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.

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.


October 1, 2008


It has been so long since I logged in here, my browser couldn’t even remember the address to auto-fill for me. I had a momentary blank out on my password. And then the Dashboard looked like a foreign landscape and it took me a few seconds to remember how to open up a new post.

The times, they are a-flyin’.

Fall is here, finally. We woke up to mid-50’s temps and I put on a MATERNITY SWEATER. I could just swoon. I love the look of maternity sweaters (cozy, warm, they swaddle you up and make everyone go, “Oh, look: pregnant. Not fat.”) and never got to wear them while gestating Smooch down in South Florida. After a little reminder at my last midwife appointment (“We only need 300 extra calories for the baby, dear….”) and with the date for my glucose tolerance test looming in three weeks, I got ambitious and went out for a walk in the cool morning air. It was delicious, but I still only did one lap of the neighborhood. No sense in burning out on the first day I try, right?

I’m 25-and-a-half weeks pregnant, and this Doodlebug is a funny little girl. As I type, my be-sweatered belly is thumping and rolling. Boom-digga-boom-boom-boom. Ker-thwack. She likes her private time when Smooch is out of the way… she’s most active first thing when I wake up in the wee hours, as Gruff leaves for work; and then again during Smooch’s naptime; and then late in the evening after Smooch goes to bed. It’s either early sibling avoidance, or else those are just the only times I stop moving all day and it wakes her up. One of the two.

It’s just a little more than a month until we get to vote. Gruff has the week off work (coincidentally – he didn’t plan a vacation around the election) and we’re excited to get to go to the polls together for the first time since we’ve been together. He’s a total news junkie, so he’s looking forward to staying up all night to watch the talking heads as the results roll in. Before this year, I was really clueless about politics, but -you might remember- I decided to do my very best to get educated on the candidates back during primary season, and now I’m almost as hooked on political news as my husband. It’s a little wierd that we can have an intelligent conversation about the candidates over dinner, but it’s a good thing.

And *ahem*…. have you noticed that Christmas is coming? I went to Hobby Lobby with Smooch yesterday (“Wobby Wobby”, he says, with great glee. “H-O-B-B-Y says Wobby Wobby! Yay”) and it seems like half the store is dedicated to Christmas decorations. As we turned the corner and caught sight of the green & red, Smooch lifted both hands above his head. “Kissmiss tees! I EXCITED! Kissmiss, Mommy!” Thanks, Wobby Wobby. Now I get to field that query… oh, daily… for like ten weeks. Lovely.

Also on the holiday note, I have –somewhat recklessly– decided to try to make many of our gifts for family members this year. Like I don’t have enough going on, right? I have a huge list of projects to make FOR Doodlebug, another list of projects that need to be completed around the house before she gets here, and now a list of things to make for a holiday that’s just a couple of weeks before she’s due. I’m nothing if not optimistic.

20 Weeks

August 22, 2008

Halfway there. We have the “big” ultrasound scheduled for Monday at 8:00 a.m. I can’t even express how much I’m hoping that Doodlebug cooperates and flashes us the goods — I think that if I have to wait twenty MORE weeks to find out if she’s a she or he’s a he, I’ll go nuts. And I’m already pretty loopy from hormones, so that would be a bad thing all the way around.

Every Night

August 14, 2008

We do the same thing. Toddlers like that – the routine, the consistency, it lulls him to sleep just as much as the milk does.

First we change into pajamas, and he gets to choose between two parent-selected pairs. Then we run and climb onto The Big Bed (these days he resists our help as he huffs and clambers up – “I do it, I do it, I, I, I, I do it!” he mutters, with a new stammer of impatience and frustration in his voice these last few weeks). We climb on with him, three heads in a row on fluffy pillows. One night, we switched sides as we got onto the bed around him – Gruff on the right and I on the left – and the protests! “No! Mommy this side, Daddy this side! No Daddy on Mommy’s willow! Go, go, go, go, go, you go DERE!”

Then we sing a few songs, always Smooch’s choices. “The Alphabet Song” is in the top ten. Last night we did “Five Little Monkeys” with great exuberance for the first time. This morning he was singing “Jingle Bells” for some odd reason, so I have a feeling it will make a bedtime debut soon as well. After the songs, it’s time for prayers. About four months ago, I started saying the same prayer every night, and asking Smooch to fold his hands and close his eyes along with Daddy & I. “Dear God, thank you for Daddy, and for Mommy, and for Smooch, and for the baby.” Then I open my eyes a tiny peek and ask Smooch what else he is thankful for. The answers always make me laugh later – sometimes he is thankful for his grandparents, or his friends, but just as often he prays for the ceiling fan and his pacifier. The ways of the 2 year old mind are hard to fathom.

The last move is always the kisses and hugs. One of us parents will prompt him, and he always flies into my arms first for a big bear hug and slobbery kisses. Then he cries, “Daddy’s TURN!” and flings himself across the bed against Gruff’s solid chest. He always gives Gruff a kiss and then wipes it off his own face (why, we do not know), and then he slides off the bed. “My woom!” he usually cheers, giving out instructions as we cross the hall: fan on or off, which blanket, which stuffed animal or doll he needs to find. We tuck him in and exit. It’s a lovely routine.

And then a few nights ago, it changed. Not a big, earth-shattering change. But one that makes my mama heart both happy and sad at the same time. Gruff had said to Smooch, “Give Mommy a hug and kiss,” and Smooch said, “No.”

The next words out of his mouth took my breath away.


And he pulled on the hem of my T-shirt, exposing my growing belly, and flung his arms around my gravid girth. He leaned forward and placed a tiny kiss just beside my belly button, and then sat up grinning. “Mama TURN!”

Our world is changing, and I love it, but like any change it makes me wistful for the days we’re losing.

What do you do with a man like this?

July 23, 2008

Bless his heart. He just doesn’t get it.

Last night, I was sick.as.a.dog. (Again. I know, it’s like, just get over it. You’re pregnant; puke happens. But I was so blessed with Smooch’s pregnancy in this regard and I’m feeling rather irked with Doodlebug at the moment. Gimme a break, kid!) Gruff was very sweet about it – he fetched me water, and milk, and Tums, and when all of those failed and I upchucked anyway, a nice cool wet washcloth. Sweet guy.

A few hours later, Doodle started bopping around and I realized it was the strongest of the flutters I’d felt so far. “Hey, babe, I wonder if you can feel this yet….” He absentmindedly flopped his hand over on my belly, eyes still fixed on the laptop (where he was finishing a PowerPoint presentation for work. About shock and how to identify and treat it, in case you were wondering.) and sort of muttered that he didn’t. I repositioned his hand to where I’d actually pointed (this is why glancing over at your wife can be useful occasionally) and he said, “Oh. Yeah. I can feel movement – but I’m not sure what it is.” I laughed and told him it was a bit early to be identifying arms versus feet versus heads at this point, and then I got all ooey-gooey on him. “Awww, can you believe it? You just felt the baby for the first time! That is so sweet!” I waited for him to respond… and this is what I got:

“Yeah. It’s great. Now, I have to finish this.”

*stunned, hurt, angry silence from the other side of the bed*

“What? Don’t get mad – I’m WORKING and I have to finish this. I can feel your belly later.”

*again with the hurt and anger*

Dude, for real? I know his presentation was due this morning and he was “in the zone” and wanted to finish. I’ve felt that before, and I know it’s irritating when something pulls you away from your work. But for pete’s sake – this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. You only feel your child move for the first time… the first time. Can’t we take a minute and celebrate that? Say a little prayer over this baby, thanking God for his or her health and asking for a continuing peaceful pregnancy? Daydream a little bit about what this child might look like? Something? I feel like Dr. Evil — “Throw me a frickin’ bone here!”

I told this story to a friend on the phone this morning, and she said (with a smile in her voice, but still…) “Okay, you’re going to have to start telling me some good stories about Gruff, because he’s starting to drift over toward My List.” She was joking, the way friends do, when they take up your side of things – but it made me think. The fact is that Gruff DID do this particular thing – and a few other particular things, to which my close friends and bloggy buddies are privy – but maybe I shouldn’t share the stories that cast him in a negative light. Overall, I don’t think I’m one of those women who is always complaining about men in general, her man in specific, or male-bashing at any opportunity. But I do sometimes choose to vent, here or in person, about my husband.

On one hand, I feel like it gives me a sounding board – a chance to feel heard, a chance to feel like I’m not being outrageous to expect (X, Y, Z) from Gruff, a chance to reality-check that other husbands do or don’t do (X, Y, Z). On the other hand, I wonder if I ought to stop comparing, stop having expectations, and stop venting altogether. I don’t know. What do you do, especially if you have a man like this in your life?