Archive for the 'Motherhood' Category

Where I’ve been

Well, where on earth have I been?  One post a week?  That’s hardly worth it.

I’ll tell you where I’ve been.  In MISERY. (Please note that I tend to lean towards the dramatic.  I can not be held responsible for any slight exaggeration that may occur during this post.)

This whole pregnant-while-parenting-an-active-and-tantrum-prone-toddler business is seriously kicking my butt.  It’s been dragging me down physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  Dark circles are eclipsing my once young, sparkly eyes (ahem…).  I am developing a slouch that can only be described as a Stress Hump, in the most G-rated way possible.  I float between utter joy, infuriation, and complete dispare; the mood changing so quickly I am often wondering “what is wrong with me?” or “where did that come from?”

When I look at my situation objectively, I really do have it fairly easy, given the circumstances.  Anonymous Husband does more around the house than most men (seriously, I’m not just looking for bonus points here – he does the vast majority of the cleaning and more than half of the cooking).  My mom looks after Eirinn, instead of some stranger, which is an enormous blessing.  I have a good job, 10 minutes from home, which pays well and is pretty stress-free (most of the time – this morning was questionable).  I have a network of moms I meet with weekly to de-stress, vent, and gossip.  I have a best friend who I can email daily.

And, actually, Eirinn has been extremely well behaved this past week (as I knock on wood, cross all my digits and limbs, and pray to sweet Baby Jesus).  She has been happy for the most part, has been sleeping well, and has decided that food is not, in fact, the devil, rather is quite delicious and she’ll have more please.  And more.  And when she’s done seconds thirdsies she’ll have dessert.  And then second dessert.  And then maybe a snack.  What are we having for supper?

But.  BUT.  Even a well behaved toddler is still a toddler.  Which means High Energy, itty bitty attention span.  There’s still a lot of running and jumping and catastrophe-aversion and game-invention and TALKING  going on.  I just don’t have that kind of energy.  I have just enough to pass, probably with a C or a C+, but I feel guilty and like a failure if I don’t average a B+ in Parenting 101.  And that, compounded with the hormones and the discomfort, usually brings me to some sort of meltdown.

Evenings are spent just getting through it.  I try my best to keep up, to be cheerful, to be a normal mother and wife.  But I know it’s not working as well as I’d like.  I’m probably not fooling either of them.  I’m doing the best I can playing and hanging out with Eirinn for the few hours before bedtime.  I’m doing the best I can to be patient and strong and The Meeter of All Needs.  I’m doing the best I can, but the best I can right now, to me,  is sub-par.

What I would like to be doing in the evenings (and, let’s face it, all day as well) is sleeping.  I’d like to come home from work, change into pyjamas (preferably flannel), crawl into bed and sleep until I feel like waking up.  Which might not be when the alarm goes off.  Heck, it might not even be the morning.

But I can’t, which is ok.  And I know this feeling of complete and utter exhaustion of my body and my mind isn’t permanent.  It will probably last for quite a while (newborn + toddler does not make for a stress-free environment), but it will get better.  Maybe I need a few rejuvenation days (or “sick days”, as my work insists on calling them) to get back on track.  Maybe. 

I’ll get there eventually, but I’m not there now.

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Guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow

I just took an on-line gender prediction test and after answering 20 or so questions, the results were 47% boy and 53% girl.  This translates to:

 “You are definitely, maybe, quite possibly, or not, having either a boy or a girl, or both, or neither. But we are 61% certain you are having something. Even if it’s just a snack.  Or not.  Please don’t sue us.”

The Chinese Calendar says girl.  Everyone else in the known universe says boy.  I say there’s definitely something in there, boy or girl, and whatever it is, it sure does wiggle a lot.  That’s all I know.

until tomorrow…

hopefully…

as long as fetupus cooperates and shows us his or her bits…

and if he or she is anything like his or her older sister, he or she will be crossing his or her legs as tight as he or she can, thinking we’re awfully pre-verted with all this interest in his wee-wee or her hoo-ha…

Anonymous Husband and I don’t really care if it’s a he or a she.  Our interest lies in getting the room prepared, either keeping or replacing Eirinn’s old clothes, picking a name, and putting an imagined face to the idea of a new family member.  On one hand, a girl would be cheaper (less to replace, more to re-use) and easier as we know how to parent a girl, in general.  On the other hand, a boy would be an interesting change and would add a bit of a hormonal balance to our house.  And what dad doesn’t want at least one boy?

But, as cheesy and typical as it sounds, we will honestly be thrilled with either (I think our chances of getting ‘either’ are fairly good, so – yay!) and tomorrow’s ultrasound is basically just a formality.  A highly anticipated, extremely looked-forward-to (what?  shut up, I’m pregnant and can make up phrases if I want) formality.

So look for the big reveal (or disappointing let down of ‘no news’) tomorrow.

In through the nose, out through the mouth

Things coming up I’m scared witless about:

1. Moving Eirinn into her “big girl” room.  We’ve spent Eirinn’s college fund a lot of money on the necessities required to change the current playroom into a proper, functioning toddler’s bedroom – bed, dresser, night table, bedding, lighting.  And the odd un-necessity – decorative pillows, letters to adorn the wall spelling “Eirinn”.  Oh, and we’ve picked the colour we’ll paint the room – a nice, light, buttery yellow.

All of this is just a distraction from the real issue here, which is in approximately one month we are about to begin the monumentally exhausting and frustrating task (so I hear) of transitioning Eirinn from a crib into a bed.  A real, live, big girl bed with no sides to act as a team to form a Child Containment Unit.  We’ll install one of those removable bed rail systems to ensure she doesn’t fall out, but that won’t keep her from voluntarily getting out of bed over and over again.  A suggestion of a baby gate across the bedroom door has been mentally noted.

Stay tuned for some very erratic and irrational posts in the near future.

2. Potty training.  Yes, our plan was to train over the Christmas holidays while we were both home for an extended period of time and able to dedicate our lives to alternately asking if she had to go pee pee and cleaning up disgraced and violated carpets.  However, Eirinn wasn’t, and isn’t, ready.  I think she’s fairly close (has used the potty successfully several times, tells us when she’s dirtied her diaper, shows interest in the potty), but just not quite there yet.

Eirinn is a head-strong girl, set in her ways, tied to her routines, unwilling to change.  When we finally get the courage to start the hard core, potty training boot camp, I anticipate we’ll be met with resistance, even if she is ready in every other way.  I don’t plan on forcing this onto her, I don’t want to traumatize the poor thing, but on the other hand, I was still kind of hoping she’d be trained by the time we have a second bum to diaper.

3. Speaking of which, we have the small issue of a second mouth to feed in the coming months.  4 months and 19 days until expected arrival, to be exact.  I am in no way nervous of either the birth or the infant him or herself (however foolish this may be – it even sounds ridiculous as I type it).  I’ve been through both before, without the aid of drugs, I might add, and we both made it out a little exhausted, but fine.  I have not, however, experienced caring for an infant with a screaming, needy toddler in the same picture.  This very thought makes my palms sweaty and increases my blood pressure to an unhealthy level.

I may have made it out of the infant stage fine, but certainly not gracefully.  It was rough while it was happening, that’s for sure, with a colicky, fussy baby.  I have to now imagine life, if we’re going the worst-case-scenario route, with a colicky, fussy baby and a busy, grumpy toddler.  All I can wish is that this next one is a happier infant and that Eirinn takes to sharing her everything better than I am expecting her to.  Which is not…very…well.

Coming up – Things coming up that I’m excited about.  Just so you don’t think I’m all gloom and doom. I wish I could write about these today, but my hands are too sweaty to keep typing and I think I’m going to go breathe into a bag for a while.

No amount of training

It started out all frayed nerves and tested patience.  It turned into fighting regrets, wavering self-trust, and lessons learned.

***

I’ve always been fairly confident in my parenting abilities.  I have a mother who, while raising us in a home that doubled as a daycare, provided us with more education on parenting than average.  We saw, come and go, dozens of children over the years, all of differing behavioral dispositions, receptiveness to discipline, even levels of intelligence.  And my mom was and is a fabulous parent and daycare provider.  She has always treated her charges as she would her own kids – no better, no worse, no more or less attention, and the rules that applied to us, applied to them and vice versa.  And the kids were (and are) always there.  They arrived before we were awake in the morning, and didn’t leave until dinner time.

Like I said, this meant I was involuntarily enrolled in a 26 year course in parenting before I had my own.  At the time I was living at home, when I was still a kid myself, this was a burden at times.  Just at times, not always.  We benefited from always having someone to play with, nevermind the fact that our mom was always home; a privilege, no doubt.  We constantly had fresh baked cookies or muffins, a hot lunch at home everyday, and a parent always present for anything we needed.  But this also meant we had to share her for the majority of the day with other people’s kids.  We had to share our toys with other people’s kids.  We had to share our home with other people’s kids.  By the time I was in my teenage years, I was ‘over it’.  A little bit of quiet would have been nice.

All of this is just to say, in theory and on paper, I know about this parenting deal.  I’ve been witness to pretty much any challange a child can throw at you and I’ve seen an expert deal with it appropriately.  But, as we as parents all know, in theory and on paper is dramatically different, like worlds apart, from having to put the knowledge into practice.  With a real, live child.

***

Eirinn was tough this morning.  Not the worst she’s ever been, but she had her moments.  She begged me for oatmeal (as a second breakfast) and after I made it she insisted she “No Like It.”  She ran up the stairs when I asked her to sit on them to get ready.  Nothing horrible, just naughty.

And then she hit me.  Smacked me square in the nose with her finger, hard.  It certainly didn’t hurt, but she meant it to. 

So I slapped her hand.

This is where I have been fighting with myself.  One moment I regret it deeply.  I have always said “how can you teach a child that it’s wrong to hit by hitting them in return?”  And really, how can you?  It’s all fine to say do as I say, don’t do as I do, but a two year old won’t ever understand that.  All she knows is that she did something Mommy didn’t like, so Mommy slapped her.  So, if she were to learn from this lesson, if someone does something she doesn’t like, she should smack them.  Not exactly what I was hoping she’d learn.

Yet in the next moment, I’m ok with what I did.  She has to know why we don’t hit and that’s because it hurts*.  And we don’t want to hurt people.  After the hand slap, we had a long, heart-felt discussion, which she understood so well it brought tears to my eyes, about how we shouldn’t hit people, that we should be friends and we don’t want to hurt our friends.  We discussed how if she doesn’t hit anyone, no one will hit her.  We discussed how much Mommy loves her and how it hurts Mommy’s feelings when she is mean to Mommy.  And in the end, with no provocation, Eirinn said “Poor Mommy,” apologized, and gave me a huge hug and a big kiss.  It was all I could do to not stay home all day and hug my precious little baby. 

It’s so hard to remember, as an adult who has mastered all of these basic theories, that starting out, we have no idea.  How is she to know, without being taught, that hitting is wrong, or that we shouldn’t throw toys at the dog, or that food belongs in the bowl or in our mouth?  So we have to be patient.  She has so many lessons to learn, all at the same time, that I can see how it would take several mistakes before she fully grasps all of these new concepts.  But it’s so hard to remember.  After all, I’m new to this parenting thing and parents have just as many lessons to learn.  The difference is, as a parent, we have to learn these while acting like we already knew them.  We have to be instant experts.  Or incredible actors.

Looking back now, I don’t know if I would do anything different.  I know in an ideal world where children only needed to be told once and their parents kept their cool under any circumstance, I may not have raised my voice and just given her a time out and all would have been peachy.  But my child isn’t like that and neither am I, so I slapped her hand to get my point across, we had our discussion about why I did what I did (because she did what she did), we apologized to each other, and if you ask her now, she knows not to hit.  So under the circumstances, I don’t think I could have done anything differently and still come out with the same result.

But I’m still beating myself up inside, and why is this?  Because there’s always self-doubt in parenting.  We can’t escape it.  No matter how much training we had before our kids came.

***

* I most certainly did not hit her hard enough for it to hurt.  Absolutely not.  She was shocked, for sure, but not in pain.  I would never, ever purposely hurt my child.  Ever. 

Lapses in memory

You know, when people said “I can’t remember what life was like before *insert spoiled and frequently mauled baby’s name* was born”, I always figured ‘people’ were just romanticizing their situation.  Making me feel jealous that I had a baby who cried all the time, didn’t sleep EVER, and hated most things related to not crying and sleeping.  And they were doing this on purpose.  ‘People’ can be so cruel sometimes.

But now that Eirinn is older and she only cries when she’s throwing a fit (for the sake of this post, we won’t discuss how often these fits occur) and sleeping isn’t going to cause her skin to melt off (most of the time)(it still isn’t her favourite; puzzles are her favourite), I can kind of see where ‘people’ are coming from.

Just yesterday I was planning out our weekend (yes, on a Tuesday; when you have kids the planning of days never ends), and it got me thinking about what we did on weekends before Eirinn was kicking around.  And do you know what?  I couldn’t really remember.  I seem to think there was a lot of Canadian Tire, and we may or may not have done our grocery shopping in peace, but this is all just speculation and hearsay.  I have no idea what we did.  I’m sure we slept in.  We must have slept in.  And I have a faint recollection of, on occasion, getting a whole box of donuts for lunch.  Yes, one box of donuts, two people, one lunch.  Those must have been sweet, sweet times.

Is this lapse in memory permanent?  Is it placenta brain?  Is it just going to get worse when fetupus arrives?  Am I going to lose another two years, captured only in pictures, of a life that could quite possibly be a work of fiction?

Because other than these faint flickers in the back of my mind of a life that may or may not have been, I can honestly say that I can’t remember what life was like before Eirinn was born.

What I do know is that before Eirinn we had less to laugh about, less to be proud of, and less to live for.  That sounds sad and depressing, but it’s quite the opposite.  Before she was born, we had a great life with a nice little house, loving families, and good jobs.  And after?  Now we have a better life, one that has been enriched forever with an extremely intelligent, hilariously funny, and incredibly sweet little girl.  And I’m sure, I’m sure, that when fetupus makes his or her grand entrance our better life will be instantly transformed into an even better and fuller life.

Croissants – the cause and effect

So, what’s the best cure for morning sickness/all-day relentless nausea likely brought on by persistent exhaustion, toddler-wrangling, and a plate full of late night croissants that seemed like a good idea at the time?

Give up?

A sick day from work, a big empty house (even the dog’s not here!) and a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream.  That’ll cure what ails ya.  I slept for the whole morning, woke up in time to watch The View, ate lunch, and now I’m going to go right back to bed for the afternoon.  Just so I can say I didn’t waste the day.

Oh, and I may or may not have eaten three or more additional croissants before the bowl of vanilla-y goodness.  Don’t judge me.  If you were left home alone with a bag full of delicious, buttery croissants and a mean, pregnancy-induced hunger, you’d eat more of the exact thing that may of may not have made you sick in the first place.

At this rate she’ll be married at 12

Eirinn hit her terrible twos at about 15 months.  At that point she was moody and emotional and demanding and all together hard to deal with 75% of the time.  The other 25% of the time she was sweet and charming and cute; just enough so we didn’t sell her. 

This continued at a regular pace until a week or two ago.  Then, as normal toddler progression would have it, she jumped head first into that wonderfully un-terrible-twos stage known as the Three Year Old Questions and…More Questions Period.  Everything that comes out of her mouth is a question, but she hasn’t learned (or she chooses to forgo this half of the process) the ‘listening to the answer’ portion.  Instead she just asks either the same question again, or throws you for a loop and asks a completely unrelated question.

It goes something like this:

“Mommy, what doin’?”

“I’m ma…”

“What doin’?”

“Ma…”

“What doin’?”

I’M MAKING YOU A…

“Where Bossy?”

This is the part where my eyes roll back into their sockets, my brain begins a slow-leak out of my ears, and I collapse into a pile of rotting (and very confused) goo on the floor.  I mean, I would totally take a twenty minute long question and answer  question period over a twenty minute long temper tantrum (which has happened before) any day.  Hands down.  HOWEVER, they didn’t teach how to deal with this in Toddler Prep 101 and I have never really been known for my patience.  I’m not too bad, but when trying to field 15 questions in 15 seconds, I think anyone would explode just a teensy, tiny bit.