Thursday, July 30, 2009

So what was so bad about yesterday?

Today is better. I got a decent amount of (interrupted) sleep, and Andrew is home to enforce the toddler’s nap. And play with the toddler. And stuff. So I don’t feel like a horrible mother today. But, oh, yesterday.

I actually went down to the in-law’s yesterday so Jack could play with his beloved grandparents and swim in their pool and be entertained by someone other than me. This hour-long drive was possible thanks to the discovery of swaddling whilst in the car seat, a solution I did write about yesterday but which was cut off from my post for some reason. (That reason? My own failure to proofread.) I edited it today if you’re interested. Since Jack spent about three hours playing hard in the pool, I figured he’d fall asleep on the drive home and have at least an hour-long nap if not longer. Unfortunately, he heroically kept his droopy eyes open for the whole drive and then refused to nap once we got home. He did “rest,” but no nap, and that means no break for me.

Nevertheless, despite the lack of nap, Jack was basically cheery and easy to work with. A morning with Grandpa will do that, I guess. But I was hot, tired, and overwhelmed, so I started to cry – again – at about 4:00. Jack asked me why I was sad. “Because I don’t feel very well, today, Jack. I’m pretty tired.”

“Can I make you feel better? Do you want to take a nap?” asked Jack.

“I’d love to take a nap, honey, but I can’t if you’re awake,” I told him.

He nodded, then headed for his bedroom. “I’ll go take a nap so you can take a nap and feel better, Mommy,” he said.

Then I felt like a humongous jerk.

Now, I knew he wasn’t really going to take a nap, so I changed the dirty sheets on my bed. I was just getting started when he came in and said, “Do you feel better now, Mommy?”

“I do, Jack, thank you. Do you want to help me change the sheets? That will help me feel better too,” I said. So he helped. And he really did help as best he could; he held the corner of the fitted sheet so I could put the other ones on, and he tried to hang the flat sheet the way he thought it should go. (Draped over the “holy water;” he thinks the bedposts look like holy water fonts. They kind of do, actually.) Then he climbed up on the bed and said, “I’ll make you feel better,” and hugged me.

So while one part of me was saying, “See? Look what a sweetheart of a little kid you are raising!” the other part of me was saying, “YOU DO NOT DESERVE THIS GOLDEN CHILD.”

But then there was an incident after his failure to eat dinner wherein he dropped a blueberry on the floor and refused to pick it up and had a loud screaming tantrum while in time out. The first part of me started saying, “WHY DOES MY LIFE SUCK SO BAD?” while the other part of me was saying, “You should have made him take a nap! Now look at him!”

Now, I know I was being far too hard on myself. I know we’re none of us perfect. I even knew it at the time; I actually am able to keep at least one corner of my mind rational, even when I’ve completely lost the rest of it. But the mere fact of knowing I’m being irrational does not magically make the irrationality go away, and I spent some quality time after Andrew got home weeping about how horrible of a mother I am. Then of course, Jack came and gave me MORE hugs to make me feel better and then he told me he loves me, which just put me back in that first loop of what-a-good-kid-you-have-and-don’t-deserve. I’m even getting a little verklempt about it right this second – probably because the Nora-furnace is strapped to my body and I daren’t put her down if I want to finish this post.

Basically, I’m finding that on good days, the days when I’m on my own and still manage to get Nora to nap in her bed, Jack to nap at all, get dinner on the table, and keep the house from looking like it has been ransacked, I feel like I am superwoman. “I am amazing!” I tell myself, full of confidence and optimism. “I can do ANYTHING!”

But these days are counterbalanced by the days when it is all I can do to keep from screaming at my children. Yes, both of them, because, believe me, I want to scream at Nora too. And the thing is, on those days, I usually fail. OK, I may not scream at them, but I am certainly losing my temper on a regular basis, and they’re not even being particularly bad. Nora just wants to be held, after all, and Jack is pretty well-behaved as long as he’s not overtired. Of course he wants to dawdle and look at rocks before climbing into his car seat! He’s TWO.

Man. I hate to write in clichés, but it is just so so hard, you know? I am comforting myself with listening to stories of my mom’s difficulties after my second sister was born (apparently, she was… willful*) and Swistle’s post about having only two kids and how it was way harder than five. And also Paul’s comment about how “These are the best days to remember.”

Paul is a wise man, I think.

*Interesting side story: My eldest sister was astounded when she learned that my last sister (the second youngest in the family, played Kasey in The Movie.) and I thought that my mother never yelled and that our second sister is perfectly even-tempered. She had different impressions, you see. But Second Sister IS even-tempered NOW. She’s a special needs teacher, she’s so even tempered! I have never heard her raise her voice in my life. And my mother yelled at us now and then, but it always scared the bejeezus out of me because it was so rare. I guess she had gotten mellow by the sixth kid.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It was fifteen minutes this time

Edited to add the last two paragraphs that I inadvertently cut out last night. This is what happens when you don't have time to proofread, people.

I have been doing this two-kid thing for five weeks now, and I have NO IDEA how all you people with multiple babies find time to write thoughtful blog posts. If I have the time to write, I use it to a) sleep or b) read what other people are writing or c) clean the kitchen and or do other necessary household chores or d) watch TV. As such, I have decided to follow Arwen’s lead and write for fifteen minutes (or maybe only ten) at a whack. Note that I am not promising to write for fifteen minutes A DAY, like Arwen did, but instead am totally copping out. WHEN I write, in other words, I’ll write for fifteen minutes (or maybe only ten). How often that will be, I cannot say.

But I wanted to write today because today sort of… sucked royally. We’re having a mild of a heat wave up here in the northeast, and that makes holding a baby all the time somewhat of a hardship. I know I wrote that when Nora won’t go to sleep I just “pop her in the sling,” but that’s asking a lot when the dew point is 70. It’s sort of like strapping a humid furnace to your body.

The worst part is that all this heat and humidity is stripping me of all of my patience and turning me into a horrible mother – or at least that is how I feel. Poor Jack is bearing the brunt of my crankiness, particularly when I am trying to get us into the car. See, until very recently, Nora screamed pretty much the entire time she was in the car seat, and while my recent posts may have made it seem that I’ve been pretty blasé about this, it has in fact been draining the life force from me. I was routinely showing up at my mom’s pale and shaking, dreading the thirty-minute drive home. It’s very difficult to listen to your baby scream and scream and not be able to do a damn thing about it.

As a result, as soon as I got Nora strapped into her car seat, I would start to panic about the inevitable screaming and I’d say, “Jack, get in the car. Get in the car. GET IN THE CAR GET IN THE CAR GETINTHECARGETINTHECARGETINTHECAR!” when the poor kid was just being a normal two-year-old and trying to talk about the rock he found on the ground or whatever. I’ve tried to temper this by calmly talking to him ahead of time about how we had to GO GO GO once I got Nora into her car seat, and that has helped, but still.

Fortunately, I have recently discovered the secret to keeping Nora from screaming nonstop in the car seat: Swaddling. If I swaddle her in the seat, she only cries sometimes, and spends more time happy than screaming. But I’m still a little gun-shy, and still have a tendency to yell at Jack if he’s dawdling around and not getting in the car.

But now that I used up all my writing time writing about the car seat, I will have to wait until tomorrow to tell you about today and how it sucked. (Note: It was mostly due to my own craziness; for example, after praying that Jack would let Andrew put him to bed, I felt wounded to the quick when Jack said, “Daddy, I want you to put me to bed tonight. Not Mommy.”)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Things that should cost less

My sister and her family just moved into their first house (NEXT DOOR to one of my other sisters; I am SO JEALOUS) and was talking yesterday about how her father-in-law is going to buy them a new mailbox.

“Oh, yeah, mailboxes,” I said, remembering my attempt to buy a new mailbox when we first moved in. “That’s one of those things that you go out to buy, but then you don’t buy because they cost about eight times as much as you think.”

“Exactly!” she said.

“Yeah, you think, ‘What’s it going to cost, twenty bucks?’” I said.

Then my mom chimed in, “But they’re eighty.”

“The CHEAP ones are eighty,” said my sister.

So here is a list of things that you do not buy the first time you try to. I’m going to start with things I started to buy way back when I first became responsible for most of my own purchases, so it’s not all mailboxes and curtains. But, oh yes, curtains are ON THE LIST.

1. Socks
2. Sweatpants (I actually have never purchased sweatpants because they are insanely expensive)
3. Sweatshirts
4. Bras
5. Curtains
6. Mailboxes
7. Copper wiring (single most expensive item of the Bathroom Remodel)
8. Sheets
9. Pillows
10. Lamps
11. Rugs
12. Seriously, curtains cost way too much. They’re basically a hemmed sheet of fabric. What is the deal?

So what have I forgotten? What haven’t YOU bought?

Sucker = Me

OK, OK. I give. I'm on Twitter. I do not promise to update frequently, but I was feeling left out. Username: DocMaureen. (DrMaureen was already taken, probably by the same person who STOLE drmaureen.com right out from under me.)

Now. Someone tell me how to use this new-fangled thing the kids are all talking about. But if Daniel Shore can do it, I can do it, right?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A question

If I continue to refuse to join Twitter, does that make me the crotchety old man of the internet? I already own an un-"smart" phone and I have no text messaging plan. I have to pay for each text message! Individually! And it takes me eleven thousand hours to type them!

Whoever thought the discharge would be the hardest part of the birth?

Latest post up at TheBump.com!

I will be posting Nora’s birth story on my personal blog once I get around to writing it, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to post Nora’s leaving-the-hospital story here. “Leaving-the-hospital story?” I can hear you saying. “What’s there to tell?”

Well, I’ll tell you.

I have, as you know, a toddler named Jack. When Jack was born, HIS leaving-the-hospital story was uneventful; the nurse gave me my discharge instructions and we left. Done and done. But Nora’s and my discharge was something else entirely. At first, it seemed like it would be no big deal. In the morning, I asked the nurses what was involved in the discharge and what time would it occur so that I could tell Andrew when to come get me. I was told that once the doctors had checked the two of us and given their all-clears, it was a simple matter of signing some paperwork and we could go. Thus, once Nora and I had seen our respective doctors, I called Andrew and told him he could come any time; we’d probably be ready in about ninety minutes.

Then I fed Nora and brought her back to the nursery so I could shower. On the way back to my room, I stopped at the nurses’ station to let them know the Social Security/birth certificate person had not yet been by with the forms. Then I went back to the room, undressed, and started to get in the shower.

Read more at TheBump.com!

Monday, July 20, 2009

No one tells you these things

So it turns out that it's difficult to find time to write blog posts when you have a toddler and a newborn to take care of. Who knew? (Especially when said newborn had gained over a pound in the past week and half according to my somewhat inaccurate home scale. OVER A POUND. She appears to be approximately ten pounds now. So yes, this means she is essentially either sleeping or eating. And you wonder why I've lost so much weight already? Speaking of which, we are now both hungry, so I have to go have my nightly after-dinner dinner, and then feed her, and then go to bed.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm typing this quickly because there is a baby balanced on my lap

Nora is a pretty easy baby. Her needs are simple. She wants to be held, fed, and dry. And also, she doesn’t want to be in that *&(*# car seat. (Actually, the car seat issue is getting better; now she only screams for HALF the time she’s in it. So I’m holding out hope that within a month or so, she’ll be a normal baby and reliably go to sleep in the car.)

The other day, I was letting Jack get a few more minutes of sleep in his car seat and fed Nora on the porch. After she ate, I lay her on my lap and we had a nice little chat wherein she actually smiled at me. I had my camera handy, so I decided to try to get a shot of her smiling, or at least with her eyes open. Unfortunately, by the time I got the camera out and adjusted, she decided she was hungry again.

hungry

So I fed her.

milk coma

And then I tried - I really tried - to get her to open her eyes and smile at me again, but this is the best I could do:

eyes open

In other news, did I tell you that I lost fifteen pounds by the time Nora was a week old? It’s leveled off and there I remain, but check it:

15 pounds less

I credit this to the near constant feeding of the small one who has already gained nearly a pound and 3/4 of an inch, inasmuch as you can trust the length measurements, which is to say, she’s still approximately 21 inches long.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The second kid is a different experience. Who knew?

I have two kids now. Life is a bit crazed, but I have noticed a few differences between mothering (or fathering) a newborn the second time around. For example, when your firstborn is two weeks old and cries to be held you pick him up, enter the time you picked him up on your New Baby Excel Spreadsheet, rock him for precisely seventeen minutes, enter the time you put him back down, wait eight minutes to see if he will go to sleep, repeat. When the second baby cries to be held, you hold her.

When the first baby is hungry, you struggle to get into position, carefully check the time, nurse for ten minutes, switch (making sure to switch the safety pin reminder on your bra even though it is useless because you can never remember if the pin means that you started on that side LAST time or that you should start on that side THIS time), nurse for ten minutes, and then write it all down on the feeding chart. When the second baby is hungry, you feed her.

When the first baby is tired, you swaddle him, rock him, shush him, bounce him, carefully lay him down in his cradle and do it all again until he finally gets to sleep. When the second baby is tired, if rocking and swaddling doesn't work within ten minutes, you pop her in the sling and go about your day.

When the first baby is done with one of his nighttime feedings, you go through the whole swaddling/shushing/bouncing routine described above, because heaven forbid he should develop a habit of sleeping with you. When the second baby is done with a nighttime feeding, you weigh the benefits of trying to put her in her own bed against the benefits of just going to sleep with her on your chest. Guess what wins.

And here I had thought that I was a pretty relaxed first time mom back in the day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Very quick update

Well, we survived our first day with Andrew back at work! My goal for the day was to keep everyone alive and fed, and it was, dare I say, a smashing success. We even went to the sprinkler park. And and and! Both kids slept in their own beds, simultaneously, for over two hours, and a day like that is enough to put anyone in a really good mood.

I also think I've turned the corner hormonally, because my entire outlook has lifted and I no longer feel the crushing anxiety. Sure, I'm less than thrilled about the prospect of Andrew's going to work on time tomorrow (as opposed to the hour or so late he left today), but the thought of it does not make my stomach clench in fear.

I think we're going to make it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Just a quick update: Today I had no postpartum hormonal episodes at ALL. This is likely because of a variety of reasons. First, Andrew took Jack to Home Depot this morning, and came upon a kid-activity, so he was there for quite a while, giving me a lovely break. Second, the sun came out and it was GORGEOUS weather, and after lunch we all walked to the park and then had ice cream. So all in all, today was awesome.

Andrew goes back to work on Monday with the caveat that I can call him in a panic if I need to and he'll come home. We also have a plan of attack for dinner for the upcoming weeks. He and I will plan out the meals over the weekend, and I will be feeding Jack when he gets up from his nap instead of waiting till Andrew gets home. This will make things much easier, I think. And for the upcoming week, at least, Jack will be eating lots of mac and cheese and the like until he gets used to the new schedule. Andrew has been my rock during this period, completely understanding and willing to do whatever I need to get me through.

So. Things are better, and more under control. I was even able to upload some photos. You are welcome.

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Two Days Old

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Paging Mr. Pickles

Snorfling
When she's rooting, I like to put her on my cheek because it feels like kisses. Plus, she makes a snorfling sound.

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Dear Lord, I have two kids.

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And one of them has very tiny feet.

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Home Depot project

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The poorly thought out glitter project from the other day

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This was supposed to be a shot of her July 4th outfit which reads, "American Cutie"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh, internet. How I love you.

Thank you all SO MUCH. Your comments made me weepy, but in a good way. Admittedly, it's not currently very difficult to make me weepy. Nevertheless, you all rock. Seriously, WHAT did people do before the internet and blogging? My brother-in-law and his wife don't have the internet at their house and they have a nine-month-old. I often wonder how they survive. NO INTERNET. They are also unwilling to purchase things online, and I would definitely be dead if I couldn't purchase things online. Especially with this new interloper who is - at the moment - STRONGLY OPPOSED to riding in the car seat. What baby doesn't fall asleep when in a car? Have you ever heard of this? She screamed all the way to the pediatrician's today, and then screamed all the way to the lingerie store and then screamed the entire time IN the lingerie store (you cannot be measured for or try on a bra while holding a baby) and then screamed all the way home. Thank the sweet lord I have a sling. So I plan to buy my next batch of non-maternity-but-extra-long t-shirts via the magical, wonderful internet.

Life is better at this moment, because she wore herself out with all the non-stop screaming, and is now asleep IN HER BED. So that's good. And Jack was asleep when I got home, so I could cry myself out with impunity, and I feel better. Also, I now own bras that actually offer support, and I have a feeling it is going to be life changing. (Seriously, when I tried it on in the store, I almost cried with relief it felt so good.) And Jack has since woken up but seems to be skipping the post-nap crank and Andrew is making dinner and life is just a bit more bearable.

***

And now it is hours later and I'm in bed, ready for whatever sleep I can grab. I'll be taking everyone's advice about cutting myself slack about dinner, and plan to feed Jack lots of scrambled eggs and cheese sandwiches for the next few weeks. Bonus: We can add chopped spinach to the egg and he'll eat it. Andrew and I will scrounge what we can, and maybe eat after Jack goes to bed or something.

Thank you all SO MUCH for the encouraging comments. I promise to post more pictures when I get a chance, but I only get so much computer time a day, you know? I don't want to spend it looking for cables and such.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that some friends came over today and I set the kids up (three two-year-olds) with glue sticks and glitter. I know. Well, I know NOW. See, I hadn't used glitter in years and years, and... well, I forgot what glitter is like. I had a Neat Sheet under the table where they were glittering things, but I probably should not have bothered, because now we just have to figure out how to de-glitter the Neat Sheet in addition to the entire rest of the house and also all our clothes and also our skin. When I got home from the errands, I found a tube of glitter on our bed, and I just this second remembered that there is a small scattering of glitter in the bed next to me that we didn't notice and then did notice and were going to vacuum but we forgot. And now it's too late.

Oh well, they had a great time. We'll just be a sparkly family for the next few weeks. Or possibly years. And from now on, I'm buying the glitter GLUE.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Close to the ledge

Well. So I have two kids now. Let's make a pro/con list about that:

Pros:
1. Am no longer pregnant
2. She is pretty cute
3. I love the name we chose for her
4. Nursing is going well
5. Andrew is still at home helping me cope
6. Jack is, so far, behaving beautifully
7. AM NO LONGER PREGNANT

Cons:
1. Fatigue (duh)
2. Sore boobs
3. She doesn't like to be put down which can make doing other things tricky
4. Andrew will, eventually, have to go back to work
5. Jack may start acting out at any moment, probably as soon as Andrew goes back to work
6. Post-partum hormones are making me very very anxious

Con number six that is causing most of the problems there, actually. For example, the post-partum anxiety is making me worry and worry and worry about how on EARTH I will cope when Andrew goes back to work. And I worry about what I should be doing and when. Right now, for example, all three of them are asleep on my bed and I think, “I should go to sleep too.” But then I think, “But I want to check my email and update my blog.” And then I think, “But I have to clean the kitchen or I will go insane.” And then I think, “WHEN will it STOP RAINING because it is SO FREAKING DARK IN HERE.” And then I think, “I am going to make a cup of tea so I can handle this better.” And then I think, “But I should really take a nap while I can.” And so it goes.

The anxiety comes in spurts and bursts. With Jack, I was anxious at about 5:00 pm every day because that was when I would start to worry about how difficult the night would be. This time, the anxious period seems to come randomly. Like now, for instance.

Except now I've had my tea and a cookie, I cleaned the kitchen a bit and checked my email. I turned on all the lights in the house and I've had some alone time, and I feel better. Off the ledge, as it were.

This anxiety is so frustrating, because intellectually, I'm perfectly well aware that this? Is temporary. All of it. So very, very temporary. Admittedly, that is part of what is making me anxious, since Andrew staying home is temporary, and I am wondering how temporary Jack's good behavior is. But Nora's four-hour long cluster feedings? Temporary. Her refusal to be put down? Temporary. Her inability to smile at me and thus reward me for my hard work and loving care? Temporary.

I keep catching myself thinking things like, “Oh, this is her long-nap time,” or “She hates to ride in the car,” when, in fact, I have not known her long enough to make these generalizations. She's only a week old, for crying out loud. To say she “hates to ride in the car” because that one time we went to the pediatrician's she cried the whole way is utterly ludicrous. Case in point: She cried all the way to playgroup today, but slept on the way home. Who knows what she hates or doesn't hate? SHE doesn't know.

I remember trying desperately to figure out a routine, any sort of routine, when Jack was an infant, and you know what? They don't have routines. They eat and sleep, yes, but with no regularity whatsoever. This can be terrifying.

***
And then everyone woke up and I had to nurse the baby and get through the dinner hour and read stories and do the budget and now I'm back. And Nora is totally asleep in her bassinet after the extremely traumatic experience of her first bath (not counting the one at the hospital). (Nora, darling, I'm sorry we had to do that to you, but, frankly, you stunk. Babies are supposed to smell GOOD, Nora.)

This dinner hour did nothing to assuage my anxiety because it was everything I nightmared the dinner hour would become after the baby arrived: Jack was post-nap-cranky and needy and Nora was hungry. Andrew was home, so he cooked while I cried on the couch wondering how on earth I will possibly do this when he goes back to work. I am using a sling for when I need to do stuff when she won't tolerate being put down, but I can't cook with the baby in a sling. Knives and fire seem a mite risky to use with a baby strapped to my body.

My tears freaked Jack out a bit, and he said “Mom, why are you sad? I don't want you to be sad.” That sounds very sweet, yes, but I think it was less concern for me and more fear at the idea that Moms can be sad. Moms are supposed to make sadness go away, they are not supposed to be sad themselves. And yes, I did talk to him about how everyone gets sad sometimes, blah blah blah, yada yada yada, but he was still a bit freaked.

Happily, the after-dinner-hour is the BEST hour of the day because Jack's bedtime is forthwith and then there is nothing to do but hold the baby till we can go to bed. And Andrew and I decided that we will work together to prep meals on the weekends and in the evenings so that I can just throw stuff together and heat it up during the week. This eases my mind a bit, because dinner is BY FAR my biggest concern at the moment, and the free meals that people bring over are running out.

This entry is not exactly my best writing, but my battery is going to die and I need to go to bed and lord only knows when I will get a chance to edit this thing. By the time I can edit it, it's quite possible that all the problems I'm having will have mutated into a completely different set of problems, and I want to read all your encouraging comments about how I'm not going to die and how this is all temporary. Temporary! So I'm just going to post it. Let the encouraging comments commence.