Monday, December 14, 2009
Take crawling, for example. The art of locomotion via rolling is an inexact one at best, so the kids, if they wanted something, needed me to get it for them. Crawling, I thought, will make that so much easier! They will be able to seek out their own toys, amuse themselves, frolic around the house and tire their cute little selves out! Sure, I may have a couple of extra toys to pick up here and there, but it will make things SOOOO much easier! I shall sit and drink martinis whilst the little ones crawl about the family room.
First of all, forget about the family room. Why would you want to be on that mushy carpet when the rest of the house is covered in wonderful, unforgiving tile? And why would you stay in there where there is NO cat bowl to lick, when there is a cat bowl in the kitchen, a mere 6 feet away? I can not count how many times I have pried the cat food bowl out of Sophia’s clutch, her screaming the whole while. And Soph is still only scooting, Olivia is the one who really means business. We put up the pool gate, in the event that she should figure out how to open the sliding glass door and get out on the patio. Sounds crazy, but if you know this kid you know that may not be that much of a stretch.
And feeding themselves. That SURELY will make things easier. Whatever will I do with all the downtime I will gain not having to shovel little spoonfuls of puree into their adorable pie holes? I will TELL you what I will do with all that extra time! PICK UP CHEERIOS OFF OF EVERY SURFACE IN THIS HOUSE. HOW do I get Cheerios in my hair every day? Or stuck to my butt? Wasn’t the dog supposed to help me clean underneath the high chairs when the girls started feeding themselves? When did he become so damn finicky? Last night the girlies had whole wheat pasta, which, I have learned, is a perfectly acceptable finger food. They did an amazing job of feeding themselves. It still took me 20 minutes to get all of the sauce off them, and all of the pasta off of the floor and out of the high chairs.
Soon they will be talking. Sophie already says “Co-da” when she sees the dog. (Wait a minute. Shouldn’t MAMA be her first word? After all, he doesn’t even clean up under the damn highchairs. I feed them AND clean up. Also I brought them into the world and all that. And he gets top billing? Unfair.) When they are talking, you see, things will be easier. Because they will be able to tell me what they want. Oh CRAP. THEY WILL BE ABLE TO TELL ME WHAT THEY WANT. Probably pink clothes. Noooooo….
I am not complaining. They are meeting and exceeding all of their milestones. I know that there are those who are not so fortunate. All too soon these will just be memories. If I am lucky. Truthfully I have a terrible memory, which is why I take so many pictures. And it’s why I force myself, every day, to take a deep breath and just enjoy things the way they are. Even if it’s just for a moment, even if the moment I’m enjoying is imperfect. They are already 8 months old. There are so many milestones to look forward to. But there are already so many that we have passed. I just know that when they are walking things will get easier. And I will have so much down time I will have to take on a hobby to keep from getting bored. Right?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Lately I have been leaving the Sisters Lovely alone with Dearest here and there: while I go to a doctor’s appointment, or a meeting, or to run a quick errand. I will be the first to admit it: I can be a total control freak. I like routine, a rhythm and predictability to my day, and I have projected that on to my girls, convincing myself that THEY like a routine. Maybe they do. Does Dearest do everything exactly the way I do it? Surely not. Do I have to fight the urge to leave him a child care itinerary every time I go to take a shower for 20 minutes? Yes. Have I considered putting together a folder, like we keep in the classroom for substitute teachers, with a schedule, likes and dislikes, and alternate activities? Yup. But I won’t. First of all, Dearest doesn’t need it. He knows the girls so well, and is not only capable but excellent at seeing that their needs are met. Secondly, so what if he does something a little different from the way I do it? Is that really going to scar the kids? Just the opposite, I have to admit. It’s probably very good for them.
Did everything go perfectly during the time I lived with my dad? Certainly not. I spent time alone for really the first time in my life, was picked on and considered “weird” by the kids at my new elementary school (hmm… I was new, had no mom living in the house to be sure I brushed by hair and dressed nicely (I’m sure I didn’t), was picked up and dropped off by my dad’s secretary, occasionally came to school on crutches just because I felt like it, and lived in a retirement home. So… maybe they had a point.) But what an experience. If I had stayed behind, I would have missed out on so much bonding time with my dad during those months of bachelorhood: wading barefoot in the creek that ran though the grounds of the facility, staying up late enough to watch SNL for the first time, getting pet birds and letting them fly around our apartment without worrying too much about the mess, eating English Muffin pizzas pretty much every weekend. Was it how my mom would have done it? Almost certainly not. Did I turn out just fine? Well… I guess you could argue that one either way, but I doubt my oddities have too much to do with my time with dad.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Dear Sophia (AKA The Soph, Peanut, Lil’ Bit),
We still can’t decide what color your eyes are. Today they are leaning towards hazel, yesterday, outside, they had a greenish tinge to them. Six months you have been on this earth, little one, half a year already and as much as I feel like I know everything there is to know about you, it’s clear that you still have more to reveal to me. You have been, for the whole of your life thus far, all about your hands. They are for you a source of amazement, comfort, and amusement. You had your thumb in your mouth before we even left the hospital. Even now, sometimes you will get so quiet, and I will peek to see what you are doing, only to find you studying your hands- opening them, closing them, pressing fingertips together and eternally studying any texture within reach. What will those little dimpled hands grow up to do?
Not long ago you started to recognize your own reflection in the mirror. You greet your image with a great gummy grin, and I wonder, as I look at the two of us looking back at ourselves, if you know me too. I think you must, because there are moments, when strangers approach, that you look at them, your lower lip juts out and starts to quiver, and then you look back to me for reassurance and comfort. Of course, my dear, I don’t want you to be fearful, but I have to admit I secretly love that you are aware of our “us-ness” and their “them-ness.”
I love watching you react to music. Ever since you were first born you have been comforted by singing (yes, even MY singing) and not too long ago you started to sing along when I croon “Rubber Duckie” to you in the bathtub or “Eleanor Rigby” when we are cruising around in the van. Maybe you only know one note so far, but your singing is music to my ears. You are a contented little creature, sometimes a little on the sensitive side, but a million miles away from the newborn who screamed endlessly for reasons that were mysterious to your loving folks. I admit, there were moments when I wondered if you would EVER be happy, and after I stopped drinking milk and your screaming ceased, I can not describe to you the relief. You were OK. Now that toothless smile makes my heart sing.
Every night, after I place your sister in her crib, I pause at yours to breathe you in. Your Dad puts you to bed, rocks you and gives you a warm bottle and marvels at your sweetness. This is a routine established when I wasn’t sure that you were gaining weight fast enough, this bottle of pumped milk, and your Dad loved tucking you in so much that it stuck. You lie there serenely, head turned to the left, thumb in your mouth. I silently study your long eyelashes, that little Kem chin, and I watch your chest rise and fall. Even at the end of an exhausting day I pause to remind myself: they won’t be little forever. Soon I will be gazing at a sleeping toddler, then preschooler, and before you know it a young lady. It’s hard to imagine now, that your peach-fuzz will turn into actual hair, your little babbles will turn into actual words, and your eyes will finally settle on a color.
Happy 6 months, Sweet Pea. Looking forward to watching you grow.
Dear Olivia (AKA Livi, Tootsie, Meatball, Chunka-Munka),
The ultrasounds were deceiving. You were supposed to be the quiet one, the mellow baby. You kept up the ruse the first couple of weeks of your life. While Sophia screamed, you quietly observed, taking it all in. Only now do I realize that you were conserving your energy, saving it and plotting for the day that you were mobile. One day, around 3 months old, you realized that you could stand up on our laps. At this moment in your short life, you decided that you were no longer a baby. Gone were the days of cuddling you sweetly. You wanted to stand up! And jump jump jump! In the blink of an eye you were focused solely on locomotion, rolling around the house, crawling backwards, wreaking havoc as you went.
You now come with a warning, when someone scoops you up because you are grinning that irresistible gummy grin of yours, or when they place their baby down near you. I am obliged to give them the heads up “Be careful. She pinches.” And you DO, little one. You pinch with gleeful abandon: the happier you are the harder you pinch- me, your sis, Grandma Jo, none of us can escape your enthusiastic talons. The only thing I think you like to do more than pinch is eat. As soon as someone in the vicinity picks up a spoon, you start with your demands of “Ummmmmmm. UMMMMMMM!” Although you have soundly rejected green beans and were pretty luke warm on avocado, you devour your oatmeal, peaches, sweet potatoes, squash, and pears with voracity. It’s no wonder that you are positively off the charts growth-wise, and something about your chubbiness makes me so proud.
At 6 months, I am still nursing you to sleep at night. I can’t tell you how much I treasure these moments of stillness, how, when you are not a blur streaking past me I take the time to really marvel at you. I stroke your hair, feel your breath, listen to those contented baby murmurs, and swell with love for you. After a chaotic day of trying to save you from yourself, I relish the time spent in rocking chair in your dim nursery. These moments, too, seem finite. More and more often I put you in the crib awake and you fall asleep all by yourself. But the rush, the absolute joy of hearing you coo and squeal through the monitor and going in to get you out of the crib after a nap, to be greeted by the most enthusiastic of grins when you catch sight of your adoring mama, is beyond compare.
Happy 6 months, my busy girl. I love your intensity. Don’t ever lose it.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
On the way home, I noticed a little dirt road intersecting with the main highway that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the road, I affectionately referred to it as simply “The Dirt” when I was still working at WDW, but I know every hairpin curve, every rut and every abandoned orange grove along its route. I drove that road home from work many times, not because it was faster or more efficient, it was quite the opposite really, but because it was a refreshing change from driving past the tourist trap strip malls and junky hotels with their “All Rooms Just $39/Night” signs that dotted my normal commute. Sometimes I would drive The Dirt by myself, cruising slowly, scanning the horizon for a coyote, searching the shoulder for a tortoise or armadillo. Sometimes I was flanked by my friend and fellow adventurer D, recklessly careening over ruts and around hairpin turns, my confidence bolstered by her 4x4, rope, and towing know-how just ahead of me. I took The Dirt in the orange glow of the sunrise, in the blackness of night without a streetlight in sight, even in the blinding rain, radio blaring, laughing out loud to myself, not much of a care in the world.
How things have changed, I think to myself, glancing in my minivan’s rearview at my two snoozing little ones. I wouldn’t dream of turning on to The Dirt now. Not a chance.
This change in me didn’t happen over night. I left Disney a couple of years ago, the first step towards my transformed life. Teaching Kindergarten was a totally different kind of responsibility from what I had shouldered as a tech. On the stage, if I made a mistake I put the lives of performers and fellow technicians at an immediate risk, and I was constantly and acutely aware of that fact. Teaching, if I made a mistake, the consequences might not be so immediate, but could be damaging in an entirely different way- a word spoken harshly, a skill not taught to mastery, missing a sign in a child that things were not well at home- these things put kids at risk too, and I took it every bit as seriously as I did my technician gig. Teaching changed my life outside of work too: suddenly I was a member of the community. People recognized me out and about. My days of wearing midriff shirts to the grocery store and cursing loudly at the Post Office were over. Now I glanced around surreptitiously before ordering a beer in a restaurant, concerned about undoing our “Too Good For Drugs” lesson about the evils of alcohol. My days of being a Responsible Citizen, of being a role model, had arrived.
Then, of course, there are the girls. I want them to be fearless adventurers, to not be afraid to face The Dirt in their lives, all the challenges and the beauty revealed in those experiences. It’s a fine line to expose them to this way of thinking, to encourage them to take chances, without ever putting them at risk. I want to lead by example, to show them life off the beaten path, the road less traveled as it were. But at the same time, I guess it’s ok that they know that my more carefree lifestyle, (A long time ago, yeah / Before you were born, dude…) was not better or worse than my more “traditional” suburban, mini van driving, stay-at-home mom life. It was just different. My life is still rich and rewarding. More so, even. Just in a totally different way. For now I will protect them. Because I can. But soon, they will be taking their first steps, toddling off down their own path, literally stumbling and falling from time to time. Soon those stumbles will be figurative. I will do my best to encourage them to take a different route, to explore a dusty trail, because you never know what you are missing by staying on the highway. I guess I just want them to know that no matter what, I won’t be far behind with 4 wheel drive and a rope. Just in case.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
A Post About the Iowa Trip Which is Largely Pointless Since Most People Who Read This Blog Were There
They said we were nuts. We couldn’t really argue with them. Taking 2 four-month-olds on an airplane is not the kind of thing people in their right minds do. We, however, never claimed to be sane, or even really all that smart. So we loaded up what we used to carry on (a granola bar, bottle of water, Kindle, iPhone, lip balm) plus what we needed to carry on for the girls (double stroller, 8 diapers, wipes, lotion, 2 bottles, 4 binkies, 4 toys, 2 board books, 2 extra outfits, 2 blankies, hand sanitizer, saline drops, aspirator, children’s Benadryl, children’s Tylenol, and a partridge in a pear tree) and experienced the glory known as “Priority Boarding.” After a lifetime of glaring at “That Person” with the screaming baby, I was bracing my self to be “That Person” times two. But guess what? The kids did great! Soph fussed a little here and there, I think she was sensitive to the pressure change (Sophia? Sensitive? No!) but it was nothing that was not easily pacified. Livi, who is so much like her dad, slept the majority of both flights. We had 3 seats for the 4 of us (the extra elbow room was a necessity!), our flights all ran on time, and overall the airline gods smiled down upon us.
Mom and the "Sisters Lovely"
Daddy and Soph (can ya tell they're related?!)
We had so much fun being with my family. Mom, of course, was in super-Grandma mode, and had the place pimped out with all the necessities and then some. (Did I mention my folks gave us their HOUSE? And they stayed at a HOTEL? That is love for you.) The girls loved the attention, and I loved watching them smile at the people who have made me smile so many times throughout the years. A big motivator for me to get the kids up there ASAP, even if it meant flying with infants, is the fact that I still have two grandparents living. Not to be morbid, but my Grammy and Grandpa are in their 80’s and I was afraid that if I waited too long I might miss the chance for the girls to meet them. Hopefully this will have been the first of many visits to see my grandparents, and hopefully the girls can get to know them, but if not I will be satisfied knowing that I did everything I could to get all of these important people in my life together. I loved spending the evening with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and my cousins’ babies who are close in age to the girls. It was hysterical to see the differences in personalities of the 4 babies, and I really hope we can continue to get them together as they grow up. It was also great to spend some time with my sister and her husband, and to feel like sis was really getting a chance to know her nieces, as well as to hang out with her youngest two kiddos a little bit who were both really babies last time we were up there but who are now an adorable preschooler and toddler with hysterical personalities of their own. So precious. And of course her oldest, my special guy Jet, brings a smile to my face every time!
4 Generations of Tough Broads (Normally we don't all lay down on our sides like that. In real life we pretty much are upright. Damn Blogger.)
My girls with Miles and Annika, my cousins' kids
SPEAKING of important people in my life, Genny, my best friend from high school, drove up from Missouri to spend the weekend with us, and I could not have been more thrilled. It was incredible to see her, to share our passion for SCRAPBOOKING and to catch up on each other’s lives. I have never connected with anyone’s sense of humor as much as Genny’s, and I can genuinely say I missed it. I can’t describe how it feels to have her back in my life… the closest word I can come up with is relief; it’s like a piece of my puzzle was missing but now it’s back in place. It was great to see her interact with the girls (I love people who are not afraid of babies) and she charmed the dickens out of Miss Sophia, which is not always an easy task. Mom even watched the kiddos for a while so Genny and I could go scrapbook shopping, and it was great to chat without someone constantly pooping their pants or distracting us in a myriad of other ways. Genny brought up binders containing all of the notes I wrote her in high school (yes, binderS, yes, ALL of the notes, yes, I now understand why I didn’t do so great in Chemistry, since a lot of the notes were written in that class and included fascinating illustrations of my poor chem teacher). I was also lucky enough to get to pour over some scrapbooks she put together and they were truly creative, quirky, and so so fun. Wish we were closer so we could create together! I look forward to many continued years of friendship and I am going to try extra hard not to be a shit-head and fall out of touch again.
Genny and Sophie
Why, yes, we ARE fabulous!
It has never been harder to say goodbye to my folks. The girls are growing up so fast, and I wish we could all be together every minute. Of course I always miss my family, living so far away, but this is with an intensity that I never felt before, even when I was at my loneliest. I’m glad mom is already plotting her next trip down to see us, and I can hardly wait until my parents are both here after Christmas. It seems like a thousand years away, but I’m sure time will fly. I hope.
Bonus: Naughty Tomato grown by my dad
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
I tiptoed into the bedroom and perched on Dearest’s side of the bed. He was half awake and rolled to face me and said, “What’s up?” “Look at this,” I said, handing him the pregnancy test, “And tell me if you see a second line.” “I totally see a second line,” he said, “It’s light, but it is there. Does this mean what I think it means?” “Don’t get crazy, it’s very early. Too early for me to even be peeing on a stick. But I couldn’t help it. A second line means it worked.” We grinned, daring for a second to imagine that everything we had been through had been worth it.
What a year it has been.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
This year, when I taught my Kindergarteners the unit on “Needs verses Wants,” I added a need that we had not discussed the prior year. Most kids could put together that, in order to survive, we need food, water, and shelter. The series, very sweetly, includes love as a need for survival. A little abstract, but I think the kids understood it. But there was one need that was glaringly missing from the material. Sleep. Sleep is not a “thing,” so I can understand how it was overlooked, but neither is love and they managed to work that in. I explained to the kids why sleep is important for your body, and what can happen if you don’t get enough of it- you can get cranky, make mistakes, even be more likely to get sick. I was an expert sleep advocate.
I have a confession to make. Things in the Fontana household are not going well on the sleeping front. AT ALL. If you asked me about it in real life, though, I would probably lie right to your face. Why? Because, first and foremost, I am very annoyed by people who constantly bitch about being tired. Just a pet peeve of mine. And a lot of mom blogs turn into a series of posts about exhaustion, which means I stop reading them. SO there’s reason number one- I just really don’t think people want to hear it. Reason number two, however, is a little more insidious. I lie about my children’s sleep habits out of pride. I feel like, somehow, I am failing as a parent, or like my kids are not “good” babies, if I tell you the truth. I like telling people how great my kids are, already I don’t particularly want to focus on their faults. I guess that is only natural. Also lately any discussion of sleep or lack thereof makes me burst into tears. Thirdly, not to be a know-it-all, because lord knows there is a lot I don’t know, but if you tell people your baby is not sleeping though the night, they tend to be full of unsolicited bad advice: “Put a little cereal in their bottle!” “Sounds like it’s time to just let ‘em cry it out.” “The only humane and natural choice is the family bed.” “How about some formula before you put them down?” No, no, no, and no. Sorry. Just no. Reason number four may be the biggest reason of all. Guilt. If you know me at all, you know how badly I wanted these babies, and how much I love them. You know about our fertility struggles and the pain of watching everyone around us get pregnant, and you know I still ache for those for whom infertility is at the forefront of their lives. I just don’t feel like I can complain about my kids. This is exactly what I wanted, right? Beautiful, perfect babies. Who am I to sit around and whine about a little lost sleep when I have so very much to celebrate? I should be grateful for every moment of their beautiful, perfect lives, even the moments that occur at 3 am.
So if you ask me, as so many people do, “Are you gettin’ any sleep?” I will cheerfully look you right in the eye and tell you, “Oh yeah, we are lucky. They are great sleepers!”
The truth is, our nights really look more like this: the darlings go down between 7 and 8, I crash at about 10. Dearest is on duty from 10-12, Olivia frequently wakes around midnight and he rocks her back to sleep. Usually. Unless she needs me. And lately she needs me a lot of the time. But he gives it his best shot. The rest of the night is mine, except when they both wake at once, then I have to get Dearest for backup. The other night, Liv was up at 1, needed to be fed and rocked. When I was done with her, I woke Soph to eat (she’s not gaining as fast as Liv, part of the reason was that she was sleeping through the night and dropping that night feeding), and rocked her back to sleep. I was back in bed at 2. Liv was up at 3:30, her caterwauling woke up Sophie. I got Olivia, rocked her while Dearest walked a furious Sophia up and down the hall. At some point we stumbled past each other and Dearest barked something about killing himself. I countered that if I didn’t get some sleep I was going to throw up. He said he was going to drive into a tree on the way to work. I secretly thought that maybe if I drove into a tree I could at least sleep for a bit while I recovered. We were both back in bed by 4:30. Liv was up at 5:30. I stared at the baby monitor and prayed that it was not true. I mentally begged her to go back to sleep. But I couldn’t wait for too long of she would wake up Sophie again. Fed and rocked her until 6. Soph was up for the day at 6:45. So for those of you keeping score at home that was about 6 hours of sleep, in very small chunks. We have nights that are better than this, and nights that are much much worse. But overall—I’m getting about 2 stretches of 3 hours and that’s it. I was on the verge of not being able to function at all when Dearest volunteered to take the 10-12 shift since he is usually up anyway.
There are moms out there who claim to treasure those middle-of-the-night snuggles with their precious bundles of joy. Who say, “I look forward to it, some quiet time with just the two of us!” To them I say: are you familiar with Stockholm Syndrome? Don’t get me wrong, I adore my girls, I enjoy the pleasure of their company (heck, I’ve only been more than 50 yards away from them TWICE in the 4 months they have been alive—true story!), but I could really go from 7 pm to 7 am without seeing them and be JUST FINE. OK, I reserve the right to peek in on them while they are sleeping just to be sure they are ok, but that’s it.
So guess what, world? I’m tired. My kids are not perfect sleepers. Well, one of my kids is. I keep telling myself that this is just a phase, even though it seems like it will never end it WILL, and Olivia is still a “good baby-” maybe she doesn’t want to sleep because she is so bright and alert and engaging that the world is too interesting to miss out on. Wanting to get a decent night’s sleep doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate my kids and recognize how very very fortunate I am to have them, or mean that I am a bad parent. I made the choice to exclusively breastfeed my kids, which means no matter how much help I have, there is, ultimately, no one who can take my place. Are there days I think I might drive into a tree? Oh yes. But am I going to keep lying to people who ask me how the nights are going? Absolutely. Because you don’t really want to hear the truth.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I had this image in my head of what this whole parenting thing was going to look like. I knew that not every minute of every day was going to be sweet and perfect, but I was pretty sure that there were going to be lots of moments that look like the commercials on TLC: the baby giggling in the bubble bath, singing to a sweet smelling bundle in the rocking chair, reading Guess How Much I Love You to a content, attentive baby. I keep trying to explain to the kids the way this is supposed to go, but they keep screwing it up.
Example: Olivia is always the first baby awake in the mornings, and I love having these moments of time when it is just she and I to snuggle and play. The other day I carried her down to the couch, put her up on my shoulder, and was whispering to her what an amazing baby she is and she nuzzled into my neck… and started licking it. I tried to kind of ignore it at first, but she was really going to town, slobbering all over the place and licking my neck up to my ear. Beautiful moment, turned downright awkward by a 3 month old.
Example: I always loved the lullaby Baby Mine from the movie Dumbo (it’s also in Beaches… sniff) and could not wait until the day that I could sing that song to my own baby. I even learned all of the words to the song when I was pregnant because I just KNEW that the first time I sang that song to my little lovely, it was going to be PERFECT and our love for each other was going to be sealed FOREVER. Needless to say I didn’t get into the second verse the first time I sang that song to Olivia before she was SCREAMING in my ear, having a total full-fledged spaz. I didn’t know what the hell to do (this was soon after they were born) and so I just sang louder and louder, determined to preserve my vision of how this moment would play out. It pretty much turned into a screaming contest. Now whenever I sing that song to them I remember that day and the whole thing is kind of ruined for me because I can not stop laughing.
Example: Nursing my sweet Sophia in the rocking chair, just like in the commercials, and her little hand reaches up to touch my chest… and claws the living shit out of me. I swear to god. It was like I was breastfeeding Wolverine or something all of a sudden. I hate trimming their nails, so this ruined perfect moment was kind of my fault, but still.
I could really give about 1000 examples, most of which involve the lovelies pooping their pants at inopportune moments, but I think you get the idea. Not that there have not been any picturesque moments, because there have been countless ones, they just do not always look the way I thought they would. I think I might start directing commercials featuring more realistic parenting moments to advertise products- a bubble bath commercial featuring the baby peeing in the bathtub, detergent commercial showing a little one spitting up when playing peek-a-boo, etc. Like the “Real American Heroes” series, but with real parenting scenarios. What do you think?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
The only problem is, I feel a certain obligation for my blogs to be somewhat interesting, or compelling, or at a bare minimum amusing, and I'm just not sure I have that right now. Blogs are meant to be read, right? Otherwise it is just kind of an online diary, and that's not what I want. My life is so chaotic and disjointed right now, and I am terrified that people in the real world are going to catch on to that by reading my blog. If there is one thing this control freak fears, it's other people sensing her loss of control. So that's part of what has kept me from writing too.
Thankfully, things are starting to come together. I am getting comfortable, in a strange way, living with these 2 little hand grenades, and I am no longer just waiting for one of them to explode at every moment.
So if anyone is still out there, bear with me. There may be a few posts that sound like I wrote them a month ago (I did!) and there may be a few that sound like they are written through a sleep deprived haze (they are!) but hopefully I will get back on track, because Facebook is not satisfying my need for a fix anymore.
Ow! Mom, she's hitting me!
Saturday Morning with the family
Friday, May 1, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
OK, people. I need to get back on the blogging horse or I will become one of those mom bloggers who posts once a week to put up a few pics, report on runny noses, complain about lack of sleep and declare my love for the kids. Not that there won’t be posts like that from me, not that those kinds of posts are not interesting to people who care about the girls, just that those posts don’t call for a lot of reflection and insight. And if I get in the habit of taking the easy route, I am afraid I will get stuck there.
First a real-time update.
The kids are doing great.
There is very little sleep occurring in the household at night.
I am off the percocet but the hardest thing about weaning off of it was my nipples. Oh, my tender tender nipples. There are not words.
And the love. Oh, the love. I love loving these babies. I love watching Dearest, my mom, my in-laws loving these babies. I am so proud.
So there is your “the kids are great, I am exhausted, God I love them” post that I just said I was not going to do. Um, maybe I just needed to get it out of my system.
Having my mom here was incredible, and I had a mini panic attack every time I think about the fact that she was leaving this week. I literally do not know how I am going to survive without her. She has taken on all aspects of running this household, from cooking to cleaning to laundry to walking the dog to caring for the girls to being my full time psychologist and cheerleader. Having her here has allowed me to really focus on the babies, and specifically on breastfeeding, which I am doing about 8 hours a day and therefore should qualify as a full time job. It is immensely satisfying to watch the girls starting to get chubby cheeks and to think that I did that, my body is feeding them and giving them all they need.
The girls are really starting to show their personalities. I know a lot can change, and I will be curious to see if our initial impressions prove to be accurate over time. Sophia (Baby A) is… intense. Can a baby be intense? Absolutely. Everything she does and needs is with a certain urgency. She goes from zero to screaming in a single breath, nurses like a frantic barracuda, and stares at you like she is really studying your soul. Olivia (Baby B) is a little more easy going- her cries tend to ramp up instead of going straight over the top. She seems a little more social, already she is trying to coo and turning her head when she hears familiar voices. Yesterday we put the girls on the floor next to each other and they made eye contact with each other for the first time that I am aware of. It was kind of a special moment, even though I can’t really articulate why.
We have been going to weekly pediatrician’s appointments, and the girls are growing right on schedule and passing every test with flying colors. They were 5-12 and 5-13 when they were born, both 5-5 when we brought them home from the hospital, 6-4 and 6-2 at their 2 week checkup and about 7lbs when we weighed them at the hospital Wednesday. Amazing how quickly they are growing.
One thing about the 2 week visit to the pediatrician. We had been watching their little umbilical cords dry up, but they had not yet fallen off. No big deal, as far as we were concerned, right? Well, we went last week and the OTHER pediatrician there (NOT the warm fuzzy Ghandi guy we selected) said “I need to remove these umbilical cords or they are going to have nodes there and will have to have surgery when they are older.” Oh my God, right? Absolutely! Remove them! How bad can it be? “It will sting a little,” she said, “when I cauterize them.” Uh… cauterize? Like burn off? “Well, it’s a chemical cauterization, it is quite simple.” At this point I look at my mom, but what can we do? No one wants them to have surgery. What even is a node? I thought I had read every book about every possible thing that could happen to my kids during the first month of life. Belly button nodes? Did I skip that chapter? Shit shit shit. As much as I am reluctant to unconditionally trust doctors, I didn’t know what else to do. So I let her do it. And within 30 seconds I wanted to jump out the window with my precious babies and never look back. The babies SCREAMED. They screamed until they had the silent screams and turned purple. I couldn’t even stand there next to them. I stood in the corner and bit the inside of my cheek trying not to cry. My mom talked to them and tried to soothe them while they protested. It seemed like hours, it was probably 5 minutes, and she was done. But the kids were not right all day. And I felt absolutely sick about it.
So there’s my first parental high holy drama.
The babies are fine. I cry every year when I have to get my cat vaccinated, so maybe I’m just hyper sensitive and protective. But I HATE feeling helpless. And I have a feeling that a lot of parenthood is going to be about feeling helpless. And I would be lying if I told you that doesn’t freak me out a bit.
Stay tuned for the preface to the birth story. I have to do it a little bit at a time or it will never get done. But I don’t want to wait too long or the memory will get hazy. Also- gory c section pictures or no gory c section pictures? You tell me, dear readers, if you are horrified by bloody babies.
My girls at 2 weeks:
Monday, April 6, 2009
But enough about me.
Here are the cliff notes of the events of Thursday, April 2nd, 2009.
It starts something like this:
Don't look at my butt! Oh, you couldn't help it, could you?
And then the climax resembles this:
Don't worry, it has a happy ending:
Sophia Katherine was born at 4:28 pm, weighing 5 lbs 12 oz
Olivia Roselyn was born at 4:29 pm, weighing 5 lbs 13 oz
They are doing great, we all came home yesterday, and we are excited that this long awaited chapter of our life has begun.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This anticipation reminds me so much of the day before the embryo transfer. It’s this huge, life-altering experience, but one that you have little to no control over. Once again, like the embryo transfer, I will be on the table under the lights taking the doctor’s word for how things are going and helplessly hoping for the best. I would be lying if I said I’m not a little concerned, but it is for the kids well-being, not mine. If I have a glitch in my recovery, at least I can understand it, but if something is wrong with one of the babies that requires intervention, there is no way to explain to them why they have been wrenched out of this warm, cozy, comfortable place into the cold bright world full of strange people poking at them. No way to tell them it’s for their own good. No way to let them know how much I love them.
So here’s hoping they emerge perfectly and can be promptly wrapped in a nice warm blanket and quietly cuddled, because the hippie in me still wants that experience for them, even though I know a natural unassisted water-birth in a dark room with a CD of whale sounds playing and patchouli scented incense burning is not exactly practical at this point. Also I don’t think I like patchouli.
Having mom here has been an enormous help, not to mention a lot of fun. I can’t imagine being any more ready for the girls’ arrival, and mom has really helped us put the last few pieces into place. It’s nice to have someone new to share the excitement with, and even though I am TOTALLY tired of being the sober one at the nightly wine fueled debates, it’s fun to have a different perspective and energy in the house. It was great last night to sit on the couch with mom on one side of me and Dearest on the other, all three of us talking to the babies and stroking the little parts that they pushed to the surface thanks to the Oreos I had eaten- here’s an elbow, what do you think that bump is? There went a foot, here are their little heads together, what do you suppose they are whispering about in there?
We decided unanimously at dinner tonight that tomorrow morning at 9:30 (I have to get to the hospital at 10) I will dramatically holler, “Honey, it’s time!” and then Dan will run down the stairs with no pants on, back over the garbage cans with the van, and drive halfway to the hospital without me. Just because we have not really had one ounce of spontaneity in this whole experience, and it seems like the thing to do. Although I guess the fact that we planned it also makes it non-spontaneous. Dammit.
So anyway, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, tomorrow’s the day. A million thanks to everyone who have been a help and a support to Dearest and I on this journey. We love you and we’ll see you on the flip side. I’ll leave you with what I wrote for the first page of my pregnancy scrapbook:
I have not seen you yet. I do not know if your eyes are hazel like mine, or deep velvet brown like your fathers. I have not sniffed your head, buried my face in your sweet baby softness, or heard you laugh. I do not know what your favorite color is, whether you are a night owl or a morning person, what you will choose as a major in college. But I do know you. I have sung to you. I have protected and taken care of you the best way I know how. I’ve studied your movements in me, and I have stared for hours at your bony visages on the ultrasound pictures, trying to imagine the kind of babies you will be and the adults you will become. We have given you life, in the most literal sense of the word, but know that your very existence has given us life too. I look forward to growing, exploring, and sharing with you all this amazing world has to offer. Thank you for the joy you have brought me. I only hope that I am able to return the favor.
Monday, March 23, 2009
So what am I to do?
i thought about changing the name of the blog to Linz and the Twinz (cute, right?) but it's so NOT me. The idea of Long Way Around the Barn stands for so much more than our fertility struggles, it really speaks to the non-linear way everything in my life seems to unfold. So I'm keeping the title. And I'm going to resist slipping into "mommy blogging" oblivion. I will try to stay honest. Yes, I am sure that the posts will be largely about the girls and parenting, just as the posts were about IVF and then about pregnancy, but hopefully they will evolve into something more dimensional than "I'm tired. Babies are great."
It's worth a shot, right?
So stay tuned. I might get quiet here this next week, my mom is coming to help us get ready for the darlings and to keep us sane for the first couple of weeks after their arrival, so I will have someone here to entertain me. If anything news worthy happens though, I will be sure that myself or Dearest posts about it. For now, I'm hanging in there, and I am SO ready to not be lonely and stranded anymore. Huge hugs to those who have been supportive and involved, either through the internets or in real life, these past couple of months. Your calls, e mails, and visits, have given me something to look forward to in what has frequently been an isolating situation. Times like these I guess you find out who your real friends are, and I have had some surprises in both directions- people who I didn't think I was that close to who have made an extreme effort to stay in touch and be involved, and people who I thought would be there for me who have been nowhere to be found.
I also want to say something about Dearest while we are both still in our right minds. This whole thing, from the infertility to the IVF to the pregnancy, has been emotionally draining, but he has been there beside me for every single second, showing compassion, patience, and loyalty that has been above and beyond even my expectations for him. As my world has gotten smaller these past couple of months, focussing on taking care of myself and preparing for the kids, his world has gotten exponentially larger: having to deal more than his fair share of housework, financial management, hormonal and physical changes from a once consistent partner, and the anticipation of being a father at a time when the world is far from stable and predictable. As much as I am a touch weirded out about the fact that these babies are soon to be "public domain" after being my responsibility alone for these nine months, that reservation does not apply to Dearest. I can't WAIT for him to see these little creatures that are a combination of our blood, sweat, and tears. I hope we can keep our collective sense of humor, because I have a feeling that things are going to get more absurd rather than less. As we often say: if it was normal, it would be happening to someone other than us. So thanks, babe. You have a lot to be proud of. And I probably don't say it enough.
That's it for now. Just a few more hours and mom will be here and just a few more days and the kids will probably be here too. Where did the last nine months go...?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Yet another doctor's appointment today, now I will be there every week. The appointment went pretty well, although when I told them about the wicked but occasional contractions I have been having followed by the babies being very quiet for 30 minutes or so, the doctor suggested a trip "upstairs" to labor and delivery for a non-stress test. Poor Dearest, he was originally not going to go to the appointment at all, but he got some stuff moved around at work so that he could go, figuring it would just take an hour. Wrong-o! It is next to impossible to get two babies on the monitor simultaneously, or at least impossible to get my two stealth ninja escape-artist babies on the monitor. The poor nurse would get one, and then the other one would some how quietly slip out of my uterus, tiptoe down the hall, and head towards the cafeteria. Then we would find that baby, and the other baby would climb under my ribcage, up my spine, and into my skull. Or something. It literally took a TEAM of nurses poking, prodding, and cajoling the darlings into submission to get their hearts both on the monitor at the same time. I mean, my belly is only so big people, and the babies are nearing six pounds a piece, how far could they really go? Anyway, eventually we pinned 'em down, and managed to get them both traced for the requisite 20 minutes. By now it's been 3 hours since our adventure began. The good news is that they "passed" the non-stress test. I go back for my next one Tuesday.
Sophia's Heart Tracing:
Olivia's Heart Tracing:
The triage nurse in charge of the monitoring was great, and on the way out she gave me this:
My OWN biohazard! I KNOW! It RULES! OK, it's not really a biohazard. It's just the straps that held on the monitors, and since I am going to have several more of these stress tests, I get to have my OWN set! In a BIOHAZARD bag! Not really the kind of cute thing I can work into a scrapbook layout, but I am looking forward to going back Tuesday and when they are like, "Hang on, let us get out some straps for the monitors," I can be all, "That's ok, I actually travel with my own straps. I have them here in my BIOHAZARD bag."
There is one thing about this hospital that I think bears mentioning. I understand that the cafeteria in our little local-yokal hospital can not possibly compete with the big big downtown hospital, which had like a Starbucks, Freshens, etc etc in it, BUT there is no excuse for the condition of the vending machines there. Come ON. I don't ask for much in my vending machines, just Cheetos, Twix, and possibly Swiss Cake Rolls in a real high-end vending environment. THESE vending machines, at the hospital where I shall be giving birth, feature 4 types of beef jerky and 3 varieties of SunChips, one of which was Black Peppercorn Ranch. What? Also many kinds of "Captain's Wafers" featuring a variety of gritty fillings that are of no use to me. This is not good. Where are my Cheetos? Where is Little Debbie? And it's between a soda machine and one of those coffee machines that drops the cup and pours the coffee in. No juice? At the hospital? Hmmpf. So much for the instructions to pack lots of change in my hospital suitcase for the vending machines. Forget it.
This visit to L & D brought the reality of what is about to happen a bit closer. There were BABIES, ACTUAL BABIES in the nursery, and they were so so tiny, laying there in their little tiny diapers waving their little arms under the warmers, and something about seeing those babies made me go "Wow. Soon the little new babies in the nursery that everybody is oohing and aahing over are going to be MY babies. Crazy." Also we had to fill out forms for the birth certificates today, and there is a line that says "Mother's Name." I truly had to stop myself from writing MY mothers name. I am the mother. Something about writing my name on that line seems so huge. I am the mother. I pointed out to Dearest this evening that not only are we the mother and the father, we are also the tooth fairy, the easter bunny, AND Santa Claus. Woah. That's a lot of responsibility.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Mmm hmm. Does it look to you like they are conspiring? Because it looks to ME like they are conspiring, noggins together, considering their next bold move as well as making long term plans to torture us. Heaven help me.
Sophia remains breech. She was, in fact, sitting in my pelvis, arms folded, shaking her head, as if to say "I ain't movin' and I AIN'T comin' out!" (Hmm, a grammar lesson is in immediate order if that's how she speaks.) They both have their heads about an inch under my ribcage on my right, and Liv goes down my left side, kind of breech-ish although I think she is still considered transverse.
The girls look fine, my blood pressure is creeping up but still in the ok zone, and my puffy ankles were poked at by many nurses, technicians, and the doctor. The doctor was very lovely and congratulatory, saying I had done a bang-up job gestating and this was a text book twin pregnancy. Very sweet and encouraging, but I can't help but think "Good job of doing what, exactly? Eating Oreos? I mean, really, how did I actively contribute to this exactly?" I did eat a lot of protein, and I did rest, but these were things my body DEMANDED. So good job to my body I guess.
Anyway, I know you want the stats on the ladies, so here you go:
Baby A: Sophia
Head Circumference: 30.2 cm
Abdominal Circumference: 30.7 cm
Femur Length: 7.5 cm
Estimated Weight: 5 lbs, 12 oz
Baby B: Olivia
Head Circumference: 29.9 cm
Abdominal Circumference: 31.0 cm
Femur Length: 6.8 cm
Estimated Weight: 5 lbs, 7 oz
So since I've gained 50 lbs, that means 11.5 lbs of babies and approximately 38.5 lbs of Oreos. Hooray!
In other news, we got a mini-van. We had been so proud of ourselves, the trucks were both paid off and we were facing parenthood with NO car payments. Yay us! Then we tried to install the car seats into the back of my Escape only to realize that putting a rear facing car seat behind the driver's seat only really worked if no one was actually driving. Because you have to put the seat up so far that Dearest could not possibly drive any length like that- he looked like a praying mantis all crammed in there with his knees up by his ears. And the front air bag does not turn off, so I can't sit in the back and have one baby in the front. So. What can you do? We shopped around and found a really good deal on a van. A van that is now leaking red stuff all over the driveway. But don't worry about that, we will get that taken care of this week.
As much as I am so ready to have these babies OUT (and believe me, I feel like my round ligaments could snap at any moment), there are still loose ends to tie up this week and next, so I'm hoping they stay put until at least the 24th. And if Sophia has any say, I have a feeling they aren't going anywhere soon.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
You call it nesting. I call it panic attack.
The delivery is, inevitably, drawing nigh. I can truthfully say that I am not afraid. I don’t know why, it is probably going to be the biggest day of my life, and of course I want the babies to be healthy and my surgery to go off without a hitch, but for some reason I am not afraid. Granted, I am not afraid of medical stuff at all really, and I am also good in a crisis, although I tend to scream into my pillow after the dust settles. I am a bit leery of the recovery on top of the whole keeping two newborns alive SIMULTANEOUSLY but I will have lots of help from Dearest and Mom and Mom-in-law, so I’m sure I will muddle through.
I know I am supposed to have crazy freaky parenting dreams at this point as well, but I’m not. Truthfully, I am having some stress dreams, but my stress dreams were ALWAYS about school until I became a teacher and now they are ALWAYS about teaching. Odd. So lately I have had some dreams about going back to teach and my students being totally off-the-wall and impossible to get under control, and in one dream I even grabbed a kid’s arm and squeezed it and left a mark and in the dream I was like “Wonderful. Now I am going to totally get fired and have no insurance.” So I guess that’s where my very practical subconscious it at.
Still feeling pretty good, but it is a little alarming that everywhere I go people start boiling water and tearing up sheets and quoting Gone With the Wind the moment I walk in. Oh well.
Anyway, I know this is a short post, but that’s what I’ve got. Tomorrow we go to Winnie Palmer for another growth scan of the darlings, and I’m sure I will post a full report.
For now, I am off to practice the trombone and alphabetically arrange the canned goods.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
(Sophie is still breech, so that's looking like the most likely scenario), hopefully sooner rather than later. My doctor's exuberant response was "You are doing such an AWESOME job, I don't want to go in after them until 38 weeks unless we have a reason to." Yippee. First I couldn't get pregnant, now I can't get un-pregnant. Don't get me wrong, I truly truly do want big healthy babies, and I totally get that the longer they stay in the better the outcome is, and I know there is only 7 days difference between 37 weeks and 38 weeks, it's just that April sounds SO far away. Maybe they will come before then, enthusiastic doctor says, and if they do, that's fine. We won't do anything to stop them. But we won't pursue them until April 2nd. *groan*
Anyway, she did have a point- other than being massive I am really doing fine. I try to get out at least once a day, just a run to the store or dry cleaners or chiropractor, whatever, to get out of the house. I am uncomfortable periodically, especially if Soph leans on my bladder or Liv gets up under the ribs, but over all I'm feeling ok. Well, there is this...
The "Franken-ankle" aka "Snausages" aka "Shrek Foot." I believe that my right foot now weighs more than my entire body weighed a mere 9 months ago.
Speaking of weight, here's the newest belly shot, not too much different in profile from a month ago, but what you can't see from this angle is that I am getting wider and the babies are certainly getting more crowded. I have accepted the fact that I am a freak show at this point, I rarely go anywhere without someone commenting on the belly, and when we got the twin stroller all assemble, I realized that I might as well get used to being a freak show, because if people have to comment on a belly, how are they not going to stop and ogle 2 actual babies? I mean look!
I know in this picture it looks like I am pushing the stroller into the pool. Swear that's not what is going on. I just didn't have an open enough space in my house to get a picture of the baby limo, and I sure as hell was not going to take that thing into the front yard, lest I trigger a stampede of well-meaning neighbors bearing casseroles thinking that the stroller was occupied.
Bonus photo: what I see when the dog tries to beg.