and i now have nothing but your heartbeat in my head or: thoughts on loss, one week later

I have been spending my days pretending to be strong, something that has always required a whole lot of effort on my part. I am nothing under pressure and stress, nothing under the weight of sadness and the feeling that something just isn't quite right. The strength that I do have, the strength that I never had before, exists solely because of Ethan. Somehow a three feet, two inch little boy manages to build me up enough to make me believe that I am powerful enough to exist when I can very much swear that it hurts to inhale and exhale, when I firmly believe that my bones ache and are on the brink of collapse. I try to be strong for him, try to make memories with him because these days are fleeting and one day he won't be almost-three anymore. Once he is in bed at night, I sit back and wrestle with the pain that I have kept at a bearable level during daylight hours. I sit back and wonder how I am possibly going to face a tomorrow that inevitably involves a well-meaning acquaintance inquiring about my pregnancy and just when it is that I'm due again.

I have experienced loss before, of course, but never one that tears your flesh off with the injustice of it all. I spend a lot of time wrestling with my thoughts and wondering if what I'm thinking, feeling, doing is normal. As a dear friend of mine pointed out, there is no normal in losing a child because losing a child isn't normal. It's the sad, bitter truth that I am trying to choke down: parents aren't supposed to lose their children. Parents aren't supposed to figure out how to say goodbye eternally to a child they wanted, waited for, love with every last fiber of their being. I've realized that life is cruel. Maybe I thought that I thought this previously, sure that some minor injustice spelled this out pretty clearly -- however, the loss of my daughter has shown me that, no, this is my first taste at how cruel life can be. How empty and ugly and callous and, yet, on the other hand, how completely saturated in love I am for my son who is here. The one whose hair I can touch and breathe in, the one who humors me in pretending that it's perfectly acceptable to exchange I love yous about seven thousand times per day. This defines bittersweet for me, some moments feeling sweeter and others so bitter that I feel my insides being pierced and deteriorating to remnants of what they once were at a time when I felt whole.

Wylie came home today. The courier cried and apologized for our loss, handing over the tiny box that held someone I love on such a big level that words can't even define. I asked her to be delivered to my parents house in a strangely coherent attempt to save whatever shreds are left of my sanity, the promise that she wouldn't be alone nor would I when she arrived. I remember when we were discharged from the hospital and learned Ethan would have to stay. I remember how unfair that felt. I remember when he did get to come home, the way we checked his car seat at least seventeen times and the way I sat next to him in the backseat urging my husband to drive slower, to pay attention, to get him home safely where we could take a family photograph in front of our home. Bringing your child home when they are no longer with you isn't the same. It's a feeling of dead weight and delirium and clutching a cold urn with all of your might because no matter what, it's still your child. It's a feeling of numbness and despair and wondering if anyone would miss you if you flung yourself out of the car but then hearing your three year old whisper-sing the Doc McStuffins theme song and again trying to settle in to that place of bittersweet.

It's almost as if life wants to test my strength, as if it wants to see how much I can take before I crumble. Like how when I had Ethan, lactation consultant #19,428,481 and doctor #72,581,395 confirmed what the previous ones had told me: I'm one of those people who just doesn't produce milk. It's rare, but it happens, and after I was forced to promise I wouldn't attach myself to a pump until I passed out in the hallway -- again -- like the preeclamptic, anemic post-Cesarean psychopath that I was following Ethan's birth, I was allowed to go home and try to convince myself formula wouldn't doom my precious baby boy for life. It took me a while to adjust to that normal, "the worst thing in the world" I had called it after cursing my broken body that couldn't do anything right. And then, you know, I had a stillbirth and woke up one morning wondering what I had spilled all over my shirt only to realize that my body decided it didn't want to be broken anymore. "Breastfeeding is best for your baby" hurts when you are a reluctant formula feeder but, take my word for it, it hurts tenfold when you don't have a baby at all. When you're up at midnight performing a Google search on how to dry up milk following a stillbirth, it's a reminder of the depth that life can be a raging asshole. Sometimes I can't find a more profound way to spell out the only truth my mind can accept, like that life can be a raging asshole and right now it is. Right now I reek of cabbage leaves that I have rammed into the two sports bras I'm forced to wear while choking back on the aftertaste of sage tea that ignites my gag reflex from across the room.

And, underneath it all, I just want my daughter back. I want my daughter to have the whole heart she deserved to have. I want her to be well and healthy and here with us to celebrate the holidays this year as I so deeply was anticipating. I want her to wear the clothes in her closet that I picked out especially for her. I want her to grow into a teenager who inevitably hates her mess of curls so that I can say "do you know how many people would kill for hair like yours?" I want to see Ethan hold her for the first time, to get to give her the bottles of milk he had so intently wanted to give her. But her heart was broken. And that's where I always stop my thoughts. It was so easy to beat up on myself and blame myself when my body kept trying to fail Ethan during my first pregnancy. I am just so unable to blame Wylie's body for the reason she isn't with us anymore. I am just so unable to say that the flaw that took her from me was hers to bear, that it wasn't my fault. I am so strangely resentful of each doctor that confirmed it wasn't anything I did, or anything that was in my power to change. It's almost easier that way, being able to put the blame on myself rather than even attempting to see Wylie as anything but perfect. That's where my mind shuts off. In my mind, she is perfect.

And then, you know, a little almost-three-year-old boy tells me that I'm his best friend and he loves me more than anything and kisses me on the knee to "fix your feelings, mommy" and I struggle with that bittersweet place again. I struggle to grasp how my heart can be so filled with love and yet ache with pain at the same time. It's part of the adjustment period that everyone keeps telling me about. The one I'm supposed to eventually settle into again, somehow, at some point. One week later and I'm still struggling to take it all in, still trying to figure out how to keep one foot in front of the other and learn how to adjust to life again as someone who will never be as whole as I used to be; learning how to reciprocate some of that borrowed strength for Ethan's sake.


on loss, or, wylie meadow: someday we may see a woman king

It's been quiet around here -- for good reason or, technically, for the worst possible reason. I had to truly force myself to stay off of this blog for the past two weeks, fighting every abreaction that crept into my brain and each urge to pull out this laptop and seek solace in the tap of the keys on the keyboard. I'm a writer. Writing grief and tragedy and pain in an attempt to stay afloat above it all is what I do best, what I've always done best -- but this time was different. This time I realized that everything I ever felt as a teenager, everything that drove me to pen my finest I must end it all letters in the darkness of my bedroom was nothing but a skinned knee in comparison to what real pain feels like. It was the realization that up until May 12th, 2014 I had no idea what real pain felt like -- every blood draw, tattoo, c-section surgery were all nothing. A stubbed toe, maybe. A scratch on the arm at the very best.

I had a routine ultrasound on May 12th, the day after Mother's Day. I couldn't brace myself for the doctor's hand on my shoulder or the "there is an abnormality here" that followed. I always like to poke fun at my emotional irrationality, making self-deprecating cracks about all of my past mental breakdowns. However, I believe I truly had a real one in that moment; I knew I was screaming but couldn't hear my own voice, knew the room was spinning but couldn't see anything but the blacks of my eyelids. The doctor left to call a specialist and I sat in the room scream-calling my husband, my mother, my uncle, anyone who would pick up the phone and make this better. But no one could ever make it better. With every specialist, it got worse. With every foot stepped into an office or hospital that I would have preferred to never step into in the first place, it got worse until it just couldn't get worse anymore.

On May 23rd, 2014 at 1:10 a.m., our beautiful daughter Wylie Meadow was born asleep.

It was our wedding anniversary and instead of going out for dinner we were consulting a funeral home to make plans no parents should ever make for their children. It all happened so quickly. In one moment, she was healthy and, in the next, she was suffering from a severe form of congenital heart disease with a defect that rendered her heart truly broken. Holes and missing ventricles and arteries and things that swirled through my brain and yet I couldn't comprehend any of them, forcing myself to climb into my mother's bed with her at nighttime in the fetal position and cry because I was as helpless as an infant myself. Because I couldn't go back home to our house with Wylie's bedroom or closet filled with clothes or notifications from friends about attending my baby shower for which the invitations had begun being received.

We got to hold her and kiss her beautiful, perfect little face and tiny hands, see her curly black hair coming in as I knew it would. For her viewing, I had wanted her to wear the same layette gown that Ethan wore on his first night at home since she would never get one. We had a hat embroidered with her name on it for her to wear in the hospital that is now all I have left of my daughter; that, and photographs that serve as proof of both her beauty and the fact that she will never come home and grow up with her brother.

And that loss, the loss of a child, it is true pain. It is perhaps the only true pain in life.

We are still fumbling to make sense of it all. I try to center myself with peace in knowing her heart isn't broken anymore, but ours are and always will be. We are now parents who lost a child. We are parents who have two children but only one is here for us to hold and kiss and watch grow up. We are parents who have learned, as second time parents do, that you do indeed love your second as much as your first but we will never be able to express that love. At this point, our biggest blessing is that Ethan has likely forgotten, or will continue to forget. His birthday party is at the forefront of his mind, the reminder of how naive and beautifully innocent the mind of a two year old is. One day he will know all about the sister he has and will always have, but for now, we are finding peace in the fact he is two.

We are still adjusting. We know that life goes on but, in a way, doesn't. For that, I offer my explanation for why this blog will likely be quiet as we grieve and try to understand how one is supposed to function having to say goodbye to their child.

To those who have asked how to help, we have asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Wylie Meadow Joly Memorial Fund through the Children's Heart Foundation so that one day, maybe, no child will ever have a broken heart again.


belly love spa, ultrasound center & maternity boutique review

I'm not a frequent "massage-getter" and I can't even remember the last time I had a massage in general, so suffice to say I haven't experienced a prenatal massage during either of my pregnancies. It's not that the thought isn't absolutely enticing. I mean, it's a zillion degrees out, I'm gigantic and lugging around a huge baby belly plus 41 pounds of toddler on a regular basis. By six o'clock each evening, my body is raising that white flag and I'm just toast. Even getting up to go to the bathroom feels like asking too much of my sore, miserable body. I've been of the mindset that it just flat-out isn't possible to be comfortable while pregnant, let alone feel relaxed and, well, good. Today I was able to experience a prenatal massage at Belly Love Spa in Margate, Florida -- and basically learned that I know nothing. It's been about ten hours since I walked out of the spa and I'm still feeling relaxed, unwound and comfortable in my (gigantic) body. (This says a lot, especially since I came home to a toddler with a 101.5 fever.)

Upon first walking into Belly Love, I was amazed by the clean, bright and beautiful lobby. The shelves were lined with every lotion, cream, oil or product that any mom, new mom or mom-to-be could possibly want. Belly Love's plush, white robes were also for sale and, let me tell you, it was hard to resist buying seven and just wearing one for every day of the week in lieu of actual clothes. They're that comfy. As pregnant ladies came in -- and there were several, seeing as how it was a busy Saturday and the day before Mother's Day -- the Belly Love staff handled everything with grace and kindness, effortlessly ensuring each mommy-to-be was brought to where she needed to be to relax. Belly Love offers many services from an extensive massage menu to 3D/4D ultrasound and hypnotherapy and all of the clients were quickly directed to where they needed to be. No waiting, no stress. It's like instant zen once you walk in the front doors of the spa.

I was able to experience the 50 minute Perfect Pregnancy Massage, which is a full-body massage completely safe for pregnancy. I was skeptical of how perfect this could be, seeing as how at nighttime even my bed feels like I may as well be laying on a bed of nails due to the discomfort, but I was immediately in awe once I stepped into the massage room (this is after filling out my paperwork in the dimly lit, candles-flickering peace of the massage waiting area -- which I sort of wanted to move into). The massage experience was definitely catered to the pregnant body, complete with a pregnancy pillow to hug as you laid on your side and pillows like fluffy little clouds to prop your body to where it is most comfortable. The masseuse, Rebecca, was awesome and made sure to check not just what pressure I preferred but that I was comfortable. It turns out one actually can be both pregnant and comfortable. When they say full body massage, they mean it. Everything from my forehead to my fingertips to the tips of my toes felt renewed and refreshed. Rebecca asked if I had any specifically tense areas and I was quick to answer my neck, shoulders and upper back -- I mean, again, being pregnant is hard enough but throw in the 41 pound toddler and I'm surprised I can even move at all. I'll just say that after the 50 minutes, my neck and shoulders feel free, loose and so relaxed. I also noticed that the masseuse was using natural and organic products during the massage ensuring extra safety for mommy and baby alike, which was a huge perk!

The massage was beyond wonderful and I climbed off the massage table feeling about fifty pounds lighter. The ambiance of the massage room was also a real treat: soft music, candles and darkness to be able to just relax in. After the massage, the wonderful staff at Belly Love had another fun treat for me: I got to have baby girl's heartbeat recorded and put into a stuffed animal. I knew this would be a perfect keepsake for Ethan to have of his baby sister and it was such a cute idea. I have one low-quality Blackberry video of Ethan's heartbeat in utero that I'm terrified to lose. This is such a special way to keep baby's heartbeat with you always and it, too, was such a fun experience! After browsing the vast array of heartbeat animals, I chose the elephant for Ethan and laid on the ultrasound table to hear baby girl's heartbeat. The ultrasound technician also snapped me a quick 3D/4D photo of baby girl and it was the first time I actually got to see her face (she has Ethan's little nose, for sure!).

After leaving the main Belly Love spa, I got to go a few doors down to visit Belly Love's maternity boutique. From the moment I stepped into the boutique, I was captivated by the gorgeous display of crocheted baby beanies. I'm sort of a sucker for baby beanies. (I'm totally coming back for the Hello Kitty and little pink monster one!) The rest of the boutique is filled with goodies from maternity clothing (tops, bottoms, dresses, lingerie, swimwear and everything in between) to new mom essentials (Moby Wrap, Teething Bling, diaper bags and more!). Much like the neighboring spa, the Belly Love boutique is relaxing and soothing to walk through and shop.

After my experience today at Belly Love, I'm very much regretting not giving myself any spa time during my first pregnancy. You know what they say, when you know better you do better. I'll be doing better a whole lot more this go 'round -- I can only imagine how amazing Belly Love's massages feel once you hit that third trimester (in the dead of summer! What was I thinking?!). For you fellow pregnant mommies here in South Florida, be sure to check out the complete list of massage options at Belly Love! If you're a new mommy, there's even a post-partum massage for you. If you're simply planning on becoming a mommy, there's a preconception massage option, too! And, of course, for you overdue mommies ready to burst, there is an induction massage option as well! Whatever your ailment or chief complaint during pregnancy is, Belly Love has you covered (there's an even option for those pesky leg and muscle cramps!). It is wonderful to be able to relax in an environment where they understand how hard it is to relax during pregnancy and where they work tirelessly to make it happen!

Visit Belly Love Spa, Ultrasound Center & Boutique at 3420 NW 62nd Avenue in Margate. They can be reached at (954) 228-4772 or online at http://www.bellylovespa.com (along with a complete list of their services offered). Stay connected with Belly Love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more great news and offers! Gift certificates are also available if you're looking for that perfect gift for the mommy or mommy-to-be who has everything!


please don't label my parenting

When I was in high school, there was this girl -- let's call her Sarah -- who ran with the same crowd and, in turn, who I saw everywhere. She was never outwardly nice to me, but one day an instant message (showing my age here, people) popped up from Sarah that said, "You're not emo. You have long hair. Stop being a poser." It was the first of many times Sarah decided my hair rendered me absolutely unable to listen to the kind of music I listened to. Concerts? Oh, forget about it. There was one particular Piebald show when the girl actually tugged on my hair -- the hair she really hated, for some reason -- before walking past me. We won't even get into the time she took a photo of me from the back, wrote "poser" over my head and used it as a show flier for her boyfriend's band. I was never hurt by her actions, just confused. Even as the least intuitive teenager on this planet, I couldn't understand what my having long hair (which I loved) had anything at all to do with the kind of music I listened to (which I also loved). Whenever I was in the same place at the same time as Sarah, I would just deal with some remark about my hair and how, because of it, I was "not emo." (Whatever that even means, since I was never the genre of music that I enjoyed listening to in the first place -- nor was anyone else.)

Having a certain uniform to suit your social circle didn't start and end with Sarah vs. My Hair, obviously. High school stereotypes aren't exactly a new fad, though they've long since been a problem. Much to my dismay, however, the labels and expected uniforms didn't end with high school. Adulthood -- motherhood, specifically -- has made it so much worse. I almost miss someone tugging on my hair when, instead, someone comes up to me and asks "what kind of parenting do you do?"

I'm admittedly pretty crunchy. I'm annoying (so my teenage sister says) about non-GMOs and whole food, organic diets for Ethan. I'm used to the eyerolls when I don't let Ethan drink juice or check to ensure those super cute plates from the Target dollar spot are BPA and toxin free. I drive my mother insane when I won't let her bathe Ethan in any product that I cannot recognize each ingredient in -- and approve said ingredient, of course -- and I won't let a diaper that isn't 7th Generation touch my kid's butt (Baby #2 will be cloth diapered just to one up my lunacy game). Because of the things that people know of me in regards to the aforementioned bits, I often get lumped into the hippie mom category. The hippie mom category usually spawns into the attachment parenting category. And from what I found during my brief time among people who are card-carrying attachment parents is -- they're a lot like Sarah. Only instead of commenting on my hair, they comment on the fact that, as much as I enjoyed babywearing, sometimes Ethan really loved riding in his stroller instead (and, dude, 40 pounds of toddler is heavy). Or the fact that Ethan drank formula during his first year of life (and that Baby #2 will be formula fed from the start, too). Or the fact that, at a birthday party, I will let Ethan have a slice of birthday cake and I think the memories he makes with my sister going for ice-cream on the occasional Thursday are important and okay. Or the fact that Ethan never wanted to co-sleep -- he enjoys his crib. And, as any sleep deprived parent knows, you do what lets your kid get a good night of sleep. The hippie moms didn't want me. The "hello, my name is such-and-such and I am an attachment parent" crowd didn't want me. My hair was too long, metaphorically speaking.

And then there are the parents who roll their eyes at me and say that they are "mainstream parents" and I cannot sit with them at the lunch table because I don't believe in spanking or time out, because I like to wear my toddler in a baby carrier sometimes, because I like to feed him organic foods whenever possible and don't believe in teething tablets or juice or television. "There's no room for you organic moms here," they'll say and once again I'm left out in left field. Just me and my long hair. Again.

You'll see it all of the time on the internet: attachment parenting versus traditional parenting versus corporal parenting versus gentle parenting versus child-led parenting versus by-the-book parenting versus Dr. So-And-So's Holy Book Of Parenting and so on. And so on. And so on ad nauseum. And each little group is broken into some bizarre checklist and if you miss a point, if you dare miss a point, you're going to get booted out of the clique. It's all or nothing in parenting. These parenting labels don't come easy. You'll be left wandering the courtyard looking for that random group of people who don't belong to a clique, either. They're hard to find.

I don't want to belong to a clique. I don't want to be labeled. The kind of parent I am is the kind of parent who parents the way that I see fit. The kind of parenting I practice is the kind of parenting that I believe is best for my own children and my own family. No, I'm not going to let my baby cry. No, I'm not going to put him down when he wants to be held. Yes, I am going to lay here stroking his hair until he falls asleep. No, I am not concerned at how attached he is to me because he's just a baby. But please don't call me any type of parent other than "Ethan's mom." That's all I am, Ethan's mom. Raising Ethan the way I believe in, the way I see fit, the best way that I know how -- even if that means sitting alone under a tree with my cloth diapers and bottle of formula like a rare zoo animal on display for everyone to gawk at. I don't want to live my life by someone else's principles, especially someone who doesn't know my baby how I know my baby. I know my baby. I'm not going to adhere to a checklist at this point in my life, just as I refused to when I was a teenager.

Sadly, much like high school cliques, I don't think the "what kind of parenting do you do?" question is going to disappear anytime soon. I mean, why do we have to label our parenting styles, anyway? Can't we all just be parents? It would be lovely if that question could simply dissipate and all of humankind could appreciate the fact that mothers and children could coexist even if their thoughts on parenting were different. Even if they don't conform, or don't want to conform, to a certain label or title or status or group.

Even if they like their long hair.


on naming a human

*I decided a post about naming a newborn should be accompanied by photos from Ethan's birth, even though he was named well before birth. I may or may not be a blubbering mess over the fact he's almost three. Deal with it and enjoy the cute.

My husband and I could have 700 boys and we'd name each one of them with a smile on our faces. Girls, on the other hand -- yeah, not so much. I always wanted four boys and I always had a gut feeling Ethan was a boy so we didn't have to put too much stress in the what if it's a girl department. We'd probably still be arguing over a girl name, should he have been a girl. We had Ethan's name picked out long before I was pregnant, back when Ethan Embry was my dreamboat of choice and ruling the '90's cult film scene. I never knew of an Ethan before him and he was so cool, and so cute, and it just seemed like such a strong, unique name. My husband was always on board with it which is surprising because I think he likes boring names and he thinks I like crazy names. I guess Ethan was a nice middle ground. Of course, by the time we were married and I was pregnant, everyone was naming their kid Ethan. I loved it too much to care. It always felt right, like we would have a son named Ethan and that would be all there is to it. We've had a couple of run-ins with similarly aged Ethan's in our playgroups and mommy and me classes but it hasn't been too overwhelming. I mean, I fail to see Ethan suffering the not-so-fun middle school fate I did where I wasn't just Lindsay P. but Lindsay P.#2. (Because nothing says fun and games like being a middle schooler forced to write "#2" on your assignments.) We had our next boy name picked out long before this pregnancy was a thought. There wasn't even any discussion about it. It was one of those "what about ___?" "That's perfect!" conversations where everything just flowed beautifully.

And then we had to think of a girl name.

Performing heart surgery with a wooden kitchen spoon always seems easier in theory than my husband and I agreeing on a girl name. I'd been having girl vibes since the start of this pregnancy which left me preparing long lists of potential girl names -- only to be back at square one after running each one by my husband. It seems totally possible that we would have a baby girl simply named Untitled for the first fifteen years of her life.

Until it happened and we decided on a girl name. It was one that I found in my sister's yearbook back when I was pregnant with Ethan, one that I had only heard once before in my life. I knew of both a boy and a girl with this name and it was perfectly ambiguous. Perfectly sweet. Perfectly wonderful. My husband didn't like it during my first pregnancy and, for most of this one, he tossed it to the side. Until he came back to it. Like even he couldn't deny how right it was.

Naming a human being requires a lot of pressure. I mean, there are so many factors to consider. Do the initials spell anything crass? Does it rhyme with something inappropriate? I don't want a trendy name that everyone else has, but I don't want a difficult name that no one has any idea how to pronounce (he or she will have enough fun explaining our last name seven zillion times). I also strongly dislike "classic" names but am the first to roll my eyes when someone invents some new, crazy spelling for a preexisting name. But let's face it -- there are a lot of names out there. Everyone always thinks their names are nice and can't figure out what other people are thinking. I've had some people who have named their children what I consider to be incredibly strange names tell me not to choose weird names and then I just get confused because I don't think I'm choosing weird names -- in fact, I think they did. And then you get the well-meaning friends and family (hi, mom) who suggest all of these names that you would never in a million years consider and you just want to scream "do you not know me at ALL?!" Plus, I think having a last name that begins with J complicates things beyond reason. Nearly any letter you pair with J turns into a nickname -- DJ, CJ, AJ and so on. And, trust me, there are only so many old boyfriends -- er, plus your husband -- you can have with the initials AJ before it just becomes a heck no. And then, you know, there are the letters everyone warns you to avoid with a J last name, like the time I almost gave my kid the initials VAJ. I mean, you don't want your kid to grow up hating you and counting down the days until they turn 18 to have their name legally changed. But, you know, then there's that old saying how a rose by any other name would smell as sweet and a name doesn't define a person. This is true. When I was working in an animal hospital, we had referrals from another veterinarian who had the unfortunate first name of Baby. I mean, that's pretty...different, but she still went to medical school. She didn't, in fact, remain a literal baby unable to conquer the world.

I read so many stories of people waiting to see the baby to figure out the name and, kudos. I'm too much of a control freak to even consider such a thought. I love that we are able to refer to this little one by name now, first and middle, and order tiny things embroidered with her name, sweetly and cutely so. We also swore to keep this little one's name a secret until she was born. I feel guilty about this. I feel like people think you don't like them when you tell them it's a secret. (Secrets, secrets are no fun...you know how it goes.) I also feel like this is the most frustrating option, because people hear "it's a secret" and determine it as "I still need suggestions." On any given day, the random stranger in Publix who asked me what I was having is quite content giving me a list of what I consider to be the most atrocious names I've ever heard and I still have to smile and thank them for their suggestions that I never asked for. I'm also not sure what I hope to accomplish by keeping her name a secret. The same people who would scoff and make faces and act grossed out during my pregnancy when I reveal the name are going to be the ones who do just that once she's born. Since we were met with a whole lot of criticism during my pregnancy upon announcing Ethan's name ("what about Evan?" "Ethan, like Ethan Allen?" "Doesn't everybody have an Ethan?"), it still seems like the best option now, keeping it hush hush until she's born. Knowing her before everyone else does, if you will.

And whether there are four people on the planet with her name or four million, whether the random cashier at the grocery store likes it or hates it, I know it's perfectly her. After all, no one knows her like I do already.


23 weeks

How far along? 23w3d
Due date: August 30th, 2014
Baby is the size of a... papaya
Baby's development of the week: Per Babycenter: And now that she's more than 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound, you may be able to see her squirm underneath your clothes. Blood vessels in her lungs are developing to prepare for breathing, and the sounds that your baby's increasingly keen ears pick up are preparing her for entry into the outside world. Loud noises that become familiar now — such as your dog barking or the roar of the vacuum cleaner — probably won't faze her when she hears them outside the womb.
Maternity clothes? All bottoms, most maternity shirts. Still getting away with longer tank-tops or t-shirts.
Sleep: It's still hard to stay comfortable most nights -- and the whole "up all night having to pee" thing -- but sleep still doesn't totally suck. It's definitely getting harder to stay comfortable, though.
Best moment this week: Ethan started giving my belly kisses. "Can I give baby _____ a kiss?" may be my favorite question he's ever asked. And he's almost 3, so he sure asks a ton of questions. Food cravings: Milk! Which is gross. Ketchup! Which is grosser.
Food aversions: No real aversions still. Some things just don't look appetizing, but I'm hardly sick when it comes to eating like last time.
Baby's Sex: She's a girl!
Baby's Name: ...is a secret!


tot school - alphabet recap: letters k, l, m - 34 months

This past week was another week recapping the alphabet on our second run through. We ran through letters K, L & M and it was a great week! I think Ethan will be sad to see these trays go next week. He had a great time with them!


This one was Ethan's favorite tray of the week! I filled our sensory bin with salt and hid some pictures of different letter K's as well as things that begin with K. I included a sheet with matching items on it and Ethan got to dig through the salt to match up the letter K's and photos. He couldn't do this one enough! Of course, the salt bin got played with quite a bit over the week -- it's just too fun!


For this one, I included some different construction paper shapes (squares, circles, rectangle, oval) and Ethan got to build a Koala while identifying the shapes. These shapes were sort of easy for him, but he loved turning them into a Koala bear!


For this one, I set out some pipecleaners and Ethan got to build a ladder. I was hoping he would practice twisting the pipecleaners to attach them, but he really had no interest in anything other than just building a ladder and having his toys climb up. He had a lot of fun with this one, and it was fun watching his imagination go wild.


Ethan has been really interested in how many lines it takes to make certain shapes. I thought this would be a fun way to make lines into shapes -- as in, he could practice drawing his own. I cut some black strips of paper out so he could lay them on top of the lines he drew to really show the shape and count the sides. He really enjoyed working hard at his shapes with this tray!


For this, we practiced left to right line drawing without tracing. Ethan got to draw lines to the matching ladybugs. He really enjoyed this one and did a great job with his lines!


I set out a tray with different coins and a dollar bill and Ethan got to "measure" them to see which fit best in each allotted spot. He had a lot of fun with this one, too -- he called it "counting money, like daddy at work."

Thumbs -- and pointers -- up!


Ethan is usually a big tracing fan, but I think it was dry erase overkill this week. He only did this tray once and then didn't touch it the rest of the week.


Ethan was also uninterested in the magnet board this week. He glanced at it a few times but never really cared to use it.


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids Friday


the big reveal: ethan's big boy pirate bedroom

Dude, it's finally finished. After months of planning and some pretty intense item-collecting (as in, many things were quite literally fished out of the ocean by my dad), Ethan's big boy bedroom is finally complete! I let Ethan choose any theme he wanted. I wasn't worried about him changing his mind a couple of years down the line -- I think I changed my bedroom theme up yearly growing up. My only thing was that I wanted the furniture to be able to grow with him, so I gave the axe to any consideration of character or themed beds that we'd have to end up replacing in a year or two. Ethan's new furniture arrived on Wednesday and I spent the rest of the week preparing everything. Tonight he goes to sleep in his finally-finished pirate bedroom and I think he loves it, which is a relief.

Ethan also asked for a pirate birthday party this year so after his party in June, I'll have some more similarly colored pennant banners, antiqued netting and other goodies to hang over the closet area to add more color and theme to that side of the room as well. We also haven't gotten around to buying new curtains yet, so the windows aren't finished yet. But, other than those little additions and details, his room is ready to go! I'm not sure what Ethan's deal with pirates is, but he sure loves skulls and crossbones so I had to throw in those at every opportunity. The huge Jolly Roger flag above his bed just might be his favorite thing in the world. I was also able to keep some little sentimental pieces from his nursery which helped keep my hormonal little heart afloat as I swapped out the baby for the big kid.

To see Ethan's original nursery, just click here!

The room:

(Definitely just realized I never pushed the nightstand back next to the bed after plugging in the lamp as I was looking at these photos. I quit! You get the idea.)

The details:

On top of the dresser, I have Ethan's air purifier and one of the distressed floats that my dad fished out of the ocean for me. I also wanted a real vintage globe and my dad surprised us with this one, which was his when he was Ethan's age. It makes it extra special knowing it's not just vintage looking, but it belonged to his Grandpa when he was little, too! You wouldn't believe how much the antiqued floats were selling for, either, so I love that my dad was able to find us some just floating at sea. I also love the magic and mystery behind them: you don't know where they came from, who they belonged to, or any details of their existence. It sort of adds some fun mystery to things! I also have Ethan's framed birth announcement which is leftover from his nursery. I can't believe that was nearly three years ago!

On the lower shelf, I have the framed family portrait of us from when Ethan was a newborn. It's been hanging in his nursery since it was taken. On the other shelf is a painting that my aunt made for Ethan. I topped off each shelf with some tsotchkes that I got down in the Keys -- a pirate ship made of shells and a wooden lighthouse. Also sharing a shelf with our family photo is a ceramic pirate ship that Ethan painted and, on the other shelf, is Ethan's beloved skull Pirate Boy. Pirate Boy definitely spent a good four months going everywhere with our family and Ethan sure was excited to see him again in his new pirate room!

On the back wall are Ethan's name letters. They're the same letters that he had in his nursery only I painted over the original design to match his current bedroom theme. That was nervewracking. I'm not an artist. I've never painted anything in my life. My teenage sister was supposed to paint them for me but bailed on me and I took the plunge -- and have to say they didn't turn out completely bad. I'm sort of proud of them! I had gotten some antiqued fish net to hang on the back wall and hung the letters above it. Also hanging are some more distressed floats that my dad fished out of the ocean for us as well as a small pirate flag that my dad found while on one of his travels (if you couldn't tell, my dad was sort of stoked about the pirate room, too).

On top of Ethan's nightstand is his new pirate lamp (repeat "this is a lamp, not a toy" 5,000 times and welcome to my life!) and a couple of framed pictures from family events we went to at the JCC. Ethan loves these pictures so I wanted to keep them where he could still easily see them. They used to sit on his dresser and he'd ask me to take them down all of the time for him to look at and hold. I also included the little round homemade chalkboard I made to hang on the wall of his nursery. My handwriting is pretty awful, so I decided my writing was a placeholder until my best friend comes into town with her flawless Etsy-worthy writing!

I love the new placement of the Dohmie sound conditioner on top of Ethan's bookcase -- it really helps keep away the noise from the outside windows. The "big floaty thing" (cue my husband, terrified, asking me "what are you doing with that thing?!" as I lugged it down the hallway) is some kind of boat buoy. That's not the technical term. I'm not sure what the technical term is. The point is, I wanted a distressed looking one and, again, my dad came through for me (my husband can't understand my love for all things frayed, old and weather-beaten but even he can't argue with free). I wasn't sure where I would put it at first, but the bookcase ended up being the perfect spot. It holds the video monitor in place perfectly (bonus!) and I just love the way the frayed, worn rope looks (I know, I'm weird). I found these two unique shells at a gift shop in the Keys and saved them for Ethan's room as well. The octopus photo album contains photos from Ethan's birth and first month of life and was in his nursery as well. Next is Ethan's beloved frog, Cohen, who got a new "ship sail" for his tank in honor of the new room. The birth announcement print on the shelf above the bookcase was also in Ethan's nursery and definitely found a place in his big boy room. Also sharing a shelf is another shell from the Keys as well as a little wax dolphin statue he made when we visited the Miami Seaquarium when he was super tiny.

The underwater themed guitar was a gift from my cousin when Ethan was born and has been hanging in his nursery. We moved it to the wall where the changing table used to be, near the windows, and it makes a great addition to the room! Then there's Ethan's new pirate bedding -- and, of course, the gigantic Jolly Roger flag!

Pirate bedding & stuffed octopus: Target
Red shag rug: Target
Pirate lamp: Target
Twin bed: Nova Twin by El Dorado
Nightstand: Nova Kids Nightstand by El Dorado
Bookcase & dresser: Wendy Forever collection by Pali Designs
Shelves: Target
Antiqued fish net and shells: Shell World Key Largo

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...