This is way late as he’ll be 5 months old on the 30th 😂 but here he is.
  
Boy, are four month olds fun! He
can sit (no strength to stay up yet, but he can balance on his own for a bit) and roll from back to front (and flips like a pancake as soon as you set him down).
     
 

He looooves when his big sister talks to him, and can reach for anything she holds for him to play with. He’s still happiest when talked to or when held and brought along for the ride, but amazes me every day with his ability to nap on his own and play on the floor while I get things done.
   
   
He is polar opposite from his sister in this way, which just reminds me that every baby is different and has different needs. Norah’s were (and still are) great, and his just aren’t (yet!). And, it lets me love on Norah while he is sleeping–something we both need. He still sleeps with us and has been better-ish about sleeping through the night, as he typically fusses from about 3am til morning. He never fully wakes, but man am I feeling the sleep deprivation…!
  
I can’t believe that he’ll soon be sitting up for real, and crawling, and eating…but while I already miss baby Sy, I just love the person he is. I’ll take the growing up, because that means we get to keep him.
  

  
The stories behind their names: 

Norah Josephine

When Peder and I got married in 2010, we went through a very private and stressful time when we thought we wouldn’t be able to have kids (or at the very least, that it would be difficult for us to get pregnant). It was hugely stressful for me, and left me desperate and anxious to know that we would someday be able to have a family. After a year and a half went by, the issues I was struggling with health-wise started to resolve themselves and shortly thereafter we found ourselves pregnant with a surprise Norah.

It was unexpected, and came with a lot of life-altering decisions. At that time, I wasn’t working full time (and would have to postpone my MA and teaching certification for 7 additional months), we lived in an apartment, we were making peanuts on Peder’s TA salary {still are, ha!}…it just wasn’t the life that I had envisioned bringing my baby into. Not many people know this, but I was very anxious and even regretful for most of my first trimester of Norah’s pregnancy, simply because I felt like I had already failed her by not having my life together in the way I thought I should have. Of course by the time she came into the world in February 2013, my love for Norah had evolved to an instantaneous, unequivocal kind of love that I could never have imagined before having her, but it was a very emotional journey to her birth day. Her name means “light,” and fittingly enough represents the warm light that she shines on every part of my world–even the parts that don’t look the way I always thought they would.

Her middle name, Josephine, is after a  long lineage of strong women in my family: My great-grandmother, Josie, my mother,  Lori Jo, and me, Hannah Jo. We later learned that there are also Josephine’s in Peder’s family, which is a really cool connection, but I love sharing Norah with the pioneer women I’m descended from.

  

 
  
Simon James Laurence

With Simon, I had the chance to actively want him. I was desperate for a baby for a good 6-9 months before we actually got pregnant with him, filling my heart with the kind of ache that only the empty arms of a mother in wanting can feel. I had my Norah, which is more than many have, but my heart ached for another. It was a long, long wait for the “right” time to conceive Simon. And even then, Simon came earlier than we had expected and meant another round of hard choices–including leaving my job and staying home to mother my two children. But Simon, whose name means “he has heard,” did exactly that: He heard me. He heard my heart crying for him, and he answered my whispered calls and immediately, instantaneously, filled my heart with love from the moment I first knew he would be here. He had heard me. My Simon, who joined my Light.

In another fun coincidence, Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. His original name was Simon, but Jesus later changed it to Peter {which is as close to Peder’s name as you can get}. We thought it was a fitting connection for Peder’s son to have that biblical link to his name!

“James” comes from my dad, James (Jim) Lincoln. He passed away when I was 16, and I think Peder and I have always known that we’d use James in our son’s name in some way. Though I wish we didn’t have to use it, it fits Simon so well. He even looks like my dad, in such incredibly striking ways.

“Laurence” is, of course, in honor of Peder. Peder’s second middle name is Laurence, partially named after his mother, and it just flowed so well with Simon and James. We loved the thought of having our son named after his father, and having two middle names like him as well.

   
 


 

My children’s timing hasn’t always made sense to me, but it has unknowingly given me the two most amazing babies I could have ever asked for.Through a lot of fate and opportunity, everyone in our family has a “J” and “L” middle name (well, except for Norah. Poor girl). Something fun that connects us all🙂

Peder Jay Laurence Thompson

Hannah Jo Lincoln Thompson

Norah Josephine Thompson

Simon James Laurence Thompson

Life with sweet Simon has been absolutely amazing. While I’m tempted to just refuse to believe that he is 1 month old in the hope that he will just stop growing, I am honestly just in awe of the family of four that we have become now that he is here with us. He fits like he’s been here all along.


At Simon’s 3 week well check, he was 11lbs 7oz, 22″ long, and has a head circumference of 15″.

{at birth, he was 9lbs 2oz, 20.25″ long, and his head was 14″. The boy can GROW.}

He still sleeps like a champ–sometimes upwards of 18-20 hours a day. He is a heavy wetter and needs changing several times a night {thanks, Peder, for doing most–ok, all–of the nighttime diaper changes!}, but he rarely stays up and instead prefers to nurse and go right back to sleep. He has his fussy moments, but overall he is an incredibly calm baby. He rarely cries more than a few seconds, and if he does you know something is wrong!

He also, though, had his first cold this week. Luckily just a low-grade fever and some nasty congestion, but man is he a different baby when sick! I think I’ve quadrupled the number of times I’ve heard him cry in the last 24 hours. The poor boy. So glad I can just be home with him, though.

He started tracking and even smiling on purpose this week, which is always the best milestone to reach. He has twice looked up at me and smiled, which makes every long night instantly worth it.

We also had Simon baptized at our church in Lincoln this month on November 29th. His sponsors were Peder’s cousin Madison and our good friends Caitlyn & Nate. We were lucky enough to have over 25 family and friends who were ale to come celebrate with us, many from out of town! It was a whirlwind weekend {especially with big sister’s stomach flu😦 } but it was so fun.


   Amazing photos by (Aunt) Catharine Bliss of Bliss Photography

While I can’t wait for him to start to learn more about his world and to see him start to have a relationship with Norah, I also wouldn’t mind in the slightest if he stayed sleeping on my chest for forever. I could watch those sweet, sleepy eyes all day.

Time flew by when I was pregnant. It seems like only yesterday that I was calling to Peder for the second time to squint at these two faint lines, and suddenly now we’re here. Now my arms finally feel the weight of my son, my heart finally feels the space that only his presence can create…and time has quickened. The days I was longing for are fading, and my sweet boy is already almost a month old. Stay little, little one. Slow down so I can remember every moment of you. Because I don’t want to miss this.


The wait for Simon felt just as intense as it did for Norah’s birth, but in different ways. Norah’s due date was very hard for me to approach–even though I knew she wasn’t “due” for anything–and Simon’s was no different. But with Norah, I went into labor the next day {and had her two days after that…ouch}. With Simon, the day came and went….and still nothing. It wasn’t until 6 days later that I finally felt like labor was imminent, and that was after trying nearly every trick in the book.

We had made it to the 41 week appointment on Thursday, October 29th, which meant a modified BPP with an ultrasound. It was neat to see him again, though the appointment was coupled with discussions about what interventions we would be comfortable with and when. Normally, we don’t do any interventions or inductions at all, but we could only deliver at the birth center until 42 weeks. After that, we would need to induce labor and change our plan to go to the hospital. This would be a huge change in a number of ways, and meant that we were suddenly OK with many interventions that we were not OK with merely a week earlier. After the BPP, I asked my midwife to check to see how dilated I was (not routine in our office) and strip my membranes. I was already at 2.5cm, and left hoping that the membrane sweep would kickstart labor in the next 4-6 hours. If not, no harm done. We also made appointments to try a Foley bulb induction in the midwife’s office the following Monday and to break my water there on Thursday at 41.5–just incase.

Stripping my membranes certainly brought on contractions, ones that were more uncomfortable and more frequent than the prodromal labor bouts that I had been experiencing in the previous weeks. But even these seemed to taper off as the day went on, and we went to bed on Thursday night thinking that perhaps it hadn’t worked. It wasn’t until I got up for the first of my many customary nighttime bathroom trips that I realized I was contracting strongly and regularly.

At 2am, I decided to stay up. After laying on the couch and sleeping in between contractions for a while, I decided to text my doula Becky to tell her that I thought I was in labor but was doing fine and hadn’t even woken up Peder yet. I was using my hypnobabies tracks by this time (which meant that the contractions were strong enough that I had to focus through them or I would tense up and cause them to become more painful). Around 3am I decided that I needed the tub, but as I filled it with hot water it subsequently woke up Peder. It was then that we were both up on the day that Simon was to be born.

Laboring the rest of the morning was a rotation of tub, birth ball, couch, and floor. Some of it with Peder, some of it on my own. Some of it with Norah (who got up around 6:30am that day) playing around me, some of it without. But overall, I would describe the morning of my labor with Simon as incredibly calm and peaceful. This is entirely due to the Hypnobabies that I had practiced for the past two months. More than anything, Hypnobabies gave me a way to relax in the midst of pain. Essentially, it teaches you how to relax your muscles and turn pain into pressure. It changes your mindset about what “pain” is (I came to think of it as discomfort) and gives visualization techniques to help strengthen a feeling of anesthesia. Then you can turn it on or off during labor and direct it towards your discomfort. It’s like I was choosing to focus on relaxing; I would close my eyes and breathe deeply, trying to relax into the pressure and not let it overwhelm me.  Then when the contraction was done, I came out of the hypnosis and was able to talk, drink, eat, play with Norah, etc.

In fact, I found a video on Peder’s phone that shows me in labor on the couch with Norah sitting beside me, talking about how her hugs were like magic and giving each other hugs before she left for the day. This was after about 7 hours of labor, only 5 hours before he was born, and probably 4-5cm dilated. I could never have labored for so long with a two year old by my side without the techniques I had practiced. And Norah was great, too; to Norah, it just seemed like mommy was sleeping, so she would play by me or lay on me a little bit, and then run off and do her thing. Peder was flitting between Norah and me, which left me alone for what seemed like most of Norah’s time at home, but he was amazing at trying to manage both of us at once. Truly a superdad, caring for one child while bringing another into the world.

Norah finally left at about 9:30 right after my doula arrived. I remember feeling these hot tears well up in my eyes, knowing that this was the last time I would see my baby while she was still a baby. While I didn’t want her to stay and knew that she couldn’t, I just hated seeing her leave. The next time I would see her, twelve hours later, she would be inexplicably bigger. I came out of my labor space for as many hugs and kisses as she needed, and then she was gone.

But once she left, I was able to focus a bit more and get more support from just Peder. I remember sitting on the couch right after my doula got there and getting through 8 contractions all on my own, silently, without moving or opening my eyes. These were about 3-4 minutes a part at this point. When the couch wasn’t comfortable any more, I moved to the tub again. The hot water felt incredible against my back (even though he wasn’t posterior like Norah was, the back pain was still pretty intense. Ok, awful). I was still able to hold onto the hypnosis when contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, but they started getting harder to work through. I had to breathe deeply and a little audibly to get through them. That’s when we decided to head to the midwife at about 11am.

We live an hour away from the birth center, and I remember not wanting to make that drive when it finally came time to leave during Norah’s labor. This time, I was ready and willing to leave, but had a much harder time coping during the car ride. I think we hit every pot hole and I felt what seemed like every pebble in the road between here and there, and it was excruciating. Somewhere on the interstate, I told Peder in my delirious state, “I’m not doing this again,” which he apparently found to be hilarious. Looking back, the painful drive was what caused me to lose my focus, and it set the tone for the remainder of my labor. Everything was much more painful, and I never really got back to my peaceful, silent state from home.

Once we got to the birth center, they had already set up the room and even filled the tub with water. This shocked me, as I was so nervous about being far enough along to stay and I was concerned about the possibility of having to go back home. I knew I could never sit through the hour’s car ride home, much less the return trip; where would I go if, for some reason, I hadn’t progressed enough to stay? Target?! But once I was in the water, the midwife came to check me and said I was (only) 5cm. When I arrived to have Norah I was at a 7 and still had about 8 hours to go before having her, so to hear I was at a 5 nearly crushed me. I felt sure that they would say I had to go back home. But not minutes later, my water broke while I was sitting in the tub and I instantly progressed to a 6 and moved two stations down. Clearly I was in labor, and clearly things were moving along. I could stay. That 1cm of progress was enough to keep me going.

Laboring at the birth center was a bit like laboring at home; I moved between the tub, standing by the bed, sitting backwards on the toilet, and laying down on the bed, primarily because I was so exhausted. I just wanted to lay down–though of course “resting” in labor is an oxymoron like no other. The tub wasn’t nearly hot enough (though unbiased observers said it was actually quite warm!), so it wasn’t as much of a comfort to me as it was at home. My doula, Peder, and my midwife Latrice (who came in just for my labor, as another woman was audibly having her baby next door) were incredible during this time. With Norah, it was just Peder and me until the very end when the student midwife Amanda started giving us suggestions of what to do to move things along. This time, I had three solid pillars of support the entire two hours we were there before his birth. I had six hands on me, trying desperately to push and rub and take away some of the searing pain and pressure. I had someone to help me while Peder phoned our families or ran to get something. I even had enough support that my doula was able to step back and take some pictures for us during labor, which are incredible and surreal to look back on now. I had Hypnobabies still playing and was able to still breathe and relax through contractions with much less vocalization than with Norah, but it was still long, hard, and intense. But between these three people, I progressed from a 5 to a 10 in about two hours.


Towards the end, I finally started talking to Simon, telling him to just come already, please just come. And just as the midwife suggested that I get up and sit on the toilet for a while to open my hips before sitting in the water again, I realized that Simon was crowning.

As chaotic as Norah’s labor was, her birth was quiet, peaceful, and slow. Simon’s birth was fast, intense, and loud. I joke now that I apparently just decided that I was done, and just wanted to get him out already. I can even remember Peder asking if I wanted to move into the tub (since we wanted a water birth) and I told him no, there isn’t enough time! It seemed like every push was suddenly 10x stronger and more effective, and in just a minute or so his head was out. Time blurs here for me, but later I learned that he got stuck at his shoulders for just a liiiittle too long for comfort. With one giant push, he arrived.


Moving faster and with more agility than I had in months, I looked down to see this tiny, pale little baby below me. I scooped him out of Peder’s arms and saw my Simon. He heard me, and he came.

Simon James Laurence Thompson was born on October 30th, 2015, at 2:29pm. 9lbs 2oz, 20.25″ long. Perfect.


The space the he has filled in our family was one that we didn’t even know we needed, now that we are four. Time is flying by and my sweet, sleepy, incredibly calm and happy baby is growing right before my eyes. I think the sweetest part about having a second child is the perspective that I have on every day that he’s been with us. I know that these days won’t last, because they don’t. I know that this nap is sweet and precious and needed, so I rest with him on my chest for just a little longer. I see that sweet scrunched-up nose that looks like my dad’s and the eyes that look like mine and the hair that is turning more and more like his dad’s every single day and just breathe it all in. I relax and put him down more often. I hear him fuss but hold his big sister just a little longer. I make room on my lap for two, because the days when they’ll both be able to fit there are few. The days are long, but I can’t imagine spending them with anyone else.

Unless you follow me on Instagram, I don’t post a lot about Norah on social media. And I realized that many of the people we love don’t get to hear nearly enough about her, simply because we don’t put it out there. So as our big girl is about to become a big sister, I thought I’d take a minute to brag about her awesomeness and all of the amazing things she can do!

Norah turned 2.5 at the end of August, and we had her two year well check….in September {whoops}. She’s a wee little thing at just 25lbs and 34″ {4th and 6th percentile respectively}, but she’s growing on her own curve so neither we nor her pediatrician are concerned. She’s in 2T clothes, but her tiny waist makes pants a challenge sometimes😛 She has also completely mastered the toilet, and has been out of daytime diapers since the beginning of the summer and nighttime diapers since July. It has been a fabulous respite before we welcome little baby any day now!

Her hair is so amazing; wavy just like her mama's, blonde like her daddy's, and very fine.

Her hair is so amazing; wavy just like her mama’s, blonde like her daddy’s, and very fine.

While brushing can be a battle, sometimes she lets me do fun things with it.

While brushing can be a battle, sometimes she lets me do fun things with it.

Her favorites and interests are wide and varied, although like any toddler she will love something to death one day and forget it entirely the next. Animals are still a constant favorite, and she’s starting to be more interested in their specific habits and diets. Her favorite stuffed animals are a bunny, a polar bear, and a teddy bear, but I would say her favorite zoo animal is a Red Panda–and her Halloween costume this year! She’s taken animal love to a whole new level now, though, in taking care of them like a little mama. We have a constant presence of animals laying on every available surface of our house, covered in little dish towels for “nap time” with tiny plastic plates and forks by their heads. She also loves to play grocery shopping, complete with a system of paying via debit card {oh the things they see!}. A funny moment: She turned to us one day and asked, “Paper or plastic?”

IMG_9530

Taking care of her babies.

Playing in her favorite exhibit at the Children's Museum...the grocery store!

Playing in her favorite exhibit at the Children’s Museum…the grocery store!

Norah has always been a fabulous eater, and rarely refuses a food. She probably has more foods that she doesn’t care for now, but she is a champ about eating them eventually {ok, with some coercion from mom and dad}. Favorites still include yogurt, cheese, avocado, bread, bagel & hummus…and also whole meals such as chicken noodle soup, meatballs, chili, and sandwiches. She LOVES to help us cook, and is the resident vegetable washing expert in the house. She had great fun canning foods with us this summer, too, particularly when she was given her own tiny jar to preserve.

Canning tomatoes this summer.

Canning tomatoes this summer.

She is still an avid lover of books, which makes her English teacher mama so proud. This year has brought a host of new favorite characters and series, including Clifford, Arthur, Berenstain Bears, Amelia Bedelia, Little House on the Prairie, Biscuit, and Pete the Cat. While it is not so fun to read these stories to her on repeat, it is so amazing to hear her pick up the words and then read them to herself completely unsupported. It is all memorization, but it is starting to turn into real learning…she can spell her name out loud and knows the letters A, B, C, D, and E by sight, and will spontaneously interrupt our reading to point out a letter she has found in the books. Who knew she even looked at the writing??

IMG_0528

Her artistic skills have also blown me away…she can draw people complete with a head, a body, arms and legs, shoes, fingers, eyes/nose/mouth, and hair. So cool to see her draw to deliberately!

Her vocabulary is awesome–and awesomely hilarious. Some of my favorite toddler phrases include “bana” for banana, “why-brary” for library, and “nack” for snack. Even better are some of the phrases that she picks up around her, unbeknownst to us most of the time! She one day told us that she has “different options!” when deciding something, and even tells us that she has just “decided to be happy.”🙂

Most of all, she is beyond excited to be a big sister. She constantly asks about the baby and will include him in everything she does, from asking to bring him to the library when he’s born to saving him a tiny little dinner roll that she helped make. My mama heart sometimes grieves for the time that I will have to spend away from her to have the baby, and then for the time that we will inevitably have to share after he’s here. But she is so amazing and kind-hearted and wonderful, that I know we will just add him to our world…he won’t take anything away from her.

Loving her baby sibling already

Loving her baby sibling already

 

 

Not that I intended on blogging every little detail of pregnancy #2, but man…it has been 12 weeks since an update. Whoops!

IMG_9506

Time is just flying by. Perhaps it’s just that our world is busier, but I can barely believe that in just a couple of months we will be a family of four. Personally, I am more than ready for baby’s arrival. I just want to meet my little one already!

We’ve moved into biweekly appointments, and we’ve been so lucky thusfar to have most of our appointments with our favorite midwife, Heather. Now that her practice has grown, there are two other midwives who might also be on call the day/night we deliver, but we prefer Heather as we’ve known her the longest. She is so calming, yet she is also very open and she listens to our concerns. I’ve been having a lot of braxton hicks contractions, which is normal for a second pregnancy, and our midwife is amazing at making me feel heard and validated. I can’t believe that my next appointment {in just a week} is in September. Where did August/the summer/this whole pregnancy go??

IMG_9606

At 32 weeks, I’m also starting to hit my “I’m done” phase. I love being pregnant, and it’s super easy for me, but MAN do my hips kill. It is way worse than last time, too, and I now have two children to carry😛 I also have trouble breathing, I feel like I’m starting to waddle…I’m getting to the “fun” part of pregnancy, and I still have two months left!

Baby-wise, this kid is doing great. My “easy child,” as I sometimes say! This baby seems to be much more of a mover than Norah was in utero. While my mom-brain makes it difficult to remember exactly what it was like to be pregnant with Norah {that space has kindly moved over to remember the exact wherabouts of Norah’s most favorite thing-of-the-moment and the time that she last used the toilet}, I feel like this baby is much “rollier” than Norah was. I always remember Norah’s kicks; I’d be sitting in a meeting, and she’d be nudging me away. This baby seems to have more “dance parties” than sweet “nudges,” and will frequently make me question whether or not the head is still down with all the movement I feel {it is}. Hiccups also resonate throughout my entire belly, which I don’t remember happening last time! Peder, my mom, and my sister have all gotten to feel hiccups, which are much more predictable movements than the kicks.

We have done literally nothing to prepare for baby’s arrival, save for some {admittedly unnecessary} clothes buying. Since I know the gender this time, I can’t help but buy some cute gendered things when I see them on sale. A September goal of mine is to get the baby’s clothes washed and put away, to pull out Norah’s fall things, and to do a better once-over of Norah’s old clothes that I don’t want to drag on our move. I’m sure once I take a full inventory, I’ll be pleasantly surprised to realize I can clothe this kid into what will probably the 8th grade. We do still need a seat/bouncer/rocker of somesort, which my mom has happily offered to buy, and I think I’ve settled on the rock n’ play. Otherwise, baby could come tomorrow and we’d honestly be ok! Yay for cloth diapering and breastfeeding, right?!

One big change we’ve made this pregnancy is to hire a doula and to take on the Hypnobabies homestudy course. With Norah, we took a basic birth class in Omaha–and while it was great to connect with a natural-minded birth group {something Lincoln is STILL sorely lacking!}, it did little in the way of preparing me for both the scope and management of the pain. We both admit that when the time came, all of the positions we’d learned and the advice we’d heard flew right out the window. I don’t even remember utilizing the shower or the tub {though my birth story says I did? Apparently former me remembers better than current me}. This was a big consideration in hiring a doula, if only to have someone else supporting us and focusing on just our needs {again, cue the higher demands of the busier birth center}. We were lucky to find someone we feel very comfortable with, and are looking forward to building a relationship with her and having her help when the time comes.

I also just ordered and started reading the Hypnobabies home study course. As I approach the birth, I recognize daily that I carry a lot of fear and anxiety into the whole process. This is due in part to having an entirely new source of stress this time around {what to do with Norah/how is Norah doing/when can we get back to Norah/etc}, but also largely due to the feelings and memories I have tied to the last time I gave birth. I was in labor with {a posterior} Norah for 41 hours, 18 of which were full-blown H.A.R.D. It hurt immensely, and I do not shy away from pain nor cave easily to the option of help. It shook me to my core, and we’ve always joked that I’ll probably have a lot of fear going into birth #2. Turns out we were right, and it’s not so funny when it’s staring you in the face! Everything I’ve read about a hypnobirth is exactly what I had wanted for Norah’s birth but didn’t have. I’m excited that it gives me some power and control back, and gives me more tools to help me cope.

IMG_9904

Only two more months til we meet our sweet babe…October can’t come soon enough!

Two year olds are amazing. While we certainly have our days where Norah is more insistent and independent than may be convenient for me, overall her ability to express herself and interact with her environment far outweighs the so-called “terrible twos!” As my husband (and parents!) would say, these are the Terrific Twos🙂

One of Norah’s favorite things is to talk about the world around her. Not only is she obsessed with animals (and what they eat and drink), but she also loves to think about what is happening to the grass, the trees, the sky, etc. It is in these moments that home schooling makes the most sense to me. It is so effortless to simply see what she is interested in and learn more about it, and to talk to her about what is happening in the world around her.

One such {unplanned} moment happened the other day. I was enjoying my morning tea {a solitary ritual I used to enjoy at work…and has shockingly fallen by the wayside since I came home! This was a rare treat morning} when Norah came up to me and announced that it was raining. She promptly asked if we could go for a walk outside….so we did! We put on raincoats and rain boots and grabbed our umbrellas, and went outside for the slowest walk known to man. But she saw everything! She loved jumping in puddles and seeing the “rivers and waterfalls” in the gutters.

Then, she saw a bird up in the distance. We try to be as specific as we can with our animal identification, to 1) encourage her to be specific with her language, too, and 2) to differentiate among the multitudes of animals in her animal-loving world. So I asked her, “What kind of bird is it? I see red and black, which means it is….” and she replied with “A robin!” As usual, our conversation then moved on to talk about what this animal must eat. As I explained the phenomenon of birds eating the worms that come up out of the ground when it rains, it occurred to me that birds also eat bird seed….which we have at home, along with all of the accoutrements for a bird feeder creation. So as we finished our walk, we planned the design of a homemade bird feeder and promptly went home to build one {ok, eight}.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 7.56.25 PM

In these moments, I see her so completely enthralled with her world. I see her little mind spinning and whirring and learning. I see her completely engaged with every academic subject, in a way that SHE chose, in a way that works best for HER. This is all that I want for Norah and her education, and I’m honored that I can help her learn this way. I’ll help her do this for as long as she wants.

So my weekly picture updates failed…in april…

I’ll blame it on a whole host of things.

School ended over a month ago

Norah finished Montessori school at Prairie Hill at the end of May.

Peder started summer work that has turned into an even more exhausting schedule than the school year.

We’ve been traveling and visiting family {and are about to head out on 3 more trips before the end of August}.

See what I mean? Excuses, but valid ones!

What has really changed in our life, though, has been the decision for me to stay home with Norah. As I had her while I was still in teacher college and working towards my MA, juggling work and family life has always been in my cards. I was grateful to be able to work on my thesis at home with her til she was 5 months old, but she’s been in someone else’s care (most days, primarily) for the past 2 years. When we found out that we were expecting Norah’s little sibling, it became clear that I could no longer work. The time that I wanted to take off for maternity leave was not what was best for my students, and leaving sweet little baby and amazing big sister after only just 6-8 weeks was unfathomable. Although no mother should be placed in this position, it was immediately clear that my children come first. I would always regret leaving that tiny baby in a stranger’s arms, but I would never regret staying home.

So I left.

I left my dream job at the best school with the most amazing coworkers. I left my professional identity and 4 years of hard work (that I’m still paying off loans for…). I left an advanced degree. I left my friends.

But I get to spend every minute of every day with Norah. I get to color, and read, and explore. We visit the zoo at her pace, not the frantic one I can squeeze in between 4:15 and the 5pm closing time. We get to do toddler story time at the library, where every other 2 year old has also brought their pregnant mom along. I get to cook and bake and clean and do all of the things that I had relied so heavily on Peder to pick up while I was working…tasks I actually enjoy and like to complete. And Norah gets to learn from me, and not from someone else. I am the biggest piece of her world again, and that both fills my heart and makes it burst.

Even more, by staying home I get to dream of holding my new little baby in my own arms, for good. I don’t have to stress about how to get the baby to bottle feed (anyone remember THAT struggle with Norah?!). I don’t have to worry about how to get the baby to sleep without me. I get to relax. The pace is so much slower, and sweeter.

It has taken a while to find our new normal–and adjusting to Mom being home for the summer is always a challenge–but as we head into July I’ve found that we have absolutely hit our stride. I’m not worried about adding a baby into our mix, at all. On the contrary, I think it will just make things even better.

See you in October, little one. In the meantime, you can find me with your big sister.

The breastfeeding culture is pretty strong on the internet. So is the backlash community, to be fair, but I also feel that if you can get yourself connected with the right people, there are so many women out there who are willing to support moms through their breastfeeding journeys.

But so many of the questions and blog posts that I read online are about nursing newborns, or nursing infants to that holy grail of a date–their first birthday. Even though the WHO advocates for nursing babies for two years, my general sense has been that nursing a child to their first birthday is a milestone more women are reaching for. Just today, I read about two different local moms who reached out to a facebook group because their babies were 9 months old and they were heartbroken because “they just didn’t think they could make it to one” because of various bf’ing issues. And while it IS important to nurse a baby until one, it is also important to keep going (so long as mom and baby are both willing).

But very few people talk about breastfeeding a toddler.

In my own experience, I’ve found that people were overwhelmingly supportive when I decided to nurse my newborn daughter in 2013, and were delighted when we had a successful breastfeeding relationship throughout her first year. But as we stepped towards and passed her first birthday, the support sometimes turned into sideways glances, and the joy turned into thoughts of “well, to each her own…”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience breastfeeding. I have never been told to cover up in public. I have never been shamed out of a room while feeding my child. I was once followed by a manager at Walmart as I was walking around, nursing my newly-two-year-old, but even he was too chicken to say something to me. But it’s this last experience that, to me, has been more indicative of society’s feelings towards nursing a walking, talking, eating child.

I’ve had friends who have told me–while I was breastfeeding my daughter in my own home–“She’s really going to town there….it’s kind of grossing me out.”

I’ve had family members who don’t look at me or talk to me while I’m nursing, like I’m not in the room.

I’ve also had family members who try to keep me in the conversation, but fail to realize how my voice and attention distract my nursing toddler, and in turn make it even more difficult to get the job over and done with.

I’ve had family members who are upset because I don’t nurse around them.

I’ve had friends who are upset because I DO nurse around them.

But through all of this, I kept nursing Norah.

For two years and three months, nursing was her primary source of comfort. It healed her when she was hurt, consoled her when she was sad, and mesmerized her when she was sleepy. For two years and three months, I nursed her to sleep nearly every night. For two years and three months, I nursed her several times throughout the night.

For two years and three months, she had her nannies (nah-nies). I was completely hers. And I loved it. I loved having the power to magically soothe her, and I loved the bond that it created between us. She is a mama’s girl through and through, and I loved that she still needed me first even though I worked every day. Deep down, I was even scared that, without nannies, I had nothing. How would I comfort her if I couldn’t nurse her?

I was ready to nurse her until she self-weaned. I hadn’t really considered how long that might be–perhaps until I got pregnant again and my milk dried up, or perhaps when she was 3 (or 4, or…5). I was fairly confident that I wouldn’t still be nursing a daughter going off to college, but you never know.

I would do it all (minus the college part) for her.

But over the past two months, nursing has been much harder than I had ever experienced.

I did get pregnant again in February 2015, and even now at 18 weeks I don’t think my milk has dried up any more than it had already regulated to the level of a nursing toddler (I stopped pumping when Norah was 22 months old, so I have no idea how much I really produce now). And Norah kept nursing as always.

Then around 12 weeks, I got a serious case of nursing aversion. I had experienced this before, usually when Norah’s going through a growth spurt or teething and nursing at the frequency she requested was less than desirable. It always evened out, though, so I held fast this time. I gritted my teeth, I tried everything I could to distract myself, and I tried to wait it out.

But it never subsided. It never got easier to nurse her, it never got “enjoyable” again, and it became more painful than ever. I haven’t cracked or bled or anything, but the pain was like nursing a newborn again. Every suck made my skin crawl, and I dreaded every time she’d come up to me and ask, “Nannie?”

I know the pregnancy hormones are to blame, but it made me so frustrated. I was upset with Norah for wanting to do what she had always done (nurse). I was angry at her for causing me so much pain during her 4 feedings per day, 3 of which were at night. Then I was angry at myself, for feeling this way about my beautiful daughter, who was doing nothing wrong. And I didn’t handle these feelings well. Of course my coping mechanisms weren’t working, they weren’t taking away the pain or the guilt. So I started down the slippery slope of wondering what else I could do to mask these feelings.

The rational side of me was getting very worried. Combined with the normal fears of pregnancy weight gaining, this former mess of a person was terrified of where it would land me. But my rational side was also starting to get seriously afraid that I would never shake this feeling, that I would be living with this sensitivity and this anger during nursing sessions into my time with my newborn. And I knew that I could never nurse another baby to two (or beyond) when I was feeling like this.

So I made the heartbreaking decision to wean Norah from nursing.

It goes against everything I believe in as Norah’s mom. My entire parenting being is focused around letting her do things at her pace, letting her explore her world on her terms, and supporting her (with reasonable boundaries, of course) where she is at. To take away something before she was ready–and to deny her main source of comfort, no less–was heartbreaking. It’s why I lived in pain and frustration for nearly two months.

I don’t think anyone in my life, including my husband, realized how difficult this was and is for me. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for taking away Norah’s nannies, and for telling her “no” when she cries instead of giving love.

Because what nobody sees–because I don’t let them–is that I’m crying in sadness, too.

On Tuesday this week, we had our anatomy scan ultrasound and 19 week appointment with the midwife. As the busy week progressed, we are now 20 weeks along (halfway there!).

The ultrasound was, as it was last time, an incredible experience. It was so amazing to see the baby’s wiggles, instead of just feeling them! While we got some amazing views of baby’s profile and face, I feel like it’s anatomy was harder to spot this time. We have great photos of Norah’s arms, legs, even her four chambered heart. This time, those areas were much harder to recognize.  

  

 Such a great view of its spine!

Baby’s leg…you can see the two long, white femur bones

 In this sweet profile picture, you can see baby sucking its thumb! We even saw it suck and swallow at this moment.

The tech spent a lot of time on baby’s heart, which made me very nervous. We could vaguely see the four chambers, but she even went and brought in a doctor to look again; that is never a good sign! But lo and behold everything was normal. The ultrasound report even said that the baby had “great” vessels!

The biggest surprise…we decided to find out the sex of the baby this time around! We kept Norah as a surprise until her birth, which was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. But, for some reason, this time I just felt like I wanted to know. I’ve had a mama hunch this whole pregnancy about who this little one is….but I won’t be revealing if I was right or wrong! We won’t be telling the sex just yet🙂

After the ultrasound in Omaha, we drove back to Bellevue for our appointment with the midwife. As always, it is so reassuring to meet with Heather. We listened to baby’s heart (150bpm), and discussed some Braxton Hicks contractions. I’ve been having a lot of them, for me at least. All normal, just as I had suspected. Apparently, my body remembers quite well what to do with this whole pregnancy thing.

We also talked about weaning Norah, which has been the most difficult part of this whole pregnancy. It has been a very personal, emotional, and yet perfectly timed process. I am so proud to have nursed Norah for 27 months, and I hope that I can do the same for this little one.

See you in October, my sweet.

Norah-roo

 photo c25ce961-3f9a-42aa-8e01-8eb001118ca8_zps1f0f9f9b.jpg

Our family

 photo d5ce8ae0-cac7-471e-9f30-3c27712b4b31_zps57e1fa2e.jpg

Norah’s words & signs

Words:
Mama (7 months)
Dada (12 months)
Kitty (11 months)
Bear
Bath
Book (12 months)
Bird (12 months)
Baby
More (13 months)
All done
Cheese (12 months)
Fish (12 months)
Norah (14 months)

Signs:
Kitty (10 months)
More (10 months)
All Done (10 months)
Bird (12 months)
Dada (11 months)
Mama (13 months)
Train (14 months)
Please (14 months)
Carrot (13 months)
Banana (13 months)
Fish (12 months)
Horse (14 months)
Goat (14 months)
Thank you (10 months)
Milk/Noms (12 months)
I love you (15 months)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.