Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye, 2016.

2016 was definitely the weirdest year of my life. Exactly a year ago today, Eric and I surprised our parents:


I still remember their reactions. The dads both got it first and exclaimed "WHAT?!" and when the moms finally understood what was going on, there were lots of happy tears. It took everything in my power to keep it a secret from pretty much everyone else, especially with New Years Eve coming up.

Being pregnant wasn't the most fun for me. I had spotting issues in the beginning, which was terrifying. I had a difficult time staying calm, and I felt sick as hell. All I could eat was frozen pizza and fresh fruit. Nym tore her ACL and needed surgery, I got into a car accident with the kids because some stupid Florida driver wasn't paying attention on the highway, I got sick, I went to the hospital because I couldn't breathe and found out I had hairline rib fractures from coughing so hard, Baby Mazz kept kicking my injured ribs, I had to fly home with a sinus infection for my baby shower, I had to leave the best job I ever had, and let us not forget I COULD NOT DRINK ALCOHOL ALL SUMMER.

But it was one of the best years of my life. Being pregnant taught me a lot about myself, and despite my worst fears, I was actually more comfortable in my own skin than I had ever been. Even now, after Atlas has wreaked havoc on my body, I am still more confident than ever before. You know why? Because I made a human. I look far less "perfect" than I did before, and sometimes I look back at pictures from a couple years ago and wish I had appreciated my body instead of focusing on every single thing I perceived as a flaw. My hips are even bigger now, my eyes have more wrinkles and darker circles, my tummy skin is not as tight, and let's not even get started on the mess that is my chest. This is the first time in my life that I can say NONE OF IT MATTERS and truly mean it. I am too busy trying to keep my little rebel baby and myself alive.

When Atlas was born, literally THE INSTANT he was born, my entire perspective on life changed. My relationships with Eric, my family, his family, all our friends, it all changed. Some of it for the worse, some of it for the better, but the one constant is that Atlas is my number one priority. I have had to make difficult decisions, dealt with anxiety and self-doubt, and fielded judgment from many people, but my only concern is taking care of my little family unit. This is my job now, and anyone who knows me knows that I work really fucking hard to be the best at any job I do. I'm a perfectionist. The only difference now is that instead of trying to make everyone else happy, I am my own boss, and the only people I am concerned about making happy are Atlas, Eric, and myself.

The past four and a half months have gone by so quickly, even though each day feels slow. I know that from here on out, as Atlas grows up, time will continue to fly by at a faster pace each year. We were fortunate enough to be able to go home for the holidays, and it was a surreal experience. Being in my childhood home with my own baby on Christmas... I swear it was just yesterday that I was sitting at the "kids table" on Christmas Eve, eating pasta with no gravy while my dad threatened to kick me out of being Italian, putting cookies out for Santa, waking up to my dream toys, helping Aunt Joyce fill the living room with gifts for me and my cousins on Christmas Day... I wish my grandparents and Aunt Joyce were still around to see how great things have gone for us all.

My mom found the baby book she kept for me. She wrote a note about me almost every single day that first year. I cried. 

I have had a really fucking good life so far, and now I get to pay it forward to Atlas. Who knows what the future will bring, but I'm thinking 2017 will be another difficult but amazing year. Atlas is not an easy baby, but that's okay. I wasn't either, apparently, and my family and I turned out just fine. ;)

Atlas slept long enough for us to decorate our tree and put out the gifts for our Florida Christmas 
And he slept long enough for us to watch Christmas movies, too!



"Christmas" morning

Watching The Polar Express with Dad around 7am ;)


Atlas is SO CLOSE to rolling back to front. I swear he can do it. He's just lazy.

4 Month photoshoot behind the scenes

4am airport shenanigans


We had a row to ourselves on the plane

Atlas handled flying like a pro

First stop in NJ: WAWA. Atlas was super happy about it

The moment Atlas met one of his great grandmoms! Another camera flash went off at the same time, which I find fascinating. One exact millisecond in time. Crazy.

Seeing Poppop Deeg for the first time in three months

Before Atlas started refusing his bottles AGAIN for no effing reason, he progressed to actually LOVING them and holding them on his own!

We all had colds, so we didn't get a chance to go out and sit on Santa's lap, but we happened to pull into my neighborhood one night right behind Santa on his fire truck!


Bundled up in cold NJ

Atlas loved looking at all the Christmas trees wherever we went

Playing with some of his new toys

Christmas Eve and our 7 year date-aversary :)

Christmas PJs!

Lol wut

Aunt Linny on Christmas morning

Very excited for Christmas!

Before Atlas decided to start his four month sleep regression (ahemJERKahem...) he slept AMAZINGLY wherever we went!

See?!

Then he decided to HATE sleep with a burning passion, so much so that he started refusing to sleep at all. We thought it was part of his allergic reaction (I accidentally ate dairy on the trip :( ), but no. It's definitely a growth spurt. We finally got him to sleep on his belly. Luckily the DockATot is breathable. I moved him on to his side, though. I'm paranoid. He is still giving us a hard time, even now that we are home. He had been on a good schedule, too! These babies always throw you for a loop when you least expect it.

Perks of growth spurts: Baby learns new things! Like sitting fairly well with little support, grabbing, talking, smiling, moving, and even improving on the Face Crawl! Hah.

Atlas was pretty unhappy during takeoff, but he slept the entire rest of the flight home, through the airport, waiting for bags, walking to the car, driving home, and walking up to bed... and THEN he woke up. Silly baby.

Teething

Back with my Nym girl!

My baby likes bacon! Bacon shaped teething toys, that is. But he will like real bacon, too, because he is my child. ;)


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thank You

Aloha there. It's been awhile. When I stop writing, it means one of two things: I'm so content that I don't have much inspiration to write, or I'm so discontent that I isolate myself and stop writing to avoid processing my thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately, this has been a case of the latter.

Fortunately, I am on my way back up again.

It happens every year after Halloween. No matter what is going on in my life, no matter how great it is, no matter how excited I am for the holidays, I start feeling mopey, anxious, and depressed. Even living in Florida, it's like my brain senses that our corner of the planet is further away from the sun. If you have never experienced this, the weather having such a profound affect on one's feelings probably sounds absurd. If you do experience seasonal depression, ya feel me. Add a baby having health issues and living far away from family on top of that, and you have a recipe for mental disaster.

Thanksgiving was good, but lonely. We managed to prepare a completely dairy- and soy-free Thanksgiving meal, completely with delicious turkey, sweet potato casserole, corn bread, roasted potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. The past month has been a blur, and we have completely focused all of our time and energy on figuring out what is wrong with our little problem child. Atlas is a rebel through and through, that's for sure. Despite eliminating dairy, soy, and peanuts from my diet, Atlas was still having serious issues that were clearly an indication of a food protein allergy. We ended up switching him to a special formula, which was not fun for either of us. He hates bottles, and I hated refusing to nurse him. The first few days were spent with him going on a hunger strike while tearing at my shirt trying to nurse. Meanwhile, I have been pumping every time he eats to keep my supply up and store the milk in the hopes that we would go back to breastfeeding once I eliminated ALL of the most popular allergens from my diet. Right now, I can't eat dairy, soy, egg, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish.

It has been traumatic, at least for me. I just want some fucking pizza, guys.

Once he started eating the formula, though, we did start to see improvements. He is feeling better physically. He has been generally happy. He has attempted to roll from back to front and started doing the face crawl. For those that don't know, a face crawl is when your baby refuses to use their arms to crawl like a normal baby and decides to push themselves forward using their legs and face on the ground. Real smooth, buddy.  

After our GI appointment today, he said we could try giving him breastmilk again to see how his body reacts. So far, he has latched well, but been kind of fussy. If things go well, we will reintroduce the allergens to see what causes his issues. If he has a bad reaction immediately, we will switch back to the formula, and hopefully by the time he is a year old, he will have outgrown the allergies.

We'll see.

But I really didn't want to come here and talk about bad things. I wanted to update you on Atlas, but I also wanted to say that I wouldn't have made it through the past few months without relying on others for support. Our family has been there for us every step of the way. My friends who already have kids have listened to me and given me advice based on their experiences. Most of my friends don't have kids, but most of them have tried to understand and ask for updates, even when I have been out of touch because I am a zombie and only focusing on Atlas. And the community of new moms I have met through my doula... I can't even begin to explain how helpful they have been. Because of them, I don't feel so alone. Because of them, I feel more confident in my parenting decisions. I don't feel like a failure. And I am constantly reminded to take care of myself, too, which might be the most important thing here.

So thank you, family and friends, for being understanding when Eric and I are out of touch, for caring about Atlas, and for forcing us to get out of the house. And a special thank you to every Starbucks in northern Palm Beach County for hosting friend dates and providing me with a near-daily dose of caffeine in the form of sugary lattes.

Here are just a few recent photos from my phone:

Smiley

His Thanksgiving outfit: NUTS ABOUT YOU lollllll

Pretty boy

Daddy feeding Atlas

Early morning bottle. This is the first time he ever took a bottle well from me.

The boys

Sometimes he still falls asleep on me

Cutie doing tummy time

Smiley wiggly boy after finishing his bottle

Here it is: The Face Crawl. He started in the middle of the mat facing the giraffe toy.

Practicing sitting!

Just hanging out

All smiles

Trying to roll. Almost there!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Three Months!

Atlas is three months old. How crazy is that?

I love that little bean.

Life with a baby has been falling in to place. We don't have a schedule yet by any means, but things are getting easier to manage. Notice I didn't say things are EASIER. We're just all getting more used to dealing with the difficulties.

Atlas has been changing every day. He smiles a ton and is starting to giggle. He loves peekaboo and mirrors. He is no longer swaddled when he sleeps, so he is trying desperately to find his thumb, which has been causing more harm than good when he inevitably ends up rubbing his wet fist all over his face in the middle of the night. He has given me a few nights of only ONE feeding around 2am, but he still has some bad nights, too. And he's still a terrible napper. But his face lights up when he sees me, especially in the morning, which makes all the hell-days worthwhile. He's definitely a Mama's boy.

I haven't really felt like writing for awhile. It has been a stressful past few weeks. We are still dealing with tummy troubles. I thought the dairy-free diet was helping, but it didn't completely solve the problem, so I also cut out soy. It has been pretty difficult, seeing as dairy and soy are in basically EVERYTHING. But I am managing. Unfortunately neither of these eliminations seem to have solved the problem. We went back to the doctor last week, and they decided to run tests to eliminate viral and bacterial issues. Sure enough, they came back normal, so the doctor thinks we will end up needing to see a GI specialist and have further testing done, possibly an allergy grid. He might be allergic to MY milk protein, not just cow's milk. I didn't even know that was a thing. I am waiting on a call back from her now to talk about where we go from here.

Even though I am not against formula feeding, I will still feel guilty if I stop nursing Atlas. It has been so engrained in us that "breast is best", which it is, but there are so many reasons why people might switch to formula that make it best for them, their baby, and their family. In this case, it would DEFINITELY be best to formula feed Atlas with special non-dairy non-soy formula if he was allergic, of course. So why do I feel so bad about it? To be completely honest, I haven't found breastfeeding to be a magical, enjoyable experience, and I feel like Atlas is frustrated by it a lot of the time, too. But when nursing actually goes well, it is the best bonding experience. He is TERRIBLE at taking bottles, absolutely hates it, and goes on a hunger strike whenever we try to give him one, so I know he prefers when I feed him. It makes me feel like he will think I don't like him if we need to switch to formula all of a sudden. I just want to do what is best for him, but it is a big mental mindfuck that I didn't expect to experience. I spent so much time researching breastfeeding, taking classes, learning how to do it, fighting through the difficulties for the past three months... I will just feel so, so bad if my milk has been hurting him and then I need to stop nursing him on top of it.

Anyway, in happier news, Eric and I are OFFICIALLY going home for Christmas! December 20th-29th. I CAN. NOT. WAIT. The only thing that would make it better is if Nym could come with us. But I can't wait to take Atlas to see Christmas lights, to dress him up in cute winter clothes, to take pictures of him on Christmas in our childhood homes, and for him to finally meet everyone. When I couldn't go home in October, it was very upsetting for a lot of reasons, but one of them was that I had been so excited to introduce Atlas to all of our friends and family ASAP after he was born. I wanted everyone to hold him when he was teeny tiny and to take him to party with our friends. I used to hate people who posted constantly about their kids on social media, but the reason I post pictures of him basically every day is because it makes me feel like he is more connected with all his aunts, uncles, cousins, blood-related and otherwise. It really sucks not being close to everyone, and it always has, but it especially sucks now that we have Atlas. We are going to do our best to make sure he understands how important our family and friends are. Now, he is a giant chunker who is starting to develop a personality, so it may actually be even more exciting in a way for people to meet him at this time. It's going to be hard to work around the holiday, but I am determined to see as many people as possible!



I've been getting lots of smiles!

Still loving tummy time

Uncle Alex came to visit!

We loved trying on bibs. We loved it SO much that we went through five in one day...

We voted! Everyone was super nice there and loved Atlas. He got his own sticker. :)

We started making our own acai bowls. Delish.

Every once in awhile, I still just let him sleep on me.

Hanging out at DOTPB New Moms group

These are the smiles I get every morning! He loves his lovie, Boo.

Buddha belly muffin top

Sleeping on me... again... I give in more often than I should, but he's so squishy and cute and keeps me warm.

We went to the Green Market in West Palm. It was a beautiful day.

My dudes

Smiles in the car after I fed him in the backseat while parked in the Target parking lot, haha.

At Civil Society in Abacoa, on a night that happened to be some giant car meet. Atlas wanted to look at all the cool cars.

Family jam sesh. Daddy on guitar, Mommy on vox, Nym on the squeaky ball, and Atlas on the keys obviously.

Daddy kisses

Dad and his babies

Nym and I supervising play time. Look at that derpy dog smile hahahaha.

Went grocery shopping with him in the carrier for the first time. He did pretty well!

Trying on his new winter hat, knitted by Great Grandmom Kayser. Flyers colors! And wearing his Adopt Don't Shop onesie from Charity (Under the Sea Vinyl). We're all about the handmade goods.

Snuck out to Guanabanas with Kristin and Danielle for some much needed drinks. Atlas gave Eric a really hard time at home, refusing to eat his bottle and screaming for hours until he fell asleep. When he woke up after I got home, Eric tried the bottle again, and he was so hungry that he took it. I don't want to force him to be super hungry and cry every time I go out! Any suggestions to get him to take the bottle?

He grabs his toys now!

Reading books

Nym doesn't get enough love these days. I try to take her for walks on my own if Eric is home. She loves Atlas, but I miss quality time with my girl.