
  • Crawling at lightening speed
  • Standing independently for extended periods of time (13mos)
  • Transitioning to whole milk
  • Pointing

Working on:

  • Walking
  • Eliminating the bottle
  • Clapping (I know, weird, right? First clap was witnessed just last week at 13mos!)
  • A 7th tooth
  • Growing some darn hair!

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A Hospital is No Place for a Baby

Toby finishes his round of antibiotics tomorrow – the end of a tough couple of weeks that included three days at the Children’s Hospital.  There is no fear so strong, so intense, or overwhelming as the one associated with your child’s health and well-being.

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Toby woke on a Friday morning with a lump on his right jawline the size of a golf ball.  It was hard and immoveable so while it seemed to cause him little pain, the doctors wanted to see him that day.  We were in the pediatrician’s office within the hour where we saw two doctors (one pulled in for a second opinion) who told us they thought it was an infected lymph node.  They prescribed us an antibiotic, drew a huge circle around the lump with a magic marker, and told us to report to urgent care the following day for a follow-up.  With the same [hypothesized] diagnosis from that doctor, we returned home on Saturday filled with uncertainty and hoping that the lump would shrink by Monday.  When it hadn’t, and with new symptoms – stuffy nose and cough – we headed back to the doctor so that Toby’s pediatrician could check him out since she had been unavailable on Friday.  She, like the other doctor’s thought it was an infected lymph node, but also, like the others, was surprised by the size and the density, and was unable to completely rule out the terrifying diagnosis of a tumor.  So, she ordered some blood tests, really just to calm my nerves, and said she’d call us later.  Around 4pm, I received the call that Toby’s white blood cells were sky high and that she wanted us to check in to the hospital right away.  I was shaking so intensely when I got off the phone, it was all I could do to steady my hands enough to swiftly pack a bag for the three of us, knowing nothing about what we needed or how long we were going to be there.

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Long story short – Toby did have a severe infection in his lymph node.  He’s doing great and the lump is almost gone. We were in the hospital for three days.  Simon and I switched off holding Toby throughout the night, one in a reclining chair and one on a bench-type bed. We had a great team of doctors that put up with all my neurotic questions, ordered blood tests early in order to quell my anxiety, and treated Toby like a king.  And Toby – well, he was incredible!  He smiled, laughed and flirted with all the nurses.  He rarely cried and rarely complained.  He even put up with the 5 attempts and 3 nurses it took to replace his IV when it fell out.  Our baby boy is amazing.

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It’s a shame that it took a hospital stay to get me back into blogging mode.  It’s been way too long and my only excuse is that life has taken over.

Toby just turned 10 months which I seriously cannot believe. TEN MONTHS! And, he doesn’t sit still – this is us trying to take his 10 month photos…!

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Here’s a quick recap of that last few months:

  • Right before 6 months, Toby started sitting independently.
  • At 7 1/2 months, he started army crawling, slept through the night for the first time (we lost that somewhere along the way, unfortuantely…!), and started saying da-da-da-da-da-da-da!
  • At 8 1/2 months, he started crawling on his hands and knees.
  • And somewhere between then and now, he mastered pulling up everywhere and on everything, started saying ma-ma, ba-ba, and ga-ga, developed a healthy appetite for foods of all kinds, and has sprouted 3 1/2 teeth.
  • We also braved our first international flight and took Toby to England to meet his uncle, extended family, and all his daddy’s friends as well as spend some quality time with his gran and grandad.
  • I was really excited about Toby’s first Halloween (who doesn’t love a cute kid in costume!?) but alas, we missed all the parties and neglected to get a costume since he was in the hospital up until the day before. Luckily, we were able to pull together a make-shift costume and turned him into a piece of salmon sushi!
  • We’ve had a couple visits from his grandpa, who I would wager is the proudest grandparent to ever exist, and one from his grandma as well – who I am working with, slowly, to rebuild a relationship.

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What sucks is that we stopped breastfeeding at 8 months.  It never came easy for me, and as time went on, I had to introduce one extra pump session after another in order to to cover Toby’s needs for the following day. It was causing so much stress and never allowed me to relax in the evenings.  My hubby was being so patient and supportive while putting up with my anger, frustration, and tears. Finally, I pretty much stopped letting down for my pump, which led to a breast infection, which led to a huge drop in my already meager supply, and that was that.  I was producing maybe 5-8oz per day and it just stopped being worth it.  It made me so very sad to stop.  I felt like a failure. In many ways, I still do.  But, I’ve learned to accept it.

I’m so looking forward to the holidays – I love this time of year and can’t wait to decorate our new house, dress Toby in silly Christmas sweaters, and roll around with him in the snow.

I’m also excited to embark on….Round #2 of IVF!!!  We have an appointment set with our doctor in December to talk about next steps and our hope is that we’ll get started early next year!  Im anxious just thinking about it, but oh so excited about the prospect of growing another life inside, feeling the first flutters of little kicks, and giving Toby the gift of a wonderful sibling. I simply cannot wait.

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Smiling the Days Away: 6 Month Update.

I can pretty much sum things up like this:  I find myself smiling pretty much every waking moment I’m in the presence of Toby.

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This kid – he’s awesome.  He’s a smiling, laughing, babbling, rolling, scooching, fun-loving, perfect little Munchkin. 

My god, I love him. So so…soooo very much.

I love watching him grow and explore the world.  I love seeing him strengthen his body and develop new skills each and every day.

This past weekend, I watched the most remarkable changes in just three short days. On Friday, Toby raised his upper body while he lay on his stomach. His arms straight, chest held high, hips firm on the ground.  I slid him onto his knees but as soon as I let go, he toppled onto the floor.  Saturday, Toby started in the same position, but then he raised himself completely off the ground into a plank position before lowering back down.  I once again slid him onto his knees and this time he stayed there for a few seconds before toppling back onto his belly. Sunday comes, I slide his knees under him once again and this time he stays solidly put. Then he begins to rock back and forth, eyes fixed on a toy just out of reach, and tries – fails, but tries – to move towards it before toppling to the ground.  How freakin cool is that!?  In just 3 short days!

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Lots of changes this month – first and most exciting is that Toby climbed from 4th percentile in weight to 10th.  TENTH PERCENTILE!  I am so relieved as his low weight has been worrying me for so long.  I’m also very proud.  Toby gained his weight from my milk. With all the challenges we have had, I continue to pretty much exclusively breastfeed him. I’m very proud.

Toby is Curious George these days.  It’s brought on new challenges with feeding because he insists on always knowing what’s going on behind him. He gives each toy in front of him .2 seconds of attention before tossing it away in search of the next best thing. He also effortlessly sits-up, offering him a new vantage point with which to take in the world. We’re hoping that this curiosity will help with the introduction of solids, which we started this past weekend.  Avocado is all we’ve tried and he didn’t seem wild about it, but he did swallow, so that’s a start!

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Toby took his first plane ride recently, which went off without a hitch. It was a great trip – Toby spent the first few days with his grandpa who came up to DC to hang with him while his dad and I were in meetings and then got to cuddle with his aunt and uncle and play with some new friends in NYC.  Unfortunately, however, it severely disrupted his sleep patterns and did away with all the good progress we made sleep training.  We’ve finally got him back to just 1-2 wake-ups (most nights), but we’re rocking him to sleep which can take anywhere from 5mins to an hour.  So, sleep training is set to commence again soon.

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We’re currently settling into our new house.  It’s a pretty exciting accomplishment for us since we spent a huge portion of our savings we had set aside for home buying on IVF last year. Yep, Toby is our $40,000 baby…and worth every penny! 🙂

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Life is good.  Toby makes me so happy.  We’re having such a wonderful time.  And the times that are challenging, that wear me down, that rob me of sleep, that test my patience…I’m trying to enjoy those times too.  I try to take a deep breath and breathe in his sweet milky smell, to kiss the tears from his face, and to cuddle him close and rock him when he’s struggling with sleep. I count myself so very lucky to have a healthy, happy baby.  I hear of too many failed IVF cycles, pre-term labors, NICU stays, and health problems. Someone from one of my mommy groups recently posted that her niece, of just 3 months of age, was battling brain cancer and that she wanted every mother out there to hold their healthy babies extra tight that night has they rocked them to sleep.  Her words have not left me and I am trying, each and every day, to savor this incredible opportunity to mother my sweet, healthy, wonderful baby boy.

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The Boy Who Hated Sophie (+5 month update)

Well, she’s all you’d ever want, she’s the kind I like to flaunt and take to playdates
But she always knows her place
She’s got long legs and a cute face –she’s a winner
She’s a Sophie
Oh, whoa, whoa, she’s a Sophie

SophieTheGiraffeHave you ever met a kid that doesn’t like Sophie?!?! This little rubber giraffe rings in at a whopping $18.  EIGHTEEN DOLLARS!  And what’s crazy is that you’ll struggle to find a household that isn’t home to one of these long legged ladies.  We have received four so far as gifts.  Four people spent $18 on a rubber giraffe for Toby!  Now I know many moms will tell you that every penny is worth the enjoyment their little one gets out of sucking, squeezing, and nibbling on Sophie.  But not my Toby.  Toby wants nothing to do with her.  He’ll turn and look when he hears her squeak and even grab for her from time to time, but boy o boy, if you try to put her in his mouth, or better yet, if he helps her find her own way there, he opens wide, takes one lick and scrunches his face in disgust.  My kid is a true anomaly.

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Toby is 5 months old now.  Actually, he’s 5 months and 6 days!  For those of you who have kiddos of your own – do you remember back when you were early in your pregnancy and you counted, savored, and emphasized how many days in between each week that you were pregnant?  Only for one day was I 8 weeks pregnant.  The very next day I was very much beyond 8 weeks.  I was 8 weeks, 1 day.  Then 8 weeks, 2 days. And 8 weeks, 3 days.  When I got to 8 weeks, 6 days, my body was itching with excitement and anticipation of that 9 week mark.  It’s kind of funny to think about it now, but Im sure it’ll be the same way next time.  Infertility and the uphill battle to obtain and maintain pregnancy leaves one desperate to count even the slightest of milestones.

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Speaking of milestones, Toby is growing bigger and more able each and every day.  He’s rolling all over the place and twirling 360 degrees on his belly with ease.  He’s sitting up for brief periods – many long seconds – on his own.  He’s twisting around to catch a glimpse of what he knows is behind him and out of sight.  He’s giggling when mom or dad comes up with something uproariously funny.  Yea, we definitely have to work for those laughs. His pediatrician insists his flawed sense of humor is because he’s half British.  And well, we know those Brits, my husband included, sometimes just dont get our awesome American jokes! 🙂

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Toby is about to take his first plane ride next week, his first road trip, and spend his first nights away from home.  He’s going to meet new friends, Tommy, Sophie, and Jack, each of who’s parents mean the world to his daddy and me.  He’s going to see his uncle and aunt…and try to convince them to make him a cousin by showing them his heart melting grin and showering them with sweet baby kisses….And he’s going to meet his great grandma, a special moment I can only hope she’ll let me catch on camera.

We celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend and while it is undeniably a Hallmark holiday, it is one I’ve been waiting for for months.  My hubby has been the most loving, adoring, and wonderful father and he deserved to be celebrated. And that’s exactly what we did.

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