11 months

Right after Jackson was born I, on a daily basis, tried to not have a breakdown. It wasn’t because having a newborn is hard, although having a newborn is very hard. It wasn’t because I was venturing into my last year of my doctoral degree, which is also quite hard. It was a culmination of the two. Every day of Jackson’s life has been measured by my school progress, just as equally, every check mark in my higher nursing education for the last 20 months has been marked by Jackson’s existence. My first day of clinicals was a Tuesday, and just 2 days before, on a Sunday afternoon, I found out I was pregnant. At 38 weeks along I learned how to apply casts on my classmates, but had to miss the morning of class that day to have a fetal echo done to check on my sweet boy’s heart. On the day he was born, I was supposed to be in class, but instead I was having the most life-changing day 400 miles away. When he was a week old, I became so, so sick, and I had him there with me, in class. There are few memories of school that don’t involve Jackson at some level, and few times Jackson’s life schedule didn’t depend on mommy’s school commitments. I remember thinking, “when I graduate in August, he’ll be almost a year old, he’ll be almost walking.”  It was the warm fuzzy thought that got me through. I told myself I could do it, I would be okay. After he was born, I would repeat, “just 11 more months,” “just 8 more,” “just 3.” It was all about getting to August. Last October, November, January… well, August seemed so far away.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t far away anymore.

In the same week Jackson turns 11 months old, I will graduate. For the first time, the measuring stick of Jackson’s life will no longer be my education. Those two things had become so intertwined. Like church and state; completely different entities, and yet, nearly impossible to separate cleanly. And, like I promised myself, my 11 month old is nearing the walking milestone, cruising everywhere and standing solo some. It is surreal.

He is amazing and funny and so very busy. He picks up on so much. He’s high-fivin’, clapping his hands, shaking his head no, being soooo-big, and waving bub-bye. He’s playing catch and throwing a ball and driving his toy truck on the carpet like it’s meant to be played with… not just chewing on it. He can get into his little rocking chair, turn around, sit down, and then get himself back out. It just amazes me.

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He’s not really ahead on his milestones, not behind, just average. His top front teeth are FINALLY cutting through – I was afraid we’d need to invest in dentures by kindergarten. He’ll attempt to eat anything we hand him and may decide the dog should eat it instead, but also still loves his nursing time with momma. He babbles about momma and dadda a lot, but also directs those titles at us appropriately at times and imitates the sounds we make. And he’s turning into a daddy’s boy just a little bit more every day – Jesse is thrilled! And I am too, because we can share in the neediness that is a nearly one year old who can crawl over to you and try to pull your pants off begging for attention.

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I am so excited for our little future, for our little family. I am excited to take my boards and pass them and move from that season of life. And, while it will also mean that our baby is a year old and no longer the tiny, cute, sleep-less, barfing bundle he was, his birthday represents so much more that 12 months of his life. It represents survival and success and strength.

11 months, so crazy…

this is a sneak peek at jackmack's first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack’s first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack's first birthday photo shoot pics

this is a sneak peek at jackmack’s first birthday photo shoot pics

breastfeeding & pumping & being a working mother

My goal when Jackson was born was to breastfeed him for one year. I didn’t really know what I was asking of myself, my emotions and my body, when I set that goal. I was lucky. First of all, I had helped so, so many women start breastfeeding when I worked L&D, so I understood the basics and knew the tips and tricks for starter success. Secondly, I was anatomically set up for breastfeeding success – not too big, not too little. And lastly, I made plenty of milk.

The first three months of Jackson’s life I was tremendously busy with school, but was on maternity leave from work, and a significant amount of my pumping went into the freezer, because I was able to feed him at my lunch breaks when he was at home with the nanny. When I went back to working 12 hour shifts at the hospital and Jackson went to daycare, I had to learn a good pumping system. I’d pump right before I left for work, and twice during each shift. Some days it was easy to slip away from the activity of the hospital floor to pump, other times it took a little more planning and sometimes I just had to say things had to wait, because pumping was really important. Like most pumping mothers of today, I spent my pumping time catching up on FB, blog reading, and making phone calls home to check on my baby. I also tried to eat a snack every time I pumped, making the most of my time. I’d pump about 10 minutes, which really isn’t a significant amount of time, but it was enough time to pump more than enough for Jackson to eat. While pumping gets old quickly, it has been worth all of the headache. It really has.

Now, Jackson is 10 months old (let’s be real, almost 11 months old 😦 ) and my body is no longer over producing. I’m making just enough to send to daycare the next day. When this first started to happen, I began to panic, even though I find it nice to not be freezing milk constantly. I have a stash in the freezer, too, should I start to not keep up, but I think I’ll make it through the next 2 months. Then I get to start the process of weaning, which will probably be equally hard on both Jackson and I. Jackson still nurses 3 times in 24 hours directly from the boob during those day when I have to work – evening, mid-night, and morning, and gets 2 bottles at daycare. Once he’s a year old I’ll keep that up until I dry up, but I will not keep pumping. Will not. I’m proud of myself for providing this for Jackson for a year, even when I couldn’t always be physically present. It’s been one hell of a committment. And, it’s been worth it.

The days I stay home with Jackson and I don’t have to pump are awesome (like today!!). It’s just us, and I love it. Women who are afforded this luxury full-time are lucky, and I am jealous. I am excited to move on with my career and the next steps that are in my path… but I also wish that we could afford to have me stay home. I wish I didn’t miss those little moments and was afforded the ability to fix every problem throughout the day. However, this is the life I knew I’d have. These are the sacrifices I knew I’d have to make. And I’m really excited to be a nurse practitioner!

I have made a decision and accepted one of the positions I wrote about, and I will fill you all in soon. I am officially done with all of my graduate school commitments. ALL OF THEM. I just have to attend my hooding ceremony in August. And take boards. My life has made some of the most dramatic changes I’ve ever encountered in the last 12 months. It has been amazing, exhausting, and crazy.

I now hope to have a smidgen more time to blog, and I hope to provide an interesting and somewhat original insight into working motherhood. And make some mommies out there feel okay that their child watches Frozen at least once per day, eats Gerber graduates snacks instead of organic, and has more toys than he knows what to do with… but is SO, SO loved.

10 months

I’m not sure why, but this turning of double digits in months has me all emotional. Or maybe it’s that I was able to spend a 4-day weekend with him over Independence Day and got to soak up all of his baby goodness.

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He is amazing right now. Truly, every day he’s learned something new. He’s mastered “real” baby crawling and gets everywhere he wants to be in a hurry. He’s gotten the grasp of “no-no,” although he tests those boundries constantly. He possibly ate dog food last week 🙂 if it’s good enough for Nella, it must be good enough for him, too, right? He pulls up on everything, and often greets me in the morning with a big smile while standing in his crib. He wants to walk – but he most certainly can’t. He prances around on his tiptoes and high steps while we hold his hands.

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He is a momma’s boy right now. I fix all problems. He crawls behind me from room to room, needing to know where I am. He uses me as the ultimate jungle gym when we play on the floor. He is my sun, I am his moon. I am already dreading weaning… but I am very ready to ditch the breast pump, so after he’s 12 months I’m planning on feeding him in the morning and at night when we’re home together until I run dry. He can have frozen at daycare until that’s gone, and then it’s moo-moo milk for the little man.

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He likes pretty much anything we’ll feed him for food. He had (pureed) steak 2 weeks ago and loved it… yummy beef! He pops open the puffs containers with his bottom teeth and gets at them himself if we let him. We try not to let him, as he typically dumps them everywhere. He really likes graham crackers, and he likes feeding them to Nella even more. She’s found a new best spot, which is right next to the high chair.

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Mostly, he’s just a normal little boy. He loves baths and swimming and swinging. He loves food, his dog and cat, his mom and dad, and crawling everywhere. He sleeps pretty good now, still up once a night most of the time, and I won’t get real serious about breaking that habbit until he’s weaned.

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And yet… he also the most amazing little boy. His eyes sparkle when he’s excited and are the saddest eyes ever when he is sad – like his daddy, he speaks through his eyes. His blond hair has just a touch of red in it – it is so soft, and fluffs up when he’s swinging outside. His skin is still soft, but his little knees are getting tough from exploring the world while crawling. He still only has 2 teeth – and I hope it stays that way until after he’s weaned. I mean that.  He talks to us in babbles. You know what he’s thinking based on tone inflection from those babbles. I wish he could talk like this forever because it’s adorable – but I also cannot wait for him to say mama and really mean me, not just be another babble in his vocabulary. He chats at himself in the mirror while he’s in his carseat, if only I knew what he talks about with himself, probably about how much he loves his new big-boy car seat because he can see out of the window. He got too big for me to carry in the infant carrier, so we upgraded. (it made me so sad to wash up the infant carrier seat and know that the next time I can use it will be with a different baby).

He is our amazing, funny, little man.

And in 2 months he’ll be a year old. That hit me last week and I panicked for a second, because I hadn’t thought about a party yet. I think I have one mentally planned now. It will, of course, be 400 miles away from our house, which makes it a big (BIG) pain in the butt. BUT, that is the best way to make sure family can be involved. And my baby brother is getting married 2 days after Jackson’s first birthday, so we’ll be on the other side of the state anyway. Convenient or not.

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9 months

9 months

9 months

9 months seems like a big deal. all of those months that correlate with baby cloths sizes, updates in baby pictures, and well baby exams seem like big deals. i just. can’t. believe. it. he’s lifetime existence has officially doubled. crazy.

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he continues to be a strong-willed little man. i firmly believe he is choosing not to crawl like a “normal” baby. instead, he does an army crawl/total body thrust.  it is most seen when motivating him with “adult” food, for instance, the pizza i dangled in front of him last night across the room. he wormed his way over fairly quickly, and then i ate the pizza. mean momma.

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he babbles mamamamamama. all of the time. while he does not correlate his mumbles with me per say, it’s nice to hear his little voice. except at 5am, then just go to sleep baby. i don’t even set an alarm anymore. i have jackson.

morning smiles

morning smiles

he only pulls himself up on me or daddy. not on furniture. so far, that’s fine by me. but he will stand and hold on to stuff no problem. and take steps holding our hands. he’s a “ring bearer” in september… gotta get him walking by then 🙂

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he is a wild child. he is loud. he is slightly crazy. he doesn’t need much sleep. he tests me everyday. it’s great… when he’s happy. it sucks when he’s cranky.

he is also adorable. funny. loveable. and so smart.

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i always knew i wanted to be a mom. but i never knew… the commitment. the love. the struggles. the triumphs. the overwhelming desire to live for someone else. and i know my hubby didn’t either. we are so, so, so blessed.

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and happy first fathers day to my hubby, whom i could not live without. he is my compass in the crazy and my partner in parenting. love you honey!

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a trusting and grateful heart

I spent most of last week sitting in a hotel about 200 miles away from my baby and 600 miles away from my hubby… for a NP board review. I needed to be there, to focus, and give my self the best chance I can to pass my boards ASAP after graduation. But, besides the 2 nights I was hospitalized when Jackson was a week old and one other random night when I left the baby with Jesse while I went to class alone, this is the only time I have been away from Jackson overnight – and this is the first time he was separated from both his mommy and daddy overnight.  I think this was a big deal.

Jackson stayed partially with my brother and his wife (who also happens to be one of my best friends) and partially with my parents. These guys only live about 7 miles away from each other, but I know it was still a headache for them to haul his stuff from one place to the other. How do you pack for a 8 month old when you know you won’t be there and neither of the places he will be staying have children??? You pack everything. There was even a rubber duck in his suitcase. My Tahoe looked like a BabysRUs. I just wanted to make sure they had any thing they might need. Baby thermometer. Tylenol/Motrin. Socks. Hats. Sunscreen. Pack’n’Play. Jogger. Portable high chair. Jumper. Baby bathtub. Bottle warmer. Sound machine. Toys, toys, toys. Baby food. And plenty of frozen milk. In fact, I brough almost my whole stash – and everything they didn’t use was donated before I went back home…  which was about 800 ounces!

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“so you’re going to leave me with her, eh??”

chillin' with uncle rob

chillin’ with uncle rob

grandpa's sidekick

grandpa’s sidekick

It was a little bit amazing to sleep at night, but I still woke up in the middle of the night and checked my phone just in case my sister in law or mom had called or messaged me with a question of concern… I’m too used to waking up and checking on him! It was a weird exercise of trust.  My family is absolutely capable of providing wonderful, loving care to my son, and I just had to trust them to do whatever they deemed necessary for Jackson. And I am so grateful. So grateful to have people who love me and my little family enough to swap around their schedules to spend the week with Jackson.

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

thank goodness for snapchat updates!

i'm fairly certain this is my dad's first "selfie" - he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

i’m fairly certain this is my dad’s first “selfie” – he was so proud of being able nap with Jackson.

HI

Hi Mom!

I missed him like crazy, but thankfully technology provided me (and his daddy) with lots of photographic updates – proof he was just fine. I was never really worried about his safety or their capability to take care of him, but I think it’s just a momma’s nature to worry no matter what. He was in the care of some of the people I trust the most in the world… and I know they understood how much trust it took to leave him for those 3 nights. Like I mentioned, my sister-in-law and brother don’t have children (yet 🙂 ), and I think this gave them a very real look at life with a baby. A real, live, feed me, change me, entertain me baby. And when Jackson was at my parents’ home, which is a farm, he was happiest outside with the animals and hubbub. All in all a good experience for the little guy! And I cannot say THANK YOU enough to my parents, my brother and his lovely little wifey!

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

feeding the bottle calf with grandpa.

And, also good for me to be home with my family for a little bit. This is my last trip home before graduation in August. I cannot believe how close I am to graduating, how close I am to attaining this goal for myself and for my family. That deserves its own post at another time, when I have enough time to process it more fully. Until then, once I make it through my project defense on June 24th, it is smooth sailing until boards. So, hard-core school work for the rest of the month. Almost there… I just can’t believe that I am done with my “Jackson and Mommy” trips. They have not always been easy, but they have been some of the most memorable bonding moments with my little boy, just us. It almost makes me sad when I think about the fact that that season of our lives is almost over.

so worn out after a great week with his family!

so worn out after a great week with his family!

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to "share the wealth" :)

This is one of two coolers of frozen milk I donated to the Iowa milk bank. In total it was 6 gallons of milk. This will be used in NICUs in the midwest. I was so happy to “share the wealth” 🙂

 

 

7 months

7 months. wow. that’s crazy.

7 months.

7 months.

Jackson is a vocal, demanding, hilarious little boy.  The last month has been all about getting more mobile and eating more food. We’re getting closer to crawling, he uses his belly as a fulcrum to spin and get at stuff he wants. Or he rolls, but will only willingly roll to his left, so usually gets rolled at far as he can go, and cries because he’s “stuck” against a wall. Just in the last few days he briefly lifts his little butt up and pushes up with his arms at the same time, so it won’t be long and we’ll need the baby gates up… and to “baby proof.” ugh.

He loves food. I really can’t stress that enough.  And he’s a terribly messy eater. I let him play with the food and grab the spoon to “help,” so his messiness is probably my fault, but I figure it’s good for him. We do a few “solids” like bananas and green beans for him to feed himself, and I anticipate we’ll be increasing those quite a bit this month. He’s also tried the “puffs” – only a few, but I want him to get used to many textures so he’s not gaggy later.

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carrots!

He’s cut one tooth. I thought we might get kicked out of daycare over it… he cried for over 2 hours straight that day, I guess. I told her the next time she should please call me, as no one should be subjected to my son’s anger for that long, except his makers 🙂

He’s improving on the sleeping front. I can count on one waking per night (totally doable for me). Sometimes we’re up twice, but he’s not hungry the second time. And we’ve done a couple of 7-9 hour stretches, which was AWESOME, minus the exploding boobs thing.

the morning when he slept through the night for the first time... 3/25/14.

the morning when he slept through the night for the first time… 3/25/14.

He is a momma’s boy, no arguing that. Momma fixes almost everything. Momma sings the Bird Song every morning. She plays even when she can barely keep her eyes open. And momma has the jugs. I’ve been able to maintain breast-feeding, which is such a blessing.  I am beginning to resent that stupid breast pump, but it’s okay, because it’s for him. I also miss regular bras. Running anytime without pumping first. Sleeping in just a t-shirt. Sleeping without waking to an aching chest. But all so tolerable and worth it for Jackson.

daddy's hat

daddy’s hat

But also loves his dadda. When I can’t get him to sleep, 2 minutes of rocking with daddy and he’s out. Daddy is a great playtime buddy. Daddy pushes Jackson to advance in his skills, but has the most protective and watchful eyes over everything. He rescues Jackson from every single cat and dog hair going into his mouth 🙂 Jesse is the best partner in parenting I could have asked for. He helps in the mornings, packing the Tahoe with the 3-4 bags my life involves on a daily basis and keeping Jackson entertained while I pump. He has found a routine to rock through the 12-13 hour days while I work on the weekends. He sends me pictures throughout the day… but rarely needs or asks for my advice for anything.

Our life is oh so normal, but oh so busy. I am getting to the tail-end of my NP degree, which is exciting. Everything else is just maintaining until I finish that degree.  I don’t have lots of time to blog anymore, which is sad, and my blog reading time has basically been reduced to pumping time, but it is so fun to see the updates of the babies born around the same time as Jackson.  While we may all parent a little differently and make choices with different values in mind, thank you to all of you ladies who share your triumphs and struggles of being a mom and woman in this crazy world. I appreciate your experiences. And all of your babies (most of them girls) are adorable! Please keep updating!

And now for the picture overload…

loves being outside.

loves being outside.

fell asleep bouncing.

fell asleep bouncing.

beating on Mother Goose.

beating on Mother Goose.

chatting at us through the moniter in the mornings

chatting at us through the moniter in the mornings

 

best buds.

best buds.

 

loves.

loves.

my world.

my world. ❤

 

5 months

how do you write a post about a 5 month old baby? with him sitting on your lap, reaching for your coffee, watching a half screen of DocMcStuffins for entertainment because the exercauser just wasn’t cutting it anymore. that is a snap shot of our lives, and really, i love it.

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and because my brain is REALLY full, this post is just going to be a little synopsis of the last month. mostly pictures. i have been back and forth for my 800-mile round trip 3 weeks in a row with jackson in tow every time. he has done AMAZINGLY well with all of the car seat time. i know this is probably terrible, but i figured out a way to hang my kindle from the headrest of the seat, and his gets entertainment from videos during his awake time in the car when i can’t play with him or when he’s tired of his toy selection. it works well, and is a good distraction when he’s crabby… well usually. sometimes i just have to pull off the interstate and cuddle him, which is good for his little soul and mine!

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we have a growing baby on our hands, as he’s now over doubled his birth weight. he’s rolling back-to-front and front-to-back. babbling away. eating like a piggy. he started real food, although we’re still on team “mushy stuff.” he LOVES food. loves, loves, loves it. can’t get it in his mouth fast enough. and always wants to help.

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he’s a pretty social guy and is happy most of the time. we still don’t sleep great at our house, but i’m guessing that’s just a personality thing. when he’s awake he must have constant entertainment and stimulation, and i doubt his brain shuts off at night either.  he does take two solid naps every day, so at least the daycare lady gets a little break 🙂

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chattin’ with daddy

mostly we just love our little boy. i thank God everyday he is growing and healthy. i thank God every day he won’t remember mommy constantly needing to use the computer while he plays in the exersaucer next to me. and i thank God i have jesse. he is amazing, both as a husband and father.  he takes over when i need to focus, he does a big chunk of the daycare drop-off and pick-up, and has an at least an hour alone with him before and after work when i have to work at the hospital. it might not seem like a big deal, but truthfully, it’s so awesome that he just helps, no complaints.  this week i’m going to school by myself and jesse’s keeping the baby overnight. please say a prayer that both of my men get some sleep that night!

before the terrible, terrible super bowl.

before the terrible, terrible super bowl. and yes those are Christmas decorations still up on our wall. oops.

and me? (because this is my blog and i get to write about myself, too). i’m so happy to be a mommy. even in the middle of the night when i can barely open my eyes to pick up my crying baby. even at 4:45 in the morning, the time i have to get up to get ready for work and still have time to pump and pack the diaper bag. even when my kitchen table is covered in textbooks and i purposely ignore my to-do list to love-up on my baby. even when i’m stressed. even when i’m tired. i would not change our life… i would not wait a year to add our little jackson to our family.

because… i’ve learned how to type left-one-handed and bounce a baby on my hip. i’ve learned to organize the chaos. i’ve even learned that laundry can wait (most of the time), and that our true friends don’t care if my house is cluttered and a little messy. i have six months left of school and then life can settle down for a minute or two. and then?? then we’ll try to make jackson a sibling, because really, i can’t wait to be pregnant again and do this again with another little person. because it all goes so fast…

20weeks

4 months

there are certain days I’ll never forget. January 12, 2013 was one of them… one of my close friends from my home town lost her home in a fire that day. My sister-in-law was in the right place at the right time and helped saved the day that day. I found out I was pregnant that day. A year ago, already. It amazes me. The year we were trying to get pregnant was the slowest, most painful year of my life. The last 365 days, however, have zoomed by.

bet ya'll freaked out when you saw this picture on your reader page :)

bet ya’ll freaked out when you saw this picture on your reader page 🙂

and now we have a 4 month old. A FOUR MONTH OLD!

4 months

4 months

He’s so fun right now. He loves to play and loves raspberries on his tummy.   He discovers and learns about everything by putting it in his mouth.  He loves to eat, of course, and he’s taken a new interest in what mommy and daddy are eating. He reaches for our food, too. We haven’t started solids yet, and I’m thinking we’ll go the baby-lead weaning route (it’s easy, google it), so I probably won’t start solids for a few months. He’s finally noticed the dog and loves to watch her run around. He still hasn’t done a “back-to-front” roll, he gets about 3/4 of the way over and quits. He can often be found sleeping in that 3/4 roll position, so I think he just likes it there. He HATES tummy time, but will tolerate bumbo time and loves to stand up on his feet while we hold his hands, so I’m not too worried about his core strength.

4 months

4 months

He’s better at keeping himself content for a little bit. He’ll also watch 10 minutes of DocMcStuffins (mommy’s choice, SO cute!) to let me shower in the mornings. He’s sleeping in his crib full-time now, and still waking up 1-3 times per night. He does 2 solid, scheduled naps per day, and usually a cat nap in the evening. He started daycare and is doing well there. He’s in size 2 diapers and 3-6 month or 6 months clothes. He’s pretty much your average, adorable baby.

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