Category: Starling

Our Feisty Little Bird at 16 Months

Our little chunk-a-monk is 16 months. These “month-a-versaries” seemed so important with Jaybird, and I often wrote updates to commemorate them, but as is the case with second children, Starling isn’t getting the same treatment.

Not that he cares! He’s busy. He has a packed schedule. Most days, his to-do list includes: climb the furniture, remove things from cabinets, put shoes on hands, grab cats’ tails, throw food on floor, follow his brother, attempt to get his brother’s Legos, cry when interfered with …

He’s really got quite the agenda. It amazes me, the way he never stops moving. There are peaceful moments, though, too. He loves books, and sitting in laps to be read to. Favorites include such scintillating titles as “Rough and Tough Cars and Trucks” and “Hello, Texas!” (why?), but also “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Mommy, Mama, and Me,” “Goodnight Moon,” “I Like it When,” “I Am a Bunny,” and on and on. I’m impressed by this early focus and interest.

Starling is social, loud, and opinionated. He enjoys a hubbub. He has some stranger anxiety, but he warms up fairly easily, and likes to hand our visitors books with the expectation that they’ll scoop him up for a quick read. It’s fun to watch the way that he tracks faces, imitates tone, and makes himself heard. He babbles constantly; it sounds like a made-up-but-grammatically-consistent language that you’d hear in a fantasy movie. If you whisper, he’ll whisper back. He has some words that we can make out. These include “uh-oh,” “hi,” “mama,” and “kitty,” which sounds like “k-eee.” He likes to laugh, and make himself laugh, and he’s starting to give hugs and sloppy, open-mouth kisses. A favorite game is to steal the glasses off your face. Not really as fun for the adults, that one.

He’s feisty, too. All toddlers are working on autonomy. All toddlers protest when they don’t get their way. Starling, however, is extra-vocal in this regard. He screams and growls like some kind of crazed gremlin when he’s prevented from getting something or going somewhere. The other day, I shut the door to Jaybird’s room, thus preventing Starling from reaching the bounty of choking hazards inside. He collapsed in a sobbing heap, pressing his forehead to the floor. I tried to distract him with a wooden toy snake he likes; he took it from me and threw it, hard.

We’re making some attempts to night-wean him. If (when) he wakes up between 12 – 5, Uno goes in to offer comfort. He does not get milk. This enrages him. He was so loud about it last night that there was no hope of me getting any sleep, either. (She did manage to settle him. He does accept defeat, but it takes a while.) I felt guilty, but also determined, because it’s time. I need more sleep. We’ll get there.

Uno and I think that Starling is even more strong-willed than his brother. He’s a bit of a bruiser, too – tall, solid – and he doesn’t know his own strength. This combination makes him a little difficult to manage. He scratches, pinches, pulls, hits, grabs. Sigh. A lot of this comes out of frustration that he can’t do everything his brother can. He’s also very jealous of any attention that Jaybird gets. As soon as Jaybird is, say, sitting in one of our laps, Starling toddles headlong towards us and tries to wedge himself in.

They play together well, sometimes. Jaybird is generally attentive – if anything, hyper-vigilant about whatever Starling should or shouldn’t be doing. He likes to play chasing games with his brother, and they giggle hysterically together, which is heart-meltingly cute.

In general, I’d say that Starling is larger, louder, and more verbal than his brother was at this age. He’s … zesty. He’s also very happy, most of the time, and often content to toddle around exploring things and transporting items.

It’s interesting to see myself in him. He looks like my baby photos, and his brown eyes, so different than Jaybird’s, remind me of my sister’s. Perhaps his verbal tendencies are inherited – but I don’t want to ascribe too much to genetics. The world is so eager to do that.

At 16 months, Starling’s world is expanding. He understands more; he’s on the cusp of talking; he’s nearly running. I don’t get to witness these changes as much as I’d like. I miss him when I’m at work. I do enjoy the orderly, adult world of the office, and I’m not worried about Starling during the day. But by late afternoon, I start to get antsy about seeing him. I feel a deep tug. He’s quite delicious. I don’t think I’ve conveyed just how sweet, squishy, and funny he is. I don’t usually post photos, but take a gander at him in his Halloween costume this year, and you’ll see.

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In The Thick of It

I’ve been missing in action around these parts, and want to remedy that, but here it is already time to pick up Jaybird from preschool. Oy vey. I will indulge in five minutes and be a little late. In no particular order:

-I’ve started teaching a few days a week. I’m at the helm of two sections of English 101. It’s familiar territory for me, and the students are the usual mix of delightful and frustrating. Already, I feel the rewards of the work, the connections made. So different than the corporate blah of the last year and a half. So that is wonderful. Not so wonderful is the 45 minute drive each way. I am trying to be on campus as little as possible, so I rush there, teach, rush home. A bit frantic. It’s mostly about nursing. I teach in the same classroom but only have ten minutes between courses, and by the time class #1 is done I need to pump. I shoo out the students, put a sign on the door, hide in a corner of the classroom and plug in. Totally awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it. Every time I pull up my shirt in that room, I’m convinced someone is going to come barging through the door. It doesn’t lock! That is, I can’t lock it manually. I have a student guard it, plus the sign…but still…

-Starling is home with my mother-in-law during those afternoons, and also with Uno for two of them. It’s working pretty well. I’m so grateful to not have to pay for childcare. That said my MIL is still learning his cues. He doesn’t sleep enough with her, she gives him a bottle just before I get home with a burning need to nurse. We just have to work out some kinks, I suppose.

-Starling is a chunk-a-monk of a happy guy. He’s so long! He’s outgrown many a onesie. He prefers to sleep while being held, just like his brother. He also nurses a lot in the night. I’m not sure about whether to “train” him (even a bit) or not. I’m jealous of friends with babies who sleep through the night already, but I don’t want to make him cry. He is twelve weeks, by the way. Twelve!

-We are still in divide-and-conquer mode with the kiddos, but Uno is getting more time with the baby now that I’m teaching, and I’m glad for that. Also, I have Jaybird two afternoons a week, and we have fun adventures to the park and such. It’s vital for us. We both need it, especially as I have to spend so much time nursing and baby-tending.

-Jaybird is so sassy! He loves to say things like “I know that,” or “You’re not the boss of me,” or “I already did that,” or what have you. He’s also snuggly and funny as ever. He’s super-short (6th percentile), not the greatest eater (some power struggles around food, sigh), and so curious and adventurous and bright-eyed. His farm / outdoor preschool remains awesome.

-My mom is still pretty sick and in-patient. It’s overwhelming, emotionally, so I avoid thinking about it most days. Heart breaker.

-We’ve had lots of visitors and our house is lively. It’s something I love for my kids. (Hello, Adela, we miss you…) I don’t love trying to keep the darn place clean and presentable.

-File under things I want to write about: the weird space between gestational and non-gestational parenthood. I have so much to say but my thoughts are scattered.

And now I had better run to scoop up my wiggly four year-old, who will no doubt be encrusted with mud.

A Baby Summer

Almost a month in and I’m starting to think this is manageable. Changes! Oh, changes.

Starling is four weeks old, somehow, still small and floppy but growing bigger and more person-like every day. It’s as if he’s been here forever and yet no time at all. We’re still getting to know him. I feel like he’s such a mystery sometimes, like he just appeared to us from a dream. A good, sweet dream. He’s sleepy in the afternoons and eats every two hours. He has deep gray-blue eyes, one slightly bigger than the other, and a perfectly round face and a funny squawking cry. He often grunts or squeaks like a tiny piglet. I love to snuggle him. I am with him all.the.time. I am exhausted, yet I feel better each day: less random tearfulness, less discomfort. Hardest is juggling everything, namely our big boy with all his energy. I remember feeling like we were swimming underwater when Jaybird was born, and the feeling is similar now. But there are such differences.

I’m still wrapping my mind around the role-shifting, gestationally speaking. Nursing, for one thing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, but also a little shocked by the full-time aspect, the way that it pins me to the couch for hours. The soreness, too, the physical toll and recovery from birth, just not feeling like myself. Uno is also adjusting. She’s said “it’s so strange not to have nursing this time.” I remember feeling left out by the intensity of her and Jaybird’s nursing relationship and I don’t want her to feel that way. Yet the reality is, Starling wants to nurse 90% of his waking life! (I’m lucky that my body can keep up. If anything I have too much milk and it leaks everywhere.) We will start pumping and try some bottles soon, but haven’t yet as I’ve been trying to get our latch just right. We had to start out with the nipple shield and are only just now weaning off of it…

I digress. I don’t think Uno does feel the same way as I did, because she has Jaybird. What I want to avoid is feeling like we each have a designated child. I cried about that pretty much every day, at first. It’s abated, though. I’ve had sweet times with my big boy, reading him to sleep, playing Legos. A little quality time goes a long way. I remind myself that as Starling gets bigger, it’ll be easier to share duties, that this infant period is such a short blip. Not that I want to rush it. I don’t know. Conflicting feelings.

We are enjoying our hot-hot summer, all the while. Jaybird takes delight in water play, whether at the lake, the Sound or in the sprinkler. We have prolific tomato and pumpkin plants. We try to keep the house cool with whirring fans and plenty of ice cream. We just spent several days in my hometown, berry picking and swimming and sleeping in, which was lovely. Uno is back at work today (!!) and Jaybird is in half-day gymnastics camp all week. Next week he has half-day preschool again. I sleep in two- or three-hour chunks at night – not terrible – and am reading more than ever, with all the nursing. Right now I’m wearing a sweaty little Starling at a local coffeeshop and it feels downright indulgent to be here, with iced coffee and a laptop. I’m working on embracing this: it’s okay to be less productive, to be here, with my boys, with the demands and pleasures of the present moment. 

I have maternity leave through the end of the month. After much thought, I’m 98% sure I won’t be going back to that particular job. Instead, I’m going to teach again this fall — half-time at the same community college. The schedule is so much easier on the family. It’s not forever, but for now it makes the most sense. It will only have me away for about 15 hours/week. Plus, I just can’t stand the thought of putting Starling in full-time daycare, as we never had to do with Jaybird. When you crunch the numbers, it’s pretty silly, in a sense: most of my net pay would go to childcare if I returned to the copywriter position. That said, I worry this decision to pieces. I wear circles around it. It means less money (and less stability from academic quarter to quarter). Uno is totally confident about it but I worry and worry. I try to remind myself that the ILLUSION of control doesn’t actually equal having control over the future. I try to remind myself to trust my instincts. I also remind myself that this is a decision for the moment, for the now. Things will change and we will adjust accordingly.

And oh, are we ever lucky. Look at these love nuggets.

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Starling

He’s here and perfect with enormous kissable cheeks and wide eyes. All 8 lbs, 9 oz of him. Labor was very long and hard and not what I had hoped for, but we made it through and I got to have a vaginal birth. I ended up having 24 hours of intense labor with almost no progress, even after they broke my water. In the end needed an epidural, just couldn’t endure. More details soon. I’m grateful to my support team and to the fantastic midwife we got for the last 12 hours or so. The whole thing was something like 36 hours.

Starling is beautiful and was so much bigger than I expected! He’s nursing now. It’s all going pretty well and it can’t stop staring at him. I am emotional about the birth, hard not to be, but talking myself through it. Jaybird loves to give his brother kisses and is eager to tug on him in various ways. We’re home together and I’m relieved for it. A few pictures…

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Baby On the Way

Pretty sure this is it…

and it happens to be his due date. Cooperative little guy! I’m distracting myself by writing this. Still at home – contractions steady. Getting more intense, but I can basically talk through them. Feeling hopeful for a smooth, strong birth. Yesterday, I had my membranes stripped for the third time (good god) and I think that finally did the trick. Well, that and I’ve been making progress. I was already at 3.5-4 cm dilated. Starling dropped to a -1 station.

So here we go!

Starling Is…

A boy!

He’s a beautiful, perfect little guy who didn’t stop moving for the entire scan. Wiggle, flip , kick and shimmy: he’s an active one. I teared up seeing his fully formed little body. All looks great.

Jaybird announced to us, before the appointment: “I already know. It’s a boy.” Psychic?

I love the idea of brothers. Of course some part of me wanted / wants to raise a daughter, but I feel like this is a wonderful balance for our family. And I’m so excited to see this baby bird grow into his own unique self, gender aside.

Here he is! My favorite is the one of him curled on his belly.

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