Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby #3 -18 Weeks

Baby stats: This week baby weighs about 7oz and is the size of a bell pepper. The baby's gender should be clearly defined anatomically speaking...which is great news considering we have an ultrasound on Wednesday!

Bump picture: I took a shower around 7 right after the kids went to bed, that is a reasonable time to put on jammies right??

The belly button is clearly visible here! Also, how has no one commented on the creepy Santa mug photo bombing each of these pics?? This might just be my last bump photo taken in the guest bedroom at my in laws!

How you doin'?: Since last week's update was so late I don't really have a whole of 'new' to add to this week's post. I am still feeling really good. This week was annoyingly stressful in terms of closing on the new house. The mortgage company is making us jump through a ridiculous number of hoops and Matt and I did a ton of running around that we really shouldn't have had to do. Every single time they asked us for something (a letter stating that Matt has access to my bank accounts for example) we obliged only to be told we needed something else or that the wording was wrong, etc etc. There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be able to close on Friday, but they still "aren't making any promises". Not that any of this pertains to my pregnancy and should really be its own post BUT I am tired and slightly stressed and it is only magnified by the fact that I am also 18 weeks pregnant!

Aversions/Cravings: I fantasize about beer, wine, or champagne at least three times a day. IF we close on Friday I am having a 1/2 glass of champagne to celebrate.

Sleeping: So much better! This is the most noteworthy breakthrough since the end of morning sickness. For the past few days not only have I not woken up in the night to pee but I have also slept soundly for 8 straight hours. I definitely need to go to bed earlier but I certainly can't complain about sleeping 11-7!

Movement: Becoming more consistent. I get frustrated when I want to feel the baby and the movements aren't yet 'on demand', but I would say I feel her at least a dozen times a day! It is surprisingly low still, but for all I know it was the same with all of my babies. Lord knows I certainly don't remember and if it is written down, I don't know where. When I listen to the baby on the doppler I can hear the disturbance when she kicks, which happens a lot, so I know she is active!

Milestones: Hmmm...nothing this past week that I can think of.

What I am looking forward to: Wednesday of course. My heart will be so much lighter once I have confirmation that this little bean is healthy! Sleeping in our new house on Saturday night if all goes smoothly, OMG!

Worries: I will not beat a dead horse, I will not beat a dead horse. I am a little nervous about the quad screen results ;)

Let's compare: 

I will definitely have more to write here next week! As of now we are not finding out the gender which we did with both Lily and Ben.

The hunger is becoming more manageable which I think was around this same time with Ben too. Hopefully the weight gain on Wednesday won't give me a heart attack but even if it does I suspect it will all even out. I gained roughly 25 lbs with each of my other babies so I would like to set that as my goal but if I go over, I go over.

Best moment of the week: As I mentioned before the kids are totally in to the belly which has now evolved into a fascination with their own bellies (which Ben calls his baby half the time). Every night at bed time they run around the house for a few minutes in just their diapers rubbing their bellies and laughing hysterically about the "baby". Tonight Ben thought it would be funny to kiss Lily's "baby" and the two of them were laughing so hard Lily could hardly breathe. They kill me.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To find out or not to find out...

Should we find out, boy or girl?

Baby #3 13w3d
Such a loaded question. One that I have found generates a lot of discussion. It seems when it comes to finding out the gender of a baby everyone has an opinion.

I will start with the standard, 'as long as the baby is healthy, we don't care what it is'. Above all else this is really the only thing that matters.

I will be honest and admit that when Matt and I first found out we were pregnant with Lily, I was hoping for a boy. I have said this a million times but I KNEW I was having a girl. I have never been more certain of anything. I realized recently that I have never really written in detail about my pregnancy with Lily. I wasn't blogging at the time. To give you a little back story: We got pregnant our first month of trying, I felt terrific throughout my entire first trimester, and going in to my first ultrasound at 12 weeks I didn't have a care in the world. The ultrasound went great and I had my blood drawn for the quad screen about a week later. I came home from school on a Thursday afternoon to an email from the NP at my doctor's office stating that I needed to get in touch with her immediately. Apparently she had been trying to get in touch with me all week and sure enough there were several messages on the answering machine that we never checked. The messages stated that there was an issue with my blood work that was concerning and that I would need to be seen as soon as possible. I didn't get the email until after hours so there was nothing we could do but wait until Friday morning. Thursday night I didn't sleep at all, and I did a lot of crying. I just couldn't believe there was something wrong with my baby. I was exactly 17 weeks pregnant. The following morning we got the news were we dreading, I had elevated AFP in my blood. The levels indicated that the baby had a 1 in 30 chance of having Spina Bifida. I dropped to my knees in the living room and prayed harder than I have ever prayed that God would protect my baby. It was the worst moment of my entire life. The nurse was able to get us an appointment at a nearby hospital for a level II ultrasound that afternoon. I had told Matt that I did not want to know the sex of the baby, I thought it would make it too hard for me to let go if we found out that the baby was going to die. The sonographer was wonderful and so kind. As soon as she found the baby she asked us if we wanted to know the gender and I blurted out YES. Matt looked surprised and asked me if I was sure. I can't explain the change of heart other than to say that in that moment, looking at our baby, I just had to know everything I could about this tiny person who owned my heart.

The sonographer said that she was 90% sure she knew we were having a girl. To which I replied, "I am 100% sure." After she was done taking her measurement she left and what felt like an eternity passed while the doctor read the results in another room. He came in, introduced himself, and wasted no time in telling us that he really thought the baby would not be paralyzed. He could not promise that she would not have some nerve damage but he did assure us that her spinal column was closed and that as far as he could tell she was perfect. I of course hung on to the fact that she might have nerve damage that would not be diagnosed until after she was born and not the part where he said she was perfect...but Matt swears that last part actually did happen. Lily was born with a deep (as in I could put the tip of my pinky down in it) dimple just above her butt crack that was cause for concern and a pretty clear indication that our positive quad screen had not been a false positive. By the grace of God Lily is perfect and has no permanent nerve damage. She was diagnosed with Spina Bifida Occulta, which is a mild condition that most people live their whole lives without knowing they even have. Needless to say it was a memorable gender reveal but not one that I would ever want to live through again.

Ben's pregnancy was literally textbook in every way. Going in to our 20 week ultrasound I really did think we were having another girl. I didn't "know" like I had with Lily, I think that I just couldn't imagine any other outcome. I just about fell of the table when the sonographer said 'boy'.

Each time we have found out the gender of our baby Matt and I have been together with a sonographer sitting a few feet away...not exactly the time or place for a big celebration. This time I want to do it differently, if we do it at all. As I mentioned the other day I am fine with not knowing this time around. Matt is dead set against waiting. I personally do not understand his need to know. We already have one of each, the new house has plenty of room for all of us, and my girlfriend and I have a great clothes swap already established. There are no logistical reasons for finding out like in the past. I do think that I will feel more connected to the baby if we find out the gender, maybe?. Which is obviously a big factor in favor of finding out. That being said I have had several very negative experiences after the gender was revealed and names are being discussed. If no one knows the gender than there is no reason for anyone to know the baby's name either! I think it might be sort of exciting to go to the hospital not knowing whether we were coming home with a brother or a sister!

Dingle is so adamant that he has to know that I suspect that I am going to lose this one. If I am going to lose, then at the very least we are going to find out on my terms. In other words I want to have a big to-do over the whole thing! As of right now we have agreed to have the sonographer put the gender in an envelope and we will decide if, how, and when to reveal the gender at a later date.

I would love to hear how you feel about the I said everyone seems to have an opinion!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Baby #3 - 17 Weeks!

Baby stats: This week the baby is about the size of an turnip. Her bones are hardening and her joints are working. She weighs about 5oz and is 5 inches long.

Bump picture: Taken a few days late, we were on our mini vacation in MA from Sunday to Wednesday.

I do think that I look very large for only 17 weeks. That said when I go back and look at my bump watch photos from Ben I don't think I look that much bigger?? I don't know. My girlfriends didn't seem too horrified by my gigantic-ness this weekend, but maybe they were just being nice. The kids are slightly obsessed with the belly. Ben gives the baby kisses and hugs several times a day and as soon as he starts Lily has to get right in there too. It is adorable, and only slightly embarrassing when Ben decides the checkout line at the grocery store is the perfect place to give the belly some lovin'.

How you doin'?: Still feeling really good. We stayed in a hotel while we were away this past week and the kids and I slept in one room. No matter what, sleeping in the same room with Ben is never a good idea. He is a noisy sleeper and at any point in the night if he remembers that you are in there...he wants up. Matt stayed with us just the first night, which was by far the worst night's sleep I got. We had a king bed but Lily insisted on sleeping perpendicular to us in the bed. She kept assuring me that she was "being snuggly", I begged to differ.

Still having slight aches and pains in my hips and back. The pain under my ribs is still there too but as I mentioned last week I am sure it is just a phase and that as my body changes these aches will subside. I just couldn't be more grateful that I am not having headaches and that the queasy feeling is a distant memory.

I have definitely started to worry a little more about our big ultrasound next Wednesday. I just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong, but at the same time I also know just how powerful my brain can be when it sets it's mind to worrying. All I can do is pray and try and keep my mind from going to dark places. Just as I said a few weeks ago, physically I am feeling great so I have no real reason to worry.

While spending time with my girls this past week the inevitable question of whether or not this was "it" for us came up. I hate to even think about it, honestly never being pregnant again, it just makes me sad. That being said I don't know if I can go through all of this again. I am not really all that worried about the stress it puts on my body, but mentally and emotionally I just don't know if I have it in me. Time will tell and pregnancy amnesia will likely set in but I know for certain that I am not as blissfully unaware as I once was.

Aversions/Cravings: I have made good on my proclamation of last week. I will eat anything and did when I was on vacation. Again, nothing crazy, but I have thrown all of my picky tendencies out the window. For the first time in three healthy pregnancies I am not looking forward to getting on the scale next week!

Sleeping: This isn't a good week to measure sleep given the hotel shenanigans. I really stink at going to bed early. I am sure that I would feel better in the late afternoon if I went to bed earlier at night. As it is right now I could easily nap most days, but don't because I am a terrible napper. By the time the evening rolls around I get my second wind and before I know it is 10:30. I haven't been waking up as much during the night and so when I do get to bed at a reasonable time I get a pretty good night's sleep.

Movement: Still not as consistent as I would like. I would love to look at Lily's baby book and see what I wrote about movement, but of course it is in storage. From what I can tell from my blog I started feeling Ben consistently around 18-19 weeks. I suppose I should cool my jets, easier said than done. I did feel several kicks from the outside on Sunday night so that was super exciting.

Milestones: Outside kicks! (16w6d)

What I am looking forward to: Next week is a big one, doctor appointment and big ultrasound on Wednesday AND if the stars align we close on the house on Friday.

Worries: Quad screen jitters have definitely returned.

Let's compare: 

I didn't even know what the quad screen was with Lily until we got the positive results back. With Ben I had to really fight to have them done, the nurse in my OB's office was adamantly against it due the chances of getting a false positive. Um hello, we had already had a 'real' positive. I know I am more worried this time around.

I think I feel physically about the same, maybe more tired this time, but our living situation has everyone sideways so I could just be feeling effects of that. I also didn't try to accomplish something as life changing as selling a house, living with my inlaws while raising two toddlers, and buying a new house during either of my other pregnancies ;)

I have never eaten more in my entire life, let alone during my other pregnancies.

Best moment of the week: We had a great time on our mini vacation so it is hard to pick just one moment. I think if I have to name just is this.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Our Tribute to the Winter Olympics!

Sledding with toddlers! 

I've been meaning to post these pictures all week! Last Sunday we took the kids sledding at a small hill perfect for our pint sized kiddos. Specially, we went to the elementary school that both Matt and I attended, (cue happy sighing), it is SO wonderful to be home. In a twist that no one saw coming Ben actually did not like sledding one bit and Lily LOVED it. Ben was happy to wander around at the bottom of the hill alone like a total weirdo, so in the end everyone was happy. 

Favorite quote of the day, "I only went splat one time!"

Obviously in front of the dumpster was the perfect place for a sibling pic!
Ben's one and only 'go' of the day
Snow bunny (blurry i know)
Happier to be a spectator
About to be fed up by all of the pictures in 5, 4, 3... 
Ben trying to race us to the bottom
You can almost hear the giggles
Like I said, such a odd duck!
Ridin' Solo
Future Olympian! 
Such a potato!
I could just eat him up!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!

Alternate title: The most pinterest'y' thing I have ever accomplished! (and a day early to boot!)

In a fit of hypocrisy I went a little Pinterest crazy for Valentine's Day this year. I suppose it isn't completely hypocritical since I did write just a few days ago that don't have to be a 'pinterest mom' unless you want to be...what can I say other than that I am loving this second trimester burst of energy! 

Anyway Lily's preschool class is small so I figured it wouldn't be too crazy to make her Valentine's Day cards instead of buying them. For the record I also bought a box at the dollar store fully expecting to fail miserably at producing cards that would not scar my daughter for life. After seeing a few cute things that involved at lot of paper and cutting I decided to make these...


I thought it would be super cute if we made heart shaped crayons and attached one to each of the kids' valentines. I couldn't find this small silicone mold and since I was throwing this whole thing together in one day I actually felt pretty grateful to find a bigger (6 cup version) version at Christmas Tree Shoppe for three bucks. 

Lily helped to break up the crayon pieces (as best she could) and she also helped to place them into the mold. She had just enough attention span to help me make the first batch, then Mimi and I peeled crayons for the rest of the afternoon a little while longer, in order to make three batches total. 

I baked the crayons at 350 for about 10 minutes. As soon as they looked melted all the way through I took them out of the oven and placed them on the porch to cool, I am far too impatient for my own good. I was a little worried because most of the crayons just looked brown from the top and I was pretty convinced that this whole thing was going to be a huge flop. When I popped the crayons out of the mold (and they really did slide right out) I was pleasantly surprised! 

The first batch I made was very thick and I decided that for the purposes of gluing them onto the foam card stock I had, thinner was better. For the second and third batches I only used two layers of crayon as opposed to filling the whole cup. They were harder to get out of the molds but in the end were easier to attach to the cards. I used hot glue which melted the wax slightly and seemed to hold the hearts in place. 

Lily had to write her name on all 15 cards, which after the first three was the worst thing I had ever asked her to do in her whole life. We had to take several breaks and I had to apologize for snapping. It wasn't my finest moment but I should have known better than to expect that she was going to fill out all of the cards in one sitting: stupid mommy. 

The end result was super cute and I was happy with how they turned out. I would definitely do these crayons again for other holidays or goodie bags. 

Then in a moment of total insanity I decided that I should also make royal icing heart cookies for Lily's class. 

I really have no idea what came over me, like I said some kind of pregnancy related phenomenon. 

Last but certainly not least, Lily's Valentine's Day gift from us, a brand new outfit! She was one happy little girl as she left for school this morning! 

Gotta love that toddler "smile"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Baby #3 - 16 Weeks

Baby stats: This week the baby is about the size of an avocado (mmm...guacamole). Facial features are starting to move closer to their final positions. Her tiny heart is pumping 25 quarts of blood per day.

Bump picture: New sweater from Old Navy, for some reason both of my kids were quite smitten.

As I mentioned last week I dug out my old maternity clothes bin and was really bummed out by the contents. My mother in law was gracious enough to watch the kids one afternoon last week so I hit up Target and Old Navy for a little style on a budget. I got a few cute sweaters, a new pair of jeans, and a couple of layering pieces that I hope will carry be through this endless winter.

During my first pregnancy my belly button didn't "pop" until very late in my third trimester. When I was pregnant with Ben my belly button became herniated (I delivered both babies via c-section so this was not the result of labor). The end result, a belly button that can be seen from space. It is a little embarrassing, especially since I am not really even that big yet, but there isn't a damn thing I can do about it other than laugh. It could be worse, right?!? Hopefully people will be too busy staring at my rack (now officially a B cup again, btw!) to notice my freaky belly button...or not. *I wrote all of this prior to taking tonight picture so now of course I sound crazy, but trust can see my belly button through the sweater, in this case the camera lies!*

How you doin'?Pretty darn good! This past week was so much better than last week. The weather has been better and I am sure that plays a role. The kids and I were able to play outside for more than 3 minutes several days this week and over the weekend Matt and I took them sledding. I went to the track twice, once with Ben and once by myself. Being able to stay active makes such a huge difference for my psyche. A few years ago when I worked full time I couldn't imagine how exercising could possible result in having more energy. I am now a believer through and through. Running has gotten me through nearly two years of total sleep deprivation and now a mid winter pregnancy. Aside from running we have had a few small snowstorms (3-4in) and I love to shovel.

I have been having more aches and pains throughout this pregnancy, which worries me a little about what is to come. I know I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was having round ligament pain, which really hasn't gone away completely. I have also had several braxton hicks contractions which is totally out of the 'ordinary' for me. Carrying this baby so high is hard on my ribs and my back. If I don't sit up perfectly straight or slightly reclined the muscles (and baby belly) directly under my ribs feel like they are on fire. I'm sure things will change as my body does but for right now I am not super comfortable.

The worrying has also started to subside. I think I really was just totally spun up about the house and letting it leak into all other parts of my subconscious. For better or for worse Matt is handling most of the mortgage prep so I do not have any of that on my plate. For piece of mind I have been checking the baby with the doppler pretty frequently. It is the easiest way to put my mind at ease in a matter of minutes.

Aversions/Cravings: There isn't anything in the world that I would not eat. And with that revelation every single one of my real life friends just laughed out loud. I certainly have a reputation for being a picky eater, but I am so freaking serious, give me all the will eat it.

Sleeping: I actually did sleep really great a few nights this week which was a refreshing change of pace. My dreams have been very strange (of course I can't think of any specifics right this minute) but if you have had 'pregnancy dreams' before than you know what I freaking bizarre. Unfortunately for every good night's sleep there were several other terrible ones. Lily and Ben both had another mini bought of this damn stomach bug so there was at least one night that I got up with Lily in the middle of the night and we both dozed on and off on the bathroom floor.

Movement: Like last week, nothing consistent. On Sunday we went out to lunch as a family and I swear the baby wanted to make sure that I knew she was there too, giving three solid kicks in a row. She was probably just excited to order!

Milestones: Officially in all maternity clothes.

What I am looking forward to: This weekend I am heading to MA with the kids to spend the first part of "February Vacation" with two of my favorite ladies on the planet (not to mention two of the cutest kids I know, no not mine!). I am SO excited to see them, it has been too long. The hotel has a pool and Lily is ridiculously excited. It will be a challenge spending three nights in a hotel room with my non sleepers but it will definitely be worth it.

Worries: The demons have been more quiet recently. I am sure that some quad screen jitters will resurface but hopefully not until after our mini vaca.

Let's compare: 

Feeling pretty good at this point with all three pregnancies. Definitely more aches and pains this time around but nothing a little stretching doesn't help. Also random braxton hicks, weird.

I kind of can't believe the ridiculous appetite. I think about eating all day long, haha.

Definitely using the doppler more than I did with Ben but I am also under a different kind of stress right now than I have even been in, so I am giving myself a pass.

Best moment of the week: Definitely Sunday. Dingle and I took the kids sledding (pics to come) and then went out to lunch. Everyone was happy (you know as happy as temperamental toddlers ever really are) and we had a great day together as our little foursome. Of course it got me thinking about just how much life is about to change once again.

Moms Make It Work - Featured Blogger!

My amazing friend Julia at My Life in Transition has a running series on her blog that she aptly named, Moms Make it Work. I was honored and humbled when she extended an invitation to me to write a guest post for this series. As it turns out I had a fair amount to say (shocker) and I apologize in advance for not providing an intermission or some sort of cookie break half way through!

My post will appear here on her blog today! 

Later on tonight I will be posting my 16 week update so stay tuned for that as well! 

I have also decided to paste my entire post below so that it will also appear on my own blog: 


Hi there! My name is April, I am a 32 year old full-time stay at home mom. My husband Matt and I were married in June of 2008, our daughter Lily was born in 2010, we welcomed our son Ben in 2012, and are excitedly anticipating our newest addition in July 2014.  Matt and I have spent the last 10 years or so living in the Boston area but recently decided the timing was finally right to make the big move "home" (yes we are from the same town) to Maine! You can find me at as well as on IG (growingupmaine).

I am another of Julia's "internet" friends, we met on the bump after our miscarriages in 2011. Our experiences at the time were tragically similar, and although I wish we had met under different circumstances, I am eternally grateful for the connections that we share. I was so thrilled to be asked to be a part of this series, and I hope that I have yet another perspective to add to the conversation.

Fair warning, you might want to get up and pee now...I am apparently conducting some sort of social experiment to see just how long I can hold the attention of perfect strangers!

And away we go...!

What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you? 

I have known since I was a teenager that if I did become a mom I would want to stay at home with my kids. My mother lived to work while I was growing up, and I was always envious of my friends that had moms who seemed to live for them. That is not at all a criticism of moms who love to work or of my own mom. She and my dad always did whatever was necessary to provide for us, but given the choice between being home to greet us from the school bus or working, my mom always opted for the latter, and that stayed with me. Growing up in a family where both of my parents worked, I was also hesitant to ever daydream of a life where my husband could support me while I stayed at home.

Aside from being a mom I have always wanted to be a biologist. As a kid I loved nature, and long before Nat Geo was a channel I would pour through the pages of the magazine each month, captivated by everything from bacteria to Siberian Tigers. In middle school I had a brilliant science teacher whose enthusiasm and love for science was completely contagious. I wanted to be his star student, to sit right in the front, and to know all of the answers. As you may have already guessed I was, and am to this day, wildly popular.

Fast forward through high school, one terrible year at a large state college in PA, and three glorious years at a small liberal arts college in VT, in 2003 I earned my BS in Biology and packed my bags for Boston. I didn't have a job lined up, but with so many colleges/universities/laboratories in the area I was optimistic that I would find something. Matt and I had started dating earlier that year (we had been friends a long time and even dated a time or two in high school), and if I am being completely truthful, I moved to Boston to test and see whether or not I thought the relationship could ever really go the distance.

After a few weeks of submitting my resume to every lab tech position in the city I landed a job at a big name university. The lab technician position fit my type A personality to a tee, and although I wasn't thrilled about the fact that it was a microbiology lab I was just grateful to be using my degree. For two years I was sort of stupidly happy to go to work every day. I loved my coworkers (four of whom I asked years later to be my bridesmaids), I enjoyed the technical bench work, and I felt like I was really making a contribution to the scientific community. Sadly, after working there for two years the lab began to turn over as my friends all left to pursue further education. For the better part of a year I was left feeling frustrated and stuck. I knew at that point that I wanted to marry Matt and have 500 of his babies, which to me meant pursuing a PhD was out of the question. Teaching however had always been at the back of my mind. I asked my bosses if I could alter my hours so that I could take a few classes and when they denied my request, I simply gave my notice.

In the span of 6 months Matt graduated from college with a Masters in Engineering and started his first "real job", I quit my job and went back to school full time, and we got engaged. Although I did not love my education classes I knew I was going to love teaching. In June of 2007 I was hired as a middle school life science teacher at a highly ranked school district in MA. It was my dream job. I had a beautiful, fully stocked classroom, my students were enthusiastic and well behaved, and my coworkers were amazing teachers in their own subjects (I know, gag). I truly came to life in my classroom. I poured everything I had into my curriculum and into my students. At the end of my first year of teaching Matt and I got married.

A few weeks before I started my third year Matt and I found out that we were expecting our first baby. My due date was March 28th, and by my calculations I had just enough maternity leave/PTO to carry me through the end of the school year. In what would later turn out to be a twist of fate, those sneaky administrators within my school district had me on a technicality, and if I wanted to secure my tenure I would have to return to my classroom after just 8 weeks off. At the time I was furious, but I did not want to give up my job security, so I agreed to go back and finish out the school year. Our sweet Lily was born April 3, 2010.

I had always told Matt that I would stay home with our kids.  It was something that he felt strongly about too, but I really loved my job. In three short years it had become who I was, and I was afraid of losing that person. Well that twist of fate I mentioned...had I not gone back for the last four weeks of the school year I might never have been 100% certain that leaving that job was the right call. Leaving my daughter broke my heart, every day, for the entire four weeks. When the school year ended I knew I was never going back.

I have been home ever since, full time with my babies, right where I was always meant to be.

My husband had the amazing opportunity to work from home (with flexible hours) for three of the last four years. We have all benefited from this situation in ways that I can not even fully wrap my head around. He has been truly my partner in every sense of the word. He has done countless diapers and 5am feedings, kissed boo boos and made lunches, helped with baths and given good night kisses. Had it not been for him I am convinced that I would have had a nervous breakdown (and honestly very nearly did anyway) after a year of sleeping in 2 hour blocks after our son Ben was born in 2012.

What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

Our current situation has been a hard adjustment for our family, as we knew it would be. Matt changed jobs in February of 2013, which meant commuting to an office 45 minutes (often more) each way M-F. For the first time since either of my children were born I was truly on my own. This is not the "poor me" segment of this post, I know that many SAHMs are on their own from first cry (or coo if you are lucky!) until bedtime...and all of the time in between. For me this was the first time that I ever felt burnt out as a mom. I did not invest time in seeking out mommy groups or new friends when Lily or Ben were newborns because I had my best friend in the trenches with me. It was an isolating feeling, and I found it very difficult to make new friends. It was as if all the good mommy friends had already been taken, and I was two years too late to the party. Like I said, wildly popular.

Our situation changed again in October when our house sold somewhat unexpectedly (we had taken it off the market), and we decided to move in with Matt's parents in Maine. At the time Matt was a few months away from acquiring his stock options, and we both agreed that we could make anything work for a few months. As of right now he commutes down to the Boston area on Monday morning, stays the night with a friend and then drives back to Maine after work on Tuesday. He works from home on Wednesday and repeats the overnight stay on Th/F. It is hard on me, the kids, and most of all him. It is not a situation that is sustainable for our family.

Through all of the changes over the past year there is one thing I know for certain, I do not want to go back to work. There are times when I miss teaching, but staying home with my babies is a privilege that I am simply not willing to give up. Plus, and this is a big factor for me in ever returning to work, I know that I would be disappointed in myself as a teacher now that I cannot possibly give it everything I have. For better or for worse, I have a very much 'all or nothing' personality.

The hands-down-best-part of being a full time SAHM, I get to be here for all of the small (dare I say mundane) stuff. I love that I know how Lily likes her toast, where to find Ben's favorite truck, and which side of Lily's bankie is "the right side". Those are the details that are important to them, and I know that they love and appreciate me, as much as they know how, for paying attention. I am fiercely protective of my role in their lives. I am happier and more fulfilled by my job as their primary caretaker than I ever could be by a job outside my home.

The second best part of our situation for me is that I get to be in charge, no more defaulting to Daddy in the middle of the day. The kids and I do whatever I want, and we do not have to worry that we are disrupting Matt's work day. Despite the fact that no one else really cares what we do all day, the kids do have a rigid schedule for meals and naps. We may wear our jammies for the better part of the day, but I can tell you exactly where my kids will be at 1pm tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Like other moms have mentioned, we have struggled with boundaries, especially now that we live in Maine and closer to family. It took me the better part of a year to sleep train my son, and you had better believe I will go all mama bear on your ass if you stand between Ben and his night night routine. I have had to be more flexible with our schedule while living with my in-laws for the past few months, which has been a major source of inner scowling.

As far as personal challenges I would say that I have definitely struggled with my self worth over the past year. One of the down sides of no one caring what you do all one cares what you do all day. The kids do not hold a parade or give me a standing ovation if the house is spotless by bedtime. I care and I take pride in knowing that I cooked and cleaned and wiped butts all day, but no one else does. In fact I suspect that Matt and the kids are irritated by a clean house (and maybe even clean butts) because it means they have to keep it that way for more than five minutes. I have found that without a boss or supervisor to say "good job today", I have had some pretty low moments after a hard day's work. What I have learned is that I am not insecure about the job 'well done', I am frustrated by the lack of validation. The solution is fairly simple, I have to either employ someone to come over and pat me on the back...or let it go and just be happy with myself. I am working on that last part.

Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids? 

As I mentioned briefly, I was hesitant to ever entertain the idea that I would actually be able to stay at home with my kids. Early on in our relationship Matt and I really bonded over the idea, and he has never once wavered in his dedication to make it a reality.

Aside from Matt's long commute and overnight stays I would say yes, this is what I had imagined our lives would be like. I will be the first person to admit, as I do frequently on my own blog, that I am not going to be 'Mother of the Year' any time this millennium. I do not make gourmet meals every night, nor do I make elaborate arts and crafts with the kids on a regular basis. I think in my imagination I somehow thought that I would magically become Mary Poppins once I became a mother.  As it turns out I can barely carry a tune, let alone host a tea party on the ceiling. I can however feed the kids balanced meals, hose them down regularly, and push the toys out of the way with the vacuum at least a few times a week. None of these tasks on their own are notable, but I suspect that no matter what your job at least part of your day is pretty ordinary.

I certainly didn't think life at home with two toddlers would be glamorous, which is good, because it is not. I did think it would be wonderful, but NEVER could have I imagined just how gratifying and fulfilling it would be for me.

Is this your ideal situation?

Again, aside from Matt's long hours away from us, this is my ideal life, not just situation. We have moved home to Maine to be closer to family, and for the foreseeable future I will be able to stay at home with the kids full time. I am very much looking forward to getting into our new house (just three more weeks!) and settling in to a new routine.

I definitely need to make some friends and in a *perfect* world Matt will be working from home by the time the new baby comes, but those things would just be icing on the cake.

Do you see yourself making a career change in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set up staying put for the long haul? 

I really do not think that I would be as happy in a full time teaching role as I was before I had kids of my own. Not to mention my license expires this year and we have now moved states so I am not even sure what the renewal process would be. It does make me a little sad to think that I will likely never have my own classroom again, but then I start to think about what I would be giving up to go back to teaching, and the sadness quickly fades into gratitude.

I am in this gig as SAHM for the long haul for sure.

How do you handle mommy guilt that comes with each role? 

There are only a few things that I ever truly feel guilty about.

If I lose my cool, yell, or snap at the kids I usually spend at least a few minutes fighting back tears in the bathroom at some point later on in the day. I put a lot of pressure on myself to model the types of behaviors I expect from my kids, and when I act less than kind I am always worried that they will in turn be less kind. I know in reality that isolated moments of anger are not going to scar them for life but if I am the only person they see all day long I had better make sure I like what is reflected back at me.

I definitely have days that I feel guilty that I do not take the kids to do a million activities. I have a few mommy friends whose weekly calendars make my head spin. That is just not the kind of person I am, let alone mom, and I wouldn't be happy rushing all over town or being bound by a strict activity schedule. I know that inevitably my unhappiness over a jam packed schedule would spill over on to the kids (probably in the form of yelling or snapping), so really I would just be swapping out one form of guilt for another! I want the kids to have great experiences and learn to play with other kids, which is why I send Lily to preschool two days a week...for me that is enough.

And then there are things that I absolutely do not feel guilty about.

I have never felt guilty or self conscious about that fact that (for now) my identity is completely wrapped up in theirs. I understand that for some women it is important that they still have a sense of self outside of their role as 'mom'. Prior to having kids I think I would have expected to feel the same way, but I really don't. It is okay to be satisfied with being just mom. I am proud of my kids and the awesome people that they are becoming, which is at least in part because of me. I really don't feel the need to establish myself as an independent entity, at least right now. I also fully understand that a lot of women may not relate to this feeling, but I thought I would throw it out there in case there are some readers who have been made to feel bad for not wanting 'more'.

I most definitely do not feel guilty about the dream! 
I have also never felt guilty that I no longer bring home an income. The way I see it, the day to day service I provide to my family is invaluable. I also do not feel guilty that I am not leading by example in terms of working an outside job. I am well educated, independent, and a hard worker...none of those things will change just because I choose to stay home. I wish we weren't still paying off my student loans, but that is neither guilt nor regret...just wishful thinking!

Tips for how to make this work for you. Advice for new moms staying at home? 

My first piece of advice would be one I didn't do for myself, make some mommy friends. You do not have to have a jam packed schedule, and your infant does not need to know how to swim!! But you might find that a standing afternoon coffee/playdate is just what the doctor ordered. I wish that I had made more of an effort to find a few good friends during those crazy baby days. I was fortunate enough to make one new friend after Lily was born, and although our kids don't always play nicely, it is always great to sneak away and meet her for coffee.

I think the biggest take-home message I would like to pass along is this: you do not have to be a 'pinterest perfect' mom, unless YOU want to be. There is a lot of pressure out there to have it all together all the time, or at least make it appear as if you do! Succumbing to that pressure can make you crazy, and if you are like me, that can be a serious source of self doubt. At the end of the day you have to do what makes you happy because ultimately, your happiness is their happiness (and this definitely goes the other way too). Your kids will love you for coloring in dollar store books with crayons you found in the bottom of your purse just as much as they would love you for making paper mache farm animals. The best thing I can do for my kids, and the part about my job that I love the most, is just being there. I watch their mindless TV shows on PBS because my daughter likes it when I know the songs. I sit with them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (even if I am not eating) because they like to chat while they eat. I crash race cars and brush pony hair because Ben likes the way I say "Oh Noooo!" and Lily insists that I am the only person who can do the elastic just right. That is not to say that my kids never play by themselves, of course they do, but unless I have something else I am really trying to get done...I am right there by their side, taking it all in. The bond that my kids and I share is all in the details. If one day, years from now, my kids utter the sentence, "Ugh, my mom was ALWAYS around when we were growing up," then I will know I have done my job.

Thank you so much Julia for allowing me to share my story! And thank you all so much for reading!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Baby #3 - 15 Weeks!

Baby stats: This week the baby is about four inches long and weighs 2.5oz. She is about the size of an apple and her legs are now longer than her arms. She is busy developing her tiny lungs and although she cannot open her eyes she can sense light.

Bump picture. Again no natural light to be had but you are getting used to the pictures by now anyway. :)

Oh hello old maternity clothes, I cannot say that I have missed you all that much. I actually really like maternity clothes in general and there are some super cute things out there right now, but buying a house does not lend itself to updating a wardrobe that will only be worn for a few months. This week I pulled out my old bin of clothes and have started separating out the things that will fit me now. A lot of my maternity clothes are work clothes from school and a little too dressy (and needlessly uncomfortable) for my current SAHM role. It is only a matter of time before Lily asks, "Mommy didn't you just wear that shirt?"

I think this might be my last week in regular jeans, I can still wear them pretty comfortably because I am carrying so high, except...and this is obviously a problem, when I am sitting on the floor playing. I wore leggings today and it was just so much more comfortable!

Also, and I have no idea how I failed to mention this sooner, the boobs! They're back and they are spectacular. (It's okay if you just scrolled back up to check them out, no shame)

How you doin'?This week was full of worry, mostly about the new house but any time I feel anxious it is not a far leap for my brain to transfer that worry over to baby related uncertainties. Physically I have been feeling great so I have no real reason to worry at all. And to be honest I am not really "worried" about the new house either, I just can't stop thinking about it, which I do think is different. I am just at a stage where I cannot for the life of me turn my brain off.

I went for a jog on Tuesday and then again on Thursday! I am a running junkie. I swore I was only going to walk (briskly) but by the time I had done 800m I just couldn't stifle the urge to pick up the pace and see what I could still do. Surprisingly running felt SO good. I ran something like a 10 minute mile so I wasn't exactly stepping on the gas but my lungs and legs both felt so great. I slowed down and walked another 800m and decided that 2 miles every couple of days is just what the doctor ordered. I don't know how long I will be able to keep it up, lets face it at this rate I won't be able to bend over and tie my shoes in a few weeks, but for now it feels right so I am going to stick with it.

Aversions/Cravings: Still hungry all the time and on the two days I went for a jog I could have eaten my way through the entire refrigerator. I feel like I am doing a pretty good job eating balanced meals and not just filling up on junk. That is not to say I am eating "perfectly", I have had more than my share of cupcakes recently. I have no choice but to eat a good breakfast, the baby demands it. I have been trying to eat foods high in iron and drink all my daily water. So far I am doing pretty well, thanks in part to eating at my mom and dad's. I know that if I were home alone and left to my own devices I would not make a full meal for myself on the nights that Matt is in the city.

Still craving sour pickles, hot mustard, hot and sour soup (the best of both worlds right now!) and a cold beer. Damn you cold beer.

Sleeping: Eh, same old story here. I do all of my best worrying at night. Specifically from 2-5am. I have no trouble whatsoever falling asleep, but once I get up to pee at two I might as well get up for the day and try and be productive. Maybe I could pick up a part time job, haha.

Movement: Definitely felt the baby on three separate occasions this week, no doubt in my mind. I cannot feel anything from the outside yet but I know this baby is a mover and a shaker!

Milestones: Feeling tiny baby kicks!

What I am looking forward to: My anatomy scan is scheduled for Feb 26th. I am very excited to see the baby again and make it past this huge milestone and just confirm that everything looks good. There is currently a heated debate taking place in this marriage over whether or not to find out the gender...but that is a post for another day!

Worries: Ha.Ha.Ha.

I just have to remind myself that there is nothing to worry about. It is out of my hands. I feel great and if there is something 'wrong' with the baby than we will cross that bridge when we get there. Period.

Let's compare: 

With Lily I was blissfully unaware that pregnancy complications and birth defects do happen to real women. We are closing in on the time frame that I found out that Lily might have Spina Bifida, which to this day was the worst and scariest day of my life, bar none. With Ben and this baby I was/am painfully aware of these details.

I was not exercising at all at this point during either of my other pregnancies, oops.

I am not as happy in our current living situation as I was when I was pregnant with my other two children and so in general that is spilling over into feeling like I am enjoying this pregnancy less. I think it is some sort of mind trick however because I really do love being pregnant. Moving into the new house will be amazing.

Best moment of the week: Two this week. First was yesterday. We had the house to ourselves in the afternoon so around one o'clock we put Ben down for a nap and Matt and I snuggled up with Lily in our bed and put on the Winnie the Pooh movie. It was so sweet to just lay there and snuggle. Matt and I both cat napped and Lily was as happy as a little clam. It was one of those "yup...THIS is love" moments.

Just now as I was typing out my update the sellers accepted the purchase and sale agreement and are going to give us the credits we asked for. The house is officially under contract!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dream House - Inspected!

On Friday morning Matt and I met the home inspector and 7 other gentlemen at our future home.

We remember the inspection process from when we bought out first home so I came prepared with my camera, a notepad and pen, and a tape measure. At our first inspection it was just us and the inspector...and it was still overwhelming. On Friday there were SO MANY PEOPLE on the property. There were the septic tank guys, and the the air/water quality guys, the renter, the home inspector, the realtor, and us.

Of course everyone wanted to do their part and get on to their next project but it just wasn't possible to meet with everyone all at once. The home inspector was my top priority and I tried my best to stick close to him. Side note: The inspector is the dad of a high school classmate of mine who had done his homework and asked all about us prior to meeting was adorable and he very much treated us as though we were his kids buying this house, which I found very reassuring. He took his time and answered every single question I had. He let me climb ladders, helped me take measurements, and tolerated me climbing into the crawl spaces. Overall the house looks great and there is nothing major that we should be worried about. The roof and other big ticket items are all in great condition which is a huge relief.

The renter was there when we first got there to let us know that a pipe had burst in the upstairs eave and had leaked down the wall and was dripping into the basement. Awesome. In reality it really isn't that big of a deal and most of the damage is just cosmetic. We are choosing not to press the issue and are giving them the benefit of the doubt that they will take care of the problem like they said they would. Hopefully our laid back attitude doesn't come back to bite us. The renter also offered us some helpful insight into the home, how to heat it, repairs he thinks he would make etc.

The septic tank guys were equally awesome. A father son duo that were just as nice as can be. They were knowledgeable and also took a lot of time with us making sure that we understood the hows and whys of maintaining a septic system. So now I know all about what happens to our waste, what a relief! Also there are no problems with the current system, so that is also a relief.

The air and water quality guys were last and this is the system that makes me the most nervous for sure. The water (pre-filters) tested positive for high levels of arsenic which obviously isn't safe. The water post filter is very safe to drink but the filtration system needs servicing and in the not too distant future will need some upgrading. We are asking the sellers for a credit to put towards the urgent servicing. The system itself is huge and sort of intimidating. Hopefully when the guys come back to do the service call the house will be less hectic and we can take a little more time to learn what all of the components do.

The only other significant finding was that there is radon in the basement. A remediation system will need to be installed and we are asking the sellers for a credit for this as well.

Other than that we are letting all of the small stuff go. The last thing I want to do is put a bad taste in the sellers' mouths because we are being too nit picky. We signed the purchase and sale today and now we just wait to see if the sellers counter or if they simply agree to our terms. We really do feel as though the two credits we are asking for would/will be issues with any buyer and that the sellers will handle them appropriately.

I did take a lot of new pictures and I will organize them and figure out a way to post them in a way that tells the story of the house. Most likely I will do some sort of before and after post as we complete our projects and add our person touches to this home. Decorating may be a challenge and a lot of our old furniture might not work in these spaces. I really won't know until we get it all in. Just like with any new house there will definitely be a transitional period before things are just how I would like them. The kitchen and bathrooms are in need of some updating and I would like to refinish the floors and replace the carpets. I can't wait to get started! My kids are going to be so so happy there.

This house literally makes my heart skip a beat.