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the ten-month curse.

six weeks ago, my best friend welcomed her first child into the world. i remember telling her when she was in labor that life is about letting go of how we want things to be and working diligently to embrace, however hard it may be, the way that things are.

we may desire a birth experience that’s all candles and soft music and baby snuggles, or a marriage that’s all romance and spice.

but instead, we’re given a birth story {or two} that include early arrivals and c-sections and NICU stays.

instead, we’re living inside of a marriage that has sprinkles of romance and dashes of spice in the midst of heaping spoonfuls of regular life, like a trip to the grocery store with a lingering moment of hand-holding in Aisle 4.

but what i’m learning, and what i’m reminding myself each and every day, is this:

there’s beauty in the way things are, too.

even more than that, though, is this:

finding slivers of beauty in the unexpected is the hardest sort of work, but it’s the most beautiful work of all.

* *

i call it the ten-month curse, but most people call it mastitis.

i experienced this not-fun-at-all breast infection for the first time on L’s ten-month “birthday,” and i came down with it yet again with Q in September, just one day shy of his own “10 Month Day.”

yet despite the eerie similarity in time, it was different this round; with L, i was a full-time Mama at home, and he and i could work together, nursing the day away and snoozing in between, to combat the blockage and the pain. in short, even through mastitis, i never, ever had breast milk supply issues with L. not one time.

but with sweet Q, i am a working Mama, which comes with its own collection of responsibilities and {consequently} its own emotions, and so ever since mastitis said hi, it’s me again on that September day, i have been experiencing the first meaningful dip in breast milk supply in my entire motherhood experience.

every morning, i pour the previous day’s pumped breast milk into two bottles. and every morning, i top off two bottles with cow’s milk. i have to do this because i can’t pump enough to hit the magic number of 10 ounces, which is what he’s drinking per day at “school” {what we call daycare}. while we have our pediatrician’s blessing to give Q cow’s milk in small doses prior to his first birthday, i envisioned him having a taste of it here and there; i never imagined having to resort to cow’s milk to compensate for my lackluster supply of breast milk.

this stall in my supply is more than just a typical “bummer, i’m going to have to do another round of pumping before bed” – instead, it’s soaked in desperation, steeped in self-loathing, awash in inability. in other words – oh, the guilt.

* *

yet, even as i share this personal experience that’s tinged with shame {all self-inflicted, i assure you} regarding the way that i nourish baby Q, i sit here today committed to finding the beauty in this, my most recent unexpected thing.

don’t get me wrong – i’m not at ALL happy about this development {or lack thereof, as the case might be}

– and the sighs and the not-so-silent prayers and pleas to my breasts to just freaking produce more milk is evidence of that, and there’s nothing more that i want than to sit here, day after day, feeling the way that i feel {and whining about it to all of you} –

but that’s not what i want to teach my kids.

instead, i want them to remember that in the face of the unexpected, their Mama persevered. sure, she was sad, she pouted, and she prayed to God to allow her, just this once, to produce enough milk to build up a tiny little reserve, so that she could steal away for a date with her ever-patient, steadfastly-supportive husband.

but, what i want my kids to know is that after the sadness and the pouting and the praying, she moved on. she moved forward.

Q-45-Weeks

she kept pumping, day after day after day, when the magic hour hit. she pumped in the lactation lounge at school, she pumped in the narrow hallway at home, she pumped in the darkness of her bedroom as her baby slept beside her. she never, ever quit.

and when she didn’t produce enough milk, she topped off the bottles with cow’s milk, day after day after day, and she took comfort in the fact that the sum of the milk that she was providing and the nutrient-rich organic cow’s milk were nourishing her child the best way that she knew how.

she persevered. and that was enough.

LIFE HAPPENING.

well, our summer is over, and things over at our house are in a state of, well, let’s call it LIFE HAPPENING about ninety percent of the time.

for instance, this week, LIFE HAPPENING looks a lot like dishes piled upon dishes, teetering towers that are scooched and moved to allow for double sink baths whenever the boy beings demand.

exhibit A:

L-Q-Double-Sink-Bath

LIFE HAPPENING means that laundry piles and piles like their dish counterparts, stacking chores upon chores like those teetering plates and cups that we’re hoping don’t fall as we rinse baby food remnants, dampen wash cloths to wipe faces, and shoo away the ants that seem to have taken up residence near our kitchen sink.

see? i told you. bugs invading my house = LIFE HAPPENING.

and in between all of this LIFE HAPPENING, we have daycare satchels to fill and refill each day, along with Mama lunches and Daddy lunches and breast pump backpacks and how-many-snacks-can-i-fit-in-my-desk-drawers.

we have kiddos to toss in the air and giggles to catch with our wide-open smiles.

we have dance parties in the car to Megan Trainor, and we have an older boy whose latest dance move involves inflicting head wounds upon himself and then shouting “OW!” with surprise.

we have baby nose scrunches and six-teeth-and-counting and heck yes, FORWARD MOVEMENT in the crawling department (!!). and now, we have a baby gate to erect.

we have marriage and family and the task of balancing all the love. and just like those darn dishes, this balancing act is precarious. marriage keeps being scooched and shuffled for the sake of family, and we keep scooching and praying that the tower won’t topple, that we won’t lose our cool in the midst of all of the LIFE HAPPENING that’s swirling about, all around us.

but what we still have, as heads hit pillows, as breaths grow deeper, as dreams take hold, is love. all the love.

even when LIFE is doing all of the HAPPENING, love remains. even when cool heads are not to be found in this space, what brought us all here in the first place – the love – is in tact, strong, pliable.

thank goodness for the pliability of love…and for plastic dishes that bounce, not break, when they plunge to the floor.

featured on Design Mom! {sara’s writing}.

hi all! i’m beyond honored to be featured on Design Mom today; as part of her Growing a Family series, i’ve shared a piece on Q’s stay in the NICU, entitled “A Bitter Pill to Swallow.” here’s a peek:

Three white, sticky circles were attached to his chest. Wires spilled across his breast bone, red and white in color. The beeping of the monitor tracked his heart rate – beep, beep, beep. His feet, wrapped in bandages as a result of many hours of pokes and tests, were oozing red and aching, making his sweet face grimace with each cry.

He lay in a bed with see-through sides, clad only in a diaper brandishing the letter “N” for newborn. The colorful mixture of cotton and sunshine yellow that swaddled his tiny middle was the size of my palm. He was sleeping, fitfully, clearly in a state of distress, which was undoubtedly caused by anxiety regarding when his next round of testing, his next unsuccessful round of nursing, his next interruption would disturb his slumber.

to read the rest of the piece, i’d love for you to click over to Design Mom! thanks so much to Gabrielle for the endless inspiration and for sharing my story.

and, for those of you popping over here after reading that piece, or if you’re just finding Our Family Roost, we’re so happy that you’re here!

Family-Photo-Q's-Baptism

to catch you up quickly, i’m Sara. i’m married to Jord, who also blogs in this space. we are blessed to have two sons – sweet Lionel Conner {who we call L here} joined us in June 2012, and dear Quincy August {who’s known as Q around these parts} made his debut this past November {click here to read L’s birth story, and click here to read the story of Q’s birth}. Our Family Roost is our little corner of the web where we chronicle life as it happens {and as we remember to blog it!}. for more on who we are, check out the About Us page!

want more? here you go:

* Jord and i were married in 2010 in a DIY, vintage-inspired ceremony; click here to check out posts about our wedding!

* we bought our first home in August 2013 and have been slowly putting our own stamp on the place; click here to see a tour of our home!

* we recently partnered with Tiny Prints on a reading nook for our sons and our boys’ shared bedroom!

thanks again for stopping by! questions? the comments section is just for you.

xo,

Sara

 

 

what do YOU think of in the morning? {a mother’s response}

there’s an episode of One Tree Hill that popped into my brain as i was driving to work today. i’m a devoted fan of this show, so it was no surprise to me that a specific episode crossed my mind, but what delighted me was the reasoning behind why i found myself smiling as i remembered it.

this episode {from season five, called “What Do You Go Home To?”} opens with a glimpse into the bedrooms of all of the show’s major characters. as each character awakens, their voice speaks a single word or thought, presumably the first thing on their minds as soon as their eyes open.

the one that hit me the most? nathan and haley’s. as both of their eyes open, they speak the name of their child: Jamie.

* *

as my eyes open each morning and i greet the sunshine with {admittedly} hesitant, why-can’t-i-sleep-in-later groans, my mind immediately flashes two names across my cerebellum:

Lionel. Quincy.

these names appear simultaneously, of course; as all mothers know, there is no ultimate favorite child in the world of mothering {but there certainly are days where one child is favored more, simply because they are better behaved that day, or in that particular moment}.

it didn’t surprise me one bit that my brain, my heart, turned to my beautiful boys as soon as my eyes opened this morning.

of course i thought of them this morning, i said to myself. i think of them every morning.

L-Q-Stroller

i think of Lionel’s sweet insistence last night that he sleep “in Mama’s bed” instead of his own.

i think of his arms – the same arms that show off his “big-boy muscles” to me as he swats golf balls to and fro in our basement – wrapping tightly around my neck, my belly, my back as he snuggles in close. he’s always been my cuddly one.

i think of his fingers pull, pull, pulling on my hair as he tries to surrender to slumber, an act of comfort that he’s made his own since our eyes first met on that morning in June, nearly three years ago.

i think of his stubborn statement the day before that he “doesn’t like Elsa,” an out-of-character admittance that, i’m convinced, was the result of a teasing session from a boy or two at school. step back, Mama Bear, i told myself. boys can like Frozen, tooi told my sweet boy.

i think of his approaching birthday – the big, how-is-this-possible THIRD birthday on the horizon – and my heart aches when i think of all of the time that has passed, and how it has evaporated all too quickly. have most of our days together been good days? i ask myself. does he feel loved? does he feel abandoned, now that his little brother is around? all of my fears before welcoming Quincy into our lives resurface in that moment, and i work hard – each day, each minute – to convince myself that giving him a sibling – giving him Quincy – is a gift, and that any future children that join our family will be blessings in his life as well.

of course, while these thoughts are running marathons in my brain, ruminations on my other son, my sweet baby Quincy, take their turn in the relay race as well.

i think of Quincy’s chubby, dimpled elbows, and how i need to spend more time kissing that fleshy chub before his arms, like his brother’s, boast “big-boy muscles,” too.

i think of his eyes, the ones that i pray so fervently to stay green, like his Daddy’s.

i think of the way that he smiles with his entire body when he sees my face, and the way that he wrenches his little self this way and that to follow me as i move about a room.

i think of his stubborn insistence that he’s just fine to sleep on his own now, Mom, which he tells me through his exasperated cries as i try to hold him close. in the darkest part of the night, he awakens and eagerly nurses, and then just as eagerly demands to be swaddled back up tightly and placed back in the Moses basket that flanks our bed. he shifts and shuffles his way into a comfortable position, and as his eyes close, i lie awake in awe that i, famous for my reliance and need for others, am the mother to a very independent child.

i think of his refusal to feed from a bottle yesterday at daycare, preferring instead to nurse while snuggled closely in the arms of his Mama. perhaps he’s not so independent after all.

* *

what do YOU think of first thing in the morning? {admittedly, my second thought, after dwelling for few moments on the wonders that are my sons, is COFFEE.}

a work of balance {mothering two}.

being a Mama of two kiddos is a work of balance, a scale that’s endlessly tipping to this side and to that.

it’s tap, tap, tapping your foot on the bouncy seat as one slumbers and high-fiving the other for a successful and ferocious basketball dunk.

L-Q-Easter-2015

it’s the car dance of switching between singing the silly words to “Slippery Fish” with one and cranking the volume on Essie Jain’s lullabies for the other.

it’s telling one to “wait just one minute” while the other eagerly awaits the sharp snap of my nursing top unclasping.

it’s sharing smiles with this one and giving kisses to that one, simultaneously…and getting both in return.

it’s changing this icky diaper and that icky diaper, two in row, with your kids’ boy parts displayed for all to see in the trunk of your car in parking lot of the “choo-choo store,” formerly known as Barnes & Noble, i.e. your happy place, before the kids came along.

it’s zipping this one’s coat and finding his favorite toy car to tuck into his pocket and tucking in a blanket around the other one’s leggies as he groans and gurgles to escape the confines of his car seat.

it’s reading book after book after {repetitive, sing-songy} book to this one while the other listens and smiles, a pink gum-filled grin that’s evidence of his delight in your voice.

it’s ordering noodles or chicken nuggets – or whatever the favorite food of the week is – for that one and pleading not-so-silently with this one to please, just this once, take a bottle, for your breasts need a break from his eager tugs as he gulps and gulps the food that your body provides.

it’s waiting for one to climb into his car seat – “i do it,” he says – while the desperate, hungry cries from the other fill the crumb-covered confines of the car.

it’s sshing and bouncing and swaying with one while the other uses your leg as a fire pole, sliding down, down, down, and finding giggles at the bottom.

it’s telling this one, for the eleventy-thousandth time, to “be careful around the baby” as the other one drops his toy rattle and subsequently wails for the eleventy-thousandth time.

it’s sending up prayers to God that the baby won’t wake as you play “hockey” with golf clubs with the other.

L-Q-Cars

it’s hearing the giggles of one elicit belly chuckles from the other, their laughter chipping away at all you were before they came into your life, before you said your first hello’s, before they filled your whole heart up.

it’s this one’s “i love you too, Mama,” even when he says it first, and coos and grins that say the same thing in the only language that the other one knows.

yes, motherhood is a balance. it stretches you in ways that you never thought possible, like a modern-day Gumby with a real, beating heart.

and oh, what a blessing it is to be the one that stretches and straddles the balance beam for these two little boys.