Some days

Some days I wake up and take in Kiwi’s wide-open eyes and marvel at how lucky I am to be her mama. Some days I get Peeper out of bed and ask her, “Is it going to be a good day?” And when she says, “Yes!” I am all-in.

Today is not one of those days.

I feel wrung out. I spent part of last night crying and all of it worrying about Kiwi. It’s probably regular newborn stuff, but I’m anxious that her inability to stay asleep, her grunting noises, even the spit bubbles that collect on her lips, reveal something deeper that is wrong.

I skated by in my second pregnancy without the worries of my first. “I got this,” I figured, and I did. I found the answers to the things I’d forgotten about without spiraling into a bout of anxiety.

I thought I’d ease into new motherhood again in the same way. Imagine my surprise, then, when breastfeeding was still hard. Really, really hard. And when I asked things like “Does her belly look distended to you?” And when I found myself paralyzed over whether to unwrap Kiwi’s swaddle or not.

Motherhood, like anything, is riding the ups and downs that come like a tide—if a tide changed every three minutes. It just so happens that I’m in an ebb, and that means not wanting to get out of bed. It means I don’t want to do today.

Probably in five minutes I’ll see Kiwi smile—a new development that lights up the entire house. I’ll eat some breakfast. Peeper will tell me all about the zoo train she is building and the animals she remembers seeing the last time we visited. Maybe I’ll even drink a cup of tea to counteract the zombie brain of waking I-can’t-remember-how-many-times last night.

Will it be a good day? I’m pretty sure it will be. But for the few moments I steal in bed, typing this on my phone, I’d rather go back to sleep and let the day enjoy itself.

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On my own as a mom of two

Peeper rocking Baby Sister - Ten Thousand Hour MamaThe other day was my first extended stretch with both girls on my own.

You can take a guess as to how that went.

Much of it was a shitshow—imagine both children screaming, the macaroni boiling over and my boobs leaking all over the place. (At least Finn was well behaved.) I did, however, manage a minor miracle: I put Edie down for a nap while holding Maxine, too.

Honestly, I have no clue how it happened and have zero hope to repeating it anytime soon. I held Kiwi in one arm and Peeper in the other with a book on my lap. We went through Peeper’s whole routine, reading books and drinking milk and rocking. Then it came time to turn out the light and sing her wind-down songs.

As I sang and rocked them in the dark, Edie kept lifting her head from my shoulder and touching Max’s head. “You’re petting that baby,” she whispered, then went back to resting on me. Somehow—someway—I got Edie into her crib and that was that.

Much of the day was hard. At one point I texted Eric, informing him that we were not having any more children. I was scrambling.

But that moment of Peeper tenderly touching her little sister’s head—that was pure beauty. Peeper may later ask to send Kiwi back to the hospital or put her back in my belly, but this is the story I’ll tell over and over again about their early days learning to be each other’s sister.

See? I’ll say. You loved each other from the start.

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A poem for my water bottle

When Peeper was born, the folks at the hospital gave me a giant double insulated water jug. I reveled in its 28 ounce capacity and brought it everywhere. I drank water like it was my job because, for a breastfeeding mama, it was my job!

Then one bad no good horrible day, I left the jug on top of the car and drove away. The jug was smashed. My heart was smashed. I missed that hunk of plastic for months.

I told this story to the nurses at the hospital where I delivered Kiwi. Not only did they gift me a new one, they gave me two.

Maybe they were angling to get Kiwi named after them.

Well played, nurses.

Anyway, the other night I was trying to keep myself awake and amused as Kiwi nursed, so I composed a little ditty in honor of my favorite drinking receptacle. (What, isn’t that what everyone does?) I give you:

My Giant Water Jug

You’re my beautiful big water jug
Night and day you allow me to chug a lug
I fill you with ice
Splash in water so nice
And continue to breastfeed my little bug

Now I’ll just wait for the poetry contracts to roll in.

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Welcome to the world, Kiwi!

Baby Kiwi is born! Ten Thousand Hour MamaWe are beyond thrilled that our sweet, darling Kiwi has joined us!

Maxine Elizabeth Griffin Gregory was born Sunday, July 19, though it took us until minutes before discharge before settling on her name.

“Kiwi is a beautiful name!” the pediatrician on the floor reassured us. “You could always stick with Kiwi.”

I spent most of my labor at home, using HypnoBirthing breathing techniques, baking cookies (but leaving plenty of raw dough to eat after delivery!) and trying to sleep. My mom arrived to watch Peeper at the perfect time—just when I knew we needed to head to the hospital. We were a few minutes away from Labor and Delivery when they told us they were on divert, so we turned around and drove across town to another one.

Thank goodness we went on a Sunday and there was no traffic, because Kiwi was born an hour later.

Meeting the new baby - Ten Thousand Hour MamaShe and I are both healthy, and we were fortunate to avoid complications and interventions. We have been spending the last few days getting to know each other as a new family of four!

Peeper is very excited to be a big sister. She wants to help with diaper changes, watch Kiwi breastfeed and bring toys—though she’s having a hard time sharing some things (e.g. Mom’s lap and the Moses basket, of all things).

Thank you for all your support, encouragement and kind words over the last 40 weeks. I feel so very lucky to bring Kiwi into a world where love, compassion, empathy and love are the rule.

Mama baby skin to skin

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Bonding with the baby

Peeper brings toys to the baby then asks to read a book with her.“Want to open that baby!” Peeper will say, lifting up my shirt or, more awkwardly, my dress.

She puts her hands on my round bump and leans in close, her nose almost touching my belly button.

And she smiles.

Peeper has already begun to bond with her little sister. She asks to see her, brings her toys, asks me to sing her a song, puts the spout of her sippy cup on my belly and gives her hugs. Sometimes she’ll shyly wave.

Some mornings when I lift her out of the crib, her first request is, “Wanna see the baby.” She’ll stand in her jammies with her halo of curls mussed every which way and place her hands on my bump. Her dimples are never as precious as when she shares a smile with her unborn sister. Continue reading

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Pregnancy whiplash

Toddler baby bump snugglesPregnancy is weird: It swings you from one extreme to the other fast enough to give you whiplash.

Take yesterday. I had just put Peeper down for a nap when I was overcome with energy and inspiration—a rare combo for this nearly 40-week-pregnant lady. I took the surge out on our Forester and cleaned the bejesus out of it. All of Peeper’s 87 books went into a bag; the car toys went into another bag; random things that accumulated but didn’t belong there (several sippy cups, silverware and—um—a ukulele) journeyed inside. And—get this—I vacuumed the eff out of that sucker. I had no idea how much dog hair, bunny crackers and sand (oh the sand!) had coated every surface.

Then I lay down in bed and ate cherries and read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for a very long time while Peeper graciously continued to nap.

Another example: I’ll be so hungry that I can literally feel my body breaking down muscles and tissues and important organs to feed itself. Then I’ll look at a sandwich and want to cry because I’m suddenly so full that my stomach is crowding my lungs and I can’t breathe.

The swings can be a little overwhelming, even for onlookers. But somehow I’ve learned to ride the ins and outs like waves. Continue reading

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Painting birthday party: Making a group easel [tutorial!]

DIY painting easel for kids - Ten Thousand Hour MamaPeeper loves to create, so when it came to planning her second birthday party, I knew I wanted to incorporate art. Thanks to getting almost no sleep and leaving most of the party prep till the morning of, I had to scale back some of our painting plans, but one activity made the cut: the group easel.

Peeper and her friends got to paint alongside each other in our front yard, and each kiddo took home a piece of art (or several!). Peeper’s painting is now hanging on our wall above the dining table.

The setup was surprisingly easy—and cheap—and we’ve left it up in our yard for now. Peeper continues to use it, and when we do decide to take it down, we’ll recycle or reuse all the pieces for projects later!

DIY painting easel for kids - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

DIY painting easel for kids - Ten Thousand Hour MamaHere’s how to make an easy group easel for your kids to paint their own outdoor masterpieces.  Continue reading

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