Stephens Family

Stephens Family

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Winter 2013 with Eli: 15-18 months 12.14.12 - 3.14.13

Winter 2013 with Eli: 15-18 months 12.14.12 - 3.14.13

***Click the photo collages to see a larger view -- all the pictures are iphone except of few. I have more from our actual camera that maybe I'll upload later but I'm being lazy right now...



Eli's latest bout with teething started just before Christmas and this time it was those big fatty teeth in the back of his mouth -- the molars!  Cutting molars suckity, suck, SUCKS!  Mike's Christmas vacation time began with us going to the doctor due to a mild fever and a very fussy little boy.  It was a Saturday and the place was packed with babies crying and kids coughing.  Eli tested negative for RSV and the Flu but the doctor said that all four of his molars were trying to poke their way through and one on top had just begun to rupture.  He said that the molars are the most painful to cut because of their size and to keep him on motrin (like clock work) but that is all we could do for him.  He then tested Eli's oxygen which was low so he sent us to children's mercy for a chest xray to rule out pneumonia; which, thankfully, he did not have.  We spent 5 hours at either the doctors office or the hospital -- mainly waiting -- that day!  (What a way to start a vacay, right?)  Eli was a wreck for the next two-three weeks.  I can honestly say that teething -- for Eli -- is almost as bad as learning to sleep!  Lord, when will we catch a break with this child?!?!

5th Annual Christmas Eve Taco's with the Stephens!

Mike and I cooked up a little Mexican feast and invited our family over to enjoy the afternoon of Christmas Eve!  This pre-holiday celebration has become quite the tradition in our household!  Mike can cook up some mean tacos and we are definitely willing to eat them!!  

The beautiful Christmas table setting Mike's parents sent us!  We will treasure it for many, many Christmas' to come!  Thank you!

Sisters and cousins.  Eli is definitely teething!

Our family :)
Eli in his cute Christmas PJ's after our family left.

A Christmas to Forget...

Mike and I agreed that, unfortunately, Christmas 2012 was the worst Christmas both of us have ever had.  Firstly, I hadn't done much shopping at all.  I just couldn't gather enough energy to do much of anything in November and December.  (I'll blame it on the 1st trimester of pregnancy!) And, as for wrapping -- which I usually love to do -- that didn't happen either.  So, Mike and I stayed up late on Christmas Eve and wrapped the few presents we had for Eli and each other.  Thankfully, Eli's Oma and Opa sent him lots of gifts so at least the space under our tree wasn't completely bare!
Then, in the wee morning hours (when Santa was supposed to be visiting our house...) I woke up to a TERRIBLE stomach ache and knew immediately that I needed to throw up.  From 1-4 in the morning I was stuck in the bathroom throwing up every last ounce of food and then when that was done -- and, trust me when I say it is no fun to throw up homemade Mexican food -- I continued with stomach bile.  It was violent.  It was gross.  Once the puking was over, I knew what I was experiencing wasn't just typical morning sickness you get with pregnancy.  I felt HORRIBLE and tried my best to go back to sleep hoping and praying that I would feel better for Christmas morning.  

Christmas morning came quickly and to my dismay I wasn't feeling better at all.  I couldn't keep anything down and just wanted to stay in bed.  I literally forced myself to get out of bed when Eli woke up and watch him open presents.  It was miserable for me but what was even worse was the fact that Eli was a wreck too!    I was laying on the couch thinking... Seriously, is this really Christmas?!  The one day of the year that is supposed filled with joy and love?  I felt terrible for Mike who had a sick wife and an extremely fussy toddler (darn teeth!).

A perfect representation of Christmas morning 2012.  Me on the couch and Eli fussy.  

There may have been a smile or two in there somewhere.

We chalked my stomach ailment up to food poisoning since I had eaten some enchiladas that had been sitting out for a few hours the previous night and headed to my parents to celebrate the day with them and my sister's family.  Eli had a decent time at first and went down for a nap shortly after arriving.  After his nap, he was NOT happy.  There didn't seem to be anything we could do to make him even crack a smile.  Poor babe.  He wasn't even interested in opening any presents (which Mike ended up doing for him).  He didn't want to eat either.  Poor Mike and poor the rest of my family that had to listen to him fuss and cry for the remainder of the day.  

During dinner, I laid in my parents bed while everyone ate the wonderful meal that my mother prepared.  (I had the pleasure of drinking Gatorade and eating a cracker and half of a banana).  Through the door I could hear Eli crying at the dinner table.  And, couldn't help but cry myself.  For those of you that don't know, Eli hasn't ever been the happiest child on the block.  He has always been very needy and, at times, incessantly fussy.  Don't get me wrong -- he would smile and giggle and play everyday but it wasn't the "norm" for him.  He pretty much needed constant attention and even then would still be fussy.  He was exhausting.  And, at times -- on particularly difficult days -- I will admit that I thought I was going to lose it.  Well, on the evening of December 25th 2012, I LOST it.  I love Eli more than anything in the world but in that moment couldn't help to wonder what I was doing so wrong that Eli was such an unhappy child.  I bawled and bawled and wailed until I had the ugliest I had ever cried in my life.  (I'm sure the fact that I was miserably sick on Christmas and that Eli was especially difficult due to his teeth didn't help anything).  My mother and sister found me drowning in a wet, snotty pillow and tried to console me.  Shortly after, Mike and I  decided to leave and I continued to cry the whole way home and began to ask myself how the hell (and I am not a cuss-er) was I going to handle having two children, if the next one's temperament was anything like Eli's?!?    

That was the night I woke up to a puddle of blood and Mike and I thought we were losing our baby. (I honestly couldn't help but wonder if all my sobbing and questioning led to this horrible outcome.)  We woke Eli up and headed to the ER.  Thank God we were not miscarrying and still have a growing baby girl at 26 weeks pregnant.  But, as you can imagine, this was a VERY tough 24 hours for me and my family.  

Ready to put Christmas 2012 past us and looking forward to spending it with two healthy babies for Christmas 2013 in California!  Yippee!

New Years

Mike and I had planned to go to our friends,  Matt and Ashley's, NYE/Engagement Party but due to Mike's chronic cough and my modified bed rest we decided to stay in.  My mom actually stayed the night at our house because she was planning on babysitting.  I think we were all in bed by 9pm.  LOSERS!  (Watch out friends without kids as this is what happens when your bundles of joy arrive!)  :)  Eli enjoyed having his grandma stay the night though.  She was there in the morning and stayed for breakfast!  He sure loves his grandma!


We found out in early January that Eli was going to have a little sister.  Sammie sister will always have a special place in his heart!  :)

During the month of January I was on bed rest (mostly modified) due to the blood clot in my uterus and my parents took shifts taking care of Eli.  I know someday he will thank them for their service to him and his little sister.  They did such a great job of keeping such an active toddler happy during the middle of winter when it is too cold to be outside!  Thank you mom and dad!

An attempt at weaning...

In the beginning of January I was told by my OB's nurse that I needed to abruptly wean Eli.  Nursing can cause uterine contractions and since I was at an increased risk of miscarriage due to my SCH weaning is the typical protocol.  I hadn't planned on weaning Eli for a few more months so I was pretty devastated.  Eli had been especially wanting to nurse during this time because his teeth really hurt him.  Those couple of days of weaning were a complete nightmare.  Eli was constantly was asking for milk and cried and cried when I told him no.  We tried so many types of other milks and he wouldn't drink any of them.  This all happened during the weekend and on Monday I called to ask my OB her thoughts.  To my astonishment and pleasure, she said that I could continue to nurse because at 15 months my uterus shouldn't really be contracting much or at all during feedings.  She said if I felt cramping when I nursed then I should listen to my body.  I didn't feel any increase in cramping while nursing.  Yay!  What a HUGE relief!  So much stress for no reason.

A BIG change

Around the middle of January Mike and I saw a huge (and when I say huge I mean ginormous) change in Eli's behavior.  He was suddenly so much happier!  Can I get an AMEN!?!?!?!  I think his teething pain had finally lessened and his sleep got much better and it all just somehow clicked!  This was perfect timing as I was experiencing some major anxiety with my then high risk pregnancy.  Thank you God for only giving us what we can handle and nothing more.  Eli still has a fussy day here and there and maybe two strung together but for the most part, he is a happy, happy boy!  God is good.


The month of February was pretty much a blizzard in KC.  We received two feet of snow within one week!  Eli enjoyed the snow but for the most part it was too deep for him to have any real fun in. I started to feel better (as my cramping and bleeding decreased) and we began to do some "Mommy and Me" things again.  It felt good to get out of the house!!!

Valentine's Day

Eli and I went to Potter's Haven in down town  LS to make some pottery for daddy and Oma -- a special Valentine's surprise!  We made daddy a BBQ platter and Oma a garden stone -- both with Eli's hand prints!  

We also attended the Pint Size Play Valentine's Party that LSPR puts on!  It was fun -- crafts, snacks and running around a gym is a perfect party for little E!

Music with Mar also had a Valentine's Party and Eli received his first peer Valentine's!


I've been looking forward to March since January.  I've told myself just make it to March and the weather will be better and my little Eli will get to frequently enjoy his most beloved place again -- mother nature!  He LOVES to be outside and to explore everything the great outdoors has to offer.  I dreamed that come March we would be able to play in our backyard and start going to parks again!  Well, today is March 19th and we've had two -- one, two -- good days so far and I just looked at our 10 day forecast and it isn't until March 27 that we will even break 50 degrees! Boo hoo hoo!  Remind me again why Mike and I choose to live in the Midwest?!  Honestly, the thought of moving South has been rolling around in our minds lately.  This cold weather is just depressing and kids love to be outside getting fresh air and excersizing!  Hmmm, maybe we just need a good vacay!?!? (I'm sure I'll be complaining about the heat come a couple of months!)

Here is to April and the sunshine it will hopefully bring us!

St. Patrick's Day

Our little family attended the Annual LS Emerald Isle Parade for the first time and even though it was pretty chilly Eli really enjoyed looking at the different entries in the parade!  He really liked the firetrucks, police motorcycles and horses!

18 Month Check up

We had Eli's 18 month check up on March 19th -- 5 days after he officially turned 18 months.

He was
33.5 inches -- 81st percentile in height
24lbs 10oz -- 31st percentile in weight
and his head circumference was 68th percentile.  Eli's pediatrician said that all of his growth charts look great!  He is a skinny boy but nothing to be concerned with.  

We could answer yes to all of the questions the doctor asked about Eli's development:
-he responds to praise (although he isn't a big clapper)
-he can say around 10 words -- average in 5-10 (doc says animal sounds count!)  
Mom or mama
Hot (sounds like aht)
Monkey sound
-he understands simple directions
-he dances to to music
-he is interested in other children (especially older children)
-he points to things
-he understand "night, night" and "bye, bye"
-he gets excited to see people he knows other than Mike and I
-he needs some time to warm up to a new situation but eventually does -- doctor said this should drop down to a mere few seconds by two years of age
-he is very affectionate with us, Sammie and his stuffed animals
-he can feed himself with a fork and spoon

We asked about Eli's pigeon toes and he watched him walk.  He said that his hips haven't completely moved into place yet but that it should take place in the next year or so.  He continued that there was no need for braces because the body 99.9% of the time works itself out.

We also asked about almond milk vs. whole milk.  He said Eli should be drinking whole milk because of the fat content and how it helps to develop the brain.  I hope he can get used to the taste!

His speech was a major concern for us.  I haven't let it bother me too much until the last month or so when (and I know I shouldn't) I started noticing several other mom's post about their 12+mo olds saying LOTS of words.  Eli seemed so stagnant for so long.  I knew he understood what we were saying because we could say, "Go throw this in the trash" and he would or "Where is Blue Bear?" and he would get him.  So, the doctor saying that he was right on schedule for 18 months made me feel good.  He said that by the time he is two he should have 30-50 words.  I am looking forward to this!

Of course, he HATED the shots and it is so heart breaking to have to hold him down while they poke him. :'(

He wanted his daddy the whole time we were there.  Melts my heart!


Eli can sign:
please, thank you, more, milk, all done, sorry, bye bye

Eli knows the following body parts:
eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, tongue cheeks, chin, hair, eyes, legs, knees, toes, hands, fingers, and of course penis and balls! 

He has pretty much figured the car seat out and doesn't fuss much anymore -- unless it is a long care ride or he is especially tired.  

He is also much better in restaurants and Mike and I have figured out a pretty good routine to keep him happy: books, snacks, drinks, cars, iphone videos.

He can point to most animals in a book when asked, "Where is the cow?" he will point to it, etc.

He can take off his socks and shoes and jackets.  He tries really hard to put his socks and shoes on but still needs assistance.

He does SO well with time out -- all we have to say is, "Eli, if you do that again you are going to go to time out."  Most of the time it works like a charm.  If it doesn't he goes to time out for 1.5 minutes and we tell him why he is there.  He sits there the whole time and asks once or twice if it is "all done" in sign language.  Then he says he is "sorry" in sign language as well and we let him out.

What Eli likes:

Transportation!  Trucks, tractors, cars and especially airplanes
Showing off his belly button
Hearing the garage door open when daddy gets home
Books -- especially with animals, cars/trucks, and babies
Stuffed animals
Being outside
Music and Dancing
Wrestling and running around on the couch especially with Daddy
Playing Fee Fie Foe Fum with Grandpa
Hide 'n Seek
Riding on people's backs (like an elephant)
Pushing furniture and large trucks around
Running around on a trampoline
Bath time with either mommy or daddy
Teasing Sammie, hugging Sammie, pointing out Sammie's features
Playing, jumping, cuddling, reading and watching tv on mommy and daddy's bed before night time.
TV: Barney, Elmo music videos, Dinosaur Train, and Daniel the Tiger  (He is a PBS boy)
Foods: spaghetti, almost all fruits, pureed veggies, oatmeal, waffles, avocado, black beans, rice, soups, rotisserie chicken, noodles, mac and cheese, string cheese, slice of cheese, sweets, ice cream, gummy bears!  He will try almost anything but  you will know quickly if he is keen to it by whether it ends up on the floor or not!  :)


Oh, the wonderful world of sleep in the Stephens' household!  Instead of writing about the negative aspects of Eli's sleep the last few months (trust me there are some) I am happy to report:

He consistently sleeps through the night 10.5-12 hours.  He goes down with no to little crying.   

He takes one good nap a day, sometimes waking half way through, sometimes not.  For awhile it was hard to figure out just what time to put him down because he wasn't really showing any signs of being tired but now his schedule is this

Goes to bed between 8:00 and 8:15
Wakes up between 7:00 and 8:00
Goes down for a nap between 1:00 and 2:00 for 1 - 2 hours

Pretty darn good considering what we've been through!  I think he finally figured it all out around 16 months! Praying our little girl won't take that long!!! :)

Thoughts on weaning...

I attended my first breast feeding support group this past Monday for the 1st time in 14 months!  I knew there were other moms who went that are breast feeding and pregnant and a few who tandem nursed their children.  So, I figured, I could get a good perspective and some support from them.

Let me say this much -- never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought that I would even consider tandem nursing (nursing two children during the same time period).  When I was pregnant with Eli I did lots of research and made a decision to breast feed to at least one year.  I was open to continuing to two years for the health benefits.  However, I had no idea the emotional connection I would develop during that process.  Furthermore, when I tried to abruptly wean Eli at 15 months he was a total train wreck and my heart broke for him.  I am so glad that me OB okay-ed us continuing.  

I will also say that when I first found I was pregnant with little girl I set a date in which I wanted to be completely done with it and that date was Eli's 18 month -- the middle of March.  That would give me a good 3 month period for him to get adjusted to no milk and give me a little break before baby comes in June.  

Well, it is the middle of March.  I am still nursing.  Not much, maybe 2-4 times a day.  I'm not even sure if he is getting that much but I what I do know is that he still enjoys it.  He latches on and gives me a grin. He plays with my face, points out my mole and strokes my hair.  I talk to him and sing to him while he gently sucks away.  It lasts maybe 5 minutes.  I love it.  It doesn't bother me.  It is not a hassle.  He loves it.  He wants it. I'll give it to him.

So, as I chatted with the lactation consultant -- who is such an incredibly caring, compassionate and intelligent person -- I came to the conclusion that I just wouldn't stress about it.  "It" being weaning.  Eli is already very actively weaning.  He doesn't bf for nutrition.  He eats solids and drinks lots of liquids.  He just likes to snuggle up with mommy.  I literally am in awe with myself for deciding to probably tandem nurse.  I can't imagine saying to Eli, "Okay, here is the new baby, which means less attention for you and oh, by the way I am also taking away mama's milk."  I am 100% okay with my decision. I am owning it.  I know other people may think it is totally weird and I get it because it is not the norm in our culture.  But, it is in other cultures and our culture is beginning to change.  And, I think it is a good thing.

My dear, sweet Eli,

If you could only take a peek inside my heart you would see it swelling, no bursting, with love for you!  You have helped me understand what unconditional love truly is.  It happened when I first laid eyes on you and has only grown stronger each day since.  You are loved and cherished by so many.  You are a child of God and He loves you more than you will ever be able to fathom. 

You have changed me.  I am a better person because of you.  You have taught me when to be patient and when to hurry; when to laugh and when to cry; when to be silly and when to be serious.  Most of all you have taught me how when you truly love someone you put their needs in front of your own.  You are my most treasured gift and I will cherish you -- every moment with you -- for the rest of my life.

I don't want you to grow up, my sweet baby.  You are such a fun and cuddly bundle of complete joy right now!  My heart melts with each hug and kiss you offer me.  Your giggles and squeals of joy are like music to my ears.  I especially love watching you with daddy.  You love him so much and are beginning to prefer him over me.  I thought this would make me sad but it really doesn't.  He is such a good dad and he will be who you will  model your own life after.  I know he just adores you and loves you so much too!

I never could have imagined that life could get any sweeter from the day you were born but it does each day.  You are my only baby boy and you will always be my only baby boy.  But, a baby girl is on the way and she is going to be your little sister!  Oh, how I know you will love her.  It will be hard at first but you will get the hang of sharing mommy and daddy with her quick.  You are going to be such an amazing big brother and I can't wait to see you in this role!  God chose you to be her big brother -- to be a good role model and to protect her -- to be kind and to love her.  You're going do a great job!

But, for the next few months it is still just you, daddy and mommy!  You better believe we are soaking up each and every moment we get with you.  Lets have a great spring together, okay!  

Eli, my first child, you are a true gift from God.  I love you and always and always will.



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