Walter-4 Months

Weight:  He is feeling a little heftier these days. He is exactly 13 pounds. We have almost doubled his birth weight.

Health: We are no longer giving him medicine for his acid reflux. Some days he is doing well being off; other days he still spits up a lot. I do notice that it typically happens more in the morning than other times of the day, so I am not sure if it is related to me being more full in the mornings and the flow is higher.

Diet: Breastfeeding is going really well. I have no thoughts around needing to supplementing at this point, which feels really good. Walt feeds 6 or 7 times a day, and on average it adds up to 2.5 hours of nursing. He is going about 3 hours between feedings during the day. My app says that we have had 190 feedings over this last month, and spent 3 days feeding him. In addition to that I have pumped 12 times. I only go into the office one day a week, and it is so nice not to have to pump every day. It is doing so much for our breastfeeding journey to be the one to actually feed him 24/7 6 days out of the week. Looking back at both of the bigs’ journeys, I am in a much better position this time around. I was already supplementing with formula with George at this point. And with Daph, I had to pump extra times each night to make enough for her. I truly think a big reason why it’s not even on my radar to need to do either is that I am nursing him most days completely. I am truly thankful to be working from home this much to allow for this. I am not a good pumper, so it has been nice to need to do that very minimally.

Clothes: He is solidly in 0-3 month clothes, but I would assume we would move up to 3 months before his next update. He is still in size 1 diapers.

Sleeping:  He is so go with the flow with his sleep, which has been a godsend since our schedule never seems to be the same from day to day. We started putting him down for the night around 8pm. Then I wake him up at 10pm for a feeding, and then he goes right back down. He typically doesn’t wake up until I get him up at 5:15am, and often times sleeps until 7 on the weekends. I had been thinking of knocking out that 10pm feeding to just let him completely sleep through the night. But the couple days I have thought to test it out he has woken up by 11 acting hungry, so we’ll keep with this schedule for awhile. He typically takes two naps during the day, and he is taking those in his crib fully now. He is still sleeping in a pack and play in our room overnight. I am thinking we will keep him in this for awhile now so when we go on vacation this summer he will be used to a pack and play and it wont be a complete mess to his sleep. I would say that 9/10 times, we are able to put him down awake, and he falls asleep within 5 minutes. Oh and we are doing the magic merlin suit for the day naps, and a swaddle with both arms completely wrapped overnight. I do think we will have to stop with the swaddle here soon because I think we are close to rolling.

Likes:  His favorite place is upright with his face to our ears. We have this little vibrating bouncy seat that he loves to get crazy in. He seems like the best listener and loves to hear all of us tell him stories. He also love playing peek-a-boo, however it looks like it startles him at first then he just laughs and laughs.

Dislikes:  He despises baths. Honestly it is really the only time he cries.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Butters, Sweet Bean, and Stinkerdoodle. Daphne still has her own names that all include Baby in the title: Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter.

Milestones: We put him in the bumbo for the first time this last week. He is doing so well with his neck control. I think we are soooo close to him rolling over from front to back. He did start laughing this last month, and my oh my does it warm the soul. He had his first road trip yesterday to the zoo in St. Louis.

Quirks:  He has started chewing/sucking on his thumb. The drool is coming in as well. Whenever a camera comes out, he deadpans it. He can be laughing so hard, and then I try to document it, and he almost immediately goes stone face on me. I have to work really hard to get these smiles on camera.

We parents are:  drained. This has been a pretty heavy month. I can hardly believe all that has happened in the last 30 days…I had all four of my wisdom teeth taken out at the beginning of the month, which I am still recovering from 4 weeks later. I do not recommend this while breastfeeding, but it was a must for my own dental health. For me it was worse than when I had knee surgery. Then, I went back to work full time. It’s mostly been good and a fairly easy transition. I am more tired, and there is always work to do. I feel like I am processing things much better now, and able to ward off most of my negative feelings. It is also an exciting time at work with a few things that have been added to my plate and the new teams that I getting to be a part of, so that definitely adds to the mix of making it worthwhile to leave me kids every day. I have been keeping up with working out 5 days of the week, which is so helpful for me not only physically but really mentally as well. Then there was Crosby. Losing Crosby was and is really hard on us emotionally, and we are still dealing with the aftermath of that. Tom has been crushing it at work, but it also comes with using a lot of his energy physically and mentally. We are also prepping ourselves to get our gardens ready and making plans to really use our outside space the best we can.

Big kids are:  doing pretty well. Daphne got into our district’s preschool program for next year, so we are really excited for her. Daph and George will be at the same school for the next couple years which is great! George started soccer, and we’ll see how it goes. It is entertaining for us all at least. They have been great with Walt, and they both have their ways of showing him love. George does it in quiet small ways like stroking his face to help calm him or helping shine a light for him when we are in a dark space. Daphne however is loud and aggressive with her love towards Walt. She is always telling him how much she loves him and that he is her friend. She always wants to be next to him, and has become the alarm whenever anything is awry as far as Walt is concerned. She also announces to anyone who meets Walt who he belongs to (her).

The dogs are: As I mentioned, we are still in a daze from Crosby’s passing a week ago. There are moments where it just doesn’t seem real yet. The kids mention missing him almost every day. George’s teacher went above and beyond and got the kids a framed picture of our family with Crosby to put next to their beds. He was such a big part of our days that they just feel a little empty. Grace is moving along in her charmed life now as an only dog. We are able to give her a little more freedom out of the yard because she wasn’t our runner, so she is loving that. It still makes me so sad that Walt won’t have any memories of our Crosby.

In case you are curious, here is George at four months and Daphne at four months.

Walt you are the perfect puzzle piece to our family. You are the chill to every one else’s crazy. Thank you for these past 4 months of loving on you!

Tiny Tragedy

Tiny Tragedy

When you have a dog you are inviting a tiny tragedy into your life.

What I am feeling right now is not what I would define as tiny, but it is definitely a tragedy.

Today we had to say goodbye to our Crosby.

I have experienced grief before.

Grief with the loss of family.

Grief with the loss of friends.

I have even grieved the loss of pets before.

But grief over losing our first dog as adults is un-explainable.

I feel immense guilt pulling me in both directions. One that we didn’t see his suffering sooner, but then feeling remorse that we couldn’t do something to help him live longer or that we made the call to soon.

I mean how do I reconcile that we made an appointment for our dog’s death? This is a different kind of pain when you are the one making the decision. And then having to sit there watching him take his last breaths.

When we found out in January that he had cancer, I think I was in complete denial about the diagnosis and the caution from the vet that he only has 8-12 weeks left. Tom and I both made references how great we would make his last summer. Well here we are exactly 2 months later, now without him.

We got Crosby at a time when our marriage was still fresh, and it was the first time we were living together after Tom’s deployment. 2013 seems like a life time ago. So he has been with us as we have taken many steps as a family with different moves, careers, and expanding our family.

He really was the best dog who has been a constant for us in the great times and worst times.

I am fairly certain he knew before I did when I was pregnant with each kid. He was so cuddly and over protective during all of my pregnancies. I will probably remember this the most behind how patient he was once the kids were out and wreaking havoc in his life.

Crosby loved to chase all the things: cats, squirrels, turtles, chickens, tractors, neighborhood runners, leaves….you name it Crosby was not having it near our yard. He would just run with complete abandon.

He would even bark at things just because Grace was barking without even seeing what they were trying to ward off.

He loved to dig holes EVERY.WHERE. Then he would lay in his creation like he just made himself a king-sized bed.

He loved running into pools of water.

I will remember the first year we had him, he used to basically drag me around on our walks around Ft. Campbell.

I will remember that he did poop tornadoes.

I remember how he use to sprawl out wherever he slept. He hardly ever would cuddle with us, but he would cuddle with Grace.

I will remember that when both George and Daphne transitioned to big kid beds, we would often find Crosby at the end of the bed watching over them in those first few months out of the crib.

I am utterly heartbroken that we will not get to watch the kids grow up more with him. I am grief stricken that Walter and most likely Daphne will not have any memories of him.

This is hard y’all. He truly was the perfect dog for our family. We couldn’t have lucked out anymore with getting this chunk of love. He was such a happy chill dog who loved and protected us fiercely at the same time.

You always know that this day will come, but having to make the call this week to actually send him over the rainbow bridge is one of the hardest things I have had to do.

But watching him struggle to do basic functions, I know that he was just holding on until we were ready. Honestly, as weird as it sounds, when I watched him try for 10 minutes to do one of his poop tornadoes, it hit me so hard that this was the right call.

Although I would argue that you never are truly ready, it was time none the less.

Tom and I are a mess as this is a first for us both. It is a level of sadness and emptiness I cannot describe. Walking back into our home without him is truly awful.

The kids are truly the sweetest little beings. They threw him a party last night. They decorated the house and made him presents and a bone cake to send him off to heaven in style. George also wants a “cardboard” statue of him to keep forever. Daphne did cry when we left with him this morning, which was utterly devastating.

Grace keeps wondering around like she is searching for him. And she has been barking double in his absence today. Only time will tell if her separation anxiety will return.

I know that this week will haunt me for a long time, if not for the rest of my life. Watching him decline so quickly made me feel helpless. And then to lay next to him as he took his last breaths was very harrowing.

However, this is how I want to remember him. So I just need to play this on repeat, and I pray that we were able to recreate heaven on Earth for him.

Crobby Dobby, Crobbers, Crozie…

Crosby, there was so much love for you, but you gave us so much more.

See you on the other side buddy.

My New Self

On the eve of returning to work full time, I have so many thoughts. This maternity leave has been hard and amazing, but it really put a light on some areas in my own identity that I needed to work through.

The pandemic and having Walter made me do some self-reflection that I honestly have been avoiding. I have been moving through life just kind of in the zone long before the pandemic hit. I was just getting things done, but not really taking the time to enjoy it. I was anxiously awaiting the next thing or compiling the next to do list. I found myself resentful of others and then feeling guilty all the time.

In December, it kind of came to a head for me. Granted a lot of the emotional turmoil could be attributed to having a baby, but it was really a pivotal moment to realize I needed something. I wanted to be a different mom. I wasn’t the person I wanted to be anymore. I had let my anxiety overrun me.

I needed help, and I needed to put some time in to focus on my needs. So while I had this time at home, I knew that I needed to ask for help not only with the baby but how to navigate this transition so I could come out of this sacred time with a clear head and clear focus.

So in order to truly do the work, I started investing in both a therapist and a personal trainer. I needed to cry some things out and sweat out some other things. Both have been instrumental in my health journey post-partum.

I have not been in counseling since I was in grad school. And through my profession, I knew I needed help analyzing my anxiety and really talking through it instead of just pushing it aside to get everyone to the next thing. My perpetual to-do list was wreaking havoc on my ability to live in the moment. I had this need for perfection that drowned out any opportunity to be vulnerable even with those closest to me. My emotions were in control of my world view. I know I am an emotional person; this is nothing new. Most of the time I can keep them in check in public. But at home, I was losing it. I couldn’t enjoy my family because the only thing I could think about was the fear of not getting things done. I was nit-picky at anything and everything because of the chase to perfection. At home, I had a really hard time just appreciating what my family was doing because I was always on to the next thing. I had become so wound up trying to control it all that it was coming out in expectations I had on my family, which were often unrealistic. My anxiety manifested in all kinds of ways in unexpected situations. Some times it was in fear, some times it was in anger, and some times I just sulked around the house.

I didn’t want this anymore.

It was as though birthing Walter was also a rebirth for me. I wanted to do better, and so I needed some help processing it all. We only are given this one life, and I was just marking things off without really embracing anything. Working with my counselor has been really refreshing. I have been validated, but I have also been challenged. I won’t get into all the things since counseling is a personal journey, but I will say it has been helping me. Here is the thing, I still have a lot of baggage where my anxiety stems from. I still LOVE a to-do list. I still want things to go well. But I am learning more coping skills to keep the panic attacks and overthinking at bay. I am learning to look at the facts instead of imagining all the what-ifs of imperfection.

Often times as moms, we feel that we have to do it all and we often sacrifice our own mental health to take care of all the things. The mental load is taxing. My anxiety made me feel selfish in so many ways which is why I left it unaddressed for so long. Not being perfect really hindered me connecting with my kids because deep down I didn’t feel that I was good enough. Understanding that I wanted better for my kids and to actually enjoy my kids, I have to be a little selfish to take care of my own needs. Having Walter and this pandemic really helped me see that I couldn’t keep living this way for them, nor did I want to for me. I want to experience more in the moment. And while I do always have the to-do list looming over me, I can ask for help and communicate better to build a team around me. It’s also okay to be vulnerable and share how I am feeling even if it is not perfect. I also know that I am enough.

Honestly, what I was looking for was accountability. I needed someone to check in with every once in awhile to talk through my insecurities and walk me through how I can navigate my self talk when I start to spiral. I needed some one to tell me what to do in the gym so I could be stronger. I need the accountability to focus on my self growth so I can be a better wife, mother, friend and colleague.

Coming out of this maternity leave is bittersweet. I know that I will never have time like this at home again. I was able to spend weeks off at the holiday time with my family since I essentially didn’t come back to work after Thanksgiving. I have been able to see George off to school and most days pick him up from school, which is time I have really come to love. I have been able to see Daphne explore her world in a way that I wasn’t privy to before. Obviously spending time with Wally is a dream come true.

But honestly, I am most thankful that I found a new version of myself through this time at home.

I want to be mentally, emotional, and physically strong for the people around me. Having this space has helped me understand that I am not selfish for asking for balance or for help. It has taught me more about my priorities and how to focus on my family. I am learning more on how to vocalize those needs so I can be more available. I am coming back to work with a renewed sense of direction and passion for what I do. I am excited to come back to work for I know that it doesn’t have to be an either/or anymore. I can still crush it at work and crush it as a mom. I also am learning that crushing it in life doesn’t mean that I have to be perfect. It’s ok for me to ask for flexibility so I don’t have to sacrifice one identity over the other.

Nor do I have to sacrifice myself to make it all work.

So all in all, I am so grateful for Walter joining our lives because of the little person he is becoming and will be. He is everything I dreamed of. But I am so eternally grateful that I am becoming me too.

So cheers to the end of my maternity leave and all the emotions I am sure to have!

Walter-3 Months

Weight:  He is 12 pounds! I feel he is gotten big this last week.

Health: He is still throwing up a lot, however we did get him some acid reflux medicine. While it has not stopped his spit up, it has dramatically changed the consistency of it. A lot less cottage cheese vomit happening over here. He seems much happier this month two. Last month he just always seemed upset so hopefully we settled his tummy troubles!

Diet: I feel like this month we finally hit our stride with breastfeeding, which may be a big reason why it feels like he is gaining weight more steadily. I did drop all of my pumping sessions since I am back at work. I didn’t want to try to have to finagle those additional sessions especially since we are not giving him an extra bottle between his feedings anymore. Right now I am straight nursing him since I am working from home, which is such a blessing. Dropping the pumping has really helped with my mentality since I am not doing something every 2 hours now nor am I having to wash pump parts which is huge. As long as I can keep my supply up, we will continue this way on the days I am working from home. I have enough in stock to get us through a supply dip for awhile. Walt feeds 7 or 8 times a day, and on average it adds up to 3 hours of nursing. He is going about 2-3 hours between feedings. My app says that we have had 219 feedings over this last month, and spent 3.5 days feeding him.

Clothes: We did just size up to 0-3 month clothes. It was a bittersweet moment realizing it was the last time I would use those newborn clothes for my own kids. He is also in size 1 diapers.

Sleeping:  He is fairly good in this department. He sleeps about 6 hours each night, so that has been a glorious transition. Naps during the day are hit or miss. He does some in his crib and some while someone is holding him. We really need to work on getting him totally in naps in his crib. He is still sleeping in a pack and play in our room overnight. Until we get this spit up thing completely under control, I don’t feel comfortable just yet having him by himself in his room overnight. On the plus side, I can usually just put him down while he is awake, and he will put himself to sleep within 10 minutes. He just lays there and grunts and wiggles himself to sleep without any fuss.

Likes:  He loves being held, and his favorite place is upright on our shoulder with his ear next to mine. I think he loves being close to us and being able to watch around over our shoulder. He loves the 8pm hour. He is always so talkative and smiley during this time. One of our TVs always turns on to a static channel, and he loves it.

Dislikes:  He hates baths and getting lotion on. We keep trying to make a pacy work for him, but I think he could do without. We never are successful getting him to use it to go to sleep so I guess that is a good thing down the road. Honestly there isn’t much that riles him up. His temperament has been really chill this month.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Butters, Sweet Bean, and Stinkerdoodle. Daphne still has her own names that all include Baby in the title: Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter.

Milestones: He holds his neck up so well. His smiles are so big, and I feel like we are just on the verge of laughs. He has been cooing, but not perfectly repeating us just yet. He rolls to his side, but not quite all the way over yet.

Quirks:  When he does tummy time, he kicks his legs so hard like he is trying to crawl already. He has almost hurled himself over the boppy pillow with his legs pushing off the floor. He has lost most of his hair on the top of his head. It’s all little peach fuzz now, but he has a nice ring of thicker hair at the base of his neck.

We parents are:  doing much better this month. Month two was extremely taxing, and this month has been a breeze in comparison. I really have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding, and a lot of the animosity does come from pumping. So removing that this last month has been so healthy for me. I have been working half time at work this month, and the transition back has been fairly smooth. I highly recommend any mom try to swing returning from maternity leave a couple weeks as part time, and even better if you can do it from home. This upcoming week is my last week at half time, so the next month potentially could be a doozy. I started working out a lot more this month, and I think that has also helped clear the fog that comes with newborn days. Tom and I also have been trying to be more intentional about having a meal together with just the two of us.

Big kids are:  doing pretty good considering this was a cold month with very little time outside. George is really excelling at school, and I love hearing how he is creating relationships there. Daphne has had a difficult month. She has had some pretty severe tantrums that will last 30-45 minutes. And the girl is so stubborn; there is often no reasoning with her and we just have to wait until she is tired for it to wear off. We know it has a lot to do with wanting attention, and it is not lost on me that these awful tantrums have coincided with me going back to work. We just need to make sure we are giving her just Daph time. Being a middle child and big sister is hard stuff! As far as the bigs with Walter, they are still so good with him. George tries to soothe him by caressing his head. Most of the time, George does his own thing away from the baby. Daphne, however, always wants to be with him. She wants to hold him, snuggle him, sing to him, read to him, be on him…you get the picture. She is just the best big sister.

The dogs are: just enjoying their doggy lives. Crosby does like to follow Walter around. He is often at my feet when I am feeding him. Grace doesn’t give two hoots about him.

In case you are curious, here is George at two months and Daphne at two months.

Walter-2 Months

Weight:  Walt is around 9 and a half pounds. Finally this kid is gaining weight!

Health: We don’t really have any serious health concerns right now. We’ll see at his check up this week if we need to be more concerned about his weight and eating. He does throw up after each feeding, so I am going to ask if there is anything we can do about it. Looking back on the big kids’ updates, they were having the same problem, however, I feel like Walt is doing it so much more.

Diet: Each month feels like a major triumph with our breastfeeding journey. We are still feeding every 2-3 hours, but we backed off on the bottles in between. We occasionally will give him a one ounce bottle if he is having a fussy day. I started using a new app to track his feedings, and it says that I am feeding him on average 3.5 hours total a day. I am pumping 1-3 times a day to stock up for when I go back to work, and I have pumped just about 100 oz this month. My schedule is still pretty tight around his feeding, but the windows of time do seem to be getting bigger in length. I am no longer using the nipple shields which saves me so much time and hassle. It’s also a bonus that it’s no longer painful when he is feeding. I am in a much better place than I was last month with our breastfeeding plan, but as always my goal is to make it to the next month and re-evaluate. I head back to work here soon, so we’ll see how that affects the dynamic.

Clothes: He is still in newborn clothes, but he is starting to fill them out a little more. I did switch him to size one diapers, but really only because I had a box in the closet when we ran out of newborns and didn’t want to buy another newborn box.

Sleeping:  Sleeping is going much better, and I feel that we are getting a rhythm down. He sleeps from 11-4ish most nights and then will go back down after a nursing session until about 8. Then he has two or three naps during the day in about 2 hour spurts. We are doing some of his naps in his crib in his room instead of the pack and play in our room. I have been putting a drop of Young Living’s Gentle Baby blend on his swaddle before I put him down. I am not saying that it is the reason he is sleeping longer, but I am also saying it hasn’t hurt.

Likes:  He loves being held laying up right on my chest. He loves the baby carrier, and now his legs are out of the newborn position which has seemed to make him like it more. He seems more interested in his surroundings and all of us.

Dislikes:  He is still not a fan of being naked or anything with changing clothes or diapers.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Butters, Sweet Bean, and Stinkerdoodle. Daphne has her own nicknames for him: Waltie baby, Cutie baby, and Baby Walter.

Milestones: He just started smiling over the last couple days. He is also doing a really good job with his neck control.

Quirks:  He farts like a grown man. They are so loud, that they have woken Tom and I up in the middle of the night. Most of the time he looks like he is terrified of something or he has this grimace like he is silently judging all of us. His eyes are just so big!

We parents are:  tired. It has been an emotional month still just trying to manage all the things and figure out our new normal. We are getting there. I am trying to take time to breath more for myself and I am taking some steps to really focus on that so I can be the best mom and wife I can. Tom has been working extra hours, so he has been tired on top of the newborn parent tired.

Big kids are:  doing good. George has had school this whole month, so that routine has been great for him. He is getting tested for some things with the school’s speech pathologist, so I am interested to see how that pans out for him. George is definitely favoring Tom more right now, which is understandable since I am always doing something with Walt. I am really going to miss taking him to and from school because that is time where it is just us. Daphne is OBSESSED with Walt. She is always coming to his rescue when he cries, and she wants to be touching him all the time. She is so sweet with him, and I think she believes it is her personal mission to be his protector and healer. It is just the best to watch. I wish I could just record her all day with him. You can see that she is having moments of middle childness, so we have been making an effort to give her some alone parent time too.

The dogs are: old and don’t seem to care too much about Walt. Crosby does love to lay on the kick and play mat though. We did find out recently that Crosby has lymphoma. It is progressive enough that we are choosing not to do treatments. He also has two torn ACLs, so we are treating him for pain on that. It came down to deciding prolonging his life time wise but have him be on tons of medication/undergo procedures but be noticeable sick or in pain, or just making him comfortable as possible with his remaining time. It was a difficult decision, but we are going with quality of life for him especially besides an occasional limp, he is still leaving the dream life for a dog. He still chases after all the things, and has loved the sunroom to bark at the birds and neighbor cats more easily. It’s just not an easy thing for us to have to think about or make decisions on. We will just love on them as long as we can!

In case you are curious, here is George at two months and Daphne at two months.

Sweet bean, I love the extra snuggles you have brought into our life.