Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2nd Anniversary

Another year in the books as Mr and Mrs and what a year it's been! 
We celebrated by getting dressed up, leaving the babe at home with Gram and his auntie and spending some time together as husband and wife. The weather was freezing, single digits and snowing, and we were so thankful it was a milder day two years before for our actual wedding. We drove to downtown Littleton and stopped at the Tavern for a drink at the bar. We chatted about the last year, about college football, about how we're both so thankful to be off the dating scene, about people we know and how lucky we feel. Then we headed to The Melting Pot to stuff ourselves silly with all the cheese, lobster tails, fancy cocktails and chocolate we could fit in our bellies. We shared our dinner entries, eves-dropped on the high school kids next to us, smiled and laughed and enjoyed our glass of champagne courtesy of our awesome server. 

It was the first time we had left Mark for his normal bedtime and while I missed him like crazy since he's always been a great baby whenever we take him out, it was so nice to valet the car and not have to lug the carseat with us, to not replace his paci a gazillion times, to enjoy dinner without having to bounce while eating one handed. And while we're always going to be parents now and he came up in our conversations throughout the night, spending some time as adults together was exactly what we needed. And what better reason to get out than for such a joyous occasion. 
J, 
You are my rock, my best friend, my greatest support and the best daddy to our sweet son. I am so thankful I get to do life with you, walk side by side with you and share in all the adventures with you. You have helped me become my best self and I hope you know how much I love you. Thank you for creating an amazing life for us, for taking care of me and for always being the best man I know. Here's to year two and everything amazing it brought with it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

The holidays this year we're magical. I never believed it when people said Christmas when you're a kid is topped by Christmas when you have a kid but it's so, so true. Even when your child is only 3 months old and prefers staring at the lamp than opening his 20 gifts! 

We started out the festivities by visiting Santa (and spending an absurd amount on an 8x10) where Mark told the big man in red that he wanted golf clubs and diamonds. Smart boy we have right there. He could care less who holds him which is such a blessing so we were able to capture his blank stare in all it's glory. 

We spent Christmas Eve visiting J's dad's house so they could spoil the babe and ended the evening at my mom's like we always do. Can you even stand that little sweater romper? Who says girls are the fun ones to dress up! My sister has been working on a quilt for Mark ever since we announced my pregnancy and it was such an amazing, thoughtful gift we'll have forever.  

J and I started the tradition of opening gifts from each other in the quiet of our own home on Christmas Eve so this year, after we put Mark to bed, we poured ourselves a drink and enjoyed a moment just the two of us. J gifted me a gorgeous sapphire ring to add to my wedding set to symbolize our little babe and I was again blown away by his thoughtfulness. I picked a good man, that's for sure. We spent a while reflecting on the year and boy has it been a good one! Especially since we decided on Christmas Eve last year that we wanted a family and our sweet little man turned 3 months old on Christmas Day. 
Like last year, we hosted Christmas for J's mom's side of the family (and my family too) and it went off without a hitch. We got to relax in our own home which is awesome with a new baby, had tons of yummy food including pork from the smoker and really enjoyed ourselves. Family is so important to both of us and it's such a blessing to have everyone together under one roof making new and continuing old traditions. It was yet again another fabulous holiday season in the books and I'm a bit in denial that it's over already! Until next year...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Baby H: Three Months of Mark

 He... 

[+] weighs 12lbs according to our scale at home but we won't get an accurate weight or length measurement until his 4 month well-baby check-up in another month.

[+] turned 3 months old on Christmas day and celebrated his first holiday season with lots of family and lots of love. He has all these new toys to play with and could care less about any of them right now. Babies!

[+] is 100% sleeping in his crib and the transition went really well. We started with naps during the day to get him used to it and then decided one night to just not pull out the rock n' play. He sleeps along the short end of the crib (perpendicular to how you'd normally sleep in a bed) as I heard they like being near the walls so it doesn't feel so open. We also have a bath towel rolled up into a "U" under the fitted crib sheet that we set him in so when he turns a bit he doesn't feel so "free". Eventually we'll move him more and more to the center and remove the towel, along with someday removing his swaddle but for now I'm just happy with our progress.

[+] has giggled a handful of times, very briefly each time, and they are the sweetest sounds ever. I thought I loved his chatter once he found his voice but the giggles are so much better. The best ones have come from tickling his hips after a diaper change so now I tickle him after each one.

[+] has recently been sleeping from 8pm to 7/7:30am with a dream feed at 10pm when mom and dad go to bed. We are loving the extra sleep! He is still fussing a little bit around 6/6:30am but will usually go back to sleep as soon as we give him the paci and rock him a little. Today though he didn't make a peep until 7:15!

[+] is still a bit of a handful when it comes to feeds but from looking back on how it used to be, things are so much better in this department. He latches great and usually feeds well. The only thing that's still an issue is sometimes he's just not happy when he feeds. I think it might be gas related but sometimes he'll get so upset mid-feed that it's hard to calm him enough to help him get the gas out. I've also stopped being so worried about him getting enough since he is is clearly growing, is happy, and has a few rolls coming in which definitely takes so much stress off my shoulders.

[+] nicknames are Marky Mark, Buddy, Lovie, and Baby Boy

[+] likes: laying under the Christmas tree, sucking on his fingers, playing airplane and singing songs

[+] dislikes: tummy time... still, car rides (just recently and we're not enjoying this) and the nose sucker
 I... 

[+] still have moments where I feel like I'm failing at everything. Moments where school is taking up all my time and yet I'm not doing as well as I'd like to be all while sacrificing spending time with my sweet little boy. And I'm going to be honest and say that it's hard. It's hard to see your baby in 15 minute increments throughout the day just to be his food source. It's hard to put in so much work and not have your efforts be enough. But no one every said motherhood was easy all the time.

[+] have been on winter break for a week now and am loving being able to spend time with my little family. Every once in a while I wish there was another set of hands here to pass off the babe to when I need to use the restroom or want to paint my nails but then I get to snuggle my baby, take a bath with him and put him to bed every night and my heart grows in size.

[+] am starting to realize that everything I imagined motherhood being was so wrong. Motherhood is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. It's more tiring, more demanding, more frustrating. Sometimes I wonder how someone so small can require so much patience and have constant needs. But then there are moments of motherhood that are so much better than I ever imagined they could be. Seeing your husband play with your son, feeling little breath on my neck as my baby snoozes on my chest, those moments feel so much incredible that I ever imagined. I never thought a millisecond giggle would bring me to tears of joy. There's really no way to prepare to be a momma but it's one of the best titles I've ever had.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Card 2014

Sending and getting cards is one of my favorite parts about the holidays. Its so fun to get a glimpse into the year everyone had and to look back on years past to see how everyone's changed. This year was definitely a big one for us.

Merry Christmas, from The Hollands
Cards from Tiny Prints
To see past years cards, go here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tis The Season

The Christmas season has always been my favorite time of year. There's no questioning my love for the twinkling lights, the time spent with family, the joy the season brings. But this year it's been hard. It's been hard to get in the spirit when my spirits have been low. The stress of balancing the end of my third semester of med school with being a mommy and a wife, trying to have a perfectly decorated home and enjoy this time of year as much as possible has often been too much for me to handle. I'm in desperate need of a break and so thankful that I'm in a position to get 2+ weeks off from school to do just that.

Our days are going to be filled with time as a family, seeing those we love the most and soaking in this little boy of mine who I've missed dearly the last few weeks. As I type, he is finishing his nap on my chest and hearing his little breath in my ear makes all the stress from the last month just disappear.

I'm hitting the ground running today for this festive week and I can't wait for what's in store in the coming days. We're headed to meet Santa for the first time after J gets off his conference call followed by an afternoon of baking cookies and wrapping presents while our little boy naps. We're hosting Christmas again this year and I feel like I say this every year but this year is more special than any before. Celebrating Mark's first Christmas is something I've been looking forward to since finding out I was pregnant and to top it all off, he turns 3 months old on Christmas day!
Sometimes life can be hard. And then sometimes it can be so, so good that you forget about the bad. I'm in the good and soaking up every minute. Happy Holidays friends, may your days be merry and bright.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thankful v13

Lately I've been thankful... 
[+] for the way he looks at me and nuzzles his little nose into my neck

[+] for baby grins
[+] for exceptionally nice weather given that it's December

[+] and more baby grins
[+] for my body's ability to nourish and grow chunky thighs 

[+] for somewhat consistent night time sleep even if it isn't quite through the night yet
 [+] for cartoon animals and my husband's silly take on them

[+] for new traditions and lots of joy
 [+] for the upcoming holidays and a break from school

[+] for little adventures with my little family 
 [+] for successful transitions

[+] for a baby with sensitive skin so I get all his lavender bath products
[+] for all three of my boys, Ollie dog included

What have you been thankful for lately? 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Baby H: Newborn Photos

After what seemed like an impossible first week home we finally mustered up the courage to have our photographer come to our house for Mark's newborn shoot. Those first few days at home were filled with fussing and screaming and unpredictability so we were a bit uneasy about setting up a time for her to come thinking there would be no way she could get any decent shots of our first born. We kept our fingers crossed and our standards low thinking "as long as he's not screaming bloody murder in every single shot". 

Our expectations were blown out of the water once we finally got the images back from her. She was patient and soothing with our little boy and took some amazing shots that I will cherish for the rest of my life. And can I just say that I can't believe how different he already is!
How how I love this little family of mine. My heart is so full. 

all images c/o Echo Images 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

When the Days Get Tough

The last two days were tough.
In fact, they were some of the hardest days we've had as parents.
Sunday, we didn't get more than a 30 minute nap out of this little boy. In comparison to his 60+ minutes every three hours. We knew he was exhausted. His eyes would get heavy, he'd yawn and fuss. And like always, his tired cues signaled us to take him upstairs, swaddle him, give him the paci, turn on the fan and put him down. But like clockwork he'd wake up in no time at all.

Add in the problem of getting him to eat for any significant amount of time (which deserves a post all of it's own) and by the end of the night he was a total wreck. Too tired to get in a good feed. Too tired to contently sit in the swing or in our arms. Yet too tired to just fall asleep. Who knew babies can be so overtired that it's almost impossible for them to sleep. It seems so counter-intuitive. The night ended with me taking him into our room, stripping down to a bra and diaper (respectively) and finally getting him to sleep on my chest after 30 minutes of screaming, fighting, pushing and lots of tears. He slept there for nearly two hours and I was stuck in bed stressing.

Monday came (after a tough night with two feeds between 10pm & 7am) and I was hoping we were in the clear. His first feed did nothing to calm him and he cried for almost an hour before finally passing out for, yet again, another 30 minute nap. We've been worried about his feeding which prompted a stop by the lactation weight clinic and unfortunately no answers for at least another week.

I had to go into school in the afternoon meaning he would get a bottle while I was gone. As I'm sitting in lab I get a text from J, "Not eating anything" followed by "Just won't drink. Tried different bottles. Tired formula thinking maybe the milk was old. But not drinking an ounce." I immediately couldn't focus. He had gone almost 5 hours without eating a single drop by the time I got home which is totally unlike him during the day. Thankfully I was able to feed him a bottle as well as nurse him in the evening because this mommas heart couldn't take any more.

Feeding and sleeping are essential parts of Mark's life. Who cares if he has a paci until he's 4. It won't matter in the long run if he has to have a fan on at night to be able to sleep. There are tons of potential bad habits we might have to break him of some day. But he needs sleep and food to grow, to be healthy, to be happy. And it tears at your heartstrings when you can't give those things to the little one who needs you.

After spending almost the entire day focused on Mark's eating (or lack there of) and no time studying all the material I'm behind on in school, I felt like throwing in the towel. I couldn't help but feel like a failure in all things. That I should succeed at one, single thing instead of being half-assed at many things. There's no way I can justify passing Mark off to someone else when his eating or sleeping is on the line just to go spend hours upstairs at my desk. I'm his momma for crying out loud. And I feel like I'm failing him.

I know that this is just a stage, a tough one, but one that I'm sure will pass. I've learned to never quit anything on a bad day but sometimes that's so much easier said than done.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Baby H: Two Months of Mark

He...

[+] weighs 11lbs (18%) and is 22in (9%) long with a whopping 39.25cm head (70%). We think his arms and his legs seem so long all the time but apparently he's a shorty still. And we're keeping our fingers crossed that massive head of his means he'll have lots of brain power!

[+] smiles and coos and chats up a storm and it is seriously the best thing ever! His little personality is so fun.

[+] had a pretty decent rash going on for about a week which prompted a visit to the pediatrician. It seemed like hives but it progressively spread from his chest/stomach to his neck and arms and coincided with some changes in feeding habits which is why we felt the need to go in. Thankfully it was nothing, most likely a contact dermatitis, that we aren't sure the cause of but it seems to be getting better and we're watching what we put on him from here on out.

[+] realizes he has hands which means he's started putting his fists in his mouth and rubbing his eyes when he's tired. He has a seriously strong grip which means anything is fair game at this point. Most commonly grabbed items include my hair when it's down, my shirt when he's nursing and his paci right out of his mouth.

[+] has outgrown basically everything newborn size. We've transitioned to size 1 diapers and everything in newborn size clothes is too short except onesies. We might have a skinny green bean on our hands.

[+] is back to sleeping in his room for the last week after we moved him back into our room for a few weeks. We were told by a lactation consultant that sleeping in the same room on a different sleep surface for the first few months reduced the risk of SIDS and when someone tells you something like that you can't exactly ignore it. However this little boy makes so much noise in the middle of the night that one evening we just never moved his rock n' play into our room after his last nap and we haven't looked back.

[+] is a very hungry little boy and hates when he's fed on "slow speed". Nursing is that much more complicated because I have to quench is thirst quickly and then allow him to take his time which means switching back and forth between sides multiple times until he's satisfied. Whatever it takes though is fine with me.

[+] impressed the doctor with his head control while sitting and his standing skills. She said he has three-month level control of that massive noggin of his and that he stands better than a four month old she saw earlier in the day. Now just to work on that dang tummy time because he still hates that.

[+] nicknames are still Marky and Monkey with Baby Boy and Buddy thrown in too.

[+] likes: his paci, baths, bearing weight on his feet, the sound of the fan and dancing with mom.

[+] dislikes: being too hot, tummy time (but it is getting better), napping in his crib and putting on lotion.
I... 

[+] am starting to figure out the balancing act that comes with being a full time student while also being Mark's momma. It's complicated and I'm tired a lot. There's also a lot of guilt that comes with leaving him to go to class or spend time upstairs studying when I'd rather be loving on my sweet boy but I always know he's in the best hands and am thankful I can conquer my own dreams at the same time.

[+] am wearing all my old clothes now but some of them sure do fit differently now post-baby. Bottoms are all totally fine but tops are actually the challenge now. Thanks to new nursing boobs and a bit of a lower belly pouch still I've been sticking to a handful of shirts that don't make me feel blah. Good thing Christmas is coming up because this momma could use a few new wardrobe pieces.

[+] cannot wait for the holidays this year, even more so than other years, thanks to this little boy being in our life. He has no idea what's happening and what holidays even mean this year but I can't wait to celebrate with my new little family and start some traditions to carry on through his life.

[+] went my entire pregnancy without finding a single stretch mark only to find a single one post-baby after things have started going back into place. Thanks to my lovely decision at age 18 to get my belly button pierced I am now bearing a super odd looking stretch mark/scar/old piercing in the place of a piece of jewelry. Even though I took out the ring years ago, my teenage decisions are still haunting me. Ha!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby H: Maternity Photos

It seems like forever ago that I was pregnant, little Mark still safely tucked in my belly. And it's crazy to look back at that ever growing belly of mine as I almost don't even remember how pregnant I really was. I don't know if I was in denial about how big my belly got or if the gradual growth over three-quarters of a year just sneaks up on you. And goodness gracious, that belly button!

Regardless, I am so thankful J and I decided to have maternity photos taken, to look back on a time that will never happen again. Sure I might be pregnant again someday but it'll always be different. It will never be my first pregnancy again. It will never be my Mark-bump. It will never just be J and I again. Time is so fleeting these days and I cherish the images Amber was able to capture during such a momentous time in our life. Now if only I could decide on which to print, because I'm in love with them all. Enjoy!









all images c/o Echo Images 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Being a Momma

Mark made me a momma. 
And being his momma has been so much better and more rewarding that I ever imagined. But it's also so much harder and more stressful that I ever thought possible. 

I find myself doubtful all the time. Is he getting enough to eat? Am I loving him the way that I should be? Are we creating bad habits that will be hard to break? Every decision, every choice we have to make for this little boy is something that I contemplate far too long about. Pacis? Scented lotion? Bringing him in bed with us? Taking him out in the cold? How can I possibly know the answer to every question all while be responsible for every choice that I make.

I beat myself up sometimes that I'm not being the perfect momma for him. I have gotten too frustrated when his crying can't be soothed and sometimes find myself crying right along with him. I've dealt with a starving baby who refuses to nurse leaving me feeling more defeated than I've ever been before. I hate leaving him for hours on end when I have to be at school because I should be the one at home to nurse him, to sing to him, to snuggle him. We don't have the relationship that I hear some moms talk about. He doesn't instantly soothe in my arms after crying with someone else. Is that because I'm not around enough? Or is that because he's a high-needs baby? He doesn't nurse to sleep, ever. Does that mean he's still hungry and I'm failing him? Or is he just ready to play with a fully belly?
Being a momma is tough. It's hard work, physically and emotionally. I'm tired and I find myself feeling like I'll never get a full nights sleep again. It's constant and I battle between wishing for a break and feeling guilty when I wander down an extra aisle at Target just to spend a tad more time out of the house on my own.  

But the thing is, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Mark is my son and the second best thing that's ever happened in my life shortly following falling in love with his daddy. He is bits and pieces of each of us, combined into this perfect, screaming, feisty, smiling little boy and I would do anything for him. The love that I have for him has surpassed my greatest expectations and makes all the tears, all the heartbreak, all the sleepless nights so, so worth it. 

I would move mountains for you, baby boy, if it meant that you were happy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Currently [v8]

Well hello there! I promise I'm still alive. Let's check in and throw in some pictures of Mark for good measure shall we?

Reading: articles on bleeding disorders, leukemias & lymphomas, and dysfunctions of spleens. Glorious I know but as is the life of a medical student. Throw in a bit of recap reading from Babywise: Giving your infant the gift of nighttime sleep to make sure I'm not totally blowing the "schedule" we're trying to set for the babe with some Brown bear brown bear and Where's spot? and it's all sorts of fun reading around here.

Watching: a surprising amount of recorded shows from the DVR with my hubs. I assumed that once the baby came there would be absolutely no time for such thing but we've actually been able to keep up with our favorite shows. On the queue that we both enjoy is Scandal, How to get Away with Murder, The Blacklist, and Law & Order SVU. Throw in some Chicago Fire and 19 Kids & Counting for me and the list suddenly seems extraordinarily long. Whoops.

Listening: to J make jokes with Mark downstairs and it warms my heart to hear their little conversations. J is the best dad and I can't wait to watch (or in this case, listen to) their relationship grow. Also listening to the Rockabye Baby! station on Pandora because it's actually quite fantastic.
Loving: that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and that Christmas is right around the corner. This has always been my favorite time of year, the festivities, the celebration, the family time and this year is no exception. Not to mention we have our little man to include in the traditions this year. Now if only I could convince my scrooge of a husband to hang some Christmas lights outside (and I promise not to turn them on until December!) then I'd be in seventh heaven.

Hating: the freezing cold weather (aka negative degrees) that decided to show up all of a sudden, my post-baby body (this changes day to day, todays a hate day), the fact that I don't have regular doctors appointments with my OB anymore (because I actually really like her) and spending time away from my sweet little boy.
Drinking: water, water and more water. With the occasional Vanilla Porter thrown in for good measure. They say dark beer helps with milk production and I just so happen to love it.

Wearing: my typical mom-med-student-uniform. Yoga pants with the top unfolded to hold in my still squishy belly, a tank with a nursing bra underneath, a sweatshirt because I'm always cold and a headband because this unwashed hair is out of control.

Needing: to start getting back into a workout routine but where oh where to fit that in is the problem. It's been months, probably at least 5, since I've used my membership at 24 Hour thanks to the end of pregnancy making me feel miserably huge and then the fact that we now have an infant. But somethings gotta give at least occasionally. J has a pretty decent set up of weights in our basement that I need to take advantage of. I'd also love to stop by the actual gym for a treadmill/elliptical workout on my way home sometime soon and start making a habit of it again. They say working out gives you more energy and goodness knows I could use that on the daily!
Feeling: generally happy, truthfully. Sure there are rough days and rough moments. Like sobbing in bed at 4am while nursing Mark because I have never felt such exhaustion before. Like fighting with my husband because we're both at our whits end and can't catch a break. But then there are moments of goodness, a 4 hour stretch at night, the flash of a gummy grin from a sweet boy, a compliment that turns your day around, a test score that proves I really can do this all. Life is definitely hard right now but I wouldn't change it for anything.

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