Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Remember for a chunk of time how this became barely a parenting blog and more a blog about very tame backyard farming? If not, here are a few samplings from that time:

Well, because I generally have the brain power for just one post a week, and because I’m pregnant again and therefore have a pretty easy framework for new material, I have neglected to talk much about our little menagerie for awhile. But I wanted to take a moment to memorialize a sad milestone in our farming adventure.

Last week, on a dark and stormy night, we lost a chicken.

Hera was a good chicken. She was about 17 weeks old, the only Buff Orpington in our little half-dozen flock. She was timid and sweet, she didn’t like to be pet but would eat out of my hand. She was getting big and nearing the time she’d start laying eggs. She had recently lost a bunch of tail feathers, making her look (to me, at least) the most dinosaur-like of all our chickens whenever she broke into a run.

Hera
Rest in peace, chickie.

I promised him I wouldn’t invoke the wrath of the Internet when telling this story, and I hope not to because he doesn’t deserve it: The Husband took a break from working on his laptop last Monday to lock the chickens in their coop for the night. (They free range all day and put themselves to bed at about 8:30.) He went out to check on them before the storm rolled in — even counted them all because they dogpile in their nesting boxes instead of roosting and are sometimes hard to see (need to figure that one out…) and then, unfortunately, went inside without remembering to close and latch the door to the chicken run.

In the night, something (fox? raccoon? coyote?) crept in and snatched up Hera. Whatever it was left behind a trail of bloody feathers and a rattled remaining flock. I think the thrashing, hours-long storm that struck was a stroke of luck because it probably kept away any later predators who would have taken advantage of the situation.

The Husband was beside himself with regret the next morning when I went to let the chickens out and found all but one emerging from under our porch. I felt sadder than I expected to, but not angry. For as absent-minded as I’ve been lately, it could have just as easily been me who forgot to latch the run.

Or, it could have been if I were ever awake late enough for it to be my job. The Husband has picked up so much slack since the pregnancy fatigue sunk in, including night chores for the animals, I feel bad that the responsibility has fallen almost solely on him.

Today, while walking around our pond with The Toddler before bedtime, I heard our dog crunch something (unusual, as she’s not a stick chewer) and found she had unearthed a chicken thigh bone with a few orange feathers stuck to it. Hera’s remains.

I can’t count how many chicken thigh bones I’ve discarded over the years without a second thought, but I picked up this one and brought it back to the porch.

Maybe it’s silly to bury a chicken, but that’s what we’re going to do.

She was a good egg.

 

Farm Life Interlude: And then there were five

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 15

I’m going to try to keep this brief, because this post is the only thing standing between me and bedtime. Today wraps up Week 15 of my second pregnancy, and it finally feels like I have my feet back underneath me (though my view of them is beginning to be obstructed.)

I still feel tired from time to time, and I think I eked out a nap once this week, but I have gotten into a groove of cleaning my house again… something I didn’t realize how badly I was neglecting until I picked up the habit again this week. It’s still far from spotless, but the past two months it would have been a rare treat to find my dining room table not littered with splats of yogurt and desiccated peas. The Toddler actual has clean laundry on most days, and I have even run the vacuum a few times this week.

I have a vague memory of this feeling of coming back to life from my first first trimester, having settled into a routine of falling soundly asleep after dinner and waking in the morning feeling like I had been asleep for just a few minutes; feeling almost lonely in my exhaustion because The Husband was up for hours without me and we hardly had time to talk, let alone sit around and watch our favorite shows together or do any of the other things we enjoyed; and then suddenly, I was better. I still couldn’t necessarily swing a late night movie, but I could manage to cook dinner without crying in front of the refrigerator or falling asleep at my plate.

So here I am again: That sweet, sweet second trimester.

I woke up this morning feeling like my belly had finally “popped.” While I’ve already gained about 7-8 pounds by my estimation, I have just felt chubby up to this point, but I put on a maternity skirt to go to the farmer’s market this morning and thought I looked obviously pregnant instead of just lumpy.

New this pregnancy is periodic, agonizing foot pain that feels like a deep, throbbing bruise in one or another part of either of my feet. It seems to be brought on by wearing unsupportive shoes (like flip-flops) for any length of time, so it looks like I’ll be rocking athletic shoes with every outfit for the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t have this problem the last time around, and I walked four miles a day most days. I guess I can chalk this up to starting off a couple pounds heavier and a couple years older than the last time I did this. *Yay.*

Finally, Week 15 has marked the introduction of extra pillows into my sleep space. Right now I’m fairly comfortable with one pillow between my knees (or folded in half under my feet on those days when the weird bruise-swelling makes it impossible to fall asleep unless I elevate my feet). This begins the slow descent into the inevitable reintroduction of The Snoogle.

I developed a love-hate relationship with this enormous, G-shaped pillow the first time around. Love, because it afforded me a modicum of comfort when I was big and round and achy; hate, because it took up the entire bed and required me to completely strip all my covers every time I wanted to roll over, and took up so much space that my husband seriously considered a permanent move to the guest bed. The Snoogle is currently balled up in a trash bag hanging in The Toddler’s closet… it won’t be long now, old friend.

Well, in true me form I’ve cranked out 600 words for a “short” blog post. Week 15 has been pretty good to me, even if it has included a sad loss of a farm friend (more on that in a separate post) and the inexplicable shortening of naps to an hour and a half, paired with daily wakings between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m for The Toddler. I can’t have it all, but I’ll take what I’ve got.

Bedtime!

Pregnancy Week 15: Surfacing (and popping)

Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.

First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.

We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”

“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”

Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”

Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.

Okay, so onto the week we had.

I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.

The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.

What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.

So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.

Boo, hoo.

We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.

In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.

I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.

week14
Toes watch 2017 has officially commenced. (Yes, I need to sweep my floor. Always.)
Pregnancy Week 14: The Mystery of Hobby Dobby and the crush of mom guilt

Pregnancy To-Do: Get acquainted with this gear before baby arrives

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how preparing for my second baby differs from my first. It’s really nice knowing what to expect (or so I presume) as it relates to how contractions will feel, a semi worst-case-scenario with starting to breastfeed, and the postpartum recovery and getting-to-know-you dance with a new baby. I am thanking my lucky stars I don’t have a bunch of mysterious gear and equipment to wrangle this time around–just about everything that I’ll use to care for, hold and carry my baby are old friends I’m pulling back into commission.

For first-time moms approaching their due dates, do yourself a favor and spend some time getting acquainted with your gear before baby gets here. Yes, you may gasping for breath be leaning over a writhing watermelon to get your carseat installed now, but let me assure you it’s still easier to do now than when that watermelon is transformed into a squalling newborn and you haven’t slept more than 6 hours in the past three days.

Pregnancy To-Do- Get acquainted with this gear before baby arrives.png

First things first: This is a team activity

If there’s a partner in the picture, make him or her participate in this orientation with you. They’ll feel boxed out enough in the early days, especially if you’re on maternity leave and they’re back at work, and especially especially if you’re breastfeeding. You’re going to arrive at a knowledge gap that may make you feel overburdened and them feel out of the loop. (“He doesn’t like to be burped over your shoulder, you have to hold him on his belly,” or “No, I moved the wipes to the shelf over there because it’s too hard to get to them in the drawer.” Or, “How do you not know where we keep his socks?” etc. etc. etc.) Having a shared proficiency with your gear is a nice big step toward equally sharing in the experience of early parenthood.

Your Stroller

The first day it was warm enough to take The Baby out for a neighborhood stroll, I had to watch three Youtube videos to figure out how to unfold my stroller. I had gotten it into the folded position precisely once before, but never took notice of a little clip that kept it folded and nearly dissolved into sleep deprived tears when I couldn’t find the strength to open it back up.

So, make sure you know how to do the following:

  • Collapse the stroller
  • Open the stroller back up
  • If you’re using a “system” with your bucket-style infant carseat, how to attach and detach the carseat without flipping it upside down (the baby would not appreciate that method)
  • If you’re not using a system and your stroller accommodates newborns, figure out how to recline and incline the seat back and adjust the straps. Do yourself a favor and adjust the straps to the lowest/smallest setting. Make sure you know how to clip and unclip the harness.
  • Apply and release the parking brake
  • Flip up and down the canopy
  • Check and make sure you know your particular model’s rules/capacity for holding a diaper bag on the handle. Now that my kid far outweighs the diaper bag, I don’t have a problem slinging the diaper bag over the handle even though the stroller says not to. But if I had done that with a newborn in the seat, it would have become a baby catapult.

Your Carseat

This is obviously a big one, as you won’t be allowed to leave the hospital or birth center without a properly installed infant seat. I won’t be breaking any ground with the advice to follow both your car seat’s manual and your car’s manual (especially for proper use of the LATCH system — some cars, mine included, have LATCH anchors only on the outer two seats and not in the middle. You could probably reach one on each side from the middle seat, but it’s not advisable.) So make sure you reference both before you do the install.

Before you get everything stuck down safe and snug in your car, though, I’d also advise you to do this rundown:

  • Figure out how to adjust the straps in your carseat and set them to the lowest shoulder strap setting so you have less adjustment to do once the baby arrives. **If you discover your infant seat doesn’t allow you to easily adjust the straps from the front, like mine doesn’t, and you can afford to exchange for a seat that does, I say it’s money well spent.** I have a Graco SnugRide that, while cute and affordable, forces me to flip the dang thing over and unthread then rethread the shoulder straps to adjust it, and I wanted to drop kick it off a tall building every time I realized on my way out the door that it was time to size up. A few friends of mine went with a Britax model that I coveted deeply.
  • While I wouldn’t recommend disassembling the whole thing, figure out, via the manual or a basic inspection, how you’d have to remove the cover if, hypothetically, your sweet sweet baby had a physics-defying shit all over it. Review what, if anything, is machine washable, and how you would handle cleaning the straps and clips.
  • Figure out what, if any, of your accessories are safe to use while the carseat is in the car. I used to be a Safe Kids child seat inspector, and while I’m not sure if this is still the rule, we advised parents to never drive around with the handle of an infant seat over the baby’s head because in a crash the seat is designed to raise up a bit and the baby’s head could hit it. This is in direct conflict with all the cute dangly toys designed to hang from those handles. Similarly, there are 1,001 bunting-type products that are supposed to help keep babies warm in their seats, but if they go between the baby and the back of the carseat, they can cause the straps to be too loose. When I was an inspector we even advised against headrest mirrors and retractable sun shades because they could detach and become dangerous missiles in the event of a crash. It’s your call how meticulous you want to be, but it’s good to do a safety review of all your stuff before you commit to using it. If you’re concerned, find a Safe Kids event near you to get some guidance or check with your local fire station.

Baby Carriers

If you don’t have a baby carrier of some sort (stretchy Moby-type, ring sling, Baby K’Tan, mei-tei, soft structured carrier, etc.) do yourself a gigantic favor and go get one. If you aren’t sure what kind you want, try to find your way (together, before baby arrives) to a Babywearing International meeting, where you can, for free, get assistance from certified “educators” in trying on, testing out and safely wearing all sorts of carriers. They also usually have a lending library, and for a nominal annual membership you can “rent” a carrier for a month to try it out. If you’re not into that scene, Youtube has lots and lots of instructional videos.

My personal favorite for wearing my newborn was a stretchy wrap. It seemed really intimidating to figure out how to wear it right, but ended up being easy and way more comfortable than the Baby K’Tan. But everyone is different, so do a little research! Again, do this with your partner, because dads and babies can benefit from babywearing, too (and sharing this tool might just get you a nice extra-long shower every once in awhile.)

Please trust me: Babywearing is not the exclusive domain of diehard attachment parents. IMO, baby carriers are essential for easing a new baby into the world and keeping new parents sane. Think of it this way: When your baby is born, the only thing he or she knows is the warmth and familiarity of constant contact with you. A lot of times, newborns aren’t down with being solitary for very long–they like to snuggle up close to their favorite people. You can worry about encouraging their independence after they’re out of the newborn phase. And if you can make yourself a sandwich and maybe take the dog outside to pee while your baby sleeps soundly on your chest, things feel a little less bleak four weeks in. Baby carriers also making shopping easier in those early days before baby can sit in a shopping cart, and discourage creepy strangers from sticking their grubby hands in your baby’s face.

Portable crib/bassinet

Near the top of my dropkick-this-shit-off-a-tall-building list was the hand-me-down Pack ‘N Play we used for living room naps in The Baby’s earliest days. I was grateful to have something free, but holy hell was it hard to set up and take down. It was exactly too wide to fit through any doors unless fully collapsed, and with every move to a new room, I also almost fully collapsed.

Maybe they’ve gotten easier to use in the proceeding years since the model I had. Either way, if you have a portable crib setup for your bedroom/living room/etc., make sure you know how to use it.

As I alluded to in a recent post, I’ve been coveting a certain portable crib to replace the nightmare Pack ‘N Play, and recently purchased it for an overnight trip we’re taking this week. It rhymes with Schuava Schmotus and I freaking love it.

Baby monitor

Get your baby monitor set up.

  • If you have a wi-fi version that allows you to see baby from anywhere, make sure you’ve got the security under wraps (change the password, etc. I don’t have this kind so I don’t know the full ins and outs, but I have heard stories of monitors getting hacked and Internet creeps talking to people’s babies over the microphone, so please, please, review the security features.)
  • If you have a regular audio or video monitor, test the range and see how far you can go in your before you lose a signal.
  • If your monitor has extra features (a nightlight or why, God, scary nursery-rhyme music you can accidentally activate from the receiver with the slightest nudge of the wrong button in the dark), familiarize yourself with those.

Other baby paraphernalia

Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on where you land on the minimalist to maximalist spectrum, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to wash, assemble, dissemble, and otherwise use any implements you plan to try out with baby. You’ll already be spending almost every “free” second you have Googling “Why is my baby grunting so much?” You don’t need to also be Googling, “How to put Dr. Bronner’s bottle back together.” Here’s a quick rundown of some stuff I could think of that maybe, possibly, gave me pause when I was really tired and overwhelmed:

  • Breast pump parts: Cleaning, assembling, and operating (Hint: Youtube! Take a breastfeeding class! Ask a mom friend to show you the ropes! If you can meet with a lactation consultant before baby arrives, bring your pump!)
  • Bottle parts (See Dr. Bronner’s note above. Grrr…why so many pieces?!?)
  • Baby clothes: I know this sounds crazy, but I definitely cried at least once trying and failing to line the leg snaps up on baby pajamas. Maybe you’ll come up with a system where you use fabric markers to match up corresponding snaps. Maybe you’ll just be more easygoing than I was. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to take a quick look at what you’ll be facing at 3 a.m.
  • Any other baby holders: This includes swings, bouncers, Rock ‘N Plays, etc. Know how to adjust the straps (again, unless you’re expecting a honker, go ahead and put them on the smallest/lowest settings), and how to remove and wash the covers in the almost certain event of a spit up/blowout situation.
  • Swaddling and sleep accessories: I have a photo from about three days in of The Baby swaddled up to his nose. We got a gentle but urgent text from a concerned relative who saw the photo and wondered whether we might be smothering our kid. Sleep safety is a big deal, and there are a hundred million products out there that promise to safely and effectively give you infinity hours of sleep a night. Your success widely depends on the temperament and preferences of your baby, but make sure you at least have a general sense of how to properly use what you have so you don’t do anything risky/stupid.
  • Your diaper situation: For cloth diaperers, this means figuring out your setup — how do any snaps work to appropriately size your diapers? How do you wash them? For disposable users, did you get one of those odor-locking diaper pails? How the hell does it work? For everybody: Can you easily and safely reach everything you’ll need from your diaper station?

Readers, let me know if I missed any key pieces of gear you should figure out before baby arrives, and be sure to share your gear-fueled new parent nightmares!

Pregnancy To-Do: Get acquainted with this gear before baby arrives

Pregnancy Week 13: Belly flops

I’m going to keep this short because it’s 8 p.m. and I still haven’t eaten dinner and would really like to go to bed (oh hello food aversions, I thought we were through.)

Here are the highlights from Pregnancy Week 13:

1280px-immature_jalapeno_capsicum_annuum_var_annuum
CC BY-SA 3.0

My baby is the size of a jalapeno, large macaron, matchbox car, clownfish, pea pod, or Meyer lemon, depending on your source. It’s so annoying that these are all very different sized things that themselves can vary greatly in size. I think I’m going to publish a book that just has to-scale drawings of how big your baby is week by week (with pages that fold out toward the end.) TRADEMARK COPYRIGHT –ME RIGHT NOW. Do not steal this brilliant idea.

Um, where was I.

Oh, I am pretty sure I’ve started feeling the baby move around a little bit this week. It has happened more than once, and feels more like kicks and flips than the “bubbles” I first felt at like 18 weeks the last time around. I know it’s super early, but I feel reasonably confident I’m not imagining it.

I have also pretty much given up on all pants and shorts that do not have elastic waistbands. I even busted out my actual maternity jeans today. My belly has been weird to gauge this pregnancy (and I am most certainly not taking weekly photos like I did the first time around.) This is because, depending on my posture and how much I’m sucking in my gut, I look either a little flabby and 0 weeks pregnant, or 20 weeks pregnant. My abdominal muscles, unimpressive as they were to begin with, just never fully recovered from Baby No. 1, so I’m working with a pretty nebulous baseline.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened the last time around, but there was an extremely liberating moment when I realized I could not, and didn’t have to, suck in my stomach anymore. I know having good posture and “activating” your abs is good for helping avoid back pain, but I’m also really looking forward to the time I can really just embrace the bump rather than feeling like I’m trying to disguise a 3-donut breakfast.

Okay. Week 14 begins tomorrow, the definite beginning of the second trimester even by the most conservative standards. Can’t wait to see if I can get through the week with fewer than 3 naps.

Pregnancy Week 13: Belly flops

The Great Slowdown: making peace with the pace of life as a parent

The great slowdown: making peace with the pace of life as a parent

I’ve been doing a lot of walking around a very hilly trail with The Toddler in his stroller. This is the route I used to run in high school cross country practice. Though I was never a very fast runner, retracing my steps behind a stroller  (especially on the uphills), has been a pretty apt metaphor for my life as a mom compared to my pre-baby days: Kids are wonderful, but there’s no denying they slow you down.

I love being a mom, and I love my kid. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten back in line to jump on this roller coaster a second time. Even though I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, I have been finding myself wishing for more time.

Yes, it would be cool to be able to go out to brunch with friends more or to catch up on a little self care. (The great thing about my horrifying overgrown hair style is how my long, long bangs cover up my unruly, unpruned eyebrows.) It’s not even the indulgences I’m really missing right now, though. What I really want is more time to get shit done.

I want to be a better blogger–write more often, more relevant and helpful information for pregnant and new moms, and give this site the serious facelift it sorely needs. I want to spend more time socializing the goats (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. They’re still a bit skittish, and I know they’d keep warming up if I could spend more time raking their pen and scratching their heads.) I want to learn how to code, cultivate more freelancing opportunities, log my business expenses. I want to finish clearing shit out of my garage that is destined for Goodwill and/or the trash sometime before winter hits so one or both of us could park our cars in it. I want to revamp my Etsy shop and add more items. I want to be a better friend and reach out to people I’m thinking of more often.

I have a list 100 miles long of all the things I wish I could be doing, and sure, I had a list before I was a mom, too, but there is an undeniable slowdown built into parenting very young children that I can’t find my way around, and it’s hard not to feel a little defeated.

Theoretically, I could surrender some sleep to tackle more of my list, but it’s really not feasible with pregnancy fatigue and would only make the days harder to get through.

It would just be nice to go to bed every once in awhile with the satisfaction of having accomplished anything beyond emptying the dishwasher that day.

I know the solution is to prioritize what’s really important to me and learn to accept the fact that my goals must either be bite-sized or very long-term for the foreseeable future.

One way or another, I have to make peace with the pace of life as a parent of young children. While the basement bathroom remains unrenovated and my desire to take a creative writing class languishes, I am taking immeasurable joy from holding my son’s hand as we walk around our pond looking for frogs. I don’t want to let go of my list forever, or let my own identity diminish to nothing but motherhood. But stressing out about what I’m not doing is only going to cloud my view of the really wonderful and fleeting moments I am getting to experience. The good news is the same as the bad news: These deliciously, agonizingly intense years of early parenthood won’t last forever.

The knowledge that it’s probably going to get harder–that I will look back on the days of having just one child with fondness as I slowly drown in dirty laundry–is pressing on me today.

Fellow parents, how do you cope with the limitations on your time and energy as they relate to your goals as human beings?

Also, approximately how much harder is life with two children than one? (Please lie.)

The Great Slowdown: making peace with the pace of life as a parent

Pregnancy Week 12: Time Flies

Today wraps up the last day of my first trimester (I think… it’s not always clear when one ends and the next begins, but I’m counting it.) The theme this week has been the breakneck pace at which life moves.

I’ve already mentioned how much quicker it feels like this pregnancy is going. In some ways I’m much, much busier, but in other ways I have fewer distractions because I’m alone with my thoughts so much more than I used to be when I was surrounded by colleagues and projects all day. Or maybe it feels like it’s going quicker because I already have someone on the outside reminding me daily just how fleeting babyhood is.

I woke whimpering from a dream one night this week. I know it’s usually boring to hear about other people’s dreams, but I think this one pretty perfectly sums up how I’m feeling right now:

In the dream, I was standing and holding The Toddler in my arms, telling him how big he was getting.

I whispered in his ear, “Someday, you’re going to be so tall you’ll be able to hug me like this with your feet on the ground.” He giggled with the delight, that heart-shatteringly sweet giggle that toddlers have.

With this, I released him to put him down, only to find that in that moment he had grown tall enough to hug me with his feet on the ground. In an instant he had become a full grown man, and I looked down at my hands, wrinkled and older, and up into his face. I had somehow missed all the moments in between.

He was beautiful and smiling but I began to cry in confusion and sadness and woke up gasping for breath.

Blame it on pregnancy hormones, but this dream has stuck with me all week, feeling like a lump in my throat. It’s been a trying week in many ways (I’ll spare you the detailed complaints about sleep for the thousandth time, but it’s making me wonder 18-month sleep regression? and Google “Dealing with breastfeeding aversion in pregnancy” and throw silent tantrums), but that dream has been reminding me to take a breath and try to, if not remember forever, at least be fully present for the sweet moments we have.

The Toddler is picking up new words every day and wearing them around like a new pair of shoes: Mama, Dada, Lou (our dog), big, bye, hello, nest, car, truck, bubbles, bottle, cheese. (Along with a slew of animal- and vehicle-related onomatopoeia.)

He is climbing into our rocking chair and looking at books by himself, helping put kitchen towels and clean spoons away. Choosing (and lifting!) big bags of cat food and putting them in our basket at the pet store. Watching frogs in the pond and offering clover to the chickens. Listening for distant planes and seeking them out in the sky. Turning everything into a train and lining it up on invisible tracks. Watching the pair of house finches outside our kitchen door feed their babies and pointing, “A nest!” He is curious and exuberant and nurturing and wild and so, so big.

I know I will love our second baby with my whole heart just like I love him, and I cannot wait for them to meet each other, but I also feel like I need to hold onto every second I have in the next six months while it’s just us. I don’t want to lose focus and find when I step back that I’ve somehow missed out on this short, precious time.

Today is also my seventh wedding anniversary. I won’t get too mushy here (I think I’ve probably used up my weekly allotment above), but I must say I feel pretty damned lucky to have found the person who wraps me in his arms when I wake up from a nightmare, jumps into every new adventure with both feet, is absolutely worthy of his son’s hero worship, and lets me talk him into scrapping our semi-fancy anniversary dinner plans to get burritos in our old neighborhood because it’s all I can think about eating.

Pregnancy Week 12: Time Flies