Wednesday, February 25

Dear Pregnant Ladies: Ten Thoughts on Birth from a Second-Time Mom

Once upon a time, I had a little girl named Tenley (who I am holding in the picture above). Not very long after, I wrote this long post about some of the things you will likely feel or experience during and after giving birth.

That post has been so popular that it inspired me to write this (also extremely lengthy) post because once again I loved my birth experience and I want you moms out there to take courage and know that, while it's not easy, it might not be as bad as you've heard and ultimately, it's certainly manageable and worth it.

There will be new things in this post, but I also plan to reiterate a few of the important points that I shared in my first post because 1) some people have not and will not go back and read that post, 2) a lot of the information applied to my second birth experience as well, and 3) this post is intended to realistically inform new (or repeat) mothers on what can happen and hopefully provide a positive outlook on birth.

1. My pregnancies did not differ that much from one sex to another. Yours might, but you can't make assumptions about your child's sex on that alone. Your body might follow every wives' tale to a "T" but it might not. I was looking so hard for signs the second time around that might give me some indication of what the baby's sex was but I had no luck--in fact, I sort of thought I might be having a girl because the pregnancies had begun so similarly--they were almost the same for the first two trimesters. With both, I had only a few weeks of mild sickness (which meant nausea throughout the day--it was more like all day carsickness) before I hit the second trimester and felt completely better, and I even craved the same things (sausage and hot chocolate) with both pregnancies. The second trimester was my favorite in both pregnancies, mainly because I felt well by then and my belly was small and cute (but looked like more than just a paunch), and there were a few other reasons I loved the second trimester, but a lot of family members read this so I don't want to embarrass them or myself haha.

2. While you'll still probably have some of the same fears during your second pregnancy as you did with your first, you will most likely feel much better acquainted with the experience and might actually be able to enjoy being pregnant a little more! I did! We were so excited to be pregnant again but it was actually easier to keep it a secret longer--we chose to wait until the second trimester. That alone made the pregnancy seem so much shorter (until the third trimester hit anyway--nothing slows time down like waiting on a baby). We waited to tell people (family included) purely for that reason and it really worked out nicely for our second. I think I'd like to try to do the same with our third. We also felt like pros at the doctor's appointments with our second. Instead of bringing a list of questions, I would only ask things I randomly happened to think of on the spot because I felt like I'd covered all the major questions and concerns the first time around. I also only consulted my copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" one time during this pregnancy (the book not the movie, just to clarify;). I just felt like I knew what I was doing for once and it was nice!

3. You will most likely show faster, feel the baby move sooner, and feel significantly more tired. These were definitely true for me. I had a little bump around 13 weeks (I'm also only 5'0" and being petite, the baby has nowhere to go but out) and I believe around then was also when I first felt the "flutters" that those tiny kicks initially feel like. As for tiredness, it makes sense since your first child is probably a toddler or young child (or maybe still just a baby ha!) and chasing a little person is not compatible with growing another person inside you. This is especially the case if your first child requires attention in the middle of the night...Tenley started some bad sleep habits as she got older which made it really challenging to feel fully rested in the morning. Especially once you start having to get up for trips to the bathroom to pee, you feel like your newborn has already arrived. Speaking of having to pee, that happened much sooner and much more frequently during my second pregnancy. Possibly it was because I was only 9 months postpartum when I got pregnant again, but I swear giving birth did a number on my muscles down there. I also did kegels only like a dozen times, so maybe that was the issue.

4. You will love your second child as much as your first. Perhaps my biggest concern going into delivery the second time around (besides hoping and praying for a faster and shorter delivery) was that I would not be able to love my new son as much as I do our daughter. It sounds ridiculous to me now, but I assure you that it was a real concern. I knew I'd love him because he was ours, but it didn't make sense to me that I could love him as much as my daughter whom I'd known longer and spent the last year and a half raising and loving without competition. If you are pregnant with your second (or maybe just thinking about trying for another) and share this fear, let me just lay that aside for you because it's a waste of energy to worry about it. You may not bond as immediately as some women do with their child, but it will happen and it's okay if it takes time. This person might just be a little stranger to you, but it won't be long before you wonder where they've been all your life. And somehow, God made it so your heart will expand to make an equal place for all of your children.

When they handed Declan to me shortly after he was delivered, I was too much in shock that my delivery had been so much faster (that four hours of pushing Tenley out was really engraved in my brain) that I couldn't really process anything. I remember looking at his face and my first thought was "Tenley!" because he looked so much like her. After they brought him back to me once they had dealt with some small respiratory complications, things had calmed down and as soon as he was in my arms again I didn't want anyone taking him away. I couldn't believe that he was actually here and mine, but there was no question about my love for him. It was instant. When I remembered my fear of loving him later on I thought "that was stupid of me." So don't bother thinking about it because that is not worth wasting worry on!

5. My second delivery was completely different than my first--it was both quicker and easier. I got so blessed in this department. Since I was induced both times, that's all I know but my epidural experiences were quite different. With Tenley, the epidural was amazing at first--it only went to my knees so I could still wiggle my feet. After my water broke on its own, the real contractions began. I could not feel the contractions themselves, but I could feel immense pressure from my daughter's head being pressed against my pelvis in the birth canal when a contraction came. Needless to say, it made for a very discouraging and uncomfortable four hours of pushing. With Declan, they had to give me the epidural twice because they'd hit a blood vessel the first time (which did not hurt at all by the way--I had no idea what they'd done until they told me some blood squirted out of my back and Dalin almost passed out). Sadly, the second shot was more painful and seemed to take forever for the guy to finish, but I think it was mainly a challenge for me because Dalin was feeling too lightheaded from the blood spurting to stand by my side or hold my hand. But I understood once I caught a glimpse of his face, poor guy;).

Anyway, the epidural was amazing--I couldn't feel anything this time. I couldn't feel any of the nurse's or doctor's progress checks or when they broke my water. I also did not have the same pressure I'd experienced with Tenley (thank heavens) and in fact, could not feel when to push at all. The nurse had to tell me when to push during a contraction. Thankfully, because of my first birth experience when I had been able to feel when to push, I at least knew how hard I had to push this time around. I also knew that I had to channel the muscles you use for going to the bathroom and I focused completely on that when they instructed me to push. It worked because after fifteen minutes of pushing, my son's head suddenly crowned (much to everyone's surprise) and suddenly it was a mad rush to call my doctor and get him there before I pushed him out (which I easily could have done before that had I even sneezed).

I'm not going to lie to you, the fifteen minutes of waiting for the doctor to arrive while the baby's head was crowning were terrible. Even with the epidural, I could feel a huge amount of pressure at that point and thought I was going to explode if I didn't push him out. I was sobbing and asking why I couldn't just push him out but amidst the confusion I either didn't receive or couldn't discern a clear answer as to why we were waiting. If I had been able to push him out immediately after he crowned instead of waiting those fifteen minutes, my birth would have been basically perfect. I go back and forth on what felt worse--the intense but dulled pelvic pressure for four hours with my daughter, or that sharp pain that came from my son's head crowning and then letting it sit there...I think I'd take the second choice because even as intense as it was, it was fifteen minutes. I'd rather suffer more acute pain for a shorter period than draw it out.

Epidural aside, I also did not vomit or poop (phew!) during this labor or delivery (I did pee since I received a catheter which I just love--but seriously, I do love it because I don't love having to get unhooked from five machines just to use the dang bathroom) so there is hope if you were worried that might happen to you. I did feel nauseous for a short while but it never amounted to anything. I did get labor shakes again shortly after receiving the epidural and they even returned for a while after delivery. They caused my hands to shake and my teeth to chatter incessantly, but it just felt like an extreme adrenaline rush as my body prepared for labor. I was swollen after, but to be honest, I had been so abnormally swollen with my first delivery that by comparison, I didn't think I looked swollen at all.

All in all, my delivery was both quicker and easier the second time--even though my son was bigger than his sister (he weighed in at 8lbs 6oz at 39 weeks). I did bleed quite a bit more the second time which I think surprised everyone, but to be honest, I felt fine after the delivery--great even--and had no idea how concerned the doctor and my husband (who was watching the whole thing) were until they told me later how serious it had been. They gave me shots to help clot the blood faster and a special pill among other things to stop my bleeding. Dalin told me after how freaked out he was by that (since he could clearly tell something was wrong) but I was in euphoria from just giving birth and delivery the placenta and being stitched up did not phase me. What did phase me was how hard they pushed on my uterus afterward to get all the pieces of the placenta and extra blood, etc. out. That actually hurt a little bit, but it only lasted about thirty seconds each time they came to do that.

6. The cramps they say that come with breastfeeding to shrink your uterus (and worsen with subsequent children) may not be what you've heard. I was very worried about this (scratch my previous statement about my biggest worry--I definitely worried about this the last few weeks prior to delivery once I learned about it) and they did hurt, even more than labor for me because my epidural was so effective, but they were tolerable. They reminded me of the kind of period cramps I used to get in high school which would lead me to go home for the first day or so because I was curled up in a ball in the nurse's office. For me, these cramps started when I was about halfway into my breastfeeding and only lasted about five minutes. If they were really bad, I'd stop nursing and they'd fade within a few minutes. They weren't fun, but as I said, they were tolerable, and having had such terrible cramps in high school better prepared me for them. They also only lasted during my stay at the hospital which was a relief. I had been told they might last up to two weeks, but mine were about two and a half days. Anyway, they aren't worth worrying about. Especially because you can take plenty of Motrin and Percocet if you need to.

7. Your breastfeeding experience might be different. Mine actually was pretty similar to nursing Tenley other than that I knew what to expect and how to do it. The hard part was adjusting to a new baby who didn't necessarily nurse the same way Tenley did and learning to be compatible with him. The nipple soreness came back for a few days but thankfully I had been putting on Newman's cream and lanolin for weeks beforehand which I truly believe helps prepare you. And despite my determination to not need to use a nipple shield (which saved my nursing experience with Tenley--I used one for about 4 months which is much longer than recommended), I finally gave in at the urging of my mom and husband since the only reason I was being stubborn about it was that I'd finally adjusted to being without it with Tenley and felt like I should be able to manage without this time, too. The trouble is that I get so much milk in the beginning that I become very engorged and this makes it very hard for a little mouth to get a good grip. So I mostly use the shield. Now that my milk has calmed down some, I go without it when I can, but using the shield is just so much easier and faster--especially because I have so much milk that I'd be soaked every time if Declan couldn't latch right away. I'll probably be done with the shield by two months but I'm not really pushing one way or another. My daughter got plenty of milk (I've been informed that apparently the shield can prevent your baby from getting enough) and I'm confident my son does also. If you have any questions for me about the nipple shield and what it is or how I used it, I'd be happy to answer them.

8. Your recovery may be quicker! That's right! I had the same tear depth (a 2nd degree out of 4), though it was longer this time around, but the stitches seemed to go away much more quickly, for which I was very thankful. Also, despite almost hemorrhaging after delivery, it did not affect my recovery and I stopped bleeding after a week and a half. I still went through the motions, using the squirt bottle, giant pad, numbing spray, and witch hazel for the first week, but after my bleeding stopped I only wore a liner for discharge (and just in case my body was tricking me).

I also felt as though I shrunk back to basically my pre-birth size much faster. I exclusively breastfed both babies and I believe that was a huge help in letting my body recover. I am not one for the exercise...(unless I'm playing tennis or have a regular workout buddy) so this was a big deal for me. I am by no means toned right now, but I fit in basically everything I own (though my hips are basically permanently wider so some of my smaller/tighter workout spandex stuff doesn't feel or look too great). At three and a half weeks postpartum, I feel incredible. I mean, I don't want to run or anything (not that I typically do feel that way...) but I could definitely keep up with my family at the theme parks if I were in Florida with them right now. Just saying. Everyone seems to be surprised when they see me up and about but I feel almost completely back to normal. I can hardly believe I just had a baby less than a month ago. I keep forgetting I'm not pregnant. Overall, I am so pleased with how my recovery has gone and am feeling hopeful that it will be just as quick the next time around. Also, if you're interested, I'll be posting photos of my recovery progress (basically my shrinking belly) in a few days.

Taken at a week postpartum
9. I got stretch marks in entirely new places. Sigh. My belly got it this time. I was a little sad, but it's easy to feel better about them when you realize that you carried a little human in you for nine months--no wonder there's a little physical damage. It's so worth it.

10. Your life will be forever changed--again! But you will adjust. I'm still in that adjusting period so I can't claim to be an expert on how to manage it just yet, but I can see that things are getting easier. Routines are falling into place, Tenley has pretty much adjusted to being a big sister (and isn't emotionally distraught about it like she seemed to be the first week or so), I've gotten back into the pattern of chaotic nighttime feedings (chaotic because I'm like 90% asleep, it's dark, the baby is crying next to me, and milk is leaking everywhere) and figuring out how to keep our apartment at an acceptable level of cleanliness with two young children. (P.S. I know a lot of people can accept when their house goes to heck upon the arrival of a new baby and that's totally fine, but I seriously cannot live in a mess or I'm miserable and unproductive). I am not a supermom--I try to be--I want to be--but I am far too impatient most of the time. I let my temper get the best of me and yell too often, I watch too much TV (and let Tenley use too much technology, which I regret immensely), I eat way too many snacks during the day, and do not take care of myself enough. Most days, I feel like a tired, sticky mess (even when I've showered) who has been sitting in various spots in the living room all day watching way too many episodes of "19 Kids and Counting," nursing a baby for 50% of the day, and bossing a toddler around the other 50%. But I love being a mother. It's my full-time job right now and I want to be the best I can be at it. And I really believe in my heart that things will get easier over time--it just might not be until all of our kids are out of diapers. ;)

Right now, I can hardly believe that we're only five days away from hitting the one month mark of Declan's birth already and that it will be March by then (weird February with it's 28 days is messing up my brain since Declan was born January 30th). I knew time flew with Tenley, but it's hard to accept that it's already happening again. So as hard as it is sometimes, I'm going to try to cherish every moment and remember that one day I won't have little children brightening my home anymore.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! If you have comments or questions, leave them below! I look forward to them happily :)

Monday, February 23

Toddler Leashes

I totally understand them now. I used to think it was so weird to put your child on a leash like a little puppy but I really get it. Especially if you are small and weak like me with two babies to transport. It's hard to have a 17 lb car seat (that's including the baby) on one arm and a 20-something lb toddler on your hip, particularly when you're recovering and not supposed to be lifting more than the weight of your baby (I've always been bad at obeying the lifting rules...which is probably why my back aches like an elderly person's during pregnancy). 

Before Declan was born, I was overwhelmed at the thought of going out in public with a toddler and a newborn in a heavy car seat. I could barely lift Tenley's car seat alone when she was a newborn. And let me just tell you that toddlers can be fast when they want to be despite those skinny little legs they're running on! It only took one instance of me setting Tenley down by the car when I was almost 9 months pregnant then her immediately running out into the lot for me to realize that I canNOT set her down or she will get hit by a car. But at the same time, I also could not carry her and a car seat all the time. Thus, finding this little backpack leash--and trading in our old car seat at Babies 'R Us for a lightweight one--for $75 with the trade-in credit--has made all the difference for me. 

Now I can walk out the door with Declan's car seat in one hand and (once I carry Tenley down the flight of stairs) have Tenley walk along next to me without having to worry about her taking off in the parking lot and getting hit. I try to have her hold my free hand when we're crossing the parking lot anyway, but I feel much better having the assurance that if she did manage to escape, she wouldn't get far and I wouldn't have to chase her down with a car seat in tow. 

Also, did I mention she loves it? We try to keep the backpack a special thing that she only gets to wear when we go out, and she loves that it fits her perfectly and that she can carry some of her own things in it. I also think it's really cute (we got blue and green so it's more gender neutral obviously) and would have bought it even if it didn't come with a leash! 

Did anyone else think (or still think--it's okay if you do--) that using a leash for your child was weird?

Does anyone else use one for your little kids?

Wednesday, February 18

What We've Been Doing...18 Days Postpartum

I am so sorry dear blog readers for taking so much time off! Of course I am busy as a new mom to two, but not so busy that I haven't had time to write. Well, actually I have been so busy that I haven't had time to write but that's only because my mom has been here and we've been doing several things that I never would have had time to do otherwise.

Like clean and organize practically every inch of Tenley and Declan's room. We bought some cute neutral bins at IKEA and moved things around, deleted clutter, made lots of trips to the dumpster (well my mom did--she's a trooper), and also donated a ton of stuff. We even went through the two giant air-tight bags of girl baby clothes from 0-9 months that I had intended to keep for any future daughters and eliminated more than half of it (which was a relief once I actually permitted myself to let things go). We better organized my gift bags and craft paper, sorted through my jewelry (90% of which I've basically had since high school), and did lots of reorganizing.

Basically the only thing we didn't get to was going through our clothes (mainly our shirts) and taking out the too-small, never-worn ones to toss out (and by toss, I mean donate). But, I figure I can do that on my own if I must. I might even start that process now since my mom just folded some clean laundry and I need a place to put it (our giant, shared wardrobe is way too full--we really can afford to lose some shirts).

Despite our busy lives lately, I did post my favorite pics from our recent family/newborn photo shoot yesterday. Check them out asap if you missed them on Facebook--they are incredibly gorgeous.

So, I am really sad about my mom leaving today--also jealous--she's flying to Florida for my parents' 25th anniversary--but I am tremendously grateful that she was able to be here these past three weeks. Just like with Tenley's birth, time really flew by and I can't even possibly describe all the many things she did for us and our gratitude for her. I am a really, really lucky daughter. I'm also glad my mom and I have the same feelings about cleaning and organization--I think that was one of my favorite little things we did together, which might sound lame to some, but having a clean home makes me really happy and eliminates a huge amount of stress. Plus it was SO satisfying to see the end results. And now I feel really good knowing where (pretty much) everything is.

As for baby updates, I wish I could just show you all the stuff from Facebook and Instagram if you aren't my friends in those places, but perhaps you should just get on that because there are way too many photos that I share daily.

Here are just a few favorites from the last week or so:

As you can see, there's a lot of sleeping on Declan's part and kissing on Tenley's. She's such a loving big sister. 

Anyway I hope you enjoyed those precious little moments. I've got to get to sleep!!

Tuesday, February 17

The Little Gunnell Family Photos 2015

Now that we are a family of four, it feels incredibly wonderful to have some beautiful photos of all of us to admire. I am so in love with them. You don't even know!

And I can't even type anymore because I'm so excited to show them to you, so without further ado....

So obviously, these are kind of beautiful and I can't believe how well they turned out (well I can, but seriously Samantha made us look amazing) and how am I supposed to narrow down my favorites for a gallery wall??? They're all my favorites!

But that's my issue to deal with. Anyway, Samantha (from Samantha Rizzo Photography) even made this precious slideshow of our family's little gallery. It's on Youtube and it even has some lovely music. It makes me want to cry from joy every time I watch and listen to it!

I hope you loved checking these out as much as I did! I know this is ridiculous, but looking at these pictures makes me so excited to see how our family grows and eager to watch how my oldest two children change and mature. I also can't wait to see the relationship that Tenley and Declan develop. I love our little family so much.

Thanks a million, Samantha Rizzo Photography for capturing this time in our lives so beautifully!

Sunday, February 8

Emily's Incredible Chocolate Sheet Cake

Okay, I am not exaggerating a bit when I tell you this is the best homemade chocolate dessert I have ever had. My neighbor and friend Emily brought over a plate with three big pieces on it and it looked so amazing I immediately tried one. Then, it was so freaking good that I ate another piece. And then I wanted to leave the last piece for Dalin because, frankly I'd already eaten 2/3 of the plate and it was like 10pm, but he said he wasn't hungry right then and total lack of self-control (either due to pregnancy or just my being hungry for more) took over and I ate the third piece. Yes, it is kind of embarrassing to admit this, but do I regret it? Not really, except that Dalin told me he was ready to try it the next morning (though he may have been joking with me--I can never tell) and I had to tell him it was far too late for that.

So then I obviously had to get the recipe because the dessert was so incredible and Dalin was never going to know it unless I made it myself. Fortunately, Emily was a saint and sent it to me right away and now I am here to share it with you. Because that much goodness has to be shared.

Cake Ingredients: 
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa
2 sticks butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk (or substitute with milk or almond milk and a little bit of vinegar)
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans OR almonds
3/4 to 1 stick of butter
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb. minus 1/2 cup (or about 4 cups) of powdered sugar

1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl
2. Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in cocoa. Add boiling water and let boil for 30 seconds, then turn heat off. Add to flour mixture and stir.
3. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla to mixture.
4. Pour completed mixture into about a 18x13" baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

5. Make the icing by melting butter in a saucepan and adding cocoa. Once stirred in, turn heat off.
6. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Then add the chopped nuts. Pour over warm cake.
7. Enjoy and thank me later for this incredibly delectable chocolately dessert (so I can in turn thank Emily for you:)

It may sound like a lot of ingredients to work with, but I can't tell you how worth it it is!

I'd love to hear if you try this dessert and how it turned out for you!

Happy baking:)

Friday, February 6

1 Week Little: Declan

Like Tenley, Declan has proved to be an incredibly easy newborn--at least for the first week of his life. I'll admit--I have been really lucky with my babies so far and I sure know it and do not take it for granted. When I hear about everyone else's trying experiences with their new babies I usually find myself thinking, "Wow, that has not been my experience at all." That is not to say that motherhood hasn't been hard, but I have definitely found that the struggles I've faced in motherhood have come mainly with disciplining and caring for a very independent toddler. But anyway, Declan has a similar temperament to his sister but he definitely does things that set him apart.

Here are the things I've noticed:

He loves his sleep just like his sister did. I swear he sleeps like 20 hours a day instead of the average 16-18. I have to wake him up to feed him (because I'm usually dying by then if I've gone too long without breastfeeding) and then try all kinds of tactics to keep him awake during the feeding. Like tickling his feet, blowing on his face, unbuttoning his clothes, using a wet washcloth--he seriously sleeps like a little rock and can barely get through a solid feeding.

Declan cries when he wants to eat, when he gets changed (usually once the wipe touches his bum), or when he wants his pacifier. He cries more than Tenley did, but still way less than most babies.

Speaking of his pacifier, Declan loves it. Tenley took one for a short period of time, but never was attached to it the way Declan is. He sucks on his paci for half the day it seems and I think it's so cute:)

He is not a fan of being cold. Total opposite of Tenley. She is constantly taking her clothes off because she's hot. Declan starts shivering as soon as I start to undress him. He hates cold wet wipes. I have his paci ready for all diaper changes which helps distract him. But as soon as his new onesie is on or he's wrapped in a blanket he's happy.

He had some jaundice but his levels started and ended much lower than Tenley's. We had to go in for a 48 hour test (Ten had to do 24 hours several times) but luckily his bilirubin count was low. No bili-blanket or crib for him, thankfully!

He wakes up like once a night. Last night, I had to wake him up because I had so much milk and was going to die if he didn't wake up and eat. Then it was so hard to keep him awake long enough to get through the feeding. He and Tenley love their beauty sleep haha. I'm really praying that doesn't change!

He loves snuggles. He pretty much falls asleep at a person's touch. I love sleeping with his little body close to mine. I feel more secure with him near me and he's more restless unless Dalin or I is right by him.

Here are some photos of our little man during his first week:

That's about all I can think of for now. He is just a chill, quiet baby and we love him like crazy!

We are really, really blessed to have him in our family.

Thursday, February 5

Life with a toddler and a newborn

is hard.

I mean, there are always good and bad parts to everything, but seriously, it is a hard thing.

Thankfully, I've been blessed with a mother who is the most amazing homemaker I've ever seen. I can't even list half of the things she's done already in the one week she has been here, but I will sure try:

  • She filled our fridge. Seriously, it's amazing to have so much produce and so many snacks on hand. I haven't said "There is nothing to eat" once since she's been here. And it seems like we end up saying that a lot usually.
  • We cleaned out the freezer and pantry and stocked them with stuff we actually use.
  • We put Declan's clothes and blankets and burp clothes away in bins and on hangers.
  • She did a ton of laundry. Thank goodness she enjoys that because I do not and especially lugging it out to the laundry building. Also thank goodness, it's been in the 50s here with no snow in sight (other than in the mountains--I'm not sad about that at all).
  • She stocked us up with diapers and wipes (and thankfully we also received some of the above from good friends). 
  • She had the apartment sparkling clean when we came home from the hospital--beds made, everything organized and put enabled me to breath a sigh of relief to come home to a stress-free environment. 
  • She cooks delicious food for us and does the dishes afterward. 
  • She runs errands for me. I have been trying to clean out/donate several things and she helped me go through them and bring them to DI. 
  • She helped me through my labor and delivery when she wasn't watching Tenley. 
  • She has helped hugely with Tenley. Feeding and changing her, snuggling her and distracting her in the early morning, taking her on outings--this has probably been more of a help even than anything else. 
Truly, having my mom here has been a giant blessing and we are so lucky she's here for two more weeks! I just know they're going to fly by--they did with Tenley. And lucky me, Dalin loves having her here. She always does so much for us that we feel bad about it, but she reminds us that ordinarily she doesn't always get to do as much as she'd like to because of the distance. 

Definitely the most difficult part of this journey in parenting two so far has been Tenley. I love that girl SO much and she is really a wonderful (and comparably easy) toddler but it is hard seeing her struggle with understanding the new dynamic of our home. She loves babies and has been even more helpful with Declan than I foresaw (telling me when he's crying, fetching diapers and wipes, getting his paci and burp cloths for me, trying to put his paci back in his mouth when it falls out) but she has also been ultra-sensitive to how Dalin and I treat her. If we tell her "no" too often or especially with things related to the baby, her lips go into a tiny little pout and tears well up in her eyes. It makes me cry almost every single time because I feel so bad seeing her like that. She never did that before Declan was born. 

Fortunately, the last two days there has been a giant leap in how she behaves. She still is a little naughty because she can get away with so much, but it is clear she cares about her little brother and is excited to have him here. When she hears him crying, her eyes get wide and she drops her jaw and looks at me, like "help, Mom!" Sometimes she even tells me to help him if I'm taking too long. It's so cute. She's such a smart girl. She is still my comforting little snuggler and makes me feel better when I'm sad or stressed. Tenley is clearly a leader and is going to make the most protective, loyal, and concerned big sister--I see it already. I can't wait to see how Declan comes to know and love his sister. 

Declan turns one week old tomorrow! I can't believe it. It's like he was always here. I'm scared he is going to grow up too fast. Tenley has already...I swear she gained twenty pounds since Declan was born. She suddenly looks huge and feels super dense to me. I'm like how could I possibly have such a big grown-up girl and now a tiny and new little boy? It's surreal. But I love our family and I'm already excited for the inevitable joy our future babies are sure to bring us:) 

Anyway, in other news, it was Dalin's 25th birthday today. Poor guy had to work all day from 7am-11pm so we are celebrating tomorrow (on his sister Cassie's birthday...). My mom helped me put together a little collection of treats to leave in the car for Dalin before he headed to work this morning, including some Raisinets, York minis, and other stuff. We also ordered an ice cream cake for him to pick up tomorrow (shhh! JK, he definitely picked out the flavors so he knows). I can't wait to give him the little gifts from me and the babies! It's going to be fun.
K I'd better go before I start talking about how much I love Dalin and Tenley and Declan. 

Lots and lots of sibling kisses every day:)

Happy Friday (in advance!)