Shifting priorities

Not in big ways, really. But having two kids to deal with now — even though the older one is at Kita for 8 hours a day, which is a huge help! — is exhausting sometimes.

I often find myself with a bit of free time when Avi is sleeping or Theo is in bed and I only have Avi to deal with, or, on the rare occasion, BOTH kids are sleeping at the same time. And during that fleeting bit of free time I run through a little list in my head of things I might possibly be able to accomplish before somebody needs me again. Little things like eating something. Showering. Using the toilet (ahem!). Cleaning up the kitchen. Or maybe, if I’m feeling ambitious, getting out my sewing machine again after its long hiatus in the cupboard.

Usually I’m too tired to do anything much, so eating takes priority. Then showering. Then cleaning. If I sew when I’m tired, I’ll make dumb mistakes. So I haven’t really done much of anything lately except just get by.

I have been spending a lot of time with my family, though, and that has been wonderful. That’s what Elternzeit is all about, anyway. Time to spend with my little baby. And much more time to spend with Theo on the playground after Kita.

My parents were here at the end of July, and it was really lovely having them here. They came right at a time when Avi had just started smiling and cooing. Theo’s Kita was out for a 3-week break, so he had plenty of time to spend with Grandma & Granddad. And after they left, we took advantage of some nice weather and the proximity of the Nord-Ostsee-Bahn and took a trip up to Sylt to spend time on the beach at the North Sea. Life is pretty grand. And though this summer hasn’t been the warmest of summers (until this week! the next few days are supposed to be hot!), I’ve still been enjoying it. Because there is a lot to enjoy, and sometimes you have to look at the bright side and be happy with where you’re at.

So even though I’ve given more priority to the basics these days instead of the blog, I’m still around. I’ll still check back in. I can’t make promises as to how often, but I’m sure there will be much more to come. If you want to keep up with me and my little family, Instagram is the place to find me these days.

Weeks bed

The Germans call the postpartum period “Wochenbett” – weeks bed, to translate it literally. I remember in my prenatal class back with Theo that they said, “Week one in bed, week two on the couch.” And back then I remember thinking, well that sounds…odd. But after the birth, I was exhausted. Recovery was painful (and all I had was episiotomy stitches, no C-section or anything else more serious) and I was exhausted, hormonal, and overwhelmed with the changes. Emotionally, I did pretty well, although I vividly remember my baby blues hormone crash happened when Theo was a week old and I was lying on the couch with him on my belly as I just cried and cried.

The baby blues hit me this time around on day 7 as well, but more because of feeling overwhelmed with my dear toddler than with my precious new little baby. I guess it’s much more common for second-time-moms to feel that way. Physically, recovering from Avi’s birth was much easier. I still had stitches, but it wasn’t as serious. The birth in itself was way easier!

Thankfully, I can also say that now, 5 weeks into this parents-of-two-kids gig, we’ve found a new groove. Things are back to normal with our schedule – Tobi brings Theo to Kita in the mornings, and I pick him up in the afternoons. As with most things, the fear of doing something was worse than actually doing it. And yes, sometimes both kids are screaming at the same time in the stairwell of your apartment building, and all you can do is grit your teeth and try to get through it, perhaps even with a little bit of humor at how absolutely ridiculous and loud the situation is. Avi was crying because he is an insatiable milk monster who had just woken up from a nap in the sling and he needed a boob in his mouth RIGHT NOW. Theo was throwing a fit and had flung himself down onto the floor because he wanted yogurt and refused to climb up any more stairs. Thank goodness for nice neighbors who came out and helped me calm him down and then carried Theo up the stairs. (Still, I may need a first-floor apartment or an elevator if we ever decide to move…! That would have spared us so much grief!)

Avi is 5 weeks old now, and I’m still technically in my Wochenbett, which apparently lasts 8 weeks, but it’s no longer as critical as it was in the first few weeks. Physically, I feel pretty fit. (Although I really should be more consistent with my pelvic floor exercises…) I’m figuring things out.

The thing is that kids are constantly going in and out of phases, and when you’re in a phase, sometimes it feels endless. And then, just like that, they’re on to the next thing and you have to find your groove again. The key is to not lose hope, to remind yourself that it’s all ephemeral, and figure things out by trial and error. Because nobody’s perfect, after all. And just when things feel like they’ll never change, they do. And then you’re on to the next big thing.

Welcome, Avi Johannes!

A week ago today, at this very moment of writing this post, it was about 15 minutes before my water broke. I’d been having contractions since breakfast, but they slowed down again while I was at the doctor’s office for my appointment, and at the exam my doctor told me she didn’t think I would be having the baby that day.

Well, my baby decided to prove her wrong. My water broke at 8:45 pm, we were on our way to the hospital at 9:30 — had to get Theo brought over to a neighbor’s and Tobi ran around like a madman getting all of the last minute things together, calling a taxi, and grabbing the bags. Contractions were pretty intense after my water broke, and we arrived at the hospital at around 9:45. At that point, I was ready to push, and when my body did its thing, the midwife didn’t tell me to wait, and I thought, “Wow, it really is time to push!” A half an hour later, our little BOY made his way out into the world and cried his first cry before he was even all the way out.

I knew it was a boy all along, but it was still such a wonderful surprise and a special moment to find out at the birth. The midwife held him up and put him on my chest and I told him, “I knew you were a boy!”

This is just the short version of my birth story. I haven’t had time to write down all the details, but want to do so soon while it is all fresh in my mind. But man, I have to say that it was such an amazing experience. I told Tobias afterwards that I couldn’t believe how easy it had been. Intense, yes. But I felt wonderfully powerful and so very relieved that everything went well.

Avi Johannes arrived at 10:15 pm on Tuesday, June 7. He weighed 3770 grams, was 55cm long, and head circumference was 34cm. (That’s 8 pounds 5 ounces, 21 1/2 inches, and 13 1/2 inches.)

And just like that, my little guy is already one week old today. I love him so much and I’m so glad he has joined our family.

 

Oh, and before I go. A little bit about his name. All of the Germans have been pronouncing it wrong so far, which surprised me a little bit! Most people I’ve talked to over here had never heard of the name before.

Avi is a Hebrew name, short of Avraham (Abraham). It is pronounced AH-vee (with the stress on the first syllable, as opposed to ah-VEE, which is a regular Hebrew word meaning “my father”). The similarity between the two is not incidental.

Hope that helps! (Hint: it does NOT rhyme with gravy or navy!)😉

Due date

Theo arrived two days after my due date. This baby…well, yesterday (June 5) was the day, and no baby yet. I’m beginning to love when people call it a “guess date” and not a due date, because it’s not like the baby is aware of when it is supposed to be born.

Anyway, I’m huge. I’m waddling. I’m still relatively comfortable, and this has been an amazing pregnancy with only minor aches and discomfort, so I really can’t complain. But I hope I won’t have to wait too much longer, because it would be nice to avoid any additional stress and pressure by doctors and hospitals to get the baby out by a certain deadline. Who needs stress?

But my gut tells me that won’t be a problem. This baby will come when he or she is ready, and I think it will be sometime this week. Of course, my gut told me too that maybe I would see baby before my due date, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Good thing, because I was wrong. Hah!

We’re having a heat wave here in Hamburg. High 70s to low 80s is pretty uncommon here, especially for such a long stretch, but it’s definitely hot enough for it to feel like summer! So we are taking advantage of all the summery fun we can. Theo loves the playgrounds with the water pumps to play in, and yesterday we went down to the Elbe in the afternoon to spend some time on the beach. We got rained out with a thunderstorm and even a bit of hail, but the sun came back out 20 minutes or so later and we had a nice walk home.

Speaking of heat, I didn’t have to remove my wedding and engagement rings while pregnant with Theo, but they were getting uncomfortably tight due to all the swelling from the heat, so I wrangled them off early this morning with cold water, hair conditioner, and a little elbow grease. My knuckles are still sore, but thank goodness I got the rings off! I just so happened to have a bigger ring from early on in our relationship that Tobi gave me, so that’s a placeholder so my hand doesn’t feel entirely naked!

I’m guessing this will be my last post before the baby comes, and it may take a little while before I’m ready to post more. But I will be sure to at least update with the stats soon after my little one makes their appearance!

Bis bald!

Theo’s 2nd birthday

Theo turned TWO!! on Monday, May 16. I can’t believe my little baby is all grown up. Okay, all grown up is not quite the right phrase for it, but holy cow. How am I already parent to a two-year-old? What a huge difference the past two years have made!

I’m not sure I ever shared this here, but I made a video about Theo’s birthing day. (Don’t worry, it’s pretty PG. Maybe PG-13 for a few pictures.) I’m so glad Tobi took pictures and that I made this video. (Note to self for second baby: do this, too!)

Unfortunately, he was sick the days leading up to his birthday. He had a high fever and was unusually cuddly and had no interest in playing. Very fussy. Very clingy. I don’t blame the poor guy. And on top of that, we were out of our normal environment because we were away with friends for the weekend on a church retreat. While it was nice to be there, and especially to have so many people around to celebrate his birthday on Monday, it was also a very exhausting weekend and we are all recovering.

This was by far the best moment, though. He was so excited about the knife he got (and the wooden fruits & veggies to cut with it). I’m so glad we got this moment on camera. We’ve watched it about a gazillion times already.

Happy birthday, my little boysen. Bobatsi. Mr. Boy. Bud. Theo baby. It’s been a pleasure watching you learn and grow. May it ever continue.

Love,

Mama (& Daddy)