The Summer of Dreams*
This is what I’ve been calling the last three months of my life–the summer of dreams. This summer (and subsequent “Sumtember”) has been everything I needed after a long, hard year. In my last post I decided to get real and share my struggles with post partum anxiety with you. I was SO scared to publish that post, but the response from my family and friends was overwhelming. It started a conversation about PPA that needed to be had, and I had several friends message me to tell me that they had been quietly struggling with it too. Finally giving my demons a name and acknowledging my struggle with PPA was so… freeing. As soon as I published that post it was like a huge boulder was lifted from my shoulders, and I feel a little lighter with each day that passes.
A big part of that is due to the fact that there have been some really exciting changes in our family over the last eight weeks. Some of them are just “little” things, but they’ve had such an amazing ripple effect for our whole family.
Since his birth, our littlest man has been the WORST traveler. I always thought that babies were supposed to love their car seats or strollers… but this was not our case. Prince Will would scream and cry from the minute he was put in it until several minutes after he was released. I’m not even sure when it happened, but one day he just decided to be okay with our stroller(s) and car. We have finally been able to get out on some fun outing as a family and it’s been AMAZING.
I’ve also completely weaned him, which has just been… awesome. The absence of nursing has helped his sleep immensely. We went from 5-6 nightly wake ups in June, to sleeping through the night most nights. It took us a full year to get here, but it has been so, so good. He is so much happier, and so am I. Finally getting enough sleep on a regular basis has helped my anxiety to the point where I barely feel it most days. For a while I thought that it was going to be my new normal, and it is so good to feel like *me* again.
The sleeping also seemed to help calm his temperament. Prince Will has always been a sweetheart, but he was a very demanding and needy baby who cried and yelled. A lot. More than my other two combined. He has settled so much and now is content to toddle around after his siblings. He laughs more than he cries which is just so lovely.
The very best part though, is that my little boy will finally let me hold him. I posted lots of snuggly pictures of Will and I last year, but if you look at them closely, he is asleep in all of them. To get him to sleep, I would have to walk laps around my house holding a baby that did. not. want. to. be. held. He would arch his back, pull my hair, hit my face, bite my shoulders and kick… but if I put him down he would cry and scream to be picked up. Somehow something flipped, and Prince Will now toddles over to be, holds up his arms just so he can sit with me on my lap. I waited SO LONG for this that I now soak up every single minute.
Hank the Tank*
Hank was sort of indifferent towards his baby brother for the first few months of his life. He knew he was there, but he wasn’t bothered by him. And then Prince Will learned how to stand… which meant he suddenly had access to all of Hank’s toys. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over terribly well. For most of the spring, this was Hank’s great struggle. Will would pick something up that Hank decided he needed and he would yell and whine and cry. It was a real growing period for all of us. I sympathized with Hank’s frustration, but the yelling and whining was just constant… until one day it wasn’t. Finally my constant barrage of “play with him!” sunk in and he started to include his little brother in his play. It hasn’t been perfect, but the whining has subsided so, so much and I am seeing the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.
We are also down to one kid in diapers!!! I have decided that I am the worst at potty training. Hank had a genuine fear of not having a diaper, and it took me forever to figure out a way around it. In one moment of sheer brilliance (and utter desperation) I tried something new and –I kid you not– he was potty trained in ONE day. Day and night. It is a glorious, GLORIOUS thing to only buy one box of diapers… and our big boy is pretty dang proud of his new Star Wars undies.
He has also come so, so far with his speech and comprehension in the last few months. He spent so long speaking in fragments and single words that it’s still a bit strange for me to hear him rumble off complete sentences. He still has some work to do, but he’s like a little sponge that is soaking everything in, and he’s finally able to communicate it back.
I saved the best for last. He is finally eating!!!! It has been incredibly hard to feed Hank since day one. He wouldn’t take a bottle or any formula, getting him onto solid foods was a nightmare, and even then he was very particular about which foods he would allow. It took me a long time to understand that he has a genuine fear of new foods. This goes beyond what I what I would call “picky”… if it wasn’t a familiar food, or it didn’t look or seem “safe”, he would rather die than eat it. It has been a near constant worry and concern for me for years, and we’ve seen doctors and dieticians about it but nothing worked. Until now. He is still very afraid of trying new foods, but we’ve worked out a method and system where he will try them with me. In the last month he has eaten more “new” foods than he has in his entire life–chicken, pork chops, hamburgers, carrots, broccoli, green beans, peas, corn, potatoes, peaches, pancakes, spaghetti, shepherd’s pie, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and so many others. I mean, these aren’t even “grown up foods”, but he would have refused them all flat out before. We still have some work to do, but he has come SO far and I am so proud of him!!
My beautiful five year old girl and I had a very healing summer. After being somewhat blinded by my PPA, she and I reconnected and spent a lot of quiet time together. We didn’t do anything huge, but I felt like I was really able to see her again and appreciate all that she is.
This summer she ditched her training wheels and is riding her bike like a pro. It only took her a few days to find her confidence, and now she rides like the wind. I love watching her and Hank race–he mastered his balance bike this year and can almost keep up with her!
We also worked hard on her writing and reading, and by August she began identifying and reading colours and common words in our workbook. I think she is SO close to getting it… I cannot wait for her to unlock that door so that she can discover the magic of books on her own! I was such a book nerd as a kid and I hope I have passed that gene on to her. ;)
The Hubster & I
We marked our 12th wedding anniversary in August, and this year we actually got to go out on our own to celebrate it! My lovely, lovely parents came down to watch our toads for the day, and the Hubs and I slipped into the city to spend an entire day, just the two of us. It was magical, and everything we needed after a crazy year of very few dates. A friend of ours has actually come a few times since to watch the kids for us, and it feels amazing to reconnect a little as husband and wife, instead of just exhausted ships passing in the night.
The magic of this summer was marred only by the passing of a beloved uncle who was taken much too soon… but even as we grieved with his family, it gave us all an opportunity to be together again and through the sadness there was some joy. <3
Well, this ended up being so much longer than I intended it to be, but I wanted to get it all out. I feel like I have so many things I need to write down and remember… but my track record of late has been terrible. But that’s okay, and I’m slowly learning to cut myself a bit of slack. But I needed to record a bit of what happened this summer so that I could remember it. After the storms of last year, the sun finally came out and this summer was a glorious, healing rainbow.