Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Confessions from a mother of two

In a matter of days, Finnegan will be three months old. That is so crazy for me to even imagine. In some ways it feels like he has been a part of our family for years, like his place is with me and Daniel and his sister. Like there was always this place carved out for him with us and he is exactly where he is supposed to be. And sometimes I look at him and how much he has grown and how interactive he has become and I ask him how this is even possible because we just brought him home! He is supposed to be little and delicate, but he isn't. He is my big, strong, three month old with a killer smile, flirty eyes, quick temper and lively personality.

Things weren't easy at first. For the first few weeks that Finnegan was home, I cried every single day. I cried when Zoe cried and when Finnegan cried. I cried when I was away from Zoe. I cried when I needed a break. I cried because of television shows and movies. I cried because we had ants in the house. I cried because I was exhausted and felt weak from the surgery. I cried because my hormones were completely out of whack and I had this overwhelming sense of sadness and inadequacy at least once a day. It hurt my heart to feel that sadness when I have such an amazing husband and two beautiful children who I wanted with all my heart and whom I adore with every sense of my being.

And I was ashamed. Ashamed that I was feeling so down and sorry for myself when I had everything I had ever wanted and more. Ashamed that I wasn't stronger. Ashamed that I was not the perfect housewife and partner for Daniel. Ashamed that I was never going to be that mom who had everything in control and did everything right. Ashamed that I was failing to live up to my over the top expectations. Ashamed that I only really shared any of this with Daniel, so I was a phony to all my friends who thought everything was perfect and that I was just not around because I was tired, not secretly avoiding contact with everyone. Ashamed that I would burst into tears out of the blue and couldn't pinpoint what exactly I was crying about. I thought I was going crazy.

And as those days passed, each day would get better and then all of a sudden I would feel fabulous, and then I might slip into a feeling of hopelessness the next day. A few things would snap me out of my funk -

Daniel - When he'd come home from work and he'd give me these long, strong hugs that made me feel so supported and he assured me that everything would be OK.
Zoe - When she would come sit next to me and Finnegan and put her little arm around me and reach to pat her brother's head.
Finnegan - When he would settle in my arms and just look at me with this peace like he was so secure with where he was, with me.

And each day I felt sad less. And things got easier.

That's not to say that things are easy now. It was silly of me to think that adding a second child to our family would be easier than the first. I thought I knew it all. I mean, not really... but sort of. I knew how to hold, change, feed and bathe a newborn. I knew how to rock a baby to sleep, how to burp them and to ALWAYS be prepared with a burp cloth or accept the consequences. I knew that I loved Finn from the moment I learned he even existed. I could not ever have imagined that after he would arrive I would feel so out of sorts.

At first I felt guilty - like I'd let Zoe down and that she was never going to feel as loved as she had before Finnegan was born. That first time she came to the hospital to meet Finn she had been so timid and curious about the baby I was holding in my arms. She got closer for a look and he wailed like newborns do. She burst into sobs and reached out for me to hold her, but I couldn't because I had Finn and an IV and I was weak. And that look on her face when I couldn't take her broke my heart and I cried with her. Even though she had completely forgotten that drama five minutes after it had passed, I carried that sadness with me for weeks. At that moment I realized how hard this was all going to be - having a toddler who was so independent, but still very much my little baby, and a newborn who depended on me to give him everything he needed. I felt sad that as much as I wanted to give them each 110% of myself, I didn't have that much to offer and I had no idea how I would divide my time. When you have two little ones crying how do you choose which one to comfort?!

The answer is, you choose both - just maybe not at the same time. In the last few months I've had to learn that sometimes, one of them is going to have to cry while the other is seen to. I've learned to assess their cries. Is one just crying because the other is? Is one in danger or pain? If both are just crying because they are cranky, tired, or hungry, which can be comforted the quickest so I can get to the other? I'm learning that while these little ones share some similarities, they are very much their own little person's. They have different personalities and temperament. They have their own ways of wanting to be held and soothed. Finn is not Zoe 2.0, he is Finnegan 1.0 and I'm learning that as in sync as I am with him, I don't know him as well as I know Zoe - yet.

But every day I know him even better than the last. Every day I feel stronger and more confident than I felt in those first weeks. Every day I am further from that sadness and able to enjoy every crazy, beautiful, hilarious, exhausting, and enriching moment more. I am a happy mother and wife... so happy that anything - even more children WAAAY down the road, seems possible and exciting. Maybe.

This afternoon, Finnegan was having one of his fussy moments. He was bursting into tears every time I walked away from him because he wanted me in his line of sight; wanted me to hold him every second. After going back and forth for almost an hour, I went to him and gently put my hand on his heaving chest. "I am here for you, Finnegan. Even when I am five feet away, in the next room, or whatever, I am here. Be calm." And I swear to you, he looked at me with such concentration and consideration the entire time I spoke, then he sighed quite seriously, and flashed me the biggest grin I'd ever seen him give.

Every day we are learning and understanding each other more.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

FIVE

She was our first kid. We brought her into our tiny little apartment five years ago this week. Back then we thought getting a puppy would add even more joy to our lives - we were right. Turns out, Bailey was our test run with having someone depend on us as a couple, working together. There were some hiccups: accidents in the house, CD's were eaten, books shredded, her face puffed up after being stung by a bee, etc. But she was the ingredient that helped us grow from a couple to a family as soon as we took her home.

5 years of Bailey


Now we live in a house with a big backyard for her to share with her pug brother, Max. She's now one of four... with two younger human siblings. But Bailey will always be our little, neurotic, "Stinkbutt". At five years old - her birthday was January 3rd - she's still very much a puppy in that troublemaker way.... and a very important member of our family.

Happy Anniversary, Bailey!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Show and Tell

This is the bridesmaid dress that I will be wearing a week from this Saturday in my hometown, Palm Springs.

Trying on the bridesmaid dress

Well, Palm Desert, actually... but no one ever knows where I'm talking about unless I say "Palm Springs".

Daniel likes to make fun of me when I just say "the Desert". He says it sounds so ominous. "I grew up in the Desert." Like I lived off the land on my own and rode a camel or something.

Anyway. That was a tangent.

So, I had to give my measurements for this lovely dress when I was nine months pregnant because of the timing.

THIS:

37 weeks/5 days....13 days or less to go!

just happens to be my ginormous "baby belly" the day* I placed the order.

Can I just say how ridiculous that was? Why does it have to take so long to have a dress made anyway? And how lame is it to have to give super big numbers that you know are going to change days after you give birth?! When I told the lady I was having a baby 13 days from when we talked and that my measurements were going to shrink considerably, she told me she doubted I would lose any of the weight by the end of March.... to which I said: fuckyouverymuch.

Trying on the bridesmaid dress

Fine. I totally didn't say that, but I was so hormonal that I really could have.

ANYWAY. I lost the weight and then some and this bad boy had to be taken in quite a bit. Yay, me. Well, yay breastfeeding... because I'm pretty sure that's how I lost it all. I'm by no means where I want to be weight wise, but I'm sort of ok with how I look in this thing.

Trying on the bridesmaid dress...

* - How cool that I had the foresight to take a pic on that day so I could blog about it now?!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Conversations with Finn

1 - "Hey, Mama!"

"Hey, Mama!"

Hi, Finnegan!

2 - "Look at me lifting my head like a big boy!"

"Look at me lifting my head like a big boy!"

I know! You are such a big, strong boy!

3 - "Pretty darn impressive, no?"

"Pretty darn impressive, no?"

VERY! You impressive me every DARN day, Finnegan!

4 - "I can haz milk now?"

"I can haz milk now?"

Sure. Let me just get a couple more so I can show you off to Nana, Grammy, Baba, Grandpa Rick, and your MANY other adoring fans.

5 - "Do you know how long I've been waiting?"

"Do you know how long I've been waiting?"

Not long at all, actually. Finn, you are a very well fed boy. Have you SEEN your cheeks?!

6 - "Feed me now, woman!"

"Feed me now, woman!"

Now, now, son. There's no need to get cranky. You just ate an hour ago!

7 - "The service here sucks."

"The service here sucks."

Well, the patron sucks too! Badumbum!

8 - "Seriously, this is the last one. Rrrright?"

"Seriously, this is the last one. Rrrright?"

Yes. For now. I love you, baby.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Side By Side Comparison

Little Target Shoppers, Then & Now

Zoe at eight months/Finn at almost three months - sleeping in Target shopping carts

1. Look how precious they were/are!
2. That cart cover was one of our best baby purchases, ever.
3. I must be boring to shop with.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tuesday: Girl's Day

Last Tuesday was Finnegan's first full day away from the house and me. Daniel and I carefully got him ready and loaded him up in his car seat. I loaded a bag with 20 diapers, 4 burp cloths, 3 changes of clothes and five bottles of my milk for his nine hour stay at Cheryl's*. And as we were securing him in his seat, I might have cried... just a little bit.

And then I went back to sleep for a while because Zoe is still my little sleepyhead who will sleep til 10am if I let her.

I took a shower and got ready - meaning, I actually put some lipstick on.

I got her up at nine.

We had breakfast together and watched some PBS Kids.

And then we got ready for the park because we were lucky enough to have a lovely, sunny day instead of this grey weather we've had since yesterday.

Zoe squealed with delight when I pulled into the parking lot of the park. The park is only two blocks from our house and I feel a little guilty for not just pushing her stroller, but I had big plans for our girls day. Lots of fun to be had!

Here she is counting. "1, 2, 3, 5, 7, NINE!"

Girls Day

She made a few friends at the park. Two of them were little boys, one a few months younger than she and the other a year older. They did not know what to make of this little thing who stood in their personal space staring at them intently, who then reached out to hug them once she decided she liked them... which took 30 seconds. They ran away from her and she followed sweetly, saying "Hi!" with her arms stretched out for a hug. She didn't get a hug, but if this picture is any indication, someday boys are going to feel honored that she is even acknowledging their presence.

"Girls Day"

After the park, we went home for a quick pumping session, water, and diaper change and then we were on the road again.

We had a quick lunch on the go and then we were off to the mall for some shopping. First we bought her a cute little sunhat that she wore proudly for the rest of the afternoon. Then we went dress shopping. Here she is waiting for our dressing room:

Girls Day

When we got into our dressing room she danced and ran around. She held tightly onto the dress she was going to try on saying, "CUTE!" She loved looking at herself in the mirror and laughed and squealed. Since this was the first time I'd attempted taking her in a dressing room and actually trying stuff on her, I had no idea what to expect... but it was so much fun I wish I'd grabbed more than just one thing for her to try on:

Girls Day

The brown dress is a hand me down... she wouldn't let me take it off her completely. The dress on top is old navy - where we are trying it on. The hat we had just purchased at Gymboree. Somehow it all works, I think. Must be the cute little lady wearing it!

After the mall we headed back home for a quick nap and then we went to pick up Finn** and have dinner with Cheryl while Daniel worked a little later than normal.

"Girl's Day" is going to be a weekly thing for me and Zoe. It gives us time together, just the two of us, where I can just focus on her and her needs. I realized as we were playing at the park and laughing in the dressing room that we hadn't really had a day like this before. Sure, I'd taken her to the park before and we've spent plenty of days alone... but I'd been pregnant. We found out we were expecting a month before her 1st birthday, before she was walking and so independent. For the next nine months I chased and attempted to contain a very active little girl when I myself had no energy and felt sick all the time. Now that Finn is sleeping better and I'm adapting to being a mother of two, I have more energy to be the kind of mom I want to be for her and Finn.

* - I totally over packed!
** - Zoe never once asked where her baby brother was!