Archive for the ‘The Baby’ Category
Depending upon how you count it, I either made it to the second trimester 2 weeks ago (developmental timing?), last week (normal math) or this week (weird math). I don’t really care how you count, I am just glad to be moving to this next phase and running away from the last one.
I can’t even begin to explain how different this pregnancy has been. I don’t want to categorize it as bad, because I know that in the global scheme of pregnancies, it’s not bad. I haven’t had to have IV fluid, I haven’t needed a trip to the doctor besides my normal check ups, no bleeding or scary complications, several normal wonderful ultrasounds. I mean, this is not bad. It’s just so different. And I think what I’ve realized is that it has felt very difficult to me because I was not prepared.
With Eli I was vaguely nauseous a few times in the first trimester, had contractions through the entire third trimester, was homicidal the week before he was born and had a relatively easy labor and delivery. And that was it. It was easy. The contractions were obnoxious, but once we realized they weren’t doing anything, they were just an inconvenience. No real nausea, no real fatigue, not one single headache. I thought I was born to be pregnant.
I was mistaken.
This time around, I have struggled each day for the past almost 9 weeks with nausea. The first 6 weeks of it were brutal, to me. Partially because I wasn’t prepared and partially because I do not handle nausea well at all. I mean, AT ALL. So dry heaving all over my living room, throwing up whole Zofran or stomach bile all over the parking lot, not being able to even take a bite of dinner or watch my child eat a meal was rough. Again, not horrible or dehydrating or scary. Just really, really unpleasant. It is finally letting up a lot and I could not be more grateful. I’m still queasy in the mornings and need to move slowly, but the evenings are good more often than not, and the afternoons are easy. I still haven’t gained an ounce, but I’m not listing that as a negative at all. I have 20 Eli pounds to help cushion this baby, I can stand to not gain a ton.
And then there’s the headaches. Before I got pregnant with Eli, I had nearly constant headaches. They were awful and I spared no detail in whining about them (sorry I’m not really sorry). And then I got pregnant and they just stopped. I mean, completely altogether stopped. My neurologist could only guess that the increased blood volume improved my pressures and that was why, but regardless of the reason, it was amazing. And I told my husband I was just going to get pregnant over and over if they came back. And thankfully they didn’t ever get back to their prior awfulness, but I had some here or there, mostly related to hormones.
And then there’s this pregnancy. Holy hell. I have had almost constant headaches for the past 2-3 weeks. It seems to be primarily the pressure from dry heaving that triggers them, along with the stress on my neck (they’re really cervicogenic more than anything), but dude, they’re awful. I finally resorted to a category C migraine medication on Friday because I was on day 3 of what started as a pressure thing and ended up as a migraine and I was ready to lay down on the freeway and let cars run over me. It worked and has been a little better since, but I’m pretty sure that this baby is made primarily of Zofran and Tylenol.
I’m also visibly pregnant already. My uterus has some kickass muscle memory.
It’s just so very different this time, and I was not prepared for any of it. I am thrilled to be having this baby, and finally starting to feel like I’m slightly in control of my life again, but it’s been really surprising the whole way through. I started having painless contractions this week, but for now I’m just trying to ignore them and take it easy. My hope is that this sort of rough first trimester will pave the way for an easy 2nd and 3rd. That seems likely, right?
Either way, I know that in the end it’s worth it and that I really just need to adjust my expectations. I need to not expect the remaining 25 weeks to be a repeat of Eli’s gestation because that’s not the case, and the sooner I get that fact in my head, the better for everyone. I do have to say that I hope the outcome is the same though, because I have the best little kid ever, and I’ll take 40 weeks of nausea and fatigue and headaches if I’m lucky enough to get another wonderful little person like Eli in my life. He’s beyond worth it and I’m sure this one will be too.
Every once in a while, I’ll have a day where I’m nearly overcome with love for Eli. I know it sounds just painfully cheesy and it feels that way too, but there are just days where all I want to do is kiss his little cheeks and tell him over and over how much I love him. Today was one of those days.
I think part of it is because we’re on the downhill side of a couple of tough weeks, behaviorally speaking. Eli is a very typical toddler. He wants to know where his boundaries are and what happens when he tests them. I know it’s normal and it is what he’s supposed to do, but it doesn’t make the parenting part of that any less tough. I know he needs rules and consequences, but sometimes it’s just exhausting to have days where it seems that the word no comes out more than anything else. And where all attempts at positive reinforcement and redirection are laughably useless.
Thankfully, the past few days have been good ones. Ones where we’re still maintaining the boundaries, but he’s comfortably living within them instead of slingshotting himself at them over and over to see how strong they are.
He’s just the coolest little person. Today I asked him what letter the letter E was and I know he knows it because he points it out everywhere and he just said, clear as day, “I don’t know.” He’s never said that before and I didn’t even know he knew what it meant. But he used it perfectly (I mean, aside from the part where he knows what letter E is). He seems to learn new things every day and it’s like every day is a treasure hunt to find the new stuff, to see how he has changed, how he has grown in the previous 24 hours.
When Eli first started daycare, I missed him fiercely. Like, cried myself to work, looked at pictures of him all day and just hated being away. And then we went through a bit of a transition where I really saw the benefit of daycare. We both did well with some time away, with our separate identities and our social interactions. But I almost feel like we’ve come full circle in a way. I miss him now, as much as I used to, but not in a sad way, just in the way where I wonder what he’s doing and saying and I want to be there to see it all. I’m not going to quit my job, but it really makes me feel more grateful for the days I get to stay home with him.
Watching him grow up is truly one of my greatest privileges.
I was warned about the toddler years and while I’ve only gotten the smallest taste so far, I know that the warnings are true. But I also know that the tough parts seem to make the rest of it seem so much better. It’s like, we had a tough week, I had to step up to the parenting plate and now that things have eased, I can sit back and see this incredible person again. I can see how smart and fun and joyful he is and it’s even better than it was a few weeks ago.
Just to put the cheesy icing on the cheesy feelings cake, all day I have been thinking about a line from A League of Their Own. I think in parenting, much like baseball (apparently?), “the hard is what makes it great.” If this is what toddlerhood is I am ready to embrace it with open arms. Even the hard, because the great is really, really great.
There are rules about when you tell various people your secrets. Usually you start with your family, the closest members first. And gradually spread out from there. And typically “strangers” are the last to know. But I’m going to break the rules. Partially because I’m a terrible secret keeper, partially because this is a blog about my life and this is about all that’s going on in my life and partially because the internet is a tremendous support system for me, so I feel like I will benefit from it.
So, since I’m not really sure how much longer I can beat around the bush here, I’ll just come out with it. I’m pregnant.
I’m not very far along (about 8 weeks), but we had our first appointment today, saw the little tiny baby and it’s adorable flickering heartbeat and well, it’s feeling very real, if early and small, right now.
Truthfully, it’s been real for a while since this baby has been kicking my butt 8 ways to Sunday. The fatigue set in surprisingly early and is much worse than it was with Eli. I was nearly convinced that there was more than one baby in there because napping almost daily and going to bed early isn’t even enough to manage the fatigue. And the nausea has been much worse this go around, though thankfully it’s only been here for a week or so. As a non-puker, throwing up a whole Zofran last week was a real low point for me. My doctor gave me a stronger prescription for the nausea today, so I’m hopeful that I can get it under control soon.
Besides tired and pukey, we are very, very excited. This was very much a planned baby and we are so excited to see Eli as a big brother and for our family to grow. We love being parents and cannot wait to welcome another baby into our home (well, our next home, at least), I can’t even tell you how over the moon we are. Though August is a long way away, we are so looking forward to the coming months and all the changes heading our way.
I think that’s about it. I guess there’s really no denying that this really is a mommy blog now. But from where I stand (okay fine, sit), that’s a pretty great thing.
p.s. We are not going to post this on our private facebook pages until a bit longer, so if you happen to know us in real life, please please please keep it under wraps until we decide we’re ready for everyone to know. Thanks!
p.p.s. I hate to even go here, but because it will inevitably come up, let me just say that this was a decision that was made with full support of my mental health team and everyone there was totally on board with our plan. My OB is totally fine with the medication I’m taking and everything is going swimmingly in the mental and physical health arenas.
The other night as I was showering before bed I had this intense flashback to 8-9 months ago. We were in the midst of attempt number 8 million to transition Eli to his crib and I was rushing through the shower in hopes that I’d get out before Eli woke up, screaming, for the umpteenth night in a row. I remember hurrying through every step of the shower, even once forgetting to rinse out the conditioner, just hoping that unlike the past 4 nights, I’d get all the way through. And that perhaps this would be the night he didn’t wake up horribly upset at all.
I remember clearly the stress I felt about sleep training, about that transition that was so difficult for us. It was all consuming at the time. I wondered if we’d ever figure it out, if Eli would ever sleep through a night. Everything felt so important, so big, in the moment. And now, it seems so small. So insignificant.
I belong to a few mom groups and one of the things I see all the time is moms of very young babies (6 weeks!) asking how they can get their babies to nap because they don’t want to build bad habits by letting their baby nap on them. I am not criticizing these mothers, not at all, I was one of them. I get that pressure and concern because I had it. And, now, being far removed from that point of parenting, all I want to say to them is please, please hold that baby. Please let that baby nap on you. Please take an hour, maybe 2, and just soak up those snuggles, that closeness, without worrying about tomorrow or next month. Because before you know it, that tiny infant will be almost 18 months old and in the infrequent occasions where he wants to snuggle, he will take up your entire lap with his long legs and wiggly body.
I just want to tell these moms that these moments, all of them, are fleeting. This is what I’ve learned. Everything about infancy, about toddlerhood is fleeting. As soon as you get used to something, it stops. As soon as you stress about something, it’s finished. These things that feel so huge and pressing, they’re just a tiny moment in a life.
I was so absorbed in the drama around getting Eli to sleep in a crib, or at least not in a rock n play, that I couldn’t see how brief that stage really was. I couldn’t see that it would be over and we’d be onto something else soon enough. That someday I’d take a shower, leisurely, without worrying about a screaming baby and having to decide where and how to get him back to sleep. That someday, Eli would sleep peacefully through the night without my help. I couldn’t see that we would all be fine.
It’s taken me a long time to get to this point where I feel like I need to enjoy every second of Eli’s life, instead of letting myself get completely wrapped up in the problem of the day. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still happen from time to time, but it happens less and I enjoy motherhood so much more. Realizing how far we’ve come, how much we’ve both learned, is a big deal.
And I think that in finally seeing how brief these moments are, it’s easier to enjoy them. To realize that though things really do feel monumental, they’re really just momentary. Every stage and struggle is fleeting, but this child is mine forever.
Last night at 2am I woke up somewhat suddenly, but for no apparent reason. I looked around to sort of settle myself and finally glanced at the baby monitor, which is when I noticed that something with Eli was off. It looked like his blanket was across his throat, but I couldn’t see either end of it, which was unusual. I thought maybe it wasn’t a blanket but a stuffed animal or his smaller lovie, but I had this nagging feeling that it needed further investigation. So I went into his room.
It turns out that it was his regular blanket (which is an Aden + Anais swaddle blanket) and it was wrapped around his neck twice. My head was positively shrieking with panic, but I managed to stay quiet, unwrap his blanket while only barely waking him up, replace his a pacifier, give him a kiss and a butt pat and leave the room.
And then I did the most incredible thing. I went back to sleep.
Look, I know that doesn’t sound incredible, but for me, it really was. After months of horribly broken sleep, and hours of laying awake panicking, this is really a huge deal. There are times I really struggle to see the progress I’ve made in the past few months, but this is one that I feel really proud of (even if a small part of me also thinks that this is entirely the fault of the medication and wants to take away all credit because that’s how I am, but whatever).
I think one of the biggest parts of that experience, for me, was feeling like I could trust my intuition. It has been really difficult to parent my child, never knowing if listening to my gut was the right thing. My gut has a tendency to overreact and I never really know if a perceived danger is serious or if I’m catastrophizing something insignificant. And last night, I was able to identify that Eli needed me to do something, do it, and not flip out in the process.
This is what I always thought parenting would be. I thought I would be supermom- not needing help, not needing reassurance, but I have been the opposite. I have felt like I can’t trust myself for months now, it’s an issue that hasn’t let up and is always intensified when my husband is out of town. I never feel like I can make a parenting decision without approval, not because my husband requires me to do so, but because I don’t trust myself to make the right decision. Last night, without hesitation, I made the right decision.
And while I have spent a fair portion of today worried about how to deal with this situation since Eli is very devoted to sleeping with a blanket (almost never under it), I was able to work through it and come up with a solution that is working for him and for me. Am I likely to check the monitor more frequently tonight? Yes. Am I still doing much better than I would’ve been 2 months ago? Absolutely.
There is still work to be done, but there’s no denying that progress has been made and that things are moving very much in the right direction. And it feels really, really good.
I had a pretty different post planned for tonight because I was tired of hearing about my own issues and because I actually got a good night of sleep last night for the first time in ages (I haven’t started the meds yet, so it’s not that). Basically, I was having a pretty great day.
After work, Eli and I headed to my former grad school for a lab for the first year students. They were analyzing walking in the very young and old and wanted Eli to come walk for them. So we did. And he was having SUCH a good time from the very first moments. It turns out my little boy really enjoys being the center of attention. Our room had somewhere between 30 and 45 students in it, in addition to 3 other children and a few parents and faculty. And he was just having the best time in there. He was walking around, taking toys from other kids, periodically trying to use people’s iPads and gleefully running around trying to escape from me or anyone else who was trying to encourage him to share.
And then, about 10 minutes into the lab, he walked up to a soccer ball that was every so slightly flat, went to kick it, like he does all the time at home, but instead accidentally stepped on the top of it and before I could even blink, he did a huge banana peel style slip and slammed the back of his head on the floor without any other body part breaking the fall.
The collective gasp from the room was just about enough to suck all the oxygen out of the universe. The sound of his head hitting the ground was one of those sounds that just makes you nauseous. It was awful.
Eli cried. He cried and cried and cried. For a solid 5 minutes he cried no matter how much I soothed him. And while I was present there in that moment, comforting my child, I was also frozen with fear. I have done this before. I’ve comforted an inconsolable child with a head injury and it all but ruined me. I was so scared.
After a few more minutes, Eli perked up and went back to playing (but avoided that ball), but I feel like my heart hasn’t resumed beating in the 7 hours since it happened. I had a therapy session planned for tonight already and before we even got in the room my therapist knew I wasn’t okay because the panic was written across my face. At one point in the session she made me stop what I was doing and breathe because I was making her anxious, which I feel is sort of impressive, really.
I was terrified that when I got home, Eli was going to be showing signs of another bleed. That he would be vomiting, or lethargic or that we’d just know in the way we had a gut feeling when it happened before. I was and continue to be so scared that that fall, which was really very hard, and like his previous injury, left absolutely no mark on his head, is very serious and rumbling under the surface.
It went against every fiber of my being to put him to bed in his room tonight. He won’t sleep in our bed and I know that, and I won’t sleep if I did that either, but I am so scared that if he has an injury, it’ll rear its head in the night. I know the odds of this are incredibly small, but the odds of it happening the first time were pretty miniscule. I can’t get past the fear of something happening and all I can do is hope that in the morning, we’ll be past the scary window. In the meantime, my heart feels like it’s being stomped on repeatedly.
I’m really very tired and frustrated. I just wish that either this wouldn’t keep happening, or that I could respond to it normally. I don’t want to feel this kind of panic every time Eli bumps his head, nor this level of fear knowing it could happen again and again. I don’t want to have to put on a brave face when I am destroyed inside.
I just want things to be easy. I really miss easy.
24 hours into my 40 hours without my baby and I am woefully sad, but surviving. Eli slept well last night and made it through bedtime tonight unscathed, which was my biggest concern. My husband has never done bedtime all by himself and the only other time that I haven’t been there to tuck Eli in was in a hotel when he was so overtired that nothing could’ve kept him awake, so I was a little afraid it was going to be rough on everyone. But as usual, Eli was the easy going baby I always take for granted. It was much harder on me, also as usual.
This afternoon I got a chance to skype with Eli, but I wasn’t entirely sure how he’d respond. When he has skyped with my husband in the past, he tends to be more interested in the iPad than the skyping, but I was pleasantly surprised. My husband had the iPad pointed at Eli and as soon as I said hi, Eli whipped his head around and then as soon as he realized it was me, his whole face lit up and he ran across the room. Things devolved pretty quickly when he started trying to stand on the iPad, but I got several kisses and it was just so nice to see him.
My course is going well, it’s interesting and I’m glad I’m here. I do think it’s good for my husband to get to take over full parenting. He is a good father, but like most spouses, I don’t think he realizes some of the things that I take care of for him (much like when he’s gone, I realize how much he does around the house). And it’s nice to get some time to myself to think and relax. But despite these positives, I still don’t think this is better than being home with my child. I’m glad to know we can all survive without me there, at least on some level.
More than anything else, being away reminds me how much I love my boys and how very lucky I am to have both of them. I absolutely cannot wait to get them back tomorrow.
Prior to having Eli, I spent a lot of time around other babies. I babysat some, I was related to others and some I worked with in my clinicals and job. I had determined through these experiences that 8-11 months was my favorite age for kids. It’s just an ideal age- they’re mobile but not everywhere, they have personality but aren’t demanding. It’s just a really, really fun age.
And you know what? 8-11 months was a really, really fun age. But I could not be more in love with toddlerhood.
Toddlerhood is loud. There are tantrums and yelling every day, often hourly. There are impossible demands and situations that you can’t even imagine until they’re presented to you. Earlier today Eli was playing with a puzzle and the pieces weren’t going in easily. He kept saying “please!” but when I’d ask if he wanted help, he very insistently shook his head no. After a while, I realized that he was literally saying please to the puzzle to make it easier. So what I’m saying is, it’s not without it’s volume control issues or frustration.
But he’s just this tiny little person and it’s incredible to watch him grow and learn. Today he was playing with a book that sings “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and as soon as it would end the song, he would start saying/singing something that sounded very, very much like “up above the…” and while at first I thought it was a coincidence, after the 4th or 5th time, I realized that he was singing along. This video is kind of terrible, but if you turn the speakers up, you can sort of hear some of it.
A few minutes later, he put two legos together and then, out of the blue threw his arms up and exclaimed “I did it!” As if that was just a phrase he always used. He occasionally tosses out a two word phrase like it’s no big deal and I’m just there, stunned.
The coolest thing about toddlerhood is that I can see him learning every single day. I can see him making connections all day long. He can answer questions with a “yea” or shaking his head no, and he’s remarkably accurate most days now. He knows what words mean and what comes next in his routines. It’s just amazing. My tiny little infant is now this kid and I find this period of increased awareness to be so freaking cool.
I miss that tiny infant from time to time, but nothing can compare to this little kid. He has preferences and desires and sometimes letting those play out is just the most fun thing in the world. I can’t tell you how many times we have sat in his tent and piled the plastic balls into our laps, laughing and clapping. I can’t tell you how many legos we have stacked, unstacked, restacked and hidden in different places (his current favorite: the dirty clothes hamper) and all the while, he’s laughing out loud and saying please when he needs help.
I can’t explain it, this essence of toddlerhood, but it is amazing. I know that the next few years are supposed to be trying ones and we already see some of that, but this little boy before me is so worth any amount of struggle. I feel lucky every single day that I get to be his mom.
On Wednesday night, I will give Eli a bath, get him in his pajamas, read him a book, brush his teeth and tuck him into bed like normal. But unlike normal nights, then I’ll get in my car and drive away. And for the first time in his life, I won’t be there overnight. I won’t be home Thursday night either. I know he’s 16 months old and more than able to handle this, but I’m 30 and I’m not.
I am going to a really, really great continuing education course that is absolutely perfect for my job and will be wonderful for me in several different ways, but it’s 80 miles away and even if I did come home in the evenings, I would spend so much time in traffic that I wouldn’t get to see Eli before bed and the gas cost would possibly tank the economy completely (I’m staying at my aunt’s house for free). And while I know that both the course and the time away are good for me, I’m scared.
I’m not scared about my husband taking care of my son. I could not be less concerned about that because my husband is an incredible father. Eli loves him dearly and they will be great with each other. It’s not about that at all.
My concern comes from control. I know there are many things that I cannot control in my son’s life. Some things are purely out of our hands, much to my great displeasure. But when I’m around, I feel like sometimes I can anticipate and soften the blow of these uncontrollable things. I can see a hazard that others might miss. I can predict a bad night and find ways to avert it. And I’m just afraid that one of the uncontrollables will happen while I’m not there. I’m afraid that Eli will get sick in the middle of the night and I won’t be there to comfort him. I’m afraid that he will feel abandoned if he needs me and I’m not there.
I know that he needs independence and truly, he is already an incredibly independent child. He plays on his own for hours at a time and when I try to join him, he hugs me and then walks away to play. But nighttime, when I struggle the most and when he struggles the most, is when I don’t think he needs independence yet. And when I’m not ready for him to have it. If something is wrong in the middle of the night, I think it’s perfectly fine for him to need his mom.
Being away makes me feel helpless and since that’s a feeling I’ve had too many brushes with already, I’m not doing well with it. I don’t know if these feelings are simply from being a very attached parent, or if they’re also from mental illness, but I know that this week will be one of the toughest for me in quite some time. I know Eli will be fine, I know I will be fine, but that doesn’t mean it feels good.
Eli will be coming to where I’m staying on Friday evening, so I don’t have to be away from him until my course is over on Sunday and I know that I am incredibly lucky to have made it to 16 months without having faced this, but I’m just so sad. It’s not that he or I are not capable of being apart, it’s that I don’t want to be, and if his meltdown at naptime is any indication, he doesn’t really want it either.
I’m hoping that our days away go smoothly and quickly and maybe some good will come out of them. But in the meantime, I’m going to soak up as much time with my sweet boy as possible.
I’m not an ardent observer of Labor Day (and hey, I don’t work on Mondays anyway), but this year, Labor Day marks the first full year of work for me (in my chosen profession). After 25 years of school, 4 years of teaching and several months of motherhood, it was a long journey to get here. And for the most part, I really love my work. I love what I do, I love where I work and I love my coworkers.
But even now, a year in, I still don’t love leaving my baby. The daycare situation has improved tremendously, which definitely helps ease my mind, but just not being there with him, knowing that he’s learning new things and trying new things without me makes me sad. I hate thinking that maybe he took his first steps there and not here, or that he started using words there instead of here (we have a great arrangement so that our daycare doesn’t tell us when he does anything until after we’ve told them, that way we never have to find out it happened there first). It’s just tough because I want to soak up every experience and every moment and so leaving Eli in someone else’s care isn’t easy.
We have a good schedule now of work/daycare, as opposed to last year’s very crazy work schedule and though my work schedule is still often a bit of a living document, the days are well for all of us. I am incredibly fortunate that I’m able to be home part time and still make all the necessary ends meet (and for the skeptics, we even have a pretty impressive savings and are paying above the minimum payment on my loans, so) because I think it’s really good for both of us. It doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t be fine if I worked full time or stayed home full time (all though, in either situation, one of us would lose our minds, I’m pretty sure), but this is working.
I remember shortly after Eli was born, thinking that there was no way I could ever leave that tiny infant with anyone else. That I wanted to be with him every second of every day. And I still, deep down, have that feeling every time I drop him off at daycare. Eli is the most incredible person and I love every fiber of his being in a way I never knew could even exist. But I think the last year of working has been a really great thing for both of us. It has given him independence that he really needs. It has given me independence that I really need. It has made our time together more precious and I think it’s made us both happier, in the long run.
My job isn’t perfect, Eli’s daycare situation isn’t perfect, but working is good for us. And I’m glad to finally be doing what I love and what’s best for all of us. I can’t help but realize on a regular basis how lucky we all are.