To Lily Rose on Her 1st Birthday <3

IMGP2623How this year with you has flown by. How you have grown little girl. How you have changed me in a million wonderful ways my sweet, smart, silly, sassy babe. Life hasn’t been the same since you came into this world, and your Daddy and I wouldn’t have it any other way; even though it hasn’t always been easy, it has made for the best year of our lives yet. In such a short time, you have filled our hearts with such joy, and taught us new levels of love and patience.

You are our sunshine girl, so happy that it’s contagious. You have woken up every day of your young life with a smile on your face (cause you smiled super early!). Always ready to tackle the day, excited to play and explore this big beautiful world. Our Monkey.

A busy babe, you haven’t stopped moving since you could kick your legs, roll over, sit up and reach for things. You are still the fastest crawler (from your early commando crawl to a kind of slide, now standing on one knee in typical Lily stance!). You are constantly on the go! But save for a few shaky steps recently, you aren’t ready to walk just yet. Take your time, sweetie. Enjoy being little and don’t rush this growing up thing!

You are physically strong for your small frame, sometimes shocking us with how forceful you can be while playing with your toys or other children. “She’s no delicate flower, that Lily Rose!” Just remember to be kind, little big one. You are already more rough and tumble than we expected. You adore the swing, love being thrown in the air by Daddy, jumping around with Mommy. Please be careful our fearless babe.

You love the bath, and were excited in the pool at swimming lessons. Even when you take a tumble, you are quick to recover and most often you just keep going. Even immunizations didn’t seem to scare you. You are brave.

And you are so good with your little tinker hands:  early on you were able to put your soother in and out of your mouth, hold a bottle, and turn the pages of your beloved books. You loved waving for a time, then it was all about clapping. Now it’s pointing and asking us to name things. You are busy learning something new everyday; your little mind is always a-buzz and it’s a wonderful thing to watch.

20150517_083623When you see other kids or animals, you scream excitedly, trying your best to get their attention. You are happiest out and about, so social. Our Little Miss Chatterbox; a surprisingly loud voice from a tiny girl with lots to say! Beautiful baby babbling evolved to Mom, Dad, Dat (for Cat or That), Bababa for ball and book and pretty much everything for a time;) A lot of Num Num Nums while eating your favourites:  fruit, cheese and pasta. You sign “Milk” for everything now that you know it gets you what you want, cheeky monkey;) Your giggle is the cutest sound in the world, and nothing makes you laugh like Daddy tickling you or Mommy’s silly dance moves. You may not love giving kisses yet, but your sweet snuggles are THE. BEST.

Because even though you are small, you already have a BIG personality. While you are happy and often easygoing like Daddy, you could still prove to be a strong willed child. You definitely have a lot of Mommy in you too, and that means you are a bit stubborn. But a little sass never hurt anyone;)

You love music, are happy at Kindermusik, and what started as a silly shake of the head when you heard a beat you liked has progressed to a cute wiggle and babby jig to your favourite jams. Don’t ever be afraid to dance to your own beat Lillers:)

Everyone told us you were an easy baby, and we think it’s gotta be true:  you were, and still are, a good sleeper, eater, and usually fun to take out and about. Even while teething you manage to stay pretty happy; just in need extra cuddles and to be held more. We are so lucky that except for a few colds and a mild chest infection, you have been healthy. So thank you for making this first-time parent thing easier than it could have been!

20150510_095652Still, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. No matter how good a baby you were, there still were hard times:  all of us covered in poop, pee or puke; sleepless nights of Daddy waking to put your precious dummy back in your mouth twenty times; marathon midnight feeds and weeks of sore nipples for Mommy. Then you wouldn’t let me put you down for what seemed like months. Our bond was strong, sometimes it seemed too intense, and I sometimes cried as you did, my sweet. And now you test our patience as you throw food off your highchair or try and grab at things you aren’t meant to, all with the most mischievous grin.

But when things get hard, a day is rough, one of us is a little sick or tired, it’s that grin or your giggle, even just the sight of your lovely face, that make things better. You have that gift my girl:  the ability to make bad things fade away, because we have your love, and that makes this life sweeter than we ever imagined. Really WE are the lucky ones, to be loved by YOU!

So never change little one. Never stop being super smiley and crazy excited about life. Be silly and curious and all kinds of beautiful just by being you. Be brave and bold, and don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t lose your sparkle, and never let others get you down. And when things seem hard or life gets crazy, know that you can overcome anything, because you are loved unconditionally by a family that will fight tooth and nail to make sure you are happy, healthy and safe. We are yours, forever!!

How we met 2I really felt it then when you arrived, and it has only gotten stronger since; the belief that you were always meant to be here with us, that I was always meant to be your mother. I’m not a religious person, neither is your father, but we think that there is a place where little souls watch over us all and when ready, make their way down, choosing which parents to join. So Lily Rose, on your birthday and everyday, we thank you SO MUCH for picking us ❤

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Little and Loving It

I am sure all parents, especially new moms, worry about their babies. Sometimes a ridiculous amount. From the moment the little bundles of joy come into our lives, we are programmed to worry about them. Their health, safety and happiness become our primary concern. One mom worries why her baby won’t sleep at night. Another can’t get hers to nap. Some have issues with their babies going days without pooping. Later some parents stress themselves silly if their babies haven’t sat up, crawled or walked by a certain time. Once they do become mobile, it’s the bumps and bruises to worry about; the dangers to precious baby that lay everywhere around the home. Just when you are through one stage and feel you have battled and won the war against one worry, a whole new slew of concerns come crashing down on you like a tidal wave of crazy. At least that’s what it sometimes felt like for me.

Lily just bornMy biggest concern was all about why my little lady was exactly that:  so little. From the moment we met her, Jon and I marveled at her strangely large hands, her loud cry, and how tiny she was. She grew into her hands thankfully;0 But she is still a loud little lady (giggling with delight, chattering away to anyone and everyone, and for a a period of time, not so pleasantly screaming for attention). And she is still pretty tiny.

I thought babies were meant to be chunky, with Michelin tire arms, rolls for days, squishy and wonderfully round. It’s the only time in your life when you are encouraged to gain weight, chub is celebrated, fat is encouraged. A lot of my friends have large babies, and I just assumed that since I was a pretty big baby myself, Jon is tall, and I had a sizable bump, we were having at least an 8 pounder. So when Lily Rose was welcomed into this world at just shy of 7 pounds, we were both surprised. The first few weeks we didn’t stress about her size; we had bigger things to worry about. Then came the regular appointments and the damn baby percentile tracking, and the worry over her weight came on in full force. For me, success as a new mom seemed to be directly related to the ability to keep one’s baby fed, full, and pleasantly plump

baby happyThe doctor in Estevan and health nurses there were never too concerned. They said she was small, low on the percentiles but not worrisomely so, and that all babies grow and gain differently. The only thing they wanted us to be sure of was that she continued to gain. So in between regular check ups we weighed Lily, and every time I was a little disappointed the numbers on the scale were only inching up, never climbing quickly enough. She was always gaining, but it was just very slow going! When I tried ever so casually to ask other moms of babies around Lily’s age what they weighed, the moms often had no clue, having not been obsessively weighing their little ones like I had. When family and friends held her, they usually remarked right away how light she was. Strangers guessed her to be two or three months younger than she was. No matter how much these comments weren’t meant to worry me, they started to, replaying over and over in my head like a broken record, until it was all I heard. Not “she’s so smiley” or “she’s so cute”,  just “she’s so small!” 20141020_115802

Our little lady’s appetite didn’t seem to match her size. She breastfed every two hours for what seemed like forever. And she cluster fed every night for the first few months:  Lily Rose would be at my boobs from pretty much the time Jon got home from work until the time we all went to sleep. We would dish up dinner or make something quick together, get cozy on the couch and binge watch more than a few TV series on Netflix while eating (usually with Lily still at my boob). Because being snuggled at my breast was her happy place.

sleeping beautyLR and I have been lucky to have a pretty awesome breastfeeding relationship. There were first-time mom hiccups to overcome for sure, including the toe curling pain every time she latched on for the first few weeks and an over-dependence on nipple cream, but thankfully things went pretty smoothly after that. There was never tongue tie, she never got thrush. I had no plugged milk ducts or dreaded mastitis. I had quite a lot of milk (until these past few months), so my supply wasn’t an issue. But I knew by the small amount of fat that settled at the top of my milk after I pumped, and as evidenced by my small sized babe, that my milk wasn’t thick. Lily didn’t seem to mind though:  she always seemed satisfied with her main source of nourishment, didn’t cry for more following feedings and was filling lots of wet diapers. But I worried something was wrong with my milk, or that it wasn’t enough. I wanted, like hopefully most parents, what is best for my babe, so if my boobies, no matter how large and in charge they were, weren’t supplying Lily Rose with the kind of fatty milk she needed, I was game to supplement with formula to see if it helped. But even when I asked the doctor and health nurses, they didn’t think she needed it. baby and mom

20150223_133251When she started eating solids around 6 months, the amount she sometimes consumed had us hoping she would finally be making her move to Chunktown. Lily gobbled up most things, from baby cereal to fruit and some veggies, bread, cheese and a bit of meat. Then all of a sudden she decided she wanted to be a big girl and feed herself, forcing us to dive into the realm of finger foods way earlier than we hoped! She has gotten a bit picky in recent months, still favours fruit, cheese, pasta and bread, but we still marvel at the amount of food she can fit into that little body.20150724_074439

It was about this time that I started taking Lily Rose to more activities with other moms and babies.  It was so great to get out, meet moms, get Lily socialized more:) But at times I found myself doing what no parent should:  I started comparing my kid to others. It was the baby girl at music class whose parents affectionately called “tank,” the boys with bellies that rolled out from under their tops at swimming, all the babies at moms group who seemed to fit into their their little jeans and t shirts so well, while Lily usually swam in hers (unless I continued to put her in clothes a size or two smaller than her age…of course then she had flood pants cause she is pretty long!). Even when moms of big and small babies alike tried to reassure me that all babies are different, that Lily was fine, I still stressed.

20150321_110222To be sure everything was fine with Lily, I made an appointment to see a pediatrician. It was going to take a bit to get in, but since our new doctor in Regina wasn’t concerned, there was no rush. Then her 9 month check up rolled around, and something changed:  Lily Rose made a jump forward in percentiles. It wasn’t a huge jump, but it was enough to satisfy our doctor that she was finally growing and gaining more. She said Lily was “excellent”, hitting all her milestones, healthy and happy. And since she was making progress, an appointment with the pediatrician was no longer necessary.  

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That was over two months ago, and I finally accept that I have a pleasantly petite baby. She even has some sweet thigh rolls, kissable cheeks and a little bit of a belly now. When Lily doesn’t want to nurse much anymore, I know she is growing older, more interested in playing and eating actual food than being snuggled at Mommy’s breast. And when she refuses to eat something, I remind myself that all babies, and all people, have days when they aren’t as hungry; she may be teething or not feeling well; or just maybe she doesn’t love the scrambled eggs or cooked fish I try to get her to love like me (and Daddy hates!). Whether it’s a great metabolism, just her body type, or the fact that she hasn’t stopped moving since the moment she got mobile (seriously, if there was such a thing, LR would win gold in crawling at the Baby Olympics!), she is a long and lean little lady (this short and curvy girl is now happy!) and we are hoping she grows to be tall just like her Daddy.

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20150708_044601I have also learned to appreciate the benefits of having a small babe. It was always nicer to have a littler little one to lug around on a daily basis, but while traveling this summer, I really saw it:  the two seven hour flights to and from Europe, countless hours spent in airport line ups, in cabs and on public transportation seemed a little less brutal with our little Lily. Jon can still carry our almost one year old in the Baby Bjorn, making things like a brewery and stadium tour, and an upcoming Riders game much easier and more fun. And she doesn’t go through clothes like crazy:  at the start, we got more time than most in her too cute newborn clothes, and now she fits into her sweet styles for longer. 

I am ashamed that something as small as Lily’s weight kept me up at night, because there are far graver things to have to deal with. I have friends’ and family members’ whose babies are ill, had to stay in hospital, undergo treatment or make more than regular check ups with the doctor for a variety of health issues. These parents are my heroes, braving whatever they and their child are facing with grace, strength and often admirable optimism. But save for a minor chest infection and a few colds, Lily Rose has been a healthy girl so far, and we are SO thankful for that!

20150821_142058I feel like I should apologize to Jon, my family and friends for the time I spent stressing to them about our girl’s weight and thank them for always believing that she just needed more time than others to grow and gain. I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time worrying; reveling in the joys of motherhood instead of over-thinking things. I think a big part of my worrying came from my over-reliance on the internet. It can be a blessing and a curse, this ability we now have to get information quickly and easily with a swipe of a finger or the push of a button. Moms nowadays can find the answers to all their questions, and learn so much from sources online. But it can also be our downfall into obsessively trolling sites to check whether our babies are adequately eating, gaining, sleeping, growing and learning. All babies are different, and seasoned moms and experienced doctors will reassure you that not everything you read on even reputable sites can be taken as gospel, because what is normal for one, or even most babies, is not necessarily the norm for your own. It took me only almost a year to really get this (better late than never!).

But this baby weight worry was a part of my journey into motherhood, one of the hurdles I had to overcome. And in the end, it’s only a blip on Lily Rose’s life story. For me, it has been a valuable lesson in letting go; learning not to compare your baby to others or take too much stock in what’s on the internet; being grateful for the health of your little one, and finally; accepting that happy babies come in all shapes and sizes. 

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