Henry is three months old. He is cooing and laughing and making all kinds of racket. He can roll from his tummy to his back, but not consistently. He can also roll from his back to his tummy, but that's a very recent and rare occurance. He sleeps through the night, in my book, but not in Nick's. Henry is usually in bed by 8 PM, wakes up somewhere between 2:30 and 6:30 AM, depending. I say that's nothing to be angry about considering he is only three months old! Aurelia is showing more and more affection to him, saying, "I love you, Henry," and giving him nose boops. I am surviving full-time work and pumping. I give myself full marks for sticking it out and making it half-way through my six month quest of supplying milk.
This is all well and good, but I realized today, while I was uploading pictures from my camera to my computer, that I had not actually imported any pictures of Henry until today. That's three months of neglect. It's not like I haven't picked up my camera, it's just that I haven't been sharing any pictures from it. My silly phone has become my go-to camera. That isn't necessarily bad (a picture is a picture, nonetheless), but I really only have to post once a month! Something about my new baby and something about how awesome it is we are surviving.
Anyway, because I am so bad at this this time around (though I am sure no one is surprised), here is two months worth of pictures.
TWO MONTH PICTURES:
THREE MONTH PICTURES:
ARRI AND HENRY THREE MONTH COMPARISON (not related at all...):
This is the last week of at-home help post baby number two. I have a stack of medical bills I need to review and pay. Spring has shown up and so have the spiders. I've been up since 4:30. We had to pay back the government for taxes. We are probably not going to Hawaii until the end of the year.
Simple things. Every day life. I am scared shitless of it.
Next week we have to fully fend for ourselves with two full-time jobs, two kids and a dog. And while it seems simple and every day life, it sounds horrifically impossible to me. And if you know me by any means, the fact that I think it sounds impossible is kinda a big deal because I make things happen. I make it go. What needs to be done? I'll get it done. That's my m.o. But I find myself standing in the kitchen, sitting at work, or staring at my breast pump and wondering how. How will I juggle mornings of pumping and the dog and getting the kids ready by 7, so I can be at work by 7:30? How will I balance my work hours so I stay at full-time and still take care of Henry's drop-offs and pick-ups? How will I come home and pump and take care of the dog and cook dinner and attend to Henry before the rest of the family gets home, where then I'll need to have enoughwits about me to give attention to Arri and do bedtimes? Oh, and maybe have an adult coversation with my husband? And then pump again before bed, contemplating if tonight I will give myself a full-night's rest without interruption, or should I set my alarm now for my mid-night pumping?
This. All of that. How do I make that go and not become a zombie? How do I do this and not revert to not-that-good-for-you instant meals? How do I juggle the responsibilities of being a working parent and wanting my children's lives to include me? I hear myself saying, "My kids don't see much of each other... or us, for that matter." And so many red flags and warning signs start to flash and scream in my head. This is not how it should be, right? I feel like I shouldn't see my co-workers more than my family, but I do. And I'm not in any way saying I want to be a stay-at-home mom because I was not built for that. But I want that balance where I work and have two kids and a dog, and not feel like it's impossible. That should not be impossible!
It's 6... time to go back to working on the impossible.
And now, here we are! Henry has slipped into our lives, adding new sounds and joys, annoyances and amazements. While it has only been a month, it feels quite shorter and extremely longer. I will go into detail about the rest of my postpartum experience later, but for now... here he is:
The baby has decided that it really loves my uterus, and thus we are being induced tomorrow. I had hoped that my body would get as exhausted as my mind and emotions, and evicted this little being... but alas, here we are, 41 weeks and some pregnant. Thanks, or something.
I put the co-sleeper on my side of the bed. I have washed most of the things. Baby carseats at the ready in both cars. Camera battery is being charged. Diapers and wipes stocked. With all these things, I feel more prepared than I did with Aurelia, but at the same time, completely inept. How did we do it the first time? I know instincts are a part of it, they have to be, but isn't there more? Isn't there some level of knowledge I should have glemmed from the first time? I find myself wondering how Aurelia is even alive today. I must have done something right because there she is! But don't even remotely ask me how I did it. There is just blank space in my memory in the months after she was born. I have monthly pictures, moments on Nick's facebook that remind me of her crazy hair, but really... ::shrug:: I rub my baby-tummy and tell it hopefully, "I will do my best... please love me anyway when I suck."
Considering the above, it might surprise you that I feel nonchalant about tomorrow. I'm going to go through one of the toughest physical experiences and all I can think about is the sushi I will enjoy afterwards. Give me all your salmon nigri and no one gets hurt. Though, that's not completely truthful. I have had my Lifetime movie concerns that the baby will go into distress and I'll have to have a C-section... or the baby will leave this Earth quicker than it ever should... or it will come out with some massive medical issue... or perhaps something horrific will happen to me. And while this happens, and to people I know, every fiber in my body hopes it doesn't happen to me. But the world owes me nothing. What will be, will be. So I tell myself that my life wasn't written with such dramatic situations and go blow my nose.
So, "D" day. Here we come. It's been days, weeks, months since I've wanted to meet this little baby. Let's go.
My due date was January 29 and here I am – still pregnant. Nick and I believe I will be induced on Thursday after my next doctor’s appointment, because my BP has been slowly creeping up. However, if like last week – it is within normal range, then February 5th is our current induction date. But I could push this out any time that following week, if I wanted to wait. If, if, if. I keep hoping that my body will simply get the eviction notice and start its engine to bring our new little person into the world. I really don’t want an augmented labor. I know what will be, will be, but I can hope, right?
Amidst all this happiness, I am watching my country go through turmoil. Since President Trump (cannot believe I wrote that) took office, executive order after executive order has rocked the USA into confusion and anger. Lines are being crossed, boundaries tested and I hear the roar from the public and from Democratic leaders, but very little from the Republicans. I guess I should say “my version” of the USA. There are people who support, even love, all the things the POTUS is doing, and I wonder if living in my West Coast bubble has somehow blinded me. Is there some small town community in Nebraska that feels constantly threaten that an immigrant or refugee is going to come take a manufacturing job that doesn’t exist? A family in Yakima that feels so strongly that the government has lost sight of them and their plight, that all must feel the wrath, even the most innocent and defenseless? I wish I had the time and patience to listen to their side, to understand. But all I can think is - how can I listen and understand hate?
I feel lost and bewildered. I want to shut off the outside world and focus on my family, but I can’t. I am waiting to bring another person into this world, into this country, and wondering how do I raise this baby and our three year old daughter in an atmosphere of chaos and discourse? I know they won’t understand it and they might not even see it, but all of this will shape their future.
In both cases of my baby and my country, I keep questioning when it will all break free.
For the past few days, I have been living alone. There’s a certain kind of freedom in being alone that I forgot about, after all these years of sharing my life with a person and then people. I am lucky to say there are times when I get afternoons, even full-days off. But they are never really “off”; it’s simply fewer amount of hours of some kind of responsibility. I still need to get a child ready, run errands, make dinner, etc. However, right now and for another four days, my main concern is simply myself… and technically this baby still growing in my uterus and this inexplicably whiny dog, but whatever. I have indulged all of my wants, which basically means – “I’m hungry, what restaurant/bakery/food store am I going to?” or, “Reading a book until whenever sounds like a great idea.” It’s simultaneously outstandingly blissful and nerve rackingly laissez-faire.
I forgot about how quiet things gets when you’re alone. When driving, there aren’t DJ requests coming from the backseat, so I have kept the radio on low or off completely. The house is soundless, except for the furnace ticking on or slowly shutting down. For a bit, I thought about filling the silence with noise, streaming music or putting on a movie. But instead I have let the silence be blanketing, and I tiptoe around, letting myself be uncomfortable in it. My mind, inevitably, turns to Nick and Aurelia and how lost I feel without their presence, or the baby’s foot kicking out my right side and how unprepared I feel about its pending arrival; I think about how much my family is my life. All of which is endearing and bleak, depending on your point-of-view.
Yes, my family is my life, to an extent. My daily routine is almost completely dependent on their needs. Even the 8.5 hours I spend at work are technically for the well-being of our cohort. Not having them around has felt like I am missing a limb, but having that weight be gone has been liberating. It feels nice to be self-interested, to ask myself the question and give myself the answer, even if it takes me hours to decide. However, I picked and then made people with whom I want to spend my time with. No matter how crazy-making having a family can be, it is a choice I have made and will always continue to choose.
I must say, being alone is important and healthy, especially when you never are. These days have been refreshing, these moments alone revitalizing. I also recognize I say that with a lot of privilege. I hope I can return the favor to Nick, or anyone - really, some day.
To end 2016, I had one glass of Martinelli's apple cider, read a few chapters, put on Love Actually and listened to Jenny incessantly bark at the fireworks more extroverted people were setting off in celebration of the coming New Year.
I officially rang in 2017 at 1:30AM via turning off the running credits and taking my first of many overnight pregnancy pees. Don’t be jealous. I have made no resolutions and have zero expectations for the New Year. I simply hope that all the change that comes is met with care and patience, love and understanding, wine and sushi.
How is it that the pending arrival of another baby equals the overzealous protection of the kid already here? I am super emotionally unreasonable about the safety and well-being of Aurelia right now. If you have ever wanted to see what my ugly-cry looks like, tell me you think something is wrong with her and ta-da! Seriously, I’m almost starting to cry right now just typing that.
Do you understand how crazy-making this is?!
Nick and Aurelia leave for Hawaii in two days, t-w-o, and here’s the rundown of what goes on in my head:
What if she gets this cold I have in the next few days?
What if someone takes her at the airport?
What if her sickness goes 100% worse while on the flight?
What if the plane to Hawaii goes down in a fiery-ball?
What if she has an epic tantrum and dislocates a body part/hits her head?
What if she gets emergency-level burned during the pig roast?
What if she goes missing during the New Year’s Eve party while Nick is pre-occupied with cutting the pig?
What if there’s a major car accident?
What if I go into early labor?
What if Nick gets distracted by his cell phone and she runs into the street/someone takes her?
What if they decide she’ll be okay to sleep in her own room which equals in her mind that she can get out of bed without telling anyone and then falls down the stairs/unlocks the door and goes outside?
What if the plane back to Seattle goes down in a fiery-ball? That’s on Aurelia’s 3rd birthday!!
What if she is simply having a really bad day and wants me, but I am not there for her and thus - emotionally scar her for life (!!!)?
And if that isn’t enough… What if any of the above happens and I had this feeling and did nothing to stop them from going and now look what happened?!
By this point – you should simply take me to my bed, give me a box of tissues and a bar of chocolate laced with a mild tranquilizer.
Sure, logically and statistically, something bad could happen to either of them. There’s always a chance. Something could happen to Nick and Arri today, on the way home from daycare. But I am here, too. I can run anywhere they are. I can’t simply jump in my car and drive to Hawaii. There’s, like, an ocean in the way. It will take me at least six hours just to fly there, not including car rides to/from airports. What if they won’t even let me on the plane?! I mean, my doctor or the airline could refuse to load my pregnant-butt on the plane because I could be a liability.
:: deep breath ::
You probably think I’m ridiculous. I have to believe that 50% of this is pregnancy hormones. The other half if simply me being me, worrying about the people that matter most to me and not knowing how I would exist without them.
Let’s also point out that all-of-this is part of the reason why I am d.o.n.e. making humans. I can usually find ways to cope with this when I am normal-ole-me, but when I’m pregnant – my coping skills are thumbtacks in the feet of the anxiety-giant’s feet tromping and thundering around me.
So… yeah. It’s okay. I’ll be okay… next year (!) when they are both back home and in my arms again.
I slept like shit last night. My hips really hurt by the time we got home from family memorial Christmas Eve in Tacoma, so that automatically made me think the baby was going to come on Christmas, almost a full month too early (though, really, it would be fine at this point). Basically, I woke every few hours and not because I had to pee. Always some other dream of someone getting hurt or being unwilling to cooperate or something, anything generally upsetting. No dreaming of Santa Claus or exciting presents to be opened today, just worry and anxiety... with a dash of my newest round of cough and cold (can I not be sick, please, Universe...? Merry Christmas to me...?).
So I got up this morning to let Jenny out and tried to play with her outside. It's so cold, even she is refusing. So here we are, the only two awake in this house on Christmas day. Baby #2 is probably pissed I'm moving about so early, but simply grumbled and fallen back asleep.
I really hope today I can stay in the present. This is our last Christmas just us three. Not that Baby #2 isn't reminding me it still exists, kicking me and rollling around. Such an active baby. I am worried for the future. Anyway, Arri did well opening presents with Nick's family last night, so I hope she'll be just as participatory for Christmas with my parents! Jebus - it's a marathon, so I hope she's ready!
And... that's a wrap. Aurelia just woke up. Life as a parent.
In 55 days or so, I should be at the hospital working on pushing another human out of my body. There are definitely days where the thought never crosses my mind. Then there are days where it consumes me. I had no idea what to expect with Aurelia, and I expect no less from our second kid. There is so much that could go right or wrong, or some middle ground where it's simply - we all survived and high-fives all around.
I think the hardest thing for me to grasp is what our lives will be like once this baby arrives. I will no longer be simply "Arri's mom". My husband will be a father of two. My daughter becomes a sibling and the oldest. I think about how Nick comes home with Arri, the dog has been run and dinner is on the table. We decide bath-time, dance party, or a part of a movie because the adults can't-even anymore. It is just us three... well, four with Jenny. But for Arri, it's been just Mom and Dad for almost three years and all of that is going to change instantly once this new person joins the pack.
And I'm not only talking about how Arri will feel, how difficult it might be for her to see her parents all the sudden be giving love and attention to another human that she's supposedly related to, and needs something first, and OMG what just happened!? I am also talking about myself. I love Aurelia more than I ever thought was possible. She is everything to me in a way that I never knew existed. She is and will forever be my baby; she will always be that moment of utter amazement and exploding joy and complete fear as she was laid on my chest after birth. How will I even feel about this next kid...? Can it even be possible to love someone else as much...? To be as amazed, as joyful...? I know I will feel fear, that is a given.
When Nick and I talked about having kids, we were always going to have two. And now that we are in the thick of expecting our second kid, I don't think we ever really talked about what that would mean. Sure, we'd talked about how long until we'd try for our second, and in passing about when we thought we'd be able to enjoy family trips without naps in the middle of day. But did we ever really stop to think about what our family dynamic would be because we decided on two? Or did we simply know our own histories, what it meant to have one sibling, and that was enough?
I am excited and nervous about our second baby. But mostly, I'm curious to see what our little family will be, what it will look like as it grows, how it will stuggle and thrive simultaneously.