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10 tips for parenting in a multi-generational household

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multi-generational family

As of April 2018 at least 64 million people live in multi-generational households in the US alone (Source).  People with children are undoubtedly among them. Parenting can be hard at the best of times but adding into this the stress of living with your parents can be life altering.

With increasing costs of living and stagnant wages it’s likely that even more of us will become members of multi-generational households before the end of the decade. Managing parenting and living with family can be difficult but doable and here are some tips and tricks for making it work.

 

1.  Lay out the rules from the beginning

If you know that you don’t want anyone else than you to discipline your children, then great, let them know! If you want them to discipline them if you’re not available then great, let them know that!

Be sure that all the adults in the house know what is expected of the children. For example, since my son is a picky eater if he doesn’t eat his dinner then he isn’t allowed to have snacks or dessert before bedtime. I make sure that everyone else in the house is aware that he is not allowed to have them. My son knows that my dad or my grandma are apt to give him a cookie or chips if he asks but when I tell them not to they won’t.

It is more important than ever when you live in a multi-generational household that everyone is on the same page regarding the kids.

Download your free rule chart printable

 

2. Establish boundaries

This is important for everyone in the house. At the end of the day we all need a space where we can relax and unwind, especially when you live in a multi-generational household. If you’re lucky enough to have a separate space from your parents (or in-laws) then make sure that everyone knows what areas, you’d like to remain private.

Or even what times you’d prefer they not enter your space.

If you’re not that lucky then don’t be afraid to spend some alone time in your room. You’re not being rude for wanting some personal space.

Also, make sure your kid(s) are able to have some time to themselves as well. My son loves nothing more after a long day than to sit on my bed and eat dinner and watch a show. This gives him some time to just be by himself and relax. (And he usually eats dinner way better unsupervised, go figure).

And make sure that they know what areas are off limits to them and where they’re allowed to play. This will cut down on any unintended tension from little Johnny leaving his toys on grandpa’s favorite chair.

 

3. Speak your mind

Now I know that for some of us (me) confronting our parents (or in-laws) can be nerve-wracking. But if they’re doing something that you don’t like, especially toward your child, then it’s important to say so.

When you’re living in a multi-generational household it is important to air your grievances in an effective yet non-confrontational way. You don’t need to go into the conversation ready for an argument, treat it as a discussion instead. Remember at the end of the day you’re still living in their home, so respect that.

This is so important because with so many people under one roof and so many different opinions unaired grievances can easily turn into resentment or anger. By being upfront about something that bothers you hopefully you can avoid unnecessary arguments.

But remember, this is a two-way street. So, if you tell them what’s bothering you be prepared to listen to what’s bothering them!

Also remember that if things start to get heated don’t be afraid to walk away. Then return to the conversation with a clear mind and calm heart.

 

 

4. Have adult conversations away from the kids

Above I mentioned that you should try to avoid arguments as much as possible, and that’s true. But there may be times where an arguments is imminent because one or both sides are angry.

If it comes to this make sure that you move this away from the kids.

Any adult conversations should be held when the children are not present. Set aside a time where the adults can talk without little ears overhearing. Nap time or after bed time are good times for this.

When you live in a multi-generational household there will inevitably be times where you need to have a conversation that isn’t appropriate for the children to hear. This may be about money, rules, a disagreement, or even vacation.

This way you can ensure that they don’t hear anything that they shouldn’t and if the situation does escalate they won’t here mom and dad fighting with grandma and grandpa.

 

5. Contribute to the house

Your parents (or in-laws) may or may not expect you to pay rent but that doesn’t mean this should be viewed as a free hotel. Make sure your kids know that they need to be respectful of grandma and grandpa’s house.

They should be expected to do everything at grandma and grandpa’s house that they would do if it were your own house. Make sure their toys are picked up, their dishes are put in the sink or the dishwasher, and their rooms are picked up.

Respect the sacrifice they’re making. If they don’t expect you to pay rent then find other ways to contribute, cook dinner, do the dishes, do laundry, or go grocery shopping. And if they do expect you to pay rent, or other bills, be on time with them, as you would if they were your landlords and not your parents.

Letting you return home, especially with children in tow can be a financial burden for your parents, especially if they have already retired. Be mindful of this fact and do what you can to lessen that burden.

A huge bonus to living in a multi-generational household is that you can all split the costs of the bills. This leaves everyone with extra money at the end of the day to do with what they wish.

 

6. Respect their home and their ways

By this I mean don’t expect things to be the same as they would be if you were in your own home.

There may be a lot of things that they do differently than you do. You don’t want to go into their home and completely disrupt their routine or way of life. For example, at our house the adults often eat dinner on the late side, like 7-8, which is way too late for C most nights. So, I’ll often make C dinner earlier, so he can eat at a reasonable time and the rest of us can still eat when we want to.

Another big rub for me has always been my uncle watching tv. The issue is that the living room (where he watches tv) is right next to my son’s room and he watches tv at an extremely loud volume. You can hear the tv perfectly clear in his room with the door closed, over his music and a fan.

It’s a bit excessive but we have made it work. He’s learned to not watch it quite as loud, and when he forgets a simple reminder does wonders.

 

7. Don’t take advantage

When you live in a multi-generational household you may have a built-in babysitter. Grandparents are usually extremely eager to watch their grandchildren, even if they do live with them. And because of this is can be easy to take that for granted.

Don’t expect them to watch your children. Make sure that they know you appreciate them watching your children. It’s so easy to just assume that they will they watch them that we can forget to thank them for doing so.

Respect the fact that they may not always be able to or want to watch your kids. If this happens it is important to have a back-up sitter. Will it be weird if they come in your house and your parents (or in-laws) are there? Possibly. But your kids are the priority, not any awkwardness that may ensure.

 

8. Grandparent Time

Your kids have the special opportunity to see their grandparents every day because they live in a multi-generational household.

Despite this, it is important that everyone makes time to do things together. It can be something as simple as watching a movie together or eating dinner together. Or you can plan a vacation together!

At the end of the day it’s not as important what you’re doing as it is that the whole family does it together. Take advantage of having their grandparents so close while you can and nurture the relationship.

This doesn’t have to be a daily thing by any means, but it helps to build that relationship between your kids and their grandparents. Just because they see them daily it doesn’t always mean they spend quality time together, by planning a few activities for everyone it ensures that they can.

 

9. Family Time

While it is extremely important for your kids to spend time with their grandparents it’s more important for you and your kids to spend quality time together.

Living in small quarters can easily lead to tension between you and your parents (or in-laws) especially if you feel like they’re undermining your authority. So, make sure that you take the time to spend time with just you and your kids.

Go to dinner with just your kids, take them to the park, or even to the movies. Whatever it is just make sure that you’re spending time with them without anyone else present. Your kids need to know that you still love them and even if there’s tension between you and their grandparents you still have time for them.

 

10. Set a routine

Kids need a routine. It’s important for them to know when things are happening and when they need to do what they need to do.

Your parent’s (or in-laws) routine may be vastly different than your family’s. But your kids are your priority, so it is important that you and your family have their own routine that is specific to their needs.

Make sure that your kids are waking, eating and sleeping at reasonable times, times that work for your family. You know what your kids need and when they need them so make sure that they happen when they need to.

You can work around your parents routine, but you don’t need to work within it if it doesn’t work for your family.

 

Remember:

At the end of the day parenting is hard. When you add the stress of cramped quarters and a multi-generational household it can become completely chaotic.

Also, you all live in the house together and share your spaces accordingly. And most importantly, remember that you’re all family and you love each other.

 

Leave a comment below!

And tell me about your experiences with living in a multi-generational household. Or tell me if you think you could do so.

Or share your stories about a time that you and your parents or in-laws disagreed and how you managed that!

 

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Negativity and How it Impacts Your Life

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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Negativity and How it Impacts Your Life

The first weekend in May I took my son on a trip, just me and him. We went to the Disney Jr. Dance Party (which I highly recommend, it was very enjoyable, and the tickets aren’t overly expensive) and it was roughly a 5-hour drive from where we live so it was really just us, for the first time. And I wasn’t sure how things were going to go because C (my son) has had such poor behavior recently and things at home have been very negative.

So, y’all when I say I was nervous about this trip, I mean I was on the verge of a panic attack about it. Like there were several moments the week before where I was quite literally talking myself down from an impending panic attack.

Like I just knew something horrible was going to happen (and I mean someone did hit my rental car so ya know, not ideal).

But, the weekend was great! There were only a couple hiccups, but he was extremely well behaved the entire weekend. He ate much better than normal, he wasn’t so fussy, he went to sleep well. Just like the complete opposite of how he has been at home recently.

I mean I still yelled at him, but very rarely, I yelled at the GPS 1000x more than I yelled at him (man those things are so great and super terrible at the same time). Because he was just very well behaved and most of why I yelled at him was because I was tired or frustrated with the GPS, not so much his behavior.

Our interactions were so positive that I never wanted the weekend to end, but of course it had to.

 

The Fallout:

As soon as I told him we were going home he started bawling his eyes out.

Mind you, I’m a fairly easy-going mom so it’s not like I was more lenient with him than normal, this trip was pretty well the norm for us. I mean we slept in, watched movies, I let him eat ice cream for dinner, etc. But mostly we just hung out and spent time with one another.

But even so as soon as I told him we were going home you would have thought I told him I just killed mickey mouse or a puppy. And I know he can be sensitive so maybe that was all it was, but it really got me thinking? Why was he so averse to going back home?

I told him everyone we were going to see when we got home, ba (his grandpa), gramma, grammy (great grandma), and uncle Jim (great uncle), but he was super not pumped to see everyone except his grandpa.

So, I really started thinking WHY does he act so differently at home and around our family than he does when it’s just the two of us? Maybe it’s because I act differently around them.

 

My situation:

So for some background, I live with my family. It’s nice having some help when I need it and it’s great being able to save money and not have to worry about high rent costs.

But, for me this house is a negative space, the people in it are very negative, I have negative memories here and it holds negative connotations for me that I’m living here still at this point in my life and that colors my entire experience here.

My father was always a yeller and so, of course, my first instinct is to do that when C does something wrong. But even beyond that when C does something wrong or gets upset because he is so sensitive my dad gets really angry about it.

Like he will get so mad and so annoyed just because C is being a kid. He’s making noise and having fun and no, he doesn’t always do as he’s asked but him and I are working on that. And no, he may not always act how he should (as in not yelling or listening) but again he’s a kid and I, his mother, and correcting this behavior.

But both him and my mom act like it’s a personal affront to them when he misbehaves. I don’t feel that I can be the parent I want to be in this environment and WC has too many people trying to parent him in too many different ways at the same time.

It’s confusing for him, stressful for me and creates an all-around bad environment. Not to mention that I feel like I am failing my family by being here. I feel like this environment holds me back and it’s no secret to anyone that I can’t wait to leave.

The Why

And look y’all I’m super grateful. But it’s just not a good environment. There is so much fighting, so much nitpicking, and so many just negative attitudes. This makes it a hard environment to actually be positive in.

I know that I am not blameless here. I for sure contribute to the negativity. And a lot of that comes from not having a space where I can unwind and be myself, by myself. This leads to me feeling stifled, trapped and angry.

I feel that this is where a lot of the negativity in the house comes from for everyone. There are just too many people, too many opinions, and too many attitudes in on place.

And when one person gets angry or annoyed then very quickly another person does until everyone is angry or annoyed.

This easily spreads to C as well. I don’t think that he knows why he’s getting upset or why the energy in the house is so negative. but he can sense when it does because as soon as it does he gets cranky. He will start stomping around and frowning, crossing his arms and being very uncooperative.

Now, he had always been fairly independent, super happy, constantly singing and just a joy to be around. But that changed very suddenly because I lost my job. So, he went from going to a sitter five days a week and playing with kids. To suddenly being at home all the time hanging out with me, my mom and my grandma. And they don’t get along that well.

I know that he can have bad days just like the rest of us can. But, his bad moods seem specifically triggered by negative situations and emotions in the house.

The outcome

The trip definitely changed my perspective. It made me realize how negatively can impact your life without you even knowing it. I knew that things had changed with C. He wasn’t so easy going, that he seemed quicker to anger and suddenly never wanted to leave my side. Also, I had been less patient, angrier, and just overall very negative.

I realized how much the negativity in my environment affects my mental health as well. It’s harder for me to control the symptoms of my illnesses. It’s harder to turn my own negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones when I’m constantly surrounded by negativity.

But I’m committed to trying to not let the negativity in the house affect my feelings so much. Committed to making a change so that my child never questions my love for him. I want my son to know that he can come to me with anything. And that I will respond with an open mind and as much positivity as I can muster when he does.

Which truthfully will include a hefty does of sarcasm and maybe even an ‘f’ bomb or two. But I will not allow this negativity to continue to change our relationship and change my once joyful little boy.

So, mamas, take a look at your lives, identify any sources of negativity and see what you can do to change them. Ever since I realized this not only do I feel better, but I’ve noticed a difference in C as well. So mamas tackle that negativity and kick its butt to the curb!

Leave a comment below

And tell me all about the negativity in your life and the steps you’re taking to tackle it!

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Suicide Isn’t Selfish

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Suicide isn’t Selfish – In Light of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade

I could tell you every single time that I had contemplated suicide. And every single time that I attempted suicide. I don’t know life without depression, I don’t know life without suicidal thoughts.

The first time I contemplated suicide, I was 12.  I had been asked out by a boy in my class, only to have him turn to his friends and laugh as if they all knew some joke that I wasn’t in on, and I suppose they did. A boy on the bus spat on me and called me a beached whale. After that I was terrified of riding the bus.

Everything seemed to hit me at once. Everything was too big, too much, too painful.

Every day felt like a personal affront against me. I just wanted things to be over. I wanted the pain to end but it seemed to just pile on, endlessly.

The second time I contemplated suicide I was 14. My friends and I were fighting and none of them were talking to me. I remember sitting in the library after school writing to myself, as if I was writing a letter, so it looked like I had something to do while all my friends that were there sat at another table, gossiping.

I remember feeling completely and utterly alone. The people that I was supposed to be able to count on and confide in were the same ones making me feel like I was worthless.

 

The third time:

I tried to overdose.

I took so many pills that I lost count and washed them down with alcohol. When I woke up, I was devastated. Having failed was more painful than wanting to end things in the first place because it meant I had to keep on fighting. I had to continue enduring a pain that never lessened.

That entire day is a blur. I know I went to school, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what happened, I don’t think I made it through my first class. Everything was fuzzy.

I remember stumbling around my house for days, as if I was constantly drunk.

I tried again when I was 16 (I haven’t been able to swallow pills without gagging ever since). Making it to my next birthday seemed like an uphill battle and making it to my 18th seemed impossible.

 

I was broken:

I had so much hate for myself and my body, and so much pain that I had no outlet for, I just wanted it to end.

The pain inside kept building and building until I felt it would burst out of me. I hated myself with every fiber of my being and hurting myself seemed like the only option. There was a weight pulling me down and every time I tried to stand back up it would knock me down again.

I was told that I was selfish for wanting to die. By my guidance counselor, by my family, and even by my friends. But no one ever stopped to ask me WHY I wanted to die. They never asked me where my pain was coming from. Or why it was insurmountable.

I was hurting myself in so many ways that behind my smiles and laughs I felt dead inside, empty. I had nothing left to live for in my mind. Nothing that I looked forward to. Nothing to make me want to stay. I was standing at the edge of a cliff trying to force myself to step back.

My entire being felt broken beyond measure. I was fractured in so many places that I thought I would never be whole again. I was drowning, and I didn’t think I’d ever reach the surface.

 

My descent into madness:

In the span of a year I was sexually assaulted two separate times by two different men. I felt disgusting and like it was my fault. Like I deserved this, deserved to be used, deserved to be hurt. Maybe then I could find a reason for my pain.

I remember waking up in a puddle of my own. My arm was still bleeding, and I could barely stumble the 10 feet it took to get to the bathroom before violently puking again then passing out with my head on the toilet.

I remember thinking that this was the end. That my pain was finally over. That I no longer had to put on a brave face every day. That I would finally be at peace. But it didn’t work out that way.

When I woke up later that day I felt pain like I had never known. Emotionally and physically.

I was so close to finally not dreading every single day. So close to not feeling as though I was a burden to my loved ones. To just being free. But instead I was still caged. I just wanted this pain to end.

I was sure that I was being punished. Like I must have done something very wrong in my life to deserve this much pain, and, clearly, I deserved it.  I remember sobbing all day that day. Big, heart wrenching, ugly crying. All the pain I had been feeling for so long crashed down on me at once and I felt helpless.

Nothing and no one could save me, how could they if I couldn’t even save myself? It was this moment that I realized I needed help. That I couldn’t do this alone anymore.

 

Unseen battles:

You never would have seen my pain or knew of the battles that I was fighting by looking at me. I had mastered the art of appearing happy, but I don’t think that I even remembered what it felt like to be happy anymore.

So many people go through everyday feeling these same things, fighting these same battles. 123 people commit suicide every day in the US. This means 123 lives were lost. 123 people had no more will to fight. Nothing left to give.

There were 123 people who felt that the world would be better off without them in it. 123 stories that ended abruptly. I beg you to please look beyond the hurt of those left behind and try to imagine for one minute that pain that someone would have to be in to see ending their life as the only option.

Imagine feeling that helpless, that alone, and the broken. Then you will realize that suicide isn’t selfish. Suicide is a means to an end. A way for someone who’s pain is so big, and so deep, and so vast that no matter what they do they cannot see beyond it, to finally be at peace.

 

If you’re contemplating suicide:

Please do not be afraid to reach out for help, to anyone. I promise you that there are people in your life that care about you. That would miss you, and that would be willing to help you fight these battles.

Also remember you are:

  • Loved
  • Important
  • Beautiful
  • Needed
  • Strong
  • Safe

And most importantly:

  • You are enough

You don’t need to be anything more than who and what you are to be worthy of staying here. I know that it’s not easy and I know that there are days that you feel you just can’t go on. But I promise you that your life is worth living! Fighting isn’t easy, but I know that it is worth it. Your story is worth telling and it’s worth sticking around to find out how it ends.

 

 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Lifeline chat

 

Leave a comment below:

And tell me about your experiences with suicide. Have you contemplated suicide before? Have you attempted it? And if so, how did those around you make you feel about these thoughts and/or actions?

Do you know someone that died by suicide? And if so, how did that make you feel, did you find it selfish?

Let me know!

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My Motherhood Journey

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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My Motherhood Journey

It was the middle of December and I had my yearly checkup. I have PCOS, so motherhood seemed like an impossible dream. So, when they ran a pregnancy test because I had been sexually active in September but, y’all I was not even remotely worried about it. Like being pregnant did not seem like even a slim possibility.

When they told me that I was pregnant I was in shock, and I made them re-do the test. And even when the 2nd test came back positive I still didn’t believe it.

When it finally sunk in, I was distraught. I felt like my life was over. I was terrified about how everything was going to play out. My mental health was abysmal, I didn’t have a job, I hadn’t finished school yet and just nothing was like I thought it was going to be when I had a child.

I left the exam room and I was absolutely hysterical. I was sobbing while I waited to make my ultrasound appointment. Those ten minutes while I sat in the waiting room felt like the most isolating minutes of my life so far. This was not how I pictured entering motherhood.

 

Telling my family:

Keeping myself together long enough to drive home was a struggle. I was crying on and off the whole drive home but once I got home and everyone went to sleep, I completely lost it. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed until I felt like I was gonna puke.

What was I going to do?. Was I going to keep the pregnancy? If I did was I going to keep the baby? How was I going to tell the father?  How was he going to react? What would motherhood be like?

Was I even ready for motherhood?

There were so many variables and unknowns that I just had no clue how my life was going to look for the next few months.

Telling my family was incredibly nerve-wracking. I had no clue how they would react. Were they going to be happy, sad, angry? Would I be able to stay until I get myself settled more? Would I be kicked out if I kept the baby? But I feared it wouldn’t be good. And I was both right and wrong at the same time.

Most of them took it well, but my dad was furious. And it was heartbreaking. At this point in my pregnancy I had a lot of shame, I had a lot of guilt and I had a lot of resentment. I didn’t think that I was ready for motherhood. And him being so angry at me just amplified all of this.

My journey to motherhood was clouded with fear and shame in equal measure.

 

Telling the father:

After the debacle of telling my family I was very raw emotionally. So, I was nervous now about telling the father, because what if he reacted badly too?

When I first told him, I didn’t have much information except a rough estimate of how far along I was and the fact that it was his. He was skeptical that it was his and more or less called me a slut. Accusing me of sleeping around and that there was no way my child could be his because I had to have slept with several people since then. All of which was false.

I was offended that he would insinuate that I wouldn’t know who the father was. While I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with sleeping around (unless you’re in a committed monogamous relationship of course). But I wasn’t doing that, and I knew full well that he was the father.

His reaction had me strongly considering if single motherhood was the right option for me.

 

The moment my life changed:

When I first found out I was pregnant I told him that I would text him when I had more information. And I did just that, then suddenly he’s blowing up my phone. Up until this point we had never talked on the phone y’all, just texted, so I was confused as hell. I answer the phone and it’s a woman’s voice on the other end.

His wife.

I asked him point-blank, multiple times, if he was seeing anyone and surprise surprise, he said no. I was beyond words.

This woman starts tearing me a new one and interrogating me about why I’m texting her husband. So, I tell her flat out that her husband cheated and got me pregnant.

This was a situation I never imagined myself being in. I could never imagine cheating on someone or sleeping with someone that I knew had a partner. But that’s the thing y’all, I didn’t know.

I can do everything I’m supposed to do and check in every way that I can to see if he has a partner, but he can lie, and I’ll never know. It shouldn’t be necessary to hire a private investigator every time I plan on sleeping with someone just to make sure that they aren’t secretly married.

I will never understand how the blame fell on me for an ignorance that her husband instilled in me.  Why she would rather be mad at someone who was lied to and dragged into a situation that they never wanted to be a part of than her husband, who actively and knowingly cheated.

But that’s where we were.

 

How I handled my sh*t:

This man who cheated on his wife, pulled me into his circle and all around just knowingly acted like a complete monster, came at me as if I was the one in the wrong. He told me to get an abortion, cursed me out and told me that he didn’t care at all about me or my son.

I was done. From that moment, I decided that he would have no part of my life anymore, nor my son’s. No on will be in my son’s life that doesn’t want to be there. I am not going to force anyone to be apart of my child’s life.

I can make myself and my son available to spend time with, but they have to put in some effort.

My son’s father then had the audacity to text me after the wife debacle and tell me that he was sorry for how SHE acted. Um, excuse me, what?? You’re sorry about her behavior? Her ire may have been directed at the wrong person, but it was understandable.

Him on the other hand, he went into this knowing full well that he was doing something wrong. He knew that he was cheating on his wife. Her behavior isn’t what was wrong here, it was his. I cannot believe that he had the balls to say that to me, or anyone truly.

But his reaction made me fully committed to my impending single motherhood.

 

The delivery room:

My son did not want to come out! I was two weeks overdue and he showed no signs that he was coming any time soon. I had to be induced, which sucked. Ultimately, I ended up needing a c-section, and I wasn’t happy about this either.

I think the hardest part of it though was trying to figure out who was going to be in the room with me. Normally you would have your partner in with you, but I didn’t have one. It couldn’t be my mom because she had to work, and I had no close female relatives that could do it.

So, I chose my brother. And on the surface that seems weird. I’ve had many people look at me like I have three heads after hearing my brother was in the operating room with me. But he sees this sort of thing all the time at his job and I knew that he would be able to keep me calm during a time that I would be the most stressed.

And y’all it ended up not being weird at all. He was calm and reassuring and even when I was puking my guts out into a bag he was holding he made sure that I felt comfortable. It was the best situation that I could have asked for. And because he was there him and my son will forever have a special bond.

My brother was the first person to hold my son. He cut his umbilical cord, and he was the first person to see him open his beautiful brown eyes. And because of this no matter how often they see each other or how far away they may live I know that the two of them will forever be connected.

baby boy

Leave a comment below:

And share your birth story! Did you have a quirky or unique delivery? Tell me all about it!

Or feel free to dish about your baby’s father, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

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