While Ben is a very happy guy, he isn’t quite capable of following our voices from 5 feet away to see that we’re smiling and reciprocate. This month’s picture was the first one I took as Ben was watching his dad walk away, hence the little smile and head turn.
Today you are two months old! It never fails to amaze me how different a baby is at 2 months than at 1 month. You still don’t do much except grow, but you have a personality and clear likes and dislikes and much improved ways of demonstrating the former.
I’m talking about your smile, if that wasn’t obvious. It’s magnificent. Your whole sweet face lights up and usually it comes with the sweetest little coo ever. Lately your dad is the most frequent recipient of the smile and sometimes all he has to do is talk to you from across the room for you to light up. I cannot tell you how great your smile is. I really can’t. It’s just the absolute best.
You have no idea how loved you are and by how many people. Your brothers, especially William is just overcome with his love for you literally every day. Elijah loves you deeply as well, but he’s busier and less free with this expressions of it. You got to meet your extended family (on my side) earlier this month and it’s safe to say that the circle of people who loves you is wider than you can imagine.
You continue to be an eater, gaining about a pound a week right now. You’re sleeping more and for longer periods at a time, but you still prefer to eat about every 2 hours when you’re awake. You pretty much only cry when you’re hungry or overtired and the solution to both is usually nursing. And I’m not complaining because I get all the snuggles. And because your thighs are magnificent.
To me, you now seem so big. No longer that tiny fragile newborn that you were, but a sturdy baby with questionable head control. Putting away all the newborn clothes made me cry because this was their final use and I’m not ready for my last baby to be grown. I suspect this will be a common emotion I have as you grow. I’ll do my best to not let it hold you back, but I make no promises.
Your likes this month include mom, dad, William, Elijah, nursing, being held for naps, nursing, the mirror on your playmat, pacifiers but ONLY in the car seat, and when anyone sings to you, but especially when your dad sings Les Miserables to you.
Your dislikes this month include riding in the car, especially if the car dares to stop moving momentarily, baths when you’re overtired, not being allowed to eat the moment you want to, when your mother attempts to set you down instead of holding you when you’re sleepy.
There are days where I kind of wish you could be put down more, but then I look at you and remember how small this window of time is. This window where you want to be held, where I am your home base, your safe place. And I know that there will be time for cleaning and for cooking and for the other errands that need to be run. But there won’t always be a baby who wants to be snuggled, who sleeps best on my chest or in my arms. Who wants to nurse themselves into sleep right where they are.
I came across a poem a few weeks ago called Babies Don’t Keep by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton that perfectly captured this feeling. The final stanza reads,
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
These are the words I’m living by right now. The house is messy. Our meals aren’t perfectly complete or always the healthiest. But you are only going to be small for this moment and a few after and I’d rather be holding you, just like I held your brothers, than doing anything else. The rest can wait, because you, your babyhood, cannot.
Each day I’m grateful for you, that you are here, that you are ours. I am wistful about how quickly you’re growing, but it doesn’t diminish, at all, the deep and endless love I have for you. I hope you know now and forever how deeply loved you are.
Happy 2 months, baby boy. We love you so much and can’t wait to see what next month brings.
Today you are 1 month old! I’ll probably say this many times in the future, but this has been both a long and a very short month. I can’t believe my last baby isn’t a newborn anymore, but your birth also feels like a light year ago. Time is very strange that way.
We are still getting to know you and every time I think we’ve got you figured out, you change things up. It certainly keeps life exciting.
You still have your gorgeous soft baby hair, which strangers comment on all the time. But you are no longer a teeny tiny guy like you were at birth, now you have cheeks and chunk to spare. A mom of a kid in Elijah’s class stopped me today to comment on how much you’ve grown in just two and a half weeks. She’s not wrong.
The cheeks are abundant because you are a nursing addict. I’m typing this with one hand on my phone because you will only stop crying tonight when you’re eating, which is a pretty common occurrence. Thankfully you have a great latch and we’ve had a lot of help because nursing all day does not lend itself to multitasking very well.
You have the sweetest eyes in the world and I swear you see more than every textbook says you can. Even before you should have been able to see basically anything, you would look at us with such focus, like lock eyes with us. It was like you might start a conversation at any moment. There’s something about you that I just can’t put my finger on. You even looked me in the eyes and smiled right at me last week, even though you shouldn’t be socially smiling for another few weeks.
Your likes this month include: nursing, being held, nursing, overhead lighting and/or fans, being held, nursing.
Your dislikes include: car rides, baths, pacifiers (unless you’re super tired), being swaddled, being put down.
For a lot of this month, it’s just been you and me. First because we were both recovering from your birth. Then because your brothers went back to school and your dad went back to work. You’re just my tiny buddy- you go everywhere with me and I love nothing more in this world than snuggling with you. It might seem like I wish you’d nurse less, but the truth is I’m more than happy to feed and hold you every moment I can. During the day especially.
The time is going so fast already and I know in a few short months, these snuggles will be replaced with proper naps and reasonable bedtimes and while I won’t miss the intensity of the sleep deprivation, I’ll miss having my snuggle buddy.
I’m so excited to get to know you and to learn who you are. We’ve waited a long time for you and we’re so glad that you completed our family. We love you in a way that defies words, in a way that someday you will know when you have your own baby and you realize how inadequate words are for describing this kind of love.
Happy 1 month, my sweet baby. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what next month will bring.
While I think I wrote about the birth of Elijah and William much earlier than I’m getting around to writing about Benjamin’s birth, it isn’t because he’s the third child. Well, actually it is, but not in the way you’d think. This post is delayed because I am savoring every second with my family. I am holding my newborn as much as I want, without apology. I’m not in a rush to write because we are just busy living (also why this blog has been inactive for so long- life! It’s great!). And while I have wanted to write this down (for posterity and the ten of you who are interested), it was just less important than taking time with my family of five.
When we were trying to pick a name in the hours after he was born, I googled to find out what Benjamin meant and one website had it listed as “son of my pain” and yep. That could be the title of my birth story. A birth story that is dramatic only because I am dramatic. It was basically the most uneventful labor and delivery of all time.
My official due date was 8/18 and I had expected that he would be born right around that day. At my OB appointment on 8/8, I was 2.5cm dilated and 50% effaced. This didn’t seem terribly impressive since I was way more dilated with both Eli and Will for over a week before their births. While I was entirely physically miserable and embarrassingly over the top hormonal, I had mentally prepared that I’d see my OB on the 16th, she’d strip my membranes and labor would follow in a day or two. That’s…not what happened.
Friday (8/11) was a normal day. I went to a nice lunch with my husband (who worked from home that day), got the kids from preschool (their last day before a two week break) and took them and my niece out for ice cream in the afternoon. The evening proceeded as normal and I went to bed at 10ish.
I woke up from a weird work related dream at 12:45 and felt crampy. This wasn’t unusual and I didn’t think I was in labor, but I couldn’t go back to sleep (also not unusual), so I laid in bed and watched Friends for a while. At around 2, my husband came to bed (he’d slept for 3 hours in the middle of the day due to a horrendous migraine, so he was up late catching up on work). I still wasn’t in labor, but I suggested that he not go to bed just yet. I took a shower and at 2:30 we sat down to watch a TV show on the couch. At about 2:45, I realized that I had had 4 contractions since the show started and while they weren’t all that painful, I felt a lot of pressure and maybe this wasn’t nothing after all?
Since my labor with Will wasn’t terribly long and the hospital is 40 minutes away, we called my sister at 3am and headed out. The contractions continued but just didn’t really get terrible. I walked from the car to the hospital through multiple contractions, talking and generally feeling like this was going to be an embarrassing false alarm. I got admitted around 4:15am and was 4.5cm and 70% effaced with contractions every 2-3 minutes. The contractions were uncomfortable, but they were shorter than what I remembered with Eli and Will and I was managing them well. I really thought they were going to observe me and discharge me.
I labored pretty easily for the next two hours, though I made my request for an epidural known from the start because I am just not a person who has ever desired an unmedicated labor. It took a while to get through the admission process, then get the blood work done, then get the IV going. When this was all done at 6:30, the nurse told me the anesthesiologist was in a c-section but that he would come when they were done. She checked me again and I was about 5.5cm dilated and fully effaced. Two minutes later in the middle of a contraction I had a horrible pain (it felt literally like the baby had stabbed me) and ten seconds later, my water broke. It was only at this point that I realized that oh, this really was labor.
The nurse checked me again to confirm it was my water and I was 6cm dilated and baby was at zero station. She warned me of what I already knew- that my easy labor was about to get significantly less pleasant. Even with an epidural I felt how much worse contractions were once my water was broken with my big kids and I was not thrilled.
25 indescribably painful minutes later, my body started trying to push through contractions. I told my nurse that I knew it sounded crazy, but I had a ton of pressure (on top of holy shit pain) and physically could not stop pushing. She checked me again and I was already fully dilated, which explained why the previous 25 minutes had been so awful. At this point my husband asked the nurse if I was getting an epidural and she confirmed that wouldn’t be happening. I had suspected from when my water broke that I wouldn’t be getting it, but hearing it out loud was the worst (my husband later said that he knew it would be hard to hear but that he thought it would help me get in the right head space to finish the labor. He was absolutely right. I still cried.)
For the next 20 minutes, each contraction was me fighting against my body. I had never felt the urge to push with Eli or Will (yay epidurals!), so this was totally foreign. The pain was horrendous, but trying not to let my body push (the baby was still too high for delivery) was 100x worse.
My nurse was an absolute godsend- she stayed by my bedside for the entire time and held up her finger through each contraction and had me pretend it was a candle. I blew out that freaking candle like it was my job. I felt so ridiculous blowing on a stranger’s finger but it worked and that’s all that mattered. I don’t want to make it sound like my husband wasn’t also helpful because he was, but he and I were both so out of our element that the nurse was totally in charge. Despite this being my third labor, I really felt like I had never done this before.
At 7:15 my nurse had to swap out because her shift was over. During the world’s fastest shift change report (because her high maintenance patient (read: me) needed her desperately), I started to feel an unbelievable amount of pressure. The new nurse checked me and said I was definitely complete, but he was still at +1 station, so it wouldn’t be long but I wasn’t quite ready to push yet. She stepped out to grab a doctor since we were getting close. A med student came in and got gowned and gloved and just as the resident stepped into the room, a contraction started and suddenly the baby’s head was out. Everyone all at once screamed for me not to push, as though I did it on purpose (at which point I screamed back, super rationally, “I THINK HE JUST RIPPED ME IN HAAAAAAALF.”) and they all started scrambling to get gloves and get the baby.
Moments later, without any intentional pushing on my part, he was out. I have never, in the entirety of my life, experienced anything that painful. I’ve also never experienced relief like when he was completely out.
Benjamin Andrew was born at 7:20am on Saturday August 12th. He weighed in at 6 pounds and 12 ounces, and was 19 inches long, making him the smallest of our bunch. I never wanted an unmedicated labor (and was woefully unprepared for it), but the reward was worth it.
We were discharged on Sunday and of course, after months of my children being perfectly healthy, William spiked a 101 degree fever that morning. We decided that I’d stay in the master bedroom with Ben until Will was healthy, but it was damn near impossible to fully seclude ourselves. Elijah wanted so badly to see the baby, but he’d been around William all morning and he’s 5, so his understanding of germ management is zero. My mom and husband wanted to help me but they were helping William and it just started to feel like it would be impossible to keep the germs out. Without a doubt, a lot (all?) of this anxiety was postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation and in hindsight, I’m sure we would’ve been fine at home. But in that moment I felt an overwhelming need to protect Ben and I was sure I couldn’t do that in my house.
So Ben and I headed to my sister’s house, and stayed in her guest room. Will’s fever broke the next day and my saint of a mother worked feverishly to disinfect the house. We came home the next night and have happily been here since. I won’t say that I regret going to my sister’s house because it’s what I felt I needed to do in that moment, but it’s not something I plan to do again.
The boys absolutely adore their baby brother and it’s so abundantly clear that our family is complete. It feels like Ben was our missing piece and now we are whole. He is the sweetest baby and we are all loving every second with him. Each day I wake up and feel like the luckiest person on earth to have this house full of boys. I never knew you could feel so much love for so many people at once and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life savoring this feeling.
I can’t believe how much this kid has grown and changed this year. Truly. He’s just a full fledged kid now. He was sick and we had to pull him out of bed to take this picture (I set an alarm and everything, but somehow missed it), but the outcome was surprisingly good.
Today you are three years old! I will not pretend for one second like I can’t believe it because honestly it feels like you’ve been two for much longer than a year (not because of behavior, just, this has been the longest year ever) and you are so perfectly 3.
This year has been a big one. You started preschool at Elijah’s school, we moved to a new house and a few days ago you became a big brother after months of anticipation. You have changed so much from last year that when a video popped up I was sure they had mislabeled it 1 year ago when it was really two. But nope. You’ve grown almost an unbelievable amount.
You are smart. Like super clever, tricky and difficult smart. The other day I was helping you into a pull up and you were intentionally lifting the wrong leg for the leg hole I had open for you. After 10 times or giving me the wrong leg and laughing maniacally, I turned the pull up around, you flashed a grin and lifted the other leg. This is classic William. We laugh with you every single day.
You are the sweetest little boy when it comes to small things. You adore small stuffed animals and care for them so tenderly. When you met your baby brother in the hospital you just wanted to pet him and immediately told me that you loved him and that he was SO cute. It’s one of my favorite things about you- for as strong willed as you can be, you’re also extremely kind hearted.
You do continue the streak of strong willed behavior. We potty trained you in May, which was not great. You were acing pee and doing okay at school and then one day you were just done. You decided you would not be peeing at school with any teacher no matter what and so far you’ve been true to your word. We tried to tell you that all your friends are moving to a new class and you can’t move until you pee in the potty at school and you shrugged and said, “I don’t want friends.” I mean, how am I supposed to respond to that?
Your likes right now include: puzzles, PB&J, dinosaur chicken nuggets, Wild Kratts, The Lion King (especially Hakuna Matata, which you sing allllll the time), Aladdin, Elijah, baby brother, mom, dad, Ritz crackers, yelling “no! never!” whenever I ask you to do things.
Your dislikes include: pretty much any food other than PB&J, Dino chicken and ritz crackers, napping, rear facing in the car, when Elijah very intentionally does things to make you mad, stopping what you’re doing to pee, anything you don’t explicitly choose for yourself.
This year has had its ups and downs and there have been points where I have felt totally out of my parenting league when it comes to raising you. But we made it and we’re both better for it. Your passions continue to run deep and it’s not a thing I want to change. I love that you have strong emotions. I love that you know what you want. I don’t think these are bad things and with a lot of effort on your part and ours, I think we’ve been able to encourage and harness your passions.
I want, above all else, for you to be whoever and whatever you dream of being. I want you to use the passion you have to take you somewhere great in this life, to do something that matters. I can see a spark in you that burns brightly and I know it will lead to amazing things down the road. We’ve only begun to learn about what you have planned and I am so glad to be along for the ride.
It would be impossible to tell you how much I love you because words cannot describe such a tremendous thing, but know that I could not be who I am without you and that every day is better for having you in it. No one is as fortunate as me, because I get to be your mom and there’s just absolutely nothing better.
Happiest of birthdays, son. I love you so very much and cannot wait to see what next year brings.
I still can’t believe my baby is 5. It just seems impossible. And yet, if you spent even a moment with him, you would see he is so perfectly 5 years old that you would absolutely believe it.
Today you are 5 years old! You have been counting down the days until your birthday for weeks now, convinced that overnight you would grow several inches and be as tall as your other friends who are 5. While that was a bit of a let down, it didn’t stop you for long, which is pretty much the best way to describe who you are right now.
You are a delight. Truly, age 4 has been the promised land that everyone said it was. And you were a very easy 2 and 3 year old, but age 4 has just been the best. I have enjoyed every moment of it.
You came out of your shell in a huge way this year. You basically speak in exclamation points and are not the least bit hesitant to share random facts with complete strangers. You want to tell me every fact you know and correct every fact you perceive to be incorrect. “Actually” has become one of your favorite words, much to my not so great delight. There are times where you and I will be having a serious talk about a behavior that wasn’t okay or a choice you shouldn’t have made and I’ll ask you if you understand and you will affirm that you do and then immediately say something like, “did you know that rolly pollies are like trilobites?” like that’s exactly what we were discussing.
You have come to LOVE art this year. This surprised me because last year in school, you did the bare minimum, never really attempting to draw or write anything that wasn’t expressly requested of you, but you have more than made up for that this year. Every Friday when I pick you up from school, there is a massive pile of papers that you have colored throughout the week. Not like coordinated art projects, like, in aftercare when you get to choose your own adventure, you almost always choose to draw. One day a few months ago, I was laying on the couch feeling completely terrible with a migraine. It was your quiet rest time and you crept quietly into the living room and laid a paper on my stomach saying, “mom, I know your head hurts, so I made you these cheetahs.” The picture is now framed on a wall because I treasure it so entirely.
One of the things I love the very most about you is that you are an eternal optimist. Even when our plans aren’t what you want, you are constantly finding ways to make them better. You will often suggest a completely implausible thing for us to do and immediately follow it with, “is that a great idea mom?” Like every kid you get disappointed, and you continue to be sweet and sensitive, but you have a way to finding a bright side when I don’t expect it.
We registered you for kindergarten this winter and you will start in August. We don’t know what school you’ll be at yet, but your preschool teacher feels very certain that you’re ready. I might not be, but you are. I picked up some early reading books and you have astounded me with your ability to sound out words and read short books. It’s not that I doubted you, it’s that this just sort of snuck up on me. I don’t know the first thing about teaching a kid to read, so that you’re already figuring so much of it out, is completely incredible to me.
Your likes include: the color red, chocolate chip cookies (your favorite food according to you today), all animals except skunks, museums, your brother (most of the time), your family, any carbohydrate based food, school, reading, coloring, swimming, baking with me, baseball, tv and being outside.
Your dislikes include: just about any food with protein, the colors pink and purple, skunks (though you’ve never seen one), taking “taste bites” of any vaguely new food, when William knocks you over or steals your paper or does any of the 480249209 different things he loves to do to bother you, that we don’t allow you to say the word butt.
There are a lot of things you’re looking forward to this year, and I am too. The start of kindergarten. A new baby brother. Life in our “new” house. But what I am most looking forward to is really getting to know you. To learn what makes you different from every other 5 year old. To find out what makes you tick, to find out the kind of person you will become.
There are days where the responsibility of raising good men in you and your brothers feels overwhelming. But I see you, I see your sweet, pure, loving heart and I know that the good person I want to raise is already there. You are one of the kindest, most sensitive young boys I have ever met. Your ability to love and to be happy and to choose kindness, never fails to amaze me. Your brother will knock you down 10 times and each time, you will refuse to retaliate. Your friends will tell you that they don’t want to play with you (for typical 5 year old reasons), but you do not throw the same words back at them. While I would like to pretend that I am the reason for this, I know that I’m not. It’s who you are, at your very core. I didn’t mold that, but I am in constant awe of it and I hope in my heart of hearts, that it never changes. That you forever find ways to choose kindness, even when it may not be the easiest choice.
I didn’t think I’d have so many feelings about my first baby turning 5, but I do. You are growing up so very fast and where there was a baby and then a toddler, there is now a little boy. A little boy that I love so much that words to describe it fail me completely. I am constantly amazed that I am the one single person in this world who gets to be your mother, because it almost seems impossible that I’d get that lucky.
I have loved you since the moment I knew you existed and nothing you could ever do will change that. I am grateful every single day that you’re mine. I love you to the moon and back, my sweet boy.
You don’t know me and I’m not one of your constituents, but I’m writing to you anyway because you said something earlier this week that I think needs a response.
I will be very upfront with my biases. I’m a democrat. I’m a far left, war hating, abortion rights protecting, climate change accepting, welfare protecting liberal. Probably what you’d call a snowflake to your friends. Probably we were never going to agree on healthcare as I have been a proponent of the ACA from day one, but I believe strongly that civil discourse is the foundation of civilization, so I am writing to you despite all of the above facts.
Earlier this week, in an interview, you suggested that people with pre-existing conditions, those who were finally protected under the ACA and stand to lose A LOT under the AHCA, don’t lead good lives. Specifically, you said that the AHCA will be an improvement as it will work at “…reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy.” And that “…right now, those are the people who have done things the right way that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”
So basically, sick people will pay more because clearly they have done something to deserve their conditions and they should pay more than a healthy person to receive medical care for them. I think that was the gist of your comment.
Congressman Brooks, I’d like to tell you the story of a pair of brothers I know.
The older brother was born a profoundly, blissfully healthy baby. 6 perfect pounds and 15 gorgeous ounces of healthy baby boy. He had your average first year of life colds from attending daycare (a necessity due to having working parents who had to leave him at 12 weeks to pay back their student loans, another issue for another time), but by your definition, he was leading a “good life.” He even liked vegetables and ate them daily.
When this boy was 10 months old, he crawled off a bed and hit his head on a very hard floor. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (a large subdural hematoma) later that day and spent several days in the hospital. His medical chart will forever be emblazoned with the TBI diagnosis and while his latest MRI was normal, we don’t fully know what all the long term consequences will be.
He is one of those people who you feel is not living a good life- he’s a person with a pre-existing condition. A person who before the ACA, would not have been able to get even remotely reasonably priced health insurance. Because he fell off a bed. Does he not deserve the same healthcare at the same cost as you? Or is that one incident such an indicator of a “bad life” that for his whole lifetime his healthcare costs should be higher than yours, like some sort of terrible healthcare penance?
Or how about his brother? Born healthy following an unremarkable pregnancy and delivery. He was the most lovely, happy, healthy growing baby until he hit 4 months old. At 4 months his loose upper esophageal sphincter and over production of stomach acid caused him so much discomfort that he could not eat. That he began having pseudoseizures from the pain. He was breastfeeding, which is pretty much as high quality a diet as you can get, which I think should mean that for all intents and purposes, he was living a good life, and yet, he was diagnosed with GERD. A diagnosis that will follow him forever. Where did he go wrong in his journey? Why does his GERD mean that he shouldn’t get the same healthcare you get at the same cost? Have you never popped an antacid? Does that mean you are not living a good life?
Maybe you weren’t talking about my kids when you made that comment, in fact, I’m sure you think you weren’t because you don’t really think that a nearly 5 year old and a 2.5 year old are to blame for their pre-existing conditions. Except, you actually do. They are the exact kind of people whose healthcare will cost more and who will have fewer insurance options to choose from, because in their earliest months of life, before they knew up from down, they were given a diagnosis that cannot be discharged from their medical histories. Because one had the misfortune of falling off a tall bed and because the other inherited a loose sphincter.
Explain to me why it should cost more for them to see their pediatrician when they have an ear ache than it would a child who didn’t have a TBI or didn’t have GERD? Explain to me why they should not be able to get the exact same coverage as your grandchildren at the very same cost?
Why should our children (oh, spoiler alert, they’re my kids) not be covered at the exact same cost as every other nearly 5 year old and 2.5 year old? We already pay more because they have gone to the doctor more (hence copays and testing that is not covered) and because one of them was hospitalized, do we need further penalties? We’re not asking for free healthcare for our kids. We are happy to pay for insurance and pay our copays and do what needs to be done. We’re asking that their healthcare be the same cost for them as for every other child. That they not be punished for pre-existing conditions that they can do nothing about.
Why should anyone who has the misfortune of needing to access healthcare have to pay more than a person who doesn’t? And why do you and several hundred other old white men get to decide if people are leading “good enough lives” to get the same coverage you have at the same cost?
Before you make comments about people deserving their pre-existing conditions, please consider how you’d feel if one of your 8 grandkids had a pre-existing condition that they didn’t somehow “earn” for themselves. Or if your loved was diagnosed with a cancer that wasn’t the result of some poor choice on their part. Would you want them to suffer or their family to be bankrupted to get them the same essential care that you have access to because of your health insurance plan?
When you have a moment, I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have for teaching infants to lead good lives. See, my third son is due in August and I’d hate for him to follow in his brothers’ footsteps of unhealthy living.