Happy One Month, Theodore John!
We’re a little in shock that it has only been a month since Teddy was born. He fills out our family so well it’s like he has always been here.
I feel like I’ve healed pretty well. I’ve only lost about 20 of the 50 (I know!) pounds that I gained with Teddy, which is a bit frustrating to me, but I’ll make it there eventually. I can wear the jeans I bought just before Ben was a month old and have started pulling out my regular clothes again. Most of the weight is stored in my lower half so pants will be a struggle for a while but getting out my old shirts is like seeing old friends after a long absence! I’ve stopped bleeding already (it took 6 full weeks with Ben) and don’t feel the stitches anymore.
I don’t take Teddy back to the pediatrician until he is two months old but I know that he is growing! He is out of newborn disposables and is starting to outgrow his newborn clothes. Many of the 0-3 month outfits are too big yet so we’re mixing and matching until he grows a bit more. We made the move to cloth diapers during the day last week so we aren’t flying through disposables anymore. He seems to be tolerating the change pretty well with no significant rashes to speak of. We weighed Teddy before his bath on Saturday and he clocked in at 9.6 lbs and has the chin rolls and dimples in his knees to prove it. I’m proud of how much he has grown!
We’ve fallen into a good rhythm with breastfeeding. He eats every 3-4 hours during the day and then a 4-5 hour stretch before our first night wake up and then 3 more hours. That’s typically a bed time feeding between 10 and 11, one feeding from 3-4, and a wake up feeding between 7 and 8. His schedule is a lot more fluid than Ben’s internal clock so stupid Daylight Saving Time has thrown us off a little. Ben is now ready to get up before Teddy eats but we’ll eventually get back to Teddy naturally wanting to wake and eat about 30 minutes before Ben is ready.
I think I am FINALLY past the mastitis and clogged duct problems that pestered me the entire time B was in San Francisco and I was solo parenting. I finished my antibiotics yesterday and started taking lecithin (food extract that acts like an emulsifier, sticking to fat in my milk to keep it from sticking together) and haven’t had any super painful clogs since I wrote my last desperate blog post. Astonishingly, Teddy started latching without a nipple shield after I wrote that post too so thank you for those prayers! It was wonderfully encouraging to have something start going right after 7+ days of frustration. We regularly go without the shield and only use it for the one to two night feedings, depending on how tired Teddy is. He has a lot more trouble latching when he is half asleep and when it has been 5 hours since he ate and I’m more engorged than normal. He can be quite stubborn about latching anyway and has spent up to 5 minutes sniffing and licking my nipple instead of latching but we haven’t given up yet. I was a little worried that the mastitis and duct issues caused a dip in supply but since Teddy’s diapers are always soaked and he poops all the flippin time, he is still getting enough to eat.
B is currently back in San Francisco for a second conference in less than two weeks. I dropped him off at the airport yesterday morning and he gets back Wednesday evening so this one is much shorter than the last one. He commented on how much bigger Teddy was when he got home last Thursday. That’s what you get for going away for a week when your son is only 3 weeks old! I feel much more confident about solo parenting for this second stretch even though all three of us have caught colds. I’ve figured out some coping mechanisms and experience coordinating both boys schedules. We’ve watched more tv than I’d like during the last week but I’ll be able to wean us off that once we get more settled. We watch youtube music videos and have dance parties (great for using up toddler energy!), Baby Einstein, and, of course, Toy Story. I’ve gotten really good at playing dishes with Ben with only one hand and figuring out how to shower each day. Baby wearing is more of a necessity this time around and I am so glad I bought the baby k’tan to use instead of the Moby wrap!
Ben has impressed me with his flexibility, maturity (at times), his helpfulness, and his love of his “baby broller Teddy.” I’ve learned that if we talk about what to expect from him during a situation, everything goes much smoother. For example, when we get home from the store, I tell Ben that I’m going to take Teddy out of the car and put him in the house and then I’ll come back for him. He knows I haven’t left for good and he gets attention too. We have started working some of the basic love and logic parenting methods into our daily routines with some positive results. We regularly “take turns” changing diapers and we give him the option to go first or second. He can choose between different shirts every day and chooses from several options for lunch or snacks. We’re working building up his self-confidence by giving him the chance to choose his own path from a carefully constructed set of options. All choice is a good choice because we only give good options but it works! We still spend our fair share of time in the time out chair because he “didn’t use good listening” but I’ve seen impressive improvement in the last month.
Ben is very helpful with Teddy too, in spite of liking to steal Teddy’s boppy and burp cloth all the time. He likes to give hugs and kisses, is very concerned if he thinks Teddy isn’t going to go somewhere with us, shares toys (Teddy doesn’t care but its adorable just the same), and is tolerant of the time Teddy spends with me nursing.
I’d be remiss if I don’t mention that it has been a year since we lost Baby 2. Time changes the feeling of emptiness that comes with losing a baby but it doesn’t go away, even after the birth of a child since then. We love and miss you, Baby Girl!
One of the questions I’ve asked most often during this pregnancy, besides “when are you due” and “is it a boy or a girl,” is some variation of “does Ben understand what’s going on?” My answer used to be that he has no clue but for the last month, different things we’ve been doing have started to click.
We have been reading Ben’s big brother book for several months already and that has opened the door to talks about how babies are different than big boys. Babies can’t play toys, eat snacks, or brush their teeth. Babies like to take lots of naps, be wrapped in blankets, and snuggled. We practice being gentle with Ben’s baby doll and giving kisses and soft butt-pats when baby fake cries. Ben loves to get in on the swaddling action by being wrapped up too. He thinks it’s hilarious and giggles constantly (did you know that the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets are big enough for a toddler?) and requests I carry him to daddy to snuggle like when he was a baby.
Now that we’re more settled in the new house, we’ve been working on creating a physical space for baby brother. While the master bedroom was being cleaned, stripped of wallpaper, and repainted, we talked about how our painter was working in Mommy and Daddy’s room, and how Ben has his own room with his bed and toys, and now baby brother will have a room with little baby things in it. Ben’s changing table and large toy/diaper organizing shelf are in the baby’s room now so we go to “Baby Brover’s” room for diaper changes. Ben likes to try to sit in the infant car seat but laughs when he discovers that he is too big to fit! We talk about how Baby Brother has little diapers and little clothes and show Ben how little they are compared to his clothes and diapers. Ben helps “fold” the tiny laundry and put the clothes away.
In more practical ways, we’re trying to encourage Ben to be as independent as his age allows. He is usually quite willing to help put his dishes in the sink, drop his clothes down the clothes shoot in the hall, pick up books or toys, help start laundry, climb into a chair to get his shoes on, or get into the car and be clipped into his car seat. There is always a decent chance that I’ll have to have a c-section and won’t be able to lift anything heavier than New Baby and it won’t be as much of a shock for Ben if he’s used to doing some things on his own already.
We are also trying to help Benny adjust to sleeping in a twin bed. We knew a long time ago that we didn’t want to buy a second crib nor did we want Ben to feel like New Baby has taken something as important as his bed from him. Right now, we’re working with a mattress on the floor with an extra long rail on the side. Ben slept amazingly in his crib and we figured we’d be taking a quick reduction in quality and hours as soon as we switched but I think we underestimated it. We went from Ben NEVER trying to climb out of his crib to almost constant attempts to escape from the big bed and run around the room. For the last few days, we have taken turns sitting in the room and only acknowledging his presence when he steps out of bed. The only behavior we are working on right now is staying in bed; what he does while he is in there is and always has been his own business. It takes him anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes to fall asleep for nap and bed time plus he is waking up earlier in the morning. I’m hoping that by his birthday in September, I’ll be able to report a huge improvement.
(For future reference for me: this was the month of the sudden and intense obsession with Toy Story 2 aka Woody-Buzz. He’d rather wear his Woody shirts than anything else. The movie MUST be watched at least once a day. There are worse things he could have this kind of love for but I’m getting a wee bit tired of it!)
In the last month, we’ve finally been released from winter’s oppression and been able to play outside. Ben LOVES going “sahside” and loves swinging on the “wee” in the side yard. There is a toddler park less than two blocks away from our house so we go there to let Ben run around and play on the toys. I can definitely tell when he’s had a chance to play outdoors because he sleeps so much longer and harder. This boy has energy to burn!
Ben is very inquisitive and has to investigate everything. Everything has to be poked, thrown, squeezed, and limits and boundaries must be challenged. He loves to watch through the front door at the cars driving past and the birds and squirrels in the yard. A good day of playing means toys and books are scattered everywhere by bedtime. It’s not unusually to find toys dropped at random from one end of the house to the other. Ben likes to take out a spray bottle of water from under the kitchen sink and spray everything, including himself!
His vocabulary is exploding and he is always chattering about something. Many times, he’ll pick up a new word after only hearing it once. Some of his newer ones are kitty cat, jello (jehjo), walk, swing, snack, juice, Einstein, llama, and nigh night. Along with saying more, he also understands more and is able to follow through if we ask for his cooperation.
We are trying to introduce him to the general idea that a baby is coming to live in our house and he will be a big brother. I bought I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole and it is the perfect length for a toddler. It has really good ideas in it like how babies can’t play with toys but big brothers can, that big brothers are special and mommy and daddy love them too, and that because bothers are so big and can do so many things, they can help keep the baby safe and warm. We snuggle and swaddle his stuffed animals and baby doll and are reinforcing the idea of being gentle to babies and animals. We’re hoping these lessons stick once baby comes!
Ben is definitely more opinionated and vocal about his opinions than he was a few months ago. Some things he insists on are simple things, like picking out books to read before bed, but sometimes it turns into an all-out, stiff body tantrum because he does not get his way. Getting out of the bathtub and turning off the tv when a show is done are two things that almost always cause problems. We’re as patient as we can be, attempt to explain why he must listen, and sometimes he has to experience the consequences of his actions and not listening. I don’t know if we have made it through a meal lately where his plate hasn’t been taken away at least once because he did not listen to us say “the plate stays on your tray.”
We hired a recent college grad who is getting married soon and following her soon-to-be husband wherever the Air Force takes him as a once a week mother’s helper. She’s been here twice and has already been a huge blessing! I’ve been able to tackle tasks that are impossible without another set of eyes and usually assign a job to her each time that Ben likes to help with like vacuuming. Ben always naps especially well after she comes because they play so hard and have so much fun. It is a special treat for Ben to have someone else to play with too. Mom and dad aren’t always the most exciting people anymore.
18 months seems like an incredibly old age. Ben is a great kid with lots of opinions, an odd sense of humor (takes after his dad!), loves to play, watch shows, “go go” in the car, play with the kitties, read books, go for walks, eat pretty much everything we give him, visit his grandparents, play “Zehda” with dad after work, and explore the house. He’s getting toddler opinions and the stubbornness that goes along with it. The other day, he burst into tears because he thought I poured the wrong cereal into his snack cup!
Ben mimics so many words now that it is difficult to list what ones he knows. He can say tons of food words, ask for a show (Baby Einstein), greet people (he says hi to everyone when we’re out), say goodbye, talk about books, talk about what he’ll do with his daddy when B is done with work, and many more things. He talks almost constantly now. We heard him singing along with the song “Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down” from Winnie the Pooh last week.
There are only three things Ben will not eat: Broccoli, pasta, and american cheese. Everything else is fair game. His old favorites are still his favorites but he loves bread (“brea”), lunch meat (“mee”), green beans (“bee beans”), and crackers (“crker”). He still uses a handful of signs along with his food words but even some of those are being replaced by verbalizing. Please is consistently a sign but thank you is more often words than signs than it was a month ago.
Ben and I like to go out adventuring every morning. Some adventures are common and boring, like grocery shopping, but there are times we go play in the kids area at the mall or explore a new store. My mom takes Ben for Grammy Day at least once every two weeks. I get so much done without having to stop working to change diapers, pick up toys, refill sippy cups, and give healing kisses when Ben falls. Ben climbs now, mostly just the living room ottoman but he’s really good at stairs and will try anything that he thinks is low enough. We’re going to have quite the time keeping an eye on him when it warms up enough to play outside!
Ben is wearing 18 month clothes and size 5 shoes. His size 4 Converse are finally getting a bit small. I’ve amassed quite a collection of 18 and 24 month winter and summer clothes so I shouldn’t have to do much shopping for Ben until after Baby 3 arrives. I still need to go through his dresser and pull out the 12 month onesies and pants. T-shirts and jackets fit longer than onesies or pants so he still wears his 12 month tees regularly. I’ll put those in storage eventually. I haven’t changed his cloth diaper sizing but he’s moved up into size 4 disposables, mostly because I had a huge stash from my last two Honest Company shipments and had run out of size 3 diapers. Ben doesn’t see the pediatrician for his 18 month well-baby checkup until the 31st because the doctor is out of town. I’m sure I’ll have some more accurate stats than “bigger than 15 months” at that point!
Well Baby Checkup:
Ben weighed in at 23 lbs 3 oz (34th %), was 33.5 inches tall (82nd %), and his head was 18.5 inches around (37th %). He didn’t gain much weight but that is to be expected since he’s hit toddler stage where he runs instead of walks and is always on the move. He is a tall little guy though! He’s outgrowing his 18 month sleepers already so I’ve got to dig out the 24 month pjs I have in storage. The doctor seemed pleased with his progress in social skills, learning to use silverware, talking, sleeping, and showing off his personality (Ben was a little ham the entire time we were there).
Ben only had once vaccine, the second Hep A shot, and now he is done with vaccines until he turns 4. I can barely imagine my baby turning 4 but I’m sure it will come sooner than I expect. He also doesn’t have to go back to the doctor until he turns 2. I told the pediatrician about Baby 3 and his/her expected arrival around Ben’s birthday so it is very likely that I’ll schedule a tentative appointment but cancel and reschedule for both kids at once since our pediatrician doesn’t make rounds at the hospital were I’ll be delivering.
Their 18 cheat sheet says that by this age, Ben should be doing some of the following: Speak 5-10 words (check!), walk up steps (working on it), Uses a spoon and fork at times (check!), stacks 2 blocks (check!), helps around the house (check!), can point to one body part (check!), and runs (hahahaha!). He is doing great, just like we thought!
Ben is teething again and is waking up about every hour all night long. Because we’re still on our trip, Ben and I are sharing a room and B is not here so, needless to say, I am not sleeping much either. He woke up at 5:45 this morning, wanting to get out of bed. I dosed him with baby Advil and eventually he was comfortable enough to fall back asleep but I am struggling this morning. I’m even contemplating running to Starbucks for coffee before getting to the church even though I know it will probably give me wicked heartburn.
It’s times like this I wonder if we’re completely crazy for having a second child!
Here is a photo of how awesome Ben is to remind me and keep me going!
Jingle bells, jingle bells! Merry Christmas!
I keep thinking of how small Ben was last Christmas and how he was completely content to snuggle in my arms and watch all the action. This year, I’m pretty sure he’ll be a tiny tornado!
It seems like there was a switch that got flipped in Ben’s brain because all of a sudden, he wants to mimic everything we say and is catching on with certain words. He knows our cats’ names (Owie, ‘Tsss, and ‘Gli), can identify foods on the shelf at the store, has conversations on the phone with his Grammy, and starts chatting when he wakes up in the morning. It’s fun to watch him grow so quickly!
One of Ben’s molars came in this past month (lower left) and the other 3 are on their way. His lower canines are pushing at his gums too so he’s been cranky lately. We love Hyland’s teething tablets and Advil and for his molars, the best teether toy we can find is a spare (clean/unused) toothbrush. He thinks bushing his teeth is great fun and loves to chew on the toothbrush while watching a show or wandering the house.
Whatever bad mood isn’t caused by the teething is from his new nap schedule. He has waffled between keeping his two naps and eliminating one for months but we had reached the point where he wasn’t making any choices. He wanted to drop his afternoon nap but even if he woke up at noon from his morning nap, that’s 7 straight hours of awake time which is about 2 too many. Last week I decided to lay down the law and implement an afternoon-only nap schedule. I am super protective of his nap time now; nothing can disturb the nap! The first few days were a hard adjustment for both of us. I wasn’t used to him being awake so long and I missed my solo productive time and Ben was flat out tired and clingy after 11 AM. By the end of the week, things were much calmer and he now drops like a stone after I put him in his crib and stays out for 2 to 3 hours. Hallelujah! We also implemented what my parents call the “boppy cup.” We took a cheap, plastic cup, punched two holes near the top and tied it tightly to his crib rail. We fill it up with all the extra boppies (pacifiers) we can find before bed and he can use them as they’re needed at night. He’s gotten really good about putting himself back to sleep if he wakes up crying because he can find a new boppy if the one he was using went missing.
Ben is still in mostly 12 month clothes but is wearing some 18 month onesies, pjs, and some pants. He’s outgrowing his size 4 shoes so I need to dig through the storage bins and find his size 5s. When I took him to the pediatrician for his 15 month well-child visit, he weighed 21 lb 12 oz (35th percentile), was 31 1/4 inches tall (54th percentile) and his noggin measured 18.5 inches (56th percentile). He’s still a skinny little guy but is growing steadily. The doctor was impressed with his vocabulary and mentioned that many kids who are very verbal at a young age successfully potty train earlier. We’re still ages away from potty training but that’s an encouraging thought. Ben got 3 vaccines today (all repeats) and will only have 1 at his 18 month appointment in March before he’s done for several years! It sounds like we’re hitting all of the expected milestones the pediatrician quizzed me about (bed time, book reading, learning words, using a car seat correctly, naps, brushing teeth, eating a good variety of foods) so I’m pretty pleased with our progress as parents. There’s no way we’d feel this capable if someone had dropped a 15 month old on our doorstep 2 years ago!
He is a bundle of energy and I can barely keep up! He doesn’t sit down very often during the day except for when he wants me to read him a book. He figured out that if he picks out a book and brings it to me, I’ll read it, even if it’s not bed time. We spend a large portion of each afternoon reading through his ever-expanding library. Lift-the-flap books and touch and feel books are a huge hit. He loves playing with balls and a few other trucks and Little People animals but his favorite toys aren’t toys at all. He’s happy playing with an empty water bottle, plastic plates and bowls, a Halloween straw, shoes, silverware, or whatever else he finds around the house. I have to be very careful to keep things I don’t want played with out of reach.
We have been actively working on his listening skills, specifically when we need to tell him to stop. We’ve been telling him, “Hands off. That’s not for Benny,” and he actually listens and responds appropriately most of the time. We know that he won’t always listen well but are thrilled that we’ve found a way for him to understand that he shouldn’t be touching that. We also tell him to “be gentle” when he’s petting the cats or wants to touch something delicate or breakable (like when I’m wearing jewelry).
Ben eats pretty much everything we eat. He doesn’t digest corn or peas very well yet and the last time he had ham more than one day in a row, his diapers were nasty. Those things we limit but he loves to share food with us. This week we’ve had oven pancake with mixed berry fruit sauce, turkey, cheese, and crackers, homemade bean soup with ham, chicken pot pie, chicken fingers, and lots and lots of graham crackers. We visited friends 3 hours away last weekend and it was probably the first time we’ve traveled where I didn’t need to pack separate food for Ben. I’m excited for him to try new things when we go to Disney World in February (we have the meal plan and he’ll be eating off our plates since kids younger than 3 don’t need their own). We introduced toddler silverware this month because he kept trying to steal ours and use it. He understands the mechanics of a fork but can’t always figure out the best way to grip it in order to stab food. I made chicken for dinner last night and he ate about half of it with the fork instead of his fingers. I don’t expect him to master it anytime soon but as long as he shows interest, we are going to encourage it.