Its been a few weeks now since we made the big move into our new home. The dust has finally began to settle, and Berlin’s mood is at last improving. While this move was particularly hard on me (for countless reasons), I came to realize it was even harder on Berlin. Although she is still so young, its clear our move had an emotional impact on her and in turn her behavior became a challenge to both of us (considering she can’t communicate or express her feelings).
Throughout the move I learned some valuable lessons on moving with a toddler that I thought I would share. I’ll admit I didn’t consider all the ideas beforehand, but shortly into the midst of chaos I came to realize how important each of these steps were to maintain normalcy for Berlin.
First and foremost: Be sure to set up your little one’s room first. Although I was knee deep in boxes and couldn’t find the coffee grinder (horror!) nor a towel to bathe with, I made certain to set up Berlin’s room first. Mind you everything was not in its proper place (and there were blankets taped to the window in place of blinds) but all in all it resembled her room at our old place (minus the thousands of vinyl records she previously shared the room with).
Next, adhere to the regular schedule-despite the madness that is happening all hours of the day. I made it a point to keep on schedule and not disrupt her routine (too much), not allowing for any more fussiness than was already occurring. It’s important to keep nap and meal times consistent and even more important to carry on with the normal nighttime routine; bath, books, rocking or whatever it may be. I found this familiar routine really soothed Berlin and made her feel more at ease in her new room.
Have a helper-or two! I was incredibly fortunate to have my mother-in-law volunteer to fly down and assist us with the move. It was crucial having her around during that first week (did I mention Ryan flew to London literally in the middle of our move!?). Having a toddler is a full time job in itself and then complicate it with the physical exhaustion and madness of a move, and I would say its near impossible to do without someone solely focusing on the little one.
Furthermore, be sure to stop and give your little one lots of cuddles. Its easy to get carried away rushing to unpack the entire house without even a thought to eating lunch (or even going to the bathroom), but its crucial to take breaks and spend some quality time with your nugget. Although Berlin was happy playing with her Nana, I found it was important to drop everything once and while and concentrate on showering her with some mama attention. Things were already so chaotic for her, I didn’t want her to feel separated from me as well.
Lastly, be certain to get outside at least once a day. Considering your to-do list is massive, its easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all, but its important to take a breather and get a breath of fresh air-for everyone. On day three of being cooped up in the house, I forced myself to put it all down and take Berlin to the playground. It was refreshing not only being outside, but it was wonderful spending some much needed time with my sweet little girl.
These were invaluable tools to get me through a crazy move, what lessons have you learned from moving with a toddler (or any age for that matter)?
Sorry for the crickets around here. As I’m sure you can imagine our move has been keeping me very busy -it has been one big adventure around here, but I will save that for another post…In the midst of all this chaos our little nugget hit fifteen months, and is growing and changing on a daily basis (or so it feels), so before I forget all her monumental changes here it goes:
Growing / She seems to be growing taller, her pants are suddenly getting shorter while still being big in the waist. Her hair is growing quickly (and quite scraggly) while turning more and more blonde.
Eating / She is a BIG eater lately, however quite moody regarding food. In the early morning she rejects almost all food, except for maybe eggs. Then by the evening she will stuff her face (literally) with almost anything in her grasp. She loves sitting in the shopping cart at the grocery store, grabbing produce from the aisles and scarfing it down (she bit into a whole avocado the other day-skin and all).
Speaking / Her communication improves daily, I swear every day she learns a new word and loves to mimic everything we say. Her latest words are agua and ojos (nana was here last week teaching her Spanish) and yay. Her comprehension of language is amazing. She seems to understand everything I say and will point or look to the person or object I’m speaking of.
Learning / To stand independently, drink out of a cup (no sippy) and put on her shoes.
Mastering / Climbing stairs and playsets, opening and closing cupboards and doors and using the iPhone (sadly).
Loving / Still loves to read, wants to read the same books over and over. Fully concentrates on each page looking over the images before turning each page. Loves viewing murals/artwork, studies each design as if she was an art critic. Loves pushing around her toy box filling it up with stuff around the house as she goes.
Loathing / She still despises being in her carseat, car rides are a stressful nightmare! She intensely hates putting on a shirt, has a screaming fit when I attempt to dress her, and she hates getting her diaper changed.
Laughing / Laughs every time I turn off the car (she knows that means she will no longer have to be in her carseat). Laughs whenever she sees her cookie monster. Laughs if I stick out my tongue or say “belly.”
Playing / She still enjoys purses, kitchen tools (or anything from a cabinet) and scattering her clothes around the house. Now she also loves brushing her teeth and her hair and playing with any electronics; computer, stereo, phone…
This past month has been full of anticipation (and a bit of anxiety) as we waited for the close of escrow on our new home.
It all happened so sudden (buying a home that is) that I’m still trying to wrap my head around the change that is to come.
We were loosely looking for a new rental here in San Francisco when we decided to check out homes for sale in the city. With the current rental rates in the bay area soaring above the price of a mortgage we knew we had to find a home to call our own. Exactly a month ago today we visited the first home we were interested in and fell in love. Offers went in the following day (and after some negotiation) we were on our way to becoming homeowners!
So there it is, 30 days later, and today we move into our new home.
While Ryan and I are both ecstatic at the thought of raising Berlin in a proper house-with a backyard and her own room (a rarity in San Francisco), at the same time, we are a bit sad. We have so many fond memories at our current home; many a dinner party with friends, my pregnancy with Berlin, as well as that it was our first home since moving back to the bay area. But above all, the thought of leaving the place Berlin was born in is somewhat gut wrenching. Just the idea that we will never step foot again into the bathroom she was born in saddens my heart. I hoped one day to walk Berlin into the master bathroom and explain to her the natural wonder that was her birth in that very room.
But alas, its time to move on, and the memory of her birth will never be forgotten, no matter where we live. And in a few years from now, when Berlin better understands, we will drive her by our old home in the heart of the Mission and explain to her that she was born in that very house in mama and far’s bathroom.
Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Halloween.
The decision to write this post was actually a rather difficult one for me, mainly because I feel like I failed Berlin as a parent in some shape or form. As most of you that follow the blog know, Berlin has been a bit slower than most at developing her gross motor skills. It wasn’t until eleven months that she learned to be mobile, and even then she learned how to scoot rather than the traditional crawl. Leading up to the eleven months she mostly just sat (and sat and sat…). She learned how to roll over at four months of age, but didn’t really practice it all that much, and she didn’t particularly enjoy tummy time all that much either. So pretty much she just sat.
Around eleven months suddenly her sit turned into a scoot. I assumed at the time this scoot was the precursor to her crawling, but then here we are three months later and she has yet to master the crawl. She attempts it at times, mostly while in a safe, padded environment (such as the bed) but its only for a few short steps, then she returns to her scoot.
Initially I wasn’t concerned by her lack of crawling, after all each baby finds their own unique way of moving and develops at their own pace (or so I’m told). Unquestionably it wasn’t until her one year checkup, when my pediatrician (who is extremely laid back about developmental milestones) suggested we see a physical therapist. It was then that I became a bit uneasy (to say the least).
As a mother, I want only the best for my child (who doesn’t?). I want her to be healthy and to develop to her full potential. So naturally, when given this news, I couldn’t help but feel that I had done something wrong, somehow failed Berlin.
I went through a mental checklist in my head, considering all the things I had done “right” for my daughter; I exclusively breastfed her for the first year of her life (I still am in fact), I fed her all organic, homemade foods, I practiced tummy time and did lots of floor time with her…But then I looked back in fear and considered all the time she spent in her car seat or stroller, then there were the hours in the motorized swing…I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible for her slower motor development.
So upon the advice of my pediatrician, I immediately called the physical therapist and set up Berlin’s first appointment.
The first appointment was of course the scariest, not knowing what to expect, and fear they were going to tell me something was physically wrong with Berlin. But took only moments into the session to realize it was going to be okay. I was instantly put at ease by the therapist. She was warm and gentle with Berlin, and in no way appeared alarmed by Berlin’s lack of efforts to crawl or pull herself up. She worked with her to understand her strengths and sent me home with a list of exercises and activities to work on with Berlin.
The second visit was much the same, but this visit I was actually given reassurance that she felt nothing was physically wrong with Berlin. She was merely lacking in strength and needed to develop her hips through daily exercises, but as far as she could tell there was nothing of concern. This was extremely reassuring and gave both Ryan and I the confidence we needed as well as the tools to progress Berlin to the next steps; pulling her self up and cruising.
In just a few short weeks Berlin has already begun pulling herself up, climbing stairs and standing for longer periods of time.
For those of you experiencing the same issues, these are the exercises provided by our therapist. The first were warm up exercises from our first visit.
Providing Pressure: applying deep pressure to feet, calves and heels. Applying pressure to hips while seated
Encourage reaching: while Berlin is seated on a chair or my lap encourage her to reach forward for toys
Encourage Standing: either encouraging Berlin to pull up and stand herself or placing her in standing position to allow her to get used to the sensation on her feet
Exercises from our last visit:
Weight shifting: either on knees or standing position, encouraging Berlin to shift her weight from side to side by reaching for objects slightly out of her reach
Rocking: on a ball, pillow or on my lap allowing Berlin to rock side to side strengthening her hips
Push toy: providing a push toy or having her push around a couch cushion while on her knees
I honestly was a bit hesitant to see a physical therapist in the beginning, but I do believe she helped accelerate Berlin’s development. Yes, I feel like Berlin would have reached these milestones on her own with due time, but it most likely would have taken much longer. So I’m very happy that we were able to receive this treatment and ultimately give me the relief I needed to stop stressing over her development.
I will provide a recap as her visits go on. Wish us luck, hopefully Berlin will be up and running around in no time!
Ryan and I were discussing this past weekend how sad it is that we can’t even remember what Berlin’s first word was. We have an idea, but we truly don’t recall which word it was or when it happened. Very sad. So in lieu of my sweet baby girl’s 14-month birthday I’m going to start documenting her development. Happy fourteen months baby girl!
Growing / Feet are growing quickly suddenly. She is almost in a size 3. She seems to be getting taller, but is still very thin. However she finally fits into 12 month clothing. She now has 4 teeth (her front teeth) and seems to be sprouting another.
Eating / Anything protein and fruit. Loves tofu, chicken and almond butter. Obsessed with green juices and oat bars.
Speaking / Favorite words include; baby, bye bye, hi, bubbles, and up. Says “uhm uhm” while pointing at objects to communicate what she wants.
Learning / To pull herself up on furniture and climb up the stairs.
Mastering / Knowing and pointing to her body parts; head, feet, belly, ears…Repeating sounds of her favorite animals; dog, cat, duck, bird (and monster).
Loving / Drinking from straws, bath time, going to the playground, scooting around at lightening speed, and reading (loves reading!).
Loathing / Eating with utensils (only likes finger foods), being carried, napping (nap times are tough lately), being in her carseat, pooping (she is terribly frightened of going number two!).
Laughing / Laughs each time I say “yucky” or snort like a pig. Laughs when she grabs my nose, ear (and lately) my love handles! Laughs every time I enter her room after nap time.
Playing / Enjoys playing in the kitchen; pulling items out of the fridge and drawers. Infatuated with bags & purses; dumping all my belongings from my purse onto the ground multiple times a day. Loves pulling all her clothes out of the bins and scattering them around the house.
Today Ryan and I celebrate three years of marriage…and what a journey it is has been. So much has happened in three short years, and each event has only brought us closer together. I never could have imagined our bond being as powerful as it is. He gets me, and I understand him. We allow one another to be who we are and support each others desires and hold each other up when we fall. I am blessed to have him not as only as my partner but the father of my child.
I couldn’t be happier with the mate I chose to walk beside me in life.
Happy Anniversary to the love of my life.
Photo Credit: http://jaredharrell.com/
In honor of a fellow bloggers up and coming wedding (just a few days away!) I wrote up a little guest post with advice on planning for a wedding as well as my secrets to a successful marriage. Please check out Abigail and the Future to read the post-and wish her luck on the big day!
This week has been one of the tougher weeks as a parent. It’s been one of those weeks when you keep looking back at the clock, counting down the minutes, waiting for the day to end. One when you sit your daughter in a heap of toys and crumble in the corner wallowing in sadness. And one when you start to doubt your parenting abilities and whether being a stay-at-home mom is the fit for you.
I can’t really explain these thoughts and emotions. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason behind them – except for maybe we are going through a change. Life is fluid and nothing remains static, and it seems that once Berlin hit her year mark, she started metamorphosing. It’s only been weeks since her birthday, but so much has already changed.
Where as she was once sleeping consistently through the night (at least for a little while), she suddenly awakes at 5AM every morning, screaming and demanding to be nursed. Her naps, (which have always been my saving grace) were consistent at 9AM and 1PM and lasting up to two hours each, are suddenly no longer. Now each nap is instantly a battle, either screaming bloody murder or sitting her crib and babbling for the entire hour.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, all at once she stopped eating. My daughter, who will eat anything from chicken liver to kale, is suddenly pushing away whatever I put in front of her.
She has become whiny, fussy, clingy: all of the things she previously was not.
I spent hours googling everything from sleep regression to wonder weeks, attempting to come up with a solution. I called all my more experienced mommy friends requesting advice, and sifted through all my parenting books (the ones I thought I no longer needed).
But as of this morning, I’ve come to peace with these changes. Sure, I may not be getting much sleep (but what is new), and I may have an irritable baby on my hands for a few days (or weeks), but we will get through it – just like we got through the first year. In the meantime, I’m going to take this weekend for myself, and let my husband take over, while I work on recharging my own battery.
Tomorrow- who knows- but isn’t that the fun of it all?
1) Spray Painted Bottles
Pick bottles of your choice, or use any recycled bottles
Remove stickers from bottles with hot, soapy water
Wash inside and out of bottles
Spray paint with any color (I used flat white). Make sure to use a drop cloth when spraying and spray lightly from a distance. Will need to apply several coats, I sprayed 4 light coats
Add flowers and you have instant unique vases!
2) Cute Covered Books
Choose printed or solid paper of choice (can be anything from old maps to wallpaper)
Center book in middle of paper (leaving at least 1″ on top and bottom to fold)
Crease at the top and bottom of book and fold over
Wrap the cover around the book and crease the sides at the end of the book
Then fold over again making a pocket
Insert each side into the formed pockets
You may have to cut your paper to fit or possibly tape down the sides for a secure fit
3) DIY Chalkboard
Buy a piece of 3/8″, 4′ x 2′ plywood and sand (or buy pre-sanded)
Frame with 1′ x 4′ cut to size wood (I would suggest having the hardwood store or someone crafty frame it for you)
Apply flat finish Chalkboard paint with brush or roller, its best to apply 2-3 coats, allowing an hour to dry in-between each coat
Decorate as you wish (I enlisted a specialist to do the artwork!)
This is great for any party and can be used in your child’s room as well
4) Yarn Made Sign
My sister and her hubby make these amazing custom made signs (you can see here as well).
They will be for sale on Etsy shortly, but for now you can contact them here or here if you are interested in a sign.
I may have gone a bit overboard for Berlin’s 1st birthday, but hey, she only turns one once, right!? Pictures of the party soon to follow.
It’s already been a year since Berlin’s birth, and while I sit down to write this I realize while some of the memory is still so vivid, a lot of the details have faded. I still remember the day well, but the gory pain of it all, both during labor and recovery have seemed to subsided. I guess it’s true what they say, “ women would never have more children if they held onto the memory of the pain.”
When we discovered I was pregnant with Berlin, one of the first things Ryan and I did was watch the documentary, “The Business of Being Born.” I always knew I wanted a natural birth, but always imagined it would be in a hospital. After watching this documentary, I became obsessed with having a home birth. Ryan, on the other hand was not so convinced. He was gripped by fear that something might happen to either myself or our unborn daughter. I made several attempts to convince him otherwise, but his fear didn’t subside, and I eventually gave in and found an obstetrician. I carried on seeing the doctor month after month, all the while my gut was telling me that it wasn’t the right decision. Having our baby in a hospital felt unnatural. I was terribly frightened that I wouldn’t be allowed the freedom to move around, birth on a ball, deliver in the shower, or even squat if I felt so inclined. This fear of not being able to control the pain got the best of me at times and for many months I secretly succumbed to the idea of an epidural: especially after being told time and time again by several of my mommy friends that I “must get the epidural” and to “stop trying to be a hero”. My own doctor even told me at one point that if I wanted a “spiritual experience, then go to India.”
It wasn’t until the beginning of my third trimester, when I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, that I became driven again to have a natural labor. Reading the women’s stories shared in Ina May’s book gave me the courage to follow my heart and go with my gut instinct, which was to deliver a baby in my home without the pressure of a clock or strangers coaching me through the delivery. From that moment on I decided not to discuss my decision with anyone. I realized that everyone had their own opinion (and fears) regarding childbirth, and it was best if I kept my decision of delivering at home to myself.
At thirty-eight weeks I finally found the courage to let Ryan in on my decision – yes, I waited until two weeks before my due date! I then met with several midwives, not clicking with any, until Ryan and I met with Nile. It wasn’t five minutes into our interview with Nile that both Ryan and I knew we found our midwife. All the hesitation and fear that Ryan had felt all these past months was squelched when he met Nile. He was suddenly behind my decision one hundred and ten percent, and was absolutely ecstatic at the idea of delivering at home.
The next two weeks were put on fast forward. I was running around like a mad woman – gathering all the supplies needed for a home birth while squeezing in multiple appointments with Nile to acquaint her with my medical history and my soon to be born baby. The two weeks leading up to my due date were exhilarating, yet intense. While we were both excited for Berlin to be born, we were quite nervous to have her arrive before we were prepared.
Then my due date arrived, and still no sign of Berlin’s arrival. Each appointment was the same news, “there is no sign of dilation and the baby has not dropped low enough.” Although my midwife assured me that Berlin would arrive when she was ready, I began to panic. For one, I was done with carrying a watermelon for a belly around, and for another, my sister, who was planning on being at the birth was leaving for a two month hiatus to Europe in mere days. So I did what all pregnant women do when they are over waddling around like an elephant: I ate spicy foods, ran/walked stairs, did squats, had acupuncture, induced nipple stimulation…you name it. I only stopped at Castor Oil, deciding to save that for an emergency situation.
On August 8th, I had what I now know to be my final checkup with my midwife. I pleaded with her to get the baby out, telling her I was desperate, and with hesitation she offered to “sweep my membranes.” I happily allowed her to do so, convinced that nothing was going to get this baby out. I actually began to fear that I may carry her for several more weeks, maybe months! Shortly after she left, I began to feel a bit of cramping, but my midwife warned me that was common, so I thought nothing of it and carried on with my day. Later that night, I woke around 3:30 am. feeling a bit off. I went to the bathroom and when I returned I felt a slight gush of water in my pants. I ran back to the bathroom, unsure of what had just happened, and discovered only a small amount of water. From what I understood when your water broke, you got a rush of water, not a trickle. So I returned to the bedroom, woke Ryan and did what every sane person does, I googled it. From then on we knew it was game time (as google told us so) and we were both incredibly excited. I attempted to lay back down and get some rest, but my excitement got the better of me and instead I got up to clean the house. For the next several hours, I cleaned each room from top to bottom, made myself a hearty breakfast, curled my hair (yes, I curled my hair!) and started to make date bars, when suddenly the contractions began taking over.
Ryan then woke shortly after (around 7 AM) to me bracing myself on the side of couch while timing my contractions on an iPhone app. He (being my husband) thought this was awesome and was joyfully calling all our family on speaker phone allowing them to hear me bear down during contractions, all the while laughing and telling them I sounded like a “dying elephant.” If I wasn’t hunched over the couch in gut wrenching pain, I most likely would have killed him.
Around 9 AM, two of my three sisters arrived, while sadly my third sister had boarded her flight for Europe that morning. Luckily, I was in good hands with my two remaining sisters as one is a trained doula while the other is a natural cheerleader and caregiver. They jumped right in guiding me through the next several hours of contractions and intense back labor. Thanks to my amazing support team (hubby included) I was able to find my inner strength and allow my breathing to guide me through the pain for the next several hours. I was apparently in such a deep trance that my sisters later told me that one of my contractions lasted 45 minutes (it was at this point they gave up on the contraction app and finally called my midwife instead). When Nile arrived, my sisters were told that they must hydrate and feed me or I was going to be put on an IV. My poor sisters and hubby attempted to feed me for the next several hours as I pushed them away refusing to take so much as a sip of water. These hours I remember as the toughest, as I jumped from room to room, bedroom floor to bed, bath to bathroom floor, attempting desperately to find my zone again. I didn’t know it then, but I was entering transition, and the end was near. But at the time one minute longer was too long and in my head I was conjuring up ways to get myself to the hospital and quickly consume all the drugs in the ward. I was daydreaming of my rescue when I blurted out to my husband “I can’t do this anymore, I need the epidural!” and he simply told me “you ARE doing it, keep it up.” With that I forgot all about the hospital, found my zone again and carried on. Shortly thereafter I began to push on all fours in the middle of our bathroom floor. My sister and my best friend (who surprised me by flying up from LA) were in the bathtub-front row seating, the midwife was behind, while my doula sister and hubby were in front of me coaching me along.
Enduring gut wrenching, terrific pain, I pushed for the next two and a half hours, but it was the most beautiful two and a half hours of my life – exactly how I imagined my labor to be. There was no pressure, there was no one telling me how and when to push, there were no strangers, there was only the love and support of my husband, sisters, friend, and midwife encouraging me on this very special birth journey, and their joy and anticipation at meeting this newest member of the family.
At my final push I heard gasps of excitement and relief from the room. Ryan reached down and caught Berlin through my legs and laid her on the floor beneath us as we wept in joy.
It wasn’t moments later and Berlin was latching on for the first time. It was so incredible to me then (and still is) what a natural and beautiful occurrence this is. I had no idea how to breastfeed or what to do but Berlin latched on her first try and her instincts lead the way.
From there the midwives lead us to our bed, placed Berlin in my arms, ushered everyone to leave the room and allowed us to be, as a family for the first time. Ryan and I sat in awe for the next hour just watching this beautiful little creature who just joined our world.
It was the perfect birth, more than I ever could have imagined. I overcame my fears, followed my intuition and trusted my body to work as it should. Yes, it was like no other pain I’ve ever encountered, but it was a spiritual journey that changed me forever (and I didn’t even have to go to India to experience it).
Photos by my amazing best friend Jessica Pell.