Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

A purple heart

Monday, March 31, 2014
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ava window 2In parenting, there are memories and then there are flashbacks.  One is of the sweet, perhaps even bittersweet kind; the other is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I’ve been having flashbacks lately. I can only blame them on the knowledge that Ava is going to middle school soon, and the ball has started to pick up speed in that direction.  She registered herself, more or less, and I signed the papers on the dotted line.  She submitted a form to join “Beginning Band”, and she indicated that she intends to play the snare drum. She and her classmates watched “the video” that included “the talk” with the school nurse, and I gave her a check to pay for the patrol trip to Columbus, OH. I can barely keep up, and I’m fighting to hang on.

Things are different at home, too.  I haven’t helped her with a homework assignment since the beginning of the year.  She says she doesn’t need anyone’s help, and her grades prove it. She spends more time in her room reading novels and and listening to music, and she’s finally taking an interest in clothes. But this kid — this big girl — this tween — is less demanding of affection, too.  I used to call her my “Velcro baby”, because she was stuck to my leg like dog hair.  Ava was the most loving child I had ever seen.  Now, when I reach out to give her a hug, she braces herself. Sometimes she leans in from the side, and other times she stiffens so it’s impossible to give her a long, motherly squeeze.  We’re about an hour away from a handshake. Yes, she’s putting up boundaries. Hugs have become a courtesy; goodbye kisses have become obligatory.

Many years ago, I couldn’t leave the room without her dissolving into a puddle of tears.  And this is when I experience a flashback that I can’t shake.

It was a wintery day that called for a nap on the couch.  I was pregnant with our second daughter, and I was nauseated from the time I rolled out of bed to the time I crawled back in. Caring for a two-year old with unlimited energy and a 78-year old with uncontrollable dementia was taking its toll on me.  Both of them, including a bored cat, followed me through the house for the bulk of the day.  To some degree, Ava and my dad were of the same mindset.  I didn’t chase toddlers.  They chased me.

So on this wintery day, I was closing in on a meltdown from sheer mental exhaustion.  I needed a reprieve to get my emotions in order, and to let a wave of seasickness subside.  Ava wasn’t having any of it, and my dad didn’t understand most anything.

“I just want a short break to close my eyes, and then I’ll be right back,” I told her, going into a first floor bedroom so I could listen for trouble.

Ava protested.  “No, Mama! Please! Stay with me!”

It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict that a child who had just eaten a full lunch wasn’t going to play quietly while I put my head on a pillow for a few minutes.  She wanted to romp and tickle and play and bounce on the bed.

I asked her to please wait with her granddad for about fifteen minutes.  Here are some blocks.  Build the tallest house in the world.

Fifteen minutes? Neither one of them could comprehend time.  Play together? That means someone would have to take the lead and organize this activity.

Ava started to cry. ”NO!” she begged.

Those precious fifteen minutes were spent on worthless negotiation. In fact, her pleading to “play with me” became more dramatic. Finally, I carried her outside of the bedroom walls, and attempted to close the door.

She screamed as though she had seen me for the last time.

I stood with my back to the door and sobbed. She pounded and begged me to open it. My dad hovered in the hallway asking over and over again what was wrong.

Ava started coughing and choking. Then…she threw up.

I opened the door and found my sweet girl’s face red and soaked with tears.  She sucked in little puffs of air and sobbed some more.  “Pleeeeease let me in.”

And now, as Ava sits in her bedroom scanning Pinterest photos of her favorite boy band, I stand at the doorway and silently beg, Please let me in.

How times have changed.

Last night, I sat on the edge of her twin mattress that is covered in sheets printed with little pink flowers. Soon, this set will be used to protect a couch so the dog won’t get muddy paw prints on the cushions.  I told her about my flashback, and how much I regret shutting that door in her face.  I was desperate for a break from the constant demand for attention, and I envied her ability to throw up to relieve a sick stomach.  Mine was hormonal.  But hers was pure panic.

Ava put her hand on my wrist and then gripped it.

“I don’t remember,” she said, as if I needed permission to let go of the guilt.

“Yeah, but I do. It bothers me,” I confessed.  “I can remember every second of it.”

I sat on the edge of her bed for a long time that night, talking to both of my girls about things of no real importance. When it was time to turn off the light, I stood up to straighten their blankets.  Ava’s hand was still circled around my wrist.  I hadn’t even noticed. I unwrapped her fingers and kissed her on the  forehead goodnight. I traveled across the hall to my room, slid under the covers, turned onto my left side — a habit from my old pregnancy days — and slept like I hadn’t rested in weeks.




One is the loneliest number

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
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If you, the loyal Mommyhood readers, will allow it, I’m going to be a little melodramatic for a moment.

In the past two months(ish), every, single woman that was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant has either had another child or announced her second pregnancy. I can think of ELEVEN off the top of my head.

Combine the rising number of friends announcing their first pregnancies with the fact that MY baby is now an independent 2 ½ year old, and I’ve got some major baby envy. It appears as baby fever, but that’s just a nice word for what it really is: a big, green, ugly womb of envy.

Photo courtesy of Jillian's Drawers

I want another child. If I could, I would have an entire houseful of children. As it is, we live in a tiny house and two children and whatever pets exist would more than fill it. Being the eldest of four, I believe four is a great number. Three is good, so is two. One is phenomenal, but it just feels lonely.

This pity-party leaves me a bit guilty, because I have so much. I don’t have infertility issues to contend with. I don’t feel a longing that many women feel — for just one pregnancy, just one child to carry in my body — and I’m so thankful I’ve had that experience. I don’t want to take anything away from it. However, this mama is ready for some more sleepless nights, 24-hour nursing, diapers and sweet, little baby clothes. Oh, the sweet, little baby clothes that cover the sweet, little baby toes…

I’m not romanticizing the affair, really. I remember our newborn and infant phase. It’s exhausting. I remember the pain that came with the childbirth recovery, and not being able to walk or sit normally for two weeks. But I knew, the minute I started pushing my son out, that I could do it all again.

This article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, offers a few questions to ask before you add another child.

  • Do I want another child? Absolutely.
  • Will another child change our economic situation? Not really. If you wait until you can afford a child to have one, you’ll never have one.
  • How will life change, and are we ready for that change? Life change will be minimal, providing any future pregnancies and children are like the first.
  • How will a new baby affect the lives of your existing children? My son can’t get enough of babies. He’s a little jealous, but that’s a good trait to overcome, and it’s easier to overcome at a younger age.
  • Are you and your partner on the same page? Oh… that. That is where the issue lies. My baby-makin’ partner in crime (an only child himself) is more hesitant to add another to our brood. Lately, he’s warming up to the idea, but I brought up potential baby names the other day and he turned a sickly shade of green and started tapping his foot incessantly.

So, there’s only one question left: When? When will I be ready for another baby? I told new mom me that I would be ready for another when my son weaned. OK, done. Then I said I’d be ready when he was potty-trained. That happened in September. He sleeps through the night pretty well. He can talk, feed himself, undress himself, bathe himself. He’s a boy, not a baby anymore.

What do you think? How many years are in-between your children? When did you know it was time for another?

The big baby mystery

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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So I had to bring my baby girl home in yellow duckies, but it was pretty cool not knowing if we were having a boy or a girl.

  I am the type of person who searches around the house in mid-December looking for my Christmas gifts. Once, when I was a teenager, I found some presents already wrapped and went so far as to peel a corner open to peek inside. When I suspected my husband was going to propose, I snooped around for a ring.

  So it would make sense that when I got pregnant, I would find out the gender of the baby as soon as possible. I know a lot of people who are pregnant right now and every one of them found out if they are having a boy or girl. Everyone wants to know. They want to start picking names, buying clothes, painting the nursery.

  But my late husband was old school. He loathed modern technology. And he loved surprises. He wanted this amazing moment in the delivering room when the doctor declared “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”

  It was so important to him that I gave in. (I’m pretty sure I demanded something in return, like a foot massage once a week or something.) I went 10 whole months, (pregnancy being 9 months is such a lie!) TEN WHOLE MONTHS, 40 weeks, without knowing if the little being kicking the crap out of me was a he or a she.

  I was at a loss for what to call the baby. The first ultrasound picture resembled a chickpea. So we went with that. Ultimately, it became Baby Cherry.

  At first, I thought the suspense would kill me. But it actually became, well, kinda cool. People loved trying to guess. “You’re carrying high so it’s a boy” or “Your butt’s not that big, so it’s a girl.” Seriously, I heard that one.

  People would ask “what are you having?” and I cracked myself up by saying “a baby.”

  We painted Baby Cherry’s room yellow and went with sweet Pottery Barn Kids décor in moons, stars and sheep.

  Everything in my being throughout most of my pregnancy told me I was having a boy. I just felt it. And then in the last couple weeks, I had an incredibly vivid dream that the baby was girl. And I knew. I just knew.

  Problem was we were so convinced it was a boy, we hadn’t really nailed down a girl name. Would she be Lauren? Or Sophie? Or Caitlin? Or Madeline? Or Julia?

  During an ultrasound when the tech knew the sex of the baby I thought I was going to burst. I thought about sneaking back in after my husband left to see if she would tell me. I remember inspecting the blob on sonogram picture with a magnifying glass searching for any clues.

  But I only had a couple more months to go. I decided to suck it up.

  And well, it was totally worth it. It was indeed an amazing moment when the doctor pronounced the baby a GIRL! A girl! Totally worth the hour or so of intense pushing and screaming and cursing. And so much fun calling all our friends and family to tell them the news. A few nurses even stayed past their shift to find out, because, well, apparently it’s rare for a new mom not to know what she’s having. In fact, I have only two other friends who didn’t find out the baby’s gender.

  In this day and age, is it that odd? Does anyone wait anymore?

If you can’t say something nice…

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
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Nine months and counting.

  I was going through old pictures recently when I came across some black and whites of me in all my pregnant glory, wearing the only dress I could still fit into. I wanted my husband to take them so I would remember what I looked like when I was doing the important work of growing a human. As if the stretch marks will ever let me forget…

  Ah yes, a glorious time. I gained double the recommended weight, had swollen ankles from seven months on, developed aversions to some of my favorite foods and could never get comfortable. I was not one of those women who glowed.

  So maybe that’s why people said unkind things to me on a regular basis. I expected it from the teenager who worked at the coffee shop. In July, he asked when I was due. I told him October. “Wow, so you’re having twins?” Nope. Just one bun in this oven. Can I get some extra whipped cream on that mocha latte?

  Surprisingly, the three worst things that were said to me, not only came from women, they came from MOTHERS, all former co-workers.

  One looked me up and down, then said, “Bet you can’t wait to get rid of that thing.” Damn those pregnancy hormones for not getting the words “I’d much rather get rid of you” to my mouth fast enough.

  Another time, toward the end of my pregnancy, another woman looked at me, apparently so offended by my belly, and said “My God, Carrie. Do you need me to boil some water?” Only if you’re planning on making me some pasta, I wish I had said.

  And my personal favorite came from a new girl who started working at the paper at about my seventh month. A few weeks later, she felt compelled to tell me “Wow, you look so much bigger this week than last.” I bit my tongue to keep from saying, “Wow, so do you.”

  For the record, I lost all my baby weight and then some. Thank you, Weight Watchers. Take that, mean ladies who made me cry.

  Being around a pregnant woman seems to make people feel like they need to say something, or worse, do something, like touch your stomach. For the most part, people are sincere. I mean, it is pretty amazing, the miracle of life and all. 

  So I put together a few things NEVER to say to a pregnant woman. Please feel free to add to my list and share your own horror stories.

1.      Are you having twins?

2.      Can I rub your belly?

3.      I was in labor for days.

4.      Say goodbye to sleep.

5.      I only gained 15 pounds when I was pregnant.

6.      You must be having a boy. Your nose is enormous.

Carpe Diem

Monday, February 7, 2011
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Switching from a minivan to a car is like moving from a farmhouse in the country to a one room apartment in New York City. As I recognize the first anniversary of owning a four-door crossover – neither car nor van, neither fish nor fowl – I am mindful of what I gave up to reclaim a slice of my former self.

It all started when I was six weeks pregnant with our second child.  Obviously, my sedan would no longer meet the growing needs of our family, so off we went in search of the van.  By the fourth tour of lots and showrooms, my afternoon “morning sickness” had hit with such a vengeance that I would’ve purchased anything containing a third row seat so I could lie down.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  After the eager salesperson pressed the automatic door opener and invited us to climb aboard, I crawled into the twin bed of a bench seat to ride out the nausea.

“Well, whaddya’ think?” the salesperson asked.  I uncovered my mouth and gestured for him to stop talking. “We’ll take it.”

I knew not the make or the model, how it drove or how it rode.

The morning after, however, is when I really felt sick.  Peering out the living room window, I looked at the brand new vehicle, parked so patiently in the driveway, waiting to be called for its first tour of duty.

The Minivan.  The Swagger Wagon.  The Grocery Getter.  The Family Truckster.  The Mom Mobile.

I began to grieve for my old car…sleek, sporty, and speedy. I longed for the cushioned heated seats, and the cool metal gearshift.  I missed the smell of cappuccino and Coco Chanel.   I had given up sparkling chrome and supple leather for suede-like upholstery and platinum-look hubcaps. I had canceled joyrides and the fast lane for playdates and the carpool lane.  It looked unfamiliar to me; it felt uncomfortable.   I felt as if I had traded in myself.

Before deciding to purchase a van, though, I did plenty of research and compiled a list of preferences.  It had to resemble my sedan in a few ways: black exterior, light interior, clean lines, important yet sophisticated.  The van must have passed the test, because when I dropped off my husband at the airport, I was ushered into a visiting politician’s motorcade. As I pulled away from the curb, I was motioned into procession with larger onyx-colored Suburbans and Expeditions, which I joined with a sense of confused pride.

But those “fleeting” moments didn’t last long.  While I admit that drop-down DVD players and back-up warning alarms are nifty, as is the ability to walk through rows of seats like a flight attendant (Pretzels? Apple juice?), it was still a van.

Forty-eight months passed, and when the payment book reached its last coupon, I started to crave change.  My husband kept instructing me to “respect the van” and its many uses, but I ignored him.  After several e-mail pleas and forwarded links to dealership websites, he surrendered and agreed to look around. Worn down by comparing and contrasting options, he signed on the dotted line to commit to a new 2010 crossover.  With seating for five and enough room for a golden retriever to hunch down, I drove off the lot feeling like Katy, not Mommy.

So, as I observe my first anniversary in the crossover, I pay my respects to the van, with its wide-open spaces and built-in entertainment.  I stop for a moment of silence, after opening and closing multiple doors (on my own), and after cramming bags of groceries behind the front (and rear) seats.  I pause to celebrate my decision to do things the hard way.

Because, baby, that’s how I roll.