Thursday, October 25, 2012


My Munch is in such a language phase right now. He makes elaborate babble sentences with the most inquisitive look on his face as he looks straight at you. He's quite clearly explaining himself. He's saying many new words this week, including: Daddy (without the middle Ds, but definitely with two syllables), bubbles, bottle. He loves his B words.

Yesterday, I had to change his pants, and we were just rolling around on my bed playing and I said, "Okay, let me put on your shorts" just as a matter of course, as I usually do. He sat up and said, "No." Clear as a bell. I said, "You don't want me to put on your shorts?" He said, "No." Then I laughed so raucously that he tumbled all over me, giggling.

Probably not good that I taught him the word No delights me. But while he's been shaking his head No for a while now, this was the first verbal, purposeful No I've gotten. And I'm sure it won't be the last.

And, as time goes on, I'm sure it won't create quite as much delight in me!

Monday, October 22, 2012

5 Things That Happened Right After Munch's Birth

It's Munch's 19-month birthday! Hard to believe that 19 months ago my up-and-down-the-stairs toddler was just a little lump in a pink-and-blue hospital administered cap. After hearing the wretched birth story of a close family friend's new nephew, I thought in honor of this sort-of birthday, I'd do a 5 Things post about what happened immediately after Munch's delivery--things only me, my husband, OB, and a few other hospital staffers witnessed.

1) "What do we have?" Though I labored for over 24 hours, from the start of the induction process, I only had to push three times. In fact, I was shaking with the effort of "holding it in," clutching my husband's hands, as we waited for my OB to travel the 20 minutes to the hospital. Again, even in birth, Munch did things when he was good and ready and then, full tilt.

So after the third push, out the baby came. Hubs and I hadn't found out what the gender was, so we were waiting for the "movie" "It's a WHATEVER!" moment. Dr. J didn't say anything as she held the mewling babe. Through my sweaty haze, I asked, "What do we have?" and she said, "It's a boy."

2) Skin-to-skin. Then, Dr. J placed just-born Munch on my chest. They'd told me we probably wouldn't get to do this little ritual because of evidence of meconium in my water after it broke and they'd need to whisk him away to clear his lungs (or something?). But there he was. This tiny, red, wrinkled being. His eyes were wide open and he was looking right at me. His forehead was crinkled with the effort. And he had this look on his face like, "What the heck did I just go through?"

But we've also felt like Munch is an "old soul." He settled right into our family and the world from the start, like he was taking a place pre-appointed for him. And so, yes, in those first seconds, his eyes did look familiar and it was like he was seeing me for the first time but with a settled, you're-what-I've-been-waiting-for air. I found myself saying, "Oh my God," over and over. It's the first and only time I've ever held a miracle.

3) Thirst. Again, after about 32 hours in the labor process, and after an entire day of only having ice chips, I was parched. After I was stitched up (lovely) and Munch was screaming through his first bath and weigh-in and Hubs was following him around with a huge smile on his face, the nurse sat me up and gave me an ice-cold drink of half ginger ale and half cranberry juice. It was the most refreshing beverage I've ever had.

4) The naming. Hubs and I had a short list of three boys' names (though honestly, I can't remember one of them). Right after Munch was born, Hubs said not to say what name I was thinking yet. I knew which one I wanted. Luckily, we both thought the same thing when we met Munch.

5) The feeding. I was so nervous for the first breastfeeding. How would my body know anything needed to happen? How would this newborn baby know that he needed to do something? But he knew. With the nurse's help, Munch nursed. I'm trying to remember if he was laying across my lap or in what would become our preferred method (the football hold)--and I feel like he was laying across me that first time. His little lips, eyes still open. He was a natural, and, with his help, I became one too.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Pictures

This morning, we had Munch's 18 (well, 19) month pictures done at an apple orchard near our house. My very dear friend is a wonder photographer, and she's done his 12month pics and 6 (well, 7) month pics. The latter were done at this apple orchard as well, so we headed back there one year later.

Our 2012 family of pumpkins
I was a bit concerned at first because Munch didn't seem to be having any of it. He pointed to the piles of pumpkins and said "Ball, ball" over and over, but wouldn't get near/interact with said pumpkins. And, he was all about mommy, which doesn't make for good toddler shots either.

Luckily, they had an old green John Deere tractor out and Munch happily sat on the seat and turned the wheel. I can't wait for my grandfather to see these. And we cajoled some smiles out of him with falling leaves, but he still wouldn't explore much on his own.

We'd pretty much given up and said we'd done all we can (and I'm positive my wonder photographer will mine these shots for gems as always) and went back to the patch to pick out our family pumpkins.

Turns out, another friend and her family were there and so we chatted and suddenly Munch was all about exploring the pumpkins! So, when set off on his own, with no expectations, Munch did what we'd wanted him to do all along.

I truly think he knew what we wanted him to do the whole time, so he did the opposite. When the camera was in front of him, he turned his back. When I showed him pumpkins, he pushed them away disdainfully. As always, Munch does things on his own terms or not at all.

I can't wait to see the pictures. I plan to order a three panel canvas from the three stages of pics we have. It's amazing how he's changed over the past year.

Friday, October 19, 2012

We Left (and Returned) on a Jet Plane

We went to Disney World this month (hence the complete lack of posts in October!). The trip was terrific and much needed, but it was bookended by one of my least favorite things: a plane ride.

We thought long and hard about whether to fly to Orlando or drive. Under normal circumstances, it would probably take us about 14 hours one way to drive. That is not terrible to a family who regularly drives 8 hours for visits to my hometown and, until my MIL moved down near us, close to that to my husband's.

However, with an 18-month-old, that 14 hours would easily stretch to 18 and would need to be broken up across 2 days. We felt it was akin to torture to put this child in his carseat for so long. It also probably meant we would have to cut our actual vacation time short for travel days and that seemed silly as well.

So, as my family made the 24-hour trek from Michigan, through Kentucky and Tennessee and into the Deep South, we made for the airport and I told myself this was the most run-of-the-mill way to travel even as I knew my heart would pound at takeoff and every bump thereafter.

Flight History

I've not always been a terrible flyer. We were not a family of flyers. Our summer vacations consisted of drives to Cincinnati to King's Island amusement park or to Maryland to visit my aunt. My first flight was to Washington, DC, on a class trip when I was 16. The next month, I flew to, ironically, Disney World. I also flew to France for a class trip; San Diego, Montana, New Hampshire, and Philadelphia for college-related things; Bath, England, ALONE for a 6-week summer abroad experience; and Hawaii, among various other trips. Grand Cayman on our honeymoon, etc.

I think a few things changed over the years.

  • I have a harder time giving up control. Control is a big issue for me. Over the past, I would say, 5 years, the idea of control has caused me immense anxiety. I try to control other people's feelings and emotions and experiences (I'm a people pleaser). I feel like if I control my surroundings, I can cheat death. With motherhood, the control-induced anxiety bubbled over. Pregnancy was difficult for me--talk about the ultimate lack of control. Motherhood is a lesson in being totally out of control (really) of the thing that is most precious to you. I can do everything I can to keep Munch safe and happy; but, in the end, so much is up to chance and to HIS OWN choices. A plane is also the ultimate giving up of control. At least in a car, I have the illusion of control. 
  • I'm happy. I think my flying fears escalated after I met my husband. Suddenly, there was so much more to lose, so much more to miss out on. 
  • 9/11. I have no personal connection to 9/11, but I think the idea of hijacking needled right into my brain. After 9/11, planes seem that much more vulnerable.
  • Hubs and I had a bad landing experience returning from Chicago. Wind shears, and all that. It wasn't good.
I spoke with my counselor months before the vacation about the imminent plane ride and we talked some strategies. For me, when I feel myself getting wound up over something, it helps for me to "think as a mother." As a mother, I wanted Munch to have the best travel experience, and, compared to driving, that was a plane. It was quick, convenient, and relatively inexpensive.

And, I felt Munch would distract me on the plane. With a toddler to entertain, I would have much less time and attention to focus on every little bump.

And, if I panicked, Munch would feel that and also be scared (thinking as a mother again).

My counselor also recommended that I keep repeating, despite my compulsion to knock on wood after doing so, "This is a safe mode of transportation." Eventually, some part of my brain would believe it. 

Prepping for Takeoff

The thing Hubs and I worried most about was Munch's behavior in flight. This is a child who doesn't like to sit down on laps for any length of time. He likes to be held, but he likes for the holder to be standing and moving. Not an option on a plane. He also is too young to mind-numb him with a DVD player. It might distract him for a few moments, but it's not like we could pop in a movie and he'd be fine til we arrived. What about his ears? What about food? So many things to consider.

So, we gathered some new books and toys and put them aside for him to see for the first time on the plane. We packed empty bottles and filled them with milk purchased after security. We packed Goldfish. And, we prepared for 2.5 hours of screaming. We would try to sit surrounded by other families (this was a flight to Orlando, after all). It would be over comparatively quickly.

In Flight

My child slept from takeoff to wheels down both flights (well, first flight he woke up 20 minutes out). As soon as the engine revved up for takeoff, his eyes fluttered closed and he collapsed against me. The effect of intense white noise? Did Southwest release some gaseous sedative? I couldn't tell you. 

For the first flight, Munch was curled against my chest and I rubbed his head and sang to him as we took off and got going. I was afraid. I must say a clandestine tear was shed, as I buried my face in his hair. But, a strange thing happened. As I sang, I pictured myself in Munch's nursery, when I held him like this and sang/swayed him to sleep. It calmed me. Picturing myself in that dim room, the quiet night around us, safely on the ground, eased my fear. Apparently, Munch's nursery is my happy place.

I sat in the window seat, another thing I've avoided for years. But, when Munch woke up that first flight, all he wanted to do was look out at the ground. And I looked with him. He pointed at round bodies of water and tall buildings and I named everything for him. Seeing the tiny world through his new eyes helped me to see the wonder of it all as well.

The second flight, we were all exhausted. We'd been up at 3:45am to get transported for a 7:45am flight. Munch fell immediately to sleep, sprawled on his back across Hubs and my legs, and didn't wake up until we WOKE him up after we were landed and at the gate. And, the interesting thing is, I wasn't nearly as scared on this flight. I read my book. I dozed. I looked out the window when the pilot said you could see DC. I enjoyed looking at the tiny cars, the wooded landscape. Twice I grabbed Hubs' arm for reassurance at a bump. But my heart didn't pound and I didn't cry.

  • Munch makes me stronger. I'm learning this over and over. Munch helps me as much as I help him. Being his mother makes me a braver person.
  • Though I had my first flight at 16 (and Hubs had his at 19), Munch first flew the friendly skies at 18.5 months. That is a gift to him.
  • I want Munch to see flying as an adventure, not something that induces terror. In order for him to see that, I have to model that.
  • The thing you worry about most often turns out to be the thing that is easiest.