Clay turns five: “Welcome to the ‘big kid’ years!”

Helping daddy make smoothies

Helping daddy make smoothies this morning

Today is Clay’s fifth birthday, and I just got an email from BabyCenter that nearly made me cry. “Welcome to the ‘big kid’ years!,” the first line said. I guess it’s better than “your baby is going to kindergarten this year, where does the time go?,” which is what I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

I signed up for BabyCenter five years and eight months ago, when I was newly pregnant with Clay. I liked the weekly updates telling me how the baby was growing and comparing his size to various food items, though the shrimp comparison was creepy, and the jicama one had me frantically searching Google images.

As time passed, I no longer needed BabyCenter to tell me how big my baby was getting – I saw it every day. He was so tiny when we brought him home from the hospital five weeks early, but eating every two hours helped him grow quickly. He smiled and laughed and rolled over. All his dark hair fell out and he looked like Uncle Fester before it came back blond. He talked when he was 10 months old (and hasn’t stopped), but he started walking late, which Chase still talks about. “Clay didn’t walk until he was 18 months old, right?,” he’ll ask me. It was 15 months exactly. I’ll never forget. He was home sick, and my dad had spent the prior week practicing with him. He took five steps to me in the kitchen before falling. I screamed with excitement, which scared him. I kept quiet on the second attempt, taking video instead.

Clay is a typical first born. He’s very cautious, thinking about everything before he does it.  He has empathy for everyone and hates conflict, even in Disney movies. He’ll actually leave the room during fighting or “scary” scenes. He loves with all his heart. There is nothing he’d rather do than spend time with friends and family. He leads his cousin and his sister around by the hand, and I’ve seen him put his arm around the waist of his best girl friend when they play together. His teachers tell me he is a natural leader and though that makes me a little nervous (I’ve met Bill Clinton), it also makes me proud when they say he’s very inclusive and everyone likes to be around him.

That’s how I feel about him, too. When I was pregnant, people assumed I would rather be having a girl (which wasn’t the case) and would try to cheer me up by telling me how special a mother-son relationship can be. Watching Chase and his mom and my brother and my mom, I don’t think that bond ever goes away, which makes me smile.

I went to kindergarten information night a few weeks ago and it hit me that my first baby is turning a “big kid.” Watching him help around the house, write sentences at school and especially today, on his fifth birthday, I know in many ways he’s already there. I’m just glad I get to go along for the ride, because we’re going to enjoy the heck out of these “big kid years.”

Happy birthday, Munchkin!

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Time flies when you’re having kids

I am sure everyone’s parents told them the same thing as kids: as you get older, every year goes by faster. I thought they were nuts, as any 10-year-old with knowledge of the Roman Calendar would. Every year is the same (well, except for Leap Year). That is, until you have kids. Then the hustle and bustle of daily life makes the time between New Year’s and Easter fly by. Or that is how it seemed to me again this year. And here we are, a few days past Easter, and Avery turns two today!

I remember the days leading up to her birth so well. My mom was visiting from North Carolina and we had a pretty big earthquake (6.7 or so) on Easter Sunday. It was the worst I’ve ever felt and my mom was curling her hair upstairs and barely noticed. So strange! Anyway, we went to dinner at Outback and left quickly when I started having contractions. I was 36 weeks pregnant and already dilated, so after Clay being born early and coming in just a few hours, I wasn’t taking any chances. We went home and they went away just as quickly as they’d appeared. I started maternity leave at 36 weeks and really hoped to have a few weeks off to organize some things before she arrived. I had a doctor’s appointment that Friday afternoon and asked my doctor not to check me, as it caused contractions the last time and I had a wedding to attend the next day. We took Clay to the park around 5:00 p.m., then out to dinner. And the contractions started again. What was it with food? Couldn’t I just enjoy a meal (preferably one full of carbs and cheese) out?

We decided to head home and this time the contractions did not stop. We got Clay ready for bed and told him there was a chance we may not be there in the morning and that his baby sister might be coming. We gave him his “Sheepie” and he was out. He didn’t seem to care. Chase’s brother was visiting his parents, and he and Chase’s mom came over to stay with Clay. The contractions were still about eight minutes apart so we decided to wait it out a bit. This was a surprising decision with my past history. But I would rather be at home than in the hospital because I could eat there! (hmm…pattern here?) I did some final packing and curled my hair knowing I wouldn’t be able to shower for a while after she was born and my fine locks look less greasy with curl and some hair spray. I made Chase have a beer because he was pacing around the house and making me nervous.

We left for the hospital, around 10:45 p.m. The pain got worse once we arrived, so I asked for an epidural and moments after it started I felt like I was waiting for a spa treatment. The hospital was quiet, I was in a bed under a white sheet with the lights down low. Chase fell asleep. I rested and imagined my baby girl. The nurse came in along with a midwife (who luckily was not a hippie advocating for natural childbirth, as I very much enjoy epidurals) and told me it was time to have a baby. Three pushes and a few minutes later, there she was. Avery Grace was born at 3:17 a.m. on 4/10/10 in La Jolla, California. She screamed the entire time they were checking her. My first thought was she might be a tough baby. The minute they handed her to me I fed her and she was immediately quiet. A baby girl just like her mommy, all she wanted was some food.