Category: Uncategorized

The Tired, Tired, Tired Mama

This morning I am so tired. Like, the kind of tired that feels like despair. Driving to work, I turned off NPR because it was needling me, those voices, and in the quiet I just stared at the waterfront and thought to myself, “unbearable.”

It’s amazing how sleep deprivation eats away at you. I know, and I forget, and then I am reminded. Starling doesn’t sleep through the night. He has once or twice, but mostly, he doesn’t. He’s a tease. Sometimes he only nurses once; often, he goes at least five hours without waking, from 1-6 or so, which is pretty decent. Yet there are still plenty of nights when he wakes up frequently enough that I feel like a zombie the next day.

Last night was one of them.

Sometimes I do let him cry. I couldn’t yesterday, because my mom is staying in his room and he was in a pack ‘n play at the foot of our bed. Which meant that he spent a lot of the night in our bed, rolling around, randomly sitting up, randomly crying out, wanting to nurse, then falling back asleep. He has a stuffy nose, and I guess it’s enough to keep him restless.

So, we have tried night-weaning of various kinds. He screams so hard, and so loud, and so long. It’s awful. I can’t take it after a while. Uno helps; she has occasionally been able to get him back to sleep without nursing, but it’s exhausting for her, because it takes so much longer.

Night nursing: it’s faster. I like the cuddliness – sometimes. I feel guilty about being gone for so much of the day, and I’m partially reluctant to night-wean because he only gets to nurse a few times otherwise. Then again, he’s 16 months, and he obviously CAN sleep through the night.

Being inconsistent is the worst. I know. We need to commit to something.

This kid! So stubborn. I finally got up with him at 6:15. We walked into the bathroom – he likes to see himself in the mirror – and he grinned at our reflection. My bed head and swollen eyes. His crusty nose. He gave me the sweetest hug then, pressing his little fuzzy head into my shoulder. That’s parenting, right? The agony and the ecstasy. Hyperbole seems warranted because I’m just so damn tired. I feel inside out.

Some part of me feels like I’m being melodramatic. “There are bigger problems in the world,” I tell myself. “This too shall pass. I’m alive, right? The sun is shining. I have coffee. He’ll grow out of this.” And so on and so forth…

Bah. I’m still tired.

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Bright New Things

We did it. We closed on the house. We found a new school for Jaybird.

!

Thanks for all of your kind and thoughtful comments about J’s old school. It was clear that we needed a change, but it was so hard to actually make that move – until we had a conference with the owner / lead teacher. She said a lot of things that pushed my buttons, such as “most children master potty training at school within a few months,” and “the whole class is trying to help him with his potty,” and “he mostly plays with the older girls because they look after him.” It’s just so clear that she doesn’t understand him and thinks of him as a baby. A dim-witted baby. God. But we were respectful on the phone, until she told us she wouldn’t be extending enrollment after April. That is, she was kicking us out. It was so startling. So unprofessional and confusing.

Fast forward a few days and many phone calls, and we’ve landed him a spot at a little urban farm preschool in the neighborhood. It’s totally play-based, so it’s a big change, but we think a good one. He’s developed some social anxieties, especially about his speech, and this school seems like the perfect spot to rebuild confidence. (Uno was encouraging him to talk to his friend at a recent playdate and he told her, “I don’t know how to talk to my friends,” which is heartbreaking and I totally blame that damn teacher for acting like his articulation wobbles are tantamount to speaking in tongues). This new spot is all about exploration and being outside and there are lots of animals! Not unlike those Scandinavian “forest kindergartens.” We’ve been joking that it’s the ultimate hippie preschool and very Seattle of us. Some part of me is a wee bit nervous about no academics (in a traditional sense, e.g. no lessons on numbers and letters) but the other part of me is just ready for him to enjoy himself at school. Also, he’s three and half and has the rest of his life to get the academic stuff. Plus, the director has a Master’s in Teaching and used to teach in the public schools, so she knows her stuff, and she is a firm believer in this play-based, nature-oriented philosophy.

Other things: new house! We’re painting and packing. We love it. It’s exhausting but exciting. Also, our neighbors on one side? Another two-mom family. Whaaaat. A couple of pix:

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Finally, baby Starling is starting to make me look big. I’m having some annoying round ligament pain when I walk too quickly, a little hip pain at night and some foot swelling. Nonetheless, I feel pretty good. At my last appointment I was measuring large for the due date by about 3 weeks, so I’m very curious / nervous about the gestational diabetes test results. I’m taking the test today, in fact. Signed up for a birth class. That reality still feels somewhat distant, but I realize that it will be upon us sooner than later. 28 weeks along now…

My cousin just had her twin baby boys, and spending time with them is reminding me so powerfully of what it’s like to have a newborn. They are so tiny and sleepless and helpless. But they also smell so good and perfect for nuzzling. I can’t believe that we’re going to have one again.

Signing off with a picture of Jaybird in one of his favorite outfits. We let him get dress-up stuff at Goodwill and these are two favorite pieces: tutu and sparkly pink hat. He calls the latter his “cowboy hat.”

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New Digs, We Hope

Busy, that’s us. Jaybird spins like a top from the moment he wakes up ’til the moment he goes to sleep. Starling spends the day (and night) doing gymnastics in my belly. And Uno and I are engrossed in buying a HOUSE. It happened so fast! Well, sort of. To make a long story a little less long, we’re taking care of her grandmother’s affairs because her grandmother has Alzheimer’s. That has involved moving her to our state, managing her financials and selling her house (emptying it, repairing it, listing it….)

Just a little more to add to our plate, right?

Lordy, has it been a lot of work. We’re doing this because Uno’s mom isn’t really able to do it by herself. She does help a lot with visiting her mom, taking her to appointments and so on. Anyway, Uno’s grandma has been supporting her mom partially for quite some time. We’re not able to do that. The solution we cooked up – in conjunction with grandma, when she was more lucid – is to use the money from the sale of grandma’s house as a down payment for a house here. That house has a mother-in-law apartment, so Uno’s mom can live with us.

Yes, that’s right. It probably seems a little crazy. But we see her almost every day already, as she’s only a half-mile away. We’re very tight-knit and I think it’s wonderful for Jaybird, who loves my MIL to pieces. I love her dearly too. Sometimes she makes us insane, though. So…hoping for the best. Specifically, we’re making sure she has her own kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and entrance.

It’s all working out: we found a place, secured the mortgage, offer accepted, inspection done. After about six million calls, meetings, tours and a lot of paperwork. We’re able to buy a bigger house than we could otherwise afford; Uno’s mom will have a secure place to live that will free up some money (she lives on disability) and Uno’s grandma won’t see all of her assets eaten up by her care. It’s all legal; we have an attorney. We feel good about it, lucky, a little overwhelmed. We’re just waiting on a couple things to be wrapped up r.e. the sale of Uno’s grandma’s house in the other state, and then we should be good to go. It does introduce some money stress, because the payments will be a little higher than our current rent, and because we want to make sure grandma is taken care of no matter what. I have been crunching numbers like nobody’s business and let me tell you, I was NOT a math major. It’s hard to feel like the epicenter of the family, sometimes: Uno and I hold down the fort, you know what I mean? We take care of things and people. There are pros, there are cons. More on that soon.

Ah, but the house. We love the place: it’s light and bright and spacious. Needs new carpet, but hey. The yard is flat, fenced and perfect for two sweaty little boys. There’s an elementary school around the corner and our friends are in the same neighborhood. It’s only a couple miles from our current spot. The area is diverse, close to parks, buses, you name it. We’ve moved so much in the past few years that I’m really looking forward to this place being IT. I’ll be in my third trimester by the time we move, but hey, still a couple months from delivery. I suppose it’s a good excuse to just hire movers and cleaners and not be as DIY as we’ve been about moving in the past.

It just seems so unreal that we’re actually doing this! I’ll post pix when it’s all official. Fingers crossed in the meantime.

Everything Happening At Once

My mind is spinning. Pregnancy has me a little more emotional, too, so maybe it’s that. Granted, these are all things that I’ve brought upon myself, sought out, etc. At the moment I’m just a little discombobulated. I feel like hiding under a rock.

-I was offered the Lead Copywriter position for my division, which I accepted. It starts Monday! Monday. Oof. I know a lot of folks wanted this position, including friends, some of whom have been here longer than me, but I’m trying to put that out of my mind and embrace it. It came up a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t expect to take a new role halfway-ish through this pregnancy, but there you have it.

-I’m teaching a six-week creative writing course starting this Thursday evening, for adults. I have to get serious about planning it. I love the subject matter and know it’ll be a good experience and good for me, but it feels like a lot right now, on top of full-time work and everything else. It’s hard to be away in the evening, too, because I don’t really see Jaybird those days.

-I’m part of a new long-distance writing group initiated by an old professor, which starts in a week.

-I signed up for a therapy referral service, had a consult yesterday and am now supposed to meet with three different therapists to decide which one to see. How will I fit this in? I need to, I want to…but I am nervous, too. It’s been years. I want to work on dealing with temper and anger, but I know it will mean exploring old, painful stuff about my family and part of me just wants to avoid it. And did I mention that I have no idea how I will fit it in?

Other things: Jaybird in major potty training regression. We’re trying to give him space about it. I think we will pursue getting his speech evaluated, also. His articulation does lag behind other kiddos and the evaluation is free. The hardest is the comparing. Our friends’ son, who is almost half a year younger, is super articulate, for instance. Yet we don’t want to focus on what is lacking, you know? He is amazing and goofy and smart and sweet and growing every day. He gobbles up the world, occupies it in a full-bodied and joyful way.

I miss him today and want nothing more than to hang out with him. I hate that in the evenings, when I am with him, I get focused on getting him to eat dinner, clean up his toys, take his bath, go to sleep, rather than just enjoying him. Food for thought.

Oh, and the baby? The baby is apparently as happy as can be. I’ve been feeling pretty much normal, except for my burgeoning middle, and sometimes I even, oddly, forget that I’m pregnant. Who is this mysterious little being? I haven’t felt him/her move yet, but I had a checkup last week with the midwives and everything is going well. I am starting to think that I should (re)visit birth books, but let’s be honest: I have never been one to do things very far ahead of deadline. Oh, and we find out whether Jaybird gets a brother or a sister in just two and half weeks.

I worry most about exposing Starling to high amounts of cortisol. I feel spikes in anxiety and try to breathe, calm down and distract myself. All the research says that maternal stress is a bad thing, so I’m doing my best.

After the Hullabaloo

A good time, a quieter time, post-holidays and visits and presents and cooking. Jaybird was so much more aware of it all this year. Sadly, he started throwing up on Christmas Eve, but he recovered by the next day. It kept us home for a slower Christmas Day, and then we went over to my mom’s on the 26th. I loved watching him gallop through thickets of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, thrilled with the activity and the attention. My brother-the-priest was in attendance and wore his medieval robes the whole time. Jaybird, adorably, asked him: “Uncle __, are those your pajamas?” We’ve arrived at a pretty good truce, he and I, since I responded to his email. He heard me. I asked him not to make judgmental statements and he said that he shouldn’t and wouldn’t. So, while our differences remain, I felt much better in his company. He was actually very sweet with Jaybird. He’s always had a goofy streak, and he was very willing to get down on the floor and make silly voices and so on. 

In some ways, I feel sorry for my brother, mainly because I think he’s chosen such a hard path. It forces him to make black-and-white distinctions that are painful. 

I think my sibling relationships are perhaps the most challenging in my life. I love them so intensely and they confound and frustrate me, too. It’s not that we don’t get along, but we have trouble being friends, somehow, even when we’d like to be. What does that portend for Starling and Jaybird? I hope they’re friends. Maybe that’s naive. I’ve heard good things about a book called “Siblings Without Rivalry” that I want to check out. Uno and her brother are close, so that gives me hope. Uno points out that our kids will grow up in a significantly less stressed household than mine was, so, there’s that.

Starling is growing right on track, speaking of which. I’m at 14.5 weeks! Second trimester already. Where did the time go? I still feel like it’s the early stages, like we have all the time in the world to plan and prepare. I still haven’t announced it on social media or at work. Part of me wants to wait until the anatomy scan in mid-February and part of me wants to do it now. Maybe I’m waiting for it to feel more “real,” which I suppose means a demonstrable belly. My little pouch is growing but still hides easily beneath a loose sweater. 

Jaybird asks about the baby more, now. Yesterday, he told Uno that he missed Mama — and the baby! They called me and we had a little Face Time on my phone while I was at my desk. We went to Houston to visit Uno’s dad and stepmom and since we’ve been back, he’s had a hard time adjusting to not having Mommy and Mama with him all the time. Just like last year, he got a bad cold and fever while we were there and didn’t sleep for most of the trip. As a result, we took turns sleeping with him: he just wanted to be close, poor guy. He was scared in the strange room, scared of their over-eager poodle and fussier in general. He often said that he wanted to go home. We’ve traveled a fair bit and never seen him this anxious on a trip before. Maybe it’s his age and developing imagination? 

Anyway, all that closeness and cuddling over the trip was nice, too. The sickness and lack of sleep was hard, of course, but I’m missing him more now than ever. He has gone through phases of strong preference for Uno, but that has changed so much. Now I’d say it’s pretty equal. Also, I used to feel uncomfortable, around Uno’s dad, about the genetic ties that he shares with J. that I don’t. This time that just didn’t matter. Jaybird is so clearly my son and I, his mama. 

So here we are, back to the rain and the work-school routine. I’m not big on resolutions, but I really want to work on being kinder to myself. On treating myself like I would and do treat my friends. So here’s to that, and to more quiet days.

Snow Day

Unlike the rest of the country, we haven’t experienced any big storms; it’s been a slow, deep chill for days. Today, at last, it might actually snow. I hope so. I’m a child of the temperate lowlands and I LOVE snow. As a kid I used to stand at the end of my driveway and just watch the flakes spin in the orange glow of the streetlight. Utter bliss. I’ve been wanting to share it with Jaybird, but we didn’t get a single bit of it last winter. The other night just before he fell asleep, he said, “when will it be a snowy day?” And crashed.

Uno and I take turns putting him to sleep. We lie next to him in bed, reading, and then sing until he falls asleep. Some days he’s too wiggly and we end up leaving before he’s actually out, but it’s loveliest when he drifts off while we sing. The hours I have spent cajoling my boy into to sleep! I could never count them. Now, as he becomes increasingly independent about it, I treasure those cuddly moments. He goes from sixty to zero, in that he’s wiggling and talking one minute, and the next his breathing is deep and even. Last night he pressed my hand to his cheek as he started to doze. Heart melt.

Other things: I’m so tired, so very tired, but trying to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I’m officially ten weeks and one day pregnant. I want to go to sleep at 7 p.m. and I really don’t want to do the dishes. I have trouble focusing at work. But I’m less queasy, food is generally not a chore, and for that I’m super grateful. My pants are getting a wee bit tight. Now, I wasn’t exactly starting out with washboard abs. Still, I’m pretty sure there’s a little filling out happening down there. In two days, I have my first appointment with the midwives I’m hoping to see. We’ve told a few more friends. It continues to feel unreal. Uno said to me recently, “we only have seven more months!” Funny how that seems like forever, yet no time at all. I decided not to get my 8.5 week ultrasound with the fertility clinic, and now I almost wish I had — just for that extra bit of reassurance. Yet I was tired of going there, tired of their cautionary tone, and I really didn’t think the extra intervention was necessary.

We had a parent/teacher conference at Jaybird’s preschool. He’s apparently very busy, sweet, compliant and “a joyful participant in all activities.” That’s our boy. (Well, he’s not what I’d call compliant at home. Not by a mile). They did express concern about his speech, and suggested we explore speech therapy. They’re worried he doesn’t speak in three-word sentences, but he speaks in ten-word sentences and more at home! That was surprising for us. The teacher seemed to think his speech lagged quite a bit as compared to peers. He has been slower in that area than some of our friends’ kiddos, but he’s made steady progress, and he’s got wonderful comprehension and social awareness / interaction. I think it’s mostly about articulation. Certain sounds are hard for him. He also has a tendency to speak too quickly. He’s the youngest at school, and I wonder if he feels shy there, aware that his speech is different? Yet he seems quite confident, socially. We also wonder about stimulation; he’s just so curious and eager to DO everything that he doesn’t take time to talk a lot. It’s Montessori, so the room is packed to the brim with intriguing, interactive items. We decided not to pursue the therapy for now, but if it’s still an issue towards the end of the school year, then we’ll revisit.

Oof, I should get back to work. They’re tracking our productivity more lately, and mine is lagging. I find it hard to muster up the energy to really care, though. The corporate-speak and worldview has been getting to me, lately. Maternity leave, I repeat to myself. Eyes on the prize.

Adjustments

Still pregnant, here. What? Yes. Weird. It’s so early, but all signs continue to be positive. Our 6.5 week ultrasound is on 11/14, when we’ll (hopefully, hopefully) hear the heartbeat and be released from the fertility clinic. In the meantime I wait and look down at my belly and think: is this really happening? I’m basically fine. Some queasiness, here and there, an odd bout or two of dizziness. The burping, still.

It continues to feel so nebulous. My cousin is expecting twins in April and has been buying baby gear, preparing the nursery and so on, all of which feels so distant to me. I know there will be big changes on the horizon and plans to make, but it’s hard to imagine any of it.

I’m a little nervous about the changes. How will it affect my energy? Already I feel more inwardly-focused than usual. Speaking of all this. There’s a cool local writing fellowship I’m thinking of applying for. The deadline is, hahahaha, today. I have most of the materials from other applications; it wouldn’t be too hard to whip up the rest. The thing is, I can’t decide if I should do it. This is so, so unlike me. I hate feeling like I’m missing out on opportunities. My motto is usually: “it doesn’t hurt to apply.” That’s the advice I give everyone. Just throw your hat in the ring! Just see what happens!

If I were to get this, which is not a guarantee!, I would find it impossible to turn down. But I don’t know if it makes sense for next year. They say most activities happen between Jan.-June, which is pre-baby. But: it would require producing new work (good for me, but do I want the deadline pressure at this moment in time?) and evening activities over the course of six-odd months: workshops, readings. I love that stuff, but it is a bit hard on the family to make it happen. I’m already teaching a six-week evening creative writing class in Feb/March, and a big writing conference is in town in Feb. for which I’ll attend lots of events.

It’s hard enough as it is: the full-time job and parenting and squeezing in time with my wife and squeezing in a tiny of bit of writing time. Now that I am — happily! — also pregnant, and a wee baby will be joining the melee next summer, I think perhaps I shouldn’t overload the spring.

See, I am talking myself out of it. It’s the sane thing, not to apply. It’s just so hard for this lifelong overachiever to accept that it might be wiser and healthier NOT to pack in every last opportunity. It still stings, a little, to see childless friends jump between residencies, living a nomadic writer life, casting aside full-time work in favor of their artistic pursuits.

Applying for this fellowship program – or not – brings up all this stuff. This particular decision it just about schedules, energy, time and balance. Nothing new. Except for the whole being pregnant thing. That, that is new. Yes, I can always wait and apply next year. But next year we will have a baby who becomes a one year-old along with our preschooler. Won’t it be even harder then? This coming spring, I can carve out the time. My wife is very supportive, fortunately. Anything I can do to build up a writing community and generate new work is a good thing. I need to nurture that part of myself, too, and perhaps more than ever.

Now I’m talking myself INTO applying. I don’t know!