Friday, November 4, 2011

What the Hell Have I Done?

After experiencing a chemical pregnancy in June, I made the statement that I would still immediately announce any future pregnancy I might experience to the world.  That has turned out to be a lie.  I wasn’t intentionally dishonest, but at the time I could not have known how it would feel to see the word “Pregnant” in a testing window again.  When I did see that word, about four weeks ago, I found that announcing my news was the last thing that I wanted to do.  I told my husband, and a few people very close to me, but I found myself phrasing the news with words like “I think,” “might” and “maybe.” 
This may sound strange, but I think when I found out I was pregnant in June a part of me immediately knew that something wasn’t right.  It was unexpected.  The timing was off.  Maybe I felt like if I told people about it I could make it be true, I could erase that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach with smiles and feigned joy. Though I was saddened when the pregnancy did not work out, I cannot say that I was completely surprised.   This time, despite outwardly seeming unsure about it, I knew in my gut that I was pregnant and that things would work out just fine.  I knew that this was it.  Is it.  I am eight weeks pregnant.  I’ve seen the baby through ultrasound.  I’ve listened to its heartbeat.  In early June I will have another child.
I think that I have put off announcing the news mostly because I’ve needed time to accept it myself.  I should be ecstatic.  I have accomplished my goal, done what I set out to do.  This time I was actively trying to get pregnant.  I wanted it desperately, and the months of trying have been agonizing.  Now though, instead of feeling unfettered joy I find myself stuck with the thought of, “Holy shit.  What the hell have I done?”  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely terrified.
How am I going to manage Emma and being pregnant?  The general achiness, numbing fatigue and mildly nauseous feeling that follow me around constantly have already made things difficult.  I feel like I don’t have the energy or strength to deal with her.  And then I get to add overwhelming guilt to my list of ailments.  I feel very alone.  With my husband on the road most of the time and my mom buried in schoolwork, I feel as though I have to deal with more than I can handle in my depleted state.  Being pregnant with Emma was so much easier.  Whatever made me think that being pregnant and being responsible for a toddler at the same time was a good, or even manageable, idea?
And if I can’t even manage Emma and being pregnant, how the hell am I going to manage Emma and a newborn?  I can’t even think about middle of the night feedings without getting choked up.  Bottles.  Formula.  Burp clothes and bibs and spit up.  Blow outs.  There is so much that I don’t miss about having a little baby around.  And now, in just seven short months, I get to experience all of that again.  This time though, I get to experience it with a two year old in tow.  Really, what the hell have I done?
I realize that this is all so negative, and that is not what an announcement of a new life should be.  Sometimes, I do feel excited.  I did want this at one point.  I think when the first trimester fog lifts I will remember exactly why.  Emma needs a sibling.  If you read my previous blog you will understand just how desperately.  I know that my family is not complete right now.  I always intended to have more than just one child.  And I know that, even though new babies are demanding and needy, they are also pretty adorable.  I think Emma will be an amazing big sister.  I can’t wait to see how she reacts to a new baby in the house.  Even though she is temperamental at best, I have faith that she will love the new baby with her entire little heart. 
So there it is.  My big announcement.  I am pregnant.  Holy shit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Dog's Life

Before I had Emmalee, I had dogs.  Lanie, a daschund, was my first.  She was a gift I bought myself on my 20th birthday.  In many ways, she was my first baby.  I loved her so much more than I ever thought I would.  When she was a puppy I used to wake up in the night and check to make sure she was still breathing.  I threw her birthday parties with presents and expensive treats from a doggie bakery.  I pampered her with regular baths and grooming, new collars and matching leashes every couple of months.  She slept in my bed, curled against my side every night.  I doted and coddled in ways that had to be unhealthy.  Eventually, I decided Lanie was in need of a companion and I got Bi Jou, a male Pekingese.  That was a decision that I still question to this day.  Either way, I ended up with two dogs.  Which was fine.  And then I got pregnant.
Well, getting pregnant wasn’t really when everything changed.  It was when I had the baby.  What I had to learn the hard way was that dogs and babies are not a fun mix.  A baby is so tiny, and fragile, and clean.  Dogs, by their very nature, are so smelly, and germy, and hairy.  I found that taking proper care of the dogs and the baby was too difficult.  What resulted was a strict separation.  The dogs were banned from all parts of the house where the baby might be. 
That only lasted for so long though, because while the dogs are still contained to a certain portion of the house, the baby is everywhere.  Luckily, now she’s not so much of a baby and I am less concerned about her being contaminated by yucky dog germs.  Even if I were concerned, short of getting rid of the dogs, there wouldn’t be much I could do.  Because Emma is pretty much infatuated with them.
It started out as a relationship of curiosity.  The dogs were interested in Emma, and Emma was intrigued by them, but the interactions were standoffish at best.  Things progressed though as Emma started eating table food and the dogs realized that she provided a source of nourishment for them.  And not just the boring, crunchy dog kibble that I could provide, but the good stuff.  Goldfish.  Teddy Grahams.  Peas and peanut butter and cheese.  Lanie and Bij were instantly in love. 
Emma still needed some time, but as she has gotten increasingly mobile and involved with the world, she has gotten increasingly attached to the dogs as well.  Lanie, in particular, as Bij has antisocial growly moments that make Emma wail in despair.  When we enter the kitchen each morning, Emma’s first priority is to greet Lanie by yelling her name, “Yane-EEEE!” and giving her a big smile.  Throughout the day she is constantly monitoring Lanie’s whereabouts.  And, a trend that I am finding to be a bit disturbing, she now wants to mimic much of Lanie’s behavior.  If Lanie sits under the barstool by the wall, Emma wants to sit there too.  If Lanie wants to go outside, so does Emma.  If Lanie licks her paws, Emma licks her hands.  If Lanie eats food off the floor, Emma would also like to give it a try.  Emma is endlessly interested in the dog’s food and water bowls, but unfortunately I’ve got to draw a line somewhere.  She will crawl around on her hands and knees, and if I ask her if she’s being a doggy I get a delighted laugh in appreciation of my recognition of her efforts.  She enjoys chasing Lanie around with push toys that Lanie finds intimidating, laughing hysterically when Lanie runs from her.  She likes to set things, such as crayons and small toys and napkins, on Lanie’s back.  She pets her and pats her and lays her head on her with exclamations of, “Oh, Yanie!”  In many ways it’s pretty adorable.  Lanie is Emma’s BFF. 
In other ways, it’s a disturbing reminder that Emma is quite alone in the world.  She does not have much interaction with other children, since she does not go to daycare and is not involved in any play groups or anything like that.  Other than her parents and Grammy and Poppa, her only constant companions are the dogs.  It is clear that Emma is in desperate need of a playmate.  Perhaps in the form of a sibling?  Mommy is working on it, Emma. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Green Babysitter

When Emmalee was about five or six months old, I was babysitting a friend’s three year old.  I had Nick Jr on for him, and I happened to notice that Emma seemed to take an interest in a show called “Yo Gabba Gabba.”  For those without children, the premise of this live action show aimed at preschoolers is that an alarmingly skinny man in bright orange clothing takes some strange looking toys out of a boom box and says the words “Yo Gabba Gabba” to make these toys come to life.  He then watches over them, aiding when necessary, while they sing, dance, and impart such gems of wisdom such as “Don’t, don’t, don’t bite your friends!” or “You have to wait your turn!  It’s only fair to wait right there!”  The show is, admittedly, fascinating in its very strangeness.  Months later, probably when Emma was about nine or ten months old, I DVRed a couple of episodes of the show and would play them once in awhile for her, mostly when I felt desperate for a break or when I really needed to get something done like dishes or laundry.  She would watch for maybe ten minutes or so, but television in general just didn’t really hold her attention for very long.  And since she genuinely seemed to prefer reading books and playing to watching TV, I really didn’t have much guilt about it at all.
Then, seemingly overnight, things changed.  Emmalee would watch entire episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba, zoning out in an almost creepy way.  As soon as breakfast was finished and she was freed from her highchair, she would run to the television and demand, “Bro!”  (Her favorite character is a little green guy named Brobee, who she affectionately refers to as Bro.)  One or two episodes a day used to be enough to satisfy her, but the situation is slowly getting worse.  Now she wants to watch “Bro” all the time.  Most days she watches at least four or five of the twenty minute episodes.  And, I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t days when she watches even more than that.  Guilt is consuming me.
Yes, I do realize that I have control over whether or not the television is turned on.  It is completely within my power to limit Emma’s TV addiction.  But, to be honest, there are so very many benefits to turning on “Bro.”  She isn’t upset at all about my leaving for work in the mornings when she’s distracted by her favorite show.  And when I get home from a long day of teaching and feel like I could really use a few minutes off my feet, cuddling with Emma on the couch for twenty minutes of Brobee time is pretty appealing.  Cooking dinner, washing dishes, packing up Emma’s diaper bag and getting her dressed are all so much easier with a little help from the very best little green babysitter.  In many ways, I am as addicted to Yo Gabba Gabba as Emmalee. 
But so what, right?  I mean, it’s TV.  Everyone watches TV.  Nick Jr. calls itself “preschool on TV.”  So Emma’s attending a little earlier than I might have predicted.  How can learning to eat your vegetables, to be honest, and to never give up possibly be a negative thing? 
A quick Google search sheds some light on that question.  There has been a plethora of studies done on the impact of television in early childhood.  These studies have found that children who watch TV are more likely to drop out of school, less likely to go to college, and are more likely to bully other children, become obese, smoke, drink alcohol and have sleeping issues.  Well, shit. 
At first, my Googling was a little depressing.  I am certainly not setting out to raise a mean, overweight, alcoholic high school dropout who suffers from insomnia and eventually dies of lung cancer.  But I just can’t logically accept that Brobee could be to blame if Emma becomes any of those things.  As one study pointed out,” it’s hard to conclude that TV itself is the culprit, but rather the life choices and situations which include extra TV watching.”  That article goes on to say, “If more TV means less attuned, healthy connection time between child and parent, there’s going to be a problem down the road.”  So, there.  If Emma doesn’t end up as a productive, well adjusted member of society, Brobee is off the hook.  That blame will land squarely where it belongs, on my shoulders as her mother. 
Sometimes Brobee is a babysitter, but just as often I watch the show with Emma and we engage in it together.  We sing the songs.  We do the dances.  We talk about what she’s seeing.  And we still spend lots of time reading books, playing games, going shopping, and just experiencing the world together with the television set off.  So I am back to my “so what” stance.  So my eighteen month old has a favorite show, recognizes the characters, carries a plush Brobee around during the day and sleeps with him at night, sometimes starts doing the dances she remembers from the show in the middle of Target?  So what.  There are worse things.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m doing plenty of other much more reprehensible things on a daily basis that will have a way bigger impact on screwing her up than turning on Nick Jr.  We all have our vices.  For Emma and I, I guess it’s Brobee.  Let the perfect parent cast the first stone.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cosleeping Calamity

Cosleeping is a hotly debated topic in the world of Mommies.  Well, I’ve never actually heard real world Mommies talking about it much.  So I guess it would be more accurate to say in the world of internet Mommies.  Funny how the internet can conjure up all sorts of otherwise ignored topics.  Anyway, cosleeping is defined by Wikipedia (the experts on everything, I know) as “a practice in which babies and young children sleep in close proximity to one or both parents, as opposed to a separate room.”  Bed-sharing is a subcategory of cosleeping that involves having the baby or child actually in the bed with the parent(s).  Those in favor of cosleeping cite the practices of other countries as their irrefutable evidence that cosleeping is the way to go.  Apparently, if people in India do it, so should we.  They also say that it promotes bonding, encourages breastfeeding, and ensures that your child will go to Harvard.  (Ok, maybe the jury is still out on that last one.)
Personally, I am not a cosleeper.  I can barely tolerate bedsharing with my husband.  When it is time to sleep I want no part of him touching any part of me.  Maybe that’s weird, but I am what I am.  When Emmalee was a newborn, I did have her sleep in a pack n play next to my bed.  Which was, in a word, awful.  Every time she moved even slightly, I woke up.  As soon as Emma slept a good nine hour stretch at about two months old, I kicked her right out and into her crib in her own room. 
This topic is on my mind because when I got home last night I discovered that my air conditioning wasn’t working.  My house was an unbearable 82 degrees.  There was no way that Emma and I, who are used to sleeping in temperatures at least ten degrees cooler, would be able to suffer the heat through the night.  So, we packed up our things and headed to Grammy’s house.  The downside to this arrangement was that we had to resort to cosleeping.  I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of bedsharing.  I didn’t think it would be safe, given the circumstances.  Emmalee could have fallen off the bed.  Or I would have woken up with stiff limbs because if she is sleeping next to me I can’t move at all for fear of waking her.  So she slept in a pack n play next to the bed, a la her newborn days, and it was just as awful.  Every single time Emma rustled the blankets I was wide awake.  Inevitably, upon waking I would feel either the urge to pee or simply uncomfortable in my current position.  But, terrified as I am of hearing Emma cry in the night thanks to all the sleeping battles we’ve had, I wasn’t able to move.  I had to lay awake, barely allowing myself to breath, until I was sure that Emma’s breathing had become steady and rhythmic again.  Then, millimeter by slow and silent millimeter, I would adjust so that I was once again comfortable.  And getting up to pee was completely out of the question.  That arrangement was better than if she had actually been in the bed with me, but not by much.
Needless to say, I did not get a good night’s sleep.  As I sat at work today, feeling quite zombie like, I began to wonder what this says about me.  I not only can’t stand to sleep in the same bed as my child, I can’t even stand to sleep in the same room as her.  Am I a terrible mother?  Was I born without the cosleeping gene?  Maybe I just don’t love my child enough.  Maybe I’m not a nurturer.  Is there something wrong with me?  Can I possibly be an awesome mom if this is truly how I feel?
I am happy to report that the air conditioner was fixed today and Emma is sound asleep in her crib, in her room, all the way on the other side of the house.  What can I say, I need my space.  At least I have a sound monitor on.  Maybe I’ll lose a few points on the awesome scale.  Maybe Emma won’t go to Harvard.  But I will be sleeping soundly tonight, and that has to count for something, right?  I am much more awesome when I’m well rested. 
                                    (She looks cozy, right?)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

All Lovely Things Will Have an Ending

I am quite thoroughly depressed on this last night of summer vacation.  I’ve been incredibly busy this summer, so in many ways this has felt like a very long couple of months.  But they have been long in an awesome, amazing, I-never-want-them-to-end kind of way.  I have loved my summer as a stay at home mom.  If I could swing it financially, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to choose staying home full time until Emma is in school.  Unfortunately, that is not in the cards, so I suppose there is no point in dwelling in what ifs. 
I very much enjoy my job, and I’d be lying if I said that the back to school excitement has completely escaped me.  There is something magical about the start of a new school year, something that I’ve always loved since I was in elementary school myself.  Once you get past the sadness of summer’s passing, you can’t help but get swept away in the anticipation of new school supplies, new clothes, new friends, and the chance at a fresh start.  My head has been buzzing for a couple of weeks now with grandiose plans and ideas for this year’s crop of students.  So, in a lot of ways, I am ready to go back to work.
What I am most saddened by is not necessarily the end of summer, but the end of my unlimited time with Emma.  I have so thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I’ve spent with her these past nine weeks.  It has been amazing to go and do and discover and explore all day with her.  I love being there to hear the new words she says or to watch her learn a new skill or come up with a new dance.  I love being there to share every smile, wipe away every tear and even to endure every temper tantrum.  When I’m at work I feel like I miss out on so much of her life, because my time with her is cut down to just a few hours a day during the week.  I am lucky because my parents watch Emma while I work, but I still can’t help constantly worrying about her and missing her.  What I am most worried about now is that she won’t understand why Mommy suddenly has to leave her every day.  It breaks my heart to think about her being at home wanting me and missing me when I can’t be there for her.  I just wish there was some way for her to know and understand that I don’t have a choice, and that I love her so, so painfully much.    
I know I should focus on the positive.  I am lucky to have had this time with her at all.  I also have a great schedule with breaks and days off, so I really do get to spend a pretty good amount of time with her compared to most people who work a full time job.  And I know that Emma will adjust.  When I’m capable of thinking reasonably, between bouts of tears and despair, I know that my going to work isn’t likely to scar her or create any lasting psychological damage.  All the parenting books assure me that it is really the quality of the time you spend together, not the quantity, that is important. 
But it’s still depressing.  Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in a half gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Enough is Enough

Trying to get pregnant, in my experience, sucks.  There is little pleasure in fornication when in the back of your mind you keep wondering whether or not a life is being created at this very moment.  And then there is the waiting.  The constant checking of the calendar and counting of days, trying to decide how soon you can take a pregnancy test.  The reading and rereading of early pregnancy symptom lists.  The moments of, “Oh!  Was that an ache I just felt in my breast?  Does that mean I’m pregnant?”  Or, “I’m so tired.  Am I pregnant?  Maybe it’s just because I’ve been at a theme park three out of the past five days?”  It’s the not knowing that is so excruciating for me. 
I am truly ridiculous.  Though I try to play it cool and act nonchalant about it, conveying an attitude of “Ah, it will happen when it happens” to the outside world, on the inside I am a wreck.  Every month I check the due date calculator on Babycenter.com to see when my potential baby would be born.  And I plan the exact perfect day to schedule my c-section, thinking about how the timing is pretty great because… I can generally come up with several reasons.  I match the baby that might, maybe be forming inside of me’s astrological sign to my own and to Emma’s to get an idea of how compatible we will be.  And, even though I know that I shouldn’t, I get excited.
Anyone will tell you that you should not get anxious and over analytical when trying to conceive.  “Don’t think about it,” they will coach you.  But to that advice, I say this, “Don’t think about an elephant wearing a pink tutu.”  What is it that you are now thinking about?  That’s what I thought.  Not thinking about something that you are trying to not think about is much easier said than done. 
The chemical pregnancy I experienced two months ago has only amplified my anxieties.  I am as eager as I am terrified to feel a tingle in my breast or a twinge in my abdomen.  Now I am not only wondering whether or not I could be pregnant but also whether or not the pregnancy will stick.  It’s all too much.  This blog is to say, enough is enough.
I often wonder why I feel such a rush to get pregnant.  My original life plan was to wait until Emma is two to even start trying to conceive again.  I don’t know why this sudden rush of baby fever has hit so hard.  Honestly, I know part of my anxiety is hoping to time it out to coincide with the end of the school year.  The next two or three months are really prime baby making time for me.  But I can’t keep living in this tumultuous “I-must-get-pregnant-NOW!” bubble. 
I am implementing a self imposed Babycenter.com ban.  I will not visit the site once.  No more due date calculators.  No more baby horoscopes.  No more message boards with tons of fertile, pregnant women rubbing their success in my face.  No more.  I also refuse to buy any more pregnancy tests until I am actually late getting my period.  No more keeping them under the bathroom sink “just in case” where they can taunt me every time I reach for my makeup.  I am done.  I will force myself to live in the moment.  Maybe I’ll get pregnant.  Maybe I won’t.  But either way, I will be fine.  In the meantime I’ll keep reminding myself about how uncomfortable pregnancy is, and how painful c-section recovery is, and how helpless little newborn babies are, how they wake up every two to three hours all night long to feed, how they expel their body weight in excrement so that the tiny newborn diapers don’t stand a chance and poop ends up in crevices you didn’t realize human beings even had.  There is a lot of unpleasantness that goes along with getting pregnant.  Am I really, intentionally trying to go through all that again?
Yeah, I am.  Because there is a lot of pleasantness as well.  But I’m not thinking about that anymore.  Elephant in a pink tutu, elephant in a pink tutu…….

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All By Myself

Today Emma and I visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  It was just the two of us, and we hadn’t been there long before I began questioning the sanity of that decision.  Managing a 16 month old, her stroller and her varying moods all day by myself amidst thousands of other people in 90+ degree heat was certainly difficult.  But we have been to theme parks several times before, so I kind of knew what to expect.  I expected to sweat, I expected to have to carry Emma most of the day with one arm while pushing the stroller with the other, and I expected at least one or two total meltdowns.  This blog, though, is about something that happened that I was not prepared for.
Emma loves carousels.  For awhile she was content with just watching them, but as soon as she finally got on one she was hooked.  She has been on the Disney carousel a handful of times, the Sea World carousel and the carousel at our local mall.  At Disney the horses are big enough that I can sit behind Emma, and she has always seemed to prefer that arrangement.  When she has ridden the other carousels and I’ve had to stand beside her, she usually ends up wanting me to take her off before the ride has even stopped.  This is what I am used to.  I am used to Emma needing me for pretty much everything.
Today I sat Emma on a horse on the Disney carousel and buckled her safety belt and then climbed up behind her.  After just a moment though, she turned to me and pushed at my leg, stating firmly, “Nuh uh!”  At first I was so shocked that I wasn’t sure what she wanted, but then it became clear to me.  Emmalee did not want me to ride the carousel with her.  I climbed back down and she gave me an appreciative grin.  I couldn’t believe it.  This was the first time that Emma has really taken the initiative and given a clear message of, “Let me do this on my own, Mom.”  I wasn’t sure how to react.
Watching her holding on to the handles and proudly riding by herself was a bittersweet moment.  I shared her pride and was excited to see that she was being independent and doing it all on her own (with me standing close by of course, just in case).  But I couldn’t help also feeling a little saddened by the fact that my baby really isn’t a baby anymore.  She is growing up and this is just the first of many moments where I will see that she needs me less and less. 
Then again, she did make me carry her all day.  So I guess she isn’t completely done with me just yet.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The University of Emmalee

Being a mom is incredible.  I am often amazed at the joy and meaning that Emmalee has brought into my life.  Not to mention the knowledge.  There are so many things that I now know that might never have occurred to me if I didn’t have a child.  Here are some of those tidbits of wisdom bestowed upon me by my experiences with Emma.
*      When left in a sippy cup on the counter for a couple of days, milk will change from a liquid to a solid.
*      A box of Teddy Grahams can change your life.
*      Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on every morning at 8:00 am.
*      Car seats have magic portals to another dimension making things like debit cards and pacifiers disappear.  Strangely, dropped Cheerios and Goldfish are not permitted through this portal.
*      Who Brobee is.
*      The trunk and backseat of your car, restaurant booths, strollers, any carpeted flooring, or a towel or blanket placed on the ground are all acceptable diaper changing locations.  (Hey, not everywhere is equipped with a changing table!)
*      A single grunt can convey a myriad of complex thoughts, needs and requests. 
*      Dreft, elbow grease and the power of positive thinking can get almost anything out of a cute shirt.
*      It is, in fact, humanly possible to say the word no three million times in one day.
*      As soon as you tell a toddler that they can have something they lose all interest.
*      Rain, dog tails and caterpillars are both fascinating and hilarious. 
*      Ni Hao means hello in Chinese.
*      Where the first aid building is at every Disney park I've visited with Emma.
*      That it is possible to survive without sleep.
*      Almost any task, including but not limited to cooking dinner, washing dishes, doing laundry, and using the bathroom, can be successfully completed using only one hand.
*      Hearing the word mom from your child’s lips can make you want to burst with joy and scream with frustration all in the same moment.
*      It is possible to exist with your heart outside of your body.  (Credit to whoever originally came up with this quote!)
Feel free to comment with any lessons that having a child has taught you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summertime and the Living's Easy

Emmalee and I have really managed to start our summer off with a bang.  We’ve been running ourselves ragged for the past couple of weeks.  I honestly feel more exhausted when I finally crawl into bed at night now than I did while I was working.  Though, admittedly, I’m having quite a bit more fun.  Due to either the busy schedule or possibly just a summertime haze that has invaded my brain, I’m finding it impossible to write a decent blog.  So forgive me for the subpar quality that follows.
I have been literally dragging my poor little toddler all over town in the 90+ degree Florida heat because I hate just sitting at home with her (despite the thousands of dollars worth of toys we have to entertain ourselves).  Here is a brief recap of where we’ve been, what we thought (okay, maybe just what I’ve thought), and whether or not we’d do it again.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon/Blizzard Beach
I have mentioned these water parks previously in my spring break blog, but since we’ve been frequenting them so much this summer I thought I’d mention them again.  I was initially unsure about how Emmalee would do at a place like this, but it turns out that she seems to enjoy herself.  I have an annual pass and Emma gets in free, so this is a fun place to spend a couple of hours.  Sometimes we go with others and sometimes it’s just me and Emma.  Either way we have fun splashing around in the kid area, sliding down the kid friendly water slides and relaxing in the lazy river.  I’ve found its best to get there when the park opens at 9 and then head home by about 12:30 or 1 to avoid Emma’s Oscar worthy meltdowns.  She is usually sound asleep before we’ve even left the parking lot.  We bring lunch and Emma has a blast running in and out of the water and keeping the pool clean by finding any leaf, pebble or trash floating in the water and yelling “No!” while picking up and then handing the intruding debris to me so that it can be disposed of properly.  (Or dropped back into the water once she turns her back.  Whatever.) 



Leu Gardens
I was really excited to bring Emmalee to the butterfly garden here.  I envisioned an enclosed space filled with hundreds of butterflies and beautiful flowers where the photo ops would be numerous and exquisite.  Instead I found a so-so garden, a handful of butterflies that were gone before you could really get a good look, and a stifling, breezeless heat that made for a pretty miserable time.  Emma did get to see some turtles and a frog, but I do not feel that we got our admission fee’s worth.  I will not go back.

Chuck E. Cheese’s
We went here with some friends as soon as the place opened on a weekday, so it was pretty deserted.  The nice thing about bringing a fifteen month old to Chuck E. Cheese’s is that there is no need to purchase tokens.  Emmalee is happy enough just to sit in the vehicles, push the buttons and watch the blinking lights.  She doesn’t need for anything to be moving and she doesn’t realize the games aren’t actually functioning.  We were able to spend some time entertained in an air-conditioned environment for free, so I’d say the trip was successful. 

Monkey Joe’s
This is a place filled with a variety of inflated bounce houses and slides.  There are some toddler areas for children three and under, but I still ended up feeling like Emmalee is a little young for this.  She loves to bounce and flop all over my bed at home, so I had high hopes for Moneky Joe’s.  But Emmalee was more amused by the colored carpet squares and bright blue plastic chairs than she was with trying to navigate the unstable, bouncy surfaces.  I was also surprised that all children pay the same admission fee regardless of age.  If there was a lesser fee for children two and under, I might be a little more eager to return.  Though Emma did have fun, I kind of feel like we didn’t really get our money’s worth.  This is a place that I think Emmalee will love next summer, but this summer she just isn’t quite ready.

The Peabody Hotel’s Duck March
While Googling for things to do with Emma over the summer, I discovered that the Peabody Hotel has a twice daily event in which ducks are marched down a red carpet to a fountain where they are fed.  Emmalee loves ducks.  Specifically, she loves to quack loudly at them.  I was really excited to take her to this and she ended up loving it.  While waiting for the march to begin I had a very difficult time keeping Emma off of the red carpet.  But once those ducks made their appearance she was transfixed.  At first she just seemed to be in awe that real live and actual ducks were before her.  After watching for a few moments though, she began quacking away.  The whole event only takes about twenty minutes, but it was definitely fun and something that we would do again. 



Toys R Us/Target
Toys R Us might not seem like a summer destination, but it really is.  Emma and I go and spend an hour or two walking around the entire store.  We browse, we read books, we play with the Thomas train table.  Emma visits the stuffed animals and pushes the buttons on the electronic toys that light up and make noise.  It’s another air-conditioned place to kill some time.  Admittedly, I usually end up purchasing something, so I cannot say that it’s free.  At Target we have a similar tradition.  Emma also thinks it’s funny to scream “No!” and run in the opposite direction from me when we’re shopping.  I set a great example by then chasing after her and grabbing her with an exuberant “Gotcha!”  She laughs so hard at this that she gets hiccups.  The employees and normal people in the store probably don’t appreciate us treating these retail havens as our own personal playground, and I’ll probably regret engaging in this behavior with her someday too, but for now I’m enjoying the moment.

This ended up being really long, so if you’ve actually read the whole thing then go you!  A gold star is in order.  Emmalee and I have been busy but we’ve still got a lot of summer to go.  I’ll be sure to share again in another epically long, poorly written ramble for your reading enjoyment.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sippy Cup Standoff Update

Two months ago I wrote a blog where I made some goals and stated that I could not slink back into the pediatrician’s office at Emma’s fifteen month well check up and confess to having failed at meeting those goals.  Well, on Monday, I had to do just that.  My goals were to have Emma drinking from and holding her own sippy cup and drinking milk instead of formula.  At her fifteen month appointment I had to report that no, Emma is not drinking from a cup.  And yes, Emma is still on formula.  While I was at it I went ahead and informed them that not only is she still drinking a bottle but she won’t even hold it herself.  All my cards were on the table, and it was clear that I’d been bluffing.
The pediatrician okayed my plan to take the bottles away cold turkey.  He assured me that she would not be harmed or become dehydrated by this action.  So today I ended the standoff by taking offensive action.  Emma awoke to a home that had been cleared of bottles and all their paraphernalia.  I offered a sippy cup full of chocolate milk (the doctor’s suggestion to help get her not only drinking from a sippy, but drinking real milk) and Emma stubbornly pressed her lips together and shook her head.  She wouldn’t even have a taste. 
This continued throughout the day.  I kept offering her a sippy cup and she kept refusing to allow it past her lips.  By early afternoon I could tell that she was beginning to get frustrated.  I felt awful because I knew she was thirsty, but I would not give in.  And then, at just before 3 in the afternoon, a miracle happened.  I offered Emma a drink, just like I’d been doing all day, but this time she sat down and opened her mouth.  We are using a straw cup because I didn’t think Emma would understand that she had to tip a regular sippy cup back to get a drink since she has no experience doing this with bottles.  I put the straw in her mouth and she drank.  I was so relieved!  But then, something even more momentous happened.  I sat the cup down in front of her and she picked it up all by herself and continued drinking.  I was so thrilled I could have cried.  My baby was drinking from a cup on her own!
Emma spent the rest of the afternoon carrying her cup around and drinking from it like she’d been doing it all her life.  At first she was drinking juice, but at dinner time I offered her chocolate milk again.  She took a drink and proclaimed, “Mmm!” with a smile on her face.  So now I’m off the hook with buying toddler formula, too.  The pediatrician’s plan is to slowly start substituting chocolate milk with regular milk over the next couple of weeks until she’s drinking all regular milk.  I am so happy to have a plan in place that seems to be working.
Once I took action the standoff ended after only seven hours.  I’d been prepared for a much more difficult road.  I’m impressed with how quickly Emma realized that the bottles were gone and I am so proud of her for finally being a big girl and drinking from a cup.  I’m also proud of me for finally putting my foot down on this issue and not allowing Emma to make all the rules.  Maybe there’s hope for me after all.  I’d been thinking of this as my summer project, but here I am on the second official day of summer break with the project completed.  There’s nothing like being efficient.  Now I’ve got seven and a half more weeks to fill…

Friday, June 10, 2011

False Alarm

As soon as I saw the word “pregnant” appear in the little window on the pregnancy test I took, I couldn’t help but fall in love a little.  Sure, what was actually in my womb was merely a clump of cells not quite the size of a poppy seed, but what was in my mind was already a baby that I could hold and cuddle and care for.  I knew that I was testing early, and I knew that I was being a bit presumptuous announcing the news to the world at such a precarious stage, but that didn’t stop me from hoping and dreaming about all the precious moments to come. 
The same afternoon that I tested I began to have cramps.  The cramps worried me, because I did not experience them with Emma.  The next day I began to have some light spotting.  I think I knew at that moment that this pregnancy was not meant to be.  But I visited the doctor today, two days after the positive pregnancy test, and was told that I am no longer pregnant.  I experienced what is known as a “chemical” pregnancy.  That means that an egg was fertilized and I was technically pregnant for a moment, but the egg did not successfully implant.  Doctors think that chemical pregnancies are actually quite common, though most women never know that they occur.  If I hadn’t tested five days before my missed period, something the pregnancy test box claims is totally okay to do, then I wouldn’t have experienced this roller coaster of emotions.  I will certainly be refraining from any more early testing in the future.  The doctor is running a blood test to confirm that I am no longer pregnant.  I will have those results on Monday, but I am pretty sure that I already know what they will be. 
I’m trying hard not to feel crushed, but I kind of am.  I’m not heartbroken over the clump of cells that are gone, but more over what might have been.  That word, “pregnant,” had already become in my mind Emma’s sister.  My daughter.  My Annabelle.  She was going to be born in early February.  I know it’s kind of stupid, but I was already in love with her.  It hurts that she’s already gone.
When I’m being positive about things, I tell myself that this wasn’t Annabelle.  This was nothing, just a chemical reaction in my body, a blip on the radar that should have gone undetected.  I will still have my Annabelle someday.  This wasn’t meant to be her.  But sitting here, alone for the first time since hearing the words from the doctor and with the emotions still so raw, I can’t help but take a moment to grieve over what almost was. 
I do not regret sharing my experience.  Just as I felt news of being pregnant was meant to be shared, so too is news of loss.  I couldn’t imagine keeping it all in and having to bear this burden alone.  And while I am not likely to test early ever again, I will almost assuredly make an immediate announcement the next time I see the word “pregnant” in a test window.
I will try to be positive, as it is not in my nature to wallow in self-pity.  I will continue to put a brave face on and to be strong in the wake of what has happened.  I will force myself to keep my emotions in check and to think logically about this situation, to admit that calling this a loss is a bit dramatic.  I will get pregnant again.  Things will work out.  And in the meantime, I still have Emma.  My sun and moon and stars and all that.  I guess I’ll have to be satisfied for now.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oops, I Did It Again

Today, on my 27th birthday, I got some exciting and life changing news.  I have been undecided recently on the topic of whether or not I am ready to have another baby.  Well, ready or not, the decision has been taken out of my hands.  I am pregnant.  I actually found out at 3 am this morning.  I had been planning to take a pregnancy test today because I had a feeling that I might be and I thought it would be fun to find out on my birthday.  What I did not plan on was waking up at 3 am and needing to pee.  I decided that three in the morning was as good of a time as any, so I peed on the stick and was delighted when the work “pregnant” appeared before my eyes.
The first time I found out I was pregnant I was scared because I didn’t know what to expect.  This time I think I might be even more scared because I do know what to expect.  I am admittedly less than eager to experience the aches, pains and discomforts of being pregnant again, especially considering that this time I cannot spend hours lying in bed or on the couch with a toddler to run around after.  I am also pretty much dreading the whole hospital/delivering the baby experience.  It was not fun the first time around and I don’t imagine that it will be much more delightful the second time.  I am also very concerned about how all of this will affect Emmalee.  I’m not sure how my temperamental first born will handle all the change of having a pregnant Mommy and then a new baby in the house.  I don’t know how I’ll adjust either.  Emmalee is everything to me, the whole world and the sun and moon and stars of my very existence.  How will a second child fit into that picture?  Logically, I understand that I will love my next child just as much as my first, but it’s hard to get an emotional grasp on the idea.  I suppose it will come with time. 
The thoughts running through my head are certainly not all negative though.  I am very much looking forward to holding my tiny, precious little newborn.  I barely remember Emmalee being so small.  I hope that this time around I will be able to savor the moments more because I will not be so anxious and worried about doing everything just right.  If Emma has taught me anything, it’s that you kind of just have to go with the flow when it comes to babies.  There is no such thing as doing everything just right.  I am excited to decorate another nursery.  And I am most excited to add another little person to our family.  I’ve always known that Emma would not be an only child.  I can’t wait to welcome this new child into our world and for Emma to meet her new sister.  Yes, I said sister.  I feel pretty sure that it’s my little Annabelle growing in there.  
It is way too early for me to be announcing this since I’m only about four weeks along.  I haven’t even had the news confirmed by a doctor yet.  But this is the kind of news that is meant to be shared.  I am cautiously optimistic that everything will work out just fine.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ultimate Epic Fail

The following is a true story. 
Tonight I left my mom’s house later than I should have.  My truck driver husband was able to park at a nearby truck stop and take the afternoon off to visit with us, so we had dinner with my parents and then Emma and I had to drive him back to his truck before heading home.  I wanted to leave by 6:45, but then it looked like a storm was blowing in and I wavered on whether or not to go or wait it out.  Finally I decided waiting was ridiculous, and we left at 7:15.  I dropped Zach off at his truck and then headed home, driving towards an incredibly ominous horizon.  Driving in the rain makes me quite tense.  I was also aggravated that Emmalee had fallen asleep in the backseat, knowing that a nap in the car coupled with being out later than usual would make putting her to bed difficult.  My agitated state of mind is the only excuse I can come up with to shed some light on what happened next.
The drive home actually wasn’t so bad.  Though the sky looked ready to open at any second, I was nearly home before the really heavy stuff let loose.  I pulled into my garage, relieved to have made it home in one piece.  Here I should take a moment to share an odd habit of mine.  I always leave my car keys in the driver’s seat of my car.  I don’t really know why I do this, but I guess I just find it more convenient that the keys are right where I need them the next time I get in the car.  I usually have Emma and a ton of other stuff to carry in, and it’s just one less thing to worry about.  So when I got home this evening I hit the button to unlock all the doors, dropped my keys in my seat and shut my door.  I then went around the car to open the back door and get Emma, who was still snoozing peacefully.  Except the door didn’t open.  I frowned, feeling pretty sure that I had hit the button.  I went back around to my door, but it wouldn’t open either.  There was a brief moment of confusion and then sheer panic hit as I realized what I’d done.  I had just locked my keys and my child in the car. 
I spoke aloud, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, no, no, no, no!” as I ran around the car and tried each door handle, knowing that it was in vain but unsure of what else to do.  And then I ran into the house and called my mom.  She jumped into her car and drove to where my husband was to get the spare key from him.  Why my truck driver husband who could have potentially been thousands of miles away has the spare key to our vehicle, I do not know.  Luckily he was nearby tonight.  The waiting was pretty awful.  All I could do was pace and pray that Emma would stay asleep, all the while berating myself for being such an awful, irresponsible mother.  What kind of person locks their child in the car?  I mean, really?  It’s the kind of thing you hear about and think to yourself, “What an idiot.  I would never do something like that.  And yet, here I am, confessing that I am, in fact, that idiotic. 
The fact that Emma stayed asleep as long as she did is purely a miracle.  She never sleeps for longer than twenty or thirty minutes in her car seat, and yet tonight she slept for an hour.  She might not have ever even known that she’d been trapped if my mom hadn’t missed an exit due to poor visibility in the sheeting rain and taken an extra fifteen minutes.  As it was, though, Emma woke up and screamed her poor little head off for nearly that long.  When I was finally able to rescue her she was red and sweaty and disoriented.  I gave her some cold juice and a cool bath, and then lots of extra kisses and coddling before putting her to bed where mercifully she quickly fell back to sleep. 
Yes, this actually happened.  I feel exhausted and traumatized by the whole ordeal.  I think I can safely classify this as the ultimate epic fail in my career in motherhood.  I certainly feel like a failure.  I know that the situation could have been much worse, but it’s that very possibility that makes me feel both lucky and completely awful.  Yeah, things worked out alright and no major harm was done.  But it’s what could have happened that will likely keep me from sleeping tonight.  After this nightmare of an evening, the title of “Most Awesome Mom” feels like its way out of reach.