Second time around… 

No two pregnancies are alike. My first time with Lelan was textbook perfect until it was time to give birth. You can read about that experience here. With Ravina, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing… Still, this pregnancy has felt effortless. Don’t get me wrong, most days I’m in my sweats with my hair in a bun, but the human body is an astonishing machine. Apart from a few minor aches and pains, I’m having an amazing time being pregnant. Which got me thinking… are second pregnancies actually better than the first? I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s my personal experience on the matter…

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  1. Sleep is overrated: With Lelan, I slept gloriously every chance I got. Some weekends, I stayed in bed until lunch time or even longer. I gave into pregnancy fatigue without hesitation and milked it to the bone. But, these days with a toddler on the loose, there’s barely any time to rest. Lelan wakes up between 5:30-6:30am every day and for a non-morning person like me, that’s brutal. And, working from home has completely blurred any and all lines of work-life balance that ever existed. I’m easily up until midnight working every night. I’m sleep deprived but, not tired, if that makes any sense at all. I’ve discovered that I can run on fumes for a long time before actually crashing. And, as long as I’m able to steal an hour of sleep here and there, I can almost pass for a fully functioning adult in society.
  2. If tomorrow comes: With my son, every day is an adventure. He is growing up so fast right in front of my eyes and I don’t want to miss a thing. I’m trying to be present with him every day. Which means, I’m not thinking about tomorrow or the next. Which also means, I’m almost 28 weeks pregnant in what seems like a blink of a eye. Every time I check my pregnancy app, I’m surprised at how much my baby girl has grown. And, I’m comforted at each doctor’s appointment at her progress. It’s not like I love her any less because I don’t obsess about her, but she’s teaching me, in her own way, to let go of the things I can’t control and focus on those that I can.
  3. Trust is earned: Pregnancy is a humbling experience. Your body goes through the ringer and comes out fairly intact. With Lelan, I was painfully aware of every little thing that was changing, contorting and growing within and around me. I kept notes and spent hours staring at my growing belly in the mirror wondering how in the heck is it all going to go back to normal. But, somehow everything did. I’ll never be the size that I was pre-pregnancy, but I was still able to find my sexy back! This time around, I’m more trusting of my body. It knows what it’s doing and I’m just along for the ride.
  4. Take it to the bank: I started my baby registry pretty early on with Lelan. I spent hours carefully researching every single product on that list. When I had my baby shower though, no one bought anything of value from my list so I had to buy most of the big ticket items on my own. That quickly added up! This time around, I don’t have to buy a thing… except diapers. This baby is already great on my wallet!
  5. I’m a Pro: I read somewhere that marriage and pregnancy are two things that you can do once and declare yourself a pro. Ain’t that the truth! In the final months leading up to my first delivery, I had no idea what I was in for. I poured over other people’s birth stories hoping to prepare myself, but in the end nothing could prepare me for my own experience. I also had no clue what to do once the baby was born. I watched a lot of online videos on how to do pretty much everything for a newborn and I was still nervous. But, something happened once I held my son. My mama instincts kicked in and suddenly I knew exactly what he needed. In a couple of months, I’ll be holding my baby girl in my arms and I’m beyond excited to meet her. There’s no stress this time around. No one knows her better than me and I’m confident that she and I will fall into a groove in no time.

How did your second pregnancy experience turn out? What did you do differently the second time around?

Love is a verb…

What do you want for Christmas, I asked him while putting away the baby’s clothes… I want to get married, he said without hesitating. We locked eyes and I knew in that moment that this was the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

Marriage was the furthest thing from my mind.. Having been through my share of heartbreaks, I wasn’t exactly jumping at the suggestion either. In many of my previously failed relationships, I had the feeling that I was the one pulling all the weight and when I no longer could, they had ended sadly without a lot of fuss. I wasn’t interested in having a husband, no thank you. I already had a wonderful partner who supported me in every single way. We were a team and everything we had was because of it.

But, when the man you love and the father of your child(ren) tells you he wants something so earnestly, you have to give it some serious thought… So, that’s what I did. While marriage was not important to me, it was to him and I had to know why. What would being married provide that we already didn’t have? His answer was simple… It would make us feel safe, he said. I want Lelan to know that his parents are married and committed. I could’ve argued with him, but for some reason I didn’t. It was the least I could do.

A few days later, on my 40th birthday, we went to the courthouse to apply for a marriage license. The next day I called around to find a local judge who was available to marry us the following week. We found our rings on short notice on Etsy. I ordered a lace blush dress on Rent the Runway and my partner found a blue velvet blazer on Amazon. Everything was falling into place. The only thing left was to decide who would be our witnesses. We could ask your family, I said. It wouldn’t be fair if my family were there and not yours, he said. Deep down I felt the same way. So, we asked a couple of friends instead.

On Friday, December 23rd at 9am we arrived at the local courthouse with our son to become husband and wife. The ceremony was sweet and short as our son watched curiously. He made cooing noises at various points during the vows, making us giggle. Our friends Kevin and Liz took photos and signed their names as our witnesses. It all happened so fast, a fleeting gift, that we barely had any time to register it all. But, it was exactly as it was meant to be.

This is love, pure and simple. This is the eternal test of how much life we can handle. How far we are willing to go for each other and how much we can bend to the evolving needs of our family, without breaking. Some people might think that we didn’t honor the tradition of marriage by eloping, but we are building our lives the old-fashioned way one day at a time, by finding the magic in the most unlikely moments, by being present and listening to each other’s needs. I haven’t lost my partner… I’ve just gained a husband!

It has been 6 months since this day and I still can’t stop smiling. I feel fulfilled in so many ways. My husband, my son and my soon to arrive daughter remind me every single day that love truly is a verb…

100 days of Ravina

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My pregnancy app reminded me that I have less than a 100 days until I meet my daughter. Let that sink in for a minute, because I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. Where did the time go? Much of this pregnancy has been a blur. Am I glowing? I don’t know, you tell me! I’m sleeping less and eating on the go, all while chasing after a toddler but somehow, I have more energy than the first time around. My hair is messy but my sink is clean, I even empty the dishwasher regularly, but don’t even ask me about showering… I’m a full-time mom with a full-time job, growing another human being who is due in less than 100 days!

At work on Monday, a friend asked me how I was feeling. Great, I replied. How’s the little guy? His days are numbered, she joked. For a minute I didn’t understand what she meant. And then I understood… Lelan will no longer be an only child come September. But, the truth is I’ve always known that would be his reality. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to have children closer in age. Honestly, I don’t have any hard feelings about robbing his one on one time with us on this planet. I also don’t think our bond will be jeopardized because of baby #2. Sure, there will be hard days ahead, but our son is a secure little guy and we will help him learn to adjust with change, to cope with disappointments and coexist with another, equally important, human in his life. If I have any guilt at all it is that I haven’t celebrated my second pregnancy enough. With Lelan, I blogged about my progress frequently and obsessed over the tiniest developments. But with Ravina, I’ve barely written a word. I have to look at my app to find out how far along I am. I find myself talking to her constantly, but sitting down to record this experience has been harder than I’d imagined. And now, I’ve barely a 100 days left to soak it all in.

As I write this, she is practicing her somersaults in my belly. She’s an active little thing, more so than I recall of her brother. It’s as if she’s kicking me often to say, hello remember me?! It’s a good quality, I think to myself. She’s strong and capable. She’s tough enough to withstand her brother’s occasional kicks. She won’t go unnoticed. Lelan has already started noticing her. We play a little game where I say, Hi Ravina and he rubs my belly. Mostly, I think he’s just interested in my belly button because of this book called Where’s baby’s belly button? He pokes it in and out and giggles. He has yet to feel her move, and I wonder if he will know what it means. But, I have never worried about him coping after the baby comes. Because, this was always his destiny. He was meant to be a big brother. He will learn to cope, just like the rest of us. He will come to love his little sister and their bond will be that much stronger because neither of them will remember a life without each other.

So, until it’s time to meet our darling little girl, I am going to write whenever the urge strikes, even if it is in the middle of the night. Her side of the nursery (yes, she will be sharing with her brother once she’s ready) is starting to take shape. It has already been vacated with a beautiful peacock mobile hanging above it. I’ve even bought a sweet baby blanket for her. Her closet is filling up with boxes of clothes from her generous cousin Johanna. I have yet to go through them, but it is starting to feel like we are better prepared for her than we were with Lelan. So, here’s to the last 100 days of being more relaxed and engaged than before. Since this will be my last pregnancy, it’s somewhat bittersweet, so here’s to making every single day count!

 

 

A floor bed adventure… 

I was 8 months pregnant with Lelan when I came across an interesting article about Montessori floor beds. Even though I was familiar with some of the Montessori principles, I had never considered a floor bed for my baby. I remember wondering if my partner would go for the idea but not much more else. Besides, my mother in law had already bought us a beautiful crib and it had taken center stage in our nursery.

So much of our parenting decisions have been influenced by our son. We wanted to nurture his unique nature from the moment he was born. A week long stint in the NICU must have toughened him up because he seemed so much more mature than any baby I’d ever known. He only cried when he needed to be fed or changed. He was content just being in the room with us, looking up at his Munari mobile and cooing quietly. He was sleeping 5 hours a night from the day we brought him home. At 5 weeks old we transitioned him to his crib from a bassinet in our room. He slept soundly through the night even though I was a wreck checking the monitor every 20 mins. At 7 weeks, he broke out of his swaddle and started sleeping without one. He was both alert and relaxed at the same time, which was quite fascinating to witness. He never liked being held, though he tolerated it most of the time. And as the weeks and months went by, we watched in awe as he became more and more independent and confident in his own skin.

When he was six months old, I mentioned the idea of putting a bed on the floor in the nursery to my partner. I’ll never forget the look of bewilderment on his face. I’ve never heard of anything like this, he said to me earnestly. Why can’t he sleep in the crib like other babies? It seemed like a fair question but I had no right answers, just a mother’s intuition. So I started compiling a list of reasons why this option made sense for our son…

  1. He is an independent child and the crib limits his independence.
  2. He could climb out of the crib and hurt himself as he was already trying to do.
  3. He kept getting his arms and legs caught up between the crib bars and waking himself up at night.
  4. He was also falling asleep standing on those nights when he couldn’t settle himself on his own.

But, all of my reasons were met with resistance and even my sister, who is usually on board with such ideas, thought I was rushing the transition. So, once again the idea was put on the back burner.

I guess this is a good place to stop and discuss our parenting philosophies. While I don’t profess to follow any one school of parenting, there are a couple of universal values that have resonated with me from early on. The main covenant in our household is RESPECT. Without respect you cannot have love. From the moment Lelan was born, he was an actual participant in any decision we made as a family. His needs, feelings and emotions were carefully weighed against whatever agenda we had in mind. By giving him the respect that he rightfully deserves, we are enjoying watching him develop into a peaceful, alert, engaged and self-confident child. Coincidentally, this is also the basis of RIE (Resource for Infant Educators) parenting.

According to Janet Lansbury, a proponent of RIE theory, in her essay What your baby can’t tell you,  “One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned since becoming a mom– reinforced by observing hundreds of other parents and babies interact- is that there is a self-fulfilling prophecy to the way we view our babies. If we believe them to be helpless, needy (albeit lovely) creatures, their behavior will confirm those beliefs. Alternatively, if we see our infants as capable, intelligent, responsive people ready to participate in life, initiate activity, receive and return our efforts to communicate with them, then we find that they are all of those things.

A second concept we strive for in our day-to-day is freedom and/or autonomy. Each of us have our own path to forge in life in which we must feel empowered to create our own destiny. This is true especially for babies. They need to feel free to explore their inner urgings within the limits of consistency and order. This is the basic tenet of the Montessori movement. One of my favorite quotes from Maria Montessori is “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” I remember the first time Lelan ate from a mesh feeder. I simply clipped it to his bib and watched him feed himself. He was barely 6 months old! It was eye opening to say the least. We have never forced him to do anything, not even eating. Thankfully, he’s an excellent eater! We’ve taken his lead on most of the issues that concern him and by allowing him to choose his own activities we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in his concentration over the things that truly interests him.

When Lelan was around 9 months, I broached the subject of the floor bed again with my partner. To my surprise he seemed genuinely interested in the idea. We both agreed that the room and its contents had to be safe for our little guy. That meant the room had to be completely child proofed. Our house is an old Cape so we decided that the bed should be placed in the dormer nook. It offered the best protection on all three sides, naturally. But the space itself was slightly irregular, so we had to order a custom 8 inch firm mattress from an online store. Oh, it’s so comfortable! We also ordered custom fitted sheets from an Etsy vendor due to the odd size. The only issue left to address was the proximity to the window… So, we came up with a simple idea to cover the entire wall with a blanket to camouflage the window. Then we placed a teepee behind and over the bed, wedging the legs deeply on either side of mattress. Light still floods through the window, but it’s filtered and soft. We added a few throw pillows and plush toys around the teepee to make it more cozy. Overall, the bed turned out more fun than we had ever imagined. Ta-da!

Next, it was time to child proof the room from Lelan’s point of view. We secured all the drawers, cabinets and closet doors with locks and bolted the furniture to the wall. All the cords were neatly organized and the rusty baseboard covers were replaced. When we brought Lelan into his room, he was so excited about his big boy bed. He immediately crawled over and started playing in it. That afternoon, we tried letting him sleep in his bed. At first he didn’t understand that the bed was meant for sleeping. He was obsessed with the teepee, using sides to pull himself up. He thought the whole setup was another play area, which caused us a moment of doubt. But, we couldn’t give up just yet. We kept letting him fall asleep in the crib before moving him back to the bed. This went on for a few days because we didn’t want to rush him in any way. Soon our smart boy caught on to the idea and one day, he just crawled over to the bed around nap time and proceeded to fall asleep without any prompting.  A few days later we decided to try letting him sleep through the night. That night, Lelan went to sleep in his big boy bed without a fuss. I, on the other hand, was a wreck again imagining him getting out of bed and somehow getting hurt, but he was just fine and has continued to sleep in his bed ever since!

In the end, my intuition turned out to be right! Lelan has the perfect temperment for sleeping on a floor bed. And, I’m glad I waited until my partner was on board with the idea. Lelan has complete control over whether he wants to sleep or not. And, it’s great to see him learning to self regulate… Don’t get me wrong, he does have his off days where he doesn’t want to sleep at all, but there’s usually an underlying cause, like teething, overstimulation or other illness which brings it on. On those days, we just let him play in his room on his own until he’s ready for bed. It’s really cute to watch him in the monitor playing with his toys on his bed. When he’s ready, he usually calls for us to come rock him and is out within minutes.

Are you considering a floor bed for your child? What are some of your concerns? Feel free to share… and thank you for reading!