Friday, March 30, 2012

A post that turned out longer than my baby is.

My most handsome Mr. Baggins,

You've made it through your first month, Son! Just as importantly, I've made it through your first month, which I value as a real accomplishment given the total disdain with which I regard the physical nature of those first few days post-birthing. Don't worry, it's not your fault. You are small and warm and needy in all the right ways, just like I had hoped. I love your little baby movements, all jerky and uncontrolled. I love the smell of you right after a bath and the way your neck looks so thin when it's all stretched out during a yawn. I even love the loud, snorty sort of way you breathe at night, full of hiccups and grunts and other-worldly sort of noises that I can't imagine your tiny throat accommodating.

It's my part of this whole game that I despise so much. I am lucky; my physical recovery from both your birth and your sister's was quick and mostly pain-free. It's just that it's so... unpleasant for those first few days. To be honest, I hate being that in tune with my body. (Those monks with the meditation don't know what the crap they're talking about as far as I'm concerned.) I'd much rather enjoy the blissful ignorance I normally exist in without being so acutely aware of every nook and cranny of my body. Each day for a week or so after you were born I'd put my forehead on the cool mirror of the bathroom, close my eyes, and say, "Buck up, kiddo! This is the worst this will feel because tomorrow will be better than today."

And guess what! It was. Every day was less of a hassle than the day before until blammo-- the worst of it is over and I can mostly ignore myself again. As Bug would say: Huh-vay!

Now that we're all pretty much back up to speed, we're working on getting into a routine that involves more sleeping at night (your part) and less tv watching (much to your sister's chagrin.) We are enjoying that absolutely gorgeous weather by taking long walks with you wrapped up tight to my chest in your sling and Bug pointing out every whee-ya and stick along the route. It is fantastic.

Learning to be a mommy to two little people at once is alternately harder and easier than I expected. Bug is mostly learning to be patient while I feed you, and there is generally enough time while you are resting to get her fed and the house straightened without any real issues. I've also remembered that a little crying never hurt anyone, so if Bug melts down because I can't get her any goldfish crackers while you're nursing or if you get upset in your bouncy seat while I read her a story before nap time, it's just not the end of the world. Before I know it, everyone's needs are met and we are back on our merry little way.

The more challenging scenarios are those that take us out of our normal routine. Daddy and I decided on a whim to take you two up the canyon to the outlets in Park City the other day because the weather was simply too nice to go back home. We parked, and Daddy set up the stroller and strapped Bug in while I tied  on my sling and snuggled you in nice and comfy. By the time all kids were accounted for with associated wubbys and sippy cups and the fully stocked diaper bag, we were nearly ready to pack up the car and head back home!

We are getting used to it, though, and certainly wouldn't have it any other way. The more I feel I'm getting the hang of this, the more I am amazed at the reality of it. I am a mother to two children. My high school sweetheart is now the father of my babies. Babies! Plural!

There was a moment a couple of days ago when I found myself marveling at it all. I bounced you gently in my arms to calm your little crying voice, and my little copper-haired princess came toddling over.  "Don't cry, Mr. Baggins," she said, in real life using the little nickname she has for you in her gentle little sing-song voice. "It's o-tay." And then, turning to me, "Mommy! He's so tooooot!" And I thought about carrying you, and her, and the beautiful birthing and the yuckiness that comes after it, and it was all so worth it. I cannot believe I am lucky enough to have you, both of you, to see what it has made of me.

That's why I imagine women are so eager to talk about those very first few moments, why the slightest hint of interest from a willing (and sometimes not-so-willing) audience opens a hidden floodgate and the details of pregnancy and birth or infertility or loss spill out  in a rush. That's why pregnant women find themselves drowning in advice and opinions and yes, even horror stories of carrying and birthing and recovering and raising. That's why blogs are full of intimate bodily details, and a careful listener at a baby shower is virtually guaranteed to hear 'cervix' and 'placenta' and 'episiotomy' sprinkled through the hum of oohs and ahhs at tiny sleepers.

We can't help it.

I can only speak for myself, Child, and my two lovely experiences, but this is what I think. No matter how it happens, be it planned or traumatic or painful or blissful, something happens in that moment. I am not sure it matters whether a midwife lifts an infant from a bathtub in the living room, or a doctor pulls a baby from a long incision in a surgical bay, or a social worker gently places a child in the arms of her new waiting family-- in the grand scheme of it all I'm not sure those details matter so much as what happens to that girl in that instant when she becomes a mother.

I can't be sure, of course, but I know that something happened to me in that moment, and I know that it mattered, maybe more than almost anything else.

And now I guess that's a lot to take in for such a small boy. I can see you sleeping, all wrapped up tight the way you like and breathing in your own little loud way, and I think maybe it's time to just tell you I love you, boy-child, and curl up with you for a little nap.

Because let's face it. Your sister will be awake soon, and then all this meditation on the wonder of new life flies right out the window because I know we are out of goldfish crackers.

Love you to the moon and back,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

News on the potty front.

First of all, I took these pictures in the basement with my cell phone. No overhead lights were on, so the only light coming in was from the window behind me, which was probably partially obstructed by a large Labrador pressing her face against the glass wishing she could nibble on this chunk of peanut butter deliciousness. That's why everything looks so grainy.

Can't say as I blame the dog, actually. He's pretty munchable.

Here's the basic pattern of my days. Wake up to feed the Bug. Put her in her high chair with a bowl of Crunch Berries. She will eat the red and purple ones, but not the yellow ones, which must be inherent to childhood because I certainly didn't teach her that. Pressure her to eat more quickly so we can hurry to the basement where I can feed the baby, who is hungry by now. Turn on Disney Jr. to entertain the toddler, who will probably empty the toy bin all over the floor while I am tethered to the chair.

Change Mr. Baggins.
Change Bug.

Aaaaaaannnnddd--- rinse and repeat. Basically. I also straighten up, and Bug helps me. In this case, "helps" means "reach into the dishwasher a lot while repeatedly asking for fruit snacks" but hey, we take what we can get.

The other night, I put Mr. Baggins down after his late night feeding and, get this, he slept for over 4 hours before waking for the next one. I slept for more than 3 hours in a row for the first time in nearly one month. I don't know what it feels like to see the sun come up in Alaska after an entire winter of darkness, but I imagine it feels something like that stretch of sleep. I practically danced with joy.

But the real big news around our house is Bug-related. While we haven't been really focused on the issue, we have been talking about how exciting it is for big kids to use the potty rather than doing business in their diapers. Every now and again, Bug sits on the potty with no real success other than a slightly delayed nap time, which I'm sure she considers a victory.

Today, though! Today was different! And just to guarantee that social workers like me have clients and job security in the future, I'm going to tell the story of my daughter's first potty experience ON THE INTERNET! BRING ON THE THERAPY BILLS!

Lunch was completed, and the pre-nap diaper change had been initiated when Bug indicated she needed to use the potty. We ran to the bathroom, discarding the sleeper en route. (So she was still in her pajamas. Don't judge me.) She sat on her little seat, obviously lacking in any focus, and eventually we called it a good attempt and returned to her room. New diaper was secured and I was just zipping her up when a toot escaped her. Smiling, I encouraged her to say 'excuse me', but her return gaze wasn't so much playful as it was worried.

It was go time, and she knew it.

Off came the sleeper in record time, and we ran back into the bathroom. Not convinced we'd have much more success, I left her sitting there while I ran to the basement to grab her wubby for nap time. She seemed less scattered, though, and more intent on the job at hand.

As soon as I returned, though, she was calling out excitedly.

"Mama! I put poop an' pee in da potty!"

And guess what! She had.

And there was much rejoicing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy St. Daddy's Day

The night before St. Patrick's Day, I headed to the wonderful land of Walmart to pick up a few fun things for Bug to open the next day. It was there that I encountered several of my retail pet peeves. 

#1- Holiday hopping. I get that I was a little late to the party with less than 24 hours notice, but come on. There was honestly one green cardboard display with 3 St. Patrick's Day pins (alcohol references, all-- not appropriate for the 2 year old) and a couple of large green felt top hats. Everything else in the store was Easter related.

I managed to find the very last package of shamrock Snoopy stickers hidden on an end cap, and wandered the aisles searching in vain for some gold coins chocolates. A rather bored looking employee asked me for the time, and, finding that her shift was not yet over, I ventured to ask her for help locating the candies, and bumped right into pet peeve numero dos.

#2 - Being forced to wander slowly behind an employee who does not know where the item is any more than I do. Walmart is a big store. I don't expect people to know where every last seasonal item is, particularly when it turns out said chocolate coins don't exist. What does bother me is having to pace the exact same aisles I've just spent 10 minutes in following behind a blue Walmart vest that keeps mumbling softly under her breath. Particularly when it was clear from the beginning that the vest not only did not know the location of the item, but didn't even know what it was I was asking for in the first place. 

(She initially asked if I was looking for Hanukkah coins. Good guess, but A- we're about 9 months early for that, and B- I hadn't really envisioned a menorah stamped on the front of the coins meant for a leprechaun scavenger hunt.)

Anyway, I tracked down some other green items I thought Bug might enjoy, and I was super excited to set them out for her in the morning.

I managed to scrounge up the last Mickey Mouse themed card, too. She was thrilled.

We had green French toast for breakfast.

That evening, we headed out on Mr. Baggins's first out of the house trip aside from doctor visits. The kiddos went to Nana and PopPop's house while Paddy and I did a little birthday shopping for the one million family members with March birthdays. Just before we left to head home, we decided to attempt to get a picture of the kids together. There were lots of funny candid shots, my favorite of which is displayed below.

With the little brother obviously finished with the picture taking portion of the evening, we settled on this one.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things I've noticed while nursing

I had almost forgotten the amount of time required to establish a nursing routine with an infant, particularly in the beginning. Sometimes it feels like as soon as I have readjusted my clothing and peeled myself from the overstuffed chair in the basement from one feeding time, it's time to start again. Mr. Baggins is growing well and sliding nicely into a fairly predictable routine, though, so I shouldn't complain.

It's just that I find myself watching far too much lame daytime television while I am tethered down.

This go-round, I'm stuck watching a lot more children's television than I was with Bug. I have a thorough knowledge of everything from Little Einsteins (which I can tolerate) to Dora the Explorer (why must everyone SHOUT ALL THE TIME?) and have celebrated having cable so I'm not stuck watching Caillou (the whiniest, most awful children's show ever) like I was when my little sisters were small.

When Bug is taking her nap in the afternoons, I am free escape the bounds of the Disney channel to watch whatever I'd like. Given the realities of daytime television, I'm not left with awesome options. 

TLC, in particular, seems to subscribe to a specific model when planning their programming. Shows must be based on one of the following:

People with a lot more children than I have.
People spending a lot more money on various parts of their wedding than I would.
People who are a lot shorter than I am.
If I'm lucky, I'll catch a show about people with worse clothing than me (really!) or people who bake more cake than I do.

The best option, though, is the programming which inspires. In my case, that's a strange fascination with programming about hoarders. (I'll never believe you if you say you don't love that show.) I can only watch a few minutes, though, before I am compelled to jump up and throw something away. 

Considering the number of diapers I've been changing recently, it's a good reminder.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Main Event

Did you know that I love birth stories? I do. I'll admit it; I've even googled 'birth stories' to read total strangers' experiences. (I had to stop because the punctuation errors/spelling mistakes/general stupidity nearly gave me a stroke.) I know some people don't care for all the uterus-related details, and I get that. I really do. It's just not me. Bring on juicy details, as far as I'm concerned. (Juicy? Best word choice? Maybe not?)

That's why I'm sort of surprised to find that when it comes to how Mr. Baggins arrived, I'm tempted to be all like, "we went to the hospital and then we played Monopoly on the iPod and then I pushed and he was here- the end." Oh, and, "P.S. Also, he has hairy ears and that's why I call him Mr. Baggins even though I've neither read nor seen any part of Lord of the Rings."

But if I were reading my blog, I'd want to poke me in the eye for that crappy description, so I'll try to drag it out a little more. You can skip this if my cervix is not interesting to you.

So anyway, the preface to all of this is that after a sort of ridiculously painful pregnancy, I got some sort of stomach bug days before my scheduled induction. I threw up for enough days in a row to lose ten pounds. After a while, it was not as funny as the Crystal Light in my neighbor's yard story made it seem. Spent a little practice round in Labor and Delivery attached to the monitors to make sure Little Man wasn't suffering from my lack of intake, and once he got a clean bill of health I went home to basically wallow in my own awfulness for several days.

When I was expecting Bug, I was never really that surprised to find that we weren't making any progress toward delivery because nothing ever happened. I was never really uncomfortable, and I never had painful contractions until 2 days before she came, and even then they stopped after a couple of hours. It was more frustrating to find that Mr. Baggins wasn't in a hurry to get here, either, because I was contracting All. The. Blessed. Time. They weren't as painful as real labor, but they were super uncomfortable, and they rolled in for several hours every day for weeks before he came. It was discouraging to hear, then, that while I was dilated to a 2 (two more centimeters than I ever was with Bug!) I wasn't really moving much past that.

Anyway, finally-- FINALLY!-- it was the night before the scheduled induction. I called L & D when I hadn't heard from them on a time, and... I wasn't on the schedule. I'm not sure where the communication breakdown occurred, but let's just all agree that a disappointment like that to a girl who is nine months pregnant and juggling babysitting for a two year old is supremely unfair. I cursed mightily (not really) and sulkily got ready for bed, planning on calling my doctor's office when they opened at nine to figure out the plan.

Just before 7:00 the next morning, my cell phone buzzed on my nightstand. It was my wonderful, fantastic, awesome doctor, who had seen the error and fixed it and wanted me there quickly! It was a scramble to locate babysitting (thanks, Grammy Lu!)  but before we knew it we were all checked in and I was sporting one of those oh-so-stylish hospital gowns.

My doctor came in and started the pitocin (to strengthen contractions) and broke my water right away. Schmoopse and I played Monopoly on the iPod for a couple of hours while the contractions got stronger and stronger. After a mere two hours, the contractions were strong enough to interrupt the game while I stopped to close my eyes and breathe through the pain. Another 45 minutes or so, and I decided to get the epidural.

The epidural was fantastic. When I was laboring with Bug, the epidural was eventually strong enough to completely immobilize my legs and render me completely numb from the waist down. It was nice in terms of lack of pain, but I admit I did feel a little oddly removed from the entire situation. I couldn't feel when to push  and just sort of followed instructions. This time, the pain was dulled but never went away entirely. I was able to have fun with a few more trips around the Monopoly board before the action really sped up. Almost before I knew it, the contractions came one on top of another, and the iPod was forgotten.

I curled up on my side facing Paddy. I gripped the rail of the bed with one hand, and Paddy's hand with the other. I moaned and groaned exactly like I never wanted to and imagined how absolutely awful that stage must be for folks with no pain management on board.

The nurse came in, cracked a smile, and began putting on her gloves.

"I'm going to check you," she said. "You're looking very much like a person who wants to have a baby right now."

And I know it sounds completely ridiculous, but in that moment, that statement was basically the only thing that made sense. Yes. I do want to have a baby. That is why this hurts. It's ok that it hurts, because I'm going to have a baby.

Mr. Baggins's (I looked up the apostrophe rule for that, and it still looks wrong. Rookie? Wendy? Other English majors? Any feedback?) heart rate was a bit unfavorable, so they called the nurses from the Special Care nursery to be on hand just in case for the delivery. My doctor arrived quickly, and as she gowned up, the nurse asked me to practice pushing.

"Oh!" she said, a bit excitedly. "There will be no problems with pushing. Don't do that again until we're ready."

I was so proud.

I don't know what to say about pushing out my second baby except that it was very, very fast and very, very wonderful. He cried loudly right at first, (which sent the Special Care nurses happily off to care for other patients) and so I cried, too. With one red-headed, two-year-old exception, I have never felt anything like it.

I have never loved the man I married more than I did in that moment, either, and that record stood until he carried my little copper-haired princess in to meet her little brother. That's when my sappy new mother love-o-meter just packed up and went home for the day, exhausted from all the strain.

It was a great day.
Day Two. MAJOR thanks to everyone in our family, especially Grammy Lu and Nana, for watching Bug
 while we were in the hospital.

I missed that little pumpkin.

And here's something to chew on. (Chew on? Best word choice? Maybe not?) Early in the pregnancy, we were told that our baby had an abnormality in his umbilical cord. While my doctor assured me everything was likely to be fine, I spent many hours worrying and googling every possible complication (of which there were many.)  It was this abnormality, which occurs in about 1% of singleton babies, that justified the extra monitoring we had in the final weeks, as well as the 39 week scheduled induction. After delivery, my doctor pointed out that, along with the expected abnormality, the cord had been tied in a true knot and wrapped around his neck once. I'm not sure what sort of a gymnastics he was doing in there, but we are feeling very blessed to have a big, healthy boy at our house.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My New Boyfriend

Hairy ears or not, Mr. Baggins is pretty darn cute. I'm twitterpated.