Life with Two

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Look at that baby, trying to steal one of my fries. She spent almost all of lunch attempting to get her hand to connect with a fry, but the best she could manage was brushing them with her knuckles. How unfair to be only 2.5mos old!

F is a pretty funny baby, and compared to M at this age, fairly easy, too. I’m currently going through a period of feeling TIRED and TOUCHED OUT, like, doesn’t anybody else want this baby for a few days? While I float in a sensory deprivation tank? But I haven’t experienced that panic of second-guessing myself and feeling like having a second child has ruined everything. It’s more just that I know life will be so much easier in another four months, but the only way out is through. If M was a typical baby (and I think she was), this is kind of the hardest part, for me, anyway. The sleepy newborn phase is long gone, but it’s still a while before naps become organized and life returns to some level of predictability. At least everything (feeding, sleeping, health) is MUCH simpler this time.

M has been a real star as we’ve adjusted to our new life as a family of three. She’s at a challenging age herself (she’ll be three in October), and when she’s pushing my buttons, it’s hard to see her as my original baby. But she is, and thank goodness she’s so good at saying, “I need a snuggle!” when her emotions get away from her. Now that F has (some) control of her hands, and batting at toys can keep her happily occupied for a short stretch, I’m able to get M back on my lap for hugs or tickles or whatever she wants (except I canNOT “play with [Paw Patrol] pups” anymore!).

I want to enjoy every minute of F’s babyhood — and I’m sad when I think about her turning into a big kid before I know it — but right now I’m fixated on 6mos. That was when M really started to feel like more fun than hard work. Plus, it’ll almost be Christmas by then, and I can make the girls wear their matching Christmas sweaters!

More Outdoors

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Here’s another big bunch of photos, since I’ve been going Instagram crazy the past couple of days. I managed to get the brooder pen fixed up for the two-week-old chicks yesterday morning. I just had to put chicken wire on top (so the big chickens won’t jump in an harass them) and then bring the food, water, and chicks out, but it took a while with sleeping F strapped to me! Once the guineas and these little chicks get big enough, they’ll go over to live at the neighbors. And my plan is to get a coop built inside the barn (right now, the chickens have the run of the barn and are in there at night, and it gets… messy). But for now, there’s the chicken nursery, with poultry of all ages and sizes, each needing their own food and water. Whew.

After playing outside this morning, we went into town and came across a few good finds at the thrift store. An Aquadoodle mat (with pens and stampers, even though the box said there were none) for just a quarter, some puzzles, and that set of Melmac cups and plates. They’re for M’s playhouse, should it ever get finished. I had been imagining cups JUST like these and figured I’d never find something so cute in person, but there they were, waiting for us at the thrift store. So you never know!

Photos

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Here’s a bunch of photos for you, going back to the Fourth of July. I’m happy that it doesn’t LOOK like we spend all our time inside! I have so much I’d like to work on outside, but I haven’t figured out how to do that with a little baby who doesn’t nap regularly… and doesn’t nap very often when not attached to me. There’s only so much you can do with a baby in a wrap, especially when it’s 80˚+ out. The garden needs serious attention and the chicken quarters need rearranging. We’ve got two-month-old chicks living in the barn with the big chickens, two-week-old chicks inside (who need to go out but stay under a lamp), and then the week-old guinea keets with Aster, in the mini-coop.

But ever since the older chicks went into the barn, the “old” hen house has been empty, so M and I have been working to get it cleaned up and turned into a play house. I’ve removed all the chicken stuff (bedding, roost, feeder, etc.) and scrubbed down the walls, but there’s still a lot more to do. M can’t decide if she wants the walls to be pink or blue (but not dark blue, because that’s too DARK, we’ve all decided). She’s pretty excited about her little house, and I am, too, so now we just have to get the baby on board and cooperative, so we can work on it!

Graham Crackers

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These days, any time I manage to think of and execute a special project for M, I temporarily feel like Mom of the Year. She’s pretty happy doing her puzzles and playing with her pup toys most of the time, but I can tell she gets bored after a while. So a few days ago, we made these graham crackers. M loves using cookie cutters, but we really didn’t need any sugar cookies. The graham crackers are still fairly sweet, but at least there’s whole wheat flour in them?

I’ve been baking with M for quite a while now, and it’s amazing how much more capable she’s become in that time. She wanted to help with every step of the process this time, and she was really able to do a lot. Such a sense of accomplishment for her! And way more fun than watching another episode of Paw Patrol.

Surprise Chicks

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Broody Aster just wouldn’t give up her dream of hatching some eggs, so my neighbors brought over nine guinea eggs for her to sit on. But two of them hatched a week early — because they’re chicks! Chicken eggs incubate for twenty-one days, and guineas go for twenty-eight. A hen will get off her nest a couple of days after the first chicks hatch — she has to take care of those chicks and leave the rest of the eggs. I couldn’t stomach the idea of just letting the remaining seven guinea eggs die, so I’ve brought the chicks in. (And Aster is still sitting on the others, whew.)

M is thrilled! She loves chickens, especially the little fuzzy ones. It’ll be interesting to see what they look like as their feathers grow in. The first little wing feathers look the same as our Buff Orpingtons, but I know the neighbors don’t have any BOs. The eggs were pretty small, just a little bigger than the guinea eggs — maybe bantams? But one of their roosters is a huge Barred Rock (I think). The plan is for all the chicks/keets to go back to the neighbors once they’re old enough, but a Barred Rock cross would be an interesting addition to our flock. Maybe they won’t notice if I swap it with a larger BO-mutt!

Summer

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We’ve been enjoying the warm weather over here. I wish F would make friends with the car seat, so I could take M to more fun places! At least we have a huge yard and a little kiddie pool here.

Everything is going well, so far. F is growing like a weed, if weeds became delightfully pudgy, and M is still cute and funny. The baby chicks are growing up — last night was their first one without Rita, who wanted to stay with the other hens at bedtime. I hope the chicks were okay! And Aster is sitting on guinea eggs (for the neighbors), which should hatch in early July.

Second Baby

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Thank you for all the kind congratulations! I like what Anna said about hearing mundane birth stories (it seems like everybody has a traumatic story these days, which is unfortunate) — aside from the drama of the timing, F’s birth really was run-of-the-mill, just what I was hoping for. When I had visualized my “perfect” birth, I imagined contractions starting early in the morning (I was so worried about things kicking off in the middle of the night) and then comfortably laboring at home, arriving at the hospital further along than the nurses were expecting. Which was exactly what happened!

To answer Melissa’s question, I didn’t have any pain meds. I didn’t when M was born, either — just Pitocin for her induction — and when the intensity of labor came rushing back to me this time (in the car, on the way to the hospital), I thought, “Nope! No need to be a hero — I’m getting an epidural this time!” I told the nurses that when I got there, and they kindly informed me that it was a LITTLE late for that option! Being able to move around definitely helped in pushing out a 10lbs+ baby, so it was for the best.

Everything is going so well this time around. I sort of “missed” M’s first weeks because she was in the hospital, and we couldn’t snuggle and bond. So I’m double-enjoying how sweet and simple a brand-new baby is now. I was always so eager for M to hit milestones in her first year, but I wish I could just slow everything down this time around. I guess that’s the gift of a second baby — being able to savor all the best moments, knowing how quickly they pass by.

Baby F Is Here!

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She’s here! Baby F made her entrance two days ago, on the afternoon of June 2nd. I woke up that morning with mild but distinct contractions, and when I called L&D, they said to wait until contractions were a minute long before heading in. So I did, but once things got going, they REALLY got going. The hospital is usually an hour away, but Rob drove like a superhero and got me there in record time. I was trying not to push as they wheeled me up to L&D, and the midwife had to sprint over from the clinic.

I was really looking forward to one of those “three pushes, and the baby was out!” type second deliveries, but I wound up pushing for about an hour and a quarter (still nothing compared to how long it took to push out M!). Afterward, the midwife said she was surprised/confused that I wasn’t doing a better job pushing the baby down, considering this was my second labor. But when the baby finally started to come out, she thought, “WHOA!” and understood — Baby F was 10lbs3oz! With a 15″ head! I had figured Baby Sister would be bigger than M, but I thought maybe 8lbs, perhaps 8lbs8oz — I would have been surprised by 9lbs. So I was REALLY surprised that she was over three pounds heavier! Same length (21.5″), though.

She’s perfectly healthy, and we were able to come home after 24hrs, thankfully. M says that Baby Sister is “sooo cute” and has been very gentle so far. We’ve got a long transition in front of us, but it’s off to a great start!

(Like with M, I won’t be writing out F’s name here or on Instagram, and I won’t be sharing more photos of her face here. But I know some of you have been waiting to meet her!)

Chicks

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Still waiting on the baby, so here are some more chick photos! Rita wound up hatching two chicks — she started with eight eggs, and one broke early on, so really only seven. The first was born Monday afternoon/evening and the second came along on Tuesday. On Wednesday, she moved her nest into the corner and left two eggs in the middle of the coop (they were cold when I found them, and one was sloshy — definitely no good). Yesterday morning, I took the other three eggs out from under Rita, and I was surprised to find that they were also cold (and all sloshy). Makes it seem all the more amazing that two healthy chicks managed to hatch, with so many duds!

Two is actually exactly as many as I was hoping for — we don’t actually NEED any more chickens until the hens slow down egg production in a year or two. I just hope they’re not both roosters! They’re very curious and friendly, and both they and Rita have let me pick them up to show M, who is smitten. It’s quite a different experience having a hen raising chicks vs. hand-raising them indoors. Don’t have to worry about keeping them warm — Rita does that! She’s doing her job well, so far. I put some scratch grains out in the run (she and the chicks are living in the coop; the other chickens are all living in the barn at night), and she was very happy to stretch her legs and dig in the dirt. The chicks just stayed in the little pop door area, quiet and content, but not adventurous enough to join her outside yet. When I check a minute later, Rita was back inside with them, back to work.