You know how sometimes an old friend will cross your mind and you’ll think “I’ll write! I’ll call! I miss them!” and then life runs its normal course, and time slips away, and it is months (or – gasp! – years) later and you start to think, “Gee, it might be awkward if I called now,” or “It is probably too late to respond to that e-mail, anyway”?
Mr. Pickle is confused. Or just silly. Or maybe both.
He turned 2 in May. But he insists, though I’m sure he doesn’t quite understand the concept of numbers and counting, that he is three (“fee!”) and not two.
On second thought, perhaps he does understand the concept of counting, since he is consistently asking for “fee” and not two gummy vitamins (aka treats, aka “peets”). And yesterday, he distinctly asked for “ten” – a number I had not yet heard him use.
Anywho, I digress.
Mama Lesson # 48: Don’t let Mama watch the videos of her labor, and post-birth. She gets all clucky.
Like Mr. Pickle, I’m confused about 2 and 3, too.
The conversation has started. Do we have the time and energy – not to mention the money! – for Bebe #3? Yes, Miss Plum just turned four months old, but I’m getting older, and we’d probably get down to business and try to have a third sooner rather than later. But can we, should we, could we?
I’m trying to quiet my brain on this one…
… two healthy babies, no guarantees on the third!
… three in part-time daycare would be more than our mortgage!
… we’d forever have to get TWO hotel rooms! (Why this is important to me, I don’t know. I can’t recall the last time I stayed in a hotel.)
… my parents were at every extra-curricular I had. With three this would be impossible!
… MINIVAN?! Blech!
… I’m already exhausted!
… our house is too small!
There are one-million-three-hundred-thousand-twenty-four reasons to stop at two. The reasons to try for number three are more vague, less concrete, more emotional than practical. I guess some part of me feels like our family may not be complete yet. I feel like the fact we’re even pondering another little one, means that we should give it a go. I feel like our hearts have plenty of space to love and nurture another small little being. I love being pregnant. I love my two little doodlebugs. I love watching my husband lovingly, and patiently parent.
So while my head says “Three is crazy talk!” my heart says “Go for it!” I’m guessing that my heart will win out.
Things I am feeling bad about:
- My thank you note tardiness. They are officially too late. Booooo.
- The lack of time spent simply sitting and holding Plum Bee. I always promise myself that tomorrow I’ll sit, and sing, and rock more, and try to DO less. Didn’t I post a poem a while back? About babies not keeping? I’m going to invent a word that ends with an exclamation point that means “a directive to oneself to take one’s own advice”. Something like “FRACKENZAP!”
- My shortness towards my overworked, overtired husband.
- Breast-feeding, or the lack of breast-feeding. Plum Bee hates my boobs. Or just prefers the ease of the bottle. I’m trying to avoid the mommy guilt that follows me around every bend… more on this later.
- The lack of healthy, hot meals I’ve been eating. (Why don’t I feel like actually eating those freezer meals I worked so hard to make??)
- My post-baby stomach. Argh.
- How much I’ve needed to rely on my mother-in-law. She’s amazing. And I’ve only made it through these 4 weeks with her help.
- The new arrangement of my living room. I know they say to sleep when the baby does, but the other day I decided rearranging furniture by myself was more important than sleep. I don’t regret it.
- The 2am feeding when we get to cuddle quietly and she goes back to sleep immediately (which certainly helps me to feel good about it).
- Mr. Pickle Pumpkin. He is thriving in his new room at daycare. He is gentle and amazing with his sister. He is sweaty, silly, growing in all ways; he is my heart.
- The keeping-track-of-baby app on my new phone. So helpful. And addictive. When did I last change a poopy diaper? 1:16 ago! Because it is extremely important to note these things, and track them obsessively. (That last sentence should be in the sarcasm font.)
- The fact that tax season is almost over. So close. So… close…
- Plum Bee. She is a growing, bright-eyed, squeaky little girl. I worry sometimes that I don’t love her enough yet. Of course, I love her, but I’m still getting to know her. It is a marvelous discovery, getting to know this new, intense little person. Amazing.
- My stunner of a niece, born on Sunday. And being able to support my sister as she embarks on the whole mommyhood adventure.
Note: Please forgive my recent reliance on lists. I’m tired. Really tired. I’ll be back to my typical long-winded style shortly. Lucky you.
“Just go. Go home and sleep,” my well-intentioned husband told me. He and the in-laws would watch the kids. I could get a very-much-needed 40 winks. Or even 60 winks. Or check my e-mail. Or eat something. Or just be.
I drove away crying.
Mommyhood is hard. And – something friends and baby books don’t tell you – it can be isolating too. I went from socializing, working full-time, living an engaged life on a Tuesday, to sitting up at night, under newborn house arrest on a Thursday.
New moms spend a lot of time alone with a teeny, needy new human being. They spend lonely nights, creeping around the house, sitting, nursing, trying to soothe a little one, and make sure the rest of the household can stay sleeping. People don’t want to call in fear of waking the baby. People don’t want to stop by, for fear of imposing, or butting in on the special new baby/mama time. People are, like my husband, well-intentioned. They are trying to make a new mom’s life easier.
But this new mom’s life didn’t feel easier. It felt harder. It felt entirely disconnected. The sleeplessness added to the isolation made me feel like I was living in some strange sort of twilight zone.
I didn’t want to leave my kids at my in-laws house to go sit by myself or take a nap. I knew the day would come when I did want those things, but in the week after Plum Bee’s birth, I wanted to be with other people. Sure, I’d love it if someone else was doing the baby-holding, baby-feeding, toddler-chasing, etc. But I wanted to be in the company of others, the company of adults. I wanted to have a two-way conversation. 40 winks ranked a distant second in my needs.
So I turned the car around, and went back to the in-laws. I let them do the wrangling/rocking and I sat, sipped an iced tea, and enjoyed their company. It was much more restorative than 40 minutes of sleep. I felt calmer, more supported, and more connected. And when mama’s happy… well, you know the story…
Plum Baby is two weeks old today. She is really pretty amazing. She is growing like crazy. And is really pretty reasonable. She doesn’t fuss too much, is soothable, and sleeps in 3 hour chunks (sometimes). And big brother has been amazing – gentle, kind, concerned and helpful. Sometimes I look at the two of them and cannot believe my luck.
Okay, now all the mushy, lovey stuff is out of the way…
This is hard. Really hard. And today I am tired.
Who am I kidding? Every day I am tired. And today I don’t feel like talking about how lucky I am (I am), or how good I have things (I do). Indulge me while this tired mama whines a little.
Today was a 12-hour day alone with the 2 peanuts. Did I rely on “Wheels on the Bus” on repeat on my iPhone, and DVRed versions of “Yo Gabba Gabba”? I did. Did baby fuss and cry and otherwise not sleep for an eternal 4 hour stretch during dinner –> bath –> bedtime? She did. Did Mr. Pickle Pumpkin take his first tumble down the stairs (only 4 of them – I was supervising and actually caught him, mid-tumble with a baby in my other arm)? He did (and was fine). Given all of that, it wasn’t a bad day. But it was a long day. And I am simply done.
Tomorrow I will do less, and sleep more, and spend lots of good quality time with Miss Plum, snuggling. And I will cut myself some slack.
SHE is here!
Talk about surprised. We thought Plum Baby was going to be a boy, and we were wrong. A lovely, strawberry blonde peanut arrived on March 7th at 8:11pm. Labor was no fun at all, but it was mercifully short. And when the doctor told me that I could have my baby in one push, I took it as a challenge, and DID.
I know the juggling will be crazy, but right now it feels good. I feel good. Babykins – I’ll call her Plum Bee – is great. Our little house is full and busy. Mr. Pickle Pumpkin is amazing with her (though we have hit a spell of crazy whining – hopefully it is just the adjustment to Plum Bee). This is the best gig ever. And I’m loving the thought of having maternity leave to spend with my little girl. Still getting used to that – my little girl.
That doesn’t even begin to describe it.
My to-do list is getting shorter. Thank goodness. The last of the major events (a shower I threw for my sister) has come and gone and now my calendar is relatively clear, except for a few miscellaneous gatherings, meetings and of course, the now-weekly Ob appointments. CPA husband and I are trying to navigate his busy season with kindness, and patience. We fail as often as we succeed, but I’m handing out gold stars for effort, because we are both tired and stressed and still manage to keep our senses of humor. I call that a win. (Insert a huge dose of admiration and amazedness to all the single moms and moms with deployed or unavailable partners/spouses here. I don’t know how you do it, Ladies, I really don’t.) Me and this huge belly (and my unfortunately limited supply of energy) are trying to keep the household going, and take good care of Mr. Pickle Pumpkin while working full time and sleeping less than part-time. My days are really long. Balance as a goal is out the window, and we’ve moved on to “get through it!” as our goal. Mr. Pickle Pumpkin watches way too much Yo Gabba Gabba lately. But I’m brushing off the mommy guilt. If, at the end of a very long day, I want to get the groceries in the house and put away, wash the kid’s clothes, and figure out something for us to eat, then something’s got to give. DJ Lance Rock, I salute you. And my child loves you.
I passed my 35/35 milestone yesterday (35 weeks pregnant, 35 days until my due date). I didn’t even know it was a milestone until I started reading some expectant mommy blogs. I’m still not sure why the pending arrival of Plum Baby hasn’t quite hit me yet. With Mr. Pickle, my water broke at 37 weeks and 2 days, so the time left in utero could be short for Plum.
Things left to do (besides come to terms with the fact that I will be having a real live baby in a few short weeks):
- Wash the infant car seat cover, and install the base.
- Pull the breast-feeding stuff, and bottles out of the basement and unpack/wash.
- Wash the newborn stuff (and buy some bins to put the kiddo’s clothes in).
- Go see a movie. In a theater.
- Stop drinking liquids by 7pm so I’m not up 8 million times during the night. I just want one 3-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep before Plum arrives.
- Make a list of things I need to bring to the hospital. (Right now, I’m more focused on the fact that I want a new duffle bag to pack in. Maybe I should just buy it.)
- Install the cordless blinds in the nursery. I bought them months ago.
- Get my work-self organized for a 3 month absence.
- Sleep. Or attempt to sleep.
Baby. Two. Coming. Soon.
I don’t feel ready. My heart may be prepared to welcome this little one (Aside: ah, the unlimited capacity of the human heart is truly remarkable, isn’t it?! Sigh!), but my brain and the rest of my life? Not so sure.
Sure, baby clothes are washed. We have all of the required baby stuff. The nursery is ready. We even have a glider this time around (woo-hoo!). We have a tentative “here comes the baby!” plan with the grandparents. I keep waiting for my, “Let’s do this!” moment. Still waiting. Tick tock.
Perhaps I was just more naive last time around? (Yep.)
Perhaps I just realize what labor and delivery can and will be? Perhaps I’m just worried that this time I just don’t have it in me?
Perhaps I realize that I will be stretched even thinner than I am now?
Perhaps I feel like I was just getting used to one kiddo?
Perhaps I feel a little guilty about shaking up Mr. Pickle Pumpkin’s world?
Perhaps I’m already exhausted and can’t imagine more exhaustion?
Perhaps I’m worried about losing myself a little bit? Or a little bit more?
Perhaps I’m worried about the money?
Perhaps I’m worried about complications for me or baby?
Perhaps I’m just worried about the unknowns?
Perhaps I’m just being silly?
The train is a-comin’ – no stopping it now! So I’m going to dig deep for some Baby 2 Zen and try to give myself a pep talk, suck it up, put on a happy face, (insert Pollyanna-ish “you-can-do-it” cliche here), and get ready for my new normal.
(Note: speaking of “new normal” – that phrase has to be on some Top 10 Overused Catch Phrase List somewhere. Yuck. Three lashes with a wet noodle for me.)
I’m going to embrace the madness, embrace the fears, embrace the wonder, embrace the goodness. Because this baby will be a wonder and a gift (when I’m sleep deprived and deep in the depths of the baby blues, please remind me I wrote this). This baby is a whole new person – the only him or her possible in this entire universe. And that is amazing. I can’t wait to meet him/her. My own little bundle of amazing.
All it takes is a back spasm, some painful pelvic separation, oodles of heartburn, and one exhausted Mama to wonder if this second baby was a good idea.
Here’s where I say the stuff you expect me to say, and the stuff I truly mean, but have kind of forgotten these last few weeks: Yes, I am excited. I am thrilled to welcome a new little one into the family. Yes, I remember the magic and amazingness of carrying this little wiggly wonder every time I feel a kick. Yes, I realize how very fortunate we are. I love the little Plum Baby in my belly. I am glad we made this choice, and the universe complied.
Okay, now that that’s over…
I’m kind of stressing out here.
The anxiety dreams have started. They include selling the gold post in my dental crown. Leaving Mr. Pickle Pumpkin in the car for hours. World annihilation. Nuclear winter. You know, happy stuff.
I feel, like most moms I think, like I’m running on fumes a lot of the time. Like I’m forever searching for that elusive thing called balance. I know I can handle two. I know people handle more. I know people handle a lot more… with far fewer resources and much less support. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t scary for me. I know I sound like a whiner. But today, I’m just… so… tired.
I’m just finally getting the hang of one little doodlebug. We’ve got a little routine going. He’s turned into such a neat human. Now I’ve got to meet and learn and know a new little person? A new, very needy little person who will undoubtedly be routine-less for a long time? Sounds daunting.
I still have no idea how we’re going to pay for kiddo-care. Mama’s got to work if we want health insurance. But quality childcare – even part-time – is a huge budget item. A budget buster, really. How am I dealing with this? I’ve decided the best course of action is to put my fingers in my ears, close my eyes, and yell “LA! LA! LA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” really loudly. That will make the whole budget buster problem go away, right?
I’m a little more worried about all the medical stuff that can go wrong this time around. I’m not any more aware of the complications than last time, but this time around I’m already a mom and there’s a kiddo here I worry about leaving motherless when I decide to really let myself consider the worst case scenarios (which thankfully, isn’t too often.) It is just a little scarier this time around.
So I’m trying to figure out how to relax, and – like The Beatles and then my own mama always says – “let it be.” I’m open to suggestions…
My sister called me yesterday.
“Hey Sarky, I was thinking that since none of us really need anything for Christmas, that next year we should all go to Spain for the holidays. We found a great place that only costs 60 Euros per night!”
Me: calculating silence.
Before I had a baby, people drove me crazy telling me that I had no idea what to expect, that nothing could prepare me, that my life would change in ways I couldn’t fathom as a childless person. It felt like they were telling me I wasn’t part of their clique-y club, and wouldn’t be able to understand the club’s rules and secret handshake until I popped out a wee one. It felt condescending. It felt obvious. I got it. “Oh, you’ve never been on a roller coaster?! Well, you don’t know what it is like to be on a roller coaster until you’ve been on a roller coaster!” Um, duh. As I’ve written about in prior posts, I tried not to have too many expectations for myself or my new little dude. I decided to put myself firmly in the “Roll-with-things-the-best-I-can” camp. I think I did pretty well adjusting, all things considered.
I now refuse to tell parents-to-be, “Oh, you have no idea!” I’ll answer any questions they have, be supportive and tell them that they really can handle it – that it is hard but doable. Because it is.
But this is my sister. And she takes it as a personal offense if I say, “Well, gee, I’m going to have to see how we’re doing then. Since money will be tight for us with 2, and it would be a challenge to travel to Spain with a 9-month-old and a 2.5 year old…”
I know people do it – they travel and do fun and amazing things with their very small children. But at this point, and for us, it doesn’t sound like fun. Not yet at least. Ask me again when they’re 4 and 6. My sister-in-law had similar intentions – a planned trip to Turkey when their little one was 8 months old. That plan got nixed pretty darn quick. I didn’t say “I told you so” because I hadn’t told her so. But I can’t say I was surprised.
So far my sister has insisted that after the birth of her first child in early-April she and her husband have plans to:
- Run a half marathon in June
- Travel to Toronto for a wedding on June 1
- Travel to Seattle for a wedding in mid-August
- Travel to Spain for Christmas in December
I hope they do these things. As she’s thrown out these plans and suggestions, I have tried to calmly (and without Older Sister judgment or condescension – very hard for me) say things like, “Wow, that could be hard, but it could also be doable. Don’t have too many expectations for yourself. Just see how you feel as the time approaches.” But in the back of my mind, my new-mom brain is screaming, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA!” I don’t want her to be disappointed if these things can’t happen, because the new mom gig is hard enough, finding your groove can take a long time and I don’t want her to suffer disappointment on top of all of that.
So in an effort to keep the sisterly peace, and to remain as judgement free as possible, I said in response, “Hm, sounds like fun. We’ll have to see if that will work as the time gets closer!”
Tune in on Christmas 2012 to see how it all plays out…
But I’m not going to dust off my Spanish language tapes just yet.
(PS – If you tell me where the title of this post came from, I’ll give you a cookie.)