Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Why?"

Dear dad of three daughters at Target today,

You didn't know I was listening.  You had what looked to be a newborn, a two year old and a four year old in tow, a cart full to say the least.  You were walking down the baby bottle aisle and stopped beside me to pick out breast pads for your wife.  As you were trying to read labels, your younger toddler began to ask question about what you were buying.  Why did you need them?  How they would be used?  Could she have some?  Where was mommy?  Could she have a snack?  What are you doing daddy?  Why?  Buy why?  Why?

My own son was at home, but the moment she spoke that three letter word, why, I was transported to his side.  You see, I have a very curious toddler as well.  Hundreds of questions are asked of me each and every day, often the same question over and over until my brain wants to explode.  I know it can be exhausting, I know it can be frustrating.  I know the temptation of reciting pack, "because I said so." or, "I already told you 23839 times!"  You do do, but you resisted.  You kept her spark of interest burning.

You could have ignored her or told her to stop asking so many questions.  You could have snapped at her to be quiet or made up flippant, meaningless answers, but you didn't.  You patiently answered all her questions about the breast pads that you likely didn't know much about yourself.  You assured her that mommy was at home resting, that she could look at the pads once they were purchased and that she could have a snack when you got to the car.

You satisfied your toddlers curiosity with kind words and simple answers.  You didn't shut down her thoughts or make her feel as if she was bothering you.  I know you made a positive impact in your daughters life today simply by acknowledging her.  You probably didn't notice the relief in her face each time you answered, or the spark in here eye each time she thought up a new question.  It is likely that you have no idea how important it is to your children for their questions to be acknowledged and answered, or maybe you do.   All I know it that watching you and your daughters for a few moments in the bottle aisle of Target today was a breath of fresh air in this stuffy, often stinky world.

So thank you, dad of three daughters.  Even though they probably won't say it right now, I can guarantee your daughters will one day be thanking you as well.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nightmare!

Other than the adjustment of a new baby in the house there is not a whole lot I am nervous about.  I have a wonderful support team for the birth, an awesome family to help at home and zero expectations for the daily aside from coffee, I'll need coffee.  But there is one thing I am so scared of that it gives me the chills even bringing it up.

It's not something that most women even think about when adding a new baby to the family, but it is huge for me, HUGE.  What I am most scared of, terrified really, is that I will get another screamer.  I can't do that again, I can't.  Obviously if I have to I will, but seriously, I can't!

There are not even adequate words in the English language to describe how awful it was listening to a baby scream all day and night.  There are few people who have even experienced it to the same degree and the only other person I know who has is as traumatized about it as I am.  It is just not something you could even try to relate to unless you have been there.  It is brutal, and I don't know if I have it in me to do it again while still nurturing Caches, my former screamer who caused the initial trauma!

I still get flashbacks about it when I hear a baby crying.  My entire body tenses up and I assume the baby is going to scream for hours with no reprieve. All I can think about is the mind numbing, ear piercing, heart shattering screaming!  In the car, at home, walking around the block, at sleep times, at wakeful times, hell,  pretty much ALL THE TIME!  Ryan and I used to joke that if he eyes were open he was crying.  Only it wasn't really a joke because it was true!

The first 9 months of Caches life are such a blur of sleep exhaustion and anxiety.  I was hardly even functioning most days, and although by some miracle I did not develop postpartum depression, I was definitely a shell of my former self.  Slowly but surely I snapped out of it and as Caches grew more content so did I.  With a lot of hard work, trust, and deep breathing I learned to accept my child's upset and let things go.  I practiced being calm every day and not allowing his mood to effect mine so deeply (this has payed of huge in the toddler years, by the way).

But I am afraid that my mind is so pre-programmed to respond to baby crying with extreme anxiety that I am going to give my baby anxiety where there isn't any.  There is a very good chance that she will be "normal" and only cry when there is an unmet need or physical discomfort.  There is a very good chance that she will sleep longer than a 4 hour stretch before her third birthday.  There is a good chance that she will not wake up crying every. single. day of her life for the first 18 or so months.  There is a good chance that she will just be, and I don't want my past experience/trauma to mess things up!

Luckily quite a few of my dear friends have "normal" babies and I have been able to see that they stop crying fairly quickly.  They smile, coo and connect with their caregivers and strangers even!  They allow someone who isn't lactating to hold them every once and a while, and they are fine!  Holy shit, most babies are just fine!

So please, friends of mine with normal babies, remind me often that a little crying is okay, to breathe, to relax, and to allow myself to enjoy it.  And if I get another screamer, I'll see you in about 9 months.  Please send coffee and good wine!



Friday, March 14, 2014

Even though you can not yet read, my love

Caches Michael,

You are now two years and eight months old  That is 32 months, approximately 775 days that I have spent in your presence.  I glanced at a picture of you as an infant a few days ago and it took my breath away, where did that baby go?  What happened to my tiny, screaming, helpless babe?  I'll tell you what happened, what is happening...

You are growing, you are changing, you are learning, and you are becoming more amazing every single day.   Just today we were driving and I nearly had to pinch myself.  That voice, those thoughts, your imagination.  All the words stringing together, forming sentences, sharing ideas.  I remember wondering when you would talk,  now I have a hard time remembering a time that you didn't.  That's the thing about growing up, it is such a gradual process that you don't notice it is happening until it is done!

Sometimes I watch you navigate the world and I am overcome with how big you seem.  You can jump, climb and run.  You can create and manipulate and figure things out.  Your imagination is running wild!  But just as quickly I am reminded that you are still so little, so fragile.  You are still learning, son.  You run off to explore, fiercely independent and strong willed.  I let you go.  But when the world gets to be too much you come back to me.  I hope you always come back.

Caches, it has always been just you and me, me and you.  We have spent every single day since the one you were born together, not one single night apart.  You have been my everything, and while you will always be, things are about to change.  You happily talk to your baby sister in my belly, unaware of what it really means to become a big brother.  You often have a tiger in your belly and daddy usually has a peacock.  You are so innocent, you have no idea the magnitude of welcoming a new baby into your home; neither do I.

I do not yet know how you will react to a new life attached to me, taking up "your spot" on my chest, occupying my arms that were once only for you.  I do not know if you will want to help and be involved or if you will want your space to figure things out.  Will you be angry with me?  There are a lot of things that I don't know, son.  For one, how will I do it?  How will I find the time, the energy to be everything that everyone needs all at once?  How will I let you know that you are still loved while loving another as strongly?  How?

To be completely honest, I have no idea.  I can sit here and say that I will spend X amount of time with you alone every day, or that things won't be too hard, but I decided a long time ago not set any expectations about how things would be.  I thought I knew how it would be when you were born, at least a vague idea, but I was wrong, oh man was I wrong.  I don't want to be wrong again.  I don't want to have to undo expectations in order to let new ones in,  I want to go into this with an open mind; will you come with me?

I can try to tell myself that you will understand, that you will love your sister and will want her to be a part of this family, but I know that you won't, at least not for a little while.  For a time, son, your world, our world will be turned completely upside down.  There will be no going back, no reliving the old days, only new routines, new sounds, new experiences and new love.  And while I am absolutely terrified, I know we can do it.  We have made it through so much already, we can do this, together!

Caches, you taught me how to be a mommy, everything I am is because of you.  I never knew how strong I was, how amazing my body was or that I could survive on coffee alone until you.  You have taught me the true meaning of perseverance, patience and to always trust my instincts.  You taught me that there is no limit to the love one can have for another.  A love that I will not be sharing with your sister, we will have our own unique love that will grow with time.  My love for you is yours alone.  I have learned so much from you over these past few years, things that your sister will surely benefit from.  She doesn't know this yet, but she is one lucky girl to get you for a big brother.

I know it is going to be hard, it is going to be more than hard, but having a sibling is the most amazing gift I could ever give you.  The opportunity to be a big brother, to have someone to share your life with and hopefully love long after I am gone.  Someone to roll your eyes with when I am  in a mood, someone to get into trouble with, someone to talk to in the middle of the night who know exactly what you are saying.  Someone who will go through everything along side you and will be able to build you up when you are down.

Caches, this is going to be a journey of a lifetime.  There will be good days and bad, tears and strong feelings of anger, frustration, and rejection.  There will be joy, exhaustion, newness and pride. And as always. there will be love, there will always be love.

We can do this,
Mama <3 p="">

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our days are numbered

I lay down on your floor bed with a deep sigh.  It is nap time and I am exhausted, you, of course, are not.  Your strong arms flail about, fingers scratching at my neck, your legs tuck and stretch.  "I not tired." But I know you are.  Finally still, you curl up next to me with your knees to your chest, legs resting on my belly.  You used to fit so perfectly into the crook of my body.  We both have grown. You relax and just when I breath a sigh of relief, a dance part erupts from inside.  "Sister is kicking me, mommy!"  Indeed she is.

And so we lay there intertwined as a flood of mixed emotions wash over my body.  I will only be pregnant for a few more weeks.  The times in which I will get to feel a baby move inside of me are limited.  Part of me never wants it to end.  I will only be pregnant for a few more weeks.  The days in which I am able to lay with you alone and quiet are numbered.  It will never be the same.  Part of me never wants it to end.

Holding you quietly while feeling your baby sister inside has been one of the most magical experiences of my life.  And while I am anxious and excited to meet her, I am in no hurry.  For her arrival marks the end of an era.  It will never again be just me and you.  So I try to make the most of every single day I have left to lay together quietly with you, my son.  I try not to let your wiggly feet or busy fingers bother me.  I wait patiently to feel your breath as it moves from awake to sleep, all the while a baby making her presence known.

Your sister is coming.  These days are fleeting.  I am in no hurry.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

34 Weeks

It is hard to believe that we only have 6 weeks, give or take, but let's be real here, probably take, to go.

I am feeling huge and blobby, not unlike the Pillsbury dough boy only far less flexible.  I have taken to blaming everything on the pregnancy because, well, because I can.  I have also officially reached the stage in pregnancy when if I bend over too sharply one of two things happen.  Either the contents of my stomach end up in my throat, or I get winded, it's awesome.

Speaking of winded, there were recently some changes made to our sleeping arrangements due to the fact that Caches was cutting off my already limited air supply.  I'd  literally wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air and feeling light headed.  This type of thing happens when your lungs are pushed up into your throat by a baby and then those already squished lungs are laid upon by a toddler.

It was an interesting process, trying to get him to sleep next to me rather than on top of me, and I wish I could say that it worked, but I won't lie.  I'll just say that it is a work in progress.  For the most part he will sleep next to me, and by next to I mean on top of my arm with his body pressed up against mine as closely as it could be without actually climbing inside of me.  Each and every limb must be making contact, and one hand must be on my skin at all times be it face, arm or chest.  Oh, and his head must be smashed up against me so that I get a mouth and nose full of fluffy blonde hair.  Once he settles into a deep sleep, I can slowly untangle myself from him and find a somewhat comfortable position, but when he stirs it's like a toddler Hannibal clawing at me and whispering, "I need your skin!  I need your skin, mama!"  It's not creepy at all...

6 more weeks that will likely fly by while simultaneously dragging on.  Here is the belly at 34 weeks.




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Where is my fast forward button

I hate today.  Today sucks.  I have a bad attitude.  I have no sense of humor though I could really use it.  Things that ordinarily wouldn't bother me are weighing me down.  I want to curl up in a ball and just be alone.  Today the endless needs of the toddler while typically at least somewhat amusing are quite honestly pissing me off.  I want to yell.  I want to cry.  I hate today.

Today my unorganized cabinets are mocking me.  I tried to clean one out which led to Caches needing to sample every food item and request umpteen different meals, and each one denied led to tears.  Today I just want to clean my fucking cabinet.

Today the smoothie spilled on the counter, all over the child, down the cabinet doors, onto the chair and finally the floor didn't make me take a deep breath and say, "Oh well, let's clean it up."  Today it made me cry, it made me angry.  And though I know a giant puddle of smoothie on the floor looks like a lot of fun, I found zero humor in both Caches and Abner licking it up and stepping in it.  Any other day I'd laugh and throw everyone in the tub.  Today I am no fun.  Get out of my way.

Today I am not finding the beauty in a slow moving toddler stopping to pick up a butterfly wing on the way to the car.  Toady I just want him to hurry up.  I'm having a hard time standing back and letting things be.  I am feeling a strong desire to control everything which is a pretty good sign that I need to let go.  I'm not interested in signs today.

I just want to be mad.  I'm tired of starting every single day at a negative, barely making it to zero by noon.  I'm sick of being touched.  I'm tired of holding an extra 26 pounds of squirming interest.  I don't want to be wanted today.

Today I cursed the wakeful babe for not taking a nap.  Today I swatted at the dog for licking my face.  Today I threw the giant clump of ice out the back door rather than letting a curious child chip away and it and explore the cold.  Today I slammed the door.  Today sucks.

I could blame pregnancy hormones.  I could blame lack of sleep.  I could blame a sore back and tender hips, but I won't.  I won't blame anything today because pointing a finger seldom makes things better.    Today I won't over analyze, or pretend I'm fine.  Because today sucks and that's okay.



*Sorry for the dramatics, I just had to get that out!  Feeling better already


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Send me this letter in 10 years...

Son,

Today is one of those days that I am both in awe and complete panic over being your mother.  While it is a beautiful blessing, it is also a terrifying amount of responsibility.  Sure, right now my biggest worries are temper tantrums and keeping you alive as your try to climb all the things, but I know that as you grow so too will our conflicts.  Right now you are with me 24 hours a day and you get upset because I won't let you eat an entire stick of frozen butter.  You don't understand why.  Soon you will be away from me more hours than you are with me.  Soon you will be upset because I won't let you go out on Thursday night with your friends.  You won't understand why.  I know our journey has just begun...

Sometimes when you are playing quietly or drifting off to sleep I take a moment to wonder about who you will become.  Will you always be so intense and busy or will you calm with age?  When will your brilliant blonde hair fade and thicken?  Will you want a purple mohawk or will you prefer to have your hair neatly trimmed?  Will you always love animals or will you decide motorcycles are your thing?  Will you like to express yourself through your wardrobe or will you wear quiet clothes?  Will you sneak out and get a horrible tattoo that you cover up later in life?  Just so you know, both your father and I have already done the later.

I wonder, what mistakes will you make on your journey to find yourself?

These are all questions to which there is no answer.  I simply don't know, and while it is fun to imagine who you will become or what you will look like, it is silly to think that I have even so much as a clue.  I can assure you of one thing though, I will try my absolute hardest to let you be who YOU want to be, not who I want you to be.  You see son, you and I are part of each other, flesh and blood, but you do not belong to me.  Even when you were living and thriving off of my body alone, you did not belong to me.

You are your own person through and through, a tiny but important part of this enormous, beautiful, and often mad, mad world.  It is not my job to mold you into a person that simply parrots myself.  It is my job to let you figure out who you are for yourself.  To support you while you decide how you like your hair, what clothes you are comfortable wearing, and what activities excite you.  I happen to detest mushrooms, but perhaps they will be your favorite food.  I nearly vomit at the thought of public speaking, you may love it, your dad does.  I can not and will not watch scary movies but they may be your favorite kind.

I promise to give you the space to figure these things out for yourself, and I promise you can eat mushrooms, but I'm not cooking them.  The smell, oh god the smell alone!!

Sure, it will be difficult not to mindlessly encourage you to be like me. I am in fact around you all day every day so it is silly to think that my idiosyncrasies and preferences won't at least rub off on you,  but I don't ever want you to do something that you don't want to do simply because you think it's what I would prefer.  Okay, that's a blatant lie, I'd like you to like sleeping a little more and throwing rocks at the cat a little less.

Cache, if you need to have blue hair, have blue hair.  If you want to wear pink, wear it.  If you want to dress up like Batman, or study dirt or play the tuba, do it.  You see son, sometimes you have to try things in order to figure out what you actually like.  I know this because I have done it.  I know the permanency of a tattoo that you no longer like.  I know how long it takes to grow out bad hair dye.  I know what it feels like to dress a certain way not because you are comfortable, but because you are trying to be someone you are not.

I have already lived through many mistakes and so it will be difficult for me to bite my tongue and let you learn for yourself.  Not because I want to control you in some way, but because I have a deep desire to protect you from the hurt of growing up.  But I can't stop you from growing nor the pains that accompany it.  I actually wouldn't, even if I could.   Because all the attempts, the experiments, the hurts, they will all will become a part of what makes you you one day.  And while I will try my best to stand back and shut up, I have a feeling you will need to print this letter out and show it to me in about 10 years.

Or 5...

I can't promise that I will always get it right, but I promise to try.

Love,
Mama