Saturday, June 28, 2008

snails and puppy dog tails

It has recently come to my attention that I have a boy living in my house. A boy, who despite his small stature and diaper wearing attire and limited vocabulary, is very clearly and obviously A BOY. At this moment, he is standing in front of me with his tricycle helmet on his head, a baseball mitt on his left hand, a tee ball in his right hand, his baseball bat at his feet, and he is experimenting with pitching. He smacks his ball carefully into his mitt, as he's seen on the televised Red Sox games, lifts his right leg in his modified pitcher's stance, and tosses the ball across the room.

18 months old today, and he thinks he is a professional ball player.

Before I open my eyes every morning, the first words I hear floating over the monitor are "bay-ball". Gabe often launches into long diatribes with "bahl" and "bay-bahl" and sometimes "bat" sprinkled in. Yesterday, I was trying his bathing suit on him while I packed for Aruba, and he insisted on running around the house for over 2 hours in the swimsuit (with inflated flotation devices around his waist) with his helmet on, his mitt and ball, and sweat running down his cheeks. His hair looked as if he'd just gotten out of the pool, he was so drenched in sweat from wearing his helmet indoors.

He likes basketball, golf, football, soccer, and any other sport that has a ball. Josh watches sports in the evenings sometimes, and while we're alone at home, Gabe often begs me to turn the tv onto sports. I've tried to convince him to watch something more age-appropriate instead, like Sesame Street perhaps, but his true love is sports. Every sport. Yesterday, he watched 45 minutes of golf. Golf! What could he possibly find interesting about golf? But he exclaimed excitedly over every putt and drive, and would narrate the scene for me while he watched.

And I swore I wouldn't let my kid watch tv, and now look at us. I have to distract him with playing outside to get him to stop asking for sports on television. Parenting is such a humbling experience sometimes.

Gabe has a nervous breakdown over every bus, truck, construction vehicle, motorcycle and bicycle we pass while driving. He points every vehicle out to us, even if all we can see is a piece of an orange crane over the tops of the skyscrapers in Boston. He's seen it, even if it is 3 miles away, and he wants us to know. He has learned the names for a "diggah", "dump cruck", "fah cruck", "cah", "cah-crain (train)", and loads of other words that bear no resemblance to the actual word, except that we recognize the meaning because he always calls them the same thing when he sees them. There is construction going on in our town center, and before we are even 5 blocks away, he starts naming all the vehicles he will see. I dread the day when the construction is finally done, I'll have a devastated child on my hands.

Our neighbor gave us a whole collection of orange construction vehicles, and we have to fight with Gabe to get him to eat and sleep without them. I've selected a couple of favorites, and even though they weigh a ton, I can't imagine trying to get to Aruba without them. We'd have to find a toy store near the hotel tomorrow morning if he woke up without his "crucks". It is an obsession.

The craziest thing, though, is that we have no books about trucks and we don't talk about trucks. I don't know anything about sports, in fact, I detest watching sports and do it as little as possible. His obsession has come from some inner part of his little boy psyche that knew it loved sports. He used to walk around the house with his plastic chicken leg from his play kitchen and pretend the it was a baseball bat. He'd toss around the dogs' toys because he didn't have balls. Until yesterday, he would put one of his shoes on his hand and pretend it was a mitt. He knows he loves sports, and he's not afraid to improvise.

It isn't fair really. Now I'm totally outnumbered when I have both Josh and Gabe whining for baseball every evening. I don't care whether this baby is a boy or a girl, but it better not love trucks and sports. I'm looking for my next child to love to take walks and explore flowers, and maybe play with a little with a play kitchen. Tea anyone?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

just looking chubby, not pregnant

I don't want to alarm you, but I think this baby might be trying to kill me.

We're 14 and a half weeks and counting and I'm STILL sick. I still spend a good chunk of every day so nauseous that I can't move, I'm so tired that I lie on the couch for hours every afternoon, I have blinding headaches at least every other day, and did I mention the nausea? The nausea is pushing me over the edge. I was feeling so much better with Gabe by this point, so there are moments that are demoralizing. My OB keeps trying to make me feel better by promising that I'll feel better by 15 weeks, but again, since this baby might be trying to kill me, I feel little confidence about her promises.

Of course, there are really great things, like some stretches of the day where I feel pretty good. That is an improvement, it used to be 24/7 nausea. Now it's more like 14/7 nausea. There are also the tiny little flutters that I feel, and those tiny little flutters feel suspiciously like baby movements. It seems far out, because I didn't think you'd be able to feel a baby so soon, but I am choosing to believe that it's more baby than gas. There's also the great news that the baby checks out as totally normal, and our big ultrasound is scheduled for July 15th. I can't wait to check out all the little bits (except for the really revealing ones, of course, although I'm so tempted).

The strangest thing of all, is that I am barely showing. With Gabe I already had a decent pooch of a belly, but these days you'd never know that I'm pregnant. Only in the last two days have I seen any kind of transformation, and I suspect part of this is the fact that I started wearing maternity shirts and pants so they at least billow out to give an impression of a belly. Even my mom was disappointed with my lack of belly when she got off the plane for her visit this week. If I hadn't seen that baby repeatedly on the ultrasound, I'd be doubtful that it was in there at all. Don't get me wrong, the appearance of lovely pregnancy induced cellulite is here. I'm bloated and my thighs and butt have started growing already. I'm just missing the telltale tummy. Sadly.

Besides that, things are good. We're planning for a last minute vacation we planned for next week. I found a fabulous timeshare rental for a condo on Craigslist in Aruba for dirt cheap. Dirt dirt dirt cheap. We booked the tickets with mileage, and since we have a kitchen, we're hoping to eat most of our meals at the discount grocery store rate. I plan to spend every waking minute at the beach and the pool, reading trashy novels, eating ice cream, and hopefully growing that nonexistent belly. We leave on Sunday, and I am counting the minutes until then. And packing bathing suits and lots of sunscreen. Oh, and hoping that I'm not too nauseous to do nothing on the beach.

Monday, June 16, 2008

to test or not to test

When the OB explained the Ultrascreen test to me, the prenatal test that measures your odds of having a baby with a chromosomal defect, she went into great detail about what the test measured. She carefully explained what different areas were examined through the ultrasound, what the blood test looked for, what the results meant.

When I asked what happened if something came back 'bad', she responded that it wouldn't. "I know," I said, "but what if it does?" "Well, it won't. Your odds are low, only slightly higher than when you were pregnant with Gabe." I nodded, but pressed ahead, "But what if it does? What happens then?" She seemed slightly bothered by my question, "We might advise an amniocentesis, but you wouldn't have that until 16 weeks." I was surprised by this, imagining what it would be like to live with the possibility of heartbreaking news for a month before I could have any kind of confirmation. We talked about an amnio and it's risks, and then moved on. I didn't realize until later that she hadn't really answered my question. In fact, she'd appeared to be purposefully resisting answering the question, even when I insisted.

This bothers me. It bothers me that she would offer a medical test, but then not have the guts to talk about your options if that test comes back with a devastating result. I can't imagine what I would do if such a thing came to pass, in fact, I pretty much push the possibility out of my mind whenever it arises. But I'd expected her to explain the medical side of everything, to describe the options or lack of options you have when you get the results of tests like these.

I am a "need to know" kind of person. I have loads of friends who have refused such tests, because they know in their hearts that they would keep their baby no matter what happens. I need to know. It doesn't matter what the answer is, I want to know as much as I can (except the sex, of course, which seems a little random, doesn't it?).

We had the test last week, and everything looks great, although we're still waiting for the results of the blood test. I dropped the subject with her at the actual testing appointment of what we would do if something came back with high odds of a chromosomal defect, because she was so positive about the ultrasound and said that the ultrasound made up 3/4 of the actual test. Still, it surprised me, especially at a major teaching hospital in Boston.

Maybe I'm totally mistaken about the way she was acting, but it seemed clear to both Josh and I that she was avoiding answering, and that concerns me. If you're faced with a terrible decision, I would hope that your doctor would be supportive and open about helping you through those decisions. In the meantime, I'll be keeping fingers and toes crossed that all my tests come back normal.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

someone should have mentioned this parenting thing was hard sometimes

The other day, my mom asked me if I would do anything differently with a second child than I'd done with Gabe.

It's funny, because I realized in that moment that having a second child is an opportunity to fix some of the mistakes you made with your first- and make some new ones along the way too! It is hard for me to say at this point what I'd do differently, because let's be honest, I've only had 17 months of parenting. I have a feeling mistakes will come to the surface a little later on, but after careful consideration, these are what I think I will do differently.

1. I'll stress less about breastfeeding.

I was a breastfeeding nazi, but only to myself. I was super champion to all my bottle-feeding friends, and I would beg some of my uber-stressed out friends to let go of some of the stress when they were killing themselves with difficult breastfeeding situations. But for some reason, I couldn't cut myself the same break. I think this is my ultra-perfectionist side shining through. Thankfully, my first six months of breastfeeding were relatively easy and my milk production issues didn't show up until around 9 months, but those last few months were tough. I pumped CONSTANTLY, sometimes 5 or 6 or 7 times per day, sometimes I'd sit in the kitchen in tears until 1 am, shutting the breast pump on and off and on and off. I even got up at 3 or 4am at times, just to stimulate production. It was craziness. All in an effort to avoid formula. Craziness, I tell you.

2. I'm going to leave my children once in a while.

I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I've never left Gabe overnight. Not once, not yet. I've never had a non-family babysitter, which wouldn't be an issue if I had family close by, but I don't. This means that Josh and I have been out alone maybe 3-4 times? Maybe. We haven't gone to the movies or out for coffee or for walks alone, because our babysitters are so rare, and those same babysitters are generally in town to visit us so we can't very well ditch them when they visit. The non-family babysitter has half-way to do with anxiety, and a lot to do with finances, so I can't totally berate myself, but still. With baby #2, we are definitely going to have to find a way to budget some help. Even if it is 2 hours a week, I think it'll do me good to have a tiny bit of "me" time.

3. Josh is going to have to help more.

Don't get me wrong, Josh helps a lot, but I have fallen into that silly trap of showing that I can do it all. This first trimester awfulness has shown me that I have to make a change. He has to step up and take a bigger chunk of childcare and house operations. Period.

4. I won't always assume this baby is hungry when he/she gets up at night.

When I was still breastfeeding, I assumed Gabe was hungry every time he woke up, even though the books and the pediatrician said he probably wasn't. I know he wasn't getting a ton of milk every time he fed, so I thought quantity was important and I'd feed him in the middle of the night even when we were approaching a year old. Once I'd stopped breastfeeding, he generally stopped getting up at night, but occasionally during trips away from home or when he was sick, he'd wake up and I'd give him a sippy cup. It was so easy, because he'd drink the milk and fall right to sleep. But sometimes, even after a trip or an illness, the waking up would linger and he'd be getting up for a week straight, often just a few hours after dinnertime and asking for milk. So one day, about a month ago, I just stopped. He woke up, I soothed him back to sleep. He got up again and asked for milk and I told him there was none, so he went to sleep. And STOPPED WAKING UP. I wish that when I cut out the nighttime nursing sessions, I'd never started with the sippy cups because I have a feeling we were waking up for much longer than we needed to. Hopefully I'll remember this in another year and a half.

5. I'll print some pictures out, maybe complete a baby book or two.

I still have no baby book completed, and although I have 5000+ pictures, I never print them out. This has to change, or my children will disown me in the future.

6. I'll email out more pictures too.

My poor mom has taken to paying me $5 a picture, if I'll just send her some.

7. I'll treasure the babydom more.

Now I know just HOW fast it really passes. I am treasuring my toddlerdom these days. I want to burn images into my mind- like Gabe standing at the coffee table with a car in his hand, vroom vrooming around the glass top, or singing to him last night in his rocker and the way he turns his face to look at me, watch me sing and give me the sweetest little half smile, or the way he comes over unsolicited and gives me hugs and kisses. Oh, the heartbreaking cuteness.

8. I'll be more patient.

This one will be the hardest, I suspect. Between the baby and the two dogs, patience runs short these days.

9. I'll cut myself some slack.

Or maybe this one will be the hardest, actually. I'm trying, though. A few days ago, I put the dogs in the kitchen, Gabe in his crib, and took a nap when I couldn't see straight from first trimester exhaustion. And I didn't even feel guilty about it. Everybody hits their breaking point sometimes.

What about you? What would you do differently? What advice can you give me? I'm more than a little nervous about this whole two kids under two thing. I have a feeling this winter is going to be a tough one!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


We lost our minds last week and decided to take Gabe to Chuck E. Cheese. It's been ages (read: decades) since I've seen the lovable giant mouse, and I was anticipating lots of loud noise, an overwhelmed child, definite over-stimulation, and lousy food.

We were, to say the least, pleasantly surprised. I'd gone on the website beforehand and scored some great coupons, so for $25, we had a large pizza with multiple toppings, 4 sodas, 1 milk, one salad bar, and 40 tokens. All of the games were 1 token each, so 40 tokens went a long way. The pizza was shockingly good! Thick crust, lots of cheese and veggies, Gabe gave his thumbs up approval. The salad bar was super fresh and yummy, and we each found tons to eat on it. The staff was pleasant and kind and responded to every request quickly, including running over with a high chair and a complimentary bib, converting a soda to a kid's milk at no additional charge, and letting Gabe pick out a mylar balloon even though he was 40 tickets short.

Gabe loved the characters singing on stage, although he was careful to keep a safe distance from them. He enjoyed all of the ride-on mechanical toys and kept running away with our skee balls while Josh and I were trying to play. He was a little too young for the jungle gym area, but he loved exploring all the different areas. The beauty of taking a 17 month old to a video game place, is that he didn't understand the whole tokens thing, so there was no begging but lots of clapping and laughing while he watched the games do their thing. Shamefully, he actually did better than I did on a particular game just by smacking his hands down on the buttons while I tried to use actual skill.

Anyway, it was cute and fun and we'll definitely be back. Maybe next time with some friends, now that we know that we can survive it with a toddler. In the meantime, we'll enjoy some pretty cute pictures!

Geez, I love that kid!