This little cranky-pants is getting over yet another ear infection (jeez!) and was seriously not in the mood to make a video for grandma about his new piggy bank. And yet mama was so proud that she tried anyways…
Happy weekend everyone! (There’s nothing like baby tears to say TGIF!)
Remember these letters? I wrote you one every month for your first five months, and then got so busy being your mom that I forgot to write another one all winter. A lot has changed since that last letter! You’re like a different little kid now — closer to a toddler than a newborn, and every day lately reveals some new skill or word or expression that I’ve never seen before. We’re in the middle of a smooth patch, and parenting right now is mostly just fun.
And yes, part of me misses that little baby who would snuggle for hours, who wanted nothing more than to sit in mom’s lap. Now, you’re crawling everywhere, pulling yourself up on our furniture and trying to walk. You’re tipping over the dogs’ water bowl and grabbing for our television remotes and generally wreaking havoc on our house, and we wouldn’t change it for a second. (Ok, maybe we’d change the 5:30 a.m. wake-ups, but other than those, not a thing.) Sections of our house are baby-proofed and you mostly sleep through the night. (FINALLY.) We have a routine. That, actually, might just be the biggest victory.
The best change in these last few months has been that parenting has finally gotten a little bit easier. Sure, you’re still the boss of this house, but you’re not a lunatic dictator anymore. You’re fairly reasonable in your demands, and we’ve gotten better at figuring out what you need. Most of the time, except for the occasional sick day or tooth coming in, we all get along fairly well.
And those hazy first weeks and months, when I could barely see straight through the sleep deprivation and the all-consuming worries?
They’re just memories now. We made it.
And you know who doesn’t always get enough credit on this blog? Your dad.
Because, here’s the thing: If I’m the one keeping you sane, he’s the one keeping me sane. On the days when it feels like starting a law firm and running a blog and being a mom are not just beyond my limits but beyond the limits of any human being… he’s the one who doesn’t give up. It makes a huge difference to have someone in your corner, every day, certain that you can do it. It makes you feel like, just maybe, you actually can.
There are so many things I can say about the last few months, but I’ll keep this letter short and sweet. I can’t believe it’s been nine months since you entered our lives. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs along the way, but I wouldn’t trade a single second of them. We’re so very lucky to have you.
I have been extremely busy lately. After starting my own law practice a year and a half ago, I’ve really felt like I hit my stride in the last six months, which is an awesome feeling. However, the flip side of that awesome feeling is that I have been working really, really hard.
Bear and I have settled into a fairly predictable schedule in the last few months, and as long as I don’t have court appearances, meetings, or depositions, I usually stay home with him in the mornings and work during his nap, and then take him to school in the afternoons. I don’t think there’s such a thing as an ideal childcare situation, but ours is a pretty good balance. Most of the time, it works really well — I have a good chunk of time with him every day, but I also have a decent stretch of uninterrupted work time.
But last week, I just started to feel like I wasn’t getting quite enough time with him. He was taking long morning naps and I was working on a number of big projects, and I just started to really miss him. My job is really important to me and I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for anything, but I had a day that I almost cried when I dropped him off at school for the afternoon. I know lots of moms feel this way — they’re proud of their careers, but no matter how much you love your job, it’s hard to leave your baby with someone else every day. There’s no way around that. It’s just hard.
So this week, I finally made it past a few big deadlines, and when two of my mom friends suggested a trip to the zoo, I jumped at the chance to have a special afternoon with our baby boy. We live about a mile from the Houston Zoo, but Bear hasn’t really been old enough to understand it until now, so this was our first visit.
And we had so much fun. He loved watching all the people, looking into the aquarium (“Hooray for Fish” is one of his favorite books!), and of course, getting to ride the carousel. And I loved getting an extra afternoon with our son, watching him experience something new.
As Bear gets older, I want to make this a tradition: every once in a while, we’ll take a few hours off from school and work, and do something fun. Whether it’s exploring museums or picnics in the park or just staying home and baking cookies, those memories are ones that I’ll cherish forever. It feels like he’s growing up so fast — for the past few months, every day brings some new development or change.
So, that shot above? It’s the first of many stolen afternoons, and the start of some amazing times together.
(Skipping to the end, I’ll tell you: we’re fine, everything is fine. As you can see in that picture above, Bear is totally ok, but… here goes.)
So, last Friday, when I picked Bear up from the school he goes to in the afternoons, he felt a little warm. A few hours later, his temperature had gone up to about 100 degrees, which is definitely a fever, but a pretty low-grade one. It came down with Tylenol, and persisted for about a day and a half, and then he kicked it.
Almost immediately afterwards, he started getting cold symptoms, which, I thought: ok, not the end of the world. He’s almost nine months old and is around other kids almost daily, so, needless to say, we’ve had our fair share of colds. I called the doctor and they said to watch him for a few days to make sure he didn’t get worse, but overall, no big deal.
So, on Wednesday afternoon, I drop him off as usual and proceed to work for a few hours. Only, when I pick him up, his teacher tells me that he’s fast asleep at 6pm (weird), he hasn’t eaten anything all afternoon (very weird), and when I hold him, I realize that his breathing is super fast, like he’s struggling for air (absolutely horrifying).
I take him home and immediately call his pediatrician’s office and talk to their after-hours line. They get a nurse on the phone, and I tell her what’s been going on. Fortunately, by this point, I’d nursed him and he’d eaten something, but his breathing is still shallow and fast.
I’m holding Bear in my arms as I tell her this story, so his head is close to the phone. And she goes, “oh, I can hear him — it sounds like he’s panting. How soon can you get here?”
And you guys, my stomach flipped. “Five minutes,” I told her (a lie; we live more like fifteen minutes away from their office, but I was basically planning to drive 200 miles an hour at that point).
“Ok. Head over. I’ll meet you in the waiting room and check his vitals.”
That’s, obviously, when I started to cry.
Chad was still at work, so I got Bear into the carseat as quickly as I could and drove us to the office (200 miles an hour seemed like a good idea, but I decided it was probably better to avoid dying in a car accident on our way to the doctor’s office, so I went the speed limit… ish.) Minutes after we get there, the nurse comes out and hooks Bear up to an oxygen monitor to check his breathing, and I was so close to hyperventilating that I debated asking her to check mine when she was done.
But, thankfully, a minute later she announced that his oxygen levels were fine. His fever was back, but only around a hundred degrees. A while later, once Chad had arrived, we saw a doctor, who told us that he’d developed an ear infection — in babies, this is a pretty common complication from a normal cold, and they can come on suddenly, sometimes in a matter of hours. My sweet little baby who had been on the road to recovery at lunchtime now needed antibiotics, but was otherwise ok. (The breathing was just due to congestion, it turned out — his lungs were fine, too.)
Me, on the other hand. All I could think about was that he’d taken a turn for the worse and I hadn’t been there.
The worst part? I’d gotten to a stopping point in the brief I was working on forty-five minutes before I’d picked him up, but since he was safely at school, I’d taken a shower.
While my baby was refusing to eat and so congested that he was panting, I’d taken a shower.
And, obviously, I hadn’t known. But I still felt so guilty — I was still so shaken up by the whole experience and somehow felt like it was all my fault.
But once we got home, and Bear was safely in bed, I told Chad about how I was feeling. And my husband is excellent at kicking some sense into me when I go down a mom-guilt spiral, because he looked at me and responded immediately:
And, you know what? He was absolutely right. I had no idea, and yet I was sitting there, beating myself up. Ultimately, I’d done everything that I could have done — and this experience, while very scary, had turned out fine. Our son had an ear infection, got treated for it, and was now on the road to recovery.
Bear’s illness itself wasn’t a big deal, but my reaction to it, in some ways, was. This situation was almost totally out of my control, and yet my urge, as a mom, was to feel like I somehow failed him. To beat myself up totally unnecessarily, when I had done everything I could for him. To feel like I’d failed simply because this had happened.
I’ve written before about “mom guilt” and how impossible it is to try to be a “perfect” parent, but this week was an extra reminder. I hope this never happens again, and that Bear has a healthy end to his first year. But if it does, I’m going to remember that sometimes these things are out of my control — that even though I’d like to protect him from everything, trying to do that is setting myself up for inevitable failure.
As always, I’m going to do my best.
And I’m going to remind myself that that’s enough.
Besides, you can’t get through a baby’s first year without at least one Urgent Care visit, right?
I’m charging head-on into 2015, but before I do, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on all the wonderful moments from this past year. So, if you’re new to this blog or you missed a few posts here and there, I’ve pulled together some of my favorites from the last 12 months.
This marked the birth of our son, which turned my life upside down in the happiest, most wonderful (and yet totally overwhelming) way possible. I think my favorite post of the year was on my decision to give up the idea of being a “perfect” parent and to focus on enjoying time with our son. This is something I still struggle with nearly every day, but realizing it has made our lives so much happier and better. If you’re going to read one post I wrote in 2014, head over there.
I wrote letters to our son at one, two, three, four and five months… and then somehow completely forgot to keep going. Baby Brain, people. It’s a real thing. I’m hoping to revive these in 2015! (And, if you want to get all technical about it, I technically wrote two letters to him at one month old… with no recollection of the first when I wrote the second. I blame the two combined hours of sleep I was getting per night at that point.)
I wrote about our decision to vaccinate, and why it shouldn’t be a decision at all. Please inform yourselves about the facts on this incredibly important issue, for the safety of your child and others.
And finally, I wrote about life as a working mom, and the challenges I’m juggling with balancing my career and our family.
Baby bump posts took up the first four months of the year! I had so much fun styling my growing belly! At the time, I felt huge and totally self-conscious, but now I look at those pictures with so much joy. This pink ASOS dress and this LOFT top were my favorites of the whole pregnancy. And this festival-inspired dress at sunset continues to be one of my favorite photos of the year.
And last but not least, I was featured in the July issue of Glamour magazine! Thanks again to my wonderful readers for pointing this out to me — without you guys, I never would have known!
Our crockpot was the workhorse of 2014 — life with a baby inevitably makes the slow cooker into your most valued possession. They’re great for creating healthy, easy, low-stress meals that won’t burn when you leave the kitchen eleven million times while preparing dinner. I loved our Southwestern Chicken Stew and BBQ Chicken for easy weeknight staples.
I shared our “ttc” (internet slang for “trying to conceive”) story, and ups and downs of finding out that I needed surgery almost immediately after we started trying to have a baby. For silly superstitious reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable posting this until after our son had safely arrived, but so many families struggle with infertility, I think it’s important that we share these stories openly and honestly. So I did.
And on that note, I wrote about pregnancy weight gain. I spent way too much time freaking out at the numbers on the scale at the beginning of my pregnancy, when I gained way over the “recommended” amount… which was, ultimately, exactly what my body and our son needed.
And finally, despite the many, many posts about pregnancy, I wrote about the fact that there are so many wonderful ways to create a family. Sure, pregnancy is one, but what binds a family together isn’t genetics: it’s love.
In October, we left the baby behind for a pretty amazing trip to Mexico. I slept for, like, fourteen hours a day. And it was basically the best week of my life.
I shared some meditation tips for beginners — one of the biggest changes in 2014 was that I started meditating on a regular basis, and it has improved my outlook so dramatically. If you haven’t given it a try, I definitely recommend it!
I wrote about our new puppy Rambo, who eats poop. We like him anyway.