Why my kid is probably going to hate his baby sister

November 26, 2008

I have lost my freaking mind.

Seriously, I’m hoping this is pregnancy-related only, and it will come back sometime after those crazy newborn weeks? Because if not, I’m going to need some HELP.

I’ve totally lost the ability to react to normal toddler behaviors with anything approaching normalcy. No, instead, I’m some kind of crazed out Psycho Mommy. Jumping on the bed has been, up until recently, a clearly defined No-No in our house. He still does it, of course, because he is two-and-three-quarters and that is what.they.do. They can recite the rule back to you, even whilst breaking the rule. Fun times. But now that my brain has melted and my hormones are dancing a jig all around my swollen body, I either react with a , “Oh whatthefreakingheck. Fine, jump on the bed, I don’t care as long as you don’t break your neck,” or with a “BLERRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!! NO JUMPING ON THE BED!!!!! TIME OUT RIGHT NOW, MISTER!”

Is it any wonder that the testing of the boundaries has seen a recent spike?

The poor kid probably has no idea what to expect at any given moment. Because I am gestating the Doodlebug, I have gone nutso. And just think, when she gets here? I’ll be weepy, hormonal, breastfeeding, and sleep-deprived. Odds are, it’s only going to get worse.


32 weeks

November 14, 2008

This is actually from two Saturdays ago – 30 weeks – but I don’t think I’ve changed much since. I’m still feeling really well. I’ve gained less with Doodlebug than I did with Smooch, and being active (ie, not on bedrest) has been a big help. I still can’t wait for her to get here… but saying “8 weeks to go” sounds so close, I think I can make it.

Exes and Owes – Part Two

November 11, 2008

I’m writing about the things that are raising my internal alert level to, like, magenta. (You know: I’ve gone beyond plain old orange & red, here, people.) What started as a single post morphed into a series. Depressing, but true. You can find part one here.


One of the other things keeping me up at night is an outgrowth of the strange interconnectivity of this technological age in which we live. Like half the planet, I’m on Facebook (but no, I’m not linking to my profile, because I’m still semi-anonymous here, remember?) and about two weeks ago, I got a friend request I never thought I’d see.


Dylan Brown* wanted to be my friend.




I have to back up a little bit for this story, so bear with me. Dylan moved to our town about halfway through high school. I can’t remember now if it was in 10th grade? Or over the summer before 11th? But we became friends pretty quickly, since we shared so many classes (taking the Honors and AP track really narrows down the crowd – and my graduating glass was just shy of 200, so it was already fairly small.) He sat behind me in my junior year math class and geometry has just never been so fun. I remember choosing dresses that would flash a LOT of thigh when I crossed my legs at my desk, knowing he’d be looking over my shoulder. At first, we were both dating other people, but when those relationships came to their natural high-school end, we gravitated toward each other.


He was, to be frank, my ideal boyfriend. Smart? Oh hell yes – planned to major in physics or some mathematical field in college, and was already getting the grades to make it possible. Sweet, sensitive, funny? He charmed me in a dozen ways. Left notes in my day planner weeks ahead of time, had a sentimental nickname for me, gave the best bear hugs, understood my emotional rants about my parents. He was a Christian, and both of his parents were in lay ministry. He had two sisters and a mom he *adored* – and he got along reasonably with his father. Oh, and have I mentioned? Good.looking.man. Seriously. I’m petite – 5’2”, and probably in the 110-120 range at that point in high school. He was 6’3” and 270-odd pounds of solid muscle. Defensive end for our football team – he could literally pick me up and carry me around campus. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his smile, or his laugh – he had an easy laugh, a quick sense of humor, and one that never went for a cheap shot or easy target (at least not with me – with the guys in the locker room, who knows, right?).


We were together from somewhere in the middle of my junior year until the late winter or early spring of my senior year. It wasn’t a perfect relationship – my parents were not happy about their white daughter dating a young black man, and found every excuse in the book to keep me grounded, on restriction, and away from him. But for the circumstances we were up against with them, and considering that we were young and in high school – it was good.


I loved him.


And then I got scared – we’d both gotten our acceptances to college. I’d be on a full academic scholarship in north Georgia, and he’d be on a full football scholarship in South Carolina. So I suggested that we should take a break, and not go off to college “committed” to each other, but leave ourselves open to our new surroundings – and we broke up. I don’t think that was what I had intended, but maybe my memory is off. I spent the last months of my senior year heartbroken – because I hadn’t just lost my boyfriend, I’d lost one of my best friends, and my first love. That small world of our classes and friends didn’t understand my decision and mostly took his side – so I was suddenly on the outside of our group of friends. It was a bad way to end good experiences (both the relationship and my high school years).


Months went by – summer passed, and we both went off to college. Then one day, during my first semester, we were suddenly back in touch. I don’t remember the details – did one of us email the other? Was it instant messenger? It couldn’t have been a phone call, because we didn’t have cell phones yet. However it happened, that first contact spiraled and blossomed into a rebirth of our relationship. (Yes. The whole long-distance romance I’d been so sure wouldn’t survive, the reason I’d dumped him and caused all my own grief and sadness the year before. It was suddenly thriving.)


We talked on the phone, we emailed, he even found a buddy with a car to drive him more than halfway so that we could spend a weekend together. When he got to my dorm room and threw his things on the couch, he mentioned that he had something in his bag for me. My heart almost stopped beating – I thought he was going to propose. It wasn’t a ring; it was a teddy bear, but he’d seen the look on my face. He knew without my telling him what I’d suspected was in the bag, so he asked me, “What would you have said? If I did have a ring in here?”


I looked into his eyes, and I told him the truth: “I would have said yes.”




Life has a way of being cruel and unusual. On my next visit home, my parents saw the extra miles I’d driven the past month and started up the Spanish Inquisition. When I revealed that all that driving had been to pick up Dylan for our weekend visit, all hell broke loose. They told me, in plain and simple terms, that I had a choice to make. I could either break up with him, again; or I could continue in a relationship with Dylan, and be cut off from my family forever. I had 30 days to decide.


But then, somehow, that’s not how it ended. I’m fuzzy on the details, but I got a couple of late-night, drunken emails from him. First, an email that confessed to cheating on me and never really loving me – and then a phone call the next day, when I was still shocked and stunned by what I’d read, telling me that his roommate had logged into his email account and sent it as a prank. I thought he was scared by the ultimatum from my parents, that he was afraid I’d choose him over them and we’d be stuck with each other forever, that we were too young to be deciding our whole future. Then a second email came, saying that our whole new relationship had been a ruse – that he’d been angry about how it ended in high school, and had sought me out for the chance at revenge. That he was now sleeping with Z, a mutual friend of ours from high school, and that they laughed together about how I’d fallen in love with him all over again. At that one, I blocked his emails and stopped answering calls. I wasn’t sure if that was truth, or another prank from his roommate – or had the first email been true, too? – and my 30 days was nearly up. I couldn’t risk losing everything again. This time, I just lost him – but I kept my family, and I kept all my friends.




So two weeks ago, the friend request. Ten years eases a lot of hurt, and I was honestly glad to see that he was at least alive, somewhere out there. I clicked “confirm” and read his message – topped off with his old endearment (or, hell, maybe he calls everyone that now, I don’t know) – and I replied. Just the basics: where I’m living, how long I’ve been married, Smooch and Doodlebug. When he replied, he said he was glad to hear that I was well, and apologized for “being an asshole.”


And then my sleepless nights took a new turn. I awoke at 2:00 a.m. from an inside-out, Twilight Zone dream in which I was married to Dylan, not Gruff. And Dylan hadn’t cheated on me, hadn’t helped me rack up debt, still looked like his chiseled high-school self, and looked at me with utter adoration. You know those dreams that scare the shit out of you? It was one of those. I woke up with my heart pounding – I felt scared, I felt ashamed. My subconscious had betrayed me! Why was my mind playing the “what-if” game, wondering how life would have gone with the man I loved…. before I met The Man I Love?


A few days later, I logged into Facebook and got an alert that Dylan had posted new pictures. I couldn’t help but click; he has a beautiful wife (who I think looks a little bit like me, only taller, thinner, and probably cuter) and two adorable children. My dream rushed back to me – and I closed the laptop with a bang. It’s dangerous territory, isn’t it? It’s too easy to glamorize an old relationship – to disremember the bad parts, to exaggerate the good parts – and to use it to compare would be so wrong. I don’t WANT to compare.


So we’re still Facebook friends, and that’s about it. Hopefully all my other – bigger, more legitimate worries – will crowd this out of my mind and it will be just another forgotten chapter in an old, forgotten history of an old, outdated relationship.


X’s and O’s (An American Girl) – Trisha Yearwood

Slow dance, second chance
mama needs romance
And a live-in maid
Fix the sink, mow the yard,
Really isn’t all that hard
If you get paid

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X’s and O’s
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She’s trying to make it in her daddy’s world
An American girl
An American girl

Well she’s got her God
and she’s got good wine
Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X’s and O’s
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She’s gonna make it in her daddy’s world
An American girl
An American girl
She’s an American girl




*total pseudonym, I swear

This post’s just six words long.* **

November 10, 2008

My biggest problem? Finding balance, dammit.




*Not really, because a girl’s got to explain – I’m jumping on Mrs. Chicken’s bandwagon and doing the six-word memoir meme. Go read hers; it’s way better than anything I could come up with.

**Anyone remember the old song, “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You?” My guilty listening pleasure, the always amazing Wierd Al Yankovic, parodied it with his fun version: “This Song’s Just Six Words Long.” Gotta love it.


By the way, I’ll be back tomorrow with part two of my series about what’s keeping me up nights. Fun, eh?

And then I went to get my free Starbucks.

November 4, 2008

Obama HOPE

We only waited about 15 minutes in our voting line this morning, but Gruff and I were prepared: a hot cup of coffee in my travel mug, a diaper bag stocked with snacks and a change of clothes, Smooch’s mini backpack full of toys, and the travel potty and an extra blanket in the understorage of the stroller, just in case we were outside in a line for hours. Because however long it took? We were going to vote this morning, and it was going to be worth it.

Exes and Owes – Part One

November 3, 2008

Over the years, I’ve battled anxiety in different forms and fashions. As a kid, I had a brief struggle with mild agoraphobia – fears about being alone in big crowds – that resolved by the time I entered middle school. What was left behind was, I think, some form of social anxiety. (I know – I probably ought to “see someone” about it, but it doesn’t interfere with my daily life, so I’ve just left it alone. I’m still uncomfortable being in big cities, I hate to make most phone calls, and I get horribly nervous with any kind of confrontation. Unfortunately, those are all things that you just have to do at some point in life, so I usually just do it. Lately, my anxiety level is getting worse, and I’ve been hoping that writing about it will help. Originally, I planned to do a whole post about all this crap that’s torturing me right now, but it became something so long and unwieldy that I decided to split it up over multiple posts. Gee, aren’t you a lucky reader?


I’m not the only one. I keep telling myself that, hoping that by the 8 millionth time, the refrain will really sink in. My mind and body will eventually relax, the anxiety that is gripping me with razor-sharp nails will let up, and I’ll stop worrying about, oh, ya know… everything.


I’m not the only one who is in a wee bit of a panic about money right now. On one hand, that simple fact does make me feel better. If I were, say, the only woman who was laying awake nights trying to calculate all the bills that will be coming due in the next two weeks versus the balance in the checkbook and the next pay date – well, then I’d feel lonely and isolated as well as ashamed and fretful. On the other hand, misery doesn’t always love company; it seems that no matter where I go, I see headlines or hear news blurbs about the terrible economy, and all of that information doesn’t help me put it out of my mind. Instead, I can’t escape it. And I really, honestly, don’t understand the stock market and half of the other “economic indicators” that the pundits and experts keep going on and on about, so I get all scared and in a lather just over the darn inexplicability of it all.


I’m just flat-out scared. My husband and I both have good degrees in decent fields – but it turns out we’re one of those families they talk about on the news. The ones who are just “one crisis away” from being in BIG trouble. Oh, sure – residency is a guaranteed job for the next couple of years, so unlike millions of American families I’m not facing the specter of possible looming unemployment. But if anything else goes wrong, like if the furnace quits in the middle of the winter or if the car breaks down, then I don’t think we’d be able to pay our bills. And that’s a really horrible thought, especially when you’re getting ready to bring another baby (and all her requisite financial obligations) into the family.


I’m not the only one with pregnancy hormones making everything seem a little worse. And before you get too worried about me, I have discussed my general state of anxiety with my midwives – for a few reasons. For one thing, an awesome aspect to midwifery care is that my visits generally go beyond the basic “pee in a cup, check your weight, listen to the baby’s heartbeat” quickies that I got with my old OB. There is always time to talk, time to check in on my overall state of mind, and bringing up a rising anxiety level fits right in to the flow of conversation. For another thing, I wanted to find out what medications might be safe for me to take that would help me get a better night’s sleep – as it turns out, plain Benedryl or Tylenol PM are both acceptable choices – since I used a prescription for Ambien during my pregnancy with Smooch. And finally, I wanted to make sure that my chart was flagged for extra follow-up after Doodlebug arrives, because I’m aware that having an anxiety problem before a baby is born puts me at higher risk for PPD once she’s here.


Money. Anxiety. Money anxiety. It’s sort of all the same thing right now for me – but at least I’m not the only one.


X’s and O’s (An American Girl) – Trisha Yearwood

Phone rings, baby cries
TV diet guru lies
Good morning honey
Go to work, make up
Try to keep the balance up
Between love and money

She used to tie her hair up in ribbons and bows
Sign her letters with X’s and O’s
Got a picture of her mama in heels and pearls
She’s trying to make it in her daddy’s world
She’s an American girl
An American girl.

The Weekend’s Low -and High- Points

October 20, 2008

His scream pierced the night. “Mommy! Mommy! My mommy!” Before I could move my heavy form off the mattress, Gruff was up and out our door. I heard Smooch’s voice louder – hitching sobs and cries for me. Gruff soothed and whispered and patted, but Smooch only got more upset.

“That’s enough.” Tired and frustrated at not being able to comfort our son, Gruff’s voice got a wee bit sharper. “Smooch, that’s enough.”

My mama-heart clenched to hear the refrain that -it seems in my memory- was lobbed at me so often in my childhood. My parents meant well, they meant only the best. Looking back on it, I think they were often overwhelmed by the ferocity of my storms of emotion. I was generally a happy, pleasant kid; but when I felt something, I felt it. Big, loud, unrestrained tears and long, wistful sighs and elaborate huffs and stomps. Those were my canvas, my oils. I wanted the whole world to know how I FELT. I think my parents were trying, in their way, to teach me the art of restraint – of discretion – of knowing how, and when, and where it was appropriate and safe to vent my feelings. But as a kid, I didn’t see it that way. I felt that my emotions were inconveniencing them (they probably were) and that they just wanted me to go away and come back when I could ‘behave’ (they probably did) – and, more importantly, I felt that their attempt to add a little temperance to my tempers was a rejection of ME.

Whew, did you hear all that? Don’t I sound well-balanced, to be able to reflect on all of that so clearly? It took my marriage nearly imploding and subsequent therapy to reach those realizations. Our therapist helped me to see that the pattern I learned (or assumed) as a kid – that my feelings needed to be bottled, and filtered, and made potable before being aired, or else I might be rejected – had become very unhealthy for me as an adult.

But back to Saturday night.

I joined my husband in our boy’s room, and I scooped his long body from his bed. He’s a toucher, my little guy – he seeks out skin contact nearly all day. It’s his thing, his love language, his coping comfort. He stretched his little arms as far around me as he could and started rubbing and patting my back as I patted his, and slowly his sobs quieted down. It was a long night, though. His tears flared up again and again as we tried to figure out what had upset him so, what would help him fall back to sleep. My emotions (and hormones) were close to the surface, and I cried a bit myself. Finally, around 2:00, we were all ready for bed again. Smooch had been able to tell us that he wanted to come to our bed, and we finally settled him down on his mattress on our floor – a compromise, since Mama’s ever-expanding girth makes it hard for me to get comfortable just sharing with Gruff, much less if we added a squirmy two year old to the bed.

As I laid there in the dark, quiet surrounding me once more, I wondered: am I really ready to add another babe to this mix? I want to be ready – I deeply love this little girl-child inside me, and I can’t wait to see her face to face. But there were moments, facing my son’s tears, upset with my husband, and wrestling with my own childhood ghosts, that I felt utterly incapable of the family I already have. How then can I handle one more human being, one who needs me completely and desperately and wholly?

I know I’m not the only expectant mom to worry and wonder. I read Mrs. Chicken’s blog while she was expecting Shaggy, and I loved the way she wrote about both the joy and the anxiety of bringing home the second baby. I know that we’ll find our way, as she is finding hers, and that somehow I will make room in our lives for Doodlebug. That I’ll manage, as millions of mothers before me can testify, to handle the new needs of our bigger family.

And my first step toward managing? On Sunday evening, fueled by a whole day’s worth of coffee and rest and food and time together, I approached Gruff about his words to Smooch. We talked about our expectations of our oldest – who is really not so very old, at 33 months – and how we can handle another outburst like that one. I talked about my need to be supported, even comforted and consoled, when I become emotional in the face of Smooch’s upsets. I talked about my childhood, and not wanting to communicate the same undercurrent to our kids. And then I listened – to his feelings and fears, and bless his heart!, to his apology. We ended our conversation in that best of ways, by meandering around a hundred unrelated topics, laughing and giggling, reminiscing, and cuddling.

It makes me believe that we will be ready, in 12-or-so weeks, when she joins us in the outside world.