- Unpack my old work clothes and figure out what still fits
- Figure out when I’m going to get to the gym
- Get my hair cut
- Get my oil changed
- Enroll my husband into my health plan
- Clean this house like there’s no tomorrow
- Sleep (what is that?)
- Find my breast pump
- Resign myself to the fact that I have to go back to work
I’m about to go back to work and I’m truly bummed about it. This was my last pregnancy, and having the time home with the baby this time around, I feel so calm and at peace with my world. Sure, bringing a new life into this world is an exercise in controlled chaos, but it’s something I know I can survive and so it’s not so bad.
I have no idea what work will be like when I return. I know that my stress levels have been crazy and I’m so worked up about figuring out a new routine. I wish I had more time. Twelve weeks flew by so fast.
The last three months have been the best of my life so far. While it hasn’t been easy, I’m at peace with the way my family feels whole now and I have so much love in my heart. I’m less stressed than I thought I would be, thanks in part to the prozac, and also to the added support of my husband’s inexplicable job loss. I’m so sad to see it go.
I think every parent has moments where they contemplate the grass is greener scenario for the things their children haven’t yet figured out. For the colicky child, the parents wish for an easily soothed baby. For the fussy eater, the parents wish for a kid who’ll eat anything. For me, I yearn for sleep.
If you’ve read my blog, you’ll likely already be aware of how little sleep we get in our house. My first born child was never a good sleeper. As soon as I discovered the beauty of melatonin laced honey cough syrup, I’d been using it as a crutch to help my child get on a sleep schedule. Judge if you want, but it worked for us.
When the second child came, we vowed not to make the same mistakes with sleep training that we did the first time. Luckily, the baby is a pretty good sleeper to begin with, so we’ve had pretty good success in that arena so far. One night, they both slept all night long, and I woke feeling like a million bucks. I know this isn’t going to last, but damn it feels good to get one good night.
When you’re the parent of small children, Christmas is best. For the first few years, my older son didn’t really “get it” and so the holiday came and went without that expected reaction to it. This year, though, I was sure that my son was going to finally understand it. We’d been prompting him for weeks about being a good boy and talking to Santa about what he wanted. It was a welcome distraction to the arrival of his baby brother, and frankly gave us something to hold over his head when he was acting out. But his baby brother, who’d be enjoying his first Christmas with us, probably didn’t even notice.
At the tender age of two months old and change, the baby was more interested in the lights on the Christmas tree and getting his hands into the tissue paper I used to wrap gifts. I planned on giving him a few small token items, things his brother could use to play with him, and things they’d (hopefully) grow up playing with together. For the most part, it was a success. My older son was over the moon with his gifts, getting several of the things he’d asked Santa for, and realizing how the system finally works.
His younger brother, though, was just happy to be along for the ride. The best gift, for me, though, was realizing our little family was complete and all was right in the universe.
Not long after my older son got his ferris wheel experience, he began asking for another adventure, as 3 year olds are wont to do. We had procured tickets to Hersheypark for their holiday lights show before the baby was born. As we picked a date to go, I worried about taking the baby on a long drive so far from home. I wasn’t very confident that we’d do well in the cold either, and given my husband’s non-enthusiasm for amusement parks in general, we decided ultimately, to divide and conquer.
So, I left my husband home with the baby and took off for a day of adventure with my older son. He was excited at first, but began to wane as the drive out to the park took longer than I expected. It’s about a 2 hour haul one way, and there’s not a lot of stuff to do along the way. I’d hoped he’d sleep, but no dice. We finally got there around lunch time, and navigated the difficult parking lot traffic (read: backtracked because I got lost) and just as he was about to lose his patience with me, we got to the front door.
All was forgiven then, because his little mind was blown by all the super fun stuff there was to do. We latched onto the first ride, a simple merry-go-round style ride with different types of vehicles. He must’ve ridden it 6 times before I was finally able to convince him we needed to go on some other rides. Of course, the next one he wanted was the crazy go upside down roller coaster, which unfortunately, he was tall enough to go on.
We immediately regretted our decision after the first drop, but luckily he didn’t want to go again He picked the teacups next, but after that, got his heart set on the bumper cars (which sadly we couldn’t go on because of his height). Cue epic tantrum and meltdown, because I had waved this lovely fun ride in front of him and now had to go back on that because it wasn’t safe for him. No amount of consoling could calm him, so we had to deal with the meltdown until I was finally able to get him on the monorail.
From the train, we got to see more of the park, and I was able to pick out more toddler friendly options. We got some snacks and then hit up a few more rides. Unfortunately, it was getting late and dark and colder fast, and I was beyond ready to go. I wish I could say he took it well, but our departure from the park was an experience in cranky, tired toddler hitting, crying and screaming. I was 100% done by then, and only salvaged our return to the vehicle by giving him a piggy back ride.
So, all in all, it wasn’t too bad. I think I’d do it again, but try to go when we have more time and maybe grab our stroller for the next round. Maybe we’ll give it another go in the spring. But, he seemed to really enjoy it, forgetting all the negativity by the next morning, and bragged to his teachers about how he went on the scary upside down roller coaster for weeks afterward.
(For those reading this who may not be aware, these posts are scheduled from my maternity leave, so what goes live in May actually took place last year. I’m doing this so I can catch up on my real life nonsense and still keep an active blog. I’ve had a few comments lately confused about the material I’m posting and when it goes live, so I thought I’d add this caveat to one of the more obvious posts. Thanks as always for reading, and bearing with me as my life undergoes yet another major shift! Love, Hajisaurus)
My second (and last) son was born in the middle of October, which is nice, all things considered. Fall is a great time of year, my favorite, honestly. It also meant that he’d be a teeny weeny around about the time we’d be expected to turn up at family events. Thanksgiving was the first time he’d meet most of my husband’s extended family.
Still reeling from the adjustment, we loaded up the car on Wednesday night and headed out into the world, planning on staying two nights at my in-laws for the holiday. Sure enough, the baby slept as long as the car kept moving, just like his brother did when he was small. What we didn’t count on, though, was the construction on the Pennsylvania turnpike drawing four lanes of traffic down to one, compounded by all the cars travelling for the holiday.
Right on cue, my son began crying, as tiny babies are wont to do. But the thing about newborns is their squall is so unbearable, that any sane human can barely stand it. There’s some evolutionary crap in there so we don’t leave them to die. But I wasn’t leaving him to die. I just couldn’t get out of the car and go to him, because we’re stuck in traffic. It went on for almost 45 minutes, stressing out not just me, but everyone in the car, including his poor brother who could do nothing to stop the crying or process what was happening.
When we finally arrived, my nerves were frayed, but we got through the worst of it. We managed to get through the entire visit without much problem. We didn’t have the help I’d hoped for, though. I had to ask people to hold the baby, not the other way around. I ended up breastfeeding more than I planned on to make the formula we brought stretch out, and because it seemed to be all he wanted to do. Of course, when it was time to eat, in true fashion like his brother before him, I could eat, but not sit. So, I put him in my moby wrap and ate while I bounced him next to the table. It wasn’t ideal, but I made it work.
Sleeping was trickier because we’d been doing shifts at home, but each time the baby woke up, both of us were awakened too, so no one got much rest. The only person who slept was our older son, who had a room of his own. Halfway through, we said we weren’t going to do this again until he was a bit older. It was nice to see everyone, but man, travelling with littles is so hard.
I’m so happy that I can finally write this post. Looking back on all my “unmedicated” years, I’m shocked at what a difference a simple pill can make, but there it is. It’s true that meds are not the answer for everyone, and even if they are, it’s best to use them as part of your strategy to mental wellness, not as your catch-all. Still, I can’t understate how different, and by different, I mean better, I feel being back on my medication.
Because I had always wanted to have more than one kid, I decided to forego the meds after my first pregnancy. Having gone through that transition without it, I realize how hard it was on everyone around me. Hindsight is 20/20. I can’t go back and undo it. I regret all the times I lost my patience, or held myself or others to unrealistic standards, because I just needed some stability.
This time around, I’m calmer, more centered. I can’t say that I haven’t lost my patience or held myself to an unrealistic standard this time around, but I’m definitely going easier on myself and (I hope) everyone around me. I don’t have room in my heart for anger. I’m hoping 2017 gets to be the year where we all feel the love a bit more.
From my URL permalink, I’ve written twice already on gratitude. It doesn’t feel like enough, to be honest. I find that nothing feels as good as saying thank you to the people who pitch in to make your life easier. Expressing gratitude even for the smallest thing acknowledges the effort that someone has made, and I think it’s so important to call it ou.
I find myself thanking my older son for everything he’s done to make his little brother’s arrival easier for everyone. He’s completely embraced the new baby as one of our own, and his open heart teaches me so much about how I need to approach the world. He’s also so eager to share himself with his brother, and I’m so glad to see that he’s being so mature about it. He also pitches in to entertain him when we’re running around like crazy, like it’s second nature to him. Thank you, little guy.
I’m grateful to my husband for everything he does to make our home life easier too. We’re working together so much better now that we’re a foursome because we’re able to talk through our frustrations (maybe not in the moment, but we’re getting better at recognizing when we need have a break to emote). I’m happy that we decided to pursue his financial planning independency as a career instead of trying to go after another corporate job. Having him nearby, focusing on his dream, and being present in our day to day has been a godsend for me. Thank you, big guy.
Finally, to all my friends who’ve come out to support me, giving me the chance to take a break and be myself, who’ve been there to spend time with my kiddos, who’ve sent me supportive messages and love, my gratitude cannot be overstated. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. Thank you, friends.
It’s been a strange experience to say the least. Maternity leave this time around is a very different animal than the first. Since I’ve been writing ahead in order to cover for myself, I’m seeing posts written months ago and receiving a perspective from a mindset I’m outgrowing more by the day. I get copies of the posts that go out, so I read them to see what I was going through at the time I banked them. It’s funny to see how much reversal there’s been and how impossible it is to anticipate how you’ll feel in the hypothetical.
Even as I write these posts, though, knowing they won’t go live for another five months, it’s amusing to see what changes even in the day to day. Having a newborn is being a quick change agent, whereas with my older son, consistency and firmness is key. The duality is exhausting, and if there was much left of my ego before, there’s very little left now. Because you’re pulled in so many other directions, the care of self and urgency of one’s own needs are hugely diminished for the greater good.
It’s not to say it goes unwillingly either. We burn ourselves out in the first few years, knowing that hard work will pay dividends in (hopefully) well-adjusted and well-behaved children. It’s a gamble, but one I’m willing to take. But given the tenuous nature of our lives, there’s not too much time left for definitive documentation of our efforts. Instead, it’s just the pulse of what we’re doing in that moment, and hoping we’re getting it right.
That said, we’re getting there. There are still more good nights than bad, we’re learning so much about what mistakes we made in the past, and the parenting muscle gets a bit stronger this time around. The proof though is in the pudding. At the beginning and end of each day, there’s a renewed sense of energy and purpose, which I can only name as intense nesting.
So I’m focusing on the overall status rather than the minutia of day to day life. And at the moment, I’m feeling we’re all doing pretty great. And together, we are greater than the sum of our whole.
It’s probably the understatement of the year to say that I was pretty much useless during the later stages of my pregnancy. No one took the hit more on this than my son. He was going through his own needy development and I really had to hand off a lot of his management to my husband.
We always schedule a beach weekend the week after Labor Day. The hotel rates are more reasonable, traffic is less and the water and weather are still warm and pleasant. Our favorite hotel has a fantastic kids pool and ocean access but also has a great amusement park across the street. The downside was that the amusement pay was closed for the season so the only thing my son wanted to do was go there and ride the Ferris Wheel. He literally must have asked to ride the Ferris Wheel a hundred times over the weekend. The asking only continued after we returned home. He pushed with such fervency that it became a rehearsed script between us.
“The Ferris wheel is closed for the season. But after the baby comes, we’ll ride the Ferris Wheel. I promise.”
Then of course I had to make good on said promise. My due date was mid-October so all the carnivals would be done for the year. The amusement parks would also be closed. So, I turned to Reddit. They pointed me in the direction of the Capital Wheel in National Harbor. I’d actually been here for a conference a few years ago and remembered it being very family friendly. It was about two hours away so it was a gamble to go that far with such a little baby.
So, 26 days after our baby was born, we piled inside our car for a trial by fire. In our family, travel and adventure is just what we do so it was something that we needed to do not only for our first born, but also to prove it to ourselves that we were back on track. Of course, getting out the door itself was a challenge. A wise mommy of two once told me that you can do anything with one kid.
The baby slept most of the way, but woke up screaming bloody murder about 20 minutes before we arrived. It put such a strain on the ride because everyone was upset. After the baby calmed somewhat, my older son was still shaken by the ruckus and I wasn’t expecting it to have taken such a toll on him.
When we finally got where we were going, we had an epic diaper change that needed to be done in the trunk of our car. Then we had to wait and give the baby something to eat. Stalling a 3-year-old was another challenge but we got through it. We loaded the baby into the stroller and headed down to the Ferris wheel.
My son could barely contain his excitement. We managed to get all the way through the line and into the gondola before he realized we’d be going up into the air. Then he changed his mind. Apparently he’s afraid of heights. So, he clung in fear to my husband while we waited for the ride to be over. Luckily we didn’t get a request to ride again.
We explored the area a while before heading over to Annapolis for lunch at Gordon Biersch. I wasn’t able to bring the baby stroller with us to the table so I had to hold the baby while we ate. I went to the restroom to change his diaper and had my first “second kid” moment when I had to ask a stranger to hold him so I could wash my hands. The woman could not have been nicer about it and was more than happy to help.
Our server was amazing too. She ended up holding the baby while so I could eat and was such a help. I definitely got the stink eye from a mom with her first baby at another table so I had to manage my mom guilt afterwards. But overall I have no regrets because the baby was just fine and I had a few minutes to eat.
Our drive home everyone slept while my husband drove and we managed to get almost the whole way back before the baby woke up again. We figured his time in the car is about an hour and a half, which bodes well for thanksgiving. And we got to remind ourselves that we can make travel happen, even with two kids.