Category Archives: Motherhood

Motherhood / Primrose

Motherhood Update: Prim at 2 years (!)

May 9, 2017

Prim’s birthday dinner was the most toddler-ish meal, maybe ever. We let her eat her cake first, which was followed by her eating ketchup… by itself. (We never have ketchup at home, but I had made homemade chicken nuggets and decided to let Prim “live it up” with dip, which apparently means just letting her eat straight ketchup. Mom of the year!) Luckily she ended the meal by devouring a mountain of the green beans I had made, so it didn’t feel like a total mom-fail. And she left her chicken nuggets and roasted potatoes completely untouched, because of course.

Saying: Prim continues to expand her vocabulary and is now speaking in full sentences. She’s still big on commands (“Mama sit right here!”) and I’m so enjoying this phase between language fluency and baby-talk. I always want to remember the way she uses the word “in” — “Prim in the outside,” “Prim in the couch,” and the way she pronounces words like flamingo (“slimma”) and music “zisic.” She also has this uncanny ability to turn single-syllable words into what seems like two syllables (most notably, the sing-songy way she says, “Hiiiii Laaaaaaark!”)

Prim’s Favorite Things: Prim has recently become somewhat attached to a small Jellycat lion. The lion recently came on a walk down the block to the mailbox with us and she held his paw just like I hold her hand. The most hilarious of lion’s adventures, though, has to be the day I walked in on her with lion in the bathroom — he was sitting on top of the closed toilet seat and Prim proudly announced, “Lion poops!”

Reading: The Gruffalo, Flora and the Flamingo, The Gingerbread Man, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, and Whose Nest.

Latest trick: Prim has the funniest little personality, which is all her own, but it’s interesting to see the things she clearly picks up from KC and me. She is regularly throwing out phrases now that I know she’s gotten right out of my mouth. Her go-to words when she drops something (“Shoot!” or “Jeez!”), her exasperated “Come on!” when she’s struggling with something (which usually comes out when I’m having trouble with the zipper on her jacket or sleep sack), and the way she will randomly toss out, “Goodness!” while she’s climbing down the stairs. (I worked hard to clean up my language once Prim started talking, which is good since my new “exclamations” seem to have really made an impression!)

Favorite toys: In addition to the Gruffalo book, Prim received a set of Gruffalo wooden alphabet blocks and a scooter for her birthday from us, and so far both are quite a hit!

Sweetest things: Prim seems to think that the phrase “I miss you” means the same thing as “I love you.” Given that we’re thousands of miles away from our families and tell them we miss them regularly over FaceTime, I can see how she’s made this assumption. At least once a day Prim will come up to me and say, “Miss you, Mama!” to which I will respond, “I love you!” which is followed by Prim saying, “Welcome!” meaning: “You’re welcome.” It’s so silly and sweet, just like Prim.

Favorite thing about this age: We listen to music most of the day, and have done this since Prim was teeny-tiny. Prim has recently started singing along to some of the songs and singing to herself in her crib. Hearing how much of the lyrics she has managed to pick up from the songs we sing is fascinating, and listening to her sing to herself is pretty much the best thing ever.

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 2 months

April 17, 2017

Sleeping: So far Lark has been a pretty amazing sleeper. Most nights she does one long stretch of at least 5 hours and generally sticks to a minimum of 3 hours between feedings after that. I don’t know how long this will last, so I’m just enjoying the sleep while I’ve got it. (And the upside to the two month vaccines was Lark sleeping 9:30pm to 7am that night — life-changing!)

How we’re adjusting: We’re all enjoying being a family of four. Lark has proven herself to be a true Dutch baby, as she loves going for rides in the bakfiets. She could be screaming bloody murder when we strap her into the carseat, but as soon as KC snaps her into the base on the bakfiets and starts pedaling, she’ll calm down immediately and either fall asleep or just sit quietly for the entire ride.

Lifesavers: It’s been interesting to see how Lark differs from Prim, as I think it’s pretty easy to approach second (and third…) babies with the same tricks that worked on your first kid. Lark does not nurse to sleep, except in the middle of the night (which is both a blessing and a curse), and still cannot stand to be swaddled. She’s also completely apathetic about her pacifier, but loves white noise (perhaps because she spent nine months in my belly listening to a very loud toddler??) The Sound Sleeper app has been a lifesaver with both kids, but especially with Lark. When I know she’s tired but fighting sleep, the only thing that will make her stop flailing and finally calm down is the vacuum sound from the app. (Prim was a fan of the hair dryer sound when she was about Lark’s age. It was a godsend when she was wailing in the carseat while we were stuck in that awesome Bay Area traffic!)

New sibling: Prim still loves her sister (photo evidence above, which is Prim telling Lark stories in her own little language) and her acting out for attention has actually been pretty minimal; which is sort of surprising, given that she’s just weeks away from her second birthday and the “terrible twos.” This is not to say that the adjustment hasn’t been challenging at times. Prim definitely has her moments where she is “very two.” So far my approach to her acting out has been to talk to Prim a lot about the transition (which is basically what I do with everything for Prim… ha!) I make sure to praise her good behavior and work hard to give her one-on-one attention each day. When she starts acting up I try to name how she’s feeling (“It seems like you want some attention from Mama. I know it can be hard when Lark needs so much of my time, but [screaming/banging/whatever] is not ok.”) and give her some attention after a small break (since I don’t want her to think acting out = positive attention). When I sit with her at night before she goes to bed I make it a point to tell her how proud we are of her, what a good sister she is, and how much we love her.

Sweetest things: Lark has started smiling recently and is on the verge of laughing. It’s amazing to see how much she’s changed in just a few short weeks, going from a sleepy newborn to being more and more aware of her surroundings each day. It’s especially adorable when Lark sees Prim’s face and breaks out into a huge, gummy grin and immediately starts cooing at her. It’s as if she already knows that she’s got a best friend and partner in crime for life (these girls are so lucky!)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark’s days and nights are getting a little more predictable, but she still isn’t on a hard and fast schedule. I love feeling a little more confident managing her days while still having the flexibility to go out with her anytime of day, since she can still sleep anytime, anywhere (babies — they’re so portable at this age!)

Baby / Favorite Things / Motherhood

A Postpartum Miracle Find

April 11, 2017

If you are already a mom, then you may know about the wonderful joy of pumping. Oh wait, reverse that — I mean TERRIBLE ANNOYANCE.

Pumping is awful.

I’ve talked a little bit about pumping on here before, but given that I’m currently a stay at home mom, my relationship with pumping is a little different.

First, Lark had zero issues breastfeeding, unlike Prim, so I didn’t need to start pumping right away. And given my intense milk supply, pumping isn’t really the best thing for me to start up in the first six weeks anyway (because your supply is still regulating itself during that time, and anytime you pump it’s telling your body to produce even MORE milk). Also, since I’m not transitioning back to work, I’m not trying to build up a massive freezer stash of milk. Any milk I freeze right now is just a bank for when I (eventually) want to leave the house without Lark. And given the size of European freezers, there’s no way I can stock up frozen milk the way I did with Prim. Which, to be honest, we ended up purchasing a separate freezer just for breastmilk for her because I had pumped so much before returning to work.

Despite the fact that I was able to build up a pretty awesome freezer stash with Prim (I think it was somewhere in the realm of 600oz), I am not someone who excels at pumping. After having Prim, I had a Medela Pump In Style Advanced which worked fairly well while I was home on maternity leave, but returning to work and pumping was a whole other animal. Pumping at work was stressful and unfamiliar so my output was noticeably less; not to mention that I would regularly have sessions where I couldn’t get a letdown to save my life (it was as if my body was like, THIS ISN’T YOUR BABY WHAT ARE YOU DOING).

I did purchase a breast pump for use after Lark as well — the Ameda Purely Yours (called the Lactaline here in Europe), since I don’t have a converter that will work with the voltage of my Medela PISA and my insurance covered most of the cost of the Ameda. I attempted to use the Ameda a handful of times and simply could not get my body to respond to it. I started getting worried that I would have to either shell out €300 for a new European Medela pump, or I simply would never be able to leave the house without Lark during the first year (yayyyy… sobbing face)

I even started to doubt my supply, wondering whether I simply didn’t have any milk left to pump or was suffering from low supply. But given the amount of Lark’s weight gain (and the number of shirts I’m ruining on a weekly basis), I was fairly certain this wasn’t the case. I settled on the idea that my body simply doesn’t respond very well to pumping. Couple that with the fact that pumping is annoying as hell, means that my motivation to get any milk stashed for a “rainy day” was like… zero.

But then I heard about the Haakaa. I was a little skeptical that something so simple and inexpensive could actually work, but I decided to bite the bullet and try it out. I figured even if it didn’t work then at least I was only out $25.

Once the Haakaa was delivered, I sterilized it and got to reading the directions. I looked up a couple YouTube videos too, thinking that it certainly couldn’t be as simple as the directions made it out to be. (Nothing to plug in? No tiny pieces to fumble with? No PUMP? Surely this was a hoax.) I decided to put it next to my bed and test it out during one of Lark’s morning feeds, since you can use it one one side while your baby nurses on the other.

It took a little trial and error to get it on correctly, but once I positioned it correctly, lo and behold 10 minutes later… The dang thing worked.

It’s certainly not going to replace a regular pump for going back to work or skipped nursing sessions, but for those of us who pump just for convenience and to build up a small stash for the occasional outing — I can’t say enough good things about the Haakaa. You suction it onto your breast and leave it there — either while your baby nurses on the other side (which is how I use it) or just by itself. It catches your letdown without any of the actual pumping action (which as any seasoned mama will tell you, IS THE WORST and is so uncomfortable.)

One of the things I’m also super excited about is that it’s so easy to travel with. KC and I are discussing going back to the US for a few weeks in a couple months, and I was sort of dreading having to drag out my Medela pump for the trip (since we would have grandparents around to potentially watch the kiddos, we might actually leave the house sans children!) The Haakaa is perfect for trips like this — I can use it once or twice a day just like I do at home and bank some milk for a day or night out, without having to pack a bulky pump with all the pieces. (Oh yeah, AND somehow find 15-20 minutes each day when one of the two kids is not attached to me or having a meltdown, which, let’s just say that those windows are rare these days.)

In case you’re curious, I use the Haakaa on one side while I nurse Lark on the other — usually during her morning feed(s). I do this once or twice a day and get roughly 50-75ml in about 10 minutes. It’s obviously not as good at draining the breast as a double electric pump, but it helps relieve some of that early morning engorgement and gives me a good amount to build up a small stash in the freezer. Not to mention that it’s so much easier and less complicated to use than any other pump I’ve tried.

*This post is not sponsored or anything, I just thought the Haakaa was so awesome I wanted to share!

Baby / Motherhood / Primrose

Motherhood Update: Prim at 23 months

April 10, 2017

Saying: Everything. Ev-er-y-thing. Prim spends the whooole day talking, and has gotten very good at explaining exactly what she wants at any given moment (“Prim do it!” “Mama help!”) She narrates everything (“Larky sleeping!” “Lark awake!”) and speaks to Lark in her little gibberish language, as though they’re sharing secrets or she’s explaining just how all of this “life outside the womb” business works. It’s heart-achingly adorable and I hope these two are always as thick as thieves.

Doing: Prim is absolutely loving our new bakfiets, which she calls “Daddy bike” since KC rides it. I ride behind the bakfiets on my own bike and watch as she hangs one arm over the side, narrating the ride in her own nonsense language and occasionally pointing out “dog!” or “people!”

Reading: Barnyard Dance, Tree, The Night Gardener, King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, The Napping House, Jamberry, and Peace is an Offering.

Latest trick: With Prim’s expanded mastery of the English language has come the first bedtime and naptime manipulations. Prim is always asking for “more song” before I leave her room at bedtime or naptime. Singing to Prim before putting her down for the night is one of the sweetest parts of the day, so it’s always a struggle balancing the consistency of the bedtime routine with my own wishes to extend the time where she snuggles up to me, laying her head on my chest as I sing her “Edelweiss” or what she calls “movie song,” which is one of the songs from Frozen, Tangled or Moana — the soundtracks we listen to on Spotify on repeat on a daily basis.

Favorite toys: I’ve equipped Prim’s little kitchen with some empty spice jars, as I had emptied them into my own decorative spice jars which sit on the kitchen counter. Prim loves “cooking with spices” and “making coffee” in her kitchen, which involves an unused metal IKEA coffee press and her stacking cups (one of the very best toy purchases from when Prim was a baby!)

Sweetest things: Prim is so, so sweet with Lark. Everyday is full of her giving Lark kisses and hugs and sweetly announcing “Larky sad!” whenever Lark starts crying. She’ll often sidle up to Lark when she’s in the crib or the bouncy seat while I’m busy cooking or doing dishes, and I’ll hear Prim’s high-pitched “Hiiiiii Lark!” followed by a string of gibberish words, complete with accompanying hand gestures.

Favorite thing about this age: Because Prim recently went through the language explosion developmental milestone, she loves pointing out and naming just about everything. If she doesn’t know the word for something she will make it clear that she’s searching for the word until I name it for her, when she will triumphantly repeat it back to me. She loves snuggling up to me while I hold Lark and pointing to and naming body parts (“Larky ear!” “Mama eyebrow!” “Prim neck!”) The most hilarious example of which came while I was getting dressed one day and she walked up behind me and announced, “Mama buns!” and lovingly tapped my behind, just like I will occasionally do to her. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing and scoop her up for a hug.

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 1 month

March 22, 2017

We’re a little over one month in with Lark now, so I thought I’d put together an update on how she’s doing and how we’re adjusting to our newest family member. These updates will be a little different from the ones I post about Prim (because, yeah, there’s not a whole lot of huge developments to cover the first 6-8 months) so these posts will be a little bit about Lark and a little bit about what’s working for us two-kids-wise and how Prim is adjusting to being a big sister.

Sleeping: Don’t worry, we don’t have some magical unicorn child who is sleeping through the night at 5 weeks (don’t you kind of want to punch those parents? Just a little? I mean… good for them though.) Lark is exclusively breastfed and is on a pretty standard breastfed schedule (meaning: no schedule.) She eats on demand and we have been lucky that she generally sticks to 3 hours between feedings at night (sometimes she’ll do a 4 hour stretch, sometimes she’ll do a 2 hour stretch — it’s not an exact science). It’s tiring, but I’ve found that if you go into the first few months expecting to be up most of the night, it’s not so bad. And I’m very lucky that Lark is a champion breastfeeder and came out of the womb that way (such a difference from Prim!)

How we’re adjusting: I really prepared myself for the transition to two kids to be monstrous. I thought I would get zero sleep, be completely irritable, expected to have a baby who cried and cried and couldn’t be calmed, and thought Prim would have a really difficult time adjusting. Luckily my “worst case scenario” mentality worked out — none of those things have happened. I did get really thrown into the deep end when, after having help for the first couple weeks, KC went back into busy season where he would work until 10:30pm or later, meaning I was alone with both kids alllll day (and most of the night, really). Tackling Prim’s naptime and bedtime routine (including her bath) are the most challenging parts of the day, but I’ve been feeling pretty accomplished that we have been sticking to Prim’s schedule and I’ve managed to keep the house clean, laundry done, and even cook dinner most nights.

I’m definitely still in the process of figuring out what Lark likes these days. Unlike Prim, who loved to be swaddled, Lark is not a fan of being wrapped up burrito-style. Luckily she seems to sleep well with her arms free, so I’m currently in the process of trying to figure out a newborn sleep sack situation, since I didn’t put Prim into a sleep sack until she was 4 or 5 months. Lark also did not take to the Avent Soothie/Wubbanub pacifier the way Prim did. I finally found a pacifier that she likes, but she’s still not crazy for it like Prim was at this age.

Lifesavers: There’s no way I would be able to tackle two kids effectively without baby wearing. The Solly Wrap is such a lifesaver. I keep the Solly Wrap tied on me all day and pop Lark in and out as needed. It’s the quickest way to calm her down and get her to sleep if she’s tired (not to mention it’s basically the only way I can tackle Prim’s nap and bedtime routine without having a baby screaming in the next room). I’ve been pretty strict about Lark sleeping in her crib in our room at night, but during the day we’re still in the “whatever works” phase of getting her to nap. Newborn sleep is all over the place and they luckily aren’t forming strong habits at this age, so I’m not sweating the lack of daytime routine.

New sibling: Prim has adjusted phenomenally well to having a new sibling. From the moment we brought Lark home, Prim was smitten with her and this really hasn’t changed. She asks for “Baby Lark” as soon as she wakes up in the morning and loves giving her kisses, snuggles, and “pets.”

Sweetest things: Prim will cuddle up with Lark under the IKEA play gym and speak to her in her little gibberish language, which we’ve dubbed “Primglish.” Lark has started cooing back, which is simultaneously adorable and a little terrifying — Prim didn’t start cooing until around 6 weeks and now talks a mile a minute all day long, so I’ve already warned KC that it’s likely we’re going to have two little chatterboxes on our hands.

Favorite thing about this age: There is nothing sweeter than newborn snuggles. And the frog position they get into when they’re so sleepy after breastfeeding (feet up, arms bent with fists by the face) makes me want 100 more babies every time.