Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two Day Retreat

Did you know I recently went on a two day retreat? Seriously! I wrote about it over at DC Metro Moms...go check it out!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vows of Motherhood

In the middle of the night, while everyone else sleeps, I whisper promises to Nathaniel. The same promises I have whispered to Lucas since the day he was born. Promises that I will love him, always. That I will protect him, always. That he can count on me, always. Promises whispered into newborn ears and kissed into hair, tousled with deep sleep.

The vows of marriage I made to Abel on our wedding day have been uttered just once. These vows, vows of motherhood, have been uttered countless times. As though, because they are too young to understand, too sleepy to comprehend, I need these vows to seep deep down into the hearts and souls of my children.

And, I wonder, in the dark of the night, as I hold my newest baby boy and say my vows and wish for his eyes to close so we can both join the the rest of the world in getting a few hours of sleep, about all the mothers who are holding their newborns tonight. Are they making these same vows? Certainly, though I have no physical recollection, I am confident that my own mother made them to me. That her mother made them to her.

But, what about so many mothers whose life circumstances make it almost impossible to keep those promises? What about the mothers in Haiti tonight? Or in inner-city or rural America. So many mothers who do not know where their next meal will come from or how they will keep their children warm and safe. Dare they whisper these same vows? Dare they make these same promises?

And, as the house remains silent, save for the suckling of my own son, I imagine a world in which every mother has the confidence to whisper these vows of motherhood into the ears of her sleeping children and know that she has the emotional and physical resources to ensure that they remain true.

What a wonderful world that would be.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Enjoying a two night my maternity suite?

I recently enjoyed a two night retreat. My "hosts" provided a spiffy cotton outfit, daily massages, a menu to order from with delivery and pick up of the dirty dishes. Ah, it was heaven.

Well, actually, it was my maternity suite at the hospital. But, you see, after the delivery of our second child, I was determined to savor and enjoy the time he and I had at the hospital so I tried to think of the whole experience as a retreat: Two and a half days and two nights to just focus on ourselves. Yeah, that cotton outfit was a hospital gown complete with frontal slits to facilitate breastfeeding, the daily massages felt like the nurses were pummeling my abdomen to shrink my uterus back down to normal size, and those meals? Well, they were hospital-grade meals indeed.

But, we still enjoyed it.

As sad as I was that our older son, Lucas, wouldn't be able to visit me and meet his new brother in the hospital due to H1N1 concerns, that also meant that new baby Nathaniel and I had just over 48 hours all to ourselves (with a few visitors including my husband and the grandparents coming and going, of course). Sure, I missed Lucas and was anxious to get home, but I also knew that being home would mean balancing the needs of a newborn and a preschooler, laundry, meal preparation, cleaning and all those other day-to-day demands on a mama.

Since this was my second go-round with labor and delivery, I was also much more comfortable in the hospital this time. I knew what to do with the teeny tiny baby in my room. I wasn't surprised by the need for mesh underwear (yes, first-time moms-to-be, there is mesh underwear and you will appreciate it!) or the industrial sized menstrual pads or the sitz bath.

And so for two and a half days and two nights, I didn't do a thing but take care of myself and my baby, order as much food as I wanted from the hospital menu, enjoy the fact that my meals were both delivered and picked back up, and most importantly, hold and adore my new baby for hours.

A retreat, indeed.

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee Olivo writes about life with her boys at Smiling Mama and about family-friendly activities in Prince George's County, MD at Out by Ten.

Rose said...
I got four days courtesy of my c-section and I LOVED it. Loved not sharing a bed. Not having to be "in charge." It was very relaxing and just lovely!

Congratulations on the new baby!

January 27, 2010 at 11:43 AM Angie B said...
Congrats on your new baby! After enjoying the two day "retreats" at the hospital for our first three kids, we had our fourth at home last year. I've gotta say, the comforts of home won out over nurse abdomen massages and hospital food. ;) But I did have grandma keep our then 5 year old for a couple of days so I didn't have that balancing act immediately. You're right, savor the moments!!

January 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM Victoria Mason said...
Congratulations! I didn't enjoy my "suite" the first time but the second time I loved it. I'm already looking forward to that part with the third as well.

January 27, 2010 at 01:15 PM amy m said...
Congratulations, my friend!! Sounds like you enjoyed your little vay-cay before heading home to the chaos of two little ones!

I also found that I became waaaay too excited for my doctor appointments with babies two and three. The quiet of the waiting room--the chance to read the paper or a magazine in peace--was sometimes blissful.

January 27, 2010 at 05:01 PM Sue @ Laundry for Six said...
Congratulations!!! I loved my hospital stays after the first baby - a retreat indeed. Now if the beds were just a little more comfortable and the food a little more tasty...

January 28, 2010 at 06:20 AM FabulousMissS said...
I'm so glad you wrote this because I'm going in tomorrow morning for my repeat c-section. (The VABC plan was foiled because of my petite (!?!?) pelvis, LOL) I'm going to desperately miss my toddler and that scares me more than surgery, epidurals and gowns with frontal slats but you are right ... my meals will be delivered and cleaned up and that alone is priceless! I am hoping to get home in 2-3 days, we'll see. Noah can't visit me either - new Sibley rules and I've very bummed but it will be okay.

Congratulations on your new addition :) I hope things are going well for you all.

January 29, 2010 at 05:29 AM Stimey said...
I also loved staying in the hospital and totally treated it as a vacation. They practically had to kick me out.

January 30, 2010 at 02:44 PM Jessica McFadden said...
I felt the same way with baby #2! I sent my hubs home to sleep in a bed and give our older child continuity. And I remember allowing the nurse to take my second baby to the nursery to weigh her, rather than insisting it be done on a scale in-room, and nonchalantly watching an episode of SATC. And I never once filled out the nursing log.

So so so glad you are finding baby #2 so wonderful with your experience and of course your smiling mama love!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tour of Lucas's New Big Boy Room

Abel and I finished Lucas's new big boy room right after New Year's Day. We were working overtime on it right after Christmas while Lucas spent a couple of extra days with my parents. I'm thrilled with how it turned out and Lucas loves it, too! Here's a little tour.

We ordered the bed and dresser via and are very happy with the quality for a great price. Actually, come to think of it, a large majority of his room is from JC Penney--I got the bedspread, sham and roman shades there, too.

The piece de resistance of the room is the license plate display. Thank goodness my sister and her Marine hubby have moved around so often in the past few years! They supplied the majority of the plates. We just got some Ohio plates from my in-laws so will add another row when we have two more. (These were SO hard to photograph because they all have reflective paint!)

My aunt bought this framed world map at auction years ago for a few bucks. She gave it to us and we hung it at Lucas's eye level. It's a tad bit out of date (don't look at Eastern Europe too closely!). We'd like to get a US map to hang above it. That's the new closet on the right.

This is a little cozy spot to read books. My brother drew the two framed illustrations. They're the first to pages of a really awesome book my sister wrote for Lucas before he was born.

Here you can see the new dresser and shades. I'm planning to frame a photo of the "Lucas Baby Buckeye" painting my mom and I painted on the wall of Lucas's nursery. It was a sad moment when Abel painted over it for Nathaniel's new room.

Oh, here's the painting from the nursery.

Hopefully I'll have photos of the new nursery ready soon so I can take you on a tour of that as well!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Animal Scramble

One of the things I gave a lot of thought to over the past month was how would I entertain a very high energy four year old from after school through dinnertime after the baby arrived. Sure, Lucas would be content to watch a movie every single day after school, and I have no doubt that I will take advantage of that on several occasions, but I really prefer for him to be doing something active. When the baby is a bit older and the weather is nicer, we'll certainly be getting out to the park or going on other adventures, but during bad weather and for at least the next few weeks, that won't be possible.

After Christmas, I was perusing the Target toy clearance aisle and the game Animal Scramble, pictured above, caught my eye. I mean, anything with the words "hyper dash" written on the front practically screams "Lucas!"

I bought the game and we pulled it out this weekend. It was a blast!! We've already played several times and it has kept Lucas's attention for at least 30 minutes each time. Not to mention, he's literally on the move for the entire game. Parental involvement can be pretty much nothing, or if you're willing/able (e.g. not breastfeeding at the time) then you can take a turn, too. There are several game options and several levels of each game. I am confident that two or three kids would play well, more than that and it might be too long between turns for each child.

I bought the game on clearance at our local Target for $9.99 but it is still listed as full price on-line (I am pretty sure I'd be willing to pay full price if I knew in advance how much fun Lucas would have with it.) As soon as I have a chance to stop by a Target again, I'll be searching the clearance aisle for 2 or 3 more of these. If I find more, they'll be my go-to birthday present for the next few months!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Last night I laid down in bed with Lucas to sing his usual nighttime songs. I hadn't put him to bed since Nathaniel arrived and I was savoring some quiet time with my sweet boy. After the songs, he, as usual, wanted me to stay for a few minutes. I was more than willing to agree. After a few quiet moments, I whispered to him, "Lucas, thanks for being such a great big brother to baby Nathaniel."

He was quiet for a bit and whispered back, "Mom, do we get to keep the baby?"

"Yes," I whispered back. "We get to keep him forever."

"Okay. Good."

Yes. Good.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Then and Now

In the hospital:

Then -- Wondering who is this foreign creature next to me...what do I do with him? Maybe we should just stay in the hospital forever; they seem to know what they're doing here.
Now -- A feeling of comfort with an instinctive knowledge of this little person who has come to join our family; he is familiar to me.

First day at home:

Then -- Insecure, exhausted, insecure, worried
Now -- Comfortable to just hold the baby for hours, understanding that these are fleeting moments that must be cherished

At 2am and 4am and 5am:

Then -- Exhausted, wondering if I will ever sleep again
Now -- Confident that this will be one of a finite number of nights I will see the middle of the night with a crying baby; this will pass; I will sleep again.

I almost hate to say this as I know there is a strong possibility that in a few months I will be singing a different tune, but things just seem so much easier this time around. My body is recovering faster, I am not as tired, baby care is more manageable. I am keenly aware that Nathaniel is growing and changing every day--every moment, even. I am trying to savor these moments because I know all too well that I will blink and he'll be an on-the-go, rough-and-tumble four year old. But that will be pretty awesome, too.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Welcome to the World, Nathaniel!

Nathaniel at just hours old--he already looks a little different!

Luckily my fears did not come to pass: my water broke in the hospital Sunday night. Several hours later, on Monday, January 11, 2010, at 5:25 am, we welcomed Nathaniel to our family. He's amazing! He weighed in at 9 pounds, 7 ounces and is 21.5 inches long and is eating like a champ. He's even given me several 4 hour stretches of sleep at night which has been fantastic. Big brother Lucas is over the moon excited about the baby and is doing an awesome job letting us know when he fusses or might want his paci.

As an extra bonus, January 11 is my brother's birthday (30 this year!) and my maternal grandparents' wedding anniversary (it would have been 67 years this year!).

More to come, for sure.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Many Challenges of Being Pregnant During the Swine Flu Epidemic

Oh the challenges of being pregnant during the Swine Flu (H1N1) epidemic!

My first challenge was deciding to get the vaccine or not. As a pregnant woman, I was in the highest priority group. But, was it safe? Ultimately, I decided that the risks outweighed the benefits and that my then-three year old son and I should both get it. Making that decision brought on challenge number two: finding a place to get the vaccine. Amazingly enough, the DC government pulled through with an incredibly efficient series of clinics held throughout the city and we were both vaccinated this fall, long before my OB or Lucas’s pediatrician received their supplies of the vaccine.

Now, I’m encountering Pregnant During Swine Flu Challenge number three: because of concerns about Swine Flu, hospitals in Maryland (and probably across the country) are following CDC guidelines to severely restrict young visitors. The practical implication of this is that our now-four year old son will not be allowed to visit me or meet his little brother in the hospital when the “blessed event” occurs anytime in the next few weeks.

Like most second-time moms, I’ve given a great deal of thought to how the birth of the new baby will affect our older son. After all, for four years, Lucas has been the center of our universe. The thought has crossed my mind that there’s no way I will love another baby as much as I love him. I know. I know. Every mother assures me that the capacity of your heart expands for every child. But, surely, caring for a newborn will mean that my husband and I won’t have as much time and attention for Lucas.

So, throughout this pregnancy we’ve been thinking of special things we can do to ease the transition. Someone suggested that the baby get his big brother a special “I love you” gift. And, those “I’m the Big Brother” t-shirts are just adorable—I’m on the lookout for one. I also had a lovely vision of the moment Lucas came to the hospital to meet his little brother and dreamed of how I could make it extra-special. But, because of Swine Flu, that won’t be possible.

Darn you, Swine Flu!

Original post to DC Metro Moms. Aimee Olivo can be found blogging at Smiling Mama and Out by Ten while waiting for the arrival for baby boy #2. After that, she might be a little scarce for a bit while she figures out how to be the mom of boys (plural!).

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Will it be a Flood or a Trickle?

I'm 38 weeks today and Lucas was just over a week early so I'm totally anticipating going into labor any day now. I have another OB appointment tomorrow so we'll see if I've made any, er, progress. I'm not worried about labor--it will be what it will be. I am, however, totally freaked out about my water breaking.

With Lucas it was barely perceptible that my water had broken. Let's say it was a very, very slow trickle. And, I'm fully aware that many times women go into labor and have to have their water broken at the hospital.

But, for some reason, I am totally convinced that this time around my water is going to break in an absolutely mortifying FLOOD of breaking water.

I told my sister last night that I'm considering keeping a towel and change of pants in my purse. She laughingly agreed that might be a good idea. BUT, unless I want to start carrying a diaper bag right now, that's not really possible. Maybe I should just keep them in the van? Maybe. But, really, what good will a pair of pants do me in the van? If my water does break and soak my pants, how in the world would I change my pants in the car in a somewhat modest way? I mean, I am big and unwieldy and struggle to get dressed in the expanse of my bedroom, let alone in a van with many, many windows!

Truth be told, I think this fear all stems from reading this post written by one of my favorite new-ish DC Metro Mom bloggers, Kate @ The Big Piece of Cake.

(Go read it, I'll wait.)

Seriously, isn't that hysterical and horrifying all at once? Okay, if you're not currently pregnant it probably leans more toward the hysterical side but LET ME TELL YOU, if you happen to be 38 weeks pregnant, it leans MUCH MORE HEAVILY toward the horrifying side.

So, forget that the car seat isn't installed yet or that I haven't even considered what I need to pack in my hospital bag, I think at least a towel will be taking up residency in the van TODAY.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Getting ready

We've been busy, busy, busy getting ready for baby. Lucas is all moved into his new Big Boy Room and the transition was awesome. Several times in the past few months when I mentioned (e.g. tried to hype) the move, he suggested that he should just stay in his room. So, I was very worried that when he came home from a few extra nights at my parents' house to find the Christmas decorations completely gone AND a brand new bedroom, he'd freak out. But, he was totally excited and has slept there through the entire night since Saturday. Woo hoo! We just have a few more things to hang on the walls and then I'll do a big reveal for you, dear readers, but I'll tell you now that it is fantastic and I'm very, very pleased with it.

As for the nursery, we have it painted and the crib is up and boxes and boxes and bags and bags of baby stuff are just piled in there. I'll tell you, it's a bit overwhelming. Baby boy will sleep in our room in the bassinet for at least a few weeks (and probably more like a few months!) so I'm not feeling that the room has to be 100% put together RIGHT NOW but we do need to do a ton of wash: all the fabric parts of the car seat and stroller, blankets, sheets, bibs, hats and all the littlest clothes.

Abel got one load of clothes in the wash for me yesterday. As I was folding them last night I was basically in disbelief. There is NO WAY Lucas was ever that tiny. Seriously. As I folded one teeny-tiny onesie after another, I decided that the only possible explanation is that they all shrunk in the attic over the past four years.

What are we going to do with a baby that small?

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Everyone Loves Alvin

I'm sure almost everyone has seen a child rip open a present and then have more fun playing with the box or the ribbon than the most-likely expensive gift inside. Well, we have had that experience with Lucas this year for sure.

First, the MOST exciting thing in his stocking was the orange. From various Christmas books and movies, Lucas was certain that Santa always leaves an orange in Christmas stockings. On Christmas Eve, I had to steal (with permission, so not really stealing) one from my aunt and uncle to make sure he had one. His eyes positively lit up when he saw it and he held it out for everyone to see, exclaiming, "Look! Santa brought me a sweet, juicy orange!"

Today, his first day back at nursery school, he was allowed to bring in his favorite Christmas gift for a very special show-and-tell. Earlier this vacation, I actually fretted that he'd want to take in his new big boy bike. I wondered how we'd handle that and I decided he could take in his helmet and bell and tell the kids about his bike. Maybe we could even send in a picture of him riding it. Or, I thought, maybe he'd want to take in the Leapster 2 that my parents bought for him. What if all the kids wanted to play it? Or, if it got broken? I knew what toy I would encourage him to take: his new Hess race car. (It has become a tradition for my dad to get Lucas the new Hess vehicle and this year's is awesome. Seriously. Awesome.)

But, alas, I did not need to worry about any of those scenarios.

What did Lucas insist on taking into school today as his very favorite toy from Christmas?

The Alvin toy from the Happy Meal he had for lunch a few days ago on the drive home from my parents' house. Yep, a four inch tall plastic chipmunk that says, "Hello Gorgeous" when you push on its head.

Looks like we can plan to significantly cut our Christmas gift budget next year. We just need to sneak in a few Happy Meals without Lucas around and save the toys!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Cards

Before we leave the holidays behind completely, let's talk Christmas cards for a few minutes.

First, if you don't already read Swistle, you must click over to read her Christmas Card Scoring System post. It is great. (Also read her post about actually scoring a card. It is hysterical.

Second, I'm so curious how many cards other people send and receive. So, I've opened up another little poll on the side (see right or click through if you're reading this through a feed). My bra poll was so fun and enlightening, I hope you'll take a moment to fill this one out--estimates are fine--and I'll post the results after a few days.

Here are my answers: We sent out 78 Christmas cards. We received 45 Christmas cards. That includes one political card/donation request which I displayed because I thought it was pretty (I threw several more away), a card from Ohio State requesting a donation which is so beautiful I'd consider ordering it to send as our Christmas cards and one card from our insurance company which was also nice enough to display.

This isn't part of the poll, but as an aside, I ordered our cards from Vistaprint this year. They were very inexpensive and I was very happy with them. However, we received about four cards which had been printed through tiny prints and those were all my absolute favorites. So, next year, I will consider spending a bit more to order through tiny prints. Or, I won't and I'll simply enjoy the tiny prints cards we receive.

Thanks for playing along!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!