Our Days at 14.5 Months

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Recently I’ve become slightly obsessed with finding and following other working mom bloggers and social media influencers. Two that I am especially loving right now are Breadwinning Mama and What Would Gwyeneth Do. Breadwinning Mama has a “Her Juggle” series spotlighting working mamas and how they juggle, struggle and thrive. Reading the Q&A’s has felt like a big hug lately. I love seeing when other moms wake up, how they handle household chores and where they too feel like work or family is getting all their attention–never quite equaling out. When Mike is not traveling and my morning meeting schedule allows for a workout, a “favorite” day tends to look a little something like this.

  • 5:30 a.m. – One or both of our alarms go off. We hit snooze in denial
  • 5:50 a.m. – Mike hits the shower
  • 6 a.m. – I get up, make the bed and throw on workout clothes
  • Pre-6:50 a.m. – I try to fit in a variety of tasks, such as packing my lunch, starting a load of laundry, sorting mail, starting the dishwasher, meal prep for dinner, and preparing Rylan’s breakfast
  • 6:50 a.m. – I head to the gym and Mike takes over where I left off on breakfast for Rylan
  • 7 a.m. – Some sort of spin/barre/yoga class clears my head for the day and then I shower and get ready at work
  • 7:30 a.m. (ish) – Mike gets Rylan dressed and takes him to daycare across town (We love our daycare but did not count on the traffic when we thought it was only slightly out of they way. It can be a nightmare)
  • 8:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. (ish) – Calls, meetings, emails, more meetings, media pitching, writing, planning…in PR no two days are ever the same but it’s fast-paced and the days fly by
  • 5:15 p.m. – I bolt out and fight traffic to get Rylan, then fight it home and hope to be in the door by 6 p.m. or a bit after
  • 6:15 p.m. (ish) – Rush to get something resembling nourishment on Rylan’s plate before he totally loses it. We’ve now started giving him a small snack so that I can try and cook more rather than dump random things on his dish
  • 6: 45 p.m. – Bath
  • 7:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. – Play in Ry’s room or at least attempt to play depending on how well he napped at daycare
  • 7:15 p.m. – 7:25 p.m. – Accept Rylan’s eye rubbing, give him a bottle (you got me…haven’t cut that last one out yet) and put him down for the night
  • 7:30 p.m. – bed – My bedtime is all over the place. Some nights I barely make it to 8:30 p.m. while others I stay up past 10 p.m. to work or watch TV with Mike. I always regret staying up past about 9 p.m. though. And during this time I finish my morning to-do’s…laundry, meal prep (tonight I roasted butternut squash for tomorrow), email triage, blogging, organizing, cleaning. Basically, I can’t sit still. No time for that

Woo hoo (sarcastically typed). When I decide to have a “take care of me morning” at the gym (once or twice a week) I get very little time with Rylan overall. Not much changes if I flip this and workout at night either. So I am down to about two – three workouts a week, sometimes four depending on our weekend, and try to make the most out of them by taking as hard of classes as I can. When Mike travels there is typically no working out with drop off and pickup duty. I shower by 5:45 a.m. at the very latest when he is out of town and tend to fall into bed around 8:30 p.m.

Balance, my friends, is a misleading word. For years I chased balance, even before having Rylan, and failed to achieve it. So instead I am in a reset mode. At work I am 100% in and know it’s okay that I don’t always have time to stop and think about Rylan during the hectic days. At home I am increasingly strict with myself and Mike about putting down the damn phones unless something is urgent with a client or media. 

It feels good to give you a glimpse into our days right now. For me, reading about how other moms juggle is inspiring so I hope my approach to the chaos us helpful to you as well.

San Diego Family Vacation

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Fall is knocking on Colorado’s door, so what better time to revisit our “California Dreamin'” mindset and finally download pictures from our incredible San Diego August 2014 vacation. Mike, Rylan and I flew to San Diego to spend a week with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and their kiddos, Jackson and Olivia. It took a few trips to the beach for Rylan to understand the sand but he loved the water right away. He squealed and screamed when the waves washed up on his legs and was very brave with the cold water temps. I see a surfer boy in the making!

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IMG_9215The first Anderson-Anzalone vacation was a huge success. Our house was steps from the beach and the grandparents took tons of kid shifts so we could go do things like paddle board yoga, surfing, regular yoga and of course, cocktailing. Mike and I lived in San Diego for five/six years respectively and it still has a huge place in my heart. We created countless memories there and met some of our most treasured friends. It was neat to play tourist and introduce Rylan to his first of many vacations in Southern California.

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My heart was truly heavy when it was time to say goodbye. It was such a special vacation for us all. Rylan adored looking up to Jackson and Livy. It’s clear Jackson is a very good big brother and cousin. He was patient with Rylan, shared his toys and didn’t even mind when Rylan gave him a good head bonk while trying to play. Even though we live in different states I look forward to Jackson, Livy and Rylan being close as they grow up.

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The Anderson-Anzalone vacation tradition will continue in 2016. Next year Mike, Rylan and I will travel to Florida with his family. I wish we had enough vacation days and money to travel with both of our families every year! We’re so lucky to be very close with both of our parents and siblings. Family is everything.

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I think all of us will struggle in 2016 of whether to pick a new destination (Hawaii anyone??!!) or go back to the exact same location. There is something to be said for picking a special location to make years, even decades, of memories as the kids grow up. San Diego, you are amazing.

Recipe Survival Guide: Spiralizer Edition

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Credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-spiralize/

Time. There is simply never enough.

Choosing sleep means less blogging or gasp, reading of real books that aren’t about nap scheduling and behavior milestones. Choosing the gym means deli meat (organic of course, we really do try), string cheese and frozen veggies for Rylan’s dinner more nights than I’d like to publicly admit and fewer home cooked meals than I daydreamed about when Rylan was still on only breast milk and I glorified family dinners at the table together.

Still, I do my best to keep a few meals in rotation these days so that Rylan’s tastes expand and I don’t fall back to cereal every night for dinner. I never thought Cheerios and cold milk for dinner could get old but it has become pretty bland and boring.

My #1 tip to busy households with or without kids? Treat yourself to a spiralizer. Now. Like, stop reading my blog, go order it on Amazon, and then come back here to keep reading.

Okay. Did you order it? Good.

Being able to turn one raw zucchini, some shrimp, capers and the squeeze of a lemon into a healthy one-dish dinner in a few minutes is insane. On spiralizer nights we’re eating healthier than ever and I crave the leftovers for lunch at work the next day. Better yet, one incredibly smart blogger has dedicated herself to spiralizer recipes AND launched an iPhone app. An app for spiralizing! Healthy dinners are saved (one – two days per week, in the spirit of full honesty).

Recent spiralizer sanity savers:

Can’t wait to hear if you are obsessed with terms like “zoodles” as much as I am. Please share your favorite spiralizer recipes in the comments!

Project Sippy

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Our doctor, like most, encouraged us to have Rylan off a bottle sometime around his first birthday, with an emphasis on “by 15 months.” I thought to myself, duh! That won’t be a problem and I will not miss washing all the stupid Dr. Browns parts.

Fast forward to 13 months and some change. We, with the help of his amazing daycare teachers, weaned him off bottles during the day by mid-August. He’s happy to drink two – three ounces of cow’s milk from a sippy with morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack. Since seven months Rylan has had success with Zoli cups for water. We worry about getting the straw clean though, so we’ve opted to teach him to tip his head back and use a Playtex for milk.

Yet his morning and night bottles haven’t budged. Why you ask? I am to blame.

I’ll take full responsibility for clinging onto those bottles because I miss nursing and love cuddling him while he contently wakes up in the morning or slowly winds down at night. For the morning we’ve weaned him down to just three ounces in the bottle then offer a full sippy when he sits down to breakfast. I know that after a day or two of tears, he’d probably accept a sippy upon waking. But I simply can’t bring myself to rip the bandaid.

So “Project Sippy” isn’t failing because of Rylan. Morning and night bottles feel like my last connection to Rylan as a true baby. I cherish it.

So there you have it. My admission. Check in with us at 15 months to see if I make the doctor’s cut off!

Transition to Toddlerhood

We’re transitioning to toddlerhood. It is just that simple. And I can’t believe it.

So what better time to finally share Rylan’s professional birthday photos from July as I shake my mom head in disbelief and bring you up to speed on 13 months…

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You already know that Rylan is walking. Despite predictions he is not yet running, thank god, but he moves fast. He is not a fan of our main baby gate in the kitchen that keeps him from tumbling the back stairs that lead to more, steeper basement stairs. When I close it there are usually tears.

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There are also what I refer to as “fake tears” and back arches when we:

  • Close the fridge
  • Close the freezer
  • Get near the changing table
  • Change most diapers
  • Let Kona eat from the floor around him while he is still eating
  • Get near his car seat, especially in the morning
  • End bath time
  • Pass the back door without going in the backyard

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I’m assured by late-night blog reading and the Highlands Mommies email threads that this is all incredibly normal. And, quite frankly, I already knew that based on having nieces and nephews.

Luckily, his episodes are rarely more than a minute or two and because we’re on to the next thing and try very hard not to give in, he’s quick to move on as well. Sometimes I feel like a hard ass but I know what’s fake and what’s real.

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The other HUGE change is the move to one nap. This one was not initiated by Mike and me. Instead, the one nap phenomenon seems to be a universal daycare move around 12 to 13 months. I was shocked when it was mentioned and questioned everything we’ve come to love about daycare. Then, I calmed down and started talking to parents around me, with kids at all different sorts of daycares. One nap wasn’t a crime being committed against our sleep-loving family. Turns out, it is a common shift.

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It took several weeks to stretch his mornings and he has fallen asleep in his lunch. But we’re pretty much there and our weekend mornings have become so much more fun and flexible, having until about noon before we need to be home. But make no mistake. If we had a nanny I’d still be clinging on to two naps for as long as possible.

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Summer flew by with our first official family vacation to San Diego and trips sans-Rylan. Travels included Sonoma, Lake Tahoe, Breckenridge for me and Rylan, Crested Butte camping for Mike and friends…we’re incredibly fortunate.

However, I also feel like we missed out on some fundamental hometown experiences and vow to slow down and savor being in town more next year. We’ve yet to go to the zoo, did not try a single museum and only went swimming a handful of times. Our fall is shaping up to be just as hectic with weddings to attend in Aspen, Mexico and Southern California. Ski season is never tame but at least we’ll be in Colorado for a few months following Thanksgiving.

Thankfully Rylan is oblivious to my disappointments about over scheduling. He’s happiest in our backyard with bubbles or in the basement having a dance party. Life is unbelievably sweet right now. I am smitten with our budding toddler and am MY happiest when we’re having boring, quiet family weekends. Those weekends are what keep me centered and grounded.

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With every huge milestone and the challenges they bring, I can’t believe how much I love being his mama. I also owe a tremendous THANK YOU to Sarah Hill for another amazing round of family photos. We could not be more thrilled with your ability to capture Rylan’s personality. If you live in, or plan to visit Colorado, there is no one I recommend more for affordable and fun family sessions than Sarah.

The 5:30 a.m. Wake Time

I have a bone to pick.

Where are the books or websites dedicated to helping dual-working (outside the home) households navigate the schedule and transition hurdles associated with having a little one in daycare full time? Do they exist?

I can’t readjust Rylan’s entire day when he decides wake time is at 5 a.m. His teachers are accommodating to a point, but his room has a schedule too and they are working very hard to keep the babies on somewhat of a similar routine. Similarly, I would need to leave work early every day in order to make his bedtime any earlier than 7:30 p.m. to see if that helps solve our current 5 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. wake time occurrences.

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On Monday – Friday, by the time we race into the house around 6 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. depending on traffic, I run around like a crazy person to throw down something nutritious on his highchair tray for dinner. This sprint is followed by bath and if I am lucky, a few moments of cuddles and playtime before Rylan begins whining and rubbing his eyes in exhaustion.

Why is he exhausted? Well, Rylan is much too curious to nap for longer than 40 – 50 minute stretches on his daycare days. And yes, I feel we have tried everything. Letters to his teachers about it being okay to let him CIO at the 45-minute mark. Moving him to the furthest, back corner crib to mitigate noise and distractions. Bottle before nap. Bottle after nap. Bottle after nap and milk in his sippy cup. New sleep sacks. If we’re lucky Rylan gets two 50 minute naps during the day there.

But there isn’t a chapter in any of our books on how to deal with that. In fact, in one I read recently it talked about adjusting naps and bedtime and then said, “this is very difficult for babies in daycare.” Period. Nothing else. No real-life examples or words of advice. Seriously?

Yes, yes…I am 100% aware that kids don’t actually follow the baby books word for word, but they were sure helpful in the beginning. I miss being able to reference things like sleep phases and eating issues.

Or maybe I am reading the wrong books entirely? The Honest Toddler has a helpful post on how to decipher toddler mornings. Rylan isn’t a toddler quite yet, but this “schedule” from The Honest Toddler is also informative.

Mike and I have decisions to make. Consider the 5 a.m. hour wake time “fun” a phase and attend to him upon waking? Try CIO, which breaks my heart and makes me stress about leaving him in there when he could be hungry or dirty? Take a chill pill on all of it and toast to the next phase of impending toddler-hood?

There is one solution I wholeheartedly embrace, thank goodness. Coffee. Lot and lots of coffee. Normally my answer would be wine but I’m too sleepy for that.

Happy sleeping!

Rylan is 11 Months

IMG_8439Eleven months (last week). Counting down to one. I’m simply amazed by how fast the most life changing, thrilling, exhausting and humbling year has gone.

Rylan is still one of the happiest babies around. His smile and belly laugh is infectious. He loves his mama and dada but warms up to strangers within minutes. If Rylan could choose his own adventure each day, it would consist of being outside as much as possible, eating meat and blueberries, watching ceiling fans, opening kitchen cupboards and dancing to music…any kind of music. The kid loves to bounce and clap.

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This has also been one of the most challenging months yet. Rylan is beginning to test limits and has a very predictable reaction when things do not go his way. He has taken to folding over while crying to hide his head in his hands. And when it comes to the car seat and diaper changes, he contorts into a full body arch to protest. Sometimes we can’t help but laugh because he is upset over such a silly thing. But other times I get nervous about the toddler road ahead. Behind Rylan’s sweetest smiles, I fear, is a stubborn streak that will surely test us in ways we can’t predict.

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However, until then, I am holding onto every cuddle and every nursing session for dear life. I cannot get enough of how he waves his arms and crawls to me at warp speed at daycare pickup. My heart melts at the way he curves his arms through mine when I am holding him, pulling himself that much closer to me. I adore watching him stare in awe at his older cousins. Their bond is already strong and he is going to follow them around like an unshakable shadow in the next year.

Mom’s 11 Month Favorites:

  • Holding his little hands while we “walk” around and around the house together
  • The fact that he is still up for nursing at least twice a day, and the look that only I get when we hang out and cuddle and play after nursing and before bedtime
  • Hearing from his teachers just how social he has become. He is the class “tour guide” during stroller rides, pointing out every tree, building and other sights along the way
  • Asking him, “where is the owl or where is the light,” and seeing him think then point to the correct object
  • His easy going nature when we are away. My mom watched him for three nights in mid-June and he was his happy and flexible self

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Dad’s 11 Month Favorites:

  • His extremely inquisitive personality. I love answering his point and “bah” questions with an explanation of what he is seeing. It is especially neat to watch him learn how to recognize, with repetition, the things that he is pointing at…especially ceiling fans and lights
  • Seeing him go from crawling, to standing, and walking with support, along with his growing interest in figuring out how to walk on his own
  • Watching him begin to mimic mom and dad, and the excitement on his face when he figures it out
  • The HUGE smile on his face after being away from us
  • How his smile and giggle makes us smile and laugh right back, no matter how challenging the day

Little bud, we love you so darn much! Can’t wait for what the next few weeks have in store.

Rylan is 10 Months

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Ten months old as of Saturday. Double digits. Officially within the window where it is okay to talk to other parents, especially first-time moms, about first birthday party plans.

What. Is. Happening.

Each day Rylan is becoming more of a little boy. He wants to stand on everything and can no longer be easily corralled with bouncers and jumping apparatuses.  No kitchen drawer is safe and baby toys are boring compared to bathroom waste baskets, dog beds and wobbly tables. And Ry has the bumps to prove it in his 10 month photos. Look closely at where his poor little forehead met the stainless steel fridge head on. Let’s hope he develops better depth perception than his mama.

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If Rylan could plan his perfect day I think it would consist of being outside as much as possible. Stroller rides, sandbox time, slides, swings, water–anything to stay outdoors. I know this early preference will bode well later in toddler-hood when he is schlepped along for hikes and camping trips on a regular basis.

Ironically, if Rylan could plan his own meals I think meat would be a part of every sitting. Perhaps that is from not getting any chicken or red meat in utero. He loves fish too, thankfully, but can down meatloaf, meatballs and sausage at record speed. Other favorites include any type of fruit, especially blueberries and watermelon, noodles, yogurt and cheese. We did introduce peanut butter with no reactions, but it isn’t a favorite yet. Purees have also become a thing of the past, though I am still making fruit purees to stir into his oatmeal and plain yogurt since I refuse to buy the pre-flavored baby varieties.

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This month Rylan will enjoy another weekend with Grandma Judy (my mom) when Mike and I take a 10 year college reunion trip to Lake Tahoe. While Grandma gets up early and plans outings to music class, the zoo and park, I am dreaming of sleeping in, reading fashion magazines by the lake and drinking mimosas.

And speaking of mimosas, I guess I’ll have to plan for a bit of the infamous “pump and dump” routine on our trip. Ry is 10 months and still going strong on breast milk. I nurse morning and night during the week and typically all day (four feeds) on the weekend. I am pumping three times per day (morning and twice at work) and taking Fenugreek to help my supply, which dipped pretty dramatically last month. If I am good about water, Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk tea during the day at work I am pumping 7 – 10 oz daily in addition to nursing, sometimes more. That is a HUGE decrease from just two months ago so I am extremely grateful that we have a good amount stored.

My new goal is to nurse until Rylan turns one and then mix what we have left in storage with whole milk. I am determined to get to a year, which makes trips like Tahoe stressful but I know it will be great for all of us.

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Mom’s 10 month favorites:

  • The silly, milk-drunk grin he gives me before bedtime
  • When he squeals after a nap or in the morning when we open the door to his room
  • His growing fascination with everything Kona does and how he stays totally calm even when Kona is barking loudly near us
  • Saying “shake shake” and then having Rylan shake his head side to side, which causes his whole body to sway back and forth
  • The moment he clapped on his own and the huge grin that crossed his face
  • The way he holds onto my arm when I am carrying him…so content and trusting
  • His opinions. New-found opinions don’t make it easy to change diapers or tighten the car seat, but he’s developing and I am so intrigued by what he does and doesn’t tolerate these days

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Dad’s 10 month favorites:

  • Watching him begin to mimic our gestures and actions
  • Seeing his big smile whenever he sees mom or dad, especially when I pick him up after a long work trip away from the family
  • Getting to watch him interact with his classmates and see who he is becoming “friends” with
  • Watching him learn to pull himself out and slowly progress to standing on his own–and the surprise in his eyes when he realized what he has done

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Rylan, we love you so darn much. I remind myself every day just how lucky we are that you picked us to be your “ma ma ma ma” and “da da daaa da da.”

A Thought on Motherhood

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Earlier this week I was driving Rylan to daycare. Mike had been traveling, Rylan had been up every night coughing and I was simply wiped. In fact, later that day I tried to wipe what I thought was ink from my face only to realize it was the circles under my eyes. Sexy.

During our drive I was in a total zone. I was thinking about all of the things I wish we were doing now for Rylan, rather than focusing on all that we are doing with the limited time we have together as a family.

Sign him up for swim lessons. Find a Saturday music or movement class to meet, hopefully, other moms who work outside the home and some kids in our neighborhood. Read more. Say “screw the mess” and recreate one of the many art projects he completes at daycare on our front porch on a nice day. Go the the library for a story time.

But then I had this little personal epiphany. It made me smile and dissipated the lump I still get on my throat during many morning daycare drives.

I may have become a mom in an instant, but it’s going to take a lifetime of trial and error to become the mom I envision myself being.

I say “instant” because even though pregnancy is nine long months, I didn’t feel like a mom yet. I still got to sleep as much as I wanted. Go to the gym based on my schedule alone. Take trips without guilt and only keep cereal and milk in the house if life was too hectic for a grocery store run. Pregnancy chips away a little at your selfishness but not completely.

It was, however, an instant between the last push in the delivery room and the moment Rylan was put on my chest. Seemingly within an hour or two, all the nurses and doctors who hovered over me during labor were on to the next family and there I was–a mom. A clueless and terrified mom holding this tiny little boy. A clueless and terrified mom with a lot of hopes and dreams of what motherhood would look like.

Some have come true. Some have not yet.

As moms we tend to dwell on the “have not” when there is so much to celebrate on the other end of the spectrum. However, I am actually okay with the regularly questioning of myself. Asking myself, what we can be doing better? While exhausting it means we’re really in it–living parenthood every day. I care so damn much about making Rylan a well-rounded little guy.

This post is not intended for people to tell me that I am a good mom. I am not looking for empathy or cheerleading of any kind.

I simply feel the need to reach out and connect with the other mamas out there who feel the same way–that motherhood is an instantaneous shift, yet it takes every hour of every day to figure out what the hell you are doing!

I am thankful every day for my network of support–spoken and unspoken. And wine. I am very grateful for wine.

Lessons Learned at 9 Months

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I’m in denial about Rylan’s next big milestones. Having his first birthday. Walking. Weaning. Emotionally I am not ready for a single one.

Since we made his 12 month doctor’s appointment, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the past nine months. The high’s, low’s and inevitable lessons learned along the way.

For all of my mom friends out there, whether your kids are nine days old or going on 19, I know you join me in the constant internal questioning routine. What should I have done differently? Where can we improve?

If and when we expand our family again, there are many things I will try to do exactly the same (even though every baby is wildly different…I get it). On Becoming Baby Wise continues to be the best method for our family. With a few modifications in the early weeks, I am committed to the philosophy.

I am proud that Rylan is so adaptable and independent, traits we focused on from the start. I am proud to still be breast feeding and pumping but have no regrets that we also began fortifying his bottles early on to help with weight gain. I am proud that I pushed to start with food other than rice cereal and vividly remember his first timid bites of organic avocado at age four months. His food journey has been incredibly fun since that day. I am proud that I have been away from Rylan multiple times, trusting his days and nights to either Mike or grandparents.

I am proud of us.

However, I do look back on the past nine months with many “I wish I’d known” feelings too.

I wish I’d known…

  • To block out the doctors, nurses and all the noise when Rylan was first born to really REALLY hear, take in and catalog in my brain that first cry. The memory is such a blur.
  • To take more naps instead of giving in to the laundry piles and urge to shower. Being clean is great, but sleep deprivation is no joke.
  • To hold onto Rylan longer rather than feeling like I needed to get him down in a crib for a nap or bedtime. I was obsessed with “the schedule” and I missed opportunities to simply let him lay on my chest, enjoying the miracle of our tiny bundle.
  • To not obsess over one bad feed, but instead focus on the entire day or heck, just the week overall. Everyone told me that but as a new mom I simply could not process the advice. Each bad feed gave me knots of worry about his weight gain.
  • To put vanity aside and take more day-in-the-life pictures WITH Rylan during maternity leave especially. This one absolutely kills me. I get a lump in my throat typing out this “wish.” We have countless photos of Rylan but not enough of us as a family in survival mode–bags under our eyes, wild sleepless hair, stained clothes and all.
  • To start a house cleaner savings fund BEFORE the baby is born. In hindsight I wish I would have hidden money away from every paycheck the moment we found out Sprout was on the way. We have a cleaner we use every three to four weeks, but I would be a more relaxed person if we could afford her biweekly (and in a fantasy world, every Friday).

I have a few friends who are expecting so I hope these reflections are helpful. If you only take one to heart, make it the one about pictures. Take dozens of you and that little nugget from day one. They don’t have to go in a frame or on Facebook. But trust me, you can never get the early days back.

Moms, what do you wish you’d known the first time around?

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