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.


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.


Of cats and poop

May 8, 2008

Before I had Smooch, I had Lux and Linus. We adopted Lux first – he was a sweet orange tabby kitten who fell hard.in.love with Gruff right away. He would curl up on Gruff’s chest, purring loud enough to be heard across the room, over the din of the television. He chased his little toys for hours, jumping and flipping his whole body around in great circles in the air. When he was a year old, we adopted Linus. A scrawny 1.2 pound baby, Linus developed a respiratory infection a few days after coming home with us, and I had to take him to the vet. They put him in an incubator-like cubicle and gave him an albuterol treatment, and sent me home with instructions to feed him soft food (it’s more fragrant – kitties who can’t smell sometimes stop eating, and he was too little to do that). He didn’t like the soft food, so I fed him Gerber baby food –chicken– from the tip of my pinky finger for three days. That must have imprinted on some part of his kitten brain, because for months he would climb into my lap, nuzzle my hand, and suck on my fingers like a pacifier. Even as a fully grown cat, he was a cuddler – he’d flop up onto our bed, wriggle and writhe his way to the crook of my elbow or the bend of my knee. Lux is more reserved, but still doesn’t seem to understand the way cats are supposed to behave – he comes when we call him (and even responds to Smooch, who learned to do the little “kissing” noise we make to summon the cats before he even say “kitty”) and plays fetch with paper balls.

I love those cats. And this weekend, I have to say goodbye.

We’ve been having litter box problems for the last few months – it started with occasional “inappropriate elimination” and in the last week has happened every day. On my son’s bed.

You know, mommy bloggers get a bad rap sometimes for always writing about poop, but the thing is? It’s a big part of what we DO, with our kids, when they are little. In the beginning, all you do is put stuff in and wipe up what comes out. Even when they grow up a bit, you’re still wiping someone.else’s.butt multiple times a day. As a stay-at-home-mom, I’m okay with this fact. I don’t LOVE dealing with poop, but I can manage. I have my days, when Gruff comes home and I rail that I’m TOO SMART TO BE WIPING BUTTS AND NOSES ALL DAY, DAMNIT and THEY DON’T PAY ME ENOUGH FOR THIS JOB, YAKNOW and I’M OUT OF HERE, I NEED STARBUCKS! but overall, it’s fine.

However. Baby poop is one thing – and it’s true what they say, it’s not quite as disgusting when it’s your own baby – and toddler poop is grosser, on the scale, but still tolerable. Cat poop, on the other hand, is never going to be okay. It’s nasty. It reeks. And if I consider for even the teeniest second all the GERMS in there? Oooooh, ugh, *shudder* …mama needs a HazMat suit.

I’ve cleaned it up several times over the last couple of weeks. Sunday afternoon, I found out I was pregnant, and the GROSSNESS of cleaning up cat poop hit me again – not only is it icky, but it’s really not safe for little Pepino in there, either.

(Side note: what do you think of Pepino as an in utero moniker? I was driving through town yesterday with VeggieTunes2 blasting on the CD player -I know, I’m such a rocking mom- and when we got to “Dance of the Cucumber” I thought, “Aw, that sounds like a good name for a little vegetable-sized baby.” Because every freakin’ pregnancy book spends nine months telling you what food your child measures up to in a given week. So I’m trying it out; but I’m open to feedback.)

Back to the story. Gruff has a Zero Tolerance Policy for ill-placed cat poop. He’s unrelenting – now that this has happened several times in a row, and for the last three days consecutively, he won’t budge. They have to go. This weekend, he will load them into their carriers and take them to the Humane Society.

I’m sure that I’m more emotional than I might otherwise be, but I’m really upset. We’ve had these cats for so many years. They are SO good with Smooch – they let him pet them, they come when he calls them, they lick his hands (and sometimes, his sippy cups). This morning I started poking around online and came across a good bit of information that seems to point toward checking out a medical condition when a previously well-trained litter box user starts to “act out.” One website in particular mentioned a cat who started eliminating around the house would also meow (in pain) when picked up — and I realized that Lux, the cat who’s been caught in the act of bed-pooping, often meows a particular, loudish meow when we pick him up. So now I’m feeling torn and guilty – should I spend the money, take them to the vet, have them checked out, even though Gruff has issued his edict that we’re giving them up? On one hand, there’s a chance that Lux isn’t doing it to be “bad” – he could really have some kind of infection or problem, and we might be able to help him feel better and simultaenously fix the litter box problem and save him from being adopted out. On the other hand, maybe it’s just some wierd phase he’s going through, and we’ll STILL end up giving him up plus we’ll have spent money on a vet bill. I just don’t know what to do, what we’ll end up doing.

“God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an no trouble. No mess at all.” John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men


For Your Consideration

May 3, 2008

I submit: I’m an idiot.

Okay, not really. At least, not in every single aspect of my life. I’m a pretty smart girl about some things. But do you realize what I just did? I participated in the Bloggy Giveaways, which is fun and exciting and I got to make three people happy when they won and I got to feel happy when I won…. and then I managed to NOT post for a week.

Yeah.

Way to use that momentum, Michelle.

Oh, and guess what else I did? The ONE time this week I was out on the side of town by the post office, I left all three of my packages here. And with gas prices… ugh. I felt like an idiot. (Again.)

Today Gruff is on-call, so we’ve got a long stretch of day before us. Of course, it’s raining, which doesn’t make the prospect of running errands terribly fun, but at least getting out of the house would give us something to do. So odds are good that I’ll hit the post office this morning and my poor winners will FINALLY get their prizes. And when Gruff’s not around, I tend to get a lot of writing done, so maybe I will work on a few posts, and this place won’t be quite so barren and boring next week.

But you know, I’m an idiot – so don’t count on it.


In which, I let a bad metaphor take over an entire post

March 12, 2008

Is there some kind of pheromone that goes out every few years, serenading the women I know, causing them to all drift moth-like toward the same flame?

First it was the marriage flame. Admittedly, I was probably the first moth at that particular fire – at the tender age of 21-years-and-two-weeks old – but a huge cadre of my friends and acquaintances followed soon after.

Next, it was the first-baby flame. When I got pregnant with Smooch, I was in good company. No fewer than nine of my close friends (living all over the country) were pregnant at the same time, and we all gave birth within about six months of each other.

And lately? There’s a new pheromone on the breeze. Second babies are happening everywhere I go. Just this morning, a friend emailed a big group of us to apologize for not making it to playgroup the last few weeks – morning sickness is keeping her down. My friend in Connecticut just had her “gender scan” and found out she’s having a girl. Mrs. Chicken just found out she’s having a boy! Everywhere I go, it’s bumps and bellies and babies.

The sad thing is, my pheromone-sensing-moth-flocking apparatus seems to be on the fritz. I want to be fluttering to that flame, gestating it up with the rest of my pals. But it’s not happening. I’m not surprised, really – it took two and half years to get successfully pregnant the first time. I’ve had three miscarriages altogether. For me, there’s two hurdles – the getting knocked up, and then the staying knocked up. Some of you know what I mean. And when you’re in that club, you know that every pregnancy announcement, every ultrasound picture, is a little bit of a punch in the gut. I’m here to testify that it is PERFECTLY POSSIBLE to be over-the-moon thrilled and excited for your friend and simultaneously sad and angry for yourself. I’m doing okay this time, so far. We’ve only been trying for a few months, so the real desperation hasn’t set in yet. I am honestly, truly, really happy for my pregnant friends.

I just want to get back in the club. I want to be a moth at that flame, not some kind of freak ladybug on the outside.


And it just keeps getting better….

February 12, 2008

Two gross diapers and
temp of one hundred-point-oh.
Now the boy’s got it.