Tough Right Now

Life is really tough right now.

I knew it would be, but this doesn’t make it any easier.

People ask how I am doing, and what am I supposed to say?  I tell them the truth – that it’s hard and that I am doing the best that I can – but if I truly stop and express to them just how hard and just how much I struggle, then I fear I’ll just fall apart.

I need more human contact.  My son needs more human contact.  It’s good for us.  But getting there, getting OUT, is SO. FREAKING. HARD.

Today we got up and tried to get to playgroup.  I got up around 7:45.  The playgroup started at 10:30.  By 11:45 I was still feeding my youngest a bottle.  I texted to cancel.  We ended up taking a walk, by ourselves, in the freezing cold because it was the easiest and quickest way to get outside.  Yes, it was better than nothing, but man, it sucked.

And that’s the thing – I don’t expect perfection, but I feel like I am trying my hardest and that I’m still failing.  At some point in the day, I’m always failing SOMEbody.  Sometimes it’s me (because I can’t make social contact with friends), or the baby (because she’s screaming hungry and has to wait), or my toddler (because he’s screaming that he wants to go outside but has to wait), or my husband (because he listens to me complain and cry and fall apart).

I usually start the day off trying my best to cope, like today.  But the time ticks by and more and more gets in the way of reaching our meager goals (getting to playgroup), when it finally comes crashing down because my toddler kicks me in the jaw and I burst into tears, or my baby won’t nurse even though I know she’s hungry and I burst into tears.  These days, it’s rare to get through the day without feeling like the walls are crashing down on me.

I have glimpses of hope and reminders that life gets better.  I try and hold onto those.  But living in the moment requires breaking down, because the here and now is often unbearable.  That’s why I am always on my damn phone – if I can just check out for a minute, maybe I can regroup and reenter my life.  Or just pass the time; maybe when I lift my head, things will be different.  Better.

So I’m coping.  At least I am getting more sleep these days, but I am still choosing sleep over most other things.  I choose sleep over chores, over human interaction, over getting out of the house.  Because if I am not moderately rested, nothing else matters.  That may sound dramatic, but it’s true.  Here’s the catch, though: if I’m not a zombie physically (sleep deprived), then I’m a zombie emotionally (isolated).  It’s like I can’t win.

Not to mention that this winter, everyone and their mom is sick.  Everyone in my family was sick a month ago, including my newborn, and that was pure hell.  Less sleep and meeting with other people all mean a higher chance of getting sick again…so perhaps hunkering down is what we just need to do right now, even though I don’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter at the moment.  I suppose all these circumstances just mean I super prioritize what get togethers we try and attend.

Lest I begin rambling, I will simply repeat my point in closing.

Life is really tough right now.

Best Present Ever

Today is my birthday, which means I usually: 1) get a massage, 2) go to Starbucks, and 3) write a blog post.  Today is no exception.

So far, today has been fabulous.  My little girl started sleeping through the night about 3 days ago, which has been a godsend because everyone in the family (including her, poor thing) is sick.  Today, my babies let me sleep in til 9am.  NINE. In the MORNING.  Best birthday present ever.

We snuggled and breastfed and ate breakfast and danced and sang.  I tried on my pre-pregnancy jeans (always a gamble) AND THEY (just barely) FIT.  Let’s just take a moment to glow in that last sentence.  Aah.  As if that weren’t enough, I saw a rainbow on the drive here.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw a leprechaun today.  Or maybe Bigfoot.

So.  Since last year I blogged about my own birth, and since then I’ve given birth, so let’s talk about that one.

The two times I’ve given birth were extremely different.  For my first, I was induced, labor took 32 hours (including 2.5 hours of pushing), and ended in a vaginal birth aided by an epidural.

The short version of my second L&D is as follows: labor was so fast that it only took 3 hours and ended with me giving birth on my bathroom floor while my baby was delivered by firefighters.  It was the most physically painful and intense experience of my entire life.

Allow me to back up.  Because I was induced last time at 41 weeks, I was determined to do everything in my power to try and go into labor naturally.  I asked my OB to sweep my membranes on Tuesday, December 20 when I was 39 weeks +1.  Initially I had some cramping, but nothing major.  At 2am Thursday morning, I woke up with contractions.  They were mild, but strong enough to wake me up, and I found that they were coming at regular intervals once I started tracking them.

I woke my husband and we called L&D.  The nurse asked me a bunch of questions but she wasn’t convinced I was in labor because the intensity of my contractions just wasn’t there.  She advised to call my childcare person to come over but to wait another 30 minutes and see if the contractions ramped up at all.  Her guess was that this was false labor and they’d go away and she was right.  I felt horrible for getting my friend (who was also pregnant) out of bed for a false alarm, but we all went back to sleep.

That day I took it easy and had a few wimpy contractions here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary.  We went to bed.  I woke up at 3am Friday morning with contractions again.  This time, as I tracked them, their intensity increased but their frequency was all over the place.  Around 5am Brian woke up and I told him what was going on and we talked about what to do between contractions.  At 5:20 we decided to call L&D, so I said I’d get up to pee and then we’d call.

I stood up and quickly discovered that I couldn’t walk as the intensity of my contractions rapidly increased.  I turned around, grabbed the side of the bed and instinctively swayed and moaned to get through the waves of pain.  Brian was still quite groggy and wasn’t grasping onto what was happening so I finally barked at him to get up and help me walk to the toilet.  As we moved I started to panic because my body no longer felt like it belonged to me; some force had just taken over.

As soon as I sat down on the toilet, my water broke.  I turned to my husband and told him (screamed at him) to call L&D.  Immediately, my body was rocked to the core by a contraction that started pushing my baby out of me.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  My instinct was to try to suppress the urge to push because there was no way my baby was coming so early.  In hindsight, this probably made things all the more painful.

My husband couldn’t hear what the nurse was saying over my screams, but she could most definitely hear me scream that I needed to push, I need to push!  She told him to hang up and call 911.  By this time it was 5:40am…and my baby was born at 5:57am.  It took the firefighters 9 minutes to get to our house, and Audrey was born 8 minutes after that.

The dispatcher told my husband to get me flat on my back and to get some towels.  It was only then that it dawned on me that they were getting me ready to have the baby right there on the bathroom floor.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified in my entire life.

My husband started grabbing our good towels we got as wedding presents and, in true form, I was still able to scream, NO!  NOT THE GOOD TOWELS!  GET THE OLD ONES! because I’m a freak.  And bless him, he got the old towels for me.  The dispatcher continued to ask questions, one of which was, Do you see the head?  He looked once, no.  He looked again, and yes, yes he could.  YOU CAN SEE THE HEAD?!  I screamed in reply.  I was still in shock and denial about what was happening.  Contractions were back to back at this point and  I was screaming pretty much the whole time.  In case you’re wondering, my two-year-old was down the hall and slept through the whole thing.  Like I said, my kids (angels) are sleepers.

We could hear the firetruck arrive and B ran downstairs (still in only his boxers) to let them in.  They had trouble finding me at first but I think they just followed the screams.  I immediately asked them for pain meds – ANYTHING! – and they sadly shook their heads and said they couldn’t.  I was devastated.

Pretty soon her head was born (worst pain of my entire life) and they told me to keep pushing to get the rest of her body out, and I remember thinking that I just couldn’t.  I needed that 15 second rest between contractions.  I pushed again and she was out.  She wasn’t crying right away and I held out my arms for her, but it felt like an eternity while he rubbed her back, suctioned her mouth and got her properly breathing.  Once it was apparent that we were both just fine, the 6 firefighters who were crammed into my bathroom were overjoyed.  They proudly announced the time of birth and her Apgar score.

They had B cut the cord and gave us the shears to keep, joking that they make great cigar cutters.  One firefighter asked for our phones and started snapping pictures.  She was here.  My little girl was in the world.  I couldn’t believe it.

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We were carried downstairs and into the ambulance and taken to the hospital.  A few firefighters even stayed behind at the house to wait for my childcare person to get there.  Later that day, she brought my son to the hospital so he could meet Audrey.  We came back home the next day – Christmas Eve – to start our lives as a family of four.

Best Christmas present ever.

Juggling Act

I can say that having a newborn the second time around, for me, has been easier than the first time.  That leap from non-parent to parent was so intense and life-changing, and nothing could have ever prepared me for that experience.

This time, though, I’ve realized that the only thing that can prepare you for baby number two (if anything) is…baby number one.  And it’s not the baby that’s doing the preparing, exactly, but it’s the experience of being a parent, of having to care for a newborn.  This time, I knew to expect the extreme sleep deprivation, and what that felt like.  I knew to expect feeling isolated, feeling trapped inside the house, feeling resentment at my baby, at my husband, at everyone who wasn’t me and didn’t have my issues.  I also knew to expect that this newborn phase would pass (and quickly), that there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel.  I had done this before; I could do it again.

Because of this previous experience, I think I was able to fall in love with my baby a whole lot sooner than with my first.  This time, I had already given up my freedom, my childless status, my sanity, so there was no resentment.  I had little else left to lose!  I’m already crazy, baby, so you can’t even come close to rocking my world (in a negative way) the way my first one did.

And this time, this baby made my family complete.  Because she’s my last kid, I figure I had better enjoy the good parts while I can.  I also did this with my first, to be sure, but it’s different when you know something is the last time going in.

Another point is that we already had all the baby crap.  There wasn’t new stuff to research and buy and worry if you’re getting the right thing, or enough things.  We had all the things!  They just needed to be washed, is all.  Easy-peasy.

This time, it’s been a little easier because we, my husband and I, have more balls to just smile and nod while our baby’s doctors tell us to do impossibly time consuming and unrealistic things, and then go home and do what we know will work for us.  Namely, we’ve been told with both babies to wake them up to eat every 2-3 hours.  We are blessed with babies who love their sleep.  Waking them up made them pissed (like me) and they didn’t want to eat.  It wasn’t working.  We killed ourselves trying to comply with the doctor’s orders for baby number one.  For this one, fuck that.  We’re letting her sleep, and guess what – it’s working.  And that’s only one example, but it’s an important lesson to just follow your gut because it’s made all the difference.

This time around, my physical recovery was easier, which may seem counterintutitive.  I was anemic with my first, so I felt weak, tired, and out of breath.  This time, although my labor and delivery was crazy amounts more intense than the first (that’s another post entirely), I’ve felt more energetic and sooooo happy to have my body back.

One of the biggest reasons why this is more manageable: my husband and I have already hashed out how we deal with all the baby-related chores.  This may not sound like a big deal, but trying to figure out who does what and when and how and what feels fair is the biggest deal of them all.  It’s so easy to feel alone, unsupported, and resentful when you don’t feel like your partner is doing their fair share of the work.  We got through all those sleep deprived, tear stained arguments two years ago, so now we’re good.  Feeling the ease of routine and the support from my husband has been incredible.

So what’s been hard?  The hardest part by far has been trying to meet both my kids’ needs, often simultaneously, not to mention trying to meet my own.  There’s always at least one person waiting for needs to be met, and it kills me.  I feel like I owe both my kids an apology.  I’m sorry to my toddler, who’s been used to having my undivided attention his entire life and suddenly has to share me and wait for things.  I’m sorry to my infant who has never known my attention to be undivided, who sometimes has to wait for things.  I never worried about being able to love both my kids; that part is easy.  But feeding them at the same time?  Goodness help me.  It’s one huge juggling act.

How am I holding up?  Better than with my first baby, that’s for sure.  The first 6 months with him were the hardest, and if this time is anything like the first, then I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel: come June, I’ll be getting more sleep, we’ll have found our new normal, we’ll have a routine and a schedule, I’ll feel better in my body and I’ll be ready to be more active and my god, the weather will be nicer.  Walks!  Parks!  Bike rides!

Right now, I’m rediscovering a realization I had when my son was tiny: that good days and bad days don’t depend on what happens, but they depend entirely on how I am feeling and my ability to cope with what happens.  If I am well rested and have patience, it’s going to be a good day.  If I can remember to sing and dance and laugh, it’s going to be a good day.  Even if that day includes a tantrum and tears and potty accidents.  That all may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s huge.  It makes all the difference.

Here’s to surviving the newborn phase being a mom of two.  Cheers.

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Swirling Hot Mess of Emotions

My heart is just so bursting full…of everything.  Love, gratitude, depression, exhaustion, sadness, grief, body image issues, joy.

My mood swings are controlling me.  I feel like my whole life is out of control, and rightly so…because was it ever within my control to begin with?  Like when my son was born, this out of control feeling lit a fire under my usually only moderately crazy OCD tendencies.  I go nuke if something goes missing.  I clean even when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  I try and control the things in my house because I can’t control any. thing. else.

Being alone with my two kids often terrifies me.

The things my body is capable of continue to astound me.

Breastfeeding is a beast.  I’m having PTSD flashbacks around what it was like to breastfeed my son two years ago.  I hate how my entire outlook on life depends on how well our last breastfeeding session went. And they are hit or miss.  At least she’s latching better than my son did and I am very thankful to report that, for whatever reason, I am actually making more milk than I did after my first pregnancy.  Huzzzzzzah.

I hate talking to lactation consultants. They mean well, but man they hit me squarely on my breastfeeding shame trigger. On one hand, it’s my fault that I can’t feed my kid. The simplest thing ever, just feeding her so she doesn’t die. I’m not doing the right position, or I’m not making enough milk, or I’m not pumping enough, not getting enough sleep.  Take your pick.  On the other, it’s her behavior that’s getting in the way because she pushes and claws and bites and thrashes around and screams.  And I resent her for it. Damnit. Either way, horrible mother. And in suggesting I try something different, like massage the breast, use a hot compress, nipple shield, football hold, pump, pump, PUMP – the lactation consultants just seem to highlight the fact that IT’S NOT WORKING and somehow it’s all my fault. You see the spiral.

In order to get through days without falling apart, I’ve had to work hard to disconnect myself from my feelings. It feels so yucky to just numb out like that, but the alternative is to burst into tears while listening to a voice in my head that is wailing, “It’s noon and we just finished breakfast! We can’t do this! How are we supposed to be able to get outside today? Or brush your teeth? Or put on pants?!”

Instead, I have to force myself to listen to the other voice, the emotionally sterile voice saying, “Hey. Now we need to feed the baby. Your toddler can wait to eat, but she’s screaming. Go on now, first things first.”  It’s a constant struggle, but it works.  And some days are easier than others.

When I look back, I realize that 2015 was the year when nothing happened.  I know I blogged about how it was the year a grew into being a mom, and I am so glad that I had that time with my son.  That year, we didn’t change marital status.  We didn’t move.  We didn’t change jobs.  We didn’t get pregnant or have any babies.  Things were stable and boring.  Yay for boring!

My hope is that 2017 is like that, too.  I’d like the time and space to develop a routine with my kids, a relationship with my daughter, and a new relationship with myself as a mom of two.  As for 2016…that was the year when things got progressively harder.  I got pregnant, I got tired, then I got huge and tired.  I slowed down while my toddler sped the fuck up.  I had daily pain for a while and I could barely bend over to pick up things my toddler had dropped…or thrown.  We still managed to have a lot of fun in 2016, though.  We went camping and (barely) survived.  I applied for a job I didn’t end up taking, but it was nice to put on professional clothes again.  We took our son trick-or-treating and he loved it.  We took him to the snow and had mixed results.  We took a trip to California and had fun seeing family.  We took our first family road trip and D danced at his first wedding.  We successfully became DAYTIME POTTY TRAINED, people!  We went to the zoo and hunted for Easter eggs and went on a train and picked strawberries and saw a parade and ate ice cream and played in the water features and went to the planetarium and went to the pumpkin patch and toured a cheese factory.  Whew.

I’m glad I just typed all of that out because, according to that list, 2016 wasn’t all that bad.  We were a family!  We really got to enjoy my son being a fun age.  My hope for 2017 is that things just get better from here on out.

Even though my current days are often dark, I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Part of it is because I’ve been through this once before.  I know a little better what to expect, and we’ve already adjusted how we’re dealing with raising a newborn since the first time.  Another part is that I’m done making babies.  This is it; this is my family, and it’s beautiful!  I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted, and I feel so amazingly (hashtag) blessed, as cliche as that sounds.  But it’s true.

And with that, this blog post has come full circle.  It’s a swirling hot mess of emotions: welcome to my life.  My beautiful, imperfect, perfect life.

 

 

50 Happy Things 2016: Bloggers Flood the Internet With Gratitude

My fellow blogger friend, Dawn, did this gratitude post last year and it was awesome, so I am joining in again this year.  Read my list and then see below for how to join in!

50 Things I am Grateful For, and/or Made Me Happy in 2016

  1. My son
  2. My husband
  3. My house – making it feel more like a home
  4. Potty training my son – no small feat
  5. Getting pregnant and all the anticipation that comes with that
  6. My health
  7. My family’s health
  8. My ability to practice self care
  9. Reading to my son, both with and without my husband
  10. Watching my son grow and learn with amazement and pride
  11. Hillary Clinton
  12. The hope that Hillary’s campaign brought to my life
  13. Last Week Tonight – you know, John Oliver’s show
  14. Discovered The Newsroom – makes me wish that show was real
  15. The local moms I have met and gotten to know.  They are so kind and willing to help me out.  Giving me baby things and watching my son for free – it’s amazing and I am so thankful.
  16. My OB.  I found a new one and she’s funny and smart and no-nonsense.
  17. My Portland friend who listens and helps without blinking an eye.  Thank you.
  18. Blogging and writing.  I hope to do more of it…someday.
  19. Sleep.  I’m on the verge of not getting much anymore, and so I cherish it now.
  20. The new bed we bought this year.  Seriously.
  21. Trips into Portland for good food.
  22. Trips to California to see our families.
  23. My family of origin, who visit and help out and love me and my son.
  24. Thankful that I am ready for baby to come, and also ready for Christmas.  The feeling brings peace when her arrival is so unpredictable.
  25. The look on my kid’s face when he’s discovering something new, exciting, enchanting, or delicious.
  26. Singing, and music.
  27. Really good books.  Like Amy Schumer’s book, which I just finished.
  28. Alan Rickman.
  29. Harry Potter.  I can’t wait to share these stories with my kids!
  30. Robin Williams.  I still end up quoting him almost once a day.
  31. Laughter.  Especially the shared kind.
  32. Baking. (and eating what I bake)  I don’t do it nearly enough.
  33. A really neatly wrapped present.

…aaaaaaand the timer just went off, so here I stop.

UPDATE:  So I totally thought of a few more things after I originally posted this, so I am adding them here:

34. Yoga.  It centers me, it calms me, it makes me feel strong.

35. Barack Obama.  I am REALLY going to miss that guy.

36. Michelle Obama.  She is a class act and an amazing role model and source of hope.  When they go low, she goes high.

37. The snow, when it insulates the world and makes everything magically QUIET.

38.  The pouring rain, when I am inside and warm and cozy in bed.

39.  Summer.  My god, summer.

———————-

Want to do this too?!  GREAT!  Here’s how:

  1. Set a timer for 15 minutes
  2. Just write as many things as you can, even if you go over or stay under the 50
  3. Then add links, photos, whatever, after the timed part is over
  4. Publish it, and link back to Dawn’s post or mine (or both) and if you wanna be included in the InLinkz, see instructions on Dawn’s post.

I’m definitely not done with 2016 yet, but so far, it’s been real.

Ready for the Unknown

Today was the first day I felt actually ready and excited to have this baby.

You know, because you never really feel ready-ready, and nothing can ever actually prepare you.

I’m due on the 26th and today I am 38 weeks + 2.  I started feeling crampy and achey last night while I was bending and lifting and standing to wrap Christmas presents.  It felt like the familiar daily race to get things done before my body gave out, except with more urgency this time.

I took a hot shower and the steady stream of water felt really great on my lower back.  I went to bed feeling oddly calm paired with the crampy anticipation and excitement that maybe this baby would be coming soon.

As the night wore on, with each successive trip to go pee, I felt more contractions and more anticipatory excitement that eventually kept me up from about 4-5:30am.  I started bargaining as I frequently do: please, just wait until morning so we don’t have to wake the kid and rush out of here to the hospital.  Also, please don’t wait too long and kick in just as the forecasted snow starts falling in the afternoon, making it hard for us to get to the hospital.

Arg, being unable to plan for something so important is making me go batty.  As much as I complained about being induced with my first baby, I am now realizing how it took away a lot of this uncertainty.

B got up for work and I told him I thought I was in the early stages of labor.  He asked if there was anything he could do, and there really wasn’t, so he got ready and left for work and we both assumed I’d be calling him in a few hours to get to the hospital.

This is perfect, I thought.  We’ll make the window between sleep and snow, and all my support people are still in town today.  And I’ll get to hold my baby!

As I lay there, I started thinking about the date and what her birthday might be, how labor would go, what I still needed to pack.  My mind was whirring.

It took some effort, but I was able to sleep for a few more hours.  I woke with continued mild contractions and started packing more stuff into my hospital bag.  Then I started my day with the kid and we had breakfast and…..then nothing really happened.

Contractions stayed the same.  We played, had lunch.  The snow began to fall.  Shit, I got nervous.  The window was gone, and now I just knew I’d go into labor just in time for the snarl of traffic that was sure to happen.  And it’s a 20-30 minute drive to the hospital with no traffic at all.  I texted B at work and we agreed that we’d call 911 to request a police escort if it came to it.

I worried that I was waiting too long.  What if these contractions were the real thing and my tolerance for pain is freakishly amazing?  The whole day felt like one long contraction anyway, as my uterus tightens up anytime I stand up to move.  I worried I’d end up having the baby at home, in the car.  I was questioning my judgement.

Once I finally got the kid down for his nap and I was able to relax and try to chart my contractions, I could tell there was no rhythm, no intensity, no buildup.  At the same time, I can feel that my body has turned a corner.  It’s definitely getting ready.  Just how ready and how quickly?

Leading up to today I’ve been doing a different kind of bargaining.  It’s the thing where I’m sick and tired of being pregnant but still had shit I needed to get done before she got here.  Christmas shopping needed to be finished.  There was wrapping to be done.  Decorating needed to happen.  We even did our Christmas brunch early.  And not to mention all the normal baby stuff that needed to be ready.  Washing clothes, folding, putting away.  We moved the kid into his new room along with all his stuff to make room for baby stuff.  Car seats, carriers, bouncy seats, etc.

But as of last night…all that was largely done.  We did it.  We got ready.  We’re ready.  Holy crap!

As I just typed that, I realized we never got to that point when I was pregnant the first time, because at 38 weeks we moved into this house.  In the three weeks before I was induced we were scrambling to get boxes unpacked just so we’d know where the pots and pans and underwear were – forget any kind of nesting or decorating.  So that makes sense now that I actually feel ready.  I’m thankful for the feeling…even though it can’t ever be ready-ready.

So now, we wait.  Come on out, little miss.  There’s a layer of snow on the ground and it’s beautiful, just for you.

 

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.