Monday, December 23, 2013

The Christmas season, the Christmas baby

39 weeks and 4 days. Today is the day (in gestation equivalents) that Greta was born. MJ was born 8 days later than this.
I have so far managed to not get too impatient. My Mom arrived 5 days ago, and it has been such a blessing to have her here. I was in a very, very bad state for the week prior to her arrival. I essentially put myself on self-imposed bed rest a couple days before I hit 38 weeks, because I could barely walk. The round ligament pain was so intense it would cause my knees to buckle, and I spent much of my day in tears from the pain. I stopped doing much of anything, laid on the couch most of the day, and was incredibly thankful that Greta was good at entertaining herself.
After a couple days of this, I got a bit better. Picking up Greta seems to have been the main culprit. The added weight, plus the awkward position I had to carry her in because of my giant belly, was just too much. I still was in pain by the end of the day, but I could do the barest minimum of tasks (load the dishwasher, for example).
My Mom arrived last Wednesday, and I am finally back to feeling like a fairly functional human. Having someone here to help has made all the difference. Yesterday I managed to bake cookies (oh my!) and put away three loads of laundry and clean the bedroom and change the sheets on all the beds. A week ago the idea of putting away half a basket of clothes was beyond me.  I am always glad to have my Mom visit, but I have never before been so glad to have her here.  I’m trying to not wear her out, but being as she is currently in bed with a stomach bug I’m not sure that I’ve succeeded on that front.
Aside from that, I’m just trying to be patient. I feel like I’m close, within a few days, but I’m trying to not think that way because I know how crazy it will make me if I’m wrong. There’s enough happening at the moment to keep me occupied, but once Christmas passes the waiting will feel especially difficult, I suspect. Husband will be back at work, my Mom will still be here if she hasn’t gotten sick of me yet, and all eyes will be on my uterus.
Sleep is really, really terrible. I seem unable to sleep more than a couple hours at a stretch. So I tend to fall asleep at midnight, sleep a couple hours, toss and turn for a couple hours, sleep a couple hours then get up. Then muddle through the morning and take a nap when Greta takes a nap. I am unable to remember how I functioned when I was pregnant with Greta and working full time. This time around, I have developed some sleep apnea as well, and wake up gasping for breath because my throat has closed off.
I am doing my best to try to enjoy my time with the girls, though. MJ is off school for the next two weeks and I’m trying to embrace everything 4. A couple weekends ago her and I met up with Erin and Annie and few other folks at a Holiday High Tea. It’s always so nice to spend some quality alone time with MJ, and makes me remember how special this age is, and how I so often miss it out of frustration or distraction. So I’m making strides, and it is helping. I’m trying to do something special for her or with her each day; the other day I made a scavenger hunt for her. Today it was letting her stay up late to eat cake. These little things have already brought us closer, and I need to keep it up. She’s been changing lately, in good and bad ways, and I see that she’s becoming her future self. I need to be more careful about the paths that I lay down for her. I read something about how the way we talk to our kids becomes their inner voice, and I want her inner voice to be different than the way I’ve been talking to her. So I’m trying to change that.
She’s become more sullen lately, not always the happy and exuberant child but sometimes grumpy or moody, and I’m finding this difficult to adjust to. But that is also making her more human. More of a real person instead of the animated character that is a toddler. She gets sad about friendships at school, or about arguments that DH and I have, and this is what makes her human. So I need to learn to appreciate this, too.
Greta, on the other hand, I’m finding to be just joyous. Trouble making, mess making, but gleeful and happy. I thoroughly enjoy this age, and although I was a little sad when she started walking and left babyhood behind, I’m finding it so fun to see more and more of her personality emerge. She understands quite a lot now, including “time-out” which she has landed herself in all of 3 times for viciously harassing our poor dog. She understands full sentences such as “Go find your sissy, I think she’s upstairs.” She constructs block towers (4 blocks high! and then MJ doesn’t understand why I’m not impressed by the same thing from her…) She loves to wrestle, drag baby dolls around the house and read books non-stop.
She loves her sister, always, and wants to be doing whatever MJ is doing. I find myself sympathizing so much more with Greta as the younger child, when she gets left out of something and is sad about it. I was talking to my Mom about this, who was the oldest, and she similarly sympathizes more with MJ. It’s a part of parenting I had not thought about before.
But these girls are just amazing. I feel lucky to be their mom, and lucky that I am currently past the tough couple weeks in which I was not appreciating anything about being anyones mom. I can’t believe Christmas is in 2 days! I feel like I missed a good two weeks of this Christmas season because of this pregnancy, which makes me sad. I love everything about Christmas, and haven’t gotten to do nearly as much as I had hoped to this year. I guess I still did pretty good, but much of it was a blur. The tree is up, the presents are wrapped and under the tree. The cards are sent. I didn’t think I’d get to those cookies we baked yesterday but was so happy that we did. I would have liked to do more crafts and made the season more magical, but at this moment I feel lucky for having survived. I feel blessed for our warm house (whilst it is VERY cold outside), far too many presents, my health, the help that I’ve had when I have needed it so very much, this baby that will eventually arrive, and for moments of pure joy amongst all the very tough ones.
On a side note, I think I will be moving this blog back to Blogger. My Tumblr experiment has been interesting, but I just don’t like the platform and am thinking of migrating back. I realize I may lose followers (again) but that is just the way of it. Ultimately, this an archive for me, and I find this archival format very frustrating. So look for some changes at some point….

Monday, December 9, 2013

A note for my future self, in case I think it's a good idea to have another baby.

Here I sit, 37 1/2 weeks pregnant. Impossibly pregnant, except that every day it gets even more impossible. This is my third pregnancy, you’d think I’d be able to wrap my head around the discomfort and difficulty of late pregnancy. Much like labor itself, though, I think it is a defense mechanism that we forget how terrible it is. Nature’s way of making sure we do this again, and that we don’t scare other baby-makers too much.
Although I had told my husband while we were dating that I thought I wanted 4 kids, I have now decided 3 will be the final number. At least, in-so-far as I get a say in the matter (because I realize sometimes nature has other designs). While I still think 4 sounds wonderful, I have come to realize that I am not the right mother for 4 kids. I am not patient enough. I am not a graceful enough pregnant person. I am downright bitchy for much of pregnancy. Early pregnancy because I am sick and so hormonal, late pregnancy because I am in so much pain and sleeping terribly.
It has dawned on me lately that my daughter (the oldest) is forming memories of everything that’s happening right now. She is becoming the person that she will forever be. And I am her role model. Of late, I have not been the best role model. She has ongoing problems talking kindly to other kids at school, and I can’t help but feel responsible for this. For the past 2.2 years I have been either pregnant or sleep deprived. The only mother MJ has known for all that time is some version of hormonal or tired, or, often, both.
It is time that she has a mother who is her normal self. Maybe not her best self, but at least a better version of herself. I need to be able to appreciate the children I have. To appreciate them where they are in time. To have the energy to teach them things and be kind to them. To form memories with them that are rich and wonderful. I haven’t been able to do these things, and I fear I will get worse before I get better, because I will have 2 kids under 2 years of age and will just be crazy all the time.
Anyway, future self, when you see cute, cuddly babies and smiling, gleeful toddlers, just remember that with that comes at least 15 months of hormones, fatigue and grouchiness, and ask yourself whether your current children deserve that from their mother. Because that’s how you operate, like it or not. Also ask yourself whether you are willing to give up the memories you couldbe making with the children you have simply because you’re too tired to make them.
It’s weird to wrap my head around the fact that it will probably be about 30 years before I have a front-row pass to babies again. I realize now where the longing for grandchildren comes from, because I already have it.