Monday, September 29, 2008

Dilemma

Say you have a neighbor with whom you have no relationship with whatsoever who also happens to have their house up for sale - but it appears they might still live there since there's a car in the driveway. Say that you doubt you have much in common with that neighbor and think they probably wouldn't take kindly to you knocking on their door to say hello. Say that neighbor has a small pool in their backyard that you've noticed now looks like a murky pond you wouldn't let your dog drink out of. I'm talking dark green, can't see the bottom of the pool, Florida everglades, a alligator might jump out at them if they get too close murky green. Say you live in an area of the country where West Nile Virus is an issue and you have a family whose well being you are concerned about. Say you're almost 6 months pregnant and you're a little paranoid about your unborn child's health because you're hormonal and want to be as healthy as possible for him and his big sister. Say it freaks you out every single time you let your dogs outside because, what if they get bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile because your neighbors don't take care of their pool?!

Let's then also say you are a very non-confrontational person married to someone who is even more non-confrontational and you don't want to start any trouble with your neighbors. Let's also take into consideration that a month ago someone rang your doorbell after lighting a bag of poop on fire* right by your doorstep and you're just a little bit concerned about possible retaliation.

What do you do?

Do you go to your neighbor and tell them you happened to look over the fence and saw their scary pool and you're concerned?

Do you call the city mosquito abatement people to have them come take care of it so you don't have to worry... and then risk your neighbors thinking it had to be you and then retaliating?

* - FYI, I know this was just a prank but I'm still upset about this. This incident occurred the night before my 32nd birthday and when I saw the fire blaze up and they rang our doorbell, I was sure my house was on fire and that my family was in danger. It was a fleeting moment, but while my parents - who were in town visiting - and my daughter were sleeping, I screamed out "Fire!" and then froze in fear because I just did not know what to do first. The blaze settled down quickly and Daniel poured water over it to put it out completely so there was no harm done, but there could have been. The front of our house is dense with foliage. We have ivy growing all over our walls/the ceiling above our front door, and flowering bushes lining our sidewalk. What if the prank had led to our house actually catching on fire? I think the worst part of it was Daniel and I ended up staying up late and worrying about what prank would come next and what could happen. Now, I feel a little less safe in my house because of that fleeting fear I had when I saw the fire... and that just sucks.

ADDED LATER:
So... as interested as I was to read all of your opinions, I just couldn't sit around and do nothing. As a friend so aptly put it, it's not just my family that is at risk. This seemed like an opportunity to be proactive instead of sitting around being anxious about what could happen. So, I called in a complaint. Turns out, someone else called last month and when the mosquito abatement people came out to look they saw that efforts were being made to fix the problem. Um, apparently they dropped the ball again. I was told someone would come out in the next day or so to take care of it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

100 Days

Well, according to my calendar and due date, Finnegan should be here in 100 days. My guess is he'll actually be here between 90 and 95 days because he'll definitely be a c-section baby and I'd really like to have him come prior to New Year's Day. Why you ask? Purely practical reasons : taxes. Clearly, we want him to come when he is ready but having an additional dependent won't hurt us come April. I'm really hoping for between December 26th and the 29th. I know that is pretty specific, but I really want to be home with Zoe for Christmas and since Daniel's birthday is New Year's Eve I would like him to not have to spend it in a cramped recovery room on an uncomfortable cot. Never mind that if I get my way he'll be changing a lot of diapers and getting very little sleep as his "present". I think he'll think it's all worth it to get to celebrate his 30th! birthday with his little girl and new baby boy. We're so excited!

I realize my trying to plan when Finn will be here is a little crazy. I realize that in the end, it all depends on what our doctor says regarding how Finnegan is doing developmentally. Taxes, holidays, or birthdays be damned - all I really want is a healthy baby boy and an uncomplicated c-section. But a girl can hope/plan, right?

You see, I like to plan. I like to make lists. I like to be prepared. I like to know what to expect, and if possible I like to control or direct outcomes. I'm pretty sure I've been this way since I was Zoe's age and just so you know this trait of mine is very evident in my little girl. Big time! I see power struggles in our futures.

That all said, I am FREAKING out. We're not prepared for Finnegan's arrival. I started making a list of things we needed to do and I never finished it... and then lost it! I've lost my planning skills since Zoe has become a toddler! I just looked back at my blog and calendar during my pregnancy with Zoe and I was WAAAY ahead of schedule at this point:

At 20 weeks with Zoe, the crib was built.
At 21 weeks we had the changing table and glider built.
At 22 weeks the bedding was set up and we'd pre-registered at the hospital.
By 26 weeks we'd built a bookcase and hung art on the walls. Baby laundry was getting done.

I'll be 26 weeks along as of Sunday and I've done squat. Well, we did get a closet organizer and some canvas bins for our closet since we'll be sharing it and our bedroom with Finn. I needed to see if we were going to be able to share our closet with him and still have room for all our junk stuff. But that's it. That's all we've done!

I know the second baby is different. I know we've got our hands full with Zoe and that time is more sparse now that we're chasing her around the house all the time. We don't have the luxury of relishing this pregnancy and working on home improvement projects quite as much because we also have a little girl to take care of and play with.

Then there's the whole money issue. Financially, we're just in a different place than we were when we were expecting Zoe. We were in a smaller house that cost less to rent. With that smaller space and lower energy costs, we were paying less for utilities. We had more expendable income and we got some very generous Christmas money gifts that we used for Zoe's nursery so we were comfortable. This time around we're on a tighter budget. We're wanting to create a special place for Finnegan in a small nook in our room that was originally going to be an office, but we're nowhere near that point yet and don't have enough saved to get furniture or bedding.

Last night I was telling Daniel how worried I was. That I really want Finn to have what Zoe had - I want him to know we were as excited for him as we were for Zoe. I need us to get serious and get all the things done around the house in preparation for our baby boy. Lucky for me, Daniel knows how to calm me down. He balances my craziness and temporary pessimism with an optimistic attitude. He's patient with my needing to plan and do things way ahead of time despite his not really feeling that same sense of urgency that I do. He helps me laugh at myself, my hyperactive nesting instincts, and my roller coaster hormones. He tells me "If Finn came tomorrow we would be fine, we're OK." To which I say, "No! We won't! Finnegan, you listen to your mother and you stay in there for at least ninety more days!" --- And when I said that I was referring to the fact that Finn still has a lot of growing to do... Daniel is absolutely right, we'd get by fine with what we have.

So what I'm trying to say is: Send good thoughts/well wishes to my poor husband - his wife is in freak out/nesting mode and the next 100 days could be interesting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Politico

I don't usually talk politics on my blog. No, wait - I NEVER talk about politics on my blog. Ever. EVER.

And I'm not really going to right now either.

You see, I was taught at an early age that an individuals politics are a personal matter. In fact of all the things my parents tried to instill in me - it's one of the things that has stood out to me most on the list. This became all the more clear four years ago in the Kerry/Bush election. Despite our liberal leanings, Daniel and I live in a very right wing, conservative town and we tend to feel outnumbered here. Since we're both extremely non-confrontational people, we've opted to avoid conversations where Democrats are pitted against Republicans or vice versa. I'm going to call it our survival instinct to just keep mum. And truthfully, while there are some topics we might like to discuss with friends and family - we avoid them because we don't want to create a rift. We don't want to look at them differently when we discover we don't see eye to eye and vice versa. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

That said, Daniel and I are both very passionate about politics, the state of our government, and how the choices we make will impact Zoe and Finn. We worry. We debate and discuss. And I think there is a big part of us that wishes we had the guts to speak out like some of our friends have. Sometimes I feel like a chicken that I'm not speaking out for what I believe in. Sometimes I worry I'm not setting the example I want to for my kids.

What's worse:
Confrontation over something important to you./Not speaking your mind about something important to you.

What's more admirable/a better example for our kids:
Speaking up./Keeping the peace.

And - what do you avoid talking about with your friends and family?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear Zoe,

Wowee! How old are you now? Five? No? Alright, you're actually almost 16 months old now - 1 year 3 months 3 weeks and 5 days old - to be exact. Can I just tell you that every single day with you has been an adventure? It has, sweetie. It's been a crazy, roller coaster ride of an adventure. We've had some crazy days. Your mother has had some moments where she's asked herself what the HECK she is doing. There have been some tears between the two of us. There have been some disagreements. But mostly, there's been this clarity that I am doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing and you were meant to be my daughter.

Bubble beard; New bangs

But I'm not going to talk about the rough times right now - I'll save that for when you're a teenager and I'm trying to make you feel guilty for being such a wild child. I kid, I kid. Mostly. What I am going to talk about is what an amazingly sweet little girl you are.

Words: You are a talker! Big time! Sometimes we have no idea what in the world you are saying and I've got to tell you this was one of the things I was most worried about. Before I was your mom I would be around kids trying to communicate with their parents and/or me and I would just nod my head like I totally got what they were saying and then they'd give me that WTF look because they were totally on to me. And I was convinced that I would never learn this secret language toddler’s have and I would never understand what my kids were trying to tell me. But you know what? For the most part I just get you and for the other thirty percent of the time I straight up tell you "I have no idea what you're trying to say, baby." I believe honesty is very important and lucky for us, ahem - you will stop at nothing to make your point/get what you want.

Not so sure....

Here are just some of the words that your Daddy and I can very clearly hear come out of your mouth:

No. This is your favorite word in the entire world. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm hoping this never stops, especially when you are a teenager. No is a marvelous word that I would like you to continue to embrace with as much fervor as you do now. Right now, you tell Bailey and Max this when they bark, lick, get too close to you, or are are merely doing something to annoy you like, ignoring you. You also use this word to scold the television and your toys. Sometimes you make our job as your parents even easier because you tell yourself no as you are physically doing something that you are not supposed to be doing. This is awesome and is something I would also like you to continue to do going throughout your adolescence, mmkay? I just have a feeling we're gong to need all the help we can get. Sometimes though, we - and by "we" I mean you - confuse “no” with yes. The word yes hasn't really entered your vocabulary yet, so you tell us no when we offer you food when you so clearly want it. But can I just say, no never sounded so sweet or funny as when it comes out of your mouth.

Daddy/Mama. For a while there everything was "Daddy": inanimate objects, the dogs, me. Now you've gotten better and quite clearly know who your Mama and Daddy are and ask for us repeatedly until we give you the attention you are clearly deprived of. But seriously, I think these words most make our hearts melt when we hear them.

Bailey/Max.

Baby. You have your own baby doll. Actually you have like, four. At least two of them are living at Cheryl's house and you have two that live here with us. We recently got you the fourth one because unlike your fabric baby, it looks more like your baby brother might look - except for the hard plastic skin and creepy eyes that never close. You actually helped picked out your fourth baby by reaching out at ALL the babies and exclaiming "Baby!" If we had let you, you would have adopted all those babies right then and there. You're a good little mama, except for when you get bored with your baby and you throw him on the ground and walk away. We'll be working on your babysitting skills, I think.

Down/Up. We hear "down" more often than "up" these days. You have places to go, things to pull down from shelves.

Hi/Bye. You love getting to say hi and bye to everyone now. You wave and smile until people notice you and I’m sure you make their day with your friendliness.

Hugging: You know how I said sometimes we have our rough moments/days? Well, those things are easily erased from memory when you give us hugs. There is nothing as sweet as having you run up to me with your arms outstretched for a hug. When I take you into my arms and you give me those big bear hugs with your cheek to my cheek or you put your head on my shoulder as you pat my back to comfort me as I have you so many times, my heart feels like it might burst with my love for you. You are so precious and so loving.

Kisses: We’re still working on kisses because you’ve chosen to model your kisses after Bailey and Max. But when you want a kiss, you go straight for your target and plant it. It’s very sweet when you give us kisses, but I’m most amused now by you kissing your babies.

Raspberries: Remember when you were an infant and we started to give you zerberts on your belly? Well, apparently this stuck in your mind because recently you’ve taken to coming up to us and giving us zerberts on our arms. You also like giving them to yourself and laugh every time you do so.

Belly: In the past few months your mama’s belly has grown quite a bit. You were one of the first to notice this and I started seeing you modeling my stance: belly out, one hand behind back, the other hand patting or rubbing belly. Soon you would add some giggling to your stance that suggested that maybe you thought I was kind of funny looking. I took these opportunities to teach you the word “belly” and you now show me your belly repeatedly during the day. As my own belly has continued to grow you also request to see mine. I started pulling up my shirts so you could see and now you come up to me, exclaim “Belly!” and pull at my shirt for a peek. You pat, rub and have been known on occasion to give me a zerbert, which always gets a kick from your baby brother.

Crazy Hair

Music/Dancing: It gives your Daddy and I a great deal of joy to see you respond to music and singing the way you do. You are a fan of musicals, especially Annie. You have a stereo in your room that I usually turn on for you when you’ve gotten up from a nap so we can sing and dance along. You rock out in your car seat when we have the stereo on. When we are watching television you dance to the opening/closing credits and you dance to the commercials with music. I think you might get some of your funkier dance moves from your Daddy and this makes me smile. My favorite is when you kind of rock/jerk from side to side with your arms up and your ear on your shoulder and a big smile on your face. My favorite moments are when your Daddy takes you up into his arms and you dance together: your face beaming, laughing, head back, feeling the breeze in your hair as he twirls you.

Waking up: Without fail, every time we go into your room to wake you for the day or from a nap, you spring to your feet quickly with a smile. You are truly a morning person and I do not know how this happened. What I do know is that you make my mornings better getting to see your bright, happy face.

Zoe's pigtails

I think as a person, I tend to look at my faults and what I feel like I need to improve upon more than what I am good at, my successes. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best mom I can be for you and it’s only been recently that I’ve started to see that I really am. I adore you, Zoe. Since becoming your mom I’ve grown as a person and experienced such joys watching you grow and learn and play. You make me laugh. You make me smile. You make me want to be strong. You love me unconditionally and I love you with every ounce of my being. You have amazed me these last 16 months and I’m looking forward to everything our future holds for us. You’re everything I dreamed you would be and more and I am so grateful that I get to be your Mama. You are our ray of sunshine and such a special, sweet little monkey lady!

Hugs and Kisses Always,
Mama

Monday, September 15, 2008

This Time Around

I worry more with this pregnancy than I ever did with Zoe.

I think it has a lot to do with us doing this on our own. There were no medications, no injections, or special treatment. We didn’t have a fertility doctor holding our hands and watching my eggs closely making sure they developed on track and became our Zoe.

This time we had fate or luck or something special on our side. There was no intervention, no medical procedures. We talked about our desires to have our family grow. I stopped birth control. And then three months later we found out I was pregnant. That morning still sticks out in my head as one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever had. I was so excited and happy for our family.

But with that excitement came fear. What if this wasn’t meant to be? What if we really needed that extra support we got from the fertility doc? This time around I would not be monitored so closely, I would not have as many appointments or ultrasounds. We would be on our own for the most part and that seemed… scary.

With Zoe, I went into every appointment with hope and excitement. When we got into the second trimester with her, it felt like smooth sailing for the rest of our time. I felt secure and knew that we had taken all the measures we could for her to be healthy.

With Finn, I worry. I brace myself until I hear his heartbeat and the doc assures me we're doing well. I feel myself stressing over every twinge, every muscle ache or cramp. I’ve been feeling Braxton Hicks for about a month now, but yesterday they felt different – worse. They were still sporadic, but more frequent and more painful than I had ever felt with Zoe. They made me feel nauseated and weak and I felt anxious. Luckily we had a prescheduled prenatal appointment this morning. As Daniel and I sat in the room waiting for our doc to come in, I could feel my heart race. What if Finn wasn’t ok? What if my body wasn’t taking care of him because it hadn’t been ready for him yet? What if I can’t have a healthy baby without that extra assistance and care? I sat there thinking about all the things I’d read on the internet about preterm labor. I thought about my friends and family who have had to deal with difficult circumstances. I closed my eyes and leaned against Daniel and tried to focus on what a special gift Finn is to us. And when our doc walked in and hugged me, I started crying. We quickly told him about yesterday, about the pain, and he was calm and kind. He had me lay back so he could measure my belly quickly and then he got the Doppler out so we could hear our son’s heartbeat. At first it sounded muted to me and I felt tense, but then there were strong kicks and we could hear quite clearly the strong, steady beating of Finn’s heart. “Sounds good.” Relief washed over me and made the rest of the exam more bearable. Daniel held my hand as our doctor checked my cervix – still closed, and verified that I was neither dilated nor effaced. Everything is ok. Finn and I are fine. We’ll go back Friday morning for another check up just to keep my mind at ease.

I’m trying to relax. I’m trying not to worry. I’m trying to focus on the assurances that Daniel and my doctor keep giving me. I keep reminding myself that Finn is supposed to be here with us; that he came along sooner than we ever imagined he would and that there has to be a reason for that. For some reason I thought that each subsequent pregnancy would get easier for me physically and emotionally - that with experience I would gain confidence. What I’ve come to realize is that every pregnancy is different. I’ve also discovered that now that I have Zoe here with me, I know first hand what it means to love your children unconditionally. Before we had Zoe I could only imagine what it must feel like to be a mother. Now that we have her and Finn on the way, I feel fiercely protective of them and our family and I find myself bracing myself for a shoe to drop. It can be exhausting. I'm lucky that Daniel is so supportive, so positive. He is the optimist in our family and he keeps me strong - puts up with my freak outs.

Anyway. I stress too much. Everything is going to be fine… better than fine. I have strong son - he is/will be healthy just like his sister. Right this moment, Finn is kicking me now with all his might; I think he’s requesting a snack. I’m off to grab something to eat and then possibly take a nap.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Lessons Learned

Zoe has this face she makes when she's trying to show she's not happy with something. She puckers up her lips in a sort of kiss/Elvis snarl, squints her eyes so that the blue is almost invisible and wrinkles up her nose - all while sticking out her chin in complete defiance. It's not the look I looked forward to seeing after carrying her for nine months. It's not really a look I think that insights others to run out and conceive a sweet bundle of joy of their own. It's a face that only her parents can love, I think.

But we've come to realize that this face is the lesser of the evils she is capable of unleashing - and I say that with a mother's love and understanding. I understand how hard it must be to be fifteen months old. I understand that she wants to touch anything and experience everything. I know how frustrating it must be to know exactly what you want with all your heart, but not be able to express yourself with the words that you hear daily. I understand. Really.

What can sometimes be hard to understand is the hitting. The grabbing things and throwing them on the ground, at the dog, in my face. Deep down I know that it's nothing personal. I know that she is not trying to inflict pain, but actually trying to be heard. I know that she loves me and I know that sometimes I get the brunt of all her moods because I am the one that is with her all day and night. I try not to get insecure when she listens to everyone else's "No" but mine. Deep down I know I'm a good mom and she's doing just great emotionally and developmentally.

But yesterday was rough. Yesterday had me text messaging Daniel in a panic requesting his presence at lunch. I was struggling as a mother. I felt like she was coming at me with every bit of her little self and pulling out all the stops. I wanted to cry. And when Daniel got home for a quick lunch, I did cry. Heaving sobs. I was drained and crying was the only thing that made it feel better. I felt like I was a failure as a mom. I felt like I was a jackass for thinking that I could do this. I could not believe I had the nerve to think I was good enough at this parenting thing to get pregnant again. All I could think was very soon it was gong to be two against one and then I was really, really screwed.

I was so stressed that I'm pretty sure that if Daniel hadn't needed to go back to work yesterday I might have jumped in the car and gone for a long drive to somewhere like Santa Barbara or something. I was so stressed that I kept imagining myself sitting on a beach somewhere sipping a margarita relaxing. Not so much because I needed alcohol, but because I couldn't remember the last time I had just kicked back and relaxed like that - oh, and there was also a big plate of nachos in my little fantasy.

But we got through yesterday. Zoe finally went down for a nap and woke up in a much less terrorizing mood - I mean she did wreak havoc last night and that led to a few time outs and some headaches for her parents, but we got through it together. Last night some limits were set. She learned that if she repeatedly hits the dogs - and/or us - and we're unable to distract her with her toys and books, she will be put in timeout. It broke our hearts, but we let her cry. And then, I held her and hugged her and told her I loved her and forgave both of us for our hard day.

Today, Zoe is a different girl. I'm not so sure it's because of those timeouts though. Part of me thinks she wanted to test her/our limits and now she's content for a bit. Part of me thinks that her hi jinks wore her out as much as they did me and she's just reserving her energy. Part of me knows that this is just life with a toddler, that this is exactly what I signed up for and that I can handle anything she or her brother throw at me.

I may not be the best mom out there, but I do know I'm doing a damn good job in raising her with Daniel. Yesterday was rough, but it certainly won't be the roughest we have together. About a week ago a friend told me I didn't make being a mom look easy/fun. I felt bad, but you know what? Loving your children is the only easy thing about being a parent. Being a parent is not always fun times, but the rough days are soon forgotten when your baby simultaneously hugs you and rubs your back. Those moments where they are resting in your lap, falling asleep, discovering a new toy, saying a new word... they make me remember there is no other way I'd rather spend my life.