Wow. Just…wow. Today has been like something straight out of one of those funny/sad movies where one bad thing after another happens right before the mom loses it and goes nuts. Seriously.
Firstly, BOTH of my boys, yes both, are teething. Elliott is working on his very last molar (I’ll take your thoughts/prayers now, thanks) and Andrew is cutting his two front teeth. Both of them are incredibly snotty and congested, so their gag reflexes are super sensitive right now. Which means I’ve cleaned up vomit like, 10 times, at least, in the past 24 hours. And roughly 80,000 dirty diapers. That’s bad enough.
But nooooo. The fun doesn’t stop there! This morning all was going well and I was feeding Andrew. Cassidy and Elliott go into the laundry room to let the dogs out of their beds, then immediately come running out yelling, “PEE EWWW IT STINKS IN THERE!” Izzy had …what’s the best way I can say this?…shat herself and her bed in spectacular form. The smell quickly permeated the whole house and poor Joel nearly lost his breakfast it was so bad. I had to open all the windows, but it would still take hours to get that lovely smell out.
Meanwhile, it occurs to me that I have to get Cassidy ready for school. I’m getting her dressed as quickly as possible so we won’t be late, when I hear Elliott’s muffled yells through the house. I keep following the sound of his voice until I reach the bathroom. Yep, the door’s closed. It’s locked. He’s locked himself in there. Fantastic. The thought occurs to me to just leave him in there, but….I guess leaving your 2 year old in a locked bathroom would be “frowned upon”. Jeez. We get him out, I throw some breakfast at the kids, and we make it out the door.
Later, I’m at the grocery store with Elliott in the basket and Andrew strapped and clinging to me like a koala on a tree and the 3rd old man (it’s always the old men) has just said to me while chuckling, “you’ve sure got your hands full!”. I quickly weigh my options and decide dumping my kids in his basket and giving him the double salute wouldn’t be prudent. THEN WHO SHOULD I SEE but the very man, our town’s very own Dr. Nick,
who botched Joel’s vasectomy 2 years ago. It took all my restraint not to point to the bundle attached to my chest and yell, “GREAT JOB, DOC!”, but then he was gone and I cooled off. Then I thought about how much we adore Andrew and how much joy he brings to our lives so I let it slide. I still kinda wanna punch the guy in the face, though. Principle, and all that.
Anyway, we made it home and I managed to get lunch on the table and kids down for naps without a nervous breakdown. I even cleaned the kitchen! I call that a win. And tonight, after dinner has been cleared away and the kids are in bed, I’ll have a glass of my all-time favorite, J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvingon, soak up the quiet, and flip through my Pottery Barn catalogue in peace.
Yeah. So….there’s that. Let me start off by saying: babies are a wonderful gift from God.* Believe me, I know; I have 2 of them already. I was just hoping to STOP at 2. But apparently my uterus was like, “naw, we’re good, let’s go again!” Of course there have been lots of emotions over the past few weeks. Like, all of them. But I’m not here to rehash it all; I’m basically just here to announce the news to you.
And to poke fun at myself a little.
*If any of this subject is trigger-y for you, you might want to go ahead and skip this post. I would never, ever want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or hurt anyone’s feelings. I know how emotional babies/trying to conceive/pregnancies/etc are and I don’t want to diminish anyone’s feelings. Right now, for me, the best solution to a very unexpected, unplanned pregnancy is humor. So, that’s how I’m choosing to cope with this massive shock.
SO, here is a very helpful list I have put together for those of you ladies who still value your youth, good looks, and sense of humor. Read it closely and pay attention, lest you want to end up like me- the old lady who lived in the shoe.
What NOT to do if you don’t want to end up pregnant:
1. Join a gym. Don’t do it. Joining a gym will make you look good. Looking good will give you confidence. Confidence makes you do things like buy pretty black nightgowns.
2. Do NOT buy pretty black nightgowns. Just don’t. Just go ahead and stay away from any and all black undergarments. Unless it’s granny panties. Those are perfectly acceptable. And welcomed.
3. Don’t read fanfic. Reading fanfic will only put ideas in your head and give you thoughts like, “hmm. I could try that!”
4. Don’t install a shower speaker. Listening to Ed Sheeran and shaking your booty while you soap up can only lead to one place: Preggosville. If you must listen to music while you shower, I recommend Hanson. Or Church Lady Hits, Vol.1.
5. Avoid wine. All alcohol, really. When your husband gives you that knowing look and offers to refill your wineglass, JUST SAY NO. Let’s keep those inhibitions alive and kicking, ladies.
6. And lastly and most importantly, when your husband gets a vasectomy and the doctor’s assistant says, “nah, you don’t need to get your sperm count tested- just wait a month or so and you’ll be fine“, DO NOT LISTEN. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest urologist and get those puppies tested!!!
So, there it is. There’s the news. A few details- the baby is due January 20th (very close to Cassidy’s birthday!). Yes, I’m sick, just like every time before, unfortunately. Yes, we’re happy. After the initial shock faded and the dollar signs stopped dancing before our eyes (we’ll have to buy a new car and relocate Joel’s home office to the garage, and hello, THREE college tuitions…), all that’s left is happiness. I mean, yeah, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “AAHDKGKGDPPTTKJJJTTKAPPTTTTIIIII’MPREGNANTHOLYCRAP“, but you know, that’s normal, right? I guess? Anyway, thanks in advance for your thoughts, prayers, and good vibes. We’re gonna need ’em.
Look at that lil’ cutie pie! My big boy is 8 (well, almost 9 at this point) months old now!
I’m starting to understand what everyone was trying to tell me about boys being SO different from girls. My sweet, delicate Cassidy never really got into stuff or pushed the envelope once she started crawling. Elliott, on the other hand, is our little thrill-seeker. When we put him on the floor, he immediately makes a beeline for ZuZu’s and Izzy’s water bowls. If those aren’t available to him, he goes straight for the floor lamp and tries to climb it.
He pulls up on literally everything. Including my pants. While they’re on my legs. Which results in me getting pantsed. That’s always a fun surprise while I’m waiting for my coffee in the morning. Makes me feel like I’m 23 again…
If there’s an obstacle in his path, he doesn’t even pause, he goes over it. If I take my eyes off of him for a second, when I turn back around, sometimes all I’ll see are his feet going up in the air over a stool or a large toy. I never had to move breakable or valuable items from Cassidy’s reach when she was crawling. She just never messed with them. I can tell I’m going to have to move ALL that crap for the next ten years or so. I sense that Elliott’s going to have his eye on it. All of it.
As much of a sweet, snuggly Mommy’s boy as he is, he’s even MORE of a Daddy’s boy. This kid ADORES his Daddy! When Joel comes in from work, Elliott stops whatever he’s doing and heads straight for him. He loves the way Joel tosses him up in the air and plays “rough” with him. He loves the thrill, this one!
He’s doing awesome with solids. And he loves food, that’s for sure! Yogurt is his favorite, but he really eats pretty much every kind of baby food I give him. Pretty soon, we’ll start trying more textures, but for now, he’s only really interested in purees.
Sleep is still good. I don’t want to talk about it too much, so as not to jinx anything! 😉
Still no teeth. But judging by the vast amounts of wine we’ve gone through over the past couple of days, I’m thinking one or two are BOUND to pop through anytime (please, God, PLEASE).
Bottom line, I can’t get enough of this kid. He is SUCH a joy. Throw his precious sister in the mix and I get overwhelmed just thinking about how freaking blessed I am. I mean, I get these 2 great kids AND their dad just happens to be a hottie with a beard?! Doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
I opened my blogging dashboard today, just to look at some saved drafts, add some pictures, and just take care of some general bloggy housekeeping. There, on the middle of the page, sits a blank space, with the words, “what’s on your mind?”. Something about blank spaces bugs me. I have to type in them. Or doodle in them. Or write my name a bunch of times in different kinds of handwriting. Blank spaces appeal to me big time. My kid has a magna-doodle and she likes for me to draw “a big fish then a bowl around the fish and some water and some dots”, but I like to just sit and draw our names all over it. My name, her name, her brother’s name… I can’t stand blank spaces. So I fill them up. Either with my own thoughts, or a stupid doodle. I always feel better when it’s filled, though.
So as I looked at this blank space, I thought, “what IS on my mind?” You know what’s on my mind? Being 30. It wasn’t for a long time. I was big-fat-pregnant with my second kid when my 30th birthday hit, so I couldn’t drink, couldn’t eat tons of awesome food, couldn’t go too far from home (I was about to pop any day), couldn’t make it 30 minutes without peeing. So, my 30th just sorta flew under the radar. My family still came over and threw me a lovely party with an amazing cake, but with all the impending excitement of a new baby arriving any day, there wasn’t much time to sit and ponder turning 30 and what that meant for me. A couple of weeks later, I had Elliott and things got REALLY busy, so I just continued to sweep ’30’ under the rug. I didn’t even notice it for months.
So here we are, in a bit of a “lull” for awhile since Elliott is 7 months old and things have slowed down significantly. I mean, not too much, because…you know, red-headed 3 year old and mobile 7 month old. But I’ve had more time to think about it lately and frankly, 30 scares the ever-loving crap out of me. At first it was kind of like, “YEAH! I’m 30 and I’m awesome!!!”, but slowly over time it’s come around to “holy crap. I’m 30. Where did my life go? Am I middle aged now? Should I get a tattoo? Should I buy a ridiculous car? Or worse – a minivan? What do other middle aged moms do? WHAT IS MY LIFE?“
I mean, maybe not quite that dramatic, but still…my head is a little bit of a crazytown sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life just the way it is and wouldn’t change a thing (seriously), but here lately, 30 has been kicking my butt.
I mean, I have so many questions! Can I still wear skinny jeans? What do 30 year olds even wear? Do I have to stop listening to One Direction? What do 30 year olds listen to? Is there some sort of instruction manual for being 30? I NEED ANSWERS, 30.
I spent so much of my younger years wanting to be “grown up”. I wanted to be an adult. Well are you happy, self? You’re grown now. You’re freaking 30. Pretty glam, huh? Bring on the granny panties and anti-aging cream. 30 is like the gross, hairy guy at the gym- there are like, 12 treadmills to choose from, yet he chooses the one right next to you and his hairy elbow keeps bumping into yours and you’re like…ew. Yeah, that’s 30. Get away from me, 30. Just take your awkwardness and get away from me!
Part of it, I think, has been dealing with that **#$%^@&! leftover baby weight. 20 pounds. And it’s not even the poundage that’s bothering me, really. It’s the muffin top. And the bigger feet. And what the heck happened to my cute ankles?! I know Joel loves me exactly as I am. He tells me every day how beautiful I am (God love that man…). But I need to feel good about myself. I need to remember what it feels like to feel “cute” again. Is that even possible?
As I sit here and type this I look around in my bedroom and see the pictures on our walls of our family. Joel and me with the kids. Our kids are gorgeous, there are smiles on all of our faces, and we’re all happy. That’s what matters, believe me, I know that. And I am crazy happy with the twists and turns my life has taken. I always thought I’d be a successful opera singer by now. Well, I turned my back on that life, but look what I got instead- just, wow. I’m blown away by all the fun and giggles and love that fill this house. And let’s face it, I’m not giving up my beloved One Direction, my skinny jeans, or my blonde highlights. I’ll still do my grocery shopping with my headphones in. I’ll still belt out ‘Part Of Your World’ and fangirl the crap out of Leonardo DiCaprio. Turning 30 doesn’t have to mean giving up ME. I guess I needed to type all this out to come to that realization.
I know I’ll eventually work through this weirdness that is 30; I think I’m already well on my way to making peace with it. Maybe a little patience and acceptance is all I need. Patience and acceptance…and lots of wine. Cheers, 30.
Dear Blogger Mom:
I’d really love for you to tell me how you do this. Because, frankly, I don’t freaking know how you manage to keep posting perfect pictures of perfect meals day after day after day. I don’t. I am trying. I am. I try SO hard to cook original meals every night. I will happily admit, however, that I don’t do research to find out “what’s in”. I get that rainbow food is hot-hot-hot right now, but dangit, I don’t really have the time or the patience to lay all that crap out in perfect ROYGBIV order. You know why? Because 6 month olds don’t care if their food is ROYGBIV’d or not. They like it smashed up and in their mouths, thank you. And good luck getting my 3 year old to eat a purple potato. Just…good luck.
I love how the quality of your photos didn’t change one bit after you had kids. How’d you do that? Because my pictures….well, my pictures look like my 3 year old took them. It’s dark outside at dinnertime! Mama’s gotta use the flash! And yes, Joel bought me Lightroom for Christmas, but danged if I know how to use it! I’ve watched youtube videos but golly…this stuff is COMPLICATED! I have maybe 20-30 minutes of editing time each night and pretty bad ADD. Throw a glass or two of wine into the mix and we wind up with this scenario (try to imagine this in my voice, k?):
Edit, edit, edit…ok, this is going pretty good. ::sips wine::
Edit some more. Did I remember to cover Elliott up? What is this that Joel’s watching? Oh, some ridiculous Marvel show…WOAH THAT DUDE JUST GOT SHOT! This show is dumb.
Edit, edit, edit. ::sips wine:: You know what, I’m just gonna listen to some music while I work. Just to get the creative juices flowing. Man, I really love this new One Direction song. Everybody wanna steal my giiiiiiirl… Maybe I should preview the rest of their album. That won’t take long. Oooh, look, a youtube video about how two of them are secretly in love! I’ll just watch part of it. Wow, those guys are totally in love. Whoops, I just watched all 21 minutes of that video! Ok, Amy, FOCUS.
::sips wine:: Crap, I forgot to put the wet laundry in the dryer! Meh, I’ll just blog tomorrow…
See what I mean? I also love how you’re still able to put together those cool little lunches for your kids. You know, the little cups of hummus, the fresh-cut veggies, and the pizza with the cute faces on them? Super cute. My kid usually gets a pb&j or a grilled cheese. She hates hummus. Or like yesterday, how she only wanted two pieces of pita bread, some cherry tomatoes, and chocolate cake.
It’s really cool how you still find time to write thoughtful, interesting posts. My brain is so fried after 9 hours of wiping bottoms, cleaning dog vomit out of the carpet, brushing 8,000 tangles out of extremely curly hair, and getting everybody fed, cleaned up, pajama’d, teeth-brushed, bathed, read-to and sung-to, that I don’t have a single interesting thought left in my head. The only thing going through MY head at the end of the day is “MY BED! Haaaaaallelujah!” Even if I do have something interesting I’d like to sit down and type out right then (hey, it happens occasionally), as soon as I get the laptop turned on and type out ONE word, I hear the baby cry. Or Cass starts doing the pee-pee dance and it’s a mad dash to get to the potty in time. It’s amazing to me how you have carved out the time in your day to take time for this. Inspiring, really.
I also love those perfectly happy, content, smiling pictures you post on instagram, facebook, etc. of your happy babies. Or pictures of you and your kids doing some awesome craft together as a family. That’s cool. But you know what? I DON’T BUY IT. Not for one second. Nope. Those of you mom bloggers who just had babies, especially. I’m not buying for a single second that everything is as perfect and happy as it appears in your picture. I just went through the newborn phase and lemme tell ya- it sucked. Yes, of course there were so, so many of those happy, “I’m going to cry because I love you so much” moments. There were. But there were a lot more “I’m going to cry because I’m so dog tired and at this particular moment in time I pretty much want to strangle my husband and WHY WON’T THIS KID STOP SCREAMING AT ME?!” I get that nobody really wants to post those kinds of pictures on social media, but we all know they’re there. Even if you won’t admit it on your blog how tired you are. I know you are. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our babies and kids to absolute pieces…but I’m still not buying that things are as perfect as those perfect pictures you post on instagram.
And you know what? I’m pretty guilty of that too. I’ve been known to post a few “perfecthappyfamily” pictures here and there. Usually before all hell breaks loose and I end up with glitter literally covering my kitchen floor and my toddler’s hands.
I don’t mean for this letter to sound as snarky as it’s coming across. Really. I guess I just really get down on myself for my lack of motivation to actually sit down and make this stuff happen. I just don’t know how you do it, is all. Granted, my ad revenue fell to like, peanuts. My monthly checks went from a nice, hefty amount to…womp, womp. I know a lot of you make a LOT more money than me, so it’s more like an actual job for you to blog. You wouldn’t just skip out on your well-paying job, I get that. I guess I’m still just baffled at how you find the time for all this. Like, really- HOW DO YOU DO IT? Could you help a sister out and give me your secret? Nanny? Live-in maid? What? Maybe I’ll never know. Maybe I’ll never get on top again. Maybe my blog will just quietly drift off into obsoleteness. I’m pretty much there already. I don’t want to be, but nevertheless, I can’t seem to get into the groove again.
So, I guess just think of me…think of me tonight, while you’re posting beautiful pictures of beautiful meals. Because I’ll be right there with you, drinking wine, getting sucked into some dorky tv show, listening to boy bands, and trying, by gosh, to actually get something posted before I become completely irrelevant. Ugh. Send prayers. And wine.
Crazy, maxed out, washed up blogger lady
So…this happened last week. I’ll spare you all the “my baby’s growing too fast! Wah!” stuff and just talk about what a joy it is to have a happy, chubby, giggling baby like Elliott. This kid….he’s seriously just the BEST. He’s so happy all the time. He adores his bouncer and spends a good chunk of his day there- sometimes he even falls asleep bouncing and takes a little catnap right there. Adorable.
He has his last feeding and goes to bed around 7:15, then sleeps until 7:00 or so. During the day he eats, bounces, naps a couple of times, snuggles with mommy, and rolls around/scoots across the floor. He’s *THIS* close to crawling; I feel like it’ll be any day now. He can really scoot, though, and he’s great at getting to where he wants to be. He can change directions super quickly and get across a room in no time.
This kid has a major appetite, so we’ve been working on solids for a few weeks now. Mostly just oatmeal, but I’ve been slowly introducing a couple of vegetables here and there. I really hate baby food and would love to do baby-led weaning if possible. We’ll see where that goes.
Elliott LOVES his big sister. LOVES. He cackles at her. Everything she does is just hilariously entertaining to him and he watches her every move. And she loves him. Cassidy is such a sweet little helper and loves making her brother laugh. I could just sit and watch them together all day. Oh wait, I do. 😉
[photo taken by my friend Cassandra]
Happy New Year, friends! I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as we did! Santa Claus left Cassidy a shiny red tricycle and Elliott a Mozart Cube (I couldn’t resist it; especially since it plays songs from 3 different operas I’ve been in). This year was just such a blast since Cassidy really ‘gets’ it now. She loved singing Christmas songs, baking cookies, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas (seriously, we watched that no less than 10 times…), and talking about Baby Jesus (that one was a bit over her head, but that’s ok). And she was SO excited for Santa to come visit. It was adorable.
New Year’s Eve was pretty anti-climactic since we were all starting to get sick. And we’ve all been sick since then- it’s made its way through each member of our family, but I think it’s finally on its way out. Ugh. Mama needs a break, let’s just say that.
Ok, so, New Year’s resolutions! Who does them? Not me, really. I always try, but I’m so flaky that I usually fizzle out about 2 weeks in. Usually my resolutions are all about being more assertive, planning less, and usually just freaking out less in general (if my routine or expectations get thrown off by even a little bit, look out.).
This year, instead of making personal resolutions I’ll never keep, I thought I’d get a fresh start with my blog. My blogging resolutions!
1.) Gain back all the bajillions of readers I lost when I took a massive hiatus. While I was pregnant and after having Elliott, I just sort of lost the will to blog. And nobody wants to read a blog that never gets updated, so there you go. I really regret letting it go so long and losing so many of you. I’ll getcha back, though! 😉
2.) Better my photography and editing skills. Joel bought me Lightroom 5 for Christmas and I’m really looking forward to learning the ins and outs of it.
3.) Putting more time and thought into my photos. I’m so lazy here. When I photograph food, there’s usually 2 other hungry people sitting around the dinner table just waiting to eat, so I don’t put much time or effort into styling or plating. I throw it on a plate, snap a few pictures and call it good. Then I wonder why my pictures suck….
4.) A new look. Eventually. I really want a facelift. I love the look of my blog and it’s served me well over the years, but it’s time for a fresh face. Plus, it’s pretty much the opposite of user-friendly, so there’s that.
5.) MAKE TIME. Period. I’m ready to jump back in and that means devoting TIME to blogging. I think I can do it! Maybe. Definitely. Yes, definitely.
Bring it, 2015! Cheers!
Welp…by some magic, mysterious time warp, I suddenly seem to have a 5 month old. Don’t know where the time went, but here we are, fast approaching my baby’s first Christmas. Sheesh. When Elliott was only a couple of weeks old, I remember thinking, “if I can just make it to 6 weeks…”, and now here it is 5 months later and I don’t really know how we got here. I’m trying desperately to soak up each precious (some not-so-precious) moment with him now, because I know that, same as with Cassidy (is she seriously about to be 3?!), he won’t be a baby for very long and I’ll be longing to rock him to sleep, or burp him, or wear him in the Moby wrap again. I get teary just thinking about that.
But guys. This kid is SO sweet. Like, just a little, chubby ball of happiness. He has THE most kissable cheeks and the sweetest, sunniest smile. I love it when he hears my voice from across a room and immediately lights up and starts grinning. I’m nuts about this kid. Here are a few “stats”:
-At his 4 month appointment he weighed 16 pounds, so by now, I’m sure he’s closing in on 18 or 19. He’s a chunk.
-Finally (FINALLY!), he’s started sleeping through the night. For awhile there we were up at 2:30, then again at 5:30 every single night. Now I feed him and put him to bed in his crib around 7:30-8 and he sleeps until 6:45-7:30. Heavenly.
-He eats 9 ounces every 3-4 hours and we’ve recently introduced rice cereal because he made it abundantly clear he was ready for something more substantial. He would grab at our forks as they were going into our mouths and reach for the food on our plates. At around 6 months we’ll try some veggies. I’ve been thinking a lot about baby-led weaning, so we’ll see if I decide to go that route.
-He’s a roller. He started rolling from tummy to back at around 2 1/2 months, and back to tummy at around 3 months. As soon as I lay him on a blanket or in his pack-n-play, he immediately rolls onto his tummy. Cute.
-Lately, he’s been trying really hard to get up on his hands and knees and start learning how to crawl. He’ll kick his back legs like crazy trying to push himself up. It’s hilarious to watch. We figure he’ll probably figure it out in the next week or two.
-He loves his toes, his Sophie the giraffe, and his bouncer. Elliott LOVES bouncing and spends a good chunk of his day the bouncer. He also loves for me to wear him in the Moby wrap; lately, I’ve been wearing him a lot while I decorate the house for Christmas. He likes to be a part of it. 😉
-He laughs and talks a lot. Mostly just drooly gibberish, but we think it’s adorable. He laughs at Cassidy and the dogs the most.
I’m not going to lie and say that life with an almost 3 year old and a 5 month old is this magical, happy, harmonious existence. It’s not. Some days, I feel like it’s an achievement just that I managed to keep everyone fed and alive without losing my sanity. But other days are really, really good and I like to sit and watch my children play and laugh together; then I kiss my husband and think to myself, “you have it all.”. (But only on some days…) 😉
For some reason, lately I’ve been really wanting to sit down and write about parenting. Not parenting styles or techniques; the actual act of being parents. What it means to be a parent. I guess. Honestly, I have no idea what I want to say, so I’ll just keep typing and see what comes of it.
Before kids, I used to be one of those people who looked at moms and said, “that’s never gonna be me.” Those moms with messy hair, frumpy clothes, and screaming kids biting at her ankles. I promised myself that even if I ever did have kids, I’d never lost sight of who I was or give up my freedom. Joel and I were at a restaurant once and we saw a couple with young children. They looked tired; just beaten down and worn out. They didn’t smile very much or seem to enjoy their meal or each other’s company. Even if their kids were quiet and well-behaved, the couple seemed to be short-tempered and irritable with each other. The wife especially. She looked downright unhappy. They had both ordered strong drinks. We watched them and smugly agree we’d never be like that.
Fast-forward to 2 kids, 2 dogs, and a house in our small hometown, if my past self could’ve seen all this, she would’ve run the other direction. She would’ve told me I was crazy. To be perfectly honest, she probably would’ve called me a loser (my past and present selves seem to make fun of each other a lot…). But I wish I could go back in time and explain to my smug, childless self all about the way things really are.
Sure, newborns are hard. Amazingly hard. Like, so hard, I sometimes really wonder why so many people choose to have multiple children. Elliott had to get his 2 month vaccines today and he hasn’t really stopped crying all evening (*Edit: I wrote this a couple of weeks ago; Elliott is now almost 3 months). I’ve been a mess. Seeing my baby in pain absolutely kills me! Then there’s endless poopy diapers, feedings, and the whole not being able to put him down thing. He freaks if I try to put him in his swing or rock-n-play for even 5 minutes. It’d be awesome if I could get my teeth brushed before 1:00 in the afternoon some days. Or eat lunch. Not to mention the toll it takes on your marriage. Newborn babies can take a solid, happy, loving marriage and reduce it to a strangled, non-communicative, emotionless train wreck in a matter of minutes. Insults hurt much, much worse at 3 in the morning. All it takes is some poor schmuck suggesting to his struggling breastfeeding wife that she try supplementing with a little formula to incur the fiery wrath of a thousand flaming suns. And most likely some very “adult” words.
Don’t forget about the jealous, teething toddler with a temper that would put Gordon Ramsay to shame. Try brushing her teeth. Just try it.
I’m 2 months post-partum, and still, none of my clothes fit. I have a lovely, jiggly muffin top now, no matter what pants I wear. So I wear loose-fitting tops and maternity jeans. Yep. Mom apparel. I scrubbed a giant cast iron dutch oven while wearing a screaming Elliott in the Moby wrap, gently bouncing up and down, and getting Cassidy’s lunch made the other day. How’s THAT for multi-tasking? I went out to dinner with my mom and sister last night sans children and felt so guilty about it that I could barely sleep. I bit Joel’s head off recently for no good reason (actually, I bite Joel’s head off a LOT). Not to mention feeling like a complete and utter failure as a parent, a wife, and a decent human being on most days.
But even with all that going on- man, it’s good. It’s good to be a parent. This morning, I had a lovely, beautiful, moving moment with my children in the kitchen. Elliott was in his rock-n-play absolutely screaming his head off while Cassidy was “vacuuming” the floor around my feet with one of those noisy, awful roll-y popper things. I was struggling to get lunch ready and my kitchen was an absolute mess. It was pure chaos. Like a scene straight out of It’s A Wonderful Life when George Bailey wonders “why do we have to have so many kids?!” Except for whatever reason (lack of sleep? Empty stomach?) something made me stop, take it all in, and just smile. I stood there in my loud, filthy kitchen…smiling. Smiling at what my life has become. I was EXACTLY the kind of “mom” I thought I never wanted to be…and it delights me. What a JOY to be surrounded by 2 beautiful, messy, loud children! To see baby spit up on the shoulder of my husband’s shirt. To see Cassidy’s toys strewn all over the living room. To have a baby cooing softly in the background when Joel and I say our prayers at night. WHAT. A. JOY. IT. IS.
Yes, there are times that Joel and I are that unhappy looking couple at the restaurant. Some days are just really hard and we can’t help but let it show a little. Strong drinks will definitely be ordered, defeated glances might be exchanged, one or both of us may have to take the baby outside when he gets too loud. But even at the end of the worst possible day, we both go to bed thanking God for our little family. No one could ask for a better life than ours.
VBAC: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
Let me start by talking about c-sections. They can save lives; yours or your baby’s or even both. Sometimes, a c-section is the only safe option for giving birth. Thank God for smart, skilled doctors who are able to do what needs to be done to deliver your baby safely. I had one almost 3 years ago and it gave me the most precious, beautiful, smart, funny little girl who ever walked the earth. I don’t believe that anyone who chooses a c-section is weak, afraid, or incapable. I think each woman must decide what is right for her personally (sometimes we don’t even get the choice). This story just happens to be about me and MY choices and MY body. All mothers are incredible. However we deliver our babies is right for each of us. Period.
A bit of background on my c-section: I was your typical induction failure. My doctor absolutely refused to let me go past 41 weeks, so I was induced at exactly 1 week overdue. I wasn’t dilated at all. My body was nowhere near ready to give birth. I went in at 8:00am, they gave me the epidural, then broke my water. At 8:00pm, after pushing for 2 1/2 hours, my doctor suggested the c-section. Cassidy was born and everything was ok; however, I never really realized what kind of emotional scar her birth would leave on me.
When we got pregnant this time, we had long since moved to a different town, so I had to choose a new doctor. I ended up using a midwife this time around. The hospital in our town is super VBAC friendly, and I considered it briefly. Believing a repeat c-section would be safer than a VBAC (I was almost completely ignorant of and uneducated on the entire matter), I ended up choosing a repeat c-section. Our hospital does what they call a ‘gentle c-section’ or ‘family-centered c-section’, where the infant is immediately placed on the mother’s chest, cord clamping is delayed, and the infant never really leaves the mother’s breast until much, much later. It sounded pretty good to me! I honestly believed I wouldn’t be tough enough to endure a vaginal birth. I didn’t believe in myself and thought that my body had failed me once before and would probably do it again. I probably just wasn’t meant to give birth vaginally. I found myself making excuses for my repeat c-section to others to make myself feel better. “Well, the doctor told me last time that I never would’ve gone into labor on my own, so I probably wouldn’t this time either…”. But there was still a nagging voice in my head- “are you sure you want to do this?”
The months went by and I tried to prepare myself mentally for another surgery. I wanted to solidify my decision and feel at peace with it, so I decided to watch a couple of videos of vaginal births to scare me into it. THAT would make me feel better! Only it didn’t. I ended up watching a video of a mother giving birth, unmedicated, in a birthing tub. I somehow finagled Joel into watching it with me and we watched with our mouths agape as this woman endured all kinds of pain and embarrassment and made horrible grunting noises. We sort of chuckled and made a few immature jokes. Then after all her struggles and pain, the woman gave birth to her baby; and as she held it up to her chest, she and her husband cried and she said over and over, “I did it…I did it.” with so much joy and pride and emotion. As I watched, I realized there wear tears running down my cheeks and I knew deep down I wanted that too. That night, I asked God to show me what to do.
At my 37 week appointment, upon expressing my doubts to Shannon, my wonderful midwife, she told me I could do a trial of labor IF I were to go into labor on my own before the scheduled c-section. Yeah, ok, sure. Why not? That made me feel a little better. She asked if I wanted her to check me just to see if I was dilated at all. As she checked me her eyes got wide and she said, “do you want to know?!” Um- YES!
2 1/2 – 3 cm. already! Woah. We were so blown away we just laughed and decided right then and there we had some big decisions to make. She told me my body was favorable for labor and if I did a few things to prepare, VBAC. WAS. POSSIBLE. She told me to go home, pray about it, talk to Joel and decide if I wanted to try for a VBAC. When I got home I was practically dancing- I was elated. All it took was one look at me for Joel to know that we needed to go for the VBAC. I had asked God to show me the right path to take and He had smacked me in the face with it. I was incredibly scared, but I knew if I had faith and trusted in God, He would bless the birth of our baby boy. I just knew it in my heart. So I stopped worrying. And I got down to business.
I researched. I read books. I got on baby discussion forums and read about 3,000 birth stories. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (an amazing book- I learned so much and was so empowered after reading it) and bought essential oils to help strengthen contractions. I saw a chiropractor to make sure my body and the baby were ideally aligned for labor. I became totally committed- not only to VBAC, but doing it med-free. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I knew that with help and support from Joel and faith in God and in my body, this was going to happen.
We were all convinced the baby would come early. But my due date came and went with only a few braxton hicks contractions here and there. The 4th of July we decided to have the family over for a cookout. We ate burgers and watermelon, went swimming, and watched the fireworks (Cassidy was mesmerized!), hoping for a firecracker baby. Nope. No baby. The next day, Joel and I noticed my contractions were actually really close together, so we decided to start timing them. They were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds to a minute. That went on all afternoon. In the real world, to normal people, that means labor. But I was in total denial. Joel was starting to really flip out, especially since I was so stinking calm and nonchalant about the whole thing. I casually strolled into the baby’s room and browsed his closet to pick a cute coming home outfit, all while Joel is following me around on pins and needles. I called our friend/nurse Rachel and she came over to sit with me for a few hours. We visited while I bounced on my birthing ball and folded towels. I was getting really discouraged and doubtful that I’d ever go into labor; I knew I was about 5 cm and my body was ready, but still- nothing. Rachel and Shannon (my midwife) both told me to relax and rest for awhile and Rachel left and said she’d most likely see me later that night. Yeah, ok…whatever.
We watched a few episodes of Seinfeld and played in the floor with Cassidy. Then Rachel texted me and said I could try rocking back and forth on hands and knees to try and kickstart labor. So I got down on all fours and rocked. Cassidy thought I was playing ‘horsey’, so Joel had to get on the floor too and play horsey with us. So there we were, the 3 of us, all on hands and knees in the floor. When I went to stand up- “POP”. I looked up at Joel and said, “Water…broke……..OOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!” and waddled as fast as I could to the bathroom. Cassidy thought it was funny that mommy “tee-teed in her pants”. After that- intense, searing, blinding pain. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk. We called our parents and Rachel and as soon as our parents got to the house, Joel loaded me into the car and we flew to the hospital.
The rest was a blur. It all happened so fast. The car ride to the hospital was probably the worst part; each bump was excruciating. We got to the emergency room where Joel threw me into a wheelchair. The lovely ladies at the front desk were clearly in no hurry and began asking us all kinds of unimportant questions (“what’s the nature of your visit?”. “Um, I’m in LABOR!!!”). A middle aged couple sat staring at me as I panted and writhed in pain. An elderly woman hobbled on one leg in front of me. Another lady was rolling around on the floor moaning and puking into a large plastic cup. “Just get me the heck out of here!” I kept thinking. The pain was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before; I even bit Joel a couple of times, not even thinking. And suddenly, my body started pushing on its own. “I’MPUSHINGI’MPUSHINGI’MPUSHING!!!” Joel then went into Angry Joel Hyper Mode and started yelling at everyone, “get her into a room NOW!”. You better believe those ladies kicked it into high gear then! They got me to triage and a nice, calm looking doctor came in to check me. His eyes got huge and he looked totally surprised and said, “woah, she’s complete! The head’s right there!” I didn’t care about anything at this point; I just wanted this baby out!
Rachel got there in just enough time to insist that I wouldn’t give birth in the ER. They had just enough time to wheel me to an L&D room. Even with the intense pain I was in, I still had the presence of mind to remember all my research on optimal labor positions- I switched over to hands and knees and started pushing. Pushing provided some relief, but all the doubt and insecurities all came back to me as I remembered the last time I tried to push out a baby. I kept crying out, “I’ll never be able to push him out!” But Joel was right there by my side telling me he believed in me and how proud he was of me. He was truly amazing. I gathered all the strength I could and pushed. It was amazing how my body just knew exactly what to do; I just surrendered to it and did what felt right. I found myself making noises I’ve never made before- low and growling. Again, I was just doing what my body told me to do. It was amazing.
3 pushes. Three. And our sweet baby Elliott was born weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces; 21 inches long. 37 minutes from my water breaking to holding Elliott in my arms. I’ll never forget seeing my perfect little boy for the first time as the nurses slid him underneath me. I scooped him up in my arms, rolled onto my back, and held him on my chest. Joel was crying and saying, “you did it! You did it!” There was so much joy and happiness in those first moments after his birth. I’ve never felt more proud in my life. I was just like the woman in the video…I had done it. Words can’t express the kind of elation I was feeling that night. There’s not another feeling like that in the world. I felt like superwoman. After I got stitched up (2nd degree tear- ouch), Rachel rewarded Joel’s and my hard work with a big, gooey, chocolaty brownie she had made. After that, she took us to a room where there was a wonderful hot herbal bath waiting for us. There was soft “spa-like” music playing and the whole room smelled like lavender. She brought us cheese, crackers, and juice to snack on while we soaked. We felt like we were at a resort! Such treatment! We gave Elliott his first bath and relaxed and soaked for an hour or so. I was so wired and happy I couldn’t sleep that night. I just held Elliott on my chest and kept reliving his awesome, awesome birth.
The next day, Elliott got to meet his big sister for the first time (what an emotional moment that was!). Of course I cried like an idiot when Cassidy climbed up into my arms- those postpartum hormones are NO joke. I was so happy to see her and have her meet her little brother. She was perfect with him and still is. She loves to give him kisses and hugs and “help” mommy and daddy when we change his diaper or give him a bath. She’s an amazing big sister. My heart is so full these days…these kids are just so stinking awesome. Joel and I are very happy with our little family of 4.
The past month hasn’t been easy (duh), but we learned quite a bit our first time around, so this time hasn’t been nearly as hard for us. The good news is, I’m able to breastfeed this time, which is a HUGE blessing! It was insanely hard for the first 3 weeks, but I powered through and I’m so thankful I stuck with it. It’s not perfect yet, but I know it’ll only get better from here. Joel and I are working together as a team and we’ve got a pretty good routine down now. I’m so proud of him and the amazing father he is. I’m not saying it’s a cakewalk to have a newborn at home- there are hormones and mood swings and sleep deprivation to consider- but anytime I feel myself starting to get “blue”, I just think back and remember Elliott’s birth and smile. His birth was such a blessing to me- a truly healing experience. I am so thankful to God for leading us down this path.
Jesus said it best- “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” John 16:21
I’ll always cherish the birth of each of my children; they are both so very different, but both gave me the exact same thing- a healthy, beautiful baby. That’s all any mother can ask for. It doesn’t matter how a child comes into the world, it’s an experience each mother should remember forever and cherish in their hearts. I’ll never forget this very special VBAC and the amazing blessing it was in our lives.