Super Cal turns O-N-E

Happy 1st Birthday! My gift to you is this 8-minute video of the past 12 months .

While it captures many milestones and moments from your first year, it doesn't and cannot convey just how much I love this job as your mom.

From the time you wake up in the morning and reach your chubby lil arms out for me to lift you out of the crib to the time I rock you to dreamland and roll you back into your bed at night, I try not to forget how lucky I am to be in this line of work --

* to hear you giggle as I chase you from one room to the next
* to watch you destroy folded laundry (piles of papers, boxes of tissues, shall I go on?)
*to smell your perfectly round, red head
* to feed your face full of yogurt (macaroni, meat, milk - though you spill most of it on the floor)
and last but not least (and my personal favorite)
*to snuggle you close and feel just how right you fit in my arms whenever I darn well please!

Thanks for hiring me for the job. Can we talk contract extension sometime?


p.s. Here are some pictures of the photoshoot from your first birthday. You were so smiley and these are the best family pictures we've ever taken. I should quit while we're ahead, but what's the fun in that?

The photo of our family sitting on the floor is the precise few seconds right before your dad completely threw his back out. The photographer and I were sympathetic for approximately 30 seconds and then it was "on with the show." Poor dad, he had to crawl over to a chair and couldn't move for the rest of the session. (Don't worry, he's OK now!) I knew it would mean I was on solo overnight binky replacement/rocking duty and was prepared for plentiful wakeups that night. Wouldn't you know it, that was the first official time you slept through the night. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will never be able to repay you in baby cheek smooches enough, but that won't stop me from trying...

That's a (Nursing) Wrap

I'm officially done.

Nearly eight year later, including approximately 30 months/2.5 years total, my breastfeeding journey has come to an end.

And oh what a journey it's been. From my mother massaging my breasts with cabbage leaves to help with engorgement when Faith was 4 days old to my last uneventful nursing session during which Calvin drifted back to sleep at 11 months old, I've experienced it all.

There were blebs (don't Google it), bites and blisters. Cracking and bleeding (sorry, were you eating?) Clogged ducts and very active tear ducts. Lactation cookies. Fenugreek. Water. Gatorade. Dark beer. And some nasty AF Mother's Milk Tea.

I've pumped exclusively. I've nursed exclusively. I've supplemented. I've mixed formula and breastmilk together.

I've fed my babies in parks, restaurants, churches, cars, vans, and even in a concession stand (just outside the beer cooler mind you - brrr).

I've pumped at work and at school, from Mexico to Memphis to Miami, and inside an airplane lavatory while the flight attendant knocked on the door alerting me it was time for takeoff.

As I look back at the past eight years -most of it hazy from raising young children - I don't have one single regret. I don't feel guilty for stopping when I stopped. I don't feel jipped for all my lost sleep. I just feel proud.

Was it hard sometimes? Oh hell yes. (Please see above.) But I don't say that to discourage anyone. When I took "the classes" they only talked about how things could go right. The truth is, many things can and do go wrong. However, with the support of my family, friends and online communities I was able to keep going. And that doesn't make me special. It just makes me stubborn, probably one of the most common traits in breastfeeding mothers!

Sure there are scientific benefits. And savings benefits. But the number one reason I would encourage someone to breastfeed is because of the bond. There's just something so powerful about being able to comfort and nourish your baby only using what God gave you.

Faith, my pumping and bottle fed babe.
Gabby's first time nursing successfully, and my first (of MANY times) seeking help.

Calvin doing his thing and me feeling confident enough to have it photographed.
As this chapter of my life comes to a close, I just want to thank everyone who supported me in it. 

Cari, Ericka, Summer - you are gifts from God. Your friendship, sage advice, horror stories, and the words your pump is saying to you on any given day, kept me going.

Mom - I can't believe you bought cabbage, chopped it up, and rubbed it all over my chest in the name of love. You are unrivaled. 

Rob -you are the reason I was able to do this as long as I did. Thank you for being my rock.

(Sentimental moment over.)

And now for some new bras! Followed by a large consumption of chocolate, alcohol, and the spiciest foods I can handle!

Baby Life and Love

My little Superbaby. They say time goes by fast, but your first year of life has gone by faster than a speeding bullet (yay for me making a Superman reference). Try as I might, I can't keep up with you (this includes blogging, the rate at which you can destroy the house, and your ridiculous sleep schedule or lack thereof). These posts used to be about milestones at certain points along the way, but because of life as a party of 5, this is more about what makes you unique. Just like our friend Clark Kent, you are disguised as a regular man/baby, but really have the power to make us love you more with each passing day! Next up: bending steel with your bare hands.

So I gotta ask...what's with this whole liking-dad-more-than-me thing? I wish I could say I didn't mind, but with all these middle of the night nursing sessions and that whole pregnancy and childbirth song and dance, I thought I was a shoe in. Alas, you are a dude's dude. Dad loves it, but I'm hoping I make a comeback soon. I'll always have my Stage 5 clinger.

As I told your pediatrician, you're our first place eater and last place sleeper. It's great that you are always up for a meal, have never turned down breastmilk from the tap, and use your pincher grasp like a pro to feed yourself. It makes mealtimes fun.

HOWEVER, I truly feel like the last 11 months are a blur partially because there have close to zero nights where we didn't wake 3 or 4 or 5 times a night to feed and comfort you. It's funny because it's changed our perspective. When you sleep from midnight to five, we think that's good. Whereas with your sisters we would have considered that a horrible night. Well played, son. As you approach one year, we've taken to feeding you every time you wake up in some bass ackwards turn of events, but at this point we are out of cares to give. Don't let the picture below fool'll be up again in two hours!

Baby smells are the best (well, most of them) and you have your very own scent. I've used different lotions on each of my babies' butts and my choice for you is Burt's Bee's Natural Lotion. This way, no matter how old you got, I can always remind myself of when I used to pull your chubby little body out of the bath and wrapping you up in a towel to snuggle.

You love bath time. It's a great stall tactic for when you're tired but we're not ready to put you to bed. It's also a necessity after you eat. The warm water calms you down and you are always trying to eat the washcloth. Plus, we get the best giggles from you in the tub.

You also love crawling underneath things. This is definitely unique to you as I don't ever remember any baby I've met constantly wanting to take shelter. Exhibits a, b, and c.

You love when we put you on our shoulders. It means you can commence playing the bongos on our heads and pulling our hair out, since we don't get enough of that because of your sisters.

You should be in a toothpaste or a denture commercial you have so many teeth. Not sure if it was a blessing or a curse, but they all came in at once. I say you're ready for steak!

I know this may come as a surprise, but Howie doesn't trust you. Call it puppy intuition, but if I even place you near him when he's lying down on the couch, he'll get up and walk away, just far enough to be out of reach of your grasp. I do this multiple times, and the dog is not mad about it, but he just knowsw you'll probably grab on and not let go. On the plus side, he does think you're capable of playing fetch with him despite the fact you keep putting the ball in your own mouth.

He may not trust you, but he does count on you for dropping food, and also takes advantage of your weak grip. Case in point:

We experienced our first trip to Village Inn where you sat in a highchair at about 7 months. This is the place we take all our minions when they can finally sit so we can eat breakfast without holding you. You were a natural at stacking jellies. I think the sign in the background here is speaking to me.

Sadly, you spent the entire month of February sick with bronchiolitis. It involved a visit to the ER, a persistent cough and you refusing to eat or drink much. Someday if and when you're a dad, you will understand how hard this is. To watch your son or daughter's personality disappear because they don't feel good is all-encompassing heartbreak. That said, it makes a mom and dad that much more grateful for health and happiness when it returns and I have been so happy to have you back this past month.

Everyone comments what a HAPPY baby we have. Not sure what we're doing right, but we're doing something right!

We really do try to read to you, but you're not one to sit and listen to a book. (MUST. EAT. PAGES.) This is another thing that sets you apart from your sisters, but we'll get there!

You/We survived your first 9 hour car trip to Memphis, and back. I cannot tell you how many times we had to stop as I lost count by St. Louis. Not that I'll hold it against you, but I had totally planned on doing a carpool karaoke to "Walkin in Memphis" and now I'll probably never go viral. Next time we fly!

The holidays with you were fun, well except for NYE. Every party needs a pooper, and you were definitely it!

Don't let the picture fool you, holding your own bottle simply does not interest you. How will you run your fingers through your hair if your hands are occupied? Just another way we spoil you rotten.

Naps? Ha! You have no schedule and you certainly #aintdoinit in your crib. Your friend Violet was visiting for one overnight and napped longer in your crib than you EVER have. I like to think you were being chivalrous by letting her sleep there while you slept in our arms, but I doubt it.

You don't like being put down which works well because your sister wants to hold you all the time, too. And Gabby would if she could, but her role in the house is comedienne extraordinaire.

You were dedicated in the church while wearing the outfit Dad wore for his baptism 34 years ago. It was a special day we won't soon forget. Here's what I wrote about it: Dedication/christening/ it what you will. Today we committed to raising Calvin to know Jesus. While that may conjure different thoughts for different people, for us it means teaching him to forgive, to be humble, to live joyfully and to love much. We are beyond grateful for the family that is here to help us do that today and always. Please know how much your presence and love mean to us and our little boy. Thank you God for this truly great gift!

Bad news: You're a righty. Oh well, maybe Howie was my lefty...

Last but not least: thank you. Every day you bring joy to our lives. There hasn't been 1 day in the past 11 months that you haven't made me smile, or laugh, or need some coffee, but I digress. This video is a great note to end on.