Third time’s the charm

Dear Baby Pacheco,

It feels so crazy to be typing that again! There have been so many ups & down these last few years with Alex & Charlie that honestly we were not sure whether or not we would want to have a third baby when the time came. One thing we have always known for sure was that we wanted all of our kids to be relatively close in age if possible, so this spring the time came… and went. I was struggling with depression and had been for almost a year, so at that time I just did not think I could handle another baby. After getting help with that and bringing balance back to my life, Dad and I had a long heart-to-heart about it on the long drive to/from the family reunion in West Virginia over Memorial Day weekend. Lots of discussion and reflection led us to conclude that we really did want one more baby, and given our desire to have kids close in age (and our desire to not have to “start over” with the baby phase long after Alex & Charlie have grown into big kids)… the time was right. I went off the pill a few days later and opted not to track or anything during the first cycle, in order to give my body time to settle back into its normal rhythm. But God had other plans and we got this right around Fourth of July:

We could not believe how quickly it happened! Well Dad could, he has said many times that he has a lot of faith in our baby-making abilities. LOL. Anyway, at that point I was hardly more than 4 weeks along, so there wasn’t much else to do but wait and see how things went. Last Friday (which also happened to be Dad’s birthday!), we went to my first midwife appointment. All was well there, and we scheduled the ultrasound for today. Right around that time (6 weeks or so) morning sickness reared its ugly head, which is a new thing for me as I didn’t deal with that much in my first two pregnancies. I notice it mostly during big meals or when I’m out in the heat. Not throwing up at least, just being hit with intense waves of nausea from time to time.

Dad had to work today, so I went to the ultrasound by myself. It was hard to sleep these last couple of nights, constantly worrying “What if there’s no heartbeat? What if the due date is drastically different from what I thought? What if it’s twins?” Unfortunately, one of those fears turned out to be true:

You are measuring at 6 weeks 4 days, which is right on target based on when I think I ovulated (the pic says 6w6d because that’s based on the last period date)…. but there was no heartbeat. 😦 The ultrasound tech said she thought she saw a flicker but not enough to pick up on the monitor. When she turned the screen to show me, I saw absolutely nothing. With both boys we saw clear “flickers” of the heartbeat at 6w0d. Not to mention this ultrasound picture doesn’t even look like anything discernable, which is very different from how the boys’ first ultrasounds looked. I’m trying not to freak out, and failing miserably. :’-( I go back for another ultrasound next week.

In the meantime, I’m so thankful for all my mama friends out there who I’ve been able to lean on and receive reassurances from. They have told me, and I have read online, that it’s quite common for there not to be a discernible heartbeat this early. I have also heard that some doctors wait to do the first ultrasound until at least 8 weeks for just this reason. So we wait, and go back again next Tuesday for another ultrasound to give you more time to grow. Until then, I will try to relax and constantly repeat to myself the newly pregnant + worried mama mantra: “Right now I am pregnant, and I love my baby.”

All my love,
Mom

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Uh-oh!

Dear Charlie,

You’re 18 months old now, which is the time I noticed leaps and bounds of development in Alex… and so far you’re proving to be no different! You’re all caught up on gross + fine motor skills, perhaps even ahead of where I’d expect you to be, and you’re quickly catching up with talking as well. We still have monthly therapy sessions, but switched to someone who specializes in just speech therapy since that’s the only area you really need help with anymore. You walk and run (let’s be real– you practically skipped walking and went straight to running. LOL), climb stairs and even some ladders like a big boy, and are starting to try to jump!

You can throw a ball overhand as well as underhand with a surprising amount of accuracy, and are starting to work on catching a bit as well. Dad & I call you our little athlete because you have SO much energy, are constantly on the move, and have a passion for all things involving balls. In fact, although your vocabulary is still relatively small you know how to say “football,” “basketball” and of course “baseball.” Your first sentence was “Get my ball!” because you love throwing it places that you can’t reach (like in the fireplace, under a dresser, in the back seat of the car… etc etc etc). You know all our names as well as “more,” “all done,” and your favorite word of all– “Uh-oh!” 🙂

Naturally you understand a lot more than you are able to say at this point, so I’m able to give you basic instructions and know that you get what I’m saying (even if you choose not to follow said instructions, LOL). You are definitely very stubborn and strong-willed, and do not take no for an answer. It seems that you are drawn to all things messy, dangerous or generally inconvenient, so you end up getting into a LOT of mischief. You’re also quite dramatic and throw VERY dramatic tantrums, which including throwing yourself down on the floor head first, even if it’s concrete. :-/

All this combined with the fact that this is just a difficult age in general for discipline, makes life very challenging for us right now. I’m hoping (praying!) it gets better with time as you get better at communicating and expressing yourself. I know all this sounds pretty negative…. and indeed I’d be lying if I said life with you is easy these days. 😉 But I’ve been a parent long enough to know that all phases with kids come and go, which includes the less-than-stellar phases like this one. So when things get tough, I repeat my favorite mommy mantra: “This too shall pass!”

You are also pretty darn adorable much of the time as well. Despite all your hijinks, it’s hard to stay mad at you for very long because your smile and giggle melt all of our hearts. You have Dad and I wrapped around your finger, which is probably the biggest contributing factor to the mischief. You are so sweet and loving most of the time– you are very generous with hugs and sloppy kisses. 🙂 And as Dad likes to say, you’re a sucker for a high-five!

In addition to balls, your favorite things are cars, animals (especially our dog Annie, who thankfully tolerates your increasingly annoying advances), music, and phones/remotes. You like playing pretend and dress-up with Alex, especially wearing hats or glasses, and participating as best you can in Alex’s frequent “ninja fights.” You just adore Alex in general, and want to be doing everything he’s doing (although the feeling is not always mutual 😉 ).

And I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention– FOOD! Alex is a big eater, but you can put away a surprising amount of food as well. Many of the words you have are food related words, such as apple, banana and berry. You ask for more food almost constantly! Lucky for you quite a few new teeth have come in recently, including some molars, which has expanded your culinary horizons quite a bit. 🙂

As far as your health goes things have gotten much better as we moved out of cold/flu season, but we have still had many problems with your ears/tubes. The tubes actually got clogged and your ENT said that we might have to replace them, but thankfully we were able to avoid that but flushing them with a water/vinegar mixture for a couple weeks. This was easier said than done because the flushing was very uncomfortable for you. Holding down a thrashing/screaming toddler while you flush their ears for a few minutes 2-3 times a day is physically and emotionally exhausting. I still have quite a few bruises and scratches from the ordeal…. but I’m so glad it worked because undergoing another surgery would have been much worse.

Recently we moved you out of the crib and into a big boy bed, where you share a room with your big brother! You’re loving it and overall doing a lot better than I thought you would , although the transition/training process took a lot more trial and error than it did with Alex… and we really had to step up our toddler-proofing game in your/Alex’s room. Oy!

All in all it’s been a very crazy, busy, eventful few months. That said, it’s also been so amazing to see all the rapid growth and development you’re undergoing. It seems like just yesterday we brought you home from the hospital, our sweet little baby, and now you’re very much a little boy.


(Your first movie– The Secret Life of Pets!)

If anyone ever embodied the boy stereotype of “snakes, snails and puppy dog tails,” it’s you! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think you and Alex balance each other out well, and will be able to learn a lot from one another in the years to come. And there’s never, ever a dull moment in the Pacheco house these days! 😉

All my love,
Mom

“So the next day…”

Dear Alex,

OY. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been as on top of writing you as I once was! I called this letter “So the next day…” because when you are reading me a story (basically telling me your interpretation of the story based on pictures in the book), every time you turn the page you start it with “So the next day…” no matter how much time has actually passed in the story. LOL. We’ll call this “the next day” even though it’s actually been quite awhile since I wrote you a full letter. 😉

Hopefully someday if/when you have small children yourself, you’ll understand. I never knew the true meaning of busy, nor the true meaning of EXHAUSTED, until becoming a parent. And not just that but the parent of two young toddlers.

It is so much more challenging than I could have possibly anticipated. Especially given how difficult of a toddler Charlie is turning out to be. It makes me that much more thankful that you are such a good kid. Seriously, I hardly ever have to worry about you getting in trouble or even throwing tantrums. You are the sweetest, most thoughtful and caring 3 year old I’ve ever met. Although of course you have your moments….

… and those moments are especially tough when Charlie is also having a “moment,” LOL, overall you are a really good kid and we’ve been truly enjoying this phase of life with you. The last few months I’ve been working really hard on bringing more balance to our lives and taking better care of myself as an individual, which has helped a lot as well. As the saying goes, when Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! 😉

One of the biggest changes we’ve made in that vein is the new tradition of having you & Charlie visit your grandparents one weekend per month. The two sets of grandparents alternate each month– so one month you go to Nana & Grump’s (which is where you are as I write this), the next you go to Papa & Grandma’s. I think this has been a great thing for you & Charlie (as well as for me & Dad).We’re really lucky that both sets of grandparents live close enough that we’re able to have this arrangement.  Having a good relationship with your grandparents is so important, and something that I’m sad to have missed out on (as most of my grandparents passed away when I was very young). 

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That being said, you’ve also bonded with Dad quite a bit more these last few months. I think part of that is out of necessity because I have to chase Charlie around so much (LOL), but also I think you’re coming to an age where Dad has an easier time relating to you. Your personality really shines through now, and OMG you are so like your father!

In addition to being fairly shy, you also love making people laugh (but you seem to have more of my goofy sense of humor vs. Dad’s dry sense of humor).

You struggle a bit with social anxiety and have a hard time adapting to change. You hate getting messy or wet (but do love swimming in the pool, despite this!).

Just like Dad, you are extremely smart and have amazing attention to detail. You are a true perfectionist– very harsh on yourself when you make even the smallest mistake (this is Dad to the life!), or if you think you’ve upset someone.

You really enjoy things that combine this analytical side of your brain with your creative side– you LOVE to draw, and are actually an extremely talented artist for your age, in my non-biased opinion. 😉

You also enjoy building things with legos (but moreso with Dad’s choking hazard legos. :-\ ) as well as with clay or playdoh.

You also love music and making up songs (which is something Dad does a lot too!).

Your feelings and emotions run deep– all in all I would say the biggest challenge with you at this age is working with you on handling your emotions, which is a pretty common issue for a 3 year old. But I also think you have a keener sense of other people’s emotions then most kids your age do. When you see that someone is upset you want to help them feel better.

I think this, combined with your ridiculously handsome looks, has made you a bit of a lady-killer already. 😉 The perfectionist side of you makes you fairly bossy, which probably comes more from me than from Dad (LOL). Still, in group scenarios I don’t see you taking charge as much as I did when I was a kid, so I think you prefer observing from the background in team situations.

Dad and I have talked many times about what we think you might end up being when you grow up, based on these interests and personality traits. And really we have no idea. But if I were going to hazard a guess right now, I think you would be a great engineer or architect. 🙂 We will of course be proud of you no matter what you choose to do with your life!

As far as developmental things go, you are pretty much potty trained except for the occasional night time accident…. but we have had several regressions since we first started the potty training process over 6 months ago. Your fine motor skills are really great– gross motor skills are… okay. You’re a little bit of a klutz and I don’t imagine you being big on sports/athletics when you get older. We opted not to do any group sports/activities this year because (1) we’re too busy/tired, (2) they’re so expensive and (3) at this age I don’t think you really enjoy them enough for it to be worth the time/money/weekly commitment. You do seem to like baseball (Thank God!) and are pretty good at swinging the bat, so I daresay we’ll have you in t-ball within the next year or two.

Earlier I noted that you tend to be really hard on yourself, which at such a young age makes me really sad to see. You get frustrated and say “I can’t do it!” a lot when you aren’t able to complete a task to your standards. So, one thing we’ve been trying to instill in you in the fact that you can do ANYTHING with enough practice and hard work. We tell you when you’re frustrated to stop, take a deep breath, take a break for a bit and say “What can I do to fix this?” So far that technique seems to be working well for you. This self-criticism and frustration is something I’ve seen in Dad a lot too, and it hurts my heart to see you both go through that. I’m not sure how else I can help you with it. When you read this as an adult someday, please know that I’m trying my best and  have always thought, from day 1, that you are an amazing little guy who can accomplish anything he puts his mind to! 🙂

I also mentioned earlier that you are obviously very smart– in my last letter I wrote about how far ahead you are academically, and that has only gotten better during these last few months going to preschool. You talk really well for a kid your age, and have started learning to write already. You pick up on things– academically or otherwise– VERY quickly, so Dad & I have to be very careful what we say and do around you (well, we should be but it doesn’t always work out that way. We are human, after all!). Dad & I both love having conversations with you and hearing about your “toddler logic” views on things. You make everyone in this family smile & laugh on a daily basis.

Speaking of family, you are Charlie are still best buddies, although there definitely is a lot more fighting over toys these days. You’ve started trying to hide things from Charlie in places you think he can’t reach, but he’s able to thwart your efforts more & more now that he’s getting pretty good at climbing. Nevertheless, you’ve asked me many times why Charlie can’t go to school with you. And when the time came to move you & Charlie into the same bedroom, you were overjoyed at the idea of getting to share a room with Charlie.

You play together a fair amount, but also have very distinctly different personalities and separate interests. For example, Charlie LOVES animals (especially Annie), and you do not. He really loves balls and cars, anything moving really, and you do not (but you do indulge him in these activities from time to time!). You love to read books, he does not. That being said, you also have a lot in common– you both love building with blocks/legos, you both love playing pretend/dress-up, and Charlie is starting to pick up on your love of art/drawing. And above all else, you both love EACH OTHER to pieces. 🙂 Giving you two the gift of one another is without a doubt the greatest thing I’ve done with my life.

Our little family is my greatest treasure and blessing. I’m getting emotional just typing that… it’s so true and despite all the emotional wringers and mindf*cks it’s put me/Dad through these last few years, I have no doubts whatsoever that this is what I was born to do. God made me to be your mom, and I am so incredibly thankful. 🙂

All my love,
Mom