ten months + the things no one ever told me.

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even though vaughn has been here for ten months, i still sometimes/usually have that “i JUST had a baby feeling.” that’s my excuse for why i only shower every three days, live in sweatpants, and feel generally not exactly “back to myself.” i had dinner with a friend a couple of weeks ago, which is always good for the soul, and as i was sort of fumbling for my words it just came out… “i mean, basically i’m obsessed with him.” this little nugget of truth came out after we were talking about how vaughn is still sleeping in our bed and how, essentially, he’s on me or next to me 24/7. this is wonderful in many ways but also hard in others. we’re pretty sure that we’re good with two kids. it seems all rational and balanced and stuff. and then i think about never nursing a baby again or all of the insanely sweet endorphin producing things that happen with tiny humans and i get really sad. also, there’s a small voice inside that kind of laughs at me. not in mean way, but almost as if to say, “plans… haha. let go.” i don’t know what that really means but i’m divided on the issue. there is a part of me that thinks critically and weighs the pros and cons and that part of me says “we’re good here. zoe has a brother and vaughn has a sister. we have a boy and a girl. we’re not outnumbered. it’s still a circus, but it’s bearable and fun. we have enough money for them. and time for them. and space for them. when they are all grown up we’ll still be young enough to do things we dream about.” and then there is this other part of me that isn’t 100% sure. that part of me says “it’s okay not to know. whatever will be will be and it will make sense then. quiet your mind. be in the moment. stop planning. all that matters is right now.” but then the rational part talks to me about birth control and all that kind of thing. someone tell me that these voices also speak to you! ;)

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so, fun fact: i sat down to write this post and it’s been a “draft” for over a month now. it was originally titled ‘nine months + the things no one ever told me.’ it should have been titled, i will sit down to write this post 17 times and each time, right as i get comfortable and begin to still my mind enough to allow words to flow together into sentences, i will watch this itty bitty baby on the monitor and his hand will move, and then he’ll start to wiggle around, and then he’ll make a tiny noise. and i’ll run upstairs to soothe him back to sleep. and in that time, i will either get too tired or fall asleep myself. and i’ll say… maybe next time. and then a month later i’ll say: tonight i’m doing this. i don’t care if i have to go up and down the stairs 74 times, i’m going to let these words come out. they’ve been churning and churning. little nuggets of thought and anxiety and hope and sadness and bliss and connection — all rolled into one hot mess of a mom’s brain. and i’m not really sure what exactly is going to come out of this but it feels like it needs to happen so i’m just sort of freestyling it. but that would be a really long title for a blog post. so i just changed the nine to ten and we’ll all pretend for one second that i have my shit together.

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moving on. mom guilt. i’m pretty sure that’s what initially inspired this post and all the thoughts scattering their way around my head lately. what was on my mind when i said “the things no one ever told me” was how incredibly hard it is to get used to dividing your time between two little people that you love more than life itself in a way that feels fair. especially when you’ve been basically one-on-one with one of them for nearly five years. i’m JUST NOW, ten months later, starting to feel like we’re getting into a groove with that. and by just now i mean like… as of a couple days ago. i think we turned a corner. thank god. so, some background, zoe is my little best friend. always has been. during the days while jesse is at work, ever since she was born, we’ve been hanging out together. that hanging out progressed from her sleeping on me 20 hours a day to her exploring the world more and more, finding passion in creativity, art, movement, learning, conversation, emotion, friendship, laughter… i got to watch, ever so closely, as she navigated (quite gracefully) her way through her first five years. i had so much time to just sit with her, look into her eyes, not rush her while she talked or wondered or explained or made decisions. i remember being pregnant with vaughn and cherishing all of our alone moments even more. the more my belly grew, the more i know just how special our bond was. i could picture in my mind that things would be different with a baby there, but before he was born i just couldn’t exactly grasp how that would look.

Untitled-2[treasured photos by kristen gardner]

when he was first born, it was all such a fog of new-ness and ecstatic joy really that we were just doing the best we could and of course that was good enough for everyone. he was on the boob 24/7 and that was to be expected. zoe was in preschool so she got some special time there and he slept a lot, so we could still really be there with her and feel present to her needs and give her lots of love. i can’t articulate the different stages we’ve been through so far but we’re definitely well into the point where my moments alone with zoe are few and far between and i treasure them with every cell of my being. i work for them. we have to plan for them. it’s encouraged us to take advantage of little fleeting spontaneous little moments where we can show each other love and also to make normal moments special. for example, the other night her and i had a chipotle date and on our drive back home it started snowing like crazy. we decided to pull over in a random parking lot and dance in the snow. we only got through 15 twirls before we ran back into the car to enjoy the full effect of seat warmers and starbucks hot chocolate but we took advantage of that opportunity to laugh and BE together. i’m seeing the beauty in that but also… i miss her. i miss just being able to hang out and not being interrupted mid-sentence, mid-art project, mid-adventure because his needs kind of trump hers right now. that’s sorta of what it comes down to, as crappy as that sounds, the first few months. have to nurse the baby, have to change the baby, have to hold the baby, have to bounce the baby, have to put the baby to sleep, have to be quiet because the baby is sleeping (ohhhhh, this one), have to catch the baby before he falls on his head, etc. it’s just different. and maybe i’ll look back in a few months and think how silly it was for me to even worry about this, how fleeting this stage of our life was too, but i can tell you, it was just a little bit harder than i thought — the mom guilt of two babies. feeling spread thin sometimes and feeling like not quite enough for everybody. add a marriage too and ask me how many days i feel like i did “everything” well. not very many. my sweet patient husband, that’s all i have to say in that regard.

us

what i couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams was the way my heart would feel watching them love one another.

two[kristen gardner]

there are no words but i do believe it doesn’t get any better than that. vaughn can be tired, sick, half asleep, crying… doesn’t matter. if she smiles at him or does one of her goofy noises or songs or dances that she makes up solely to make him happy — he belly laughs. his face scrunches up and his eyes ignite in a way that doesn’t happen for anyone else. it makes me so incredibly happy to see. and it makes her feel so proud and joyful. so on the days when i feel like i’m not quite enough… i try to remember that they have each other, and that is so far beyond special. i treasure the love they share.

what i’m slowly coming to realize is that the relationship and bond that zoe and i have built can’t be broken or damaged by anything. jesse keeps reminding me that this is just a stage of life — this baby stage — and it’s normal for vaughn to demand more of us and for the balance to shift a little bit. jesse is more of a “see the forest through the trees” type of person, and i tend to get caught up in the branches, worrying if i’ll ever make it through them without damaging all of us on the walk. i just want to give vaughn the same one-on-one love i gave zoe, but also be there for zoe in all the ways that she needs and wants right now. unfortunately, until i learn to clone myself, that can’t happen all the time. so i have to know that my best is good enough and that they know they are so dearly loved.

Untitled-3v[kristen gardner]

i continue my ever-present quest for balance and i will say that my work/family balance has (finally) found a pretty wonderful harmony these days. i’ve consolidated some things and made some changes and let myself say no and had difficult honest discussions about what i am willing and able to take on. it’s really about expectations and time — and my family and being present to the lives of my children and my marriage is my number one priority. if i felt like i was missing things because i was working too much or not fully present because i was too tired from editing until two o’clock in the morning, i knew that things needed to shift. they have and it feels so good. i’m very grateful for the clients and friends that support me and my business and know and love my family the way i love theirs. it means the world to me.

i can’t even really believe that ten whole months have come and gone since we welcomed our sweet second baby into the world. i have been feeling all nostalgic and weepy about my babies growing up. with zoe, i was so stoked for the next stage and the next stage and the next stage — watching her learn and do and grow and of course i’m proud of them and happy for them as they do new things, but there is a different pull on my heartstrings this time around. it all just goes too quickly, as cliche as it sounds. and when you’re thinking this may be your last baby, quickly is an understatement. i relish in each moment that zoe still laughs without holding back, talks to me about how she believes in herself, dreams big huge wild dreams, and is at the peak of innocence. i want to bottle it up. truly. and vaughn, when he stretches out i think he’s half as long as me but he still fits just like a puzzle facing me when he sleeps and loves nothing more than a good snuggle. he adores his sister he makes kissy noises at us and hugs and claps and belly laughs and dances and embodies joy every day. and i’m getting my first tastes of being a “boy mom.” y’all were not kidding when you said it’s different. you can just feel their wild spirits radiating… we can’t wait for spring time and being back in nature without freezing our rears off. hope this finds everyone warm & well. xo

Comments

  1. YES. all of this. Also, I think you are doing a great job. Love you so much!

  2. Katie says:

    This post is perfection. I may be only 6 weeks into this whole “mommy” thing, but a lot of this is how I feel <3

    • no matter the point in motherhood, it’s not for the faint of heart & it’s always nice to know you’re not alone. thanks for reading, katie.

  3. Ali–you are an amazing mommy and person—all of us with more than one kid can certainly relate and empathize. you are doing a wonderful job!

  4. kimberley says:

    ali, just know we all feel like this ;-/. when i had ainsley, chase was just shy of 2 years old and i was barely in a groove with him. i remember not reading any of my pregnancy books while pregnant the second time (cause it felt like i had just done it all) and wondering, really stressing about how i could possibly love anyone as much as i loved him. then she arrived, and my heart doubled like everyone said it would and we struggled through those first two difficult years. i cried the day i realized that a business trip had basically forced weaning without me making that decision and i cried for weeks after about missing something that had been incredibly difficult, because it might be gone forever. we talked and prayed and debated and tried and then avoided trying for a 3rd, and then it just happened. and for months i kept it a secret because i didn’t know whether i was excited or whether we had made a big mistake and talking about it, even to ben, was so hard. and now she’s here, 2 years later, a wonderful addition to our family and a reminder that we always wanted a big family. we’re exhausted and the practical side of our lives says “WE.ARE.DONE”, but just last night, we wistfully debated having another because that’s what our hearts want. i seem to remember sending you an email or having a conversation where i said the one thing i was so jealous of (in a good way) was how much ainsley adored and truly LOVED chase from such an early age. as soon as she could see him (maybe 3 months), he could entertain her and make her giggle in a way no one else could. they were both so lit up, inside and out, in each other’s company and some days i just wanted to be the favorite ;-). you are doing a wonderful job and you’ll have a special bond with each of them, even if you build it in different ways and at a different pace. i’m so glad you have found a balance and are enjoying your family!

    • kimberley! this gave me chills. yes, you did write to me about that when i was pregnant with vaughn and i think of it often. you were so right, and i’m so glad you shared that with me. i would of course love to see you all have more babies. you are both incredible parents and the love your kids share warms my heart. you are a special family. thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! xo

  5. Sarah says:

    Please make more babies. We need more people like you in this world.

  6. isn’t the growth that happens within us, with each child we have, so incredible?! ….thanks for sharing. love you, friend.

  7. Megan says:

    I don’t have babies… yet… but somehow I feel like your words so perfectly explain how it will be as a mom. Thanks for the insight… you have such a beautiful honest way of writing and I love hearing about your thoughts and feelings… I tear up!!!!

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