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.