Memory Keeping

Since having my first child five and a half years ago, I’ve been wondering just how I would store my kids important papers/documents/keepsakes. Everyone has their own method that they’re passionate about, and I listened to so many ideas, but ultimately I (finally) landed on this, my own, method. I’ve seen this same idea all over the internet, so I’m not at all claiming it as my own. I’m just super excited about it so I’m sharing it with you in case you’re on the hunt for a good storage idea too! And believe me, if I can do it, so can you. It was super simple and very satisfying.

I ordered file folder boxes and files. The boxes I ordered came in a pack of 4, so I even have one ready for my next baby! Then I ordered a pack of files for each box – the packs I ordered came with 25 (I think) and there are several extra folders in each box, should we decide we need them for something in the kids future. I put the folders in the box and labeled them (in this order):

Baby

Toddler

Preschool

Kindergarten

1st Grade

2nd Grade

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade

9th Grade

10th Grade

11th Grade

12th Grade

Stats

Medical

Keepsakes

Documents

Then, with my cricut machine, I cut out their first initials in vinyl and applied them to the front and voila! Told you it was easy!

I don’t plan on keeping every single paper from school or piece of art they create (like adorable scribbles on scraps of paper, you know?) But I’m going to mindfully keep the papers that my kids worked extra hard on or are extra proud of. The papers that have a funny story behind them or are particularly adorable. The ones I think they’d be happy to see someday when they’re adults showing their own children their memories.

I have put the bracelets we wore in the hospitals for their births in the Baby folder, along with ultrasound pictures, etc. In the boys Toddler folders, I put the bag of clippings from their first haircuts. Things like that. I also knew I had to have a folder dedicated to their stats from doctors appointments. I’m obsessed with my kids stats so I wanted them readily available.

What else would you add?!

Being a Mother

This quote has been replaying in my head a LOT, lately. It sums up what I believe motherhood, for myself, to be, perfectly. Becoming a mom introduced me to a new, strong, exciting side of myself I’d never met before. It also gave me even more things for my already very worried self to fear. It opened my eyes to so many things, both good and bad, scary and exciting.

By far the thing that has most surprised me about turning into a mother is how in-tune to my children I am. I can confidently say I know them better than anyone else, and that’s empowering, overwhelming and awe-inspiring. I have been given a gift to receive personal inspiration about them and I know better than anyone else what is best for them at this point in time (oh how I know this will change, especially in their minds, as they grow older). I’ve only been a parent now for almost four years, but in that time I’ve felt a lot of power from those special feelings I, as their mama, receive. It’s validating and spiritual and like I said, so, so powerful.

I think if I could give any new mom, or mom-to-be a bit of advice, it would be this:

Only YOU are their mother. Only YOU have that deep, personal connection to them. YOU know what is best for them, yourself and your family and it’s ok to stand up for that even if it is unpopular, embarrassing or hard to admit. Stick with your gut. Follow your mother’s intuition.

I feel very passionately about this. I’m very lucky to have a husband who supports me and my intuition. I am lucky to have family who does as well. Lastly, I am lucky to have these sweet boys to mother.

I Never Had to Split My Heart in Half

When I got pregnant with E, I was ecstatic. But almost as soon as I saw that positive sign, another weird, unexpected feeling rushed over me along with the joy. That was guilt. It instantly hit me that H would no longer be an only child and his world of near constant attention and having his parents all to himself would be over in several months. I knew having more than one kid was absolutely right for me. I knew I was going to have more than two kids even. But I never knew how part of me would feel guilty for growing our family. I never thought about that when I was younger and to be honest I never really thought about it much until I learned I was pregnant with my second child.

The feeling of joy was a million times stronger than the guilty and sad feeling. But when I let myself really dwell on those two words, it got worse and worse. I knew how much I loved H. SO MUCH. So how on earth could I possibly love another human as much? Was my heart even capable of somehow dividing such a strong, powerful, fierce love to two kids? How would H not just always be my favorite because I’d had him and known him the longest? Would my second child feel neglected? Would he see that I had a ‘better’ relationship with his big brother? Fear and worry would creep over me easier each time I allowed myself to think on these scary thoughts.

I did my best to ignore them. People add children into their families every day and guess what? The other kids are ok. The new babies are ok. The family is ok. The mom…I hope she is ok. I would switch my focus back to joy. Adding this new little brother to our family was perfect. He was going to be so sweet and handsome and I couldn’t even handle the thoughts of how cute his relationship would be with his brother. Having two sons was absolutely going to be the best thing ever. It was right. It was good. It was perfect. I was going to figure out how to split my love.

Split my love. I hated that phrase, but I thought it all the time. Somehow I’d have to figure out how to take half the love I had for H and give it to his brother. Thats where the real guilt came in. Would H notice I had to share my love? Would he feel like he was less loved and less important? Sure he wasn’t even two yet – but even toddlers notice change. Was he going to be sad? Was he going to be mad at me? Was he going to resent his brother for this big life change?

I never told anyone these fears. No one. I was worried saying I was worried I couldn’t love them both as powerfully, equally and strongly made me a weak mom. I thought it would make me a bad mom. I kept it to myself and I tried not to worry and focus on the joy. I prayed a lot. I tried to have as much faith in myself as a mother as I could.

Then the day came. November 10th happened and I had my second son that night!

I learned something incredible. The second my c-section started I started praying in my head. I prayed that the operation would go well and that my new baby would be safe and healthy. I prayed I would be healthy. I prayed that H was happy back home with his grandparents.

I prayed that my heart could figure out how to be a mom of two.

Something pretty cool happened then. E’s delivery was a little bit scary. As soon as he was out, he was taken immediately to a NICU team in the next room and my husband went with him. I was alone on the operating table with medical people around me. They were talking to me, trying to distract me from the scary thing that had just happened. They were trying to distract me so I wouldn’t dwell on the fact that my new baby still hadn’t screamed or cried or taken a very good breath. I was terrified. Their distractions didn’t work. All I knew is I had only seen my sweet son for a split second and he was gray and silent. I just wanted to hear him cry. I needed to know he was ok. Nothing else in the world mattered in those unknown moments.

Thats when it all dawned on me. I loved him with my whole heart. I loved him just as powerfully, equally and strongly as I loved H. But it wasn’t because my heart split in half. It was because my heart doubled in size in a way only the heart of a mother can do. My love didn’t change, it didn’t shrink or alter for H. It stayed big and the same – maybe it even grew. My love for my new son matched the love I had for H perfectly. I just knew all those worries and fears I’d had most of my pregnancy were all a thing of the past now. I knew that both of my sons had equal, huge love from me. It was such a calming, overwhelming feeling. I was so gracious.

It felt like forever, but not too much longer there were finally some loud and glorious screams from the room next door. My doctors all sighed with relief saying, “there he is!” or smiling really big at me. My anesthesiologist energetically patted my shoulder. My nurses cheered. He was ok. So was I. I loved that little boy I hadn’t really seen so, so much.

He was finally brought out to me where we had our little post c-section face snuggles. It was so spiritual and perfect. He was snorting in my ear and seemed to be telling me he loved me and he was comfortable and happy to be back with me. It was perfect. I told him I loved him and I felt that. I truly, truly meant it.

My heart never had to change its love for H. It knew what it was doing. Maybe all the while my belly was growing, preparing to deliver a child, my heart, too, was growing – preparing to love another sweet little baby.

H’s Birth Story

My sweet baby H is almost one (can you believe it?) — so I guess now is as good of a time as ever to finally share his birth story, right? I have a private blog where I typed out his story in full detail and I had every intention of sharing it here as well but obviously I didn’t. But alas, here I am finally blogging about the most special, incredible day of my life.

On November 18th I started not to feel well. It was different than the usual discomfort I was used to and ::not to get too graphic:: that day I had passed my mucous plug. My body was getting ready for a baby!

On November 19th I was in pain all day but there wasn’t anything that stood out to me as signs of labor. Plus I had myself 95% convinced I was going to go over my due date (the 24th) so I was pretty sure it was nothing. We went to bed and not too long after falling asleep I woke up to the most excruciating pain in my hips — and it wasn’t stopping. We downloaded a contraction timer app and started timing the pain on the chance they were contractions. I had all my Braxton Hicks contractions in my stomach/hips/back and I’d always heard contractions happened in your stomach, so the fact that the pain I was feeling was only in my hips made me think it was just pain and not really contractions. As time went on the pain spread to my back and lower stomach and it was the same time that the pain AKA contractions were getting closer together and more intense.

I was awake all night and I kept Wild Man up all night with my restlessness and constant moving, whining and panicking. It was time for Wild Man to get ready to go to work and the entire time he kept asking if he needed to stay home and I kept insisting I was fine and he should go. He kept trying to help me find a comfortable position in bed but before I could take a deep breath, the pain would return. After a while I kept throwing up with about every other contraction and was miserable, but still sent Wild Man off to work. As he left I remember sitting on the coffee table and just thinking what the heck is this?!

A lot of the night and into the morning I had been texting my mom and one of my sisters in law about what was happening. They both were giving me advice and such and my mom kept telling me “the only way you’ll feel better is to have that baby!” …she knew I was in labor but I was being stubborn and not accepting that.

Wild Man hadn’t been at work a half hour before I called him and told him I needed to go to the hospital. He came straight home (luckily he worked really, really close to the house we lived in) and he came home and we grabbed our bags, he put a few things away and we left.

I was terrified I wouldn’t be admitted into the hospital and maybe this wasn’t really labor and I was just a baby. After trying to figure out where we were supposed to go we finally got to the labor and delivery area and they checked me. I was at a 6 and my cervix was ‘paper thin.’ HALLELUJAH! They hooked me up to the monitor to track babies heart beat and my contractions and we were admitted around 9:30am.

My contractions were coming every 45-60 seconds when we got there and the nurse strongly suggested if I was going to get an epidural to get it quickly so I wouldn’t be completely warn out when it came time to push. Even though my plan was to feel my contractions for a few hours, I was in a lot of pain and agreed to the epidural.

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After a little while the families started showing up. My mother-in-law, then my mom and sisters, then my dad, then my father-in-law and one of our cousins. I was progressing pretty decently and never had to be given Pitocin! At one point they decided to call in a doctor to break my water because it wasn’t breaking on its own. The doctor came in and had that tool to break my water, but before he used it he wanted to check me and ended up breaking my water with his hand. Also, the rumors are true – that is the strangest feeling.

As I said, I was progressing great but our baby boy wasn’t descending very quickly so they didn’t want me to push quite yet because he was so high so I’d be pushing for a long time. So we waited and waited and waited.

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During this waiting I started to notice something terrifying. My epidural wasn’t working anymore. I could feel everything again. Everything except my thighs down. I really needed it to be working a little higher and it wasn’t. Cue the panic. I told my nurse and she pushed the button that was supposed to give me another dose. But guess what? Nothing. It didn’t help.

Around 3ish I was informed it was time to push. I have a vivid memory of looking at Wild Man and my mom and saying “I can feel everything!” Wild Man squeezed my hand and my mom just said, “Yep!” I mean, what could she do?

So low and behold I had a natural birth. As scary as it was in the moment and as intense the pain was – it was actually pretty incredible and empowering and made me feel tougher and stronger than I’ve ever felt in my life.

Anyway. I pushed for about an hour. I had my family surrounding me and most importantly, Wild Man by my side holding my hand and my leg. Having him beside me was incredible. He was so supportive and I noticed during the pushing a lot of the time I would zero in on Craig and listen to his support and cheering and coaching and it was how I was somehow able to zone out the pain. Thank goodness for that great man.

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At 4:12 pm on November 20th on a Friday, our sweet and perfect baby boy was born. He weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces and was 20 inches long. That moment was so spiritual and perfect and raw and one I will never forget. Our sweet baby was perfect and healthy and we couldn’t have been happier.

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I had a major episiotomy (woof!) and the stitches were pretty painful to get. For the beginning half of getting them, my son was getting weighed and a basic cleaning and it was so hard to sit there and feel everything (stupid not working epidural) but as soon as they gave me my baby and I got to hold him and snuggle him again, I was able to look past the pain again. Thank goodness. You know those sweet babies are special when they can mute all pain.

Holding this fresh, tiny baby was so incredible. This little squishy, beautiful baby boy filled my heart so full and he put a happiness into our life that nothing else ever could.

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We spent the next few hours in the labor room while our family stood around us and stared at our sweet little guy. It was very special. After a little while everyone started leaving and it was just the three of us. Our little family of three. I can’t begin to describe the feeling we felt as it was just us. Everything became so real and raw. Our family felt whole. It was such a terrific moment.

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I was so excited when I learned I was able to go into the nursery with Wild Man and our newborn. They were very cautious about if I would feel ok and told me what to look out for but I knew I’d be ok to accompany my boys to the nursery. It was interesting. It was the first time I was really able to study him and take him all in. He was very red so they had to run a couple tests on his red blood cells (all was well) and then they cleaned him and bundled him up and put him back in my arms and we were taken back to our room.

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We didn’t name him until the day after he was born. We wanted his name to be absolutely perfect for him so we had to think on it a little longer than most people, I guess. It was fun though for a while to be the only two people who knew his name.

We were released on Sunday. We would have been able to leave sometime in the morning but they wanted us to stay until evening because they were keeping an eye on my episiotomy and bleeding. Sometime around 5pm we were released. Going home with our sweet new baby boy was the most wonderful and exciting thing I think we’ve ever experienced. It was all so real and beautiful. We are so, so very happy to be this perfect little boys parents and feel that Heavenly Father has blessed us tremendously with this sweet little one.

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xoxo

ceeceesparkles

Messy House – Happy Baby

I was talking to a girl the other day who has an 11 month old baby girl. We were having fun swapping baby stories, then all the sudden she asked me, “so does your husband get really upset with you when he comes home from work and the house isn’t clean?” I told her I try really hard to stay on top of house duties but when I don’t, my husband is patient with me and really has never brought the matter up before. After hearing her response I almost feel guilty for saying that. She explained to me that when her husband comes home, if the house isn’t clean, laundry isn’t done, bed isn’t made etc, he gets pretty ticked at her and always begins with, “you stay home with the baby all day…” then proceeds to make her feel like she is failing being a stay at home mom. This lit a fire in me that I haven’t been able to extinguish. A really gutsy part of me wants to march up to this guy I’ve never met before and chew him out – how dare he say that?! Maybe your house doesn’t look like a model home in a magazine, but your child is happy, healthy and safe and that is FAR more important than dishes sitting in the sink.

Just because I am a stay at home mom and I could potentially stay in my pajamas all day and drink 10 diet cokes doesn’t mean this is an easy job or a day off. Being a mom, even to one baby, is WORK. A fun, rewarding work, yes – but work nonetheless. Its the most important job ever. Raising a child is no small task and nothing to take lightly. It is a privilege, a gift and a divine role I have been given so my child is my priority. Certainly not the house, the garden, the groceries, the dishes or the items on the floor.

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I don’t clock in at the office every morning, but I wake up early (after getting not near enough sleep) every morning and I never get time off. I don’t even get private bathroom breaks! Also, I don’t get paid. I stay home with the baby and I keep him safe, I keep his tummy full, I allow him to adventure off and let his curiosity run wild while making sure no danger comes upon him, I teach him things, I actively try to be a good example to him, I practice a lot of patience, I finally get dressed and ready only to get food (or who knows what else) smeared in my hair and on my clothes, I play with him, I chase our wiggly, active baby around and keep him entertained. If I have time and if my baby doesn’t need me, then I will get house work done. Usually this isn’t too hard to accomplish, but some days its impossible – I’m not kidding. So if at the end of the day the house is a mess but the baby is fed, in one piece, happy and safe – I have excelled at my job.

I am so so sooooo grateful that my husband is patient with me and recognizes and appreciates the work I do as a full time mother. He knows I put H first and other duties second and I really love that he is in full support of that. For those of you who are feeling pressure to be better – I hope you don’t feel like you’re failing. You put that baby first. If you can get stuff done around the house, awesome. But that baby is your responsibility, your main priority and far, far more precious or valuable than anything else, ever. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for putting your little human first. You rock.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles

Newborn & Mommy Must-Haves

I haven’t been a mommy a super long time, but I’ve been a mommy ever since my son was born and therefore, I have had to figure out what works and doesn’t work for the Little Captain and myself. We are still in our first several weeks here, but we have been able to find some things we really like and I thought I’d share a few so some of you can try out our favorites – and if you have newborn/baby and mommy must-haves different than mine – please share!! We are always looking for new things to try! After all, neither of us have done this before..

CeeCee’s Mommy Must-Haves

  • Nursing Camisole. You bet this is the first thing on the list. My cute momma found me this nursing camisole (find it here) at Target and I love it. It has an easy to use clasp, its comfy and it gives my funny-shaped tummy a little more structure. (don’t mistake that for thinking i’m feeling pity for my ‘new’ body – I am PROUD of my body and what its done!)
  • Boppy. This is one of those life savers. It looks like half of an inner tube that you wear around the front of your waist when you breastfeed. But Wild Man and I will use this just to help us hold the Captain up when our arms are getting tired. It can also be used when babies get bigger to prop them up in, help them sit in, etc. They come in all sorts of different cute fabrics, too, which makes them that much more fun.
  • Wrap. I have the Moby Wrap in grey. This is fabulous and I know once the Little Captain and I get out of the house more I will use it even more frequently. The few times I’ve used it so far have given me so much piece of mind. Its nice to keep my little guy close to me and know he’s being kept away from a lot of germs (i’m a germaphobic momma), wandering hands and coughs, sneezes and other scary things. Plus, its just really sweet to look down and see your cute little bundle snuggled against your chest.
  • Hand Sanitizer. Or as my cousin calls it, hanitizer. I just said I was a germaphobic momma, so I feel like this one is just super self explanatory. I don’t want germs on my baby!
  • Water Bottle. Its emphasized all the time how important it is to stay hydrated while you’re breast feeding. I’ve found that if I have a water bottle (or sometimes a big cup of water) that is easy to carry around with me throughout the house, I am much more likely to drink all the water I need.
  • Lanolin. Oh chapped, sore, owie nipples (pardon my language). They hurt 98% of the time, but the lanolin helps take the sting out. It doesn’t take the pain away – just makes it better – and for that I am thankful.
  • Naps. Its not something you can buy and unfortunately sometimes its not even something you can make time for, but they make a world of difference. I’m always so grateful for the times when I can squeeze a nap in during my mom duties.

The Little Captain’s Newborn Must-Haves

  • Rock-a-Roo. I’m pretty sure there are millions of different kinds of rockers/swings/etc there are to buy. I bought the Rock-a-Roo (kind of the step down from the MamaRoo but still awesome) and the Captain adores it. It rocks back and fourth at different speeds and it is exactly what the Little Captain needs sometimes to calm him down or put him to sleep. It also has a plug in so you can play music through it. We haven’t really used this, but its probably a really neat feature to some of you, right?
  • Wubbanub. Ok so when I first saw these I thought they were ridiculous. Why the heck would you want your child to have a binky with a weird stuffed animal hanging off of it? Silly. But then I read a little more about them, read other mommy-bloggers opinions of them and…I bought the Captain two before he was born (the giraffe and the reindeer) and Santa was kind enough to bring us him the dog! They’re the only binkys he will use, now. The animal on the end helps keep the binky in his mouth and I’m assuming as he gets older, it will also provide him some entertainment. I love them and so does he.
  • Mittens. The Captain has razor sharp little fingernails no matter their length and if he ever gets the chance, for whatever reason he chooses to take all ten nails and drag them down his poor little face! When he’s mad and has no protection over his hands, his face is 100% guaranteed to get clawed. I love the little mittens you can buy to stick over their hands and protect the babies precious face. On this same note, I love the outfits that have the flaps over the end of the sleeves that also work as nail-protection.
  • Sleeping Gowns. Originally I thought nope – no way was I putting my SON in a DRESS. But guys… Its not a dress. Its a genius design. Most nights the Captain sleeps in one of these nifty outfits. It makes nighttime diaper changes so much quicker and easier – and he just looks really cute and perfect in them.
  • Fuzzy, Warm Blanket. Babies need blankets, obvs. The Little Captain has a vast variety of blankets, but one we particularly love is a fuzzy, warm blanket that he uses daily (when it isn’t being washed). We use it to keep him warm in our house and we use it as a top, warm layer when we load him into his carseat and into the car. And snuggling with his little body when he’s bundled in this fuzzy blanket is wonderful.
  • Wipe Warmer. I didn’t think we’d need one of these. Ok, we don’t need it, but its sure a nice item to have. I keep our wipe warmer next to my bed for nighttime diaper changes. I figure when its the middle of the night and someones stripping you down and wiping you, the least they could do is make sure the wipe is warm, right?
  • Swaddle Blankets. My favorite swaddles are the Swaddle Design swaddles. They are huge and are great for swaddling the Captain up tight or just loosely wrapping him in. Plus the designs on them are adorable.
  • Beanies. For obvious reasons these come in handy, especially when you have a baby in the colder months.
  • Burp Cloths. However many burp cloths you think you need… take that number and double it. Seriously. I keep burp clothes all over the house and even then I feel like there aren’t enough. You just never know when you’ll need one – and need it quick!
  • Play Mat. I didn’t think this would be something I’d already have my son using, but I use it all the time. He loves laying on his back and looking up at the hanging toys and the musical mobile and the pattern on the mat makes tummy time a little more bearable for him.
  • Baskets/Containers. In our living room we have two basket/containers I got for cheap at Target. One holds a bunch of books. I’ve made it a goal to read to Captain at least one book a day so I need them easily accessible. The other holds lots of diapers, wipes and some ointment, should he need it. I like having these things so readily available and having them in cute containers makes me less embarrassed about having them ‘displayed’ in my living room.

xoxo

ceeceesparkles