Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Milestones

Sweet Potato rolled over today. He ROLLED OVER. And Monkey Girl pulled herself forward on her activity mat. And they're both grabbing toys and holding their heads up so well. It's insane how quickly they change and grow. I'm so proud.

And you know what all of this made me realize? I realized I'm going to be one of those parents. You know the ones; they're convinced their children are so fabulously advanced and delightful and wonderful?

Except, of course, in my case it's true. They are truly delightful children.* See?










*Biased? Me? Okay...maybe just a bit... :-)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Growing up and away…

I was reading Serenity’s latest post about remembering, and something really struck me. In one of her last lines she said, “as we celebrate every milestone, he grows away from me.” As I read that line, I cried.

And as I thought more about it, I realize that I feel like I’m crying a lot more now than I have in the past, even more than I did throughout our struggles with infertility. But this crying is so very different.

Now I cry because my heart is so full, it’s almost constantly ready to burst. I started to tear up yesterday when both Monkey Girl and Sweet Potato grabbed their first toy. They just reached right out and grabbed a hold of it and took it out of my hands. It was such a sweet moment—you could almost see them learning and their little brains working as they stared so intently at this tiny ring; as they batted it a few times as if to see if it were really there; and as they wrapped their tiny little fingers around it and took it away. And I was so proud of them it was almost silly.

And I start to get all teary when I just think about their future milestones. I’m reduced to tears when I think about buying Monkey Girl and Sweet Potato their first ice cream cone and seeing their eyes light up when they go to the beach for the first time.

And I cry when I think about the first time they’re not going to be invited to a birthday party, and the first time their feelings are going get hurt by another person from whom I won’t be able to protect them.

I cry when I think about establishing those sweet traditions that are going to arise organically from the monotony of day-to-day life and that I probably won’t even realize how much I’ll treasure until much, much later.

But, Serenity’s right. All of these milestones will help Monkey Girl and Sweet Potato develop a sense of independence. And I know that I’ll be so proud of them; so proud to watch them grow up and need me less and less. But at the same time, I know that as they get older and need me less and less, and when they are embarrassed by my hugs and kisses and want me to drop them off a block away from school, I know I’m going to desperately miss these early days. These days when their little faces just light up when I come over to give them a kiss. These days when they want nothing more than to smoosh with me all day long.

And so, for the first time in my life, I both can’t wait to experience all of their firsts, but also wish that I could pause time to really cherish every single second I have with them right now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Awkward conversations

It turns out that this couple--you remember, the ones with the giant inflatable stork?--had their second child about three weeks before the stickies. And, we've run into her and her husband quite a bit on our walks with doggie...and, well, it turns out we've got a lot in common and we've started to get friendly. To the point where I think we might hang out.

How long do you think before I tell them that I almost mutilated their stork in a fit of infertility-induced rage?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anonymous

I got my first hostile anonymous comment today. (The first comment in the post below, for anyone interested in checking it out.) It’s funny—it was such a personal attack on my parenting that you’d think I’d be upset by it. But I’m really not. Both because the comment showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the post I had written and because this person doesn’t have the faintest clue who I am or what kinds of parents hubby and I are. And, more than that, I get that by writing a public blog I open myself up to this kind of malice.

And, frankly, I’ve seen worse. In a previous job, I wrote Op-Eds on a fiercely debated topic, and let me tell you, people can be vicious when you’re engaged in a public, heated debate. I remember once getting a personal phone call from a high-ranking government official who called me just to bitch me out about a piece I had written. I think I was 27 at the time. I think he would have been embarrassed to realize he was getting all worked up by nothing more than a young punk with a computer.

Now that I think about it, actually, I guess I started to subject myself to such scrutiny at a fairly young age. I can remember reading a New York Times article about feminism when I was a senior in college that got me really fired up. So much so that I wrote a letter to the editor, and it got published. When I returned to my dorm about a week later, I had a handwritten letter from some old man who’d attended my alma mater in the dark ages. He wrote me a four-page letter just to bitch me out, to tell me that a woman’s place was in the home, and to tell me that I’d never find a man. I still have that letter—my first piece of creepy and argumentative hate mail, I suppose.

But, today’s comment got me to thinking about how judgmental people are when it comes to parenting and infertility. I mean, the evil letters and calls I got when I wrote these other Op-Eds and letters to the editor made somehow more sense to me. I was purposefully engaging in the public debate on a hot-button issue for the express purpose of trying to persuade people. On this blog, however, I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything. I’m merely cataloging my journey, my struggles. And so, when, cloaked in a veil of anonymity, someone without any knowledge of me takes the time to comment only to tell me I’m a bad parent, I’m left wondering, what’s the point? Not to help, surely, since the tone and substance of the comment didn’t offer anything worthwhile—no helpful suggestions or even assvice.

It’s curious, having a blog sometimes, isn’t it? We open ourselves up to criticism and scrutiny. But, I suppose there is some comfort. After all, as Ego surmises in Ratatouille (by far my favorite P1xar flic):

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read, but the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”

That’s of course, even truer of anonymous criticism…

Who’s the boss?

I’m a total geek. And a little OCD to boot. So, it should come as no surprise that I read a lot of books on raising kids, particularly on establishing good sleeping habits. Unfortunately, what I’m realizing is that, other than protecting them from overstimulation (see our utter meltdown below), it seems that these kids are going to fall into a schedule all on their own, and the best I can do is let it happen.

Take this morning for example. You see, yesterday my parents took care of Monkey Girl and Sweet Potato while I was at a half-day meeting at work. (Yes, I’m still on unpaid maternity leave. More on that crap later.) I tried to explain to them what we’re trying to do by trying to follow Dr. Weissbl*th’s “Hea1thy Habits” tips. i.e., watching for drowsy signs and soothing the kids to sleep when they start to get tired, motionless sleep, not keeping them up for more than 1-2 hours at a time, etc. And I explained that we’re trying to ease them into a schedule of three naps—one somewhere around 9:00, another somewhere around lunchtime, and a final late afternoon nap.

Unfortunately, something got lost in the translation. My parents took that to mean nap them in their swings (with the swings on) from 8:45 until after noon.

Now, if they slept that long on their own, then obviously they were tired, and there’s not much we can do. But, the fact that the swing was on the whole time makes me think that we kept them asleep when they otherwise might have woken up to eat, etc. Plus, according to W*issbluth’s sleep bible, that kind of sleep is far less than ideal, so they probably didn’t get the restorative sleep they really needed.

Then, since my parents had them pseudo-napping in their swing until lunchtime, their afternoon nap got all kinds of screwed up. And they basically didn’t sleep again until bedtime, with the exception of a tiny catnap. The result? Evening meltdowns.

The thing is, the reason I’m really trying to get their naps right is that I don’t want our primary interactions with our kids when we go back to work to be evening meltdowns. That just sounds stressful and upsetting to me. Well, that and having overtired kids is a disaster. Both hubby and I really need our sleep, so I expect that the stickies will be similar. (Sweet Potato, especially. He really gets cranky when he’s tired. Monkey Girl—other than when she’s EXHAUSTED, is the freaking happiest baby in the world.)

So, last night I decided that for the rest of the week I was going to work really hard to get this nap thing right, to see how it worked, so I could give more specific guidance to my parents and the nanny next week when I’m back at work. And, my obliging wee ones slept until 6:00am this morning (after going to bed at 8:00—we’re so f’ing spoiled I can hardly stand it). So, I fed them and at 7:00am thought, “I’m going to take them on a walk with the dog and play with them a bit and try to push their morning nap to as close to 9:00am as I can.

But then, both kids fell fast asleep on the walk. When we got home at 7:30 I thought, “well, we’ll just put them down for a few minutes and I’m sure they’ll wake right up. They always do.”

They’ve been asleep ever since. Proving yet again that I’m not in control here and that, they are going to fall into their own patterns in spite of what I’m doing.

So, perhaps I should just pay better attention to them, make sure not to get them overtired, and let the chips fall where they may, huh? They’re going to continually test my inner geek/inner planner. ☺

Oops…8:25 and they’re both waking up. Let’s see how the rest of the day goes.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

M-E-L-T-D-O-W-N (Updated)

I’ve said this before, and I assume I’ll say in an infinitesimal number of times to come, but, just when we think we’ve gotten some things figured out, the stickies show us who’s boss.

Well, that’s not fair. Actually, just when we get all smug that we’ve gotten things figured out, we screw it up. Royally.

Today started out beautifully. Last night was the perfect night. We got both stickies in bed after a good solid feed. And, when we put them to bed, neither uttered a single peep. Neither a fuss nor a cry. For EIGHT solid hours. Not only that, but my mother was here. So, after we fed them both at 5am, we were able to put them back down and pass the monitor to my mom, who took over until their next feed. So, in all, we were able to piece together nine hours of sleep. It was magical.

Of course, then we started to screw everything up, one small decision at a time. You see, first of all, when my mom is watching the kids, there’s definitely the potential of overstimulation. She is not great about putting them down for naps when they’re starting to display signs of tiredness, both because I think she enjoys playing with them and because I think she lives in fear of the dual meltdown. So, if they start to fuss when she puts them down, she immediately gets them back. (This is of course not a great idea—sometimes they’ll fuss a little, then fall fast asleep. And picking them up stimulates them, rather than soothes them, and so they miss a nap.)

This alone wouldn’t be a big deal. We could have taken over at 9am and gotten things back on track. But, instead we got up. I fed them again. We played with them a little. Monkey Girl fell asleep—she was clearly exhausted—but Sweet Potato did not. Then, hubby decided he wanted to take a quick trip up to his parents. So, around noon, we fed them both again, jumped in the car, and headed up. (We had to wake up Monkey Girl to do this. Something my gut told me not to do. Always listen to your gut. Damnit.)

That was the catastrophic mistake. You see, hubby’s parents’ house is the single most stimulating place on earth. His mom is fairly manic and loves playing with kids. (She used to wake her own children up from naps because she was bored and wanted to play with them.) So, since the kids were already slightly overtired and plenty stimulated from the morning, this was the worst place to go.

But, we decided to add insult to injury with every decision throughout the day. You see, we have a new nighttime routine that’s been going pretty well. We give the kids a bath and a good long feed, followed by a soothing ritual, then right to bed. And, we try to do this and get them in bed somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30, unless they’ve had a late afternoon/early evening nap. But, today, we didn’t even end up leaving hubby’s parents’ until 5:30, which meant we didn’t get home until 6:30—not nearly enough time to get two overtired and wired kids to bed in an hour. And at this point, Monkey Girl basically hadn’t slept all day and was constantly on the verge of a total and complete meltdown. (I kept trying to put her down, but someone kept picking her up. It was maddening.)

Needless to say, by the time we got home, both kids were in full-on meltdown mode. And it just got worse and worse. They were hungry, but exhausted. They breastfed, but wouldn’t take their bottle supplement, which they really need at this point in the evening.

We finally put them down at 8:00ish, but I know they didn’t eat enough. They were just too tired and trying to feed them—whether on the breast or the bottle—was restarting screaming fits because all they wanted to do at this point was go to sleep. (Of course, sleep was eluding them as well, so we kept getting confused: were they crying because they were tired or hungry? It’s tough to tell when the answer is clearly, “both,” but when they keep fighting one for the other.)

We finally gave up on feeding them—it was clear they needed to sleep before they ate again. So, we were finally able to soothe them to sleep. Unfortunately, now I fear we’re headed for a night where they both wake up every hour and a half. Sweet Potato has already woken up once at 9:30 to eat. (But, again, he was too tired to take more than just enough to put him back to sleep, so I assume he’ll be up again soon.) And, I’m fully expecting Monkey Girl to follow suit, though of course on a slightly different schedule, just to ensure we don’t get any sleep. (Serves us right, huh?)

*sigh*

Let’s just chalk this up to a learning experience and *hope* that we don’t act so flip with the napping/feeding routine in the future!

UPDATE: Two quick things. One: I love my kids. Despite our total and complete failure to get them to nap and eat appropriately yesterday, they slept like champs. Both until 5:30am. They are superstars. Unfortunately, I was so wound up from the horrible evening (and my contribution to it) that I slept like crap. Helas...

Two: As if I needed more evidence, I clearly don't know what the hell I'm doing as a mom. Thank god these kids are apparently too little to realize my utter and complete failures. Man, am I ever in for it when they get older if we aren't careful, though! :-)

Friday, June 06, 2008

A different world

I have this cousin, let’s call her the single most fertile person in the world. She got pregnant with her first child the MONTH her husband has his vasectomy reversed. The same month! That was just a couple of months before our first miscarriage, and at the beginning of our infertility journey.

Flash forward two plus years to this May. We’re at the stickies’ christening and she casually mentions to me that they want to start trying for number two in December, because they’d like to have a baby next fall.

“So, you’re assuming you’re going to get pregnant the first month trying again.”

“Well, yeah. We’re counting on it.”

“Even though you’re 35 and it could take, oh, I don’t know, more that one wild night to get pregnant.”

“*blink* *blink* Well, anyhow, it’s probably a moot point because we probably got pregnant last night.”

“huh?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure we got pregnant last night because we forgot to use anything.”

Flash forward 14 days.

“Hi, sticky! So, yeah, we’re pregnant. I wanted to wait to tell you until the doctor confirmed it.* I knew that was going to happen. I’m so annoyed because I really didn’t want to be seven months pregnant at my brother’s wedding in the fall.”

“Yeah, it can be tough when things don’t go exactly as planned, huh?”

Just wow…it’s a different world, huh?

*I’m not sure what she meant by “wait” to tell me. HPTs aren’t always even positive that damn early!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Part of the "in" crowd

Among the posts I’ve been meaning to write is a rant about my neighborhood. You see, when hubby and I moved from DC, we ended up in a nice, suburban neighborhood chock full of lots of families with small children. (Truthfully, I wanted something a little more urban feeling, but this was the compromise we ended up with.) All in all, we’re very happy with our home and our neighborhood, despite the fact that I think people used to see us as the creepy couple with no kids. I didn’t realize how strange it would feel to live in suburbia and not have kids. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, or if it was just because we were struggling with infertility the entire time, but we really felt like fish out of water. At least in our neighborhood, we are pretty much the only house that didn’t—and still does not—have a swing set in the backyard. It’s all a little Stepford, if you ask me.

Anyhow, we’ve lived here for more than two years. And, in that two years, exactly two families have gone out of their way to introduce themselves to us—the family next door and the one across the street. Everyone else has completely, utterly ignored our existence. Despite the fact that we have a dog who we walk twice a day, everyday. So, it’s not the case that we’ve been holed up in our house being antisocial.

During all of those months of infertility and heartbreak, I would tell hubby that, if we ever were blessed with a child, I was certain that people were going to start talking to us. And that, if that were the case, it was going to royally piss me off. Like, what, we’re untouchable peons unless we have kids? Bite me.

Well, boy was I ever right. Now that the stickies have arrived, people are coming out of the woodwork to introduce themselves. On our twice daily walks now, people come out of their houses to introduce themselves and congratulate us, etc. But, what’s more, almost every single one of them says something along the lines of, “We had always seen you both walking your dog, but then only saw hubby for a while. Now we know what happened!”

Interesting. So, you knew that we were your neighbors. You saw us walking our dog everyday. You were even sometimes out at the same time as we were. But NEVER until we had kids did you bother to talk to us.

Of course, I don’t know if that’s better or worse than our neighbor who lives, I kid you not, two doors down, who actually said to us, “oh, did you just move into the neighborhood?” Nope. We’ve lived here almost two and a half years. “Oh, well this must be the first time you’re out and about.” Again, nope. Two years we’ve been here. And we’ve been out and about twice a day everyday for those two years—in rain, snow, sunshine, whathaveyou. But thanks for being so neighborly and welcoming us into the ‘hood!

All the attention really irks me now, I have to say. I feel like we’re in one of those painful teen beat movies and I’m the geek who just got the makeover (read: lost the glasses) and now it’s okay to talk to me. And, the attention from the neighbors rings as hollow in reality as in those movies.

Man do I miss the city sometimes…