Monday, June 30, 2008

Do you think the Irish in-laws would be offended to learn that I always thought that thing was a gnome?

Somewhere in the past few weeks, in between catnaps and nursing, my baby turned into a big boy. I know that I've said this SO MANY TIMES over the past 21 months ("He's so big! When did that happen? All of a sudden he's such a big boy!") but this time IT'S TRUE.

My friends who've had children so close together warned me that this would happen. They tried to convince me of how strange it would be to bring home a little tiny baby and put said baby next to my not-so-tiny-anymore baby. They said that the contrast of that image would change Christopher from just being my baby to still looking like a baby, but just a really big one. Giant Baby, if you will.

They were right. For about, oh, a DAY.

Then he turned into a big boy. A big boy who eats KETCHUP. Which, honestly? EW. But it was inevitable, I realize, considering his Daddy owns a t-shirt that states, "I Put Ketchup On My Ketchup." And it's true. Ketchup on everything. Ugh. But I digress.

Just in the past few weeks, baby Christopher disappeared into the far recesses of my memory to be replaced by this little child who can run and jump, who spins around so fast that he makes himself dizzy and falls down, and who stands on the sofa, kicks his feet out in front of him and lands on his bottom. This is, without question, his favorite thing to do right now. Each time he bounces on that little bottom he squeals with delight and giggles as he balances himself to do it all again. And so begins my life as the mom of active little boys.

Beyond the physical changes, something has happened in his mind. He's developed an IMAGINATION. He picks up pretend snacks (off of the floor. I know. And yes, it does speak volumes. Volumes which I will not admit to.) and shares them with you when you ask. He can sit on the stairs of his grandparents' house and play FOREVER with this little ceramic leprechaun. He carries his own baby around the house, calls himself "Daddy", balances the doll on a pillow while I'm feeding Jake, and even burps him when he's all done.

Where did this come from? I have NO IDEA. It is certainly not something that I've fostered. Of all the attempts I make at educating my child in the ways of the toddler world, teaching him how to pretend never even crossed my mind.

Again, I find myself completely fascinated by the creation that is my child.

Perhaps starting a blog right at the same time you have a baby is not the best of ideas...

Jacob smiled today. Rumor has it that the smile occured while I was pulling his big brother off of him, which explains exactly how it is that I missed it completely. I find this to be the story of my new life as a mommy of two - life is turning into quite a fog. Much of the time I feel like I'm just getting by, doing my best to be cheery and "up" for Christopher while not really having a handle on much of anything.

I was warned. Not warned against having more children, although there are those who would be eager to provide such a warning, I'm sure. But warned that having two children so close in age would be a challenge, to say the least. The one that stands out in my mind was, "the first year is HARD. But then it's SO! MUCH! FUN!"

I'm looking forward to the "so much fun" and figuring that I won't remember much of the "hard." Or that's my hope anyway.

Despite the challenges, I'm finding life with two to be a delight. Okay, I admit that I was going to write "I'm finding life with two to be quite blissful" but figured that I'd be committed for having officially lost my mind. (This has occurred, by the way, as evidenced by the non-existent internet order that I placed last week and then waited and waited and waited for it to arrive only to discover that I never completed the order in the first place.)

Delightful though it may be, exhaustion is the name of the game at this point. Even when I'm feeling good, even in the moments (few and far between though they may be) that I'm actually pleasant to live with, my entire existence can be characterized by this sleep-deprived stupor.

This should explain why it is that my youngest son has only had one real (tub)bath in his nearly-six weeks of life, why my bathrooms have not been cleaned since my mom left nearly a month ago, why I can't seem to put enough words together to form a complete sentence....and why I can't think of a clever way to end this post.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Boys will be boys...

At yesterday's Father's Day gathering.....

Adorable 9-year old nephew: Auntie Annie? Where is your camera?

Me: It's right here.

Nephew: you have a dollar?

Me: I think so. Do you need a dollar?


Me: (catching on) OH! Would you like to take pictures for me today and I'll pay you a dollar?

Nephew: Well, a dollar....or anything up to five dollars would be fine, really.


This morning after breakfast.....

Christopher was watching HoHoHo and Jacob was sleeping in his chair. When he started to stir, Christopher (always the helpful big brother) grabs my nursing pillow, wraps it around his waist, and then bends down to pick up his little brother.

If only it were that simple!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hot Diggity

Yesterday I had a run-in with a hot dog. Or, rather, a flying hot dog attacked my face.

This is not the first time that I have been assaulted in this manner. Two of my three readers may remember a time in college when they conspired against me in the interest of a good laugh, leaving me to almost lose my dinner. I'll restate the story here, for the sake of posterity...

It was a typical evening in my college life. My threesome was getting ready to head to the cafe for an exciting dinner of everything that comprised "hot dog bar." Granted, the only night that was really worth heading to the cafe was Sunday night's delicacy, "chicken bar." Everything else fell short of that, without fail. But I digress. As we head out to dinner, one roommate decides that she is not up to the deliciousness that awaited, but could roommate #2 please sneak a hot dog out for her to eat later. I remember thinking to myself, "well, if you're not feeling well now, the last thing you're going to want is a nasty, three hours old hot dog." Being the type to keep my snarkiness to myself such that it only exists in my own head, I vowed to remind roommate #2 to get the hot dog, and we headed out the door.

Dinner. Evening Mass. Socializing. Studying.

Back in the room that night, I sat at my computer typing away. My roommate (#2) turns off her light, tucks herself in and offers her standard evening farewell, "goodnight. sleep well. Don't stay up too late."

I remember (VERY clearly) that I wrapped things up around midnight. I turned out the light. Climbed up into my bed and pulled away the sheets. As I did so I became INCREDIBLY aware of a rather unpleasant odor wafting up from my pillow.
"Ugh. Time to change the sheets," the innocent, sleepy co-ed thought to herself.

I climbed into my bed. I pulled my cozy blankets up over my shoulder. Ignoring the not-so-pleasant aroma I snuggled my tired head down into my pillow, when all of a sudden I could feel a cold, clammy object nuzzling my neck. Like they would in a Hollywood movie, the prior events of the evening flashed through my memory with the speed of a strobe light. Realizing what was caressing my neck I reached up with my right hand and discovered it.


Cold. Clammy. Rancid. And far more than three hours old.

You would think I'd found a dead animal in my bed or something, based on the ferocity with which I launched it across the room while at the same time forcing myself to not heave my own hot dog onto my sleeping roommate below me. It was horrible. Disgusting. Revolting....and it still has my roommates laughing nearly ten years later.

All that being said, it is clear that hot dogs and I do not have an amicable history. So, yesterday when Christopher chucked his hot dog at me while I was nursing Jake, and when said hot dog pelted me directly in the face, I was less than pleased.

Tossing his food off of his tray is something that he's been doing for a while now. Usually this delightful portion of our mealtime occurs when he's been sitting too long, doesn't like his food, or is just tired of sitting and would rather graze. (We have quite a grazer on our hands. It never fails that if we let him out of his chair, he'll eat at least half of what remains on his tray as he walks around the room supervising everyone else's mealtime.)

But yesterday was different. Yesterday we witnessed a turning point in Christopher's relationship with his little brother. He is still incredibly loving towards Jacob, giving him kisses, watching him sleep, sharing his toys/food/sippy/remote control/bowl of dried cranberries with him. That has not changed. But what has changed is his need for attention. Just like everyone said, he seems to have realized that this little friend who has come to play is not going home. Ever. This has upped the whiny-factor by at least 1000%. His passive aggressive attempts at letting us all know who's boss have remained the same - stealing Jacob's blanket. Pulling off his socks (although, if Christopher had it his way, NO ONE would ever wear socks. Don't ask. I don't know.) But he's also learned how to use his voice to let us know that just because Jacob is here doesn't mean that Christopher doesn't need us. Or want us.

Of course we know this. He just doesn't know we know this. Black spy, white spy.

Poor little guy. So yesterday's hot dog toss was not the result of being full, or bored, or wanting to graze. It was a statement. Letting me know that it is ridiculously unfair that Jacob gets to sit on my lap and eat his lunch while Christopher is banned to the chair. Right next to me. A distance of about 18 inches. MILES AND MILES in toddlerville.

I know that things could be a lot worse, and am positive that I'll realize the validity of that statement as we continue to settle into being a family of four. I'm just hoping that my years of being victimized by Oscar Mayer are in the past.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fully Initiated

The night we brought Christopher home from the hospital had to be the longest, most challenging night of my entire existence. It was awful. Of course, he had been a complete angel in the hospital, but by the time we got home everything had changed. It didn't take long for us to figure out that he was just. plain. hungry. There is a lot that went into that realization, a lot that I won't get into right now, but that is the general idea. He was hungry. And it took him quite a while to learn how to eat - even from the bottle. Just thinking back on that first night makes me cringe. The SCREAMING. Oh good heavens. It was awful.

But after that, everything seemed so easy. Well, not easy. Natural. Everything seemed so natural. Yes, I was tired, but that didn't matter because I could sleep whenever I wanted to. With my husband at work and my child being of the "I won't sleep unless I am nursing" temperament, if ever I was tired, I just grabbed the boy and snuggled in for a long winter's nap. And no one else needed me. I could be up all night and sleep all day. I could sleep next to Christopher all afternoon and no one else was waking up for a nap asking for bubbles or wanting to watch "Hohoho."

Now it's completely different. The amount of sleep I got last night is of no value to the little person in the next room who is calling from his crib because he has poo-poos. I can't nap off the grumpiness (and trust me, there has been a lot of grumpiness. I'm surprised Tim hasn't handed me my papers yet. Really.) because my world is now so much bigger than it was just three weeks ago. Being a mom of two is INFINITELY more challenging than just being a mom of one.
Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to imply that if you only have one child then you're any less of a parent than those who have 16. Or 18. Or however many they have by now. I just mean that, for me, this whole parenting gig has transcended the real. We're into the really real now. And that's serious stuff.
Tonight was my first night alone with both boys, as Tim had a meeting at church. He was probably aching to get out of here, in light of the fact that the woman formerly known as his wife has been replaced by this temperamental, hormonal, massively emotional basket case of a beast. Despite all of that, he offered to stay home as I waved goodbye from the screen door with tears streaming down my face. But we sent him on his way, eager to really try it out. Have I truly been initiated? Or is that going to wait until he's back at work and I'm really on my own. So Christopher and I read some books on the couch while Jake enjoyed a tasty treat. At 7:30 on the dot, Christopher pointed upstairs to his room. So up we went. He was already jammied up, as we were skipping bathtime tonight (what do you think, I'm THAT crazy?). Had this night been like every other for the past week, Jacob would have been asleep in his chair at that time and I could have just left him and read with Christopher in his room, had our snuggle and kiss, and dropped him into the crib. And everything would have been normal. For a few minutes anyway. But NO. Jake was AWAKE. WIDE AWAKE.

Throughout the whole of my pregnancy, this was my biggest concern. How would I handle bedtime or naptime with TWO? I thought that Christopher would be massively unimpressed if I put him in his crib and then walked out of his room with the baby in my arms - I figured he would wonder why the new kid got to stay up and play with mom while he was sentenced to three hours in the crib. I should have known better. I should have given my Christopher a little bit more credit.

Tonight we laid Jake on a blanket on the floor and, at my son's command, we sat next to him on the blanket (rather than in the rocker) and together we sang songs to the baby. For a while, Christopher even laid down next to him while we were singing. And he gave him a kiss before night-night. And I still got my snuggle. And I still got my kiss. And when Jacob and I left the room, Christopher sat in his crib with a smile on his face and waved bye-bye to us both.

I guess this initiation really is just in its beginning stages - as is the education. Not the education that I will pass on to my boys through the love I have for them... the education I will receive by allowing them to love each other.

...and to all a good night...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Phone Home

Jacob looks a little bit like ET. With his perfectly round c-section head, and ears that point out ever-so-slightly at the tips. When you hold him under his arms so that his shoulders go up enough to make his neck disappear, his little grey eyes open just enough to let on that he's having some seriously wise thoughts that lack only verbal expression to be meaningful.


Finally, An Introduction.

My little Jacob Benjamin entered the world, quite loudly, on May 22, 2008. It was 8:00am on the dot. He weighed in at a whopping 7lbs 15oz, and measured 21.5 inches long. (I find it fascinating that every single nurse commented on how big he was, while all I could think of was how tiny he was compared to his 10lb 6oz brother!) He had a perfectly round c-section head, skinny little ankles, loooong fingers, pointy ears (although his left one was almost completely flat for the first couple of days...I guess he favors his left side - at least when he's squished up inside of me, that is) steel blue-grey eyes, very very light eyelashes, and no eyebrows. He's got a darling little cry, made even more darling by the fact that he rarely uses it. He doesn't like having a dirty diaper. He was an almost-instant pro at breastfeeding. He falls asleep in his car seat. He sleeps in his bouncy seat. He even (okay, until last night) sleeps in his bed.

I am absolutely crazy in love with him.

One of these days I'll get his birth story into his baby book. But for now, that story will come in snippets. So, below, you will find my list of the things that made me cry - for better or for worse - over the past eleven days. "The good, the bad, and the ugly," if you will of how we got our second beautiful boy into the world. And so....

Things that were AWFUL....

1. The FOUR (yes FOUR) attemps at inserting a successful IV, which left me with FOUR (yes FOUR) nasty bruises all over my arms and hands. I'm not an addict, but I look like one.

2. Walking into the operating room. Even though it's a joyous walk, I'm having a hard time imagining anything more nerve-wracking than kissing your husband (your pale, nervous, about to pass out husband) goodbye in the hallway and then walking into that sterile space only to step up on the stool and hoist your mammoth body onto the operating table.

3. Sitting on the table with your entire backside exposed to the anesthesiologist with the german accent while he gives you INCREDIBLE drugs. Drugs = good. Showing the doctor the side of the moon that is bigger than it's ever been in its entire existance = bad.

4. Finding out that your pale-faced husband really did almost pass out while waiting for you in the hallway.

5. The post-recovery transport from stretcher to hospital bed, which you are responsible for managing almost entirely on your own. I swear, that was on par with the IV attempts for being the most painful and exhausting part of the whole day.

6. Wanting to ask your husband (who was planning on going home to be with the boy while your mom was planning on spending the night with you, bless her heart) to stay with you because you were just tired and emotional and just really really really wanted him to be there with you for that last night. And not asking him.

7. Getting a call from said husband about an hour later to let you know that he had taken a nasty fall once he'd gotten home, had DISLOCATED HIS SHOULDER and was on his way to the emergency room while his sister babysat the boy.

8. This emergency room was in a separate hospital from the one in which you were now SOBBING.

9. Not being able to talk to this same husband once he returned from the ER that night because he was so sick from the anesthesia that he nearly passed out instead.

10. Finding out the next day that he was still so sick that his sister would be picking you up from the hospital. Not him. This was not winding up the way you had dreamed it would for the past nine months.

11. Wondering WHY IN THE WORLD you didn't just ask him to stay with you in the first place when that's what you really wanted to do. Oh yeah, because he was going home to make things easier for your older, very darling boy, who needed his daddy.

12. Realizing how hard it is to sometimes be a good mommy over being a needy, emotional wife.

13. Not being able to pick up Christopher.

14. Tim not being able to pick up Christopher OR Jacob.

15. Feeling angry and sad over this ridiculous turn of events....and yet realizing how grateful you are that he hurt his shoulder rather than his head and imagining how badly it could have turned out.

Things that were FABULOUS....

1. realizing, on my way to the hospital that neither my pants nor my shirt that were currently gracing my body were of the maternity variety.

2. Driving to the hospital with no traffic and no labor pains, while video taping my husband talking to the baby. (Granted, we did it the same way last time, but okay.)

3. Getting to the hospital and having NO ONE even ask my name - they were expecting me and escorted me straight to my room. So far, five stars.

4. Having the nurse tell me that as they saw us walking in with me carrying the pillows and the camera bag over my shoulder and Tim having his hands down at his sides, they thought that I was carrying everything and he was carrying nothing. They were preparing themselves for quite an interesting day. My dear husband was redeemed, in their eyes, when he came around the corner with my HUGE bag that he was carrying by the handle straps.

5. The nurses. They truly are the heart of the operation. God bless them.

6. The anesthesiologisy who was on her way home but stopped in my room to finally get an IV into me that no one else could do.

7. The anesthesiologist with the german accent who took care of me throughout the surgery. He took care of my needs before I was even aware of them. "Are you veeling anxious? I could geev you somesing to make you veel better."

8. Hearing the most beautiful sound imaginable: MY CRYING BABY BOY.

9. Pulling the curtain aside a little bit so that I could see these skinny little legs and feet hanging from the nurse's hands while they put his hat on his head.

10. Sharing, for the second time, with my husband the most magical moment of our lives.

11. FINALLY being able to eat at 3am on Friday morning.

12. The fact that my night nurse that night was 7 months pregnant. Had anyone else been the one to tell me that I could finally eat (after abdominal surgery, you can't eat until you fart. Seriously. Obviously the whole thing is on the honor system....but you can bet that I was BANGING on the "call the nurse" button the INSTANT I felt the slightest rumbling) I would have been far too self-conscious to ask for donuts. My wonderful, pregnant nurse probably would have sat there with me with a donut in each hand. I swear - each nurse that I had was perfectly suited to what I needed at each individual moment. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

13. Greeting my parents and my in-laws when the nurse let them all sneak into the recovery room to meet the baby for the first time.

14. Greeting the many other family members and friends who came to visit us on that first day, including my Aunt and Grandparents - Chris and Jake's great-grandparents and watching them hold their second great-grandchild.

15. Realizing what a privilege it is for me to get to witness that moment.

16. Seeing Christopher walk into my hospital room carrying a bouquet of flowers, wearing his "I'm the big brother" t-shirt, and climbing up on the bed to give his baby brother a kiss on the forehead.

17. Having a shower in my room.

18. Feeling SO MUCH BETTER throughout the entire 4 days than I felt even weeks after Christopher's birth.

19. Putting Jake in his carseat so that we could go home and start our life as a family.

20. Walking down the pathway to my front door, feeling so good that it honestly felt like I was returning from a day of shopping, rather than surgery and a four-day hospital stay.

The list goes on, of course. Both lists, actually. It has been a challenging 11 days - far more challenging than I had anticipated in a variety of different ways. But we're settling in. Tim and I are both getting stronger every day. Christopher already has his own name for Jakey - "Yaya." Don't ask me where this came from. My mom has gone home and we're all settling in for the end of our first day alone as a family.

And you know what? So far, so good.