8 months old

Rory James,

You could stay 8 months old forever and ever and I don't think I'd mind one bit. What a kid you are. You have absolutely no social boundaries. You will crawl right up to anybody in the world and play with their hair and try to pull off their nose and you'll sit in their lap and be as happy as a clam. It's amazing for me to watch you be so interested in every single person you meet. I've always been so scared to leave you with a babysitter, but gosh, I think you'd do just fine.

When you play on the floor with your toys you talk and sing, doing a high pitched "bbbbbbb" and "boooooh" and "gooooh". So far you haven't said anything more complicated than that. You've started reaching for things that you want and crying when I take things away. You get really distracted if there are too many toys to play with so I've started only pulling out a few at a time. Otherwise you are overwhelmed and you just come find me and crawl all over me. Oh boy, you just like to climb and climb. I'm like your personal jungle gym. Sometimes I'll sit up high on the couch with my feet up so you won't try to crawl up my legs but even then you'll hang onto the edge of the couch trying to get to me.

I feel like you can understand everything I say. I talk to you all day long and I seriously forget that you have no idea what I'm saying, because you just light up and smile and are so absorbed when I talk to you. That makes it really strange when you smile at me when I cry, not that I cry a lot, but you think it's hilarious when I do. It kind of hurts my feelings in the weirdest way that you don't empathize with me because I don't even feel like you're a baby. The only time I ever have to say "no" is when I'm changing your diaper and you won't hold still, or when you try to climb over the edge of the bathtub. You hate being told no and you scrunch up your face and cry. I guess you're just not used to limits because I usually just let you roam free. You are constantly moving. You go from sitting to crawling to climbing to laying down to sitting again to climbing all over me to sitting again. Only when Daddy gets home and turns on the tv do you relax on his lap and sort of zone out. You get so still.

You learned to crawl! You started by rocking back and forth on your knees, then flinging yourself forward over and over. It seemed to take forever, but you finally figured it out how to pull those knees forward and move your arms. You learned to pull yourself up on things even before you learned to crawl. I love the way you climb on stuff. You use your head a lot to leverage your upper body until you can get your arms up to pull yourself. You used to be so wobbly while you balanced yourself on those little potato feet. Now you are really steady and can even hang on with just one hand. I bet you'll be standing on your own pretty soon.

Once you were able to pull yourself up we lowered your crib and rearranged your room. We still have yet to put any pictures on your walls (I know, I'm the worst). Now whenever we come to get you out of your crib you are standing up and clinging to the bars and usually chewing on the wood. You love to have blankets in your crib. If they're not in your crib you'll pull them in from the basket that sits on the floor. When I come check on you you usually have your head laying on a blanket, or your arms are hugging one. You sleep with your raccoon Rocco and sometimes you suck on his ears while you fall asleep.

It is impossible to change your diaper. Oh my gosh. Such a battle. It's becoming a two man job. One of us will have to hold you still while you scream and the other will whip the diaper onto you as fast as humanly possible. When I'm alone, I'll try to distract you with a toy or a song or silly faces or seriously whatever works, otherwise I'm yelling NO NO NO while you do your best to wiggle yourself free and I end up covered in poop and I have to use a million wipes to get you clean. Sometimes I end up changing you while you're standing up because I just cannot get you to lay still. It's an adventure. I'm not going to lie, I leave you in a soiled diaper probably way too long because I dread those diaper changes. On a side note, you have yet to have a single diaper rash in your entire life and I know it's all due to the A&D we use every time. Thanks again for that tip mama.

Your favorite toys are: paper, the remote, mirrors, any type of string or cord, shoes, tupperware, empty water bottles, and big things to climb on. If those aren't available then you'll make do with your wooden rings or books. You pant when you are playing with something. Loud and fast, concentrated breaths. Oh it's my favorite. We spend lots of time crawling from room to room. Sometimes you put a toy in your mouth and carry it with you to another room.

You have your two bottom teeth with a third one popping through. Haha you look like a little hobo. You're pretty devilish when those teeth are breaking through and I don't blame you. Your gums get red and swollen and your nose gets all runny and it just seems pretty miserable. I swear you think that blue bulb is a torture device the way you scream when we use it, but otherwise you can't breathe when you nurse and everything is just an all around mess. You've been getting this angry attitude: throwing tantrums, screaming for no good reason. It's so strange because otherwise you are the happiest smiliest silliest boy. I don't know what to make of it and I'm hoping it's just a side effect of teething.

YOU EAT LIKE AN OX. My word kiddo, you don't really have a limit. The other day we went to a barbecue and you tried pulled pork for the first time. You loved it so much you ended up eating and eating until you threw up. For breakfast you eat fruit purées mixed with oatmeal or yogurt, usually 8 oz but lately it's been more. Lunch is a few handfuls of finger foods. Toast is your favorite, and you'll also eat grapes, cheese, chicken, cantaloupe, banana, Gerber puffs, steamed apple, steamed carrots, sweet potato, and eggs. You still won't eat avocado. Dinner is veggie puree, sometimes mixed with fruit to make it tastier, and a few bites of whatever we're having. You're nursing less. 5 or 6 times a day now. I'm trying really hard to keep it up, though it seems like you could quit cold turkey and be totally cool. You love snacks and you love juice. Juice juice juice. I'm going against my better judgement by giving you juice but you just guzzle it and I can't say no.

Your hair has turned almost blonde. It's got to be because of all the sunshine you've been getting. And jeez, it is getting soooo long I really really need to cut it. Like, it's ridiculously froofy and poofy and it waves in the wind. Yes. I definitely need to cut it.

Your naps were getting shorter and shorter and you were waking up 3 times a night, so I followed my motherly instincts and phased out your 3rd nap and it did the trick! Now, on a good day, you'll take 2 naps that last an hour or two. You go down for the night around 7:30pm and wake up around 8a. You still nurse 1-2 times a night. One night you went a record breaking eight hours! Now that we switched you to two naps you fall asleep very quickly. You can fall asleep in our arms, in the car, while we rock you or bounce you... It's really freeing to be able to go places knowing that you can sleep on the car ride home if necessary. That didn't used to be the case. Although, no matter how hard we try, if you wake up too early and we want to go back to sleep you will not sleep in our bed with us. Nope. You'd rather crawl and climb and smack our faces awake.

We took you swimming for the first time at the Rexburg Rapids. It was probably more fun for us than for you, though you seemed to enjoy yourself. Especially walking around the little splash pad. In St. George, we went swimming again and you paddled your arms and splashed a bit more. You absolutely love bath time. You're becoming quite the little fish.

You have the cutest little quirks. When you're excited you do this little wiggle wobble dance. Back and forth and back and forth. You also do that dance with your mouth wide open if you're looking for more of a snack. You love to wave bye-bye to everything: me, the tv, random people at the grocery store. You concentrated really hard and slowly rub your fingers together. It's adorable.  Some days you love to stick your tongue out over and over really fast and make a popping sound. You are constantly buzzing your lips and singing in a high pitched voice. We're still trying to teach you simple sign language: eat, milk, more, sleep, mama, daddy, diaper. I wonder how long it will be before you start picking it up. You're really close to clapping, so maybe soon?

We drove all the way down to St. George for the 4th of July and of course I was needlessly anxious about the whole trip and you were a rock star. Going to bed at 11pm and watching the fireworks and taking awfully short naps in our arms and withstanding the heat and eating purees out of pouches and smiling at all of my aunts and cousins. You were completely fabulous. I was so proud of you.

So you're almost not even a baby. I see you next to other babies your age and you just seem so tall and large and you look like you're over 1. But I love that you are getting older. Yes, I think a lot about your newborn days, but I love playing with you and talking to you and all the interaction we have. You are a stellar kid and I'm so lucky to be your mama.

See other letters to Rory here.


this postpartum body of mine

Okay people. I'm bringing you into the depths of my insecurities. It's not pretty, and it might not make sense to you, but seeing posts like this from some of the amazing blogger mamas I follow gave me immense hope in my time of need so I thought I'd put my thoughts out there.

^^to be completely honest with you all, this is the first photo in over a year that I've looked at and loved. I'm going to showcase it everywhere because I'm just so happy to have a picture of me and Rory that I feel pretty in!

This is my postpartum timeline. I feel sick when I look back at those January and February photos.  I knew that my body would change during pregnancy but I never could have expected the havoc it would wreak on my body. I gained 65 pounds while I was pregnant with Rory boy. I don't know how. I could make excuses all day long. It happened. I could blame it on gestational diabetes, or I could own up to it and say I let myself go, but to be very honest I have no idea what went wrong. Until my 3rd trimester I was gaining weight at a decent pace, and then suddenly I was basically gaining a pound a day.

So I gave birth to a 9 pound 14 oz healthy HEFTY baby boy, who by the way is just a phenomenal little person. And for the record, Andy has told me every single day that I am beautiful so none of my insecurities are because of him. I have so much to be proud of in my life and so many things to be thankful for. I am happy. But for those of you who have struggled with body image as I have, you'll understand that that happiness is always marred by the constant struggle with the way you look.

I'm finally getting to a point where I'm comfortable with myself. It may be because I'm getting somewhere within the vicinity of my pre-pregnancy weight or it may be because I'm so tired of the self conscious hatred -- how every event and every moment has been scarred by how gross I feel and is my belly folding over itself? and do I have a fat face? and do I look slow and stupid and ugly and lazy because I still have 15 lbs to lose?? I've been constantly aching for my once slender body and I'm tired of the guilt and pain and embarrassment.

A few weekends ago I forced myself out of my comfort zone and put on a swimming suit. No swim shorts (because let's be honest any swim shorts I have are still a size too small). It was an old suit, that barely fit my gigantic nursing boobs but DANG IT I was going to the water park and I was going to have a good time. My wobbly thighs were exposed in all their glory. My stretch marks that travel all the way down past my knees, are in my armpits, around my waist, on my thighs were there for all to see. I did it. I was scared and I was self conscious the entire day but I didn't hide myself under an oversized tshirt like I'm always wanting to do. I wore a bathing suit like a normal person and I sat in the kiddy pool and laughed with my baby and had a great time. That was huge for me. I was so proud of myself for doing that. I did it again this weekend in Saint George. I special ordered myself a bikini top that would actually fit, and I paired it with some high waisted bottoms I got earlier. And I really wore it and showcased all of my insecurities. 

I think my hips will always be wider, my butt will always hang lower, and my boobs and belly will be droopy and wrinkled forever. I gained 65 pounds in 9 months. And now it's almost been 8 months since Rory's been born and I've lost over 50 of those pounds. Five zero. How can I be mad at my body when it's gone through such an incredible ordeal? Why does the remaining 15 pounds always have to be on my mind? Will I ever ever ever be strong or brave enough to not care anymore and to just be OKAY with my body regardless of it's imperfections? Maybe even happy with it? 

I felt fat before I even got pregnant. I've been self conscious about my body ever since I can remember. As an 11 year old I always wore a one piece and board shorts to the beach because I was uncomfortable with the way I looked. I don't want to be the mom who sits under the umbrella at the beach in jeans and a sweater hiding from the camera. I want to be out in the waves with my babies splashing in the water, making sandcastles, laying in the sun. I want to be INVOLVED and I feel like I can't really involve myself if I'm caught up in my own head about the way I look. We took Rory once to the park when he was probably 3 months old and obviously he was too little for the slides and stuff but Andy was so excited about being there and all he wanted was for me to take Rory on the playground. I refused. You think I was going to climb up on that pedestal for all to see and watch me squish my awkward body and bend over and kneel and slide and let the other moms gawk at my ugly figure and see my fat face and belly-tire? Hell. No. Andy's probably forgotten all about that but I'm so ashamed of my attitude on that day. I hate that I felt I couldn't say yes to taking my baby down a slide at the park because I was self-conscious about the way I look. That is not who I want to be.

And so while I feel I'm inching closer, taking steps, making effort, I still have ugly days where I can hardly look in the mirror and when I do it's either a brief glare or a steady hateful gaze. Cameras have been my worst fear. I feel overwhelming disappointment every time I see a photo of myself, regardless of how cute the baby is in my arms (and gosh he is adorable). The first thing I see are my fat flaws. Last weekend I went to Target and it was the first time since Rory was born that I tried on clothes and didn't want to burst into tears. I looked at my body objectively, as though I was another person, and I tried on clothes that fit my shape, not the ones that I thought could hide me or that I wished I was able to wear. I was honest about my size and I didn't try to squeeze into what I hoped I would fit into.

Oh what a relief it was. And the relief isn't because I'm taking drastic measures to lose weight. I try to eat whole foods but I always eat too much bread and drink too much milk. I try to go running but it's usually once maybe twice a week and I barely go two miles. So it's not that. It's my attitude. I'm adjusting. I'm becoming familiar with my body now and I want so badly to love it. Fake it till you make it has basically been my life motto. It applies here. I might try to force myself into uncomfortable situations like being in front of a camera rather than behind it, or prancing around a beach in a cute swimsuit. And I'll fake confidence so no one knows what emotional trauma I'm putting myself through. We'll see what happens. I'd love to get over this hurdle one day and be able to focus my energy on something else, like, hah, personality flaws. What a vacation that would be. 

Anyone else feel this way? I tell you it's always a comfort to me when I see that others are struggling with similar things. Tell me your story.