I’ve Found Your Word

When I was pregnant with my first baby, his movements made me come up with a word that described his personality.  I blogged about it.

And now I’ve come up with a word for my daughter: mischievous.

Her distinctive move as of late is to wait until I am asleep and then wedge herself up under the right side of my ribcage.  Once I wake up to pee, which is often, and feel the pain, it’s too late.  Her damage has been done.

What is it with my babies enjoying the right side of my uterus?!  Does it have an ocean view?  Fresh paint?  Hardwood floors?  I guess I’ll never know.

She also enjoys dragging her pointy, pointy little elbows across the width of my abdomen, which makes for quite a show from the outside.  And lately she’s been snuggling down lower and lower, which I understand is a good thing, since she’s getting ready for her big debut, but my bladder really doesn’t appreciate it.  And I really hope she doesn’t start pinching my cervix like my first did, because whoa man, that shit hurts like a baby on the cervix.

And it never fails – every time I have babydaddy put his hand on my tummy to feel baby going crazy with her breakdance fighting lessons, she stops.  Just like that.

So enjoy your time in there, Little Miss.  I only hope I’m calling you mischievous because I’m cranky and this pregnancy seems longer and harder than the first and not because you’re gearing up to give me a hard time.

Either way, I’m on to you.

I know where you live.

 

The Day After

My parents just left after a week-long visit and I’m sad.

The day after kind, helpful company leaves is always tough, for many reasons.  One, I’ve just lost a huge help in terms of cleaning and food prep and all the energy it takes to give attention to Dylan.  Two, Dylan gets very used to all the constant, undivided attention during the visit and he’s usually more needy and whiny than usual after they leave, and I’m left to deal with that.  Three, I’ve just lost rational, adult humans to talk to and eat with every day.  It highlights just how isolated and alone I often feel on a daily basis, despite my growing efforts to reach out and meet new people with whom I can meaningfully connect (which is a struggle and a whole other post of its own).

Plus, fourth, the leaving highlights just how far away from family we are and how much that sucks.  We’re coming up on second baby’s birthing time, and I’ve had to arrange a phone tree of sorts of local friends who can keep my son alive while we wait for family to hop on a plane and get here once I go into labor.  I suppose it’s time to find some babysitters in the area we can call and *gulp* actually pay to watch my spawn from time to time, but that’s just not the same as having grandma and grandpa just across town.

Not long after Bamma and Pa-pa left, I looked at the forecast on my phone.  Readers, fellow Psychos, you all know how much the weather affects my mood.  The last two days have been mercifully sunny and delightfully warmish for this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and I did my best to enjoy them.  We got outside and went to parks, synthesized some vitamin D and some sanity.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, in a few short hours the skies are going to open up again with a series of storms with no end in sight, says my irrational sad brain.  Ah, symbolism.  You stormy bitch.

So, visits are hard.  They are fun and exciting and something to break up the often horribly mind-numbing sameness of my days…but once they are over, the sameness I return to seems to become even more mind-numbing.

 

 

The Cranky Mommy Waddle

My son just turned two.

TWO.

He’s active.

He’s kinda like a time bomb, actually, and if I don’t get him outside burning off steam, he’s going to explode yucky kid goo all over the walls of my house.

And so we walk to the park.

Well, I waddle.

I can’t move very fast anymore.  Moving hurts me.  And while it’s great that there are several parks within a few blocks of my house, my kid still insists on running away from me, often into the street.

Jesus ouch goes my fast waddle.

I’m told this is a common problem (the running into the street…but I guess also the waddle.  but I was originally referring only to the running).  So why can’t parents with brains design human parks like they design dog parks?  Toddlers and dogs ain’t that much different, folks.  Fence them in.  Mommy’s tired of running.  And by running I mean waddle-shuffling.

And another thing.  Plant some damn trees.  I know this is Oregon, but occasionally we have this thing called sunlight.

I have delicate skin that’s constantly being sucked dry by my greedy fetus.  And my pregnant body is already 1002 degrees.  Mama needs the shade.

And while you’re at it, add in a little Starbucks booth.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just big enough for a sexy college dropout barista and that whoosh-whoosh machine that makes the foam.

Cuz sleep is getting harder to come by and we all know this is only going to get worse.  I need to stay just conscious enough while I’m resting my eyes in the shade so that I can take my dog-child back home after he’s burned off a sufficient amount of evil.

See you tomorrow, fellow park-goers.

 

Like Nothing Had Ever Happened

It started like any ordinary day.

And that’s the thing – these days, most days were just that – ordinary.  Sure, some moments stuck out for better or for worse, but they were mostly spent in the monotony of keeping her kid safe, clothed, fed, occupied.

As she lied in bed, she could hear her son happily babbling over the baby monitor.  He rarely woke up in a bad mood.  She got up and started her usual routine of making the bed, getting dressed, dragging a brush through her hair, and then she went to go get her son.

As soon as she opened his bedroom door, the stale odor of his poopy diaper floated out to greet her.  And then she could see, under her smiling, blond baby boy, that his crib sheet was quite soiled.

She sighed.

First things first, she thought, Diaper change, then strip the bed, then laundry.

As it turned out, the leak was so bad that this kid, who normally only got two baths a week, needed a quick one from the waist down.  He was delighted.  She was already exhausted.

She got all the dirty things in a pile, shoved them in the washer, threw in some extra OxyClean, and got the boy downstairs for breakfast and to move on with the day.  And not a moment too soon, because being pregnant with baby number two meant that breakfast needed to come asap in order to stave off the dizzy spells.  And all that bending over for the sheets and bath weren’t doing her any favors, either.

Breakfast was uneventful, but since the pre-breakfast cleanup took so long, she decided to just stay home and play inside between breakfast and lunch.  Hopefully they could get to the water features after lunch and before nap.

When the washer was done, both mom and son trekked back upstairs to transfer everything to the dryer.

The toddler had run off to play somewhere and mom opened the washer to discover that the poop stains had gotten worse, not better.  Upon frustrated inspection, she found that matter from the leaked diaper had stayed inside the pajamas and had been let loose inside the washer to wreak further havoc.  Everything would now have to be hand-treated and rewashed.

Just as she was silently swearing to herself, there was a loud crash.  It sounded like breaking glass, but it also didn’t register.  What the hell could he have gotten into? was her immediate thought as she turned to find him.

He was in his room, looking stunned and standing next to a floor lamp that was now entirely on the floor.  Glass was everywhere.  Both were barefoot.

She burst into tears.

He burst into tears.

She tiptoed across the carpet, picked him up, tiptoed back across the glass minefield and immediately went downstairs, leaving everything just where it was.  Poop stains and broken glass.

Feeling completely overwhelmed, she called her husband at work and a fresh round of tears choked her words as she tried to explain what had happened and that she needed him to come home.

Please help.  I can’t do this.

A mercifully short 15 minutes later, her husband was upstairs being amazing by cleaning up the mess.

It looks like a crime scene up here! he called down the stairs.

No shit.

He explained that he looked up the proper way to clean up mercury, because he didn’t want to stir up all the yucky particles.

Oh, fuck!  The actual bulb broke, too?!  I thought it was just the glass of the lamp.  I didn’t even look.  Good thing we got out of there and I didn’t even try to clean up.  Ugh.

He cleaned.  Mom and son had lunch.  They didn’t make it to the water features that day.  Instead, they played in the kiddie pool in their yard.  Not knowing the changed plans, the son had fun just the same.  Right in time for a nap, the dad had the room all clean.  No glass, new sheets.  Like nothing had ever happened.

The dad (thankyouthankyouthankyou) went back to work and the mom spent the quiet nap time working the stains out of the load of laundry by hand. As if the stains were demons and the sheets were motherhood.

She washed the load again.  This time, the stains came out.

Like nothing had ever happened.

 

Camping with a Toddler

We love to camp.

I grew up camping.  I was a Girl Scout for 11 years and then a camp counselor.  After that, my boyfriend, now husband (whom I met whilst camp counseling) got me hooked on backpacking.

I developed that love-hate relationship with it, where while I’m hiking up the hill in 1354627 degree heat, I just want to die…but once I get to the top, it’s all worth it.  Survival.  Independence.  Self-reliance.  All that good stuff that we are so excited to pass on to our kid.

We realized we hadn’t been camping in 4 years, and since I’m pregnant with #2, we needed to get in a trip RIGHT NOW before I am too big and before we have a screaming baby to take care of.

The short version of this story: camping was fucking hard.

Before going, I had read several articles about how camping with kids was so doable, you guys!  Just get out there and do it!

And, like a sucker, I was like, YEAH!  Let’s do this!  What could go wrong?!

The hardest part was trying to keep some kind of normal sleep schedule for my almost 2 year old.  He barely napped in the car on the way there.  Strike one.

We went out for dinner so we could hurry to the campsite and set up with enough time to put the kid to bed at a reasonable hour.  Now, we don’t co-sleep and we put our kid to bed while he’s still wide awake, so it’s his job to self-soothe himself to sleep.  I originally worried that there was no way we’d be able to get a pack n play into our tent, because I didn’t see how our thrashy sleeper would get any sleep (let alone US get any sleep) lying on an open mattress next to us.  Thank goodness our hand-me-down 5 person tent was plenty big enough to fit the pack n play next to a full sized blow up mattress for my pregnant hips.  It was a good start.

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Our sleep setup

So we get him to bed, and he’s super distracted (understandable) and it takes him a while to get to bed, but he does, and without crying.  When we go in the tent to sleep, I can smell that he’s poopy (my son, not my husband).  We decided to let him sleep with the risk that the poopy might give him a rash.

It was a horrible night.  I couldn’t sleep and my son couldn’t sleep.  Like, at all.  I woke up several times to my son standing in the pnp, leaning over me, whispering Mama.  Creepy as all hell.  Go the eff to sleep, kid.

He woke up upset at 6am, when he normally sleeps til 8 or 9, sometimes even later.  I got up to change his poopy (which had leaked all over everything. perfect.) which made him scream and he wouldn’t stop…..and we woke up the entire camp and FELT HORRIBLE.

Breakfast was tough, he didn’t want to eat, he wanted to run away into the road.  I was exhausted and cranky and pregnant.

To make matters worse, we had to break down camp completely because we had to switch to a new campsite for the second night.  Ugh.  We seriously considered just going home.

But I’m glad we didn’t.

Breakfast and cleanup and breaking down camp took forever because one of us had to do all the work while the other made sure Cranky McDidn’t Sleep stayed alive.  We managed to pack a lunch, get the hell outta there, and went to the beach (a very short drive away).  Dylan perked up, ate, ran through the freezing ankle-deep water.  We all had fun.  We saw a 100 year old shipwreck!

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Then we got to the second campsite and set everything up with enough time for Dylan to actually get a nap in before dinner.  He had to cry himself to sleep in order to do it, but he just needed to fuck-ing sleeeeeeeeeeep.

Unfortunately, he woke for dinner sooper cranky and crying and wanting to run out into the road, again.  It was incredibly frustrating and scary.  Everything during camping is hard to do anyway – cooking, washing dishes, set up, clean up – and it went even slower because one of us had to constantly be following Dylan around.  I now totally understand why parents put their kids in leashes.  Sign me up.

Thank goodness we had the genius forethought to plan hotdogs for dinner, because Dylan ate like a champ and I kid you not – halfway through the meal, his cranky whines stopped and he looked up at me and said, very calmly, Hi.  In response, I said, “Welcome back!”  And he was back, just like that.  My sweet, lovable, obedient little boy.  We went for a walk around the campground and he had his first s’more (loooved it) and we put him to bed and everything was glorious.  That night I slept, he slept, we all SLEPT.  And Dylan woke at his normal time, smiling and giggling like the horror that was yesterday never happened.

We had oatmeal and packed up and saw a cool fort and drove home and it was a very lovely day.  No one tried to run out into the road!

So.  Overall, it was a success.  A hard-fought success.

A few pointers for those still brave enough to attempt:

  1. Bring extra bedding.  Our leaky poopy experience taught us the hard way.
  2. Plan simple meals.  This one saved us.  Ain’t nobody got time for fancy meals when everything takes ten times as long and you have a hungry, cranky kid running into the road.
  3. Pack early.  With kids, you have to bring a lot of extra shit.  We left later than we wanted because we were scrambling to get everything and to make sure it all fit in the car.
  4. Reserve your campsite early.  The reason we had to switch campsites was because no one campsite was open two nights in a row because we waited so long to book.  Apparently people in Oregon loves them some camping.
  5. Be prepared to leave early if you need to.  Because every well-intentioned plan needs a backup.  Or an escape route.

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I’m very glad we went.  I’m glad we didn’t come home early.

And I don’t plan to do this again any time soon.

What to Expect When You’re Exhausted

I’m going to need some seriously awesome suggestions for family Halloween costumes, you guys.

Cuz my seriously knocked-up self is going to be pretty huge by then, so I gotta take full advantage of this costume-wearing opportunity.

Yup, you heard me.  I’m preggers again and it hardly feels real.

Well, so far it just feels exhausting and I doubt that will change for a very, very long time.  I wish I could go back to my pregnant-for-the-first-time-self and tell her how easy she had it.  She could rest and nap whenever she wanted.  She could eat whenever she wanted.  She could watch whatever she wanted on TV, whenever.  And she didn’t have a demanding, energetic toddler to waddle after.  Ugh, this is hard.

And the scary thing is, I only see it getting harder.  How do SAHMs take care of a toddler and a newborn?  I don’t see how it’s possible, and I have no idea how I’m going to do it.

I worry about my mental health.  It’ll be winter, it’ll be cold and rainy.  I’m not going to want to go anywhere, and I’ll feel alone.

I have hope in knowing that this phase will be temporary.  That I got through it before, and I’ll get through it again.  That I have some good mommy instincts and that I have some great tools and experience under my belt that I didn’t have the first time.  That the kids will grow and change and gradually become more independent from me.  And at the same time, I don’t want to already be wishing away all the cuddly newborn snuggle time.

So there you have it- exciting and terrifying all intertwined.

But seriously – ideas for Halloween???

 

Post Office Angel

Dylan was about two months old and I was determined to get his birth announcements sent out in the mail.

…Even though everyone had already seen pictures of him on Facebook.  But this seemed special, like something you do.  You know, something to keep the post office in business.

It seemed like it took forever to have the photo shoot (where we cranked up the heat in our home when it was already 90 degrees outside, and even then Dylan still cried through most of it…and then pooped, and then fell asleep), and design the damn cards, and order them, and have them delivered, and address the envelopes……having a newborn, it was a miracle all this even happened at all.

So he was a full two months old, maybe more, and we made the trip to the post office.  I made sure his diaper was changed and he was fed and burped and that I was actually wearing pants, and then we left.

We got into the post office and got in line.  Dylan started whimpering.  I used my foot to kinda rock him in his car seat.

We got to the front of the line and I bought all the stamps I needed.  I moved us over to a side counter to start adding the 836452628 stamps to the pile of envelopes I had.  Dylan’s whimpers got louder, and my anxiety went up.  There were quite a few people in there and I didn’t want to disturb anyone.

After another few moments, I picked up his car seat and moved us into the lobby, which also has counter space.  Now, the inside of the post office was air conditioned.  The lobby was not.  It was very hot out, and I was still sporting the post-pregnancy spare tire of fat that felt like a portable heater I couldn’t take off.  Ugh.

As sweat dripped down my legs, I tried to put on those stamps as fast as I could.  With my head down, I couldn’t see a lady come up to us.  She commented on how cute Dylan was, asked how old he was, and then asked if I would like some help.

I gladly accepted.

The middle-aged lady was probably about as old as my own parents.  “Are these his birth announcements?” she asked.

THAT’S INCREDIBLE!  HOW DID YOU KNOW?! 

“Yes,”  I replied.

Dylan continued to cry, and she commented on how calm I was.

CALM?!  I DON’T FEEL CALM!  THIS IS WHY WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE, LIKE, EVER!

I realized I must look calm on the outside.  My experience working with therapy clients in crisis has taught me well.

“Well…there’s not much I can do right now,” I said, “And this will only take a minute.”

THAT’S MY GROWN-UP PART TALKING.  DON’T BELIEVE HER!!  SHE’S JUST PRETENDING!

She nodded.  “We’ve all been there.  Such an exciting time,”  she said as she finished her half of the pile.

I thanked her a lot and then she was gone.

Thank you, kind lady.  Thank you for not judging me.  Thank you so much for helping me.

Obviously, the experience has stuck with me.


nanopoblano2015lightDay 9

Six Things I’d Do Differently During Labor and Delivery (and some things I wouldn’t)

On this day last year, I was induced to give birth to my first child.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year…it went by super fast.  As I usually do, I’ve been looking back on my experiences a year ago and have been having all the feelings.

I plan to eventually have another kid, and that makes me think of what I might like to do differently with the second labor and delivery.  And even as I write that previous sentence, I realize how pointless it would be to count on my wishes coming true, because for all I know, my second labor will be totally different because that’s how the universe works.

But, for the hell of it, here are some things I’d do differently, followed by some things I did that were totally right for me.

Things I’d do differently whilst expelling a baby from my body

  1. Advocate more fiercely against being induced

We have Kaiser Oregon insurance, and for some reason they have a guideline to push induction at 41 weeks.  I know plenty of other midwives/doctors/facilities who won’t induce until 42 weeks.  Either way, I don’t like feeling pushed to force my body into doing something it clearly isn’t ready to do.  Next time, I plan to bring this topic up sooner with my midwife and advocate for as natural a process as possible.

2. Ask my midwife when she plans to go on a frickin vacation

My midwife went on vacation the very week I was due, and then I had to have the induction discussion with a midwife I had just met.  It sucked.  Medical people – please tell your pregnant patients well in advance when you’re planning a vacation.  Grr.

3. Bring (even more of) my own crap to the hospital for delivery

Our Kaiser hospital claimed to be a “breastfeeding friendly” hospital.  What that really translated to was, “We won’t provide you with simple things like breastfeeding pillows, and the things we do provide, we’ll judge you for not bringing your own.”

I’ll start with the breastfeeding pillow.  I had one, but I left it at home.  My hospital only provided those thin, plasticy hospital pillows, and I had to stack 6-8 pillows around me in order to get my kid in the right position to even try latching.  It was awkward and very inconvenient.

Since my boy had trouble latching, they asked if I had brought my breast pump.  I said no.  They gave me one, but it came with a glare.

Next time, I am bringing all my own stuff.

4. Do everything I can to minimize interruptions and distractions

Nurses and doctors and photographers and clowns and dancing bears were coming in and out of my room juuust about every 30 minutes.  Are you frickin kidding me?!  There is no way anyone can get any sleep or try to breastfeed with that parade of crazy.  This hospital claimed to offer “collaborative care” for my baby and me, meaning that the baby’s doctor and my doctor would work together as a team.  Well you know what?  That never happened.  It didn’t help to have my doc come and take my vitals and then my baby’s doc came to take his vitals 20 minutes later.  After this happened to us many times, my husband and I finally had to actually yell at a nurse to get her to leave.  And my husband doesn’t yell.  We were pissed.

Next time, we plan to tell everyone straight up to take our vitals at the same time and to minimize visits.  And we’re bringing paper and tape and a pen to make signs to put on our door telling the photographer to stay the hell away.  And you too, dancing bears!

5.  Advocate to switch nurses if one isn’t meeting our needs

There was one nurse who came in juuuust after I was finished trying to get my boy to latch.  And by try, I mean that we spent 20 minutes wrestling with my boob and his mouth and he was having none of it.  I put him down so we could both sleep and we’d try again later.  Enter nurse, and she insisted that it was time to nurse.  I told her we’d just tried.  Like, just.  She didn’t believe me.  She brought my baby to me and insisted that she watch while I try to get him to latch in front of her.

Looking back, I should have asked for a new nurse right then.  If I have to do it over again, I hope I have the ladyballs to do it (ask for a new nurse), because she made me feel like crap and she sucks at her job.  At the very least, I’d have my husband go to the nurses’ desk and request a new nurse.  Passive-aggressive advocating is better than no advocating at all.

6. Advocate for leaving the hospital sooner

My boy was having trouble breastfeeding, and so it took us a bit longer to figure out a feeding plan that would work for us.  I am thankful that things didn’t turn out worse, because had my boy lost any more weight they would have discharged me and kept him and I would have been very worried and peeved.  Buuut, I still feel like they took their sweet time getting us ready to go.

We were in the hospital postpartum for 2 days, but when you tack that onto being induced and laboring in the hospital for 2 full days prior, it felt like a looong time.  We were tired and cranky.  I wanted my own bed and my own shower.  Next time, I am going to be packing my bags much sooner as long as we’re all good and healthy.

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Now, I know I’ve just done a bit of bitching, but overall I am satisfied and have made peace with my experience.

Hell, there were even some things we did really well that I’ll totally do again:

  1. Brought my own pillow

Cannot emphasize this enough.

2. Brought my own snacks

Because you can’t always (or ever) count on hospital food.

3. Brought my own DVDs

Our hospital room had a DVD player, and I think watching Ryan Gosling helped to move labor along.  Seriously.

4. Made a labor playlist

Music really helps to calm me down, and although it didn’t magically end up taking the pain away, it definitely helped.  Perhaps Led Zeppelin will work for you, too.

5. Yell at people who aren’t meeting my needs

This includes husbands.  Sometimes, you just need to take your pain out on others.  It’s not healthy, but it’s like giving birth: you don’t always get what you want.

A Day Not Entirely My Own

Today is my birthday, and this birthday feels different.

I have realized how giving birth has changed my entire perspective on birthdays in general, but especially mine.

Up until now, I’ve always thought of my birthday as belonging to me; it’s my day.  The anniversary of the day I was brought into the world.

But really, the passive voice of that last sentence is misplaced.  In actuality, my birthday is the anniversary of the day my mom brought me into the world.  My mom worried and labored and felt pain and sweated and cried and felt crazy beautiful joy and relief.

I guess I couldn’t really get it until I had done the same thing for someone else.

My mom was in labor with me for 24 hours.  My dad drove her to the hospital, which was about 30 minutes away from home.  My mom remembers being pissed that my dad’s breath smelled like potato chips as he led her in the Lamaze breathing in which they had taken classes.  My parents talked about a very insensitive nurse who couldn’t get some medical reading because my mom was writhing in pain during a contraction.  I would like to be able to track down that nurse and punch her in the ear, exactly 32 years late.

At some point during the labor, my mom announced she wanted an epidural.  Apparently, someone informed my dad that it was too late in the process for an epidural to do any good, and so my dad ended up lovingly lying to my mom, telling her the pain meds would be coming any minute now.  I can only imagine how much of a champ my mom was for getting through the remainder of the laboring process completely unmedicated.

And so I came into the world at about 2:15am on February 10th, a Thursday, head first but facing up.  At that time, few parents knew the sex of their baby before birth, and my parents were no exception.  My mom wrote in my baby book that I was alert and had strawberry blonde hair, which are the exact same phrases I ended up writing in my son’s baby book.

So today, I celebrate my first birthday as a mom even though it’s not entirely my day.  And in six months, my son will get to smash his face into sweet, damp cake for the first time, but it won’t really be his day.  Not all the way, at least.  That will be a day when I’ll be telling anyone who will listen how I brought this perfect creature into the world.

…maybe that will be a day when I should make myself my own smash cake.

And by smash cake I mean celebratory booze.