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23 Months of Breastfeeding

24 Feb

IMG_3766snuggled in nursing on our family trip to Acadia National Park

Today is kind of a sad day but I’m taking it in stride. After 23-months of exclusive breastfeeding, my toddler has self-weaned. Earlier this morning, she snuggled up next to me in bed like she does most mornings and tried to nurse but after a moment shook her head sadly and said, “this no working” while she signed “broken.” It was shattering. It’s the end of an era.

I still have some milk coming in actually but I think we’re closing the chapter on almost 2 years of exclusive breast feeding. As much as I’ve longed for a break and to have my body back before our second child arrives late this spring, I’m finding it bittersweet.

Weaning my toddler couldn’t have been easier since I let her take the lead and wasn’t in any rush. We were down to only morning nursing session as of December with occasional nursing during the day or in the evening on very rare occurrences. Only in the last month and a half or so have I gently encouraged stretching out nursing a bit if she didn’t really seem interested in the morning. It was often as easy as asking if she wanted to go make cinnamon toast for breakfast or build a castle with her blocks.

I will share that as we passed the year and few months and then the year and a half point, I did feel a little uncomfortable sharing that I was still breastfeeding my daughter. I often rolled my eyes or made a joke about it or made to sound exasperated if it came up in conversation among family or other moms but the truth is, I am really happy to have made it well past my goal of a year.

When I remember back to how much we struggled in the beginning and how often I wanted to give up; of the pain, the bleeding, the tears, the exhaustion, the toll on my spirit and body having to respond to the grueling routine of being the sole food source in those veery early months, it feels like such an accomplishment and one I’m incredibly proud of and want to celebrate. That those dark early days and physically demanding first few months gave way to so many beautiful moments snuggling, doting on and adoring my daughter, well… I can’t begin to express my gratitude for having been lucky enough to experience them.

 

Happy Halloween from Madeline

5 Nov

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I felt a little silly as we approached our neighbor’s house so Emilia could have her first trick-or-treating experience this year. For weeks, Brian and I worked on trying to get her to say just “treat” but the whole concept seemed a little over her head. There was also the Halloween candy she enjoyed for w-e-e-k-s ahead of time. I shudder to think of what her dentist will say. I figure, they’re just the baby teeth, right? But I think introducing the candy early was probably what saved the night.

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There was also the fact that she’d just been sewn into her Madeline costume which I slaved over for about a week and half prior to Halloween but finished as night fell, day-of. I winged the design, but based it on a similar style dress of Emilia’s that fit a little big so you can imagine the amount of cursing when the little shift dress I’d sewn barely fit over her head. The back had to be cut open a bit which I was able to conceal by cutting the cape a bit longer but the whole “homemade costume” fantasy I’d had was pretty much dust from the moment I used press-n-seal bonding glue as a shortcut to finish the red cape tie on Day 1 of Project-Homemade-Costume. Here’s hoping next year’s costume is easier to DIY than this one. I didn’t even attempt to track down a Madeline hat because I knew she probably wouldn’t want to wear it, which was smart in hindsight, though it would have been so cute for photos.

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Cut to the moment she saw the candy. Her eyes went wide as saucers and she basically dove into the candy bowl. We practically ran between houses with her after that. And if there was a family pet in the house, Emilia welcomed herself in for a meet and greet.

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We only toured our immediate neighborhood and met a few of the neighbors we’d not yet had a chance to connect with since we moved in, but it was such a fun time. Especially since Emilia’s Nana and her Aunt and godmother, Skylar, accompanied us.

5She was an absolute pro at knocking on doors and absolutely charming with everyone she met, smiling and waving and politely only taking ONE piece of candy despite absolutely barreling towards the candy like a maniac, and immediately depositing it into her little candy corn trick or treat bag from my mom. (She’s been obsessed with this bad since it first came into her hands — it’s been her near-constant accessory for the last month).
10So all in all, a really great night! The little munchkin enjoyed a few M&Ms but was in bed shortly after returning home for the night, a little after 7 PM. Then Brian and I watched the new Ghostbusters which was absolutely hilarious, before passing out in a sugar coma. I’m so excited for future years of trick-or-treating as she gets a little older and starts to have some sense of what it’s all about and what she wants to dress as.

I don’t imagine we’ll ever be totally into Halloween the way we are about Christmas and I can’t see us dressing up for a family costume, but I did toss around a Game of Thrones costume idea to Brian the other day with Emilia as the Khaleesi and some stuffed dragons, just for fun.

Dear Emilia, letter 3

13 Oct

 

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Dear Emilia,

It’s hard to believe you’re already six months old. Sometimes when I remember back to how teeny, tiny you used to be, I feel a pang of sadness. Then I remind myself to enjoy right now because I’ve realized that it will be a blink before I’m pining for your little fingers and toes at this stage. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s to think of everything as a phase and to appreciate and enjoy each and every moment.

The past few months have been my favorite so far, without question. Your little personality is emerging and your disposition is  absolutely lovely. Your smile is quick and lights up your whole face and your giggles and laughs are infectious. I love that you smile at anyone and everyone and have no problem being held by family and friends. You’re also a rock star traveler and napper. You’ve been to lunches with us out in Boston; attended 2 days of Newport Folk Festival; enjoyed the Fourth of July fireworks at the Fairfield Beach Club when most babies were at home, asleep; and even met Sara Bareilles last week. Your adaptability and easy going nature make you an absolute pleasure to be around. I’m such a proud mama.

Your little voice is the sweetest; daddy and I love to “talk” and sing with you. A few weeks ago, you even imitated me when I made a high-pitched screechy noise; we went back and forth doing it for an entire afternoon, cracking each other up. You haven’t imitated me like that since about 2 months when you discovered your voice and would coo back at me in the same inflection. Like most parents, your daddy and I are constantly exclaiming to you and each other that you’re a genius. (At least 100 times a day.) We’ll try to temper this, but I can’t make any promises. We’re just so incredibly proud of you.

You’re sooooo close to crawling, but when you’re not on your tummy, maneuvering around, you love to look out the window to spy on our neighbor, Alyce, and her dachshund, Brownie and other street activity. I’ve also been laying you on our bed while I get ready in the morning and giving you random (safe) things to play with. Some favorites include a Nature Valley granola bar with a crinkly package and my collection of bangles. When you’re in your high chair with us out in the kitchen, you love to play with your plastic spoons and textured balls, but we’ve also had fun with a silicone marinade brush and a spool of blue gift ribbon. And when you’re tired of independent play, you love to sit on my lap while I’m working and explore the open drawers of my desk. You’re an absolute maniac the second I pull one open: hitting and pushing around the small pile of pages stacked inside, pulling out my headphones and post-its and quickly trying to maneuver whatever you can into your mouth for tasting as fast as possible.  It’s no wonder your fine motor skills are so well-developed.

You’re going to be Madeline for Halloween so I’ve been working on sewing your costume. Madeline was on the short list for your name actually, largely because it’s one of my favorite children’s books. When we decided to use Emilia, we considered Madeline (and Madeleine) for your middle name, too, along with Alexandra, Grace, Caroline and Charlotte, but ultimately didn’t use it because it’s a font-runner for a future little sister! I’m happy we chose Grace for your middle name though; it suits you and I love that Grace means “beloved of God.” I’ve always hated my own middle name (Jeanne) so this wasn’t a decision we made lightly.

Speaking of names, some of our favorite nicknames for you lately are monkey, pumpkin pie, monster (that’s daddy), sweetness, my little munchkin, and sweet baby girl. “E” continues to be one of my favorites for you too. Notice there are a lot of food references.

You’re a wonderful eater — you LOVE your greens. I’m secretly incredibly proud of your flavor preferences too. You’ve loved some of the more complex-tasting veggies and you appreciate spices. Your interest in food has been brewing for about 3 months now, to the point that you not only stare me down while I eat, if you see a fork headed toward my mouth, you actually open your mouth and cry if I don’t give you a little taste. Daddy isn’t thrilled that I’ve gone completely rogue with our “Solids” plan but I can’t deny a girl a taste of the good stuff here and there. Recently, you grabbed a hunk of apricot-almond muffin while we were at the Thinking Cup on Boston Common visiting Brian’s cousin Kevin and earlier today, you enjoyed a few tastes of my spicy penne and veggies loaded with freshly grated parmesan. You’re hilarious to watch as you taste something with a lot of flavor. I love how curious and adaptable you are. Your little spirit is just lovely.

Thank you for bringing such light into our lives, Emilia Grace. You are so deeply loved.

Love,
Mama