Friday, April 27, 2012

Shelf Life of a Mother

Give it to me straight doc…how long do I have?  Recently, I’ve been fighting TJ for time with Teddy.  Precious TJ was so excited to be a dad that he volunteered for the night feedings.  I would pump and he would give him a bottle.  Then it slowly grew to subbing a day feeding with a bottle.  He just wanted to feed Teddy so bad and have that sweet time where the kid looks up at your face and holds your finger and your heart melts.  I couldn’t blame him, but it was getting out of control so a few weeks ago I put the brakes on bottles.  It was too much work pumping and cleaning bottles constantly.  Oh, the look on TJ's face!   I might as well have punched him in the nose.   Don’t get me wrong, I know how ridiculous that sounds.  Most moms have to beg their husbands to help out with the kids.  I have to beg TJ to leave me and Teddy alone.  Poor pitiful me.  I get it, but bear with me; I have a valid question coming up.  How long do I have with Teddy?

I don’t mean how long will he live (though I can only pray he lives to a nice long ripe old age), but how long will just the sight of me light up his face?  He knows me.  He loves me.  He needs me.  Surely I’ll get through elementary school, but is that it? Middle school is just plain awkward and that’s when it’s not cool to kiss mom bye getting dropped off at school.  High school we’ll be prepping him for life, and with that comes a lot of hard lessons.  Sure there will be sporting events and I’ll wear a tacky button with his picture on it, but I’ll be lucky to get a side hug as he hands me his laundry to do.  College he’ll be on his own for the most part and we’ll just have to have faith we’ve given him the tools for success.  Then it’s time for him to start a family of his own and where does that leave me?  TJ gets to be the “best man.”  The person his son goes to for encouragement, advice, woodworking, sailing, faith, and love.  What will I be?  The dreaded mother-in-law that the wife only tolerates.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a “mama’s boy.”  I just want him to love, respect, and listen to me.  Daughters always need their mothers no matter what, but what about sons? 

He will never need me as much as he’ll need his father once he’s a man.  So hold on TJ.  In a month or so more it will be time for solid foods and we’ll be back to bottles.  In a blink of an eye you’ll be getting a phone call from him because I’ve overstepped my bounds and hurt Teddy’s wife’s feelings. 

Speaking of how quickly time goes…guess what our little boy did yesterday morning?  Rolled over!  I sat him on his tummy and turned around to open the blinds and he had done it.  Honestly, I screamed, “Holy shit!” and TJ (who was actually in the house grabbing some coffee) came a runnin’.  I’m so grateful that we were both there for this milestone.

So here’s a video of his 2nd official rollover.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Lots of things have surprised me about becoming a mama, but one of the biggest has been how quickly my son's personality as emerged.  We had a couple of scares during this pregnancy, but I suppose the upside of that was we spent a lot of time getting monitored.  TJ and I got to to sit and just watch him on a big screen for hours at a time.  Granted it was under very stressful circumstances each time, but we still got a unique look at his personality before he was even born.  For example, whenever I was having contractions he would stretch his arms out to give himself as much room as possible.  He would drape his arm over his eyes and then refuse to shift.  Our perinatologist (high risk doc - it's good if you don't know who they are) we were referred to actually commented that she'd never seen such a stubborn baby and then in the same breath said, "Has Mie Mie talked to you about the size of his head yet?  If he keeps up at this same rate I doubt seriously that you'll be able to have him naturally.  Don't worry, his brain activity looks great.  It's most likely hereditary [long look at TJ and then she smiles]." Poor T. Bear - he does have a large noggin.

Top 10 Funny Little Teddy-Isms

10.  When All Else Fails - Go Outside.  He loves it!  I sit with him on a blanket in the front yard most days from 4:00 - 6:00ish.  There are some days he's just in a bad mood and cranky and all we have to do is walk outside and he's an instant happy camper.  It's awesome.  I have no idea what I'll do on inclement weather days, but for right now this is what our afternoons look like. (Moose is starting to take liberties from my diverted attention.)

9.  He loves the water.  As much as both TJ and I are obsessed with water (ocean, lake, pool, bath - it doesn't matter) and being outside, I'm really glad that so far he seems to like everything to do with water.  I'm sure all kids like bath time and I'm reading too much into this - but hey, at least I'm looking on the bright side, right?

8.  Man farts.  I can't say that T. Bear has cute little toots.  He doesn't.  He has full grown man farts.  So much so that in his first week home I actually yelled at TJ for farting in front of my mother and he swore up and down that it was Teddy.  I didn't believe him until it happened to me and I couldn't stop laughing.  It's insanely embarrassing. 

7. He's talkative.  He's coo-ed from the day we brought him home and it cracks me up.  When you give him a pacifier after he's been crying he still coos with it in his mouth with his angry face.  I like to imagine he's telling me off.  My poor mom learned this hard way on our visit over Easter.  She insisted on sleeping in the office next to his crib and I tried to warn her that he'll talk all night...she "woke up" the next morning a half zombie and said she didn't believe me.  She slept in her room the next night.

6.  If he's awake and you're holding him, he wants to look out.  He will not snuggle next to you unless he's asleep.  It's really funny but he's just like his dad...afraid he's going to miss the action.  See exhibits A - C.  Almost all pictures of someone holding him look like this.

5.  He loves to stretch.  After he's done eating and right when you unswaddle him - his eyes close, he arches his back, hands go straight above his head, and he locks his legs for a few seconds.  It's really dang cute and he's done this since day one.

TJ got a video of it a few days ago.  It's normally much more exaggerated than this, but its nearly impossible to catch it on video because we're either laughing or half asleep. Enjoy.

4.  Our Little Snort Snort.  We have several nicknames for him.  So many in fact, I'm pretty sure he's never going to actually learn his name.  From day one he has snorted when he's really mad.  Don't judge us for videoing him crying to document this snorting.  We're 3.5 months in and he still snorts when he cries and we wanted it on tape.  Here's another video.

3.  The Arm Drape.  Whenever he's annoyed/bored/sleepy his arm goes right over his eyes.  He's done this from the beginning as well.

2.  He gets annoyed.  Sometimes he sleeps wonderfully and sometimes he never gets into that good deep sleep.  When  he wakes up too quickly he huffs really loudly, kicks his feet straight into the air, and then does this series of strange noises best described as, "Kischtch. Ceght.  Kischtch.".  We don't have this on video because you can't predict when it happens, and when it does it sends shivers down your spine.  It means forget whatever you are doing because a soul splitting scream is right around the corner.   In our sleep deprived delirium TJ and I have started making this sound at each other when we are annoyed.

1.  Funny faces.  I joke all the time that he's going to be the only two year old with worry lines.  I swear sometimes he just looks at me disapprovingly, but he makes lots of funny faces that I could seriously stare at all day when he gets on a roll.  My favorite by far is his smile.  It truly melts my heart.  It instantly makes me forgive the sleepless nights when I promise you he's taunting me, the loneliness of being without adult contact all day, the lack of freedom, and pajamas that I haven't had a chance to change out of when he looks up into my eyes and gives me the biggest lopsided grin he can manage.  Okay Teddy.  I give up.  Motherhood is the hardest thing I've ever gone through, but that little grin is worth it.

Some of my favorite faces:

Worried Face

Learning to Smile (TJ smiles sideways too)

Kissy Face (he outgrew this one but it was awesome)

  Full Smile

Humoring Me

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Ultimate Dis

The Ultimate Dis

I’ve got a pretty cute kid, but I don’t have mommy blinders.  I know he has a big noggin.  I’m aware that his hair is a little patchy now.  Did I consider entering him into the babyGap casting call?  Of course.  So far everyone that has met him as seemed to enjoy his company or has done a great job concealing their true feelings for him.  That was until Teddy was introduced to his five year old cousin, Mason. 

Andrea had been trying to pump Mason up for weeks about meeting Teddy, but Mason wasn’t having any of it.  He made sure Andrea knew that Teddy was not allowed in his room.  Why?  Because he would mess it up.  No matter how much we tried to explain that Teddy couldn’t possibly mess up Mason’s room, he was adamant.  I get it.  Mason’s the youngest and wasn’t excited about the new baby coming in and stealing his thunder (and more importantly his mama’s attention).

So what is the worst possible thing that a five year old boy can think of to insult his new cousin?  He kept calling Teddy a girl.  Nana had bought him a jungle activity play mat that had colorful butterflies in the center.  Teddy loved it.  He was so cute laying there kicking his feet innocently, until Mason walks over, looks down disapprovingly with a frown on his face, and looks up to Andrea pointing saying, “See!!!  He likes butterflies!  Only girls like butterflies!”  He stomps off with a superior attitude, of I told you I wouldn’t like this kid.  I suppressed the urge to argue with him and explain that he liked the parrot just as much, but I wasn’t going to get down to his level (yet).

When Teddy would get tired of his bouncy seat and have sweet little adorable baby coos, what was Mason’s response?  “What’s her problem?”  Papa explained (to no avail) that he was just bored but he doesn’t have the words to say, “I’m bored.”  Mason just huffed and went upstairs to play on the computer.  Again, I suppressed the urge to explain to Mason that he used to not be able to talk too.

My final straw was after t-ball practice when Mason insisted on riding home with us…that was until he realized he had to sit next to Teddy.  TJ saw my inner turmoil between my unconditional love of my nephew and my instinctive need to defend my son.

·         No, Mason, Teddy can’t sit up front with us. 

·         No, Mason, Teddy can’t scoot over.

·          No, Mason, we can’t shut him up because he’s ready to go and you won’t get in the car. 

Finally we get Mason in the car and get going (which actually does shut Teddy up much to Mason’s delight) when my genius of a husband sparks the following conversation:

Uncle TJ: Mae – you know that Teddy already loves you and in a few years he will follow you around and think you’re the best cousin in the world.  Just as much as you love playing with Nolan, he’s going to love playing with you.

Mason: But he can’t even talk yet.  He’s just smiling at me.  Make him stop.
Uncle TJ: Well, you should think of him like a puppy.  Puppies can’t talk can they?
Mason: (Hesitantly – he LOVES dogs) No…

Uncle TJ: He can’t talk either, but thinking of his smiles as him wagging his tail.  He’s wagging his tail because he likes you, and doesn’t know what you’re saying but he just knows he likes you.

Mason still isn’t completely sold, but he definitely warmed up to the idea of his little cousin being a puppy.  Disaster averted.  The lesson here?  If I got protective when my youngest nephew wasn’t fond of my son, I feel sorry for the rando kid who pushes him down on the playground. 
 Some pics from our weekend home:
The infamous playmat with the girlie butterflies.  This is Nolan trying really hard to get Teddy to say his name (he was asleep which is why he was swaddled before my family has a comment - why do all of you hate swaddling?!?!).
Nolan honestly loved him.  It was so sweet.  Unfortunately he had to fight his mom, nana, and papa for time to hold him. 
Teddy in his Easter outfit via Asia.

Mason REFUSED to have his pic made with Teddy but at least Uncle TJ was still allowed photo ops.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Pregnant

(Almost all of these might end up being their own blog post)

10.   Night sweats.  Jenny McCarthy’s book “Baby Laughs” warned me of this, but until you experience it for yourself you just don’t understand.  All of those fluids they pumped into you apparently only come out via drenching sweat during your sleep.  I was afraid I would drown.

9.       The hospital will give you tons of freebies.  Unfortunately, they aren’t going to be the brands that you registered for so you will be stuck figuring out what to do with them. 

Exhibit A. 
I registered for Nuk's, but the hospital gave us Soothies.  Now we use both. Terrible idea.

8.      I knew I wasn’t going to leave the hospital with a flat stomach, but I didn’t expect to look like a blowfish either. They pump you full of fluids while you’re in the hospital (see #10 for how they leave your body) and so pants I could comfortably fit in when I got to the the hospital, were painfully tight four days later when it was time to go home.

Exhibit B.
Thanks TJ and/or Andrea -who takes a profile pic of a woman getting ready to leave the hospital?!?!

Is that really the size of my butt?  I opted for the large scarf to hide the rolls in my chin and the black jacket to hide my bulging stomach.  Again - who takes pictures of a woman who just gave birth?!?!  My vanity captured forever.

7.      Moooo!  I felt more like a cow than a mom the first few weeks.  TJ actually handed me a shirt (that I normally love) but it had a cow on it.  This simple oversight normally would have cracked me up. Post pregnancy and hormonal Ellen damn near called the divorce lawyer.  

6.       Identity crisis.  You have nine months to think about it, but nothing can prepare you for having a baby.  I read tons of books and blogs and I was surprised that I never came across anything about the identity crisis I experienced.  Baby Blues comes up in everything, but nothing about coming to terms with this huge change and all of a sudden the person that you’ve been for 30 years now seems to be gone. (She's not by the way you just have to remember who she was.)

5.       You learn to hate all of the cutest outfits that you just couldn’t wait to put the baby in.  Why?  The thousands of snaps that in your sleepy haze will line up the wrong way while fighting kicking legs.

Exhibit C.
I actually still really love this outfit, but it doesn't mean that snaps still don't piss me off.

4.       The crazies will come running.  It’s pretty well advertised that strangers will want to touch your pregnant belly.  What they don’t tell you is that strangers will also want to touch your newborn.  What does the stranger do?  Let the baby hold their finger.  What does the baby do?  Put their hands in their mouth.  What do you do? Try not to punch the stranger in the throat for subjecting your child to who knows what.

3.       Carseat Hell.  I nearly threw my back out the first time I climbed into the back seat by myself to put him in the car. It’s heavy.  It’s awkward.  It makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs and stomp my foot like a child.

2.       The video monitor is like crack.  Once you’ve had a taste of it you are instantly hooked.  DON’T DO IT! 

1.       F*#K the bumper.  I obsessed over the crib set.  I really loved looking at it before the baby was here.  After the first pediatrician appointment I learned I wasn’t supposed to even use one.  This was the first of many rules I broke.  I loved it I am using it.  Then the first time I went to change the crib sheet and had to untie the 16 knots, lift the awkward mattress, and then retie the 16 knots…I’ll be more likely to take a flame thrower to it than use it again.
Exhibit D.
Awe.  I still love how this looks.  Maybe I will put it back on...ugg.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The 3 Hour Myth

If you are a first time mommy like me, or just thinking of having a baby, or surrounded by friends having babies, you’ll hear that babies eat every three hours for the first several weeks. Depending on what baby philosophy you subscribe to most all agree that you will need to feed your child whether they are asleep or awake around the clock every three hours for at least four to six weeks. Some people say it’s a sin to wake a sleeping baby. Some say you have to wake them up to make sure they gain enough weight before you start seriously sleep training. You’ll be inundated with several different opinions but in the end just listen to your pediatrician and gut and you’ll figure out what’s best for your baby. That being said, a month on a 3 hour schedule didn’t seem so bad to me. Keep in mind that I haven’t had a good night sleep since October 2011. On top of my daily vomiting I started waking up in the middle of the night throwing up. Yep. You heard me. Again, I can’t go into more detail because I’m just not ready to open that door of misery.

I really thought that I would thrive on the 3 hour schedule. I love naps. I had no problem sleeping when the baby sleeps. I’m not against leaving a house full of people to entertain themselves and catch a catnap so I wasn’t anticipating this as being a problem. Little did I know that the majority of doctors/mommies measure the time between feedings from the START of the meal. Hmmm. Now there’s a kink in my plan. Also, I’m choosing to breastfeed my little boy which takes a significantly longer time than bottle feeding. Just how long? Somewhere between 20 – 40 minutes. Well…if my math is correct and you start the feeding at 1:00pm and it takes an average of 30 minutes to eat then that’s 1:30. In the very beginning babies are pretty sleepy but they will be awake for a little bit after they eat. Why? Because they do what all babies do. They poop. They spit up. They pee. Because you’re a terrified first time parent you don’t change their clothes or diapers super fast yet. You’re worried about how delicate they are, slipping the little onesie ever so softly over their sweet little head, taking extra care with the diaper, checking out the belly button, sucking the boogers out of their nose with the weird blue bulb thingy, the Vaseline on their little wing wang, etc. So let’s say at best this process takes 15 minutes from start to finish. Now it’s 1:45pm. Now you either put them down in the bassinet or hand them off to some sweet visitor. You have just enough time to run to the bathroom, refill your water that you absolutely can’t get enough of, and say a few words before you stumble back to the bed. If you’re lucky it’s 2:00pm. You lay your head down on the pillow and thank God for the pain pills and just as the pain from your unexpectedly harsh c-section begins to become bearable (bending over at the waist is torture) it’s 2:15 and you realize that you have 45 minutes to catch a quick nap. That’s not including the times you have to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a couple of snacks to have the caloric intake to survive breastfeeding. That’s not including the dishes, laundry, letting the dog out, emails and phone call updates with family. Are you getting the picture? This is why new parents always look so frazzled. It’s because in the best of situations (if their child is an angel and sleeps soundly and they have help around the house with family) they are only getting about 45 minutes of sleep at a time. 

Bear with me while the accountant drops some knowledge on you:
Hypothetically the baby eats at: 1a,4a,7a,10a,1p,4p,7p,10p
  • Hopefully between the hours of 1 am – 7 am you’ve gotten 1.5 hours of sleep (45 minutes between the two feedings.        
  • Between 7am – 10am your 45 minutes you’ll most likely be used to take a shower (you’ll smell like spoiled milk and old pee no matter how much you scrub), brush your teeth, grab breakfast and just relax (if you’re lucky enough to have a supportive hubby, sleepy baby, and parents helping)
  • This little bit of activity will exhaust you so for the 10am – 1pm stretch you forgo your plans to dry your hair and will try to nap. Now you are up to approximately 2.25 hours of sleep.
  • Between 1pm and 7pm you will most likely have lunch and a couple of visitors for the first couple of weeks. You’ll also take this time to straighten up the house, take care of the neglected dog, and get snuggle time with the baby in.
  • Between 7pm – 1am you’ll frantically grab dinner and try to hit the hay as soon as possible but you also have to give the baby his bath. Let’s say you get another 1.5 of sleep if you’re lucky. Let’s do the math. How much did you sleep in 24 hours. 3.75 hours. Okay fine.  You think I'm being pessimistic instead of realistic.  Let's be optimistic and think we got 4.5. 
So be very kind and loving to new parents. Talk slowly and don’t make quick hand gestures when you are speaking to them. They startle easily due to lack of sleep.  Ignore the messy house, wrinkled miss-matched husband, late thank you notes, and the dark circles under the mom's eyes.  It’s been 6 weeks and they are averaging at the best of times 4.5 hours of sleep and it’s not a deep peaceful sleep. It’s sleep that you are constantly panicked about either getting or being woken up from.
So TJ - I mean all dad's out there... it’s not nice to pose the newborn next to your sleeping wife and laugh that nothing could wake her up. She’s exhausted, hormonal, and possibly homicidal when it comes to her sleep. Sweet dreams.

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Flight - 04.06.12

If you know my husband then you know that he has an adventure’s heart.  He taught me the joy of vacationing extravagantly.  I’m talking ramen noodles for a year so that you literally spare no expense on travels.  If you know me then you know I have an accountant’s heart.  I have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets.  I know to the penny what things costs and I love saving money.  These two hearts don’t seem to go together but they do.  He’s taught me to let go and just live in the moment and I’ve taught him how to save so we aren’t in the poor house after a vacation. 

We started dating in 2001, and he’s made sure that we’ve gone somewhere fun each year.  Here are a few of the highlights, but honestly we’ve done so much that I can’t remember them all.  These are just a few of the road trips included.

 2011 – Savannah, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

2010 – San Miguel, Costa Rica and New York, NY 

2009 – Sarasota, Florida. (that's TJ body surfing)

2008 – St. John’s, US Virgin Islands

2007 – St. Lucia (camera stolen - only one phone pic) / Las Vegas, NV

2006 – Winter Park, Colorado /  Cruise to: Belize / Guatemala / Honduras / Mexico

2005 – Only road trips.

2004 – St. John’s, USVI

2003 - Bozeman, MT

You get the idea.  Also keep in mind that each year there were at least two road trips to Georgia for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the yearly river trips, and countless summer staff's in Colorado. We love traveling.  We promised ourselves that we would continue to travel once little man was here.  We would just cart him along and roll with the punches, but now it was time to put that plan into action.

Our first flight for 2012 was a trip home for Easter. (Well, I was going home for Easter and TJ was going to the Masters.)  I could do this trip in my sleep.  At least that was before the arrival of little Tilmon Edward.  I was terrified.  All of a sudden I was going to be the lady with a baby that I hated.  I can’t tell you how many screaming babies on flights that I have hated.  Why can’t that mom shut the baby up? Now it was my turn.  Would he be good?  Would the cabin pressure hurt his ears?  Would he catch some horrible sickness from all of the airport germs?
I got a total of 2 hours sleep the night before the flight.  I had detailed lists of items not to forget.  I unpacked and repacked the diaper bag to make sure I had everything.  Here we go.  We are in the security line and there’s a woman behind us who has never flown.  Surprisingly, both of us have the exact same look of panic on our face.  This is when the competitive Ellen Tuggle kicked in.  I was not this person.  I am not scared to fly.  I will not fail.  I will not cry.  I shook it off, squared my shoulders, held my head high. 

In some sick twist of fate, four pilots cut in front of us so we would be going through security at the same time.  You wanna play?  We can do this.  I looked at TJ and said, “We’re going to beat them through line.”  He’s seen my competitive face before and he knew one thing.  Don’t disappoint me.  We were going to win.  You should have seen us.  I had my ziplock baggies, my shoes, my purse, and the breastmilk in the bin in record time.  TJ had broken down the stroller and carseat so fast that he was sweating.  He hands me the baby and I practically box out the 3rd pilot to go through the metal detector.  TJ was right behind me.  It was a thing of beauty.  We tied the pilots.  The professional fliers.  Woo hoo!  I damn near spiked the baby in triumph.  Maybe I can do this motherhood thing after all.

2012 - Augusta, Georgia.  It may not be some fun exotic vacation we are used to, but's a start, right?