Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Different Kind of Craving

There's something about the five month mark, I guess, that makes me crave something really weird...

Birth Stories!!

I cannot get enough of them.  Last night I watched about ten live birth videos online, and no matter how gross or amazing the story itself was, I ALWAYS cried when that baby was born.  Natural births, medicated births, water births, c-sections, twin births, premature births,...there is something so beautiful and fascinating about every single one.

So....I'm asking for your birth stories AGAIN!  I did this when I was pregnant with Sylvia and it was boatloads of fun.  For me, anyway.  Two years ago I was fortunate enough to post stories from Katie, Madonna, Elizabeth, Laura, and Rachael.  I also got to read a few private stories from friends who were happy to share with me, but requested that I not post them on the blog.  This time around, I want MORE!  I know that most of these girls have had another baby, so I'm hoping they're willing to share again, and I know there are TONS of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who might like to have the birth stories of their children or grandchildren written down for prosperity's sake.  I'm really hoping to get more mom stories PLUS some non-mom stories this time. 

Here are the guidelines:
- Email me your stories at pocket879 at hotmail dot com OR if you have your stories in a blog post, just send me the link.
- If you have more than one kid, you can send me more than one story OR you can combine them, I don't mind.
- Let me know somewhere in your email if I have permission to post your story on my blog. My number one goal is to learn as much as I can about your experiences, my number two goal is to share what I learn with the online world. So, if you don't want me to publish your story, don't let it stop you from sending it! I still want to read it!! If you do want your story published, leave out any identifying factors like locations, hospital names, and names of doctors and nurses.

If you're not sure where to start, here are some questions you can use.  Obviously, these are geared toward moms, but if you're not a mom, you might still find useful questions in here:
1. When and how did you know you were in labor?
2.  Who was there to support you and what was their reaction?
3. How long were you in labor? When did you decide to go to the hospital?
4. What happened once you got to the hospital?
5. Who was with you in the delivery room? What was their reaction?
6. Were there any surprises for you on that day (good or bad)?
7. Describe the moment when you first saw your little one - Did the baby cry? Did you cry? Were the baby's eyes open? Did you get to hold the baby right away?
8. How long did you stay in the hospital and how long was your recovery?
9.  What were your thoughts on leaving the hospital and bringing baby home?  What were the first few days at home like for you?

Yesterday, I was speaking with a student and her dad.  He told me the story of how he and his wife got PULLED OVER on the way to the hospital (sound familiar, Katie?) and ended up getting a police escort to the emergency room.  I looked at the little girl and said, "Oh my gosh!  Did you know that?!"  She shook her head in amazement and said, "No."  He said, "I never told you that?  We got pulled over by the cops!" and I thought to myself - what an important piece of history for that little girl to know. 
So come on, folks! Open up a word document or grab an old fashioned pencil and get crackin'! These stories won't tell themselves, you know!  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Novice Parenting Wisdom

I've been working on this post for a week.  Here's a fair warning: it's long and probably boring or maybe even a little bit annoying for the few people who manage to read it.  But I like it, and I'm glad I wrote it, and you don't have to read it if you don't want to - so there! 

Sylvia's about to take a giant leap into her second birthday, and I know these next six weeks are going to be a blur.  Last weekend, I laid awake at 3:00 am and couldn't help but think of all the things I know because now I'm such a veteran at this Mommy business.  Two whole years!  I might as well write a book and call myself a Guru.  I've got this thing in the BAG, right?  Why else would I be up at 3:00 in the morning freaking out about the fact that I forgot to send pajamas with my kid when she spent the night at Grammy's?  Instead of being completely unproductive, I grabbed my handy phone and made a list of all the things I know about being a Mom.  You're welcome.

1.  Kids are resiliant.  When we brought Sylvia home from the hospital, I spent two entire months whispering and walking on eggshells, treating her like a porcelin doll.  One day, I was walking down to the basement with her in my arms, and I stopped on the landing and cried, because I thought if I kept going, I would surely drop her and she'd die, but if I tried to go back upstairs, it was just as likely to happen.  Clearly, this is a sign of my insanity and lack of faith.  But now?  Now she's almost TWO!  And she's healthy.  And she's happy.  And those first two months did not need to be so stressful.  Nor did the next twenty months, which brings me to today.  Do you have any idea how many times my child falls down?  Remember the spray paint?  And there's no telling what that girl has put into her mouth when I wasn't looking!  I'll even admit that I've forgotten to buckle her into her carseat a time or two - but she's none the worse for the wear.  We both survived two whole years together and I'm willing to bet she lives a long and healthy life, whether I'm around to pad her falls or not.     

2. You can't do everything right all the time.  The list of things that I do wrong grows every day.  Especially when I allow my brain to compare myself to other moms - ones I know and ones I read about.  It's completely pointless.  There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child, but darn it, my brain keeps thinking I should try!  My rational mind knows that every mom does some things wrong, but my crazy mind only sees the amazingly wonderful things that other moms do that I don't do, and then it veers off into a giant tailspin of Mommy Guilt!  I can't stop this from happening, but I can recognize when I'm being absolutely ridiculous, and refer myself to lesson learned #3....

3.  Be proud of what you do well.  The list of things I do well is significantly shorter than the list of things I do wrong, but I will hang on to every last item on that short little list for dear life.  I will refer to them often, especially when the Mommy Guilt Tailspin gets out of control.  I read to her every day.  I sing to her every day.  I rock her to sleep every night.  I taught her how to say "Please" and "Thank You" and "I Love You."  I taught her how to dance and how to make cupcakes.  Also, I can put together a mean set of pigtails.  Add to that list all the things my husband does well, like build blanket tunnels, cook yummy dinners, and teach her another freaking language, and all of a sudden we start looking like one of those awesome families you see on TV.  Except we only have one kid and I'm only pregnant with one at the moment.  And we have all of our teeth.  So no one wants to watch our show.

4.  Sleep is overrated, showers are not.  During my maternity leave, I forced myself to do two things every day: take a nap and take a shower - even if they each only lasted for five minutes.  Once Sylvia started sleeping through the night, I didn't really need naps, or a decent night's sleep; but I can be one cranky Mama if I don't get my shower!  Maybe it's the alone time.  Maybe it's a form of stress relief.  But whatever happens in the shower is magical and powerful and I do my best to keep it sacred.  Sometimes I don't get to take one until long after she's gone to bed, and I still get up and take one the next morning, just because I love it so much.  It's my happy place.

5.  Time away is important.  Sometimes I worry about sounding like a terrible mother when I say that I love dropping my kid off at someone else's house and leaving her there.  Especially since I don't get to see her much during the week.  But you know what?  Leaving her with a sitter makes me feel like a grown up.  An addendum to this life lesson should be take all the help you can get.  Mom asked us if she could take Sylvia last Saturday night, even though she had to work all day.  When I dropped her off, Sylvia and Charlie were running around like a bunch of maniacs.  I felt a little guilty because I knew Mom would be pooped, but I ran outta there like my pants were on fire and enjoyed every second of non-kid time I had on the clock.  Sylvain and I went out to a lovely dinner for no good reason other than the fact that someone offered to take our child and we said OKAY!  And we'd do it again.  Spending grown up time together not only brings us closer to each other, but it brings my brain back to planet Earth.  For one evening, I did NOT have a nonstop loop of Ukulele Jim's "Wheels on the Bus" running through my head.  Bliss.

6.  Old people don't get it, but it's useless to try to change their minds.  Car seats, strollers, cribs, breastfeeding, toddler nutrition...all of these things were very, very different when I was a baby.  Heck, they were very different five years ago!  I've been on the receiving end of countless eye rolls and hefty sighs when these topics arise, from family members to coworkers to complete strangers.  I used to try to explain - "Well, research says it's safer for a child to stay in their car seat until they're two!" But I quickly learned that it doesn't matter.  Those old folks will swear by the "way we did things," and say, "It was good enough for my kids!" so you know what?  I give it to them.  It's easier for me to say, "Yeah, you're right, I'm just crazy like that, but what I say goes, so...." than for me to say, "'re NUTS."  I understand.  I'll be the same way when I'm done raising my kids, because if my kids survive, then clearly I will know more than anyone else who will ever try to do this.

7.  Ideals, assumptions, and expectations are always changing.  I used to think that pregnancy itself was disgusting and scary and something I would never, ever do.  Obviously I changed my mind.  I also changed my mind about finger paint and tutus.  I'm still hesitant and skeptical, but these things are now permitted in my house.  Basically, I've learned to never say never, because as soon as I say, "I'll NEVER let my kid watch Elmo!" she comes home chanting his name and I have to rethink things.  Whenever I bring this up with other moms, I always hear a story about how they swore they'd never...*fill in the blank*...but now...*insert crazy child story* they have to...*change their minds.* 

8.  You learn more from them than they do from you - and they learn everything from you.  The amount of information Sylvia's brain can compute in one day is staggering.  Her vocabulary alone impresses my pants off.  But what really gets to me is the way she knows how to love people.  The way she throws her arms around our necks and kisses our cheeks with such bubbly happiness.  She had to learn that somewhere, right?  Or did she know it all along and is she now showing me what love means?  Here's something else I learn from her - I learn exactly what I look like and sound like on any given day.  She is an absolute mirror of my mannerisms, emotions, and quirks.  I can tell when I'm having a cranky day, because guess who else gets really cranky?  It's almost scary how closely her behavior is to mine sometimes.  She has completely changed the way I see myself and the rest of the world.

9.  Listen to them, and to yourself.  The older Sylvia gets, the more she can communicate verbally and physically, but I've learned to listen to the little things.  Sometimes she throws herself onto my lap and "cries" just because she wants attention, and sometimes she throws herself on my lap and cries because she's truly scared or hurt.  I don't know if anyone else would be able to tell the difference, but I know there's something in her whimper when she's doing it for real.  Some sort of truth to the way she's holding her body.  Something really subtle and almost electric about her.  I've also learned to trust myself as her mother.  If I feel like something is wrong, it usually is.  If I feel like something is right even though it looks all wrong, it usually is.  Moms just figure these things out, I guess.  And no matter how much chatter and nonsense I hear from the outside world, I can always tell when my instincts are kicking in and my decisions are right.  I usually know what she needs before she needs it, and she knows what I need before I need it, too.

10.  Kids are borrowed.  I've spent a lot of time during the last two years worrying about the future.  Panicking about Sylvia growing up and dreading the day she will ultimately "leave."  More recently, I've been freaking out about the idea of releasing two little girls, sisters, into the world one day.  I think it's natural for parents to feel like kids belong to them.  They are mine.  They are part of my job now.  I have to take care of them.  I have to teach them.  I have to grow them like plants in a garden.  But when I really stop to think about it, I know in my heart that's not true.  They do not belong to me.  I am lucky enough to be their mother for a little while.  I've been blessed with the task of guiding them and leading them into the world, but someday, they'll belong to the world all by themselves.  Right now they are just my kids - pure and simple and true.  But someday they'll become someone else's friend, someone else's student, someone else's role model, maybe someone else's wife and mother.  So really, it's my job to release them already.  To love them for every second I have them, knowing full well that they are not mine.  That we all belong to a bigger picture and my path crossed their paths long enough for them to change me, and for me to give them as much of myself as I can. 

So there you have it, if you managed to read this far without falling asleep or throwing up.  Complete nonsense?  Perhaps.  But it was important enough to wake me up in the middle of the night, so I decided to get it all down, regardless.  I absolutely love being a mom.  I'm unsure of myself and insecure at times, but I do the best I can, just like any other mom in the world.  I don't know what adventures are in store for us down the road, but I know that with enough love and patience, and with a whole lot of faith, we'll enjoy those adventures together.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fill in the Blank

Last week, I came home from work to find Sylvain and Sylvia singing their ABC's together.  He would stop and let her say the missing letters and I was SHOCKED that she knew what the missing letters were!  I don't know why I was shocked; she's obviously the smartest person I know, no offense to everyone else I know.  So I tried some other songs over the weekend and darn it, that girl knew them ALL!  Twinkle Twinkle, You Are My Sunshine, our Night Night song, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Alouette...she finished every line!  Our favorite song to sing with her, though, is definitely Promenons-Nous Dans Le Bois, a sweet little French song about frolicking in the forest while the wolf is away!  Here's a video of her awesomeness:

And here are the lyrics to the French song, just in case you're dying to figure out what they're singing, along with my less than perfect, completely novice translation:
Promenons-nous dans les bois (Let's go prancing in the woods)
Pendant que le loup n'y est pas (While the wolf isn't here)
Si le loup y ├ętait (If the wolf was here)
Il nous mangerait, (He would eat us)
Mais comme il y est pas (But he's not here)
Il nous mangera pas. (So he won't eat us)
"Loup, y es-tu ? (Wolf, where are you?)
Entends-tu ? (Do you hear?)
Que fais-tu ? (What are you doing?)
"Je mets ma chemise !" (I'm putting on my shirt!)

At the end of each verse, the wolf is putting on another piece of clothing, getting ready to go into the woods and eat all the frolicking children (great song, huh?).  The version we listen to in the car has a nice, long wolf howl at the end of each verse, so that's why Sylvia and her Papa both go "Owwooo!!!" at the end.  Totally precious.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Drum Roll, Please!

Say hello to the newest
Baby Girl!

Isn't she beautiful?!  Supremely perfect in every way!  What a miracle.  I can't stop staring at her.

So there's the sweet foot that's been kicking Mama for days!  Hello toes.

My initial thoughts upon hearing "I see a girl," from the ultrasound tech:
Oh good, I like our girl names so much better than our boy names.
Oh no!  Sylvain might be disappointed - I think he really wanted a boy.
Oh good, sisters are sweet, and Sylvia will love having a baby sister.
Oh good God, what am I going to do with two girls??  I've already got my finger stuck in the "princess" dam, and any minute a flood of pink tutus and fairy dust is going to drown me in my own house!  Ahhh!

The only thoughts in my head after hearing "Everything looks really, really good.  All the parts are in working order!" from the doctor:
Thank God for a healthy baby.  Thank God for a beautiful family.  Thank God for my sweet baby girls!

I am so blessed.  We are so excited!  I feel like I can finally let out my breath after 20 weeks of pregnancy and enjoy the rest of this beautiful journey.

We let Sylvia celebrate with her very first lollipop from the receptionists at the doctor's office.  She was such a good girl considering we were there for two hours today!  What a great big sister she'll be!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Momentous Evening!

When Sylvain and I were first married, living in a tiny, two bedroom apartment, we used to eat dinner slowly and talk about the future.  We'd sit at our tiny, two-person table long after we finished eating because we always had more wine to drink and more talking to do.  Sometimes we'd talk for hours, then we'd suddenly look around at all the dishes on the table, and one of us would joke, "Where the heck are those kids??  They have to clear this table!"  Then usually the other one would add, "No, seriously, though.  We really need some kids to do the dishes."

Well guess what, people?  Tonight was the night!  After the spray can incident, I started realizing that Sylvia is much taller than I give her credit for, especially on her tip toes.  If she reaches up really high, and stands waaaay up on her tippy toes, the girl can totally reach the darn sink!  Last week I started giving her things to put in the sink - sippy cups, mostly.  But after dinner tonight, she wanted to clear the table!  I'm not joking.  We handed her a fork...then her little plastic plate...then a serving spoon.  Before we knew it, she had put ALL the dishes in the sink, all the condiments in the refrigerator or on the counter (the salt and pepper almost hit the floor, but she worked very carefully to get it up there!), and all the towels and hot plates back in the bottom drawer.  Before you call me a slave driver, let me tell you that she loved it!  She giggled her way around the kitchen like she owned the place.  And Sylvain and I sat there, in amazement, remembering that night 5 years ago when we wished for this to happen.  It was a glorious feeling!  I'm sure her enthusiasm for nightly chores will last all of one week, at best.

In other news...

Here's the new activity we'll be working on for 5-10 minutes every night until it finallly sinks in:

Sylvia's been biting again, and this time it's the same little boy at day care!  Ugh!  It's so hard to teach a tiny tot to stop biting.  It occured to me this week that at dinner we tell her to take "big bites" and "lots of bites" but when she comes home from day care with bad news we say "NO BITE!"  So Mama Nerd made some cards for her - what do we bite and what do we NOT bite?  She wanted to add a picture of Daddy and the baby, so the post its were like Round Two.  Now they're all on the refrigerator and we can practice, practice, practice!  She's not getting it at all, but maybe with lots of repetition and conversation, it'll finally sink in.  I'm sure when A.J. gets his hands on a toy she wants, she'll immediately think of cards on the fridge.  Sheesh.  A Mom can dream.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hide Your Children...I Might Eat Them

Y'all, I am SO HUNGRY!  I remember being hungry during the last pregnancy and I remember being REALLY hungry when I was nursing Sylvia, but I have never ever EVER been this hungry, ever before in my life.  Today I had FOUR plates of food at an Indian restaurant, and in the middle of my ravenous feeding frenzy, I looked up at Sylvain and said, "Do you think this food is amazing, or am I just really pregnant?"  He shrugged and kept eating, so I'm assuming it was really that good!  I finally felt full for the first time in a long time, and it took an hour and a half of solid eating, only stopping to drink tons of water and comment on how awesome the food was.  Then I came home and had a snack.

I eat ALL THE TIME.  And I'm not gaining weight...yet.  I've been worried about the weight gain issue for a while, but my doctors aren't, so I've tried to let it go.  I finally stepped on the scale again this morning and gained two whole pounds, yippee!  I don't know where all this food is going.  My belly is growing by the day, so if the weight is coming off in other areas (arms, legs, butt?) I will NOT complain.  But I don't know how much more the rest of my body can fork over to this child.

My Mom said my brother was born hungry and never stopped eating.  So far, the hunger has been the only significant difference between this pregnancy and the last one.  Boy, maybe??  Don't know, obviously.  But we'll find out on Thursday and I CAN'T WAIT!  I'm so ready to start working on a baby room, which might be why we decided to slap up a darling white chair rail in Sylvia's room this weekend.  I just had to do SOMETHING for a baby, so I started with the one I already have!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go eat a whole box of frozen waffles before I go to bed.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Twenty Two Months

Dear Sylvia,

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sight of you, or even just the thought of you.  Every day you're a little bit bigger, a little bit wiser, a little bit stronger; and you're turning into the world's sweetest toddler, moving farther and farther away from being "my baby."  This weekend your toddlerness really got to me, and I had to have a good cry about it after you went to bed.  I didn't cry because I was frustrated or worn out, I cried because I love you so much, and your grown up attitude made every second of today so easy.  We read books together, made meals together, snuggled on the couch together while the rain poured outside and I felt your little body against my chest - realized that you are so big and so small at the same time.  I'm constantly amazed at the things you know and do.  You understand so much of what I say and how we do things around here.  You can tell me what you want and what you need and what you think.  You're turning into my little buddy and I loved every single second of the time I spent with you today, as always.

This week we get to find out if you're going to have a little brother or a little sister!  I've spent many sleepless nights during the last few months worrying about how I might not be giving this new baby the time or attention he or she needs because I'm so busy taking care of you.  But today those feelings flip flopped and I started worrying about whether or not I was giving YOU the attention you need before the baby gets here...and whether or not you'll get the attention you need after the baby gets here.  So, before I begin the journey of parenting two children, I want to say a few things to you.  Just to you.  From me.  Mama to Sylvia:

You are smart.  You are the smartest person I know.  Sometimes you think you can't do things, but I know that you can and when you do something you didn't know you could do, I see a light dance in your eyes and I'm filled with such pride.

You make me so proud.  Just the act of getting you out of bed in the morning makes me proud of you.  Every smile, every giggle, every jump, puzzle, game, song, or forkful of waffles to your mouth makes me proud.  You amaze me.

We love you.  Daddy and I have never loved anyone so much.  Sometimes we stare at each other over your head while you sit in the shopping cart and we know that you made us so much better.  You made us a family.  You made us a Mommy and a Daddy.  You are the very best daughter a Mommy and Daddy could ever have.

So here comes the last few months of "the three of us."  I know that someday we'll look back on this time and wonder how we ever functioned as a family of three.  We'll say, "How did we ever live without little so-and-so?"  And we'll feel complete again, just like we feel right now.  I'm sure it'll be a transition, but I know we'll get there.  It happened very shortly after you came along almost two years ago.  Life before you seems so far away.  And if this second child turns out to be anything like you, even just a little bit, we'll be the luckiest family in the world!

Thank you for being you,