Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sleep, Dear Lord, Sleep...

At six a.m. this morning I was beckoned to Cole's room by his wake-up cries and moans. He is often an early riser, unfortunately a 5 a.m. wake up is not unusual, but I had hoped that our exciting trip to Hula Hut last night, which caused him to go to bed a little later than usual, would be enough to have him sleep in a little bit. Unfortunately he is a perfect example of the late to bed, early to rise theory, one of my least favorite aspect of children. I laid in bed listening to him cry for me for about 5 minutes, praying that he would fall back to sleep...though I have no idea why I always hold on to this hope since this has not happened in over a year... before I finally conceded that he was officially up. Unfortunately, even if he was on his way back to sleep, my 'two kids and one on the way' bladder was giving out on me and I had little to no hope of even being able to rest in my bed without a very good chance of peeing in it (one cough or sneeze and it would be over as I have found out way too often lately)....maybe I need to borrow that rubber sheet from Aiden's bed. Regardless, I was up.

As I stumbled up to Cole's crib he quieted, but did not stop, his whining and held a finger out to me. "Take this Mommy," he said. As I reached to his hand he told me, "take this booger Mommy." I felt a very large, crusted booger in between my thumb and index finger. Fantastic.

Seriously, is this what I have become? Am I now someone that can be awakened in the early morning hours, exhausted and cold, only to retrieve a small person's dried and picked snot? (I am ashamed to admit it but I did flick the booger back at him, though I am pretty positive he was so happy to have someone in his room he could not have cared less if I flicked his own snot at him.)

I am not sure why this bothered me so much. I mean, in the grand scheme of sleep experiences with my children, being woken up at 6 a.m. after a night of solid sleep is not all that bad, certainly not an occasion to be upset. I was tired though, as I so often am and some days it just gets old having your sleep be entirely at the mercy of other people...particularly small and demanding-in-so-many-other-ways, people.

Since becoming a mother 4.5 years ago there are few things I have prayed for more often and more fervently than sleep. I have negotiated all sorts of deals and bargains with God in hopes that my promises to go to church more regularly or spend less time worrying about my lack of cute clothing will yield hours of uninterrupted sleep from my children. Yes, I am aware that this is not how God works, but after about 4 hours of sleep there are all sorts of things that seem reasonable. I would like to say that I have spent equal or more hours praying for those with more serious problems than my own, but the truth is that during those low times there are few things that seem more problematic than my own exhaustion.

This sleep deprivation torture is something that I was totally unprepared for prior to becoming a mother. I knew that babies wake, cry, and eat in the night but I had no realistic image of how that would translate into my day-to-day life. I didn't fully understand the pain of being really tired. The first years of both of my children's life were filled with tears and emotional breakdowns due to the simple fact that I could not get enough hours of sleep in a row to be sane. I am not a nice person tired, or hungry for that matter, but let's focus on one weakness at a time.

As I feel my daughter on the way kick and move in my belly, I am reminded most that the sleep torture is about to begin again. There will be sleepless nights and days that do not end. There will be moments when I feel so angry at my husband for being able to sleep through her fifth wake up in two hours that I am sure the sheer power of my wrath will stir him from sleep (this has yet to happen by the way). I will start to cry when Aiden asks me "why" for the 100th time about things like his poop being green or the faucet dripping. I will feel like instead of listening to those prayers and working a deal with me, God has instead chosen to punish me for one of the million wrong-doings of my past or present. (I knew I shouldn't have stolen my Dad's cigarettes in the sixth grade.)

But, I do know that this time will most likely be better than with Cole, just like Cole was easier than Aiden. I have some perspective, which is invaluable on a tired day....though not really worth crap on the third day in a row of no sleep when pure insanity and desperation have set in.

(I do have a somewhat morbid, though I feel potentially effective, plan to re-run media footage of the Katrina or Haiti tragedy, or read brief passages of the terribly depressing book, "Half the Sky" to remind myself how unbelievably awesome my life is, how blessed and privileged I truly am, especially in comparison to some. Though... sitting down to watch TV or read a book are not usually fitting into my exhaustion schedule, but we'll work on that detail.)

The good news is that I know this, it will all end. I will sleep again, even if I do have to be woken up a little early to get a booger.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Baby?

Today is one of those days that I feel overwhelmed simply by the presence of my children, not to mention ready to cry when they ask/whine to me for anything. With a 4 year old and a 2 year old I am evolved enough as a Mom to know that these days come and go and I will return to feeling like a human again, but right now all I can think about is how in 20 brief weeks I will be starting all over with another baby to add to this already complicated mix.
The baby part has been difficult for me both times, though Cole was much more tolerable than my start with Aiden. Oh, that first year with Aiden I felt ruined. I remember sitting in the doctor's office on this layer of roll paper, in an outfit of pink paper six weeks after his birth and feeling as though I was drowning. Yes, I know I probably should have been medicated but that was't where my mind was. I felt like this was my new life, this is what it is when you have a child.
I had become a mother and it felt like someone had placed shakles around my wrists and somehow worked them around my desire and ability to function as a person. I couldn't do anything without this incredible stragey session of how to handle the baby or even to handle myself. I couldn't very well shower and get dressed in one chunk of time without having to stop ever 10 minutes or more to fuss with this crying blob, much less feel ready to take him out with me. Even the simplest errand, like going to buy super maxi pads for this ridiculous period that never ended (which no one had bothered to mention to me while asking me if I was so excited for the bundle of joy's arrival.) I was stuck in so many ways that I had never been before and it was suffocating.
As I sat on that paper covered table, sweating, bleeding and lactating through all that paper that surrounded me, I couldn't help but find myself thinking that the little baby had done it again. I had actually managed to feed him, change him and even hand him over to someone else so I could be alone for a few moments and I ended up trapped, naked under a bunch of paper, soaked in the aftermath of him coming out of my body.
What the hell could I do now? I was free of his presence, but once again trapped by his existence. Would this feeling ever end? Why do people do this? What could be so great in the coming years that would make me want to be further shackled by the arrival of subsequent children? As I write this, pregnant with my third childI still have very few logical answers to any of these questions.
I do know now that things do get easier, and more difficult at the same time. Having some perspective of where we have been was an amazing tool after the birth of Cole. The real problem though after Aiden was trying to figure out how to still be me and have room for him. I couldn't go to the grocery store without feeling overcome with jealousy and sadness as I watched people casually walking through the aisles as if life completely revolved around them. As if no one's life could be traumatized by their trip to HEB lasting an extra 10 mintues. Oh I know, I was selfish and feeling sorry for myself that I no longer could only focus on me, something even my amazing husband usually let me do. These kids were going to teach me a lesson I probably needed to learn, make me a better person, but I just wanted to feel free again.
Over time I have worked to find more of Leslie again. That shackled feeling has become more of a loose rope, and not around my neck thank God. I always can feel the tug of my children's existence, they are part of me, but I am working very hard for thme to not be all of me. The shock of their presence and the all encompassing intrusion they bring is more normal now and I do my best to cherish it at times, distance myself when I need to, and completely freak out or breakdown when that's how I feel....which results in Daddy's turn. I don't cry as often, at least not until the arrival of the third maybe, but somedays a good cry along with the kids is necessary. Almost equally important though is wiping the tears, calling a babysitter, a friend or my husband and having some time when the kids aren't the number one pull on me. Maybe I need to reread this at the beginning of June while life with three is beginning....

Grandma and Tractor Visit for 6 Weeks!

When faced with the prospect of my parents visiting for 6 weeks I had a mixture of emotions. Mostly I was very excited about having them closer than a plane trip to spend time with them, have my children be able to develop a stronger connection to their grandparents and well, let's be honest, I was jumping out of my chair excited at the idea of free babysitting and assistance for any moments I just felt I didn't want to be the full time caregiver of two little boys. This excitement was amplified by the beauty of their stay being only about 10 days at my house and then the rest of the time staying at a rental house about 20 minutes away. A perfect blend of close but not too close.

Now let's be clear, I love my parents. I think they are wonderful. But like all people, including myself, there are things about them that are more challenging to be around for an extended period of time. See, my parents could easily have Saturday Night Live characters based on them. They are hilarious, though not always trying to be, and not always laughable to me in the moments I find myself the direction for their idiosyncrasies. My Mom in particular has a slew of things that are just, well....crazy. These things are so amusing from a distance but drive me bonkers at times when she and I are trying to spend large amounts of time together. I had a lot of reasons to feel a healthy amount of fear along with all that excitement about their new proximity to me.

They arrived a few days prior to Christmas and now we have been together for a month. All the joys are definitely present with their proximity. I can run to Starbucks or the grocery store without any company, I can cook or not cook at my leisure knowing that someone will always help get food and I have adults to share any moment with rather than just two children that really don't seem to care much about my thoughts and perspective on the world. (Totally my kids' loss I know, and something I am sure they will realize any day now.) I love watching my Dad allow his grand kids to explore the world in a way that Alex and I would not, like taking Aiden to Baskin Robbins and actually walking with him through the drive through line after finishing their ice cream so that he could talk through the speaker and try to figure out the intercom system, much to the annoyance of the teen working at Baskin Robbins. I see my Mom reading way more books than I would to my very story oriented children and play imagination games with them that I only have the patience for in very, very small doses. ( I really only like to play imagination games that allow me to carry about my business while periodically commenting that I am scared of the rockets or I am swimming through the ocean away from the sharks.) It is great to have them, no question.

But, you had to know a but was coming, they are still my parents. Along with these wonderful things, I am also forced to listen to an onslaught of ideas, tips and trips down memory lane about how it was when I was little from my Mom. These are usually accompanied by a tone of wonderment and confusion (read judgement) at something my kids or I am doing because she never experienced that with Kyle or me. (There is always an implication from my Mom that if she has not heard of it or done it, it is very difficult to believe in it. Like roseola, strong-willed tantrums, or crying it out.) I receive her daily weather reports about all regions of the country (including a use of meteorological terms that make me seriously wonder if she studied weather in college or if she might have a crush on a weatherman in Indy) and a constant update on gas prices from any and all gas stations she has passed during any outing around town...along with a brief lecture on how every penny counts and how she doesn't want to just throw her money away even if I think it is stupid. (For the record, I have never used the word,"stupid" to describe this obsession with gas prices, but I have frequently voiced that driving around town to search for a price lower by a few pennies might not be the most effective cost saving measure.) We have had to rearrange plans due to rain, which would ruin her hair. Oh boy, her hair, it is washed and set weekly and is the source of much of my mother's energy. Rain, wind or any amount or perspiration can be the source of countless hours of complaints or questions about how her hair looks now. She actually carries a duffle bag with her to my house every time so that she doesn't have to leave her jewelry and other "valuables" at the rental for fear of someone stealing them. The fear of someone stealing from her is a constant source of all sorts of strange behavior from my Mother, anything missing from a ring to a lint roller could have been stolen by someone that walked into her house (usually when my Dad was around but left the doors open) and took only that object and left without notice. Do not discuss nutrition with her, you have no credit. She took a class on the chemistry of food in 1967 and is basically THE expert on what you should eat, how much and which foods will actually work against one another in your body...and NO, there is not any new research that could be correct on "different" types of diets that are good for you....unless mentioned on ABC's Good Morning America which is 90% of the time spot on for advice. I could go on and on and on. She is funny.

My Dad also brings his own set of interesting and at times very frustrating attributes. My fridge has a constant stock of cans of Natural Light which can make loading or unloading the fridge inconvenient. He offers help to do small things around the house, but hanging a picture can take hours or even days. He is a perfectionist to a fault. He will make a mock up of any items to be hung or moved out of cardboard and then attempt to place that in the suggested location. Several measurements, smoke breaks, and questions will ensue before any hole is drilled or hammered into a wall. His cigarette smoking has now taught my children to take any small object, such as a chip, and pretend to smoke like Tractor. This is also made more disturbing by the fact that they often smell of stale cigarette smoke due to their prolonged playtime with my father. Aiden has started to say "damage" when frustrated, which is what he believes my father is saying when he says "dammit." It doesn't really make sense but I don't know how to correct him without a discussion of the word my Dad is actually using and I really don't want him saying that at Baptist preschool. (I have some serious deprogramming to do.) He is unable to hear the TV unless it is loud enough for me to hear while trying to nap in my bedroom. He is incapable of answering a question directly either due to my lack of clarity in the manner in which I asked it (I find it difficult to be as specific as my father demands at all times) or he doesn't feel 100% sure about his answer because he does not believe in making any assumptions or guesses....which is an interesting polar opposite to my Mom's ability to answer any and all questions regardless of her knowledge about the subject or certainty of her perspective on the issue. He takes 20 minutes to express a complete thought because he must pause for a while in between words to think and/or smoke. He also refuses to let any fault in grammatical sentence structure pass, regardless of the emotional state of the person speaking....there is no excuse for poor grammar, it is important to use "me" every time it is the object of a preposition, even if you are crying.

All in all though, things are good. I am happy they are here and I feel lucky that they are so willing and able to be this present in my and my childrens' lives. I feel that someday I will most likely be as annoying to my children as my parents are to me so this is a wonderful exercise in my patience. I am happy that my Mom and I especially have been getting along better than normal, primarily because I am choosing to view her craziness as just a part of her that gives me plenty to things to write about and giggle about after I speak to her, maybe I should contact Lorne Michaels about that SNL character sketch?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Will my baby girl grow a penis?

When pregnant with my first child, Aiden, I developed a (some would say irrational) fear that he would be born with a tail. I read in one of those fantasticly frightening baby development books that at some point in the fetus' development there is a tail present which grows into the body over time. My doctor tried to tell me this was unlikely, as was my fear that he could be born covered in feces (also in one of the books.) I only felt better after delivery and confirmed that there was in fact not a tail on his body and though he was disgustingly covered in all sorts of stuff, there was no poop to be seen.

I recently found out that after two boys I am having a girl and with this information I have now developed a new fear. My sonogram was conducted "illegally" through a surgeon friend's nurse and the idea that she could be wrong is constantly hauting me. With 3 weeks left until my own doctor's sonogram which I consider to be the final word in gender calling...my mind is racing.

When contemplating a third child I truly believed that I would be ok whether it was a boy or a girl, but once I had the results in an envelope waiting to open it with my husband, I felt terrified of no longer having the possibility to hope that the baby growing inside me could finally be my little girl. I love my little boys. I am grateful for them, find them halarious and marvelous, but the idea of that little girl to do girl things with and someone to throw a bow on made me actually giddy inside. As the day progressed and I waited for my husband to get home and the kids to go to bed I became more and more nervous that the envelope's contents would say "it's a boy," and I would have to start crying.

Instead of it's a boy, that sonogram picture showed a full, spread-eagle, pretty clear girl. I did cry though, with joy. My husband and I were elated to have the opportunity to have a little girl. We were excited for our little boys to have a little sister. I was still so excited about all those damn bows.

Now though my anxiety has not ceased with the knowledge of her being a girl. I have developed the fear that possibly my daugter will grow a penis. Maybe she actually is a boy and it was just tucked between her legs for the picture. Maybe she is one of those freaky kids that will be born with girl and boy parts and we'll have to pick her gender (still firm on a bow wearer.) With every little girl gift I am given, every stroll through the little girl side of gymboree, I feel I am tempting fate. Will I be punished for cheating on my ob? Will I be forced to put a bow on my third boy? Three weeks until this fear can diminish, only 21 until it can end.

Is anyone else scared of this?