Thursday, April 24, 2014

family of 4


Well, we did it. After almost 42 weeks, the little baby arrived and he is a boy and we named him Angus. We are now a family of four, which feels much more of a unit than three. It feels good in that way. It also feels strange. This will be an adjustment.

One thing people kept asking me leading up to the birth was, "Is Amelia excited to be a big sister?" I always felt it was an odd question to ask and a difficult one to answer. How does a 2-year-old feel excited about something she doesn't understand? Excited, no. Curious? Perhaps. But I knew it would be difficult for her. No, it would not be exciting in the beginning. It would be difficult. My heart was aching for her even before Angus came. I cried about it sometimes, even knowing that eventually they would become best friends.

Turns out, my anxiety was justified, in part. When Angus was a day old, Amelia came to visit us in the hospital. Her first reaction to seeing me holding the baby was to burst into tears and cry, "Uppie, Mummy!" (which means she wanted me to pick her up). My heart broke. Luckily, I had support. I handed baby off to Papa and swooped her up in my lap and gave her a toy giraffe "from Angus." This appeased her and the visit ended on a high note. But I was nervous about coming home and what the adjustment would look like.

On the one hand, to my surprise, she adjusted pretty quickly to having a new baby brother. She actually has become "excited" and fascinated with his poopy diapers, his crying, his nursing. Everything. 

Sadly, what she's not excited about anymore is her Mummy. She wants her Papa for everything--to bring her to the loo, to put her to bed, to put on her socks.

"I don't want Mummy in the room," she whimpered to Papa the other night before bedtime. My heart broke, again. But I left the room quietly, wanting to give her space, not quite sure how to deal with this new parenting challenge. 

I wasn't prepared for this. And it's breaking my heart over and over again. At daycare, her teachers say she has become very attached to her two female teachers and is upset whenever they cuddle with any of the other children.

They wonder if she is searching for a mother-figure. My heart breaks, yet again.

"But I'm here!" I want to tell her. I want to hug her and kiss her and tell her everything will be ok. And I do this, but somehow I feel she doesn't quite understand her own feelings yet. And then the baby cries and I must leave her to go and attach him to my breast for a half hour.

This is very complicated stuff for anyone to deal with, let alone a 2-year-old.

Now the difficult question people keeping asking me is, "How is Amelia doing with Angus?" The easy response is, "She's doing great, she loves him." But the stuff the trails after in my thoughts is harder to put into words. 

And I know it's a phase. I hope it is. That's what I keep telling myself. But in the meantime, I miss my little girl. And she misses me.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

holding my breath

I'm staying home from work today. To rest. It wasn't the original plan. But suddenly I reached my due date and passed it. And all of the energy I'd been rounding up day after day—to get myself out of bed, get the girl fed and dressed and off to school, get to work on time and work a full day before coming home to make dinner, pass out on the couch and wake up to do the same the next day—suddenly, I couldn't quite scrounge up that energy anymore. It has completely dissipated.

And here I am lying on the couch, listless and lazy. It's a foreign feeling that I haven't known in some time. I know I should make the most of it and just BE, but at moments, there it is: the guilt. Of not being fully productive. Of not working. Of sending my girl to daycare, when I SHOULD be spending some of our last precious days, hours, as a family of three TOGETHER.

Agh.

The breathlessness comes and goes. The crampiness. The contractions day after day. Still no baby. I'm feeling impatient to get on with this next phase of life.

Where did this impatience come from? The routine of non-stop-ness? Is this the American family way? Or am I just turning into my father?

Instead of holding my breath, why can't I just breathe deeply and enjoy it?

The blissful moments when we are able to slow down are so seldom, they are SPECIAL. Last night, for example, I was tired after dinner, so I went to lay down on the couch. Mealy came to join me with a stack of books while Col cleaned the kitchen. We read together for what felt like hours (though it was probably 5 minutes) and it was lovely.

All of a sudden, she started looking around with concern and said, "I peed on Mummy."

"What?" I asked in confusion and jumped up from the sofa to discover a giant wet spot beneath us.

"Run to the loo," I exclaimed! "Run before you pee anymore!"

She ran to the loo and I ran to get some cleaner and was scrubbing up the pee before you could say, "itsy bitsy spider."

And just like that we were back to normal.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I don't read parenting books

I work with some amazing people. Many of them are full-time working parents. On any given day, you can walk into the staff kitchen during lunch and witness some of the most interesting conversations about parenting: discipline, spousal relationships, work life balance, potty training, healthy cooking, sickness. You name it. There's usually banter, since not only are my colleagues smart and multifaceted, but they're also passionate and opinionated.

Today the lively conversation was about a parenting book called duct tape something or other. I missed the beginning of the conversation and I missed much of the middle and end, to be honest, because I found myself sucked in to obversing the conversation unfold. One was trying to give advice, based on what she'd read and had success with. Another had read 2 pages and was already skeptical, based on her own parenting experiences. Here I chimed in briefly, "you guys read parenting books?!"

People read parenting books?! One time last year in a moment of sleep-deprived desperation, I succumbed to a book on sleep. I didn't get very far, before I felt completely bewildered. None of the suggestions felt right. They felt too hard, too unnatural. And my baby rejected them too. As a new parent, it took all the courage within me to set aside self-doubt (and that dang book) and rely on my gut. And my baby. 

Sure there are nougats of truth in those books, but if you're a parent searching for answers or hard and fast rules, it's hard not to take the words of the "experts" for gospel and live by them without exception. And the problem there is that as a parent, with living breathing children, you will never fully live up to that gospel. You will ultimately make a mistake or veer from the path and feel like a failure.

I'd much prefer to observe my colleagues at the lunch table and pick and choose the parts that sound good. I'd much prefer to get advice from a friend who is in the same thick of it that I am. I'd much prefer to see how my sister handles a situation, and then choose my own variation. I'd much prefer to watch my own child's cues and let her help direct our path. To get and weigh and assess feedback from teachers. And see how my husband handles working through the trials. 

And make mistakes, but feel ok about it.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

is this dialogue?

Two nights ago, as I was getting ready for bed, my husband walked into the bathroom and began, "I think I'll wear my new Vans tomorrow." I searched his face to do a quick read of emotion and all I could see was a stoic, weary visage staring back at me. This was serious.

It was a few minutes before midnight on a Monday and our first meaningful conversation all day (and last chance at any conversation for 2 weeks) was a barebones declaration of his foot fashion choice for air travel. But I had no good alternatives to suggest, so...

"Really?!" I replied. "I'm so happy for you."

He looked back at me quizzically and then relaxed his face into a soft chuckle, finally I suppose realizing the comedy in the moment. But we didn't go on to talk about shoes, socks or otherwise. It was late and we were exhausted. We kissed goodnight and fell into bed.

He would wake up 4 hours later and get on a plane to China.

Fast forward a couple days and again I find myself searching for the right words. Time is short and so are characters counts on my iPhone. I type out a quick message from work hoping Hubby will get the message in the next 24 hours. Bonus if I get a response.

I type, "You make it to China ok? Mealy went to dr with me this morning and got to hear the baby's heart beat. She was wide eyed and fascinated. So cool. Baby is healthy. Strong heart beat."

Ten hours later, I do get a reply. Positive and affirming in under ten words.

I don't really need much more than that. Really. Let the words live in the subtext or in a good book. Or a good argument. (But let those be few and far between.) This is how we communicate these days when life things get in the way. 

We learn to adapt our expectations and interactions in a way that works with what we've got, right now, in the moment.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

fresh start



It's early January, it's a Saturday and it's rainy. I just got home from a shopping trip downtown and returned with two boring things: a pedometer and a new yoga top. This is not about New Year's resolutions. At all. I don't believe in those. But something about this soft, quiet, wet day inspired me to think forward. Holy crap, I'm going to have a baby in two and half months. 

It knocks my breath out to climb a few stairs. How the heck am I going to make it through child birth??

So the top is to encourage the inner yogi in me and the pedometer is to remind me to get off my butt and walk.

And the return to writing? I guess maybe that is some kind of resolution. But I hope it lasts. My friend share an article recently about the therapeutic nature of writing. Something I've always known to be true, but have lost sight of. It was a good reminder. So there you go. 

Hello again!


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