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Month 13

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!: We celebrated Liam’s first birthday on December 15 with family and friends and – unfortunately – a sick baby. He seemed pretty happy all morning, but when I got him up from his nap, he clearly wasn’t himself. In all the craziness, I wasn’t able to pay as much attention to him as usual, and as a result, probably missed the warning signs of how sick he was. He didn’t dig into the cake as we assumed/hoped he would…didn’t seem interested in frosting, or even taking bites. A while after cake time, we were opening some gifts in the kitchen and it started. He spent the next few hours vomiting off and on (and off and on himself and me!) which was a LOVELY way to spend an afternoon and evening! We were pretty sure that he was actually sick, but got some well-meant feedback from family members that he may have just had too much sugar. Our suspicions were confirmed, however, 36 hours later when Shane and I both woke up with it. Needless to say, I’d like a re-do for his first birthday party! At least it was memorable?

Who doesn’t want a ball pit in their house?!

Sick, sick, sick (again): After Liam spent his party day sick, Shane and I both came down with it the following Monday and we spent two days going between the couches, our bed, and the bathrooms. Ugh. Liam seemed to be OK on Monday, probably well enough for school, but neither of us had the strength to get him in the car to go to daycare. (It was quite the day of exceptional parenting, let me tell you!) He went the next day, and Wednesday, but at the end of the day on Wednesday, his teacher sent me a message and said he had a fever. UGH. He was also diagnosed with a double ear infection (again) (and plenty of teething) that week at his one year appointment. He went on Augmentin (moment of silence for all of the parents who have changed the Augmentin diapers…eww…) and then spent the rest of the week at home. I was with him on Thursday and Emily stayed on Friday. WHEW. The good news is, the diseases are gone, all four one year molars are in and with all of that came some good sleep! I think we even got like four nights in a row of no wakeups! (We’ve been 50/50 on sleeping through since around the beginning of October.)

#RealLife

Christmas: Though this was not Liam’s first Christmas, it sure felt like it was since we essentially slept or didn’t sleep through the last one. It was so much more fun to open gifts and play with the toys and chase him away from the Christmas tree… He got some pretty great presents: a John Deere tractor trike, a light up play set, a bike trailer, a zoo membership, some foam gymnastics equipment…lots of stuff to try to burn off his one year old energy!

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Christmas Story: On Boxing Day, we planned to visit the Christmas Story House and have dinner at the Hofbrauhaus with Shane’s family – the Christmas day out! Unfortunately, a stomach bug hit Hank and Tonia so we were down two for our adventure. We carried on though and had a fun Grammy Day touring the house and eating some delicious German food! We’re hoping to make the day out a tradition – but are hoping to leave the stomach bugs in 2018!

Music Man: One of Liam’s most hilarious birthday gifts is this crazy goose. Aunt Kathy and Uncle Papa bought it for Liam for his birthday and OMG. So funny. It’s such a great gift for him because he LOVES to dance! He doesn’t seem to have a preference for a type of music yet, except for the kind he can dance to! He has been to the big kid music class at school a couple of times and when he isn’t attempting an escape, he’s apparently learning a lot: one day we were listening to one of the kids’ stations on our Echo and the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” came on…and he did the motions! (Mostly…he can do the spider parts!) I’m so anxious to see if all of these interests and talents will translate into his grown-up life (Mostly… I’m savoring this time!).

Feeding: I was re-reading some of our old blog posts and I noticed that I shared about our feeding experiences way back when Liam was about six weeks old. Our nursing journey was pretty rocky at the very beginning, but I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve provided the majority of Liam’s nutrition since the first weekend he was home. The only exceptions were the formula we had to give him while he was jaundiced and the real food he’s been eating for the last six months. We’re officially down to just two feedings per day – morning and night (and during the night – ugh) – and I know these will be the hardest to drop, but I’m kind of letting Liam take the lead on this one – truly baby-led weaning.

  • We got another round of the stomach bug between Christmas and New Years, then had a quiet New Year’s Eve with a dinner prepared by Chef Shane (filet mignon and lobster tail – yum!) and a quiet New Year’s Day with the aunties (Uncle Chris was stricken with another of the floating diseases).
  • We’re trying to hit the zoo on a more regular basis so we went twice over the holidays. Daddy added teeth and hair brushing to our nightly routine, which is just as freakin’ cute as you’d imagine. That’s their time together but I did sneak in and get some pictures for posterity.
  • We’re planning on far fewer diseases in 2019! New year, new immune system, right?!
  • And that’s about it! Otherwise we’re just doing our thing! Daycare, work, rinse, repeat. We’re just desperately in love with this little boy and the joy he’s brought to our lives and are amazed that God chose us to be his.

PS: if you’re watching the video and are concerned that he’s wearing moccasins in on the soft ground, have no fear: he is now the proud owner of some fancy light up tennis shoes!

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Month 12!

I come before you today, humbled by the fact that I have a one year old son.

The journey to parenthood was hard.

The journey to the one year mark was hard.

Parenting without parents is hard.

But being Liam’s mommy? One of the easiest things I’ve ever done.


Pick Up and Go!: Most recently, he’s not just walking, but can pick himself up from the floor without needing assistance. Throughout this first year, I’ve been careful to avoid announcing milestones until I REALLY hear or see something. Once doesn’t count. He needs to do it with intention and purpose. I saw him get up on his own once before, but just before his birthday, he started getting up consistently – and just like that, we were done crawling!

Books a Million: As an English teacher, there aren’t words to express how happy it makes me when my son goes to grab a book and crawl into my lap to read it. He is even turning pages! Not at the right time or the right amount but at 12 months old, and for a kid who doesn’t sit still for anything, I’ll take what I can get, ok?! 😂 He isn’t allowed near paper books and he’s destroyed a bunch of board books BUT we’re reading and it’s amazing. His consistent favorite is Five Silly Monkeys (which ripped and Superdad repaired!). 

Adapting: Shane has been traveling for work more often lately and in November worked in Columbus for five days. Our parenting is so fluidly connected that I was pretty freaked out at the idea of being a “single parent” for that amount of time. Thankfully, Auntie Emmy passes our house on her commute to work each day so she was around a lot to help out in the morning and after school. And the good news is that we all survived! (Including Daddy who both had a great time with his friends and missed his little family!)

Daddy and Liam reading right after Daddy’s trip.
He’s loved this filter for months and months!
Liam is EXCELLENT at signing for milk / alerting me that it’s time for bed. Just before this, I was asking him if he was cranky because he was tired…

First Thanksgiving: We also celebrated Liam’s first Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful day – our baby boy’s first and our first in our new home.

First Harley Breakfast: One of our longest standing family traditions is the South East Harley Davidson Christmas open house on Black Friday. We’ve been going for almost thirty years so being able to take Liam was so, so special. I miss my parents so much, maybe the most on days like that especially because I know that both of my parents would have LOVED these moments with Liam – and Grandpa John would have been SO proud that he saw Santa!


Sick, sick, sick: Right after Thanksgiving weekend, we all got sick in one form or another. Shane had body aches and a fever. Liam was diagnosed with double ear infections on the same night that I was diagnosed with strep. He’d been working hard on his one year molars too so he was a bit miserable for a while, the poor kid. We were both home from school for a couple of days that week, but thankfully were well enough by the following weekend because it was another one of our most favorite days of the year: Tree Day! This year, our Auntie Cindy came into town for some of our December activities, including our annual tree hunt. Again, if you’ve been fans of the blog – or our family – you know that our Christmas tree hunt is EXTRA special for us – and was even more so with Liam! (And Aunt Cindy, Uncle Papa, and Aunt Kathy who joined us this year – what a treat!)


I’m so proud to be Liam’s mommy…when people have said how “smiley” or friendly or sweet he is, I melted with pride. When he was RUNNING by his first birthday, I exploded with pride. When he looks at me, into what feels like my soul, I am just a puddle of the melted, bursting pride, because never did I ever imagine what this love could feel like.

Saying that we wanted to have kids, or that we wanted a baby, and going through the struggle we did to get here, we really had no idea what we were saying. I certainly was not prepared to be the mom of a newborn. I’m probably still not really prepared, but what I am prepared to do is love this little boy with all of my heart and protect him as much as I can, and let him fly as much as I can, and show him as much as I can, and really just do the best that I can.

Year 2, here we go!

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Month 11

Clothing Clean-out: This isn’t shocking to any parent, but it just blows my mind how much clothing we go through! I transitioned Liam from his 9 month clothes to his 9-12 and 12 month wardrobe this month and the sheer volume of clothing he has, has gone through, and has yet to wear is just astounding. Our system is to separate each type of clothing (short sleeve, long sleeve, pants, sleepers, etc.) into grocery bags and then put the bags into bins (we’re huge fans of the smaller black bins with yellow lids from Costco to keep the different sizes separated).

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!: As has become our tradition, we did lots of pumpkin-related activities this month…we went to Patterson Fruit Farm for pumpkin shopping with the aunties, Mapleside Farm for a pumpkin festival with Shane’s dad and stepmother (which will be a BLAST next year for Liam – there’s a ton for bigger kids to do), and then of course had our carving/pumpkin day. All of this was fun before, but it’s so much more fun with Liam around – it’s all become baby-centric and that could not make me any happier.

Grandparents: With Shane’s mom and stepdad in Florida, we started having weekly dinners with his grandparents. It’s good for us, good for them, and really good for Liam. As I’ve said before, Liam is at a tremendous deficit with grandparents, but he is blessed with a ton of great-grandparents. When I was born, I had none left – Liam has five! What a lucky little boy. He also spent his first Halloween with his great-grandparents, though with his super early (self-imposed!) bedtime, it was admittedly pretty anti-climatic. He did get all dressed up for school though and had his first Halloween party!

Democracy: We voted early this year because I wasn’t sure what obstacles would face us with voting in a new place. I actually requested absentee ballots for us but they didn’t arrive until about a week after the election. Knowing how important this election was, and maybe even more importantly to start setting the good example for Liam early, we went to our board of elections in Chardon on the Sunday before the election – along with what felt like half of the county – and voted. We know that we cancel each other out on many issues, but that doesn’t matter: what does matter is exercising our right!

I think that’s about it! He’s walking everywhere – trying to run!, attempting to escape from our giant playpen at every chance he gets, laughing, clapping, dancing, singing – he’s a blast. We feel so, so, so lucky to be his parents.

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Month 10

This month, the big story is that Liam started daycare. In the very beginning, we talked to Shane’s mom about helping us with childcare just for the first few months between my return to school and summer vacation. She generously offered to keep watching him until she returned to Florida in October. So, the time came, and she flew south and he spread his wings and started “school”! We’re really thankful that we found a place that we love and that it’s close to home. When Liam was really tiny, we did some visiting and loved some didn’t love others but the place that we felt was the closest to what we were able to provide ourselves (only, let’s be honest, better!) is Papillion Enrichment Center. He started at the beginning of October and took a couple of weeks to adjust, but from the beginning, he was comfortable in the setting and really, what more can I ask? We’re happy with his teachers and with the center in general, which makes all of this so much easier!

There he is in his classroom!

Finding his Rhythm: This kid LOVES music! His teachers asked me one day if he loves to dance at home as much as he does at school and – duh – but it never even occurred to me that his little movements were DANCING! Anyway – here’s his moves:

As with every month, there were also lots of fun activities and lots of people to meet! I mentioned that we didn’t love The Great Trail Festival anymore, but we do still love Yankee Peddler – which is somewhat similar, but much bigger and much closer and even has a family connection! My parents took me there when I was a little older than Liam and I got my first bee sting! Thankfully that experience wasn’t genetic. We had more fun with Uncle Tim, got to meet Aunt Becky & Uncle Ronnie and his cousin Ronnie, and Aunt Kelly & Andy, saw Aunt Tammy, and Liam crawled inside of a stool and got mad. All in all, a great month!

From Steps to Walking: We’re crediting this one to daycare and chasing older kids around. We went from taking steps for a while to full on walking – right after he started school. All of his milestones have been exciting but this one was incredible to watch. Before we moved in mid-June, he couldn’t even move forward and now, not even three months later, he’s WALKING. Amazing.

Southern Family: Liam also got to spend a weekend with Shane’s southern support system: Kevin, Trixie, and Sarah (missing Mary Beth and Ashley!!). We had a fun weekend of spending a lot of time together, touring Shane’s stomping grounds, watching football, and visiting the Rock Hall. Most importantly, they got lots and lots of Liam time!

Another Date Night: We opened the floodgates of date night by asking for help (THANKS FAMILY) and got to go out a few times to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. We made our annual trip to Adam Hall, the site of our wedding and specifically to the exact spot we said our vows, had a really, REALLY tasty dinner at Sharon James Winery, the site of our rehearsal dinner, and just had a great time reconnecting with each other as a couple.

And that’s the end of Month #10 with our gorgeous baby boy! As I feel like I say each month, this year is absolutely FLYING. He is becoming more and more fun and more and more into a little person every day!

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Month 9

(Full disclosure: I’m writing this months late, but backdating the publish date.)

Back to Reality: Going back to work was so difficult…significantly more so than going back after maternity leave, probably because after maternity leave, I knew I just had to get through a couple of months and then I’d have the WHOLE SUMMER of just Liam and me. But when the time came for me to head back, I really had to find a way to deal with being away from my baby…to being a working mom. The hardest part is that I feel like I’m not doing either job well. The biggest change I’ve made this year is that I try really, really hard to not do any work at home. (I know my teacher friends are laughing!) If I do have to do work at home, I don’t do it in front of Liam, even if that means staying up late in the office to get it done. I know I won’t be able to maintain that life forever, but it’s something to strive for.

Life-size Playpen: The nature of our living room requires a fair amount of awkward fencing…two baby gates and then another gate to keep Liam out of the fireplace and cabinets. We finally installed all of it because the kid is on the move! We basically live in a life-size playpen, but at least he’s (relatively) safe? No real walking on his own yet, but he’s chasing his walker like crazy (see below for evidence!)

Out and About: This is my favorite time of the year for getting out and about – and for years I’ve dreamed of sharing my favorite outdoor activities with my kids so this year was extra special. We took Liam to Geneva-on-the-Lake for the second time, but his first at Eddie’s Grill so of course that was a special occasion 🙂 We also hit up a few festivals: The Great Trail and the Great Geauga County Fair. My family and I have been going to the Great Trail festival basically since its beginning – and I think we’re over it. It’s a bit of a drive, which is fine, but it’s also gotten smaller, has the same vendors who attend all of the area “craft fairs”…I’m glad we went this year, but there’s other, better fairs that can take our money instead. The Great Geauga County Fair though – that’s always a favorite! It was so much fun to take Liam to see all of the animals and lights and people and it’ll be even more fun when he can really absorb what’s happening!

Celebrations: We also got to do lots of visiting with family and celebrating – especially Daddy’s 32nd birthday! We had two special guests at Daddy’s birthday party: my Uncle Tim and Aunt Juanita! (We took the first few pictures at the end of the night: Liam was super happy to meet everyone…just had had enough fun by then!) We also had an incredibly much needed date night sponsored by Shane’s mom and sister…I’m pretty sure we used the phrase “for the sake of our marriage” in the conversation about asking for a baby-sitter. The nine months leading up to our date night were so difficult and trying and wonderful and draining and emotional and frankly, hard on our marriage. I would assume that most new parents would say the same. We grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and took ourselves to some of the Madison-area wineries and took ourselves out of the new parent fog and had a really amazing evening. (Thanks Grammy & Auntie! …and I need to mention and record for posterity that plenty of people had volunteered to baby-sit on plenty of occasions – and we had been out – we were just generally nervous nellies about leaving our baby boy!)

Daddy is definitely the super hero in the family – he had fun watching his daddy cruise around the front yard on our new lawnmower!

Ok I think that’s it! We’re also wrapping up one phase of our lives because next month, Liam heads to daycare. I’m not sure how I feel about that, BUT, it’s time for Grammy to head back to Florida and time for our kid to play with other kids!

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Month 8

I could be a completely broken record and repeat the same phrase over and over again every hour, day, week, month of Liam’s life…and I think I will: I’m amazed!

This month has been another crazy one. My sister and I recently discussed this phenomena: we think summer is something it isn’t. We think it’s endless, full of longer hours, and can be both relaxing and a time to catch up on everything that’s neglected the rest of the year. In all reality, in the education world, it’s still only eight weeks, and it’s eight weeks that fill up FAST. The past four weeks have been a great example of that! I have no idea where the summer went…but I’m sure I’ll spend the next nine months looking for it – and will find it again next June!

Pool Time!: We took Liam swimming for the first time at Grammy Ronda and Grandpa Hank’s house a few times in preparation for our summer trip to the Outer Banks. His first foray into the water was a little unsettling for him I think…but it took him virtually NO time to get settled. He floated around in a little blow up raft, “swam” between family members, splashed A LOT, and enjoyed the water. Our updated swim plan is to keep him in the water throughout the non-summer months so that he doesn’t develop a fear.

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Family Time: Summer may be short, but it does make visiting with family so much easier! We got to see Uncle Bob & Aunt Val, Katie & Erin, and the Grandmas (and of course our usual fan club of Grammy & Grandpa, Nana & Pappap, Uncle Papa & Aunt Kathy, and his fabulous aunties).

Peanut Butter: Basically, there are a few requirements to being a member of the Cox family, and they’re not super difficult to follow… First, you must like pie. People who don’t like pie really struggle to affiliate. There’s teasing, insulting, being made to go hungry…it can get kind of ugly. Next, must love cheese. Cheese is present at every meal. Not just cheese in the dish, which is likely how normal families incorporate it, but as a side dish, an appetizer, and sometimes as the snack after the meal (before or after the pie). Third, peanut butter is a non-negotiable. That’s especially important in our branch of the Cox tree, as my father put it on just about everything. (There’s a famous anecdote among us about Dad asking for a pretty normal sandwich…tuna, peppers, cheese, hot sauce, mustard…AND PEANUT BUTTER. YUCK.) Auntie Emmy had been promising to teach Liam about peanut butter for a while, so once he was onto solids, she insisted that she be the one to do the formal introductions. See below for the video. (Spoiler…he’s still a member of the family!)

Mobility: This kid is crazy mobile. He’s super fast when he crawls, pulls himself up like it’s nothing, working on pulling himself along furniture, and is working on standing on his own. He’s been doing the .2 second “stand” before the fall, but lately he’s working on actual seconds worth of standing. I’m sure that by the next month’s update I’ll be telling you that he’s taking steps without any support! This kid is strong and ready to GO. His daddy likes to say (with an absurd amount of pride): THIS KID IS A BRUISER.

BANKS BOUND: We spent a week in our happy place: the Outer Banks. It’s been two years since we were there so it was absolutely time to get back. We stayed in Southern Shores, like we did the last time, which is a great location for quiet, yet with easy access to the more touristy areas with restaurants, stores, etc. The house wasn’t nearly as fancy as the one we stayed in two years ago but it was completely sufficient and still managed to have a pool (with assorted amphibians) and a hot tub. At first, Liam wasn’t too sure about the sand – and I wasn’t too sure about the sand in his mouth – but by the end of the week, he was taking good naps in the sun tent and letting us stay on the beach for most of the day without melting down. It was a great week with our family…and we’re looking forward to spending TWO weeks there next summer. #teacherperks

We also tortured him with some lemon and of course filmed it…

Food!: He’s eating basically everything. Certain foods freak me out because he’s either gagged on them or I think he’s going to gag or I don’t think he’s got enough teeth to chew it up, or whatever, but basically, he eats what we eat. Makes meal planning for him much easier! If there’s not enough baby-friendly or plain enough food in our meal, I’ll supplement with some yogurt or applesauce, but basically, he’s eating it all!

Teeth: Speaking of eating! The boy’s got SIX teeth now! Three up top and three on the bottom. He sprouted the top two around the same time (that was a fun time……) then he got an eye tooth going…and then another bottom next to his front bottoms (those are absolutely NOT the correct terms!!) all around the same time! They’re so cute in his little mouth. I can’t!

And finally, this has easily been the best summer of my life. Emily and I have often reflected that, while many people have seasonal affective disorder in the winter, with all of the tragedy we’ve experienced, we have it in the opposite way. Thankfully, Liam is a bit of a distraction from the birthdays and anniversaries that rock our world each June, July, and August.

I feel so fortunate to be able to spend so much time with my little man. I’ve had so much fun watching him learn and grow and explore and start to become a little person (instead of a little potato!). As I’m being faced with heading back to work this week, I have to remind myself that lots of working mothers (including my own!) aren’t lucky enough to be able to spend months of time with their babies, nor are they lucky enough to have things like spring and Christmas breaks, full of time to spend with their kids. That said, the mommy guilt is real, and in the interest of transparency, I’m struggling.

To be continued in Month 9! (OMG. Hard to believe I’ve had Liam almost as long as I had Eugene!)

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Month 7

This has been one of the craziest months I’ve had in a looooong time. We finished the first round of mini renovations on our new house…moved out of our condo…Shane’s sister moved into it…and Liam is developing and growing and changing every single day. Oh, and he’s mobile.

Uh-oh.

Forward Motion: Last month, Liam was basically just moving backward, but this month, we got things going in the right direction. In fact, that all started right around the time that we moved. He, of course, started with basically falling forward, but now is in full-on left arm right leg right arm left leg legitimate crawling! The official crawling happened on the 4th of July (independence from being stationary?!) and within another 24 hours, he was also pulling himself to standing. We actually had to lower his crib that night because that’s where we saw it first – on the monitor! Crazy kid.

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Talking?!: On Thursday morning, the day Liam turned 7 months, we’re pretty sure he said “Dada” to Shane, twice. That said, I’ve taken enough child development classes to know that it’s far more likely that he’s either just practicing that syllable, or it’s a coincidence, or he’s imitating us…the most likely scenario is that his first deliberate word will be NO as it is with most kids (sorry to disappoint you, other parents!!) BUT it’s fun to think that he may have been feeling affectionate toward his amazing daddy. So I’ll let Shane take it – it’s Dada!

Father’s Day #1: Speaking of Dada, we also celebrated Shane’s first Father’s Day. And so I’ll take a minute to brag about how amazing a father he is. First, he’s an amazing husband which has translated nicely into a co-parenting partner. I don’t know how the mommies of the past did it. I so much prefer this generation of man who doesn’t think it’s all the woman’s responsibility because she birthed the kid. Sir(s)! He’s half yours!! Ugh makes me crazy. Anyway, he’s just as in love with this baby as me and is just as “all in” on this as me and for that – I am forever thankful.

Food Gone Awry: We had banana and avocado for lunch one day with Auntie Emmy…met Daddy at the condo for our last minute touch ups before Auntie Tonia moved in…nursed some….got in the car and headed home only to hear what I was almost 100% sure was going to be for real vomit and, unfortunately I was right. Shane and I pulled over near and the poor baby was vomiting up his avocado. He got all the way down to dry heaves so I called his pediatrician and she had me take him in. All was well…and now that we’re distanced from it and have had no other incidents, I think he may have just been extra full! Or had a small bug. Or didn’t like his avocados. Or the restaurant put something weird on them. WHO KNOWS. The moral of the story is that I love his pediatrician (Hi Kristy!) and now we allow an hour between “meals”.

Zoo Time: We made a couple of trips to the zoo with his aunties… first trip, we pulled up to the elephants and said “look Liam! Elephants!” and then looked down at the baby to see his reaction only to realize that all he could see was the fence. Duh. Regardless, it was a nice walk around and we enjoyed the animals – and I’m sure he will too soon!

We Moved!: This is definitely the biggest news and the biggest event of the month. We made sure to put the nursery together first so that at least that area of the house would feel like “home”. I’m not sure how much it all impacted Liam…but it certainly impacted us so if nothing else I’m sure our stress impacted him! His sleep hasn’t been great since then but he’s also definitely teething and had some minor tummy troubles so I’m sure that’s contributing. Along the way we had fun going through childhood memorabilia and pulling out some things for the baby.

Family Time: He also got to spend lots and lots of time with his family, celebrate his first 4th of July (he celebrated our independence by declaring his independence from sleep and had one of his worst nights of sleep ever), make his first trip to IKEA, got a new backpack (or, Daddy got a new backpack), spent lots of time with his aunties, hung out with Uncle Papa, and, as usual, got lots and lots of love!

And a couple of random videos for you:

And that’s it! What a wild and crazy month! We love you, baby boy!

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Month Six

This week we celebrated six months of fun and sleepless nights and laughter and diapers and more love than I ever could have imagined. Happy Half Birthday to my little man!

Teeth!: On May 25, we had some serious excitement: Daddy lost a tooth (had a wisdom tooth pulled) and Liam got a tooth! Actually, he got two…the two bottoms…aka, the two cutest ones imaginable! Poor boys were both pretty miserable in the days leading up to the giving and taking of teeth but once they were in and out, life was good! (for Liam anyway…not sure Daddy shared his sentiments!).

 

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First Camping Trip: One of the highlights of my childhood is certainly our days of camping at Atwood Lake…in the mud, in leaky tents, in cars when the rain was too bad…and I promise…it was so much fun. Shane and I have been organizing a Memorial Day camping trip each year for the past few years and we were super excited to share that with Liam. There’s a great group camp site at Punderson State Park that we wake up early on Black Friday to reserve (that’s been the six month mark for the past three years…the timeframe for which you can reserve campsites in advance)…it’s partially under trees, partially open…and it’s huge. Lots of room for lots of tents. It did get pretty hot while we were there which aggravated his eczema so we made a makeshift pool to cool him off. ANYWAY, it was SO much fun to have Liam there with us for his first camping trip. IMG_4116

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Rolling Around: He’s rolling everywhere! Once he figured out how to go front to back and back to front consistently…it quickly became his favorite mode of transportation!

Slowly Unswaddling: This was hard for me… Swaddling was difficult until we figured out that no, he isn’t an exception, yes, babies do like to be swaddled, and yes, he will sleep better being able to feel his boundaries. Once he was able to roll, obviously, we did have to undswaddle. To be honest, he hasn’t slept well since. We took him out slowly…one arm, then the other, then we took away the co-sleeper pillow. That was probably the worst part for everyone…we knew that was part of his security but it also couldn’t stay forever! In the transition, we tried a Zipadee Zip and traditional sleep sacks, but, spoiler alert: when your kid moves around as much as ours, sleep sacks, no matter how revolutionary, don’t work! So in the end, we just transitioned slowly to just pajamas and a consistent bedtime routine and…stay tuned. The kid just really likes to see us every three hours, I think.

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Chatting Away: He certainly comes by this honestly, but the kid likes to chat. He likes the sound of his voice – has since birth – and likes to try out new things with it. Lately he’s just been chatting it up whenever he gets the chance! We love it! Maybe when he’s asking WHY on repeat I won’t like it as much, but for now, this is so much fun.

“Crawling” Backward: In addition to his rolling everywhere, he’s figured out how to crawl…backward. He gets so upset about it though…if he weren’t so upset, we’d laugh at him! …ok, who are we kidding, we 100% laugh at him while he cries and goes backward. We keep telling him CRAWL FORWARD AND YOU CAN BE HAPPY! 🙂 I’m sure he’ll figure it out soon – he is one determined baby!

Disposable Overnight: I mentioned that he seems to like to see us every few hours…one of the reasons we suspect that he’s waking up is that he is leaking through his diapers. We are still in love with the cloth but they just aren’t absorbent enough for my little man and his insanely large bladder. We decided to give disposables a try for night time…and they’re a complete winner. The first time we put him in one and he woke up “dry” with a crazy heavy diaper we knew we’d made the right choice. There are other, more absorbent options for cloth, but frankly, I don’t want to break the bank trying to figure it out. The kid pees a lot, ok?! 🙂

SOLIDS: We also started solids! We dove in with banana…he wasn’t super impressed…and avocado – a winner! We followed the WHO and our pediatrician’s advice and waited until this time to start solids which is fun because we can basically try anything. There’s lots of different old school advice about cereals, purees vs. baby-led…whatever, we had to do what works for us and for Liam! We also tried some homemade applesauce and he’s not very impressed with that either. Sugars tasted pretty bad to me when I was pregnant so it could be that he doesn’t like sweets, or it could be the texture of the banana and apples. Who knows??

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#TeamSpanky with PanCan: Liam did his first walk for charity and had his first visit to the zoo all in the same day! What a lucky guy! We had a beautiful rainy morning with lots of love walking in honor and love and memory of Liam’s Grandpa John. It was a special time with lots of special people and I’m sure it’ll be a yearly tradition!

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Anyway, that’s it for the six month mark! It’s so hard to believe it’s been half a year. We’re so

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Month 5

I’ve had such lofty goals for myself with blogging Liam’s development and I just haven’t been able to keep up! Imagine that…not being able to keep up while working and being a new mom!

Rollin’ Rollin: The boy can roll! He doesn’t roll back to front consistently, but he definitely has figured out that if he doesn’t want to be on his belly, he just needs to flip himself and he’s happy as a clam again! That includes flipping himself off of us if we’re doing a combo snuggle and tummy time.

Raspberries: He figured out how to blow raspberries! This was the best Monday ever. I came home from work and he was both blowing raspberries and using different inflections in his voice to  make different sounds! I’ve been saying since birth that he likes to use his voice and I clearly was not exaggerating. Once he figured out this skill, he did not stop! He recently (last night) figured out that it’s also pretty funny to blow raspberries so when he should be eating or sleeping, he’s blowing away and giggling at himself. Even at 1:00am, it’s hilarious and just so amazing.

Chatterbox: As I said, he loves his voice! When he’s supposed to be eating, he’ll often break the latch, and look up at me, and say “gahhhhhhh!” in the most amazingly sweet voice and I just can’t. He’s got that slight baby shriek going on and it just…man. Can’t even describe!

Belly Laughs: On the day that he blew raspberries and started making other noises, he also started to belly laugh! He has been giggling for a long while, but he didn’t start to LAUGH until this month. He loves when we blow our own raspberries on his belly or when we tickle him..and sometimes even just laugh at him. I’m convinced that means he has quite the sense of humor!

Visit from Grammy Trixie: Shane’s Southern mama, Trixie, came to visit us for a long weekend and we had such a great time. She’s been so special to Shane – and to me – over the years…she and her family were absolutely his support system when he lived in Georgia. Her family gave her a plane ticket to come meet Liam for Christmas – turns out it was a gift to all four of us! I’ve always appreciated her love and affection for Shane but man – I am just obsessed with how much other people love my kid.

4 Month Checkup: My takeaway from this appointment (sorry Kristy, you said a lot and it was wonderful…this is just what stuck in my mind) is that he is a social baby! She mentioned, because dropped some percentiles in weight, that sometimes social babies get too distracted to eat and I said to myself OMG THAT’S IT. He is SUCH a social baby. He likes to look around, listen to us talk – all while he’s supposed to be eating! We’ve tried some tricks to keep him focused and we’ve pretty much figured it out but it does make us laugh! (Except when we are in a hurry or on a schedule…then it’s a pain!)

Eczema: This is definitely the most frustrating thing we’ve dealt with so far. This poor baby has had raging eczema off and on for weeks. The patches, rashes, raised hot skin…it’s so upsetting for us. It doesn’t seem to bother him much – except when he’s having a flare up. We’re keeping him greased up with both coconut oil and Beautycounter baby soothing oil and it seems to finally be working.

4 Month Sleep Regression: this is no. freakin. joke. He hasn’t slept through the night since my spring break. Ugh….. Thankfully I’ve figured out how to function on interrupted sleep but I would be SUPER happy to forget that skill and go back to…even 6 hours. I’m hopeful that this is a regression and not a pattern.

And I think that’s about it! This kid is a blast – he just keeps getting more and more and more fun, interactive, strong, adorable… He is blessed to spend half of his time with Grammy and half with Daddy – what a lucky little boy! He also gets lots of #AuntieSnuggles whenever he can.

Summer is a mere month away and I cannot wait to spend everyday watching him learn and grow – and EAT! Right around the time that I am done with school is the time that he will start to eat food – how fun! And messy! I can’t wait!

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Liam’s Birth Story

I was induced on Monday morning, December 11. I didn’t give birth until 12:42 PM on December 12, 2017. If you’re keeping track that’s approximately 28 hours in labor with approximately three and a half hours of pushing.

I suppose that’s probably where the story begins: with the birth of the most perfect little baby boy.

It was decided that I would be induced during a conversation at our last prenatal doctor’s appointment. We hadn’t talked a ton about it before then – and on that day, it was just a question: “what happens if he’s not here by the 9th?” Dr. Fisher suggested that we consider induction and we said rather quickly:  “Monday?!” I was so ready for my maternity leave to begin and to have some semblance of a schedule (which is pretty hilarious in hindsight as I wrote most of this during middle of the night feedings and haven’t had an actual full night’s sleep since October!). We then had the weekend to finalize arrangements and pack our things (and repack and recheck!) before our appointment in Labor and Delivery.

December 11: Things were pretty easy at first – just blood work, blood pressure, etc., as I was hooked up to machines and had an IV inserted in preparation for my Pitocin drip. It didn’t go as easily as all that though because my blood pressure was unstable. The drugs began around then to regulate my BP but the drug that worked the best was crazy – it dropped my pressures in about five seconds and gave me a scary feeling in my brain – like I had cold rain spreading across it. I was glad the meds worked to lower the pressure but did not enjoy the scary drop. Anyway, because the pressures were not easily controlled, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. So much for being the anomaly.

When you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, you take magnesium to prevent seizures. Magnesium has a very strange effect on the body…making you SO hot, disoriented, and, in my case, desperate for ice chips. The fabulous Nurse Melissa told me – and was right on – that the first thirty minutes on it are the worst and they were. It also causes nausea so I had to take it easy on anything going in…which was awful because I hadn’t eaten anything since 7:00 on Sunday night and all I wanted to do was guzzle a big huge glass of water. When I did finally get some water in the form of melted ice chips, we had to find the vomit bag and peppermint oil in a hurry. Thankfully, the oil did its job (many times that day)!

In the meantime, we had a cheering section waiting for us in the waiting room all day and all night. Our sisters took the day off of work, Shane’s mom and grandparents made the trek from Madison, his stepdad Hank Ubered in from the airport (talk about timing), and Dave and Kathy joined us after work. We definitely felt the love!

While the cheering section settled in, my job was just to hang out and get dilated! I progressed fairly slowly, but I did progress, which was great – the alternative is a c-section! (Speaking of, I was certain I would have a c-section, pretty much all through my pregnancy, and especially when the pressures were so irregular. On this end of a vaginal delivery though, I am so thankful that my recovery didn’t also include major surgery!) The doctors checked me every four hours or so, which was NOT ok with Shane, who wanted to know on a constant basis how things were moving along. Even when I got to 9.5 centimeters, they still didn’t return to check for another four hours. (Shane was freaking out at this point…pacing…sweating…you’d have thought he was in labor!)

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I also got my epidural. I told my nurse really early on that I wanted one and she suggested another IV drug that just took the edge off and would allow me to make a decision about when I actually wanted the epidural, if at all. That sounded pretty great but apparently the drug conflicted with my allergies so I went right for the good stuff. Maybe I had the nurse of the century and a rockin anesthesiologist but the epidural procedure was not a big deal at all. Hardly any discomfort! My only complaint was that Shane had to step out – through every other procedure – except my surgery – I was able to convince the doctors and nurses that I needed him but this was a “hard no” from the team. I’m sure ultimately it was good for him to get a break – and some food without torturing me with it!

The night went on like that: me dilating, attempting sleep, Shane in and out, the cheering section in and out and attempting sleep in the waiting room. Our overnight nurse, Karen, was also wonderful. These Labor and Delivery teams are amazing. We were nothing short of impressed with each of them.

December 12: That brings us to 9:00am on Tuesday, December 12, when I was told that it was finally time to push! Sometime between the waiting around through contractions and go time, Emily went home to shower, change, etc., Grandma and Grandad and Hank went to their hotel rooms, and everyone (except Shane and me!) became a bit more human. Emily arrived back at the hospital just in time for the pushing to begin and our Dream Team of Shane and me, Emily, and Grammy Ronda got busy preparing to welcome the baby. We did some practice pushes with our nurses (whatever that means…) and then the doctors came in and confirmed that I was pushing correctly. The OB resident on my case explained the process of pushing the baby under the pelvic bone, which sounded nearly freakin impossible, and I spent the next nearly three and a half hours pushing with (nearly) every contraction attempting to accomplish that task. (Full disclosure: I definitely skipped a couple!) The nurses, physicians, Coach Emily, and Coach Daddy were fantastic: we’ve seen enough movies to know that Daddy would likely hold one of my legs but Auntie Emmy made up her own job of holding up my head for the pushes – who knew that was just as important?! When we got closer and closer to delivery, all of the coaching and all of the voices became more and more important and more and more essential to my success! (Corny…and true!!)

I was hoping he would be born at 12:12 on 12/12 but with each contraction, I watched the clock and I knew there was no way I’d have him out by then. I did, however, know that it would be soon when the room began to fill up with medical professionals. I focused on the visual of rocking him under my pelvic bone until they announced that his head was RIGHT THERE.

Until that point, I had been pushing three times through (most of) the contractions… when they told me he was RIGHT THERE and I could feel him RIGHT THERE, I gave up on the conservative three pushes and went for it. Two contractions and eight pushes later it was 12:42 and I was holding my baby boy! What a feeling! For me it was the biggest relief – physically and emotionally – combined with the strongest emotions all at once. The first thought I had clearly was that he looked exactly like my mom – and that he definitely has his daddy’s lips. 🙂 My other “first thought” that I immediately shared with Shane was that it was all worth it. Our fertility journey flashed before my eyes, including the money it took to get there, and when I held Liam, held Shane, and cried, my heart felt so complete and so assured that everything that happened along the way, though so difficult, was exactly as it should be.

Right after delivery, Daddy cut the cord and Liam was with me for just a moment as they needed to take him for some assessments and to clean him up. Auntie Emmy and Grammy Ronda stayed with him and took lots of pictures while Daddy went to the waiting room to announce the baby’s birth to our cheering section. The placenta delivery process was more involved than I was expecting…because they took Liam away, I could concentrate on what was happening, which I hear is not normal – usually people don’t even remember delivering the placenta. They had me push a few times and it wasn’t budging…in my post-delivery, magnesium induced haze, I was very concerned that I had “what Kim Kardashian had” – the doctors and midwife assured me that I was not headed for stardom with my placental complications…and that I didn’t even have any – just a stubborn placenta! I told them…again, in a haze…that I felt it when it implanted – it only made sense that I would feel it detach! (Insert facepalm/oversharing Alison emoji here…)

Meanwhile, Auntie Emmy and Grammy Ronda worked on welcoming the baby to the world. I asked Emily to be in charge of the essential oil diffuser and taking pictures and she did both beautifully. I have so many pictures of the birth event and I’m so thankful for that. They stayed with us and soaked up as much Liam Love as possible. While they were with us, we got to reveal the name (FINALLY). We loved calling him Eugene throughout the pregnancy, but it never did feel right once he was with us – he is definitely Liam!

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur for me, unfortunately. We were able to introduce him to everyone who came to see us, which was completely magical. Seeing our family members meet the newest member was, simply, life changing. He met grandparents, great-grandparents, his aunt, his great uncle (who is certain to become his best friend), and, of course, Mom and Dad. I was still very unsteady through the afternoon from the magnesium so he spent much of the afternoon in his family members’ arms. Because I was admitted as a high risk patient, I had a one-on-one nurse for the entire labor and delivery process, which was AWESOME. Generally, pre-eclampsia patients who require magnesium need extra monitoring, so they stay in their labor room for more one-on-one care. (Our delivery nurses were amazing. One even came to find me the next day when she came back to work – and came in early for it! – to give me a hug and tell me she was proud of me. Talk about care!) I was taken off of the magnesium earlier than usual because it was having an adverse effect on my kidney levels. They usually keep people who are on magnesium in the delivery room for another 24 hours, but because I came off sooner than normal, they weren’t sure where to put me after delivery. Shane advocated hard for me to stay with extra monitoring, so they compromised and moved me to an antepartum room (for the moms who need special care before delivery) for more specialized care than could be provided in the postpartum rooms. The good news about the move is that we could have as many guests as we wanted at any given time, instead of the two we were allowed in Labor and Delivery. The better news is that I also FINALLY got a shower and FINALLY got some real food.

One of the more hilarious things that happened was Shane’s adventure with the reclining chair. After spending months in hospitals with Dad, we became very familiar with hospital furniture, so when we were getting settled in our Labor and Delivery room, Shane asked for a recliner. We were told that there was one for the ward (which, if that’s true, is absolutely ridiculous) and was being used. We went along with that for a while, until it was truly time for us to get some sleep, and Shane decided to push it a little. A chair materialized and then, for the next four days, it became his. We commandeered the chair and used it to move our things from L&D, then later to another room in postpartum, and certainly for sleeping when the couch/bed thing wasn’t cutting it.

December 13: On Day 2, December 13, we started with a pretty crazy diagnosis from one of the doctors on my case: I experienced fairly significant blood loss…enough so that I needed a transfusion of two units of blood. The irony of that, of course, is that I’m the blood drive coordinator at school, so I spend a lot of time trying to convince teenagers to donate blood…I’m thinking the conversation will be much easier now that I have my own personal story to share.

Anyway, there was lots of conversation about how to tackle my dropping red blood cell levels, including just iron supplements, but as a team, we decided that our best bet was the transfusion. It was as easy as any other IV drip but it took forever. Our nurse changed the settings so that it would go faster, however it still took most of the day to get both units of blood. I didn’t realize how crappy I was feeling until after I got the first bag and got up to use the restroom. I felt like a completely different person. Shane remarked that I still looked yellow…yellow?! Apparently my coloring was off and had been since delivery day. I didn’t notice, but who can really get a good gauge of their looks in a hospital bathroom? In the end, the transfusion helped to bring my blood levels back up, and, at least from my perspective, helped to counteract the negative effects of the magnesium, and I was back to feeling somewhat human again.

Good thing, because that afternoon, they let us know that Liam was jaundiced. It’s super common, something like 60% of babies are jaundiced at birth and need special treatment (at least according to Dr. Google!) but it is still a bit disarming when your new baby needs special attention and can’t be held as readily. Once he was under the portable bili light it was far easier, but until then, we had to suffer through his need to be comforted and our inability to do so. In fact, we sent him to the nursery at one point, simply because there was nothing we could do for him and we were destroyed. Speaking of, when we toured Hillcrest, the guide made it very clear that the hospital’s preference is that parents don’t use the nursery. In fact, that’s spelled out on the intake paperwork with registration. Thank GOD for mommy friends who said SCREW THAT and SEND HIM TO THE NURSERY!!! The first time we felt SO guilty – and then we got over that and learned to ignore any judge-y looks from nurses and sent him straight there. Bring him back for food, we said, and we got some sleep. We didn’t know it then, but thus began our three to four hour sleep stretches that would become our new normal.

That night, we moved to a postpartum room, which we were glad of, but we also had more to tackle. Because Liam was jaundiced, we had to supplement his feedings with formula – via tube and finger. The lactation consultant who told me this (Shane had stepped out) talked so fast and shared so much information that I was completely overwhelmed and had no idea what was happening. Thankfully Aunt Tonia was there with me and caught a lot of it. Once we figured things out, finger feeding was super easy and we were super thankful to be able to get him the nutrition he needed while I was healing and he was under the lights.

Also that night, the head of our pediatrician’s  practice called us to explain the jaundice and the office’s plan for us. We chose Senders’ Pediatrics because one of my oldest friends is a nurse practitioner there. I don’t know any other pediatricians and it seemed foolish to look for recommendations when I knew I had one that I trust wholeheartedly. She is a brilliant mind and I would never wonder if Liam was getting the best care. Easy decision! The best part though is that, turns out, the practice is amazing. We were impressed that Dr. Senders called us at night (around 9:00pm) to explain to two scared new parents about what this jaundice is all about – and have continued to be completely impressed with the practice ever since.

December 14

On Thursday the 14th, we met another pediatrician from Senders. She was amazing. My doctors were ready to discharge me but Liam wasn’t quite ready. As we were getting that news – and thinking OMG what does THAT look like?! – she told us that her plan was to keep me on as a boarding mother/the food source.

Backing up, one of the frustrating things about that day was that the doctors in charge of my care decided to discharge me despite my low red blood count and unstable blood pressure. I’m hyper aware of the potential for error in care because of what we’ve experienced with our parents and other family members, so when the same team that wanted to take me off of my blood pressure meds (the meds I’ve been on since I was in my early twenties) wanted to send me home still anemic and with irregular pressures, I was not happy. When the pediatrician recommended that we stay another night to get our bearings (and inadvertently get a little extra monitoring for me) we were SO happy.

Per the doctor’s advice, we spent the day trying to get our bearings with Liam. Easier said than done of course! We also had even more visitors that night, some of the most special in the world, my Uncle Dave and Aunt Kathy, and my Grandma Cox and my Grandma Elaine. Sharing in our joy (and terror!) was one of the greatest blessings of our hospital stay – and in our lives in general! Despite what we’ve lost and what we don’t have, we do have tremendous joy in the people who surround us.

December 15

On Friday the 15th, we were discharged – finally! A third pediatrician saw us that day and reported that Liam’s levels looked great and we were good to go!

The funniest thing about the discharge process was that a nurse came in to go over our instructions, paperwork, etc., and then asked if we were ready to go. We said yep, just need to finish packing and get the baby dressed (it was 12 degrees outside – he needed bundled!), so she said she would call transport. Well, apparently transport is overstaffed or just really really efficient because they arrived really fast – long before we were ready. No big deal at all – except the transport told on us! We were laughing at ourselves as we tried to dress this baby in a ton of layers – especially when he peed through his first layer – and the transport decided that we didn’t know what we were doing and needed the nurse to assist. Insert eyeroll here. We sent him away as we finished up getting Liam together, and another transport arrived (who happened to be one of my former students) and we were on our way! The drive home was uneventful, thank God. When we arrived, we found a house decorated in welcome home banners and signs (thanks Aunt Tonia) and attempted to become parents (and are still trying to do so!).

Overall, we really did love Liam’s birth experience. It was stressful and beautiful and scary and exciting and overwhelming and the most amazing undertaking of our lives. It was – and is – the most incredible juxtaposition. Away we go…