Sleep is for the Weak

One of the first questions people will ask about your new baby is “how does she sleep?”

It’s like parents are in a race to get their child to sleep for eight-hour stretches as soon as possible. If it is a race, I have lost. I haven’t even crossed the finish line.
Since 2010 when I was pregnant with the first of my three children, I haven’t slept through the night. And I doubt I will for another decade.
My kids fight sleep like it is painful for them to lie down and close their eyes.
First, we have our 7-year-old. At bedtime, she is a master staller.
The lights will be out, the lullaby music playing softly, and she will be regaling you with a recap of her day with so much enthusiasm you feel too guilty to cut her off.
Next is the 2-year-old. His bedtime routine is a rotating list of quirks. Some nights he won’t go to sleep without a basketball in his crib. Other nights it’s an assortment of toy cars.
Sometimes he insists on wearing shoes to bed. He’s prone to wake up throughout the night and cry out for these items if we dare to remove them once he is finally asleep.
Last is the 7-month-old. I had no expectations of her sleeping through the night, but she tricked us all in the beginning.
At 4 months old, she was sleeping for six hours at a time so we put her in her own bedroom. It seemed too good to be true. And it was.
Sleep regression hit us like a freight train. We are back to waking up every three hours at night.
I almost wish we didn’t have a taste of that six-hour sleep stretch, because now I know what I’m missing.
I’m not alone in my sleep deprivation. There is an entire tribe of us moms out there with dark circles under our eyes and extra large coffees in our hands.

Our kids somehow function on barely any sleep, so we learn to as well.


A Picture-Imperfect Family

Because my children grow and change so quickly, I have made it a point to take yearly family photos. The most recent session was our first with three children. The experience was far from picture-perfect.
It felt as though our children had conspired the night before, devising a plan to ensure that the day erupted in chaos.
Our oldest decided about five minutes in that she was done taking pictures. She hid under a tree and sobbed when we tried to get her to come out.
Our toddler son took any opportunity his feet were on the ground to run away. Our attempts to bribe him with snacks made for several pictures where his mouth is open, mid-chew.
Our infant daughter wasn’t old enough to be coaxed into smiling yet. The constant poking and prodding from her siblings led to a disgruntled face most of the day.
Bless our wonderful photographer and her infinite patience, because she used every trick in the book and got some amazing individual shots of my kids. But when we tried to pose together, it was a recipe for failure.
I lost my cool as I shouted: “Mommy just wants pictures so in her old age she can remember how cute and sweet you all were!”
As we looked through the proofs, my husband laughed out loud. He was so happy the photos included the “fails” because those were the honest ones. And he was right.
The pictures reflect the true state of our lives. Things are crazy. At least one of my kids is always yelling, crying, running, not paying attention, getting dirty or getting annoyed with the other two.
I do like the photos where we are all smiling, cuddled up together on a park bench. But 2017 wasn’t the year of harmony. It was the year we were learning how to be family of five, and it was messy.
I think one day I will be grateful for those photos and the reminder of how rowdy my little crew used to be.
What a sweet picture of this lovely nature child.
Reality: She refused to come out from under that tree.

How's that fruit snack, Ezra? It must be good, because you won't stop staring at it.

Gwen's first wet willy. So glad we could commemorate that milestone.

Party of Five

Veteran parents with large families told me that going from one to two children was the hardest transition. But going from two to three would be no big deal.
A month in to life with my third baby and I can confidently announce – Those other parents are liars.
Parenting three kids isn’t exactly a whole new ball game.
It’s the same ball game, but your teammates are rowdy, screaming children, the rules keep changing and no one has a clean uniform because you can’t keep up with the laundry.
Friends and acquaintances ask me how it’s going.
I used to just smile and say “it’s good!” because I was too sleep-deprived to elaborate.
But I realize that is doing a disservice to any parent who might be considering having a third child.
Instead, now I answer bluntly: Life is a circus. It’s insane. Things are way harder than they were a few short months ago. Life with two was a cakewalk compared to this.
I recently made a trip to the grocery store with all three children. “How bad can it be?” I naively thought to myself.
We hadn’t even made it into the store before I had a fussy baby, a toddler sprawled out on the pavement mid-tantrum and a 6-year-old asking me if her brother’s behavior affected her chances of getting a treat in the store.
Oh, and someone in a car sat waiting for that parking spot my toddler was having a meltdown in. Move along, buddy. This may take a while.
I don’t say these things to scare anyone. I am not saying things are bad.
Chaos reigns in our home most days, but I’m not mad about it.
It’s just a new dynamic. My family is learning how to navigate this new normal.
It’s a messy, noisy road we are now on with three kids in the car (which is littered with crushed Goldfish crackers and broken crayon bits.)
But we are finding our rhythm and making sense of it all, one step at a time.
PJ's all day = less laundry for mama.


My Wonder Girls

I remember when I saw the Wonder Woman preview for the first time. I dabbed at my tear-filled eyes with a scratchy movie theater napkin. My husband gave me that look that says “you’re adorable but kind of weird.”

My only words to him were “This is important.”

 It wasn’t that long ago I wrote this blog post about my daughter being denied entry to a game of “Superheroes” by her classmates. A little boy told her she could not play because she was a girl. And girls did not play superheroes.

Don’t tell me the Wonder Woman movie isn’t important.

I was lucky enough to see it with my husband and I cried again. Not just because Gal Gadot portrayed a fantastic hero whose strength is rooted in her optimism. Not just because the Amazon women battle scene was totally badass. And not just because of all the parents who brought their daughters to see the movie.

I cried because of all the parents who brought their sons to see the movie. That is just as important.

I hope the Wonder Woman franchise continues to explode. I hope the door has been blown off the hinges for superhero movies featuring a female lead.

I want my youngest daughter to ask to join a game of Superheroes one day and be told yes without hesitation, because those boys will know Wonder Woman.

Or better yet, she’ll already be leading a game of “Amazon Warriors.”


 We represent in this house.


What's in a Name?

There are three questions everyone asks a pregnant woman.
"When are you due?"
"Boy or girl?"
"What are you going to name him/her?"

The first two were easy answers for me. The third always left people in disbelief.

We never named our children before birth. Our oldest was two days old before we figured it out.

I get that some parents hear a name and they just know that's the one. Maybe it's a family name they always knew they would carry on. Maybe it's a favorite name the mom has held in her heart for many years. Or maybe it's the first one a couple agreed on and they didn't want to complicate things.

Us? We went to the hospital for the birth of our oldest with a short list. We took one look at her newborn face and knew- she wasn't any of those names. So we went back to the drawing board. He first full day of life was spent with us Googling names and saying them out loud to her sleepy face.

This led to our decision with our second and third to not stress over name ideas. We knew a name would feel right when we said it to the person it should belong to.

My advice to expectant mothers: Don't worry about choosing a name before you even finish your first trimester. Pregnancy is long. You have plenty of time and endless resources for name ideas.

Here is what we settled on:

Cecelia: The patron saint of music. Latin in origin.
Ezra: Hebrew, after the prophet and religious reformer.
Gwendolyn: Welsh name meaning "fair browed."


Welcome to the Club

On a lovely fall afternoon I got a text that one of my best friends was in labor. Our group message exploded with excitement about the baby. We all couldn’t wait to see his picture, learn his name and meet him in person.

As the first one in my circle to become a mother, my thoughts shifted to how my friend’s world was about to change. I texted her “Your heart is never going to be the same after today.”

We all know a baby changes your life, but until it happens you don’t really know. That shift in perspective cannot truly be appreciated until it happens to you.

During pregnancy you are excited to meet your child, nervous about being a parent and probably even scared of what the future may hold. But once he or she arrives, the world is knocked out from under your feet and you simply float on this huge cloud of feelings.

I wish I had the words to describe it to her in that text. An overwhelming swell of unimaginable love was about to take her breath away, and all I could think of was “I’m so excited for you.”

I anxiously awaited my turn to visit the new baby. I wanted to see all the new pieces of my friend that would opened up now that she is a parent. I couldn't wait to look at her as she holds her baby and think “You get it now, don’t you?”

Watching someone you love become a parent is a reality check we all would be lucky to experience every once in a while.

To witness that feeling wash over a friend helps me reconnect with my own kids. They are now a toddler and a kindergartner, but it’s easy to close my eyes and remember that knock-you-to-your-knees feeling.

I’m elated to have a new baby in our lives, but I’m also thrilled to welcome my friend to the club. The initiation is pretty awesome.
Me and sweet Mr. A.

Weird Science

In the late stages of my third pregnancy, I am familiar with all the aches and pains. Most people see the weight gain as the biggest change during pregnancy, but I think the wildest changes are what happens on the inside during these nine long months.

You know the scene in a monster movie where you see the man’s hands and feet start to stretch and his face sprouts hair everywhere and his shirt rips as his back arches to complete the werewolf transformation?

Pregnancy is kind of like that. But in super slow motion.

Here are my observations about crazy bodily changes in pregnancy:

First of all- you grow a completely new organ. It’s not enough to grow a person. You have to grow a food source for that person as well. The placenta grows along with the baby, then you birth it and it gets thrown away (or turned into placenta pills, if that’s your thing.)

Your bones get loose. The hormone relaxin loosens all the joints in your body. Good news for your pubic bone during labor, bad news for joint pain the rest of your gestation period.

Your organs get squished. Your baby is growing so your uterus takes up more and more space. I can see my other organs all elbowing each other for space, shouting “We were here first! Back off, man.” Unfortunately, your bladder will lose this fight.

You have 50% more blood. Fifty percent. What does all this extra blood do? It causes nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and all sorts of fun stuff. Of course it also creates that famous “glow” so I guess it isn’t all bad.

This doesn’t even cover postpartum body changes, which I won’t go into because I don’t want to bum out all my fellow expectant mothers. But rest assured, while pregnancy is magical and life-changing and a total miracle, it’s also pretty freaky when you consider all the facts.
This was my 28-week bump before things got rough. Look how cute and optimistic I look.