Monday, January 14, 2013

December Self Portrait

Yup, yup, it's mid January.  I know.  But I promise, although I didn't have my blog post finished, the picture was taken in December.  December 31st to be exact, because I worked New Year's Eve...and New Year's Day....and Christmas Eve.  The joys of being a nurse.

I returned to work in December after a three month long maternity leave, and I surprisingly had very mixed feelings about returning this time.  There was never any doubt that I would, I just wasn't super excited about it.  And that's a new feeling for me. 

I have always loved my job, and even after having Addy I was excited to return to work.  Excited to get back to myself, back to some adult interaction, back to using my college trained brain.  I was ready. 

This time I kind of dreaded it.  But I thought for sure once I got back I would be glad that I did.  Wrong again.  And this totally threw me for a loop.  Even on days that I dread going to work, I am usually fine once I get there.  But my feelings are different this time.

Most everyone that reads this blog knows that I am a Pediatric ICU nurse.  My job is tough.  That is nothing new.  But my job gets much, much tougher once you have children of your own.  It gets much more emotionally difficult.  I can't help but compare every baby to my baby, every toddler to my toddler.  I think a thousand times per shift that I would completely fall apart if it was my child lying there attached to multiple tubes, wires, and lines. 

Now I had all of these feelings when I returned to work after having Addy, but I think that I had really mentally prepared myself ,and I was just so excited to get back to myself again, that it wasn't as tough as I thought it would be.  It really wasn't.  This time, when I returned to work after having Emma, it was much harder than I thought it would be.  Because there was no "returning to myself."  Being a mom is myself.  No, it's not all that I am, but to me, it is one of the most important parts of who I am.  I was such a new mom last time, that coming back to work felt right and felt back to normal.  Now, having already been a mother for almost two years, that is a my new normal.  Staying home with my kids is my normal.  It's what I love.

When we had Addy, we were the first of our local friends to have a child.  I literally had no friends with children.  And that was an extremely isolating experience for me.  I think it was a big part of why I was so ready to get back to work last time.  Now, fast forward two years, and we have several friends with children.  I also joined a mom group filled with people that I really like a lot, and I take the girls on play dates at least once a week.  I have friends in the same stage of life now.  I get out of the house now.  I no longer need to fill that void with work. 

But back I went, because I know that I really have the best of both worlds.  I am essentially a stay at home mom who is able to work outside the home occasionally.  I get the schedule that I want.  I have seniority at my job.  I can work as much or as little as I want to.  It's an awesome gig and I am not denying that.

But I am struggling this time and I just need to acknowledge those feelings.  I think I was so blindsided because I expected to be fine.  It's my second baby after all, and if I fared OK going back after the first, the second should have been a breeze.  But it wasn't.  It isn't.  I am on the verge of tears on a daily basis at work at some the awful things I see.  I think of my girls and my heart hurts.  Hurts for those poor little innocent children and the families that love them more than anything on the planet.  People say being a mother makes you a better pediatric nurse.  Maybe (hopefully) so, but it sure doesn't make it any easier.

But on Christmas Eve this year, one of our eight year old patients reminded me of why I love what I do.  She made little red and green ribbon decorations for all of the babies cribs, because she wanted to brighten up their Christmas.  Things like that make my heart smile and remind me of one of the many reasons I love my job.  Children have such a giving spirit.  Was this eight year old girl feeling sorry for herself that she had to be in the hospital on Christmas?  No, she was thinking of the babies.  Children are truly amazing and we could all learn a lot from them. 

Then, right when I was feeling most emotional about my return to work, I stumbled across this on Facebook:

That statement is totally true.  Children are amazing for so many reasons.  Which makes working with them amazing for so many reasons.  Yes, my job is hard.  It is long hours, weekends, and holidays.  It is too little pay for way too much work.  It is often infused with tears of sorrow.

.... But there are so many tears of joy too.  The feeling of knowing that I am helping these amazing children recover is incomparable.  Children deserve the best because they always they always give the most.  I am blessed to be able to do what I do.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Addy: 23 Months!

Dear Addy Marie,

Only one more month until you are 2!!!  Can you believe it?  Because I sure can't.  I feel like it was just yesterday that you were Emmy's age, and now you are such a big girl!

Your little dimples are becoming more and more pronounced these days, and I really took notice this past month.  I love them!  You have this new way of smiling for pictures, and I'm not sure where you learned it, but it's comical for sure.  Check it out:

Ha ha! You always do the head tilt, hand to the face pose.  So funny!!

This pose also reminds me of another new thing you have started to do this month.  When you hear something, you stop and put your hand to your ear and whisper, "Listen."  And then you get your intense concentration look until you figure out what it is that you're hearing.  You crack me up little lady!

I would say that your favorite toy of this past month is your kaleidoscope.  You have figured out how to use it, which undoubtedly helps.  You used to put it up to your forehead (in between your eyes) and you could never quite figure out the appeal of that toy, ha ha.  But once you discovered that you need to look INTO it, you are now fascinated with it.  You try to say the word too, and considering what a long word it is, you do pretty darn well.

Which brings me to my next point.  You have some pretty impressive speech skills for how young you are.  It's fairly easy to understand what you are saying and you are now putting several words together in phrases. You can also count to ten... without skipping five!  Ha ha, you relented and let five back into your counting sequence.  You are awesome with colors too, and you can name them all.  We are currently working on recognizing shapes and letters.  We practice letters with the magnetic ones on the fridge, and you can pick out the letter "A" for "Addy".  Sometimes you can find the "D" for "Daddy" and the "M" for "Mommy" too.  You are a very smart little girl and we are constantly amazed by how quickly you catch on to things that you are taught.

Recently you fell back in love with all of your push toys, and you love to zoom around the hardwood floors with them.  Especially your princess car.  You like to ride around the house collecting things and putting them in the trunk of your car.  So if we are ever missing anything, we know that if we look in your princess car, we are likely to find it.  

Your drum set from Aunt Lauren continues to be a favorite toy, and you love marching around with Mommy and Daddy playing music :)

You like to snuggle with your dolls, and you are a good little Mommy to them :)

You got some beautiful jewels from Aunt Erin for Christmas and you insist on wearing your tiara like so:
It reminds me of how Aunt Tina used to wear her headbands when she was little.

Beautiful earrings and necklace!  Now all you need is some hair, ha ha!

You are still fairly obsessed with the TV and IPad, and limiting your use is a daily struggle.  But you have finally relented with the IPad at least.  You know that you are only allowed to use it while I feed Emmy, so as soon as I'm done you are very good about turning it off and putting it away.  So we're making progress :)  You favorite show is the Little Einsteins, which I really like a lot too.  It's educational, and Grandma Hetrick loves it because it teaches kids about music :)  Maybe you will play an instrument someday!

We have a nightly routine (which we've always had) that has now expanded to include being covered up with multiple blankets.  You were demanding four blankets for a short period of time until we nixed that because you were constantly waking up in a sweat!  So we weaned you to two blankets, and you will not go to bed without two.  When I put one blanket over you, you look up at me and say, "Other."  You're such a quirky little thing :)

Playing outside remains one of your favorite things to do, and now that you are getting older you can really play with Daisy!

Addy, I am pleased to say that this month has been drastically easier with you than the past couple have been.  Your tantrums have markedly reduced, and Daddy and I are breathing a sigh of relief about that.  I think part of it has to do with the fact that you have been healthy all month, so you are feeling good.  No colds, no new teeth.  Also, the older you are getting, the more you are able to communicate with us what you need.  So some of your frustration at not being understood is fading away.

You continue to be an amazing big sister to little Emmy.  You can always make her smile, and when you do, you look at us and say, "Emmy happy!"  You are such a sweet little girl and everyone just adores you.  From your teachers to your friends, to (of course) your family.  We all think you are the greatest, and you bring so much joy to our lives!  

I love you to pieces Addy Marie!



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Emma: 3 Months!

Dear Noodle,

My little Emmy, truly you are the happiest, most content baby on this planet Earth.  You are always smiling and just taking in the world around you.  I never saw a baby smile as much as you do!  All we have to do is look at you, and out pops that beautiful little grin.

You love the activity mat, and when I put you under it you light up like you've just seen an old friend.  You are usually happy and smiling under there for a good half an hour before you get tired of it.

Sometimes you play so hard that you fall asleep under there, despite any noise and chaos that surrounds you.

You also love to play in the tub.  I have taken countless videos of you splashing around in your little whale tub, and it's the cutest thing.  Your little movements are still so spastic and you startle yourself when you splash, which is really funny to watch.  You are all smiles during your bath, and Aunt Tina says it looks like you live in your own little happy Emmy world.  So true little lady, so true.

Here you are.  All smiles in your tub :)

You enjoy watching the mobile in your crib, just as your sister did.  If I ever need to get things done in your room, I place you under that mobile and you just pleasantly watch it go round and round.  

You've started drooling, so bibs are popping into your wardrobe these days.  You were never much of a spitter- upper like your sister was, (she lived in a bib from day 1 of life), but now that you're drooling we use them on you here and there.

This past month we started putting you in the Bumbo seat every once in awhile.  You are still a little bit young for it because you can only handle sitting up for about 10 minutes or so before you get tired, but it gives you a new view of life for those ten minutes, and you seem to like it.

We are still going strong with breastfeeding, and right in between the 2 and 3 month mark, you finally figured out how to latch on right and we have been smooth sailing ever since.  Both you and your sister gave me a run for my money with nursing, but we stuck with it and now we're golden.  You also were very resistant to the bottle up until recently simply because we barely ever gave you one.  I mean, who has time to pump and feed a baby and watch a toddler?  Not me.  So I found that I hardly every pumped, and therefore you hardly ever got a bottle.  And that became a problem when I went back to work and pumped milk was your only option.  My very first night back you kept Daddy up from 3AM-5AM before you would even entertain the notion of a bottle!  Once you tried it, you chugged it like a champ, but getting you to take that first sip was a trial of Daddy's patience I'm sure.  My goal is to nurse you for a year like I did with Addy, so barring any major problems, I think it'll be doable.  I've figured out the key to nursing a baby while keeping an eye on a toddler.  That key is electronics.  The IPad is what I use.  Addy knows that she can play with the IPad while I feed you, and ONLY while I feed you.  Therefore it remains a special treat for her during our nursing times, and she'll stay put for those 10 minutes.

On sleep news, my dear lady, you are an amazing napper!  You have started rubbing your eyes when you are tired, and seeing a little baby rub their eyes is such a precious sight.  So, so adorable!  You can sleep anywhere, and you are still at that amazing stage, where if I time it right you will sleep through an entire outing of ours.  And at home we often have to WAKE you from your naps for fear that you'd sleep all day.  Yup, you heard me right.  We wake a sleeping baby.  Many, many times.  Especially after your morning nap.  We usually put you down around 10, and if you aren't up by 12:30 I wake you.  Then in the afternoon, you take another 2+ hour nap, and around 5 you take a 45 minute catnap.  Where your sister was a napping nightmare, you are a napping queen!  And you sleep all night!  We put you down between 8-8:30PM and you typically get up once to be fed around 4ish, and then go right back to sleep until around 8AM.   And of course, true to your little personality, you almost always wake up happy and smiling. 

I would say pleasant is probably the best word to describe you.  It truly doesn't take much to keep you happy, and Mommy and Daddy appreciate that sooooo much baby girl!  Sometimes we even forget that you are there because you're so quiet!  Even when you are cranky (which is rare), your cry wouldn't scare a mouse.  And as soon as someone pays attention to you, you're fine.  My sweet, sweet baby girl.  I absolutely adore this angelic, innocent stage.  You are so incredibly perfect in our eyes, and those sweet little baby smiles of yours bring out our smiles every time.  Even on the roughest of days (with two kids under two, there are definitely some rough ones!), all you have to do is give me one of your famous Emmy smiles, and all of my problems melt away.  I absolutely cannot help but to smile back, regardless of my mood at that very moment.  You have the gift of making everyone around you so happy, and that is a powerful gift.  We are blessed to have you in our lives Emma Jane, and we love you so, so very much!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Holiday Happenings

Now that the holidays are behind us, I'll do a little recap of our many holiday celebrations!

It started with Addy's Thanksgiving party at school :)

They gave each of the kids little Indian names, and Addy's was Dancing Addy :)

The kids made cute little laminated place mats with pictures of their family and each name that they were thankful for :)

True to her Indian name, after snack time Addy got right out there and started the dance party!

Picture fun with Mommy!

I tried so hard to get a cute picture of Addy in that hat, but she was not cooperating ;)  She is NOT a fan of head wear.

I had such a fun day hanging out with Addy at school!  I love seeing her in that environment, watching her interactions with teachers and friends.  (I also had the opportunity to witness her sneaky stealing of classmates snacks.  Her Indian name should have been Snack Fiend.)

This holiday season, we were given the chance to ride on a float in Raleigh's Christmas parade!  Our friend Taylor works for the convention center and asked us if we'd want to take the girls on their float.  Of course we jumped on the opportunity!  We had never even been to Raleigh's Christmas parade (and it's one of the country's largest!), much less been a part of it!

Ready to go!

We dressed the part :)

Addy had the "parade wave" down pat!

Emma spent the entire time looking like this... despite the crazy amount of noise that accompanies any parade (sirens, drums, music, yelling, clapping, etc.).  This girl sleeps through anything!

After awhile Addy started losing patience and the "Snack Fiend" was back.  Snacks were the only thing that kept her happy.

A few snacks in, and our happy Addy was back!

There we are on our float!

Close up of us 

We were on the float with our friend Dan and his adorable daughter Aubrey.  How cute is she???  She and Addy had matching outfits and we didn't even plan it!  Ha ha!

Our little elves just hanging out after the parade.

Family photo :)

Being a part of Raleigh's Christmas parade was so much fun!  I'm glad that we went through the inevitable hassle that it always takes to get us anywhere on time.  It may have been a harried, rushed morning, but we made it just in the St. Nick of time, hopped on that float, and had a blast!

Stumbled across this little gem in my December photos:
Addy adores her baby sister :)  She always wants to lay in the crib with her, and immediately starts sucking her thumb whenever she's close to Emma.  Look at Addy's gentle touch of Emma's face.  Love <3

Here is a little video of Emma in December:

Miraculously, we got Addy to sit on Santa's lap.  We couldn't get a smile, but she did sit there for the requisite few seconds it took to snap a photo.  It was more than either Mike or I expected, I must say ;)  How good is that Santa, by the way???

All set up for Christmas!

Our pal Christopher is back!

New Christmas tree!  Yup, I finally relented and we went artificial this year.  And I must say, I love it!

Our little elf!  This hat was the only one that fit her head, so she wore it daily in the month of December :)

We took the girls to Raleigh's Holiday Express as well.  It was fun; lights, a carousel, a train ride, etc.  However, it was SUPER crowded and therefore we will not do it again until Addy is old enough to ask to go, ha ha!

Addy on the carousel. 

She was all about it until it started moving.  Then our little scaredy cat demanded that Mike take her off that horsey and hold her, ha ha!

Emma slept through it all.

 Next up was Addy's big Christmas performance at school!  Her class sang Jingle Bells and it was hilarious because I don't think any of them actually sang, and even if they did, you wouldn't be able to hear it above Addy yelling "DADDY! DADDY!" the whole time ;)  Yup, she spotted him right away in the audience (even though I was the one up front and Mike was towards the back with Emma).  I thought I was videotaping it, but I guess my video camera was on but not recording, grrrr.  I was so mad!  But then Mike reminded me that I didn't miss much, ha ha.  They were on the stage for maybe one minute total and there was virtually no singing involved ;)  Here are some pics at least:

Ready to go in her Christmas best!

Emma slept through the whole performance. (Are you noticing a trend here?)

Here comes Addy...getting carried on stage ;)

Our daughter was the only one in her class that refused to wear her reindeer antlers.  It's hard to tell in this pic, but every other kid has them on and Addy is holding hers.

"Mom, if you needed help figuring out the video camera, you should have just asked me."

At the end of the performance Emma woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, like always :)

Addy was so proud of herself :)

A little post-show snack.  Posing and everything.  And I promise, I did not tell her to do that!  Ha ha!

Mike, Taylor, and I took the girls to Hillridge Farms (same place we go for pumpkins) to see what their Christmas scene was all about.
Down the big slide with Daddy (multiple times!)  How a carousel scares her but this thing doesn't is beyond me.

Hay tunnel

Tractor ride through the Christmas lights.  Yup, you guessed it.  Emma slept through it all.

One of my all time favorite pictures of Addy :)

On a play date one of my friends told me about this neighborhood near us that has a walking trail through it, and all of the neighbors along the trail put tons of lights up for Christmas.  So we took out the new double jogger (thanks Dad and Beth!!) and checked it out.

It was awesome!  A nice little (free) Christmas activity, and Addy loved it.  You can guess what Emma was up to.

Had to include this next one because it cracks me up every time.  Look at Emma's face!  She is bracing herself for Addy's next move ;)

We went to church on Christmas Eve :)

Followed by Christmas Eve dinner at Pipers...

...during which, Emma actually managed to stay awake!

And we came home to some Christmas packages on our doorstep, which made Addy super excited!
How adorable does she look all dressed up?

A little Christmas Eve video: (Warning: I tried to trim it, but the software wouldn't let me, so you'll have to endure the entire minute and a half.)

We woke up Christmas morning and opened up stockings :)

Of course, Addy loved the candy cane full of M & M's

Then we indulged in some Christmasy waffles before digging into the other gifts :)

Per the toddler way, Addy loved the boxes more than the gifts ;)

Emma sat back and took it all in.  Such a smiley little lady :)

Christmas afternoon was exceptionally warm, so we headed out to the neighbor's swing set for awhile.

Yup, she's scared of this tiny thing, but not scared of that gigantic slide at Hillridge Farms.  Baffles me.

Addy rockin' her new jewels from Aunt Erin...

...while Emma rocked her new sweatsuit.

Addy got a cool little bike from Pap and Grandma Hetrick, which she proceeded to tip over one time.... and now is 100% terrified of it.  We'll keep trying and one day I know she'll love it!

 As always, this post is about 100 times longer than I ever thought it would be.  But we had a very eventful holiday season, and since we live so far away from everyone, this is our way to share it with you all.  (Plus, my memory is absolutely terrible, so blogging is my way of ensuring that the memories of these precious days don't fade away with time.)  Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season!  I know we did!

Merry Christmas from the Hetrick girls!