Monday, December 28, 2009

So Much For Installments...

It's time to be done with this whole "birth story in installments" thing. I'm just too infrequent a poster to actually make that happen. So let's get on with it.

We woke up bright and early on the 12th with Christopher asleep between us in our bed. This is nothing new - he's been showing up a lot since we moved to the new house. It's a disruption, and often it's frustrating, but the good thing is that when we wakes up (even the very first night we were here) he just gets out of his bed, runs down the hallway and up the stairs, and just climbs right in. No crying or screaming from his bed requiring us to make that journey in reverse. So we have to keep the complaining to a minimum. Anyway. As frustrating as the day and night before had been, the morning came early but went smoothly. Chris did wake up before we left, allowing me to take a couple of photos with him - cute ones too, as he showcased his little tiny belly right alongside my big huge one. (You know we don't do photos here, but you can see the evidence of this on facebook.) Jake was still sleeping and, to be honest, it was heart wrenching for me to leave without saying goodbye to him. But leave we did.

Checking in and getting settled at the hospital was a breeze, and before I knew it I was all gowned up and resting comfortably in my bed waiting for the variety of nurses and doctors to come and give me all of the info necessary for the day. I felt calm and comfortable. This c-section thing really is old hat by now. The one thing that did have my blood pressure on the rise was the prospect of having the IV placed. Last time it took four nurses FIVE separate attempts to get that thing in. As a matter of fact, they had to call an anesthesiologist to get the job done. It was AWFUL. So when the nurse came in this time I pulled that whole "be your own advocate" thing and told her, in no uncertain terms, that we were not doing THAT again. She was awesome. So awesome that she immediately called in the nurse on the floor who she considered The Best at this whole IV thing. And you know what? She really was The Best. No problems whatsoever.

With that done, I thought my worries were behind us. I had been informed from the very start that my 10am reservation in the OR had been postponed, as they'd had an emergency c-section early in the morning, bumping the 8am and therefore bumping me. No big deal. I've been the girl having the emergency c-section and bumping the others out. What goes around comes around. They told me we'd be leaving my room for the OR at 10:55. "They" being this awesome nurse...hmmm what was her name? Oh yes, NANCY. I LOVE NANCY. She must have been about 65. She was tough. But not scary tough. She was one of those nurses who knew what she was doing, (she was training a nursing student and every other word out of her mouth was "this is how you have to do it. It's not how *I* do it, but this is protocol and this is how you do it." Hmm. I suppose that sounds bad now, but it was just because she has been doing this for so long that there are things that she just KNOWS you know?) had the tender heart of a nurse, but also had a sense of humor that could carry you through any anxiety that you might have.

So. They were supposed to come get me at 10:55. At 10:50 Nancy pops her head in and says that it looks like we're going to be delayed again. There was a girl down the hall who had been laboring all night, was 100% dilated and effaced and blah blah blah, had been pushing for however long, but the baby just wasn't coming. They were going to take her in and get the baby out pronto. My heart fell for that girl. How horrible to make it that far. To work THAT hard and then to have to go into the OR. I know how that feels - actually, I don't. I didn't get nearly as far as she did. With Christopher I only got to 6cm before they took me, and I was STILL frustrated. So they took her and that was fine with me. I had my IV. I had my husband and my mom with me. I had my cell phone keeping me connected to all of my lovely friends sending me encouraging texts and tweets. No worries. No worries at all.

And then my doctor came in. For the record, he came in with a Starbucks in his hand. To a fasting pre-op pregnant mama who is already having to sit there and watch her husband gobble down a fresh donut, this was torture. And I told him so. As it turns out, I know NOTHING about torture.

His first words as he walked in the door? "We're screwed." He began explaining about the scheduling problems that had taken place that morning and how we just keep getting bumped and bumped. He went on to tell me that he didn't know if we'd be able to "do this today." The fact that it was only 11:00 had me a bit baffled, and I told him so. His response? "But I'm going to the 49er game."


Now, I have to tell you that this did not come out of thin air. He had told us at my pre-op appointment the day before that he was going to the game. He even made some kind of comment about how he hoped the hospital was running on time because of said game.



So there he is telling us about this game and I swear to you this was one of those times when if looks could kill he was lucky that we were in a hospital. Between me, Tim, and my mom it's really a miracle that the guy was still standing for the daggers shooting across the room. I don't remember the whole conversation at this point, but I do know that I asked him if he was going to send me home or if I'd stay over night. To be honest, neither was really an option in my mind, but the thought of going home and living the entire Day Before The Surgery AGAIN was already making me want to pull out every single hair on my head one by one. The answer, of course, was that YES HE WOULD be sending me home.

I looked at Tim. He's always the one I look to when the truth needs to be spoken. He is my support. He is my advocate. He is the one who is not afraid to ruffle any feathers. He asked the doctor how long this c-section was really going to take, knowing that the game wasn't going to be starting any time too soon. "Aren't they pretty quick?" we asked him. It's pretty well known in our hospital (as I'd been told many times that well as during my previous hospital stays) that my doctor is not only an excellent surgeon, but that he is also remarkably fast in the operating room. He runs a tight ship. He doesn't mess around. He gets the job done. So his response to our question was, "well, MY c-sections are pretty fast, but I'm not the one doing the c-section."

And then my brilliant husband spoke up and TOLD him that he'd be assisting with this first surgery to ensure that I could get in for mine. Okay. Well. He didn't really TELL him the way I made it sound, but he did it in his only gentle way that I knew exactly what he meant but the doctor didn't get pissed off and send us home immediately. He left us saying that he would go and offer to assist the other doctor, thereby hurrying things up a bit, so that we could meet our boy today.

When Nancy came to check on us several minutes later, I asked her if I was going to be having a baby that day. She had seen him heading toward the OR but knew nothing beyond that. I took that to be a good sign while she went to find out whatever she could. When she finally returned, she walked into the room quickly with a Strictly Business look on her face.

"Let's go." She said.


She put my little blue grippy socks on my feet, wrapped a blanket around my naked bum, and off we went to the operating room. For those of you who have not had the experience of walking yourself into your own surgery, let me just say that it is one of the most surreal experiences of your life. I've had three c-sections, two of which I have walked myself into that room. It's so casual - you walk all the time, you know? Walk to the park. Walk to the mailbox. Walk to the kitchen. Walk into a completely sterile room where they will paralyze you from the waist down, cut into your abdomen and remove a new person from your body. No big deal, really.


I left Tim and my mom in the hallway, and Nancy brought me to the operating table. My memory of doing this with Jake was so much different than what I experienced this time. With Jake, everything was ready. I went in, they gave me my shot while I cried into the nurse's shoulder, they laid me down and got me ready, Tim came in, Jake came out. This time, I suppose because that room had seen so much action already, nothing was prepared. I sat there on the operating table for at least ten minutes while I watched the different nurses and technicians set everything up. I find it surprising (even looking back after the fact) that it was not nearly as nerve-wracking as one would think. I sat there and studied the room around me, looking at all of the supplies that lined the walls, asking questions about what's this and what's that, watching the tools being laid out and the baby station being set up. It was rather fascinating. My doctor came in and HE was the one who had me curl into his shoulder while they gave me my spinal. He chatted with me the whole time and even though I was still remarkably PISSED OFF with him, he made me feel comfortable in the situation. After all, he was the only person in the room who I'd known for longer than a couple of hours, so I figured it was better to be appreciative of his presence than anything else. After all, we'd passed the point of no return. I was definitely having a baby that day.

Once they got me all set up and pulled that curtain up over my face, Tim came in. It made me cry to see him. Suddenly, I was anxious. It's such a strange experience - I know I've said that before, but it really is. Being awake to hear all of the Doctor Speak, to feel the tugging and pulling, to hear the suction, to smell the cauterizing. Ugh. There is a reason I'm not a nurse.

And then. All of a sudden. THE SQUAWKING.

If I wasn't crying already, it definitely started at that moment when I heard that very tiny but very loud SQUAWK. I remember looking at Tim and asking if he could see him. I remember waiting to hear FOR SURE that "It's a boy!" I remember my doctor saying, "he looks good, Anne" just as he's done twice before. I remember being aware this time that I could not stop crying. Sobbing. There was nothing I could do to stifle my sobs. Nor did I have any interest in doing so.

Although I couldn't see over the curtain, I was aware of the fact that they were carrying my little Nathaniel over to my right to where the baby station was set up and in the flurry of activity taking place around my own table I suddenly heard a hearty laugh spread throughout the room. I knew what happened because my Jake had done the same thing. I looked at Tim and asked, "did he pee?" Boy did he. He peed all over that operating room. I joined in the laughter in between my sobs.

Nancy pulled the curtain away just enough that I could see that little slimy naked baby. They held him up and there he was. My boy. My Nathaniel. My baby who looked EXACTLY like his oldest brother....except for the fact that he weighed nearly three pounds less. Yes, my friends, THREE POUNDS. Weighing in at 7lbs, 14oz, little Nate had the stats of his brother Jake and the face of his brother Chris. A true combination.

I could not take my eyes from him. And I could not stop the sobbing.

I cried more with this delivery than, I think, I did with either of the other boys. Don't get me wrong - there were tears shed with my big boys. Lots and lots of tears. But these were different These were cries of joy, of course, but I think the real cause of the tears was relief. This was a hard pregnancy that ended with so much activity and so much "to do" that I felt like now we could finally get on with things. We could finally just start loving our boy.

They let me hold him before they took him off to the nursery for all of his tests. "Hold" is really a relative term when you're strapped down to that operating table and you've got narcotics screaming through your system. The nurse laid that little hat-wearing burrito on my chest while Tim held him in place. And I kissed him. And I cried. And I remembered, once again, that any anxiety I had over how to love ANOTHER one wasn't worth any of the time that I'd wasted on it. I loved him. Plain and simple. Son number three hasn't pushed the other two out of the way. He doesn't take more love from me at the expense of the others. He just slides right into place, filed in my heart next to his two brothers and his daddy. Right where he'll always be, and really, right where he always has been.

Monday, December 14, 2009

You Should Have Known I Wouldn't Be Back In Just One Day (aka Nate's birth story, part deux)

Ah friends. Let's see...where did I leave off? That's right - I didn't really start. So let's get this party started.

The craziness of the move and move-in was eased when my Mommy arrived on the 9th. I cannot express to you the joyful anticipation with which I awaited her arrival. I felt like once she got here everything would just get easier. And you know what? It did. We still had a lot of stuff to get out of the townhouse, and my intention had been to turn in the keys the next day. But it just wasn't happening. And I was EXHAUSTED. And cranky. (I know. Imagine that.) Everyone was telling me to take it easy. To not push so hard. To stop with the moving already and let everyone else finish up the job. The problem with this is that I am a little bit freaky over letting go of control. Okay. Perhaps more than "a little bit." A lot bit, okay? A REALLY REALLY LOT BIT. So I pushed and pushed - pushed myself, pushed my family - to get everything finished by this arbitrary, self-imposed deadline. I was probably driving everyone crazy but if there's one thing I've finally learned about myself through this process is that Being In Control = My Crack. Seriously. I'm addicted and I need to stop it. I didn't realize this, of course, until I was talking to Shelby and sharing with her a bit of my frustration over "everyone" not following my commands. Perhaps I mentioned that I have a hard time not being in control. And, just perhaps, Shelby's response was a knowing "I KNOW you do."

Hmmm. Now that can get a girl thinking. When your best friend confirms something that you really just said jokingly, and does so with that tone in her voice that tells you that this just might be One Of Those Things. (You know what I'm talking about. One of Those Things that you need to work on about yourself.) You'd better do it. Blast. But! I heard it in her voice and it finally clicked! I finally understood - I had done ENOUGH. It was okay to ask everyone else to do the rest. So I did! And that was, by far, the most freeing moment of the entire experience. Simply lovely. I let go. I never went back to that townhouse. I gave Tim all of the keys and I erased it from my brain. Simply lovely.

Now I tell you all that simply to say that, even having let go of the entire experience, the night before I went in to the hospital I was still beyond exhausted. I had been hoping that my last day as a mom of two would be relaxing. That I would have time to just prepare myself - mentally, physically, emotionally. Perhaps I'd actually pack my hospital bag. Maybe I'd get a few things in order at home. I could have a leisurely meal with my family. I could talk to some friends. I could write out some instructions for my mom and sister-in-law who would be doing the bulk of the babysitting.

Uh, yeah. Right.

At this point I don't remember what filled up that day. But I remember that it was busy. I remember that the Little People were very VERY needy. I remember that my mom was buzzing around here like a bee getting things put away (we were deep in the midst of kitchen set-up that week) and while that was helpful, I've learned that what I really needed her to do was to help me by taking the boys so that I could handle my own stuff. (This is a post for another time, but the whole experience really did teach me that when someone is helping you, it really is okay to clearly articulate what YOU need...rather than just being grateful that they're helping at all. AND I actually did get to the point where I did it. AND!!! It works. Imagine that.) I remember that Tim was busy working, knowing that he, too, was going to be out of commission for the next few days. I remember that the phone was ringing OFF THE HOOK. Friends and family members checking in, wishing me good luck, assuring me of their prayers.

By the time dinner, bath and bedtime were upon us, I was DONE. And, yet, "done" wasn't an option. I still hadn't packed. I still hadn't made my lists, which was particularly troubling because I KNEW that my mom and sister-in-law were kind of hanging out waiting for some instruction from me that I hadn't been able to provide for them. Hadn't even been able to THINK about. And unfortunately, having the baby STILL felt like just another item on the To Do List.

I think we had finally gotten Christopher to sleep, or at least snuggled in with my mom, when my dear college roommate called from Toronto to check in. As soon as I saw her name on the caller ID the tears started to flow. I cried because I was exhausted. I cried because I was frustrated. I cried because I was nervous. But most of all, I cried because I knew that she knew EXACTLY what I was going through. (She has four girls of her own....and she didn't get the luxury of scheduling a labor-free c-section at the end of all of her pregnancy exhaustion.) As always, she calmed me, encouraged me, and made me laugh. My closest girlfriends always seem to call at the perfect time. How is that?

By the time I hung up the phone, my little Jake was asleep on my bed next to me. It was, by far, the easiest bedtime he'd had since we moved in. (I should have talked to all of my girlfriends that week - boy would it have spared me some bedtime frustration!) Although I was calmed, the stress and the drama of the overall day continued well into the night. It was a challenging and frustrating day to the very minute that I fell asleep. And, just as it was the night before Jake's birth, I laid in my bed in joyful anticipation of meeting my new son coupled with the recognition that I'd be leaving my two big boys behind and when I returned life would never be the same for us. We'd never be our little family of four again and there were going to be some big transitions to deal with.

And! Most of all? I lay there PRAISING GOD for the fact that, for the next four days I would not be responsible for a single thing in the whole wide world. And THAT, my friends, helped me to sleep veeerrrryyy soundly.
**Next Time: Clearly The San Francisco 49ers Are More Important Than My Baby.**

Monday, November 30, 2009

Now That I've Finally Sat Down To Type This, Someone Will Start Crying Or My Battery Will Die. TRUST ME. (Also, now, Nate's Birth Story: Part One.)

It's December. Effective tomorrow, it's December.

Thanksgiving has passed us by, as have the move and the birth...(well, hey, would you look at that. CRYING. Will be back to finish this post in a week or so.)

Sure enough. It IS a week or so later and here I am, listening to my little Nate scuffling in his chair next to my bed (don't even get me started on the possibility of sleeping in the pak-n-play...or sleeping in the chair for that matter...) threatening to wake up and need me. And, thus, keep me from writing this post YET AGAIN. It's not that I have ZERO time to sit down and write his story. It's certainly not that I have zero INTEREST in writing his story. It's just that by the time we get the big boys to bed (it's still hard for me to believe that Jacob is now a "big boy") and I get the kitchen cleaned up from dinner the time that I have to work on this little critter's Christmas stocking becomes less and less. And THAT project actually has a deadline. All that to say, thanks for being patient.

At any we go.

First, let me just say that I take my hat off to those of you who actually have babies the normal way. Having a planned c-section takes a lot of the stress out of the waiting, for sure, but it also is SO EASY. I'm sure that there are many graces that God gives to you when having a baby (regardless of which way that baby comes out) but by the time The Night Before The Big Day was upon us, all I could think was "I don't know how anyone could go through labor and delivery after all of this." I was SO. TIRED. I was SO. EMOTIONAL. Plain and simple, I was exhausted. Granted, we were still in the process of moving into a new house, but even setting that aside I just don't know how you all do it.

My biggest concern amidst all of the busy-ness of Project House and Project Baby was that the house would be so all-consuming that we'd get to the point where having the baby was just another thing to be crossed off on the to-do list. In the grand scheme of things, that second project is so much more important than the first and I didn't want to lose it, you know? As it turns out, I did kind of lose it...but it didn't really matter all that much. Because I was still there. I still remember everything. And? Because I still get this little baby FOREVER. God has entrusted this precious soul to me and even though the circumstances surrounding his birth were hectic, the rest of his life is before us. THAT is what is important to me. THAT is what I'm thankful for.

That said, I think I'm going to take a lesson from Arwen and stop here. Let me do this in little bits...smaller chunks of writing = smaller blocks of time (for me and for you!) = more time for me to change a certain someone's diaper. (I'm beginning to sense a certain aroma wafting up past my nose.)

Tomorrow: The Night Before The Party.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Calm Between The Storms

Six weeks ago I had two items on my pre-baby To Do List. One: make Baby's Christmas Stocking. Two: Complete this years Christmas Shopping. The logic was simple - having a baby six weeks before Christmas would completely erase those next six weeks in terms of Getting Things Done. And, as you know, Getting Things Done before Christmas is quite a task. I figured the task was easy enough - take the stocking from looking like this:

to looking something like these:

My life was so much simpler back when I made Christopher's stocking. I knew it would be a project...didn't know HOW MUCH of a project I was looking at, though. My mom had made our Christmas stockings, and when I found kits similar to what she 'd done for us, I knew I had to do the same for our boys. Turns out that they're a liiiitle more intricate these days. And boy do they take a lot of time to complete! As life would have it, by the time I started working on it my little newborn was in a lovely pattern of being asleep by 9pm for three or four hours. At that point, I'd flip on that night's Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie and get to work. I got in nearly two hours of work each night, and yet the stocking STILL wasn't finished in time for Christmas. (It WAS, however, ready in time for New Year's which worked out quite well because that year we spent Christmas in Tahoe with my family and then had a big Second Christmas with Tim's family on New Year's Eve.) That last week was all I needed to get it finished and it was so lovely. And I was so proud that my boy would have this stocking every single year.

Life was a little different when Jake came along. He wasn't NEARLY as good of a sleeper, so my work time was really chopped up, but the fact that he was born in May meant that if I planned well, there was no excuse to not have it completed. Plus, by Jake's first Christmas, Chris was old enough to know what's up and I JUST KNOW he would have questioned why Jake didn't have a stocking for HoHo to fill. (Yes, HoHo. He still calls him that. EVERY SINGLE DAY BECAUSE HE LOVES HOHO SO VERY MUCH.) (Did I mention this takes place EVERY SINGLE DAY?) (GOOD.) This second time around, I thought it would be fun to keep track of how many hours it took for me to complete the stocking. Every night I logged my start and stop time, and friends? It took me thirty-six hours.

THIRTY SIX HOURS went into the making of that Christmas stocking. And, yes, I am just a little too proud of that.

That said, I knew that Nate's stocking was going to take a long time. I knew that there would be NO time between his birth and Christmas. I KNEW I need to start it at the beginning of October and work for at least ONE HOUR every night in order to get it done on time.

And then we went and bought a house - a process that absolutely destroyed every plan I had on my pre-baby agenda.

Don't get me wrong. I love the house. I WANTED to buy the house. I wanted to be IN the house before the baby arrived. Obviously, right? Wouldn't that make so much more sense than trying to move with a newborn? Of course it would! We'd been looking for a few months by the time we found this house, though, and as my due date was getting closer and closer I was beginning to accept the possibility and then the (I thought) reality that we would not be in a house before the baby came. I resigned myself to bringing Baby Nate home to our 3-bedroom town home (in which every room is occupied AND now that Tim works from home, no longer has a kitchen table as it has been converted to a work space) and I convinced myself that everything would work out just fine! After all, what does a baby need beyond a few jammies and a place to sleep, right? Right! OKAY, I had a few mild panic attacks, but beyond that, I was fine.

But then the price dropped on this house that I had already seen and written off because 1) it was way out of our price range and 2) I didn't like it. Don't get me wrong - it was fancy and lovely, but the floor plan wasn't my ideal and, let's face it, it's easy to "not like a house" that's too expensive for you to buy. BUT I DIGRESS. We walked through the house again (for me. For the first time for Tim.) Again I didn't like it. But Tim LOVED it. You can ask Shelby. She was there. I really didn't like it. I had Serious! Objections! And then my dear friend Shelby (who was SUPPOSED to be on my side) admitted that she liked it. And then my other friends presented easy solutions to my objections. And THEN Amy and the Blathering crew had this joke about First World Problems. And THEN I realized that maybe, just maybe, the fact that the (big! beautiful!) laundry room was not exactly where I would like it to be was not quite a valid reason to walk away from this house.

AND THEN!!!! My DAD talked me into it. My. Dad. This is a whole other post just waiting to be written.

From that point everything happened quickly and our situation changed from accepting that we wouldn't be out of our townhouse before baby was born to moving into a big, spacious home exactly one week before my scheduled c-section.

And then my head exploded.

Well, not quite. But that's how the past few days have felt. Like my head is ready to pop off...and my bellybutton too.

Suffice it to say, any plans I had to be ready for Christmas before my birthday even hit were erased from my psyche. Christmas stocking? What Christmas stocking? Shopping? Sorry! Mortgage! Getting ready for baby? Installing infant seat? Washing baby clothes? Finding bassinet attachment to pak-n-play? Fat chance!

I'm seriously losing more and more of my mind with every hour that passes. My body is getting ready to evict the baby, my brain is trying to keep everything straight, and my emotions are...well, rocky at best. But it's all good because all of this is a visible sign to me that God does answer our prayers. He does carry us through. He DOES give us blessings beyond our wildest imaginings. He did it last Thursday when we slept in our new home for the first time, and He'll be doing it again THIS Thursday when we hear that precious little squawk for the first time.

All of these blessings have been a challenge in many ways - not the least of which is the fact that we've been so busy and so scattered, that I feel like we haven't even had a moment to anticipate the baby. Yes, the physical preparations, but even more so the emotional excitement of what is to come. And yet, anticipated or not, he comes. And won't that be an exciting day?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Parents Were Awesome.

Just found this website, courtesy of Testosterhome. I can't stop looking at the pictures. Nice to see that so many people recognize the lives that their parents had before they were so busy keeping little people alive. Go check it out!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Not Sure If This Is As Bad As The Time I Trapped A Moth Between My Ear And My Pillow Or Not...

Tonight, as I do every night, I snuggled up to a very wiggly Christopher while reading books and getting my nightly mammogram. It's our routine. It's what we do. And after several months of this, I've learned his sleepy pattern and can actually find it relaxing to my weary body. (Well, all except the mammogram part. I'll never get used to that.)

We read our book, talked about what we did today, gave Goodnight Kisses, said our prayers and told Jesus that we love him. Twice, due to the fact that there are two separate crucifixes hanging in his room. One receives a "Night night, Deedah," and then the other "I (love) You, Deedah!" I patiently waited out his squirming and wiggling, his demands that I sing quieter because "Shhh! Dadub Seeping!" and then that I "turn you up, mom" because he can't hear me, and our verrrry drawn out reading of Counting With Caillou.

As I watched him begin the process of fading into oblivion, I felt a little tickle on my chin. Naturally I figured it was a stray hair floating out of my disheveled 'do. That is, until I discovered the real cause of the tickle...out of the corner of my eye I saw it crawling down onto my sleeve. Why, yes. Yes, it was. A daddy long legs. CRAWLING ACROSS MY FACE.

Pleasant dreams.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Perhaps You Don't Always Have To Feel Guilty For Being Honest.

I've been thinking a lot lately. A. Lot. It's pretty much What I Do, considering the fact that every time I sit down it takes at least 30 minutes (really) for me to get back up, and maybe I should just sit here a little longer and daydream about this or stew about that. I've already resigned myself to the reality that, right now, my kids watch COPIOUS AMOUNTS of television and play Little Amadeus on the computer for a much longer time span than is reasonable because, really, I'M TIRED. I'm having a baby in 5 weeks (getting my delivery date on Thursday!), my husband is occupied with either working or getting healthy, and my three-year old doesn't take naps.

Oh yeah. And my house is a pit. A PIT, I TELL YOU.

So, while everyone else in the house is busy doing whatever I can find to occupy them which requires the least amount of effort from me, I think. I consider the mundane little things that I really don't care all that much about...because if I did I would have taken care of them by now and I wouldn't have to take care of them anymore...such as taking care of this blog and making it look somewhat presentable. Or, you know, CLEANING MY HOUSE. But there are other little bugs that have landed in my ears that I can't seem to get rid of. Items of note that happened to enter my brain at rather appropriate times that make me think, "Hey. Maybe I'm not so awful of a person for thinking about this...."

Recently, Shelby asked a question on Twitter that really got me thinking. She said something to the effect of "Trying to make lemons out of lemonade. Parents: what do you miss about your kid-free days that I should be ENJOYING right now."

That question couldn't have come at a more appropriate time. This summer has been a season of challenges for us in a variety of ways, particularly in terms of my learning how to take care of two needy children, a husband who is ill, and my own nauseous self all while growing a little person inside my belly. There were several weeks during which both boys wanted Mommy And Only Mommy, Jake wouldn't fall asleep unless he was bounced up and down ENDLESSLY (which, actually, worked out okay considering I had stopped Shredding once I found out I was pregnant. That kid is tougher than Jillian on her best day.) These were the times when, in the midst of it all and despite the fact that I know I love my kids and my husband and would NEVER trade them in for ANYTHING, I fell quite easily into the trap of lamenting the ease of my pre-children life.

And I felt so guilty for it.

The instant one of those thoughts crept into my head, I would BANISH it. I would lecture myself, "There are so many people who don't have NEARLY as many blessings as you. Grow up and be grateful." I would offer up my "sufferings" for those moms I knew who no longer had the blessing of gazing upon their sleeping child...for those mothers (and I know more of them than I wish I had to admit) whose sons had been taken from them, not as young children, but still far too early in life. Those women who would probably give their last breath for the ability to stay up all night with their crying baby. To bounce up and down in the hallway, stepping on stray legos in their bare feet, all in the Fat Chance Effort of getting that child to at least stop crying, let alone fall asleep.

These thoughts were helping me to keep everything in perspective. Somewhere in me, I realized that it's okay to "feel your feelings," and acceptable to get frustrated in the moment...who doesn't? And while I recognized that to be true, I suppose my bigger fear was that I would just turn into a constant whiner and complainer who was incapable of keeping ANYTHING in perspective.

Hard on yourself much?

So when Shelby asked that question, I really gave it some thought. I shared a couple of items with her, mostly in jest, of the things that I miss. The more I thought about it, there are a WIDE RANGE of life changes that occur once you introduce these little people into your life, funny and serious. Among them:

-- Being able to use both hands at the same time.
-- Actually being ALONE in the bathroom.
-- Not having someone SIT ON YOUR LAP while in the bathroom.
-- Using the facilities with the lights on.
-- Quiet.
-- Cooking dinner without constantly ensuring that someone doesn't fall off the counter.
-- Not worrying.
-- Sleep.
-- Running out for five minutes and it really only taking five minutes.
-- Hopping into the car, turning the key, and being on the road.
-- Looking in the rear view mirror to make sure you remembered to put the baby in the car.
-- Looking into the rear view mirror to make sure every one's alive.
-- Using a purse that's not filled with dripping juice cups and hotwheels.
-- Not feeling guilty over how you divide up your time between your kids.
-- Not feeling guilty over how you divide up your time between your extended family.
-- Talking to my husband.
-- Sleeping in.
-- Watching whatever I wanted on TV.
-- Taking NyQuil when sick and sleeping through an entire cold.
-- Showering every day.
-- Having a (relatively) clean house.
-- Doing 15-minute chores in under 45 minutes.
-- Going for coffee with friends WHENEVER I wanted.
-- Sleeping through the night without checking to make sure every one's breathing.

There's more, I suppose, but you get the point. Looking at this list, especially those things that just make parenthood FUNNY, I can see what is really lurking just behind: The things I DON'T MISS about my child-free days. Those are the things that usually prohibit me from saying the above out loud. The unfulfilled desires, the much longed-for dreams, the anxiety of "what if it will never happen," the negative pregnancy tests, the tears, the well-meaning yet always falling short sympathies of friends and family members, the empty arms, the feeling of a heart that's just lying in wait for the love of a child.

And I only had to wait for five months after we got married before I was pregnant with Christopher. Five months of, what I thought was, AGONY. When, really, I had no idea.

My words always fall short. I know there is nothing that I can say to ease the painfulness of the wait for my friends and family members who are in this Limbo. I know that, despite the fact that I've felt the feelings of anger, despair, anxiety, sadness.... feelings which I have known throughout my life and can empathize with to a certain extent, I cannot share the application of them in this situation, in these lives. What I can offer are my listening ears and, more importantly, my earnest prayers for these people who I love so dearly. And I trust that these prayers are heard, and answered, by a God who can see the suffering in the context of the Whole Plan rather than just the anxiety of the moment. A God who will see to it that these families are complete, in his own way. In his own time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Suppose It's Time I Jumped On The Bandwagon.

I'm not really one for "escaping." Never have been. Granted, I like to get away and do fun things. I enjoy an adventure, but it nearly always includes my boy band....or at the very least, their dad. This is where I feel the most comfortable, the most complete. Absent my time spent in the hospital delivering Jake, I have never spent even one night away from my boys, and I like it that way. I know that there are some moms who crave time away, some couples who manage to take time just for themselves. I also know that they feel that they return from this time rejuvenated and refreshed. Better parents for having been away for a while.

My "better self" shows up after a simple morning of cleaning my home without tripping over any little people who are lovingly tripling my work time. My rejuvenation comes from a couple hours at Starbucks sipping some overly sweetened coffee while chipping away at the family budget. I'm just not very high-needs in this department, which works well because my own little family also tends to work best when we're together as a team. That said, you can understand why neither one of us tends to escape all that often.

HOWEVER. This Saturday I took a teeny-weeny-beanie (vocab courtesy of Christopher) escape to Sacramento where I had the opportunity to finally meet some of the loveliest people with whom I've ever come in contact. I didn't know very many of them going in. Scratch that. I didn't KNOW any of them. There was a small handful of participants who I knew quite a bit about, however...

There was Emily: she who was the very first person aside from Tim to know that I was expecting baby #3 at a time when I was still trying to distinguish between my anxiety and my joy over the new addition to our family.

There was Maggie: she who, if she didn't live SO. FAR. AWAY. we'd be sitting next to at Mass on Sundays and not worrying if our kids were too squirmy or too loud and would totally understand exactly why it is that I couldn't tell you a word from that day's homily.

There was Liz: the one who, out of the blue, assured me of the ongoing prayers of her family for mine while I was in the midst of my own sort of mommy crisis and feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. And all along, there was her family praying for me in a way that allowed me to keep those shoulders strong...without my even knowing it.

And there was Manda: that girl who made the funniest joke without even realizing it during a twitter-chat one night and, in so doing, managed to turn my WEEK around from exhausting and stressful to manageable. And even joyful.

Of course, there were all of these other super amazing women with whom I spent the afternoon sipping water from a sippy cup, chatting, laughing, and becoming FRIENDS with. As Holly said in her 13 Things post, "Do you know what's scary? Making friends as an adult." And yet, simple it was. Granted, my blood pressure went up about 50 points as I parked my car outside of Elizabeth's house. But that was fleeting. The day, itself, was delightful. EASY. And so wonderful that I wish I could spend every Saturday doing just that: having lunch and building friendships with these people who I had never met before.

Nearly all of the girls I met on Saturday have posted their own thoughts on the weekend, and have done so far more eloquently than I; however, it must be teeny-weenie-beanie escape on Saturday changed me. I came home that night and started to tell Tim what we did, who I met, how it ended far too quickly. Do you know what happened as I started to explain all of these things to him? I started crying. We're not talking "misting" or "tearing up" here. When I say crying I really mean it. I mean, on the verge of Ugly Cry crying. Have To Take A Break From Talking Because You're Getting Too High Pitched crying.

Because it was such a lovely day. Because I finally was able to sit face to face with these friends who I have "known" for so long and can now put voices, expressions, and mannerisms to their stories. Because of how surreal it was to sit across from Emily while she talked to Asher on the phone. Because of how exciting it was to see Maggie running out of Elizabeth's house, arms outstretched for a big hug. Because Amy and I would totally be BFF's if we taught in the same school. Because Elizabeth's house is so charming and perfect and sweet and well-painted. Because Jennie and Kristie and Melissa are so open minded and so fun to just sit and talk to. Because I could talk to Amber about a museum exhibit and she, being local, could actually go check it out. Because I could sit next to someone like Whitney, find her completely delightful and and a joy to behold. Because Holly, who I got to see the least I think, works at my husband's old company. Small world. And because I actually got to see A'Dell's red hat in person.


Because now I can stop referring to "this mom on this blog that I read...." and just start stories with "My friend..."

What a tremendous blessing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Because I Can Never Sit At A Computer Without Typing Way Too Much.

So...The Blathering is this weekend. FINALLY! A few items, for your consideration...

1. ...I am nervous to meet you all. There. I put it out there. Some of you I don't know at all, others have blogs that I've been reading for three years or so. I started reading the Mommy Blogs when I was at the end of my pregnancy with my oldest boy, Christopher. I SO ENJOYED reading your shared experiences and realizing that I was not alone in what I was going through. AND THEN I got my first email response after a comment I had posted and it was like getting an email from a celebrity. I know. I'm such a dork. But it's true. So, yeah. Little bit nervous. That is all.

2. ...I started my own blog at my husband's urging. He came up with the name (which really fits our family perfectly, by the way) and I enjoy writing on it. But, um....well, I just don't get to it that often. I should have known this would be the case. I love reading blogs, but making the time to write on my own is a struggle. It's the same for email. I love to receive emails, but writing them is often such a chore. And yet, I do realize that one must SEND an email to get a response worth reading. I'm working on that.

3. ...There are no pictures on the aforementioned blog. Well...I think there may be two from way back when Jake (baby #2) was born. It's a comfort thing. I do post photos on my facebook page and from time to time on Twitter, so if you want to see my boys you'll have to look there.

4. ...Speaking of the blog, no one I know personally knows about it. Well, Shelby does. And a couple of other college friends. And my husband, of course. But aside from that I've kept it a secret. (I suppose this explains the readership.) Anyway, while the photo thing is a "stranger" issue, this choice is a "family" issue. It all started when family members started joining facebook, which had previously been my own private outlet for communicating with my friends who all live so far away. Once the family signed on, I needed a new "me space." The blog, and now Twitter (SO MUCH EASIER THAN BLOGGING), fills that role. This explains the MASSIVE PANIC ATTACK I had recently when somehow facebook decided to take my twitter feed as status updates without my knowledge. I swear to you I almost died. There may have been crying involved.

5. ...I used to cry a lot more than I do now. Well, a lot more than I do at my current stage in life when I'm not pregnant. My eight-month pregnant self cries nearly every day. This third pregnancy has turned me into a hyper-sensitive basket case and it's driving me crazy. I'm counting the days until this baby comes just so that I can regain my sanity. Which, we all know certainly doesn't happen when the baby is born. It just gets worse. But at least I'll be on the road back to normalcy. Right? RIGHT?

6. ...Speaking of pregnancy #3, I am eight months pregnant. EIGHT MONTHS. This means that I am rather large. You won't miss me when I come waddling into Elizabeth's house on Saturday morning. I find pregnancy to be a challenge for many reasons, but one part of it for me is the total-body makeover that it provides. Let's just leave it at this: my nose is not normally this big.

7. ...I do better in small groups than in large ones, and better one-on-one than in small groups. I suppose that's because you're forced to make conversation when there are fewer people. The more people, the more comfortable I am sitting back, watching and listening. I imagine that will be even more the case on Saturday when I'm surrounded by people who are so much funnier and more outgoing than I am. The only exception to this rule comes when I'm in a large group over which I am allowed to hold court, whether that's by telling a story or giving direction. It's the teacher in me. While generally quiet and gentle in spirit, I like to be the Boss of Everyone and am quite comfortable in that role.

8. ...Before I was a mommy, I spent five years teaching religion in Catholic High Schools. Three years in San Diego and then two more up here in San Francisco. I loved teaching more than anything I have ever done, I suppose for two reasons: I am very passionate about my subject matter, and I ABSOLUTELY ADORED my Freshman and Sophomore audience. However, if I pass a group of teenagers on the street, my first reaction is to be annoyed by them. Double standard, I know. Three years out of the classroom, and I do not miss it at all....despite how much I loved it. Now I volunteer with our parish Youth Ministry, so I get my teaching & teen fix there, but I am perfectly content at home with my little people.

9. ...We are a very conservative and orthodox Catholic family. I love my Faith with a passion that I cannot describe. I enjoy talking about it, but shy away from debate. I certainly am never the one to start one up, although my husband will do so in a heartbeat. He LOVES debate for the sake of debate and he's good at it because, while he gets fired up, he never gets offended and it never gets in the way of relationships. While I enjoy the debate as well, I am never as good at defending / explaining my Faith to adults in general conversation as I am when I'm in a teaching role. I think it's a psychological thing. And here we have yet another situation in which I'm more comfortable sitting back and listening than jumping in.

10. ...Said husband is 12 years older than me. We were set up by some mutual family friends. Actually, it's a cute story. His childhood babysitter grew up next door to them in San Francisco. When she married, she and her husband moved to Tahoe where they became good friends with my parents for the last 25 years or so. One summer, five years ago, I went home and had a couple of opportunities to visit with them. Upon returning to San Diego, I had an email waiting from this friend telling me about a great guy she knew (Tim was the ring-bearer in their wedding)....and the rest is history. We dated long distance for that first school year, after which I moved up to San Francisco to be closer to him, after which he asked to me marry him. And that was nice. My students at the time were massively freaked out by the age difference, particularly because at that time the age difference between Tim and I was the exact age difference between me and my students. I suppose I would have found that gross in high school too.

11. ...In our four years of marriage, we have been truly blessed with our two (and soon to be three) little boys. Having three children so close in age brings a lot of comments and, while they don't bother me ALL THAT MUCH, my back does go up a little bit with the frequency of comments such as, "oh WOW! YOU have your hands full!" (Really? what gave you that impression? The fact that I carry my car keys around in my mouth?) Or, "Are you going to try again for a girl?" Perhaps the girl comments push me the furthest. I'm sure little girls are quite lovely, and I would have been thrilled to have had one. But I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that ever since I started thinking about what my family would look like, I have wanted all boys. That has been the picture in my mind's eye. When we saw that extra little appendage on our ultrasound screen, Tim and I both cheered. I am absolutely THRILLED to be a boy mommy. I wouldn't have it any other way. That said, I have no problem admitting that shopping for baby girls is SO MUCH MORE FUN. Luckily, we have a lot of friends who have baby girls.

12. ...Oh! Another thing about the blog and the whole "family not knowing" thing. When I talk to my husband about whatever I've read on your blogs or whose kid spread poop all over the crib or whose baby started talking this week, I always use your first names. He knows you all as though you lived next door. HOWEVER, when talking to other people in my real life, I rarely reference anything about my bloggy relationships. I may say, "I heard about that on one of the blogs that I read" or something like that, but it stops there. Maybe I'm not giving the Real Lifers enough credit, but to be honest, I just don't think they'd understand. Same for this weekend. I've asked my sister-in-law to be available to help Tim out with the boys on Saturday because, "Shelby is coming up to visit and on Saturday a whole bunch of our girlfriends will be congregating in Sacramento for a visit." I left it at that. No one needs to know that I've never met any of you before. Too much 'splaining to do.

13. ...Shelby was my Maid of Honor in my wedding. And I in hers. Before that, we were roommates for three years in San Diego. Before that we were roommates at our small college in Eastern Ohio.

So there you go, friends! I'm so looking forward to meeting each of you. We'll only be there for Saturday and the duration of the visit will depend largely upon my ability to hoist my giant body around from place to place. But meeting you will be lovely and I can't wait! Travel safely!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Just Real Quick...

1. Today I watched Christopher climb all the way up that curved ladder thing on the playground without falling through to the ground.  It nearly gave me a heart attack, but he did it. I just couldn't believe it.  This comes as just another realization that my boy is growing up and getting stronger, more independent and more confident & capable with each passing SECOND.  I suppose that makes sense, considering my baby is going to be THREE next month. Wait - one month from TODAY? WHO ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN?!

2. While I was in the midst of my "my boy is growing up but wait I think he's going to fall through that ladder oh thank GOD he didn't" panic attack, I was lounging on the grass visiting with my nurse girlfriend and her painter husband.  I just love them. There are so many things to love about these people that I won't even begin to list, but mostly, I love that Tim and I are equally friends with both of them.  By that, I mean that while Husband Friend will usually call to talk to Tim, if I answer we can gab away for 10 or 15 minutes and then hang up and be satisfied and the same can happen in reverse. Do you know what I mean? The other day I was over at their house with the boys and Wife Friend had to leave to take the kids to get a haircut. When she left, although we were leaving too, in no way did I feel rushed to get out of there or uncomfortable being there just with Husband Friend.  Another perk? Wife Friend is a nurse. So, even though she is the most modest, private person I know, there is nothing you can't talk to her about. It is comforting to me to have her around; however, I'll admit that sometimes I actually get a little nervous because she'll refer to something as a big deal that perhaps I didn't realize was such a big deal - healthwise - and then I run home and google everything I can find to figure out if I should really be as scared as I am about whatever it is.  And let me just say, Googling things about your health is NEARLY ALWAYS A MISTAKE.

3. It turns out that Tim's new job has changed dramatically just in the month that he's been with the company.  Hopefully he'll continue to enjoy the job and thrive in the position, but I just feel bad for the guy.  Starting a new job is always an insecure time, but having things so up in the air just adds to that, you know?  I'm praying for his peace of mind during this time of transition. If you think of it, I'd be thrilled if you would do the same.

4. Today when we got home from our picnic at the playground, I put Jake down and then Chris and I sat on the couch and shared a bowl of ice cream.  This is not something that occurs very often, but I always enjoy it so much.  He's turning into such a big boy and it's so fun to just sit and share some quiet time with him, just the two of us.  Today he said to me, "Mom. People.' mom..." When I asked him who these people were? Were these the people who love him? His response came, "yeah mom." Aw. That's right, buddy. And there are a lot more people on that list.  I did call my girlfriend immediately to let her know how highly she and her girls ranked, though.

5. Speaking of the things that my chatterbox says, don't you just wish that you could tape record every little thing that comes out of their mouths?  I think I've mentioned before, but Chris has started to refer to me and Tim by our first names.  If I do not respond by the second, "Mom!" then he switches immediately to "Annie!" Today while I was on the phone with my mom, I could hear a little voice saying, "Mom! Mom! Annie! Me tell you!" When I got off the phone I asked him what he needed to tell me. It was nothing important, but boy was it cute. Just like 90% of the things that he says. The other ten know, the whining, the dolphin calls, the "NO!" I can do without. But 90-10 ain't bad. OH! And have I mentioned that when I call him "Buddybuddy" he'll always respond by calling me "Mommybuddy." MELT.

6. I think that Jake is on the verge of walking.  He'll walk while holding onto your fingers and he can stand...well, for a little himself.  I remember that when Chris started walking so many people cautioned me, "Oh you're in for it now!" But you know what? I LOVED IT.  Life got so much easier once I could use both of my arms at the same time and I didn't have to bend down to pick up a little koala bear all the time.  All that to say, I CAN'T WAIT for Jake to start walking  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

7. Today when I left the house I actually found myself thinking, "maybe someone will break in while I'm gone. Then I can blame this mess on Those Terrible Burglars.  Between packing (a little preliminary, but the house hunt has begun so I'm getting a head start) not being able to keep up because there's no nap time anymore and my pregnant self is just too tired by the end of the day, and the fact that this place is just too small for us so there is always clutter and clutter always looks dirty, I am slowly losing my mind.  And then there's the matter of the carpet which, although new carpet has been approved, I REFUSE to do all of the work to get new carpet when we're just going to be moving in a couple of months anyway. I HOPE. Does anyone want to sell me a house?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Letters on a Family Vacation

Dear Husband,
We missed you so much while we were away. You know, my mom always took us down to visit my grandparents and on various adventures here and there. My dad rarely came along and, to be honest, we didn't miss him all that much.  You, we missed. Going out and seeing and doing is just not as much fun without you there. I'm grateful that you had the opportunity to rest and recuperate while we were gone but I think that, from now on, we'll be taking you with us as much as possible.  After all, Christopher just doesn't know what to do when he doesn't have his "Two Buddies" fully in tact to refer to.

Dear Drive Through Starbucks in Travis, CA:
I've always wondered how one would order a pastry at the drive-thru window in Starbucks, considering one cannot view the pastry case and see what is out of stock. Now I know. One cannot.  If I had wanted a super-fat-free cinnamon bread that would crumble all over my lap while getting lost in your town, I would have ordered that the first time. No. What I wanted was...well, I can't remember now...but the point remains. Attempting to order something aside from coffee for your growling new baby (aka tummy) is a waste of time and an exercise in frustration. Lesson learned.

To the Towns of Travis and Fairfield, CA:
If I wanted to drive through historic fairfield along "historic route 40" on my way back to the highway, I would have looked for signs indicating as much. On the contrary, my small town friends, what I WANTED was to get back on the freeway as quickly and easily as I got off of it. When travelling with very small children, getting from point A (the drive-thru starbucks) to point B (I-80 East) as quickly as possible really is the goal. Why yes, I do have an in-car navigation system that assured me I was headed in the right direction. And, yes, my children were quite busy watching Cars while I putt-putted my way down your abandoned streets waiting and waiting and WAITING to see any sign of the freeway. But the fact remains - a thirty minute detour at the BEGINNING of a four-plus hour drive is NOT what the doctor ordered.

Dear Disney,
Thank you for making the following movies: Cars, Madagascar, and Wall-E. They saved my life. My only suggestion: in the future, would it KILL YOU to make your animated features last even a LITTLE longer than 90 minutes? Do you know how many times an almost-three-year-old Boss of Everyone will make you listen to Wall-E during your 6.5 hour drive home through Sunday traffic? You do the math. My brain is still too full of Wall-E's voice saying, "Eeevv-a."

Dear moms,
I would not recommend watching (well, listening to) Cars while freeway driving. The constant barrage of horns and sirens and zooms and crashes? DISTRACTING. I thought I was being pulled over for the whole first half of the ride.

To my lovely children,
Stopping at McDonald's with you was a delight. I love seeing how big you're getting, how well you eat, how excited you get over happy meals and the toys hidden in their greasy depths.  Our mid-drive lunches left me rejuvenated and proud.

To the McDonald's at the Forrest Hill exit in Auburn, CA:
I have been visiting your establishment since the earliest days of my youth. It was the traditional stopping point when my own family would drive from Tahoe to San Francisco to visit my grandparents, and has already fulfilled the same role in our travels on the reverse route to visit my childrens' grandparents. I heart you.  My only request: please install a changing table in the Family Restroom. This would ensure that moms everywhere would not have to change diapers in the backs of their cars with one hand while using the other to cover up the button that activates the automatic lift gate so that the baby cannot push said button and crush the mommy and preschooler in the process. Thank you.

To my Mom and Dad:
We had a lovely time visiting you. Thank you for the adventures, for taking the boys to see giant fish tanks and copious amounts of dead animals and pretend presidents.  Christopher especially loved the overly-bubbly soak in your giant tub and was delighted by the jets in particular. Thank you for the bike riding, the pool swimming, and the delicious breakfast out. We miss you already and can't wait to come back. 

To my childhood BFF who had to cancel our dinner at Mimi's where I was really looking forward to my free muffin because, as it turned out, you were made quite ill by your own little "bun in the oven":
HOORAY!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! What a lovely reason to have to miss seeing you. We will be praying for you as your journey through this pregnancy. Know that it does get better. That the sickness DOES go away. That the initial apprehension fades away to be replaced by joy in no time.  You will be a great mama.

To Tommy, Christopher's new BFF:
Thank you for spending all of Saturday entertaining my little one. It was so wonderful to be able to visit with your mommy without having to worry about keeping Christopher entertained.  Ever since we left your house on Saturday, he has been asking if we can come back.  Six and a half hours in the car on Sunday makes for a lot of "Me go Tommy home? Pea!? Pea!?"  At least he's polite.  We can't wait to see you again, buddy. And your mom, dad, and big brother too.

Dear Hot August Night's Participants:
Your old car fest, which I have enjoyed participating in many times in years past, was not over until Sunday afternoon.  Why, then, did you all find it necessary to drive home on Sunday morning? Do you know what you did to me by forcing me to drive along side of you for 2.5 hours longer than necessary? At 30 mph on the FREEWAY!?  I'm sorry, but we cannot be friends.

To the lovely gentleman who honked at me on the freeway and then gestured wildly for me to "move over" as you passed by:
Were you not aware of the fact that we were driving up to the summit on a road that only had two lanes? Or maybe you missed the fact that I was, indeed, in the SLOW lane behind a TRUCK.  Where exactly did you expect for me to go? And why were you yelling at me? And don't you have better things to do than to anger an exhausted pregnant chauffer of two babies already on their second viewing of Wall-E? I prayed for your soul after you passed me by...but only after i called you a jerk.

And finally, to the man in McDonald's who snuck into the family bathroom ahead of my hot, sweaty, tired, pregnant self and my equally hot, sweaty and tired children:
Initially I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, figuring that perhaps you didn't know that there was also a fully-equipped men's room just a few steps further down the hall. Okay, I didn't try for very long, but I did wait patiently for you to emerge so that I could go in and use the facilities while my baby sat on my lap, my backpack hung over my shoulders, and my toddler turned the light on and off. I admit to being pleasantly surprised upon entering to discover that you had not left any pleasant aromas in your wake, and I apologized to you inside my head for being so critical.  UNTIL. UNTIL! Until I approached the toilet to see that the water therein was yellow. AND THERE WERE ALSO YELLOW SPECKLES ALL OVER THE TOILET SEAT. You are lucky, my friend. LUCKY that I didn't follow you over to your seat and let you know EXACTLY what I thought of the fact that you were clearly raised in a barn. A LOW CLASS BARN.  I forgot to pray for your soul. I'm still seething. And my poor little Christopher has learned that grown men DO NOT BEHAVE THAT WAY BECAUSE THAT IS DISGUSTING AND IMPROPER AND HE IS A PIG AND DON'T YOU EVER DO THAT OR YOU'LL BE SITTING ON THE STAIR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE DO YOU UNDERSTAND? Poor little guy.  No wonder he comes up to me sometimes, out of the blue, saying, "Mommy? You mad me?"

Much love,
Annie & the boys

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seven Quick Takes

1. Chris has started calling us by our first names. I'm sure there are those who would frown upon this, but I think it is just the cutest thing ever. The other night I came downstairs before leaving for my Youth Ministry meeting to find Christopher strapped into Jake's booster seat, calling to me, "Annie! Help me down! Help me, Annie!" And then. Then! Last night he had a nightmare in the middle of the night. Instead of calling for Mommy, I was awakened by the sound of my own name being shouted repeatedly from the next room. It sounds so much cuter when it comes from that tiny little voice.

2. I finally set some dates to go visit my mom and dad in Reno. Don't know if I've mentioned this here before, but it truly pains me to say that they live in Reno. The summer that I got married, they sold the house where I grew up and built a new one (a big and beautiful new one) just over Mount Rose as you approach Reno. So, technically, they don't live in "Reno" Reno....even though their address says that they do. It still makes me sad to drive through Incline on my way to their house and I think I'm in denial over the whole thing, as is evidenced by the fact that I still tell people they live in Tahoe. And, no Reno, just because you've started calling yourself "Reno-Tahoe" doesn't make it true. You're still just plain old Reno.

3. I'm totally addicted to Whale Wars. Have you seen this show? I just can't stop watching it. And I'm totally not a green-peace, lay down your life for the whales, hug a tree type of person. But it's really quite fascinating and I am impressed by these people who devote their time, energy, and safety to a cause that they feel so passionately about. That being said, I'm going to open up the controversy a little bit to say this - when I watch things like this and hear people talking about the importance of the whales and how "everyone here knows that there is the potential that they will be asked to lay down their lives to save the great whale," I can't help but wonder if these same people place the same value on human life, specifically the lives of the unborn. The idea that some of them probably do not saddens me deeply.

4. Today, as I do every Friday, I took the boys to Adoration. Usually when I have the little people with me, my time with Our Lord is very brief. And, to be honest, I have to focus really hard on not paying any mind to the reactions of other people to the cuteness that is my kids - especially Christopher standing in front of the Monstrance saying, "Hi Deedah! I (love) you, Deedah!" Or last week, telling Jesus about the booboo that he got when he tripped while walking into the church. On most days, my heart swells and my eyes water when I watch this, and my pride has to be kept in check because I know that the other people there are seeing it too. But today? TODAY! They weren't even being unruly - just a little squirmy - but I was SO SELF CONSCIOUS. I could see a woman out of the corner of my eye who kept turning her head to watch the boys and in my mind she was COMPLETELY. UNIMPRESSED. I felt so awful that we were being distracting to other people, and (to be honest) that she was looking down on me for not being able to control my kids, that I couldn't focus on anything else. Clearly I have lessons to learn. Neither pride nor embarrassment should be what's on the forefront of my mind while in Adoration of Our Lord. Someone needs to get her priorities straight.

5. Yesterday morning I was awakened by a flying sippy cup to the face. It hurt so bad, and caught me so off guard, that all coping strategies went to pot and I did the Ugly Cry. Then, about five minutes later during some shifting around to accomodate the sippy thrower into our very early morning bed, Tim kneed me in the thigh. It hurt so bad (again), and caught me so off guard (again), that all coping strategies went to pot (again) and I did the Ugly Cry. Again. It wasn't even 7am. Later that day when everyone else was taking naps, I watched "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2" (which, Shelby? Did I read the second book? I can't remember.) It was a cute little movie. Certainly won't win any academy awards or anything (the very thing that is probably what makes it good, in my own opinion). Something about the story just touched me on what was clearly an emotional day...and I did the Ugly Cry. For nearly the entire two hours that I was watching. The day goes on and on...but I think that, in all, I probably Ugly Cried upwards of 7-10 separate times. Quite unfortunate. Today was a better day.

6. We have settled on a name for New Baby, or as Christopher calls him now, New Baby Boy Nate. Nathaniel. Naming our first two boys was no problem at all - but we've really struggled with this one. The middle name is going to be the kicker. We're at an impasse, it seems. Good thing we've got until I'm 31 to figure it out.

7. Tonight, although he was exhausted, Jake was not ready to go to sleep when I brought him in his room. Over the last few nights, he's gotten very sensitive to the idea that I'm taking him away from Dad and Chris and into his room to be by himself. It's gotten to the point where I have to take him downstairs and pace back and forth with him until he falls asleep. Tonight, though, I put him in his crib and walked out. When I went in a few minutes later to check on him, he was sitting there playing with Peter, happy as a clam. When I went in again? SOUND ASLEEP. It's a big boy who can occupy himself until sleepy time. Sigh. When did he get to be such a big boy?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Had No Idea I Could Be So Linky.

Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about blogs and bloggers, Twitter and tweeters, about those who take them seriously and about those who write them off as wasted time by narcissistic people. I've been meaning to poll my Twitter Friends on this very topic, especially when it comes to their husbands. Do your husbands tweet? If no, then what do they think about the amount of time you spend on that website or sending in updates from your phone throughout the course of a day? Because you know it's a lot of time. Especially for those of us who are stay at home moms.

Tim, for one, has been very supportive of my blog reading and twittering about, I think mostly because he sees what a support system I've tapped into in the world of Mommy Blogs. I don't think this was his intention when he originally urged me to "check out some blogs." Back then (and still) he was reading a series of Catholic blogs (many of which are linked to on the right side of my page), finance blogs, news blogs. These are the things that hold his interest, the things that encourage him to keep reading. Keep learning. Educate himself. So I hopped onto the computer and started looking for information on what I was interested in at the time: pregnancy. You see, I was in my seventh month of carrying Christopher, plagued with pregnancy insomnia and just looking around for others who were enduring the same joyful, yet challenging stage of life.

Not surprisingly, I found exactly what I was looking for...and what I didn't even realize I was craving.

First, I found Emily. Actually, Emily popped up when my darling ex-roommate, Shelby, sent me a link to one post in particular which I ended up reading out loud to Tim with tears streaming down both of our faces as we HOWLED through the whole thing. (I started to look for a link to it but let's be honest, I'm just too lazy.) A little more reading revealed that she was pregnant too, and due to deliver only a few weeks after me. Next came Maggie. Also pregnant, also with her first, and Hey Look At That! She's Catholic too. Then Rachel. Then Kate.

The more I read, the more connected I felt. The more I realized that, even though I didn't know these women, they were experiencing the same things that I was in pregnancy or child-rearing or marriage or just LIFE. These blogs that I started reading regularly (and commenting on faithfully) quickly became more than leisure reading material. Over the past three years, some of these women have become my own bloggy friends. I've never joined a mommy group here in our little town, but the Mommy Blogosphere has become a support group of its own. And this, my friends, is what I was not expecting.

From there came Twitter...much more convenient for uncommitted bloggers like myself who are still trying to figure out When To Find The Time. And out of the Sacramento Group I've gotten the opportunity to know Manda, and Lizzie, and Sheila. And, to put it lightly, it's been lovely. Example? Well, sure...

The last couple of nights have been particularly challenging around here. Tim, only two weeks into his new job (two weeks including two separate trips to LA, which have taken a toll on him AND on us) has been sick. Nothing we can't handle, nothing we haven't dealt with before, but worrisome. This is a huge challenge for him, of course. It's awful being sick. But it's also a huge challenge for me. Being Mommy. Being Nurse. Being Worried Wife. Or, as Manda reminded me on Twitter last night, being The One Who Everyone Needs. It's such an insecure feeling, worry. Isn't it? And, honestly, such a waste of time. But we'll deal with that in another post. Anyway, I digress. When Tim is sick the best thing for him is to rest. To sleep. To Get Better. And I know this. But having two babies who have no interest in sleeping OR DOING ANYTHING ELSE ASIDE FROM CLIMBING ALL OVER MOM when Dad is home but just out of commission? It's those times that it's Just. Hard.

So after I finally got everyone to bed last night, I came downstairs and left a brief Woe Is Me on Twitter. Do you know what? The outpouring of support was amazing to me. One lovely Twittersation with Manda, some comments from others, and a handful of private messages later my world was suddenly SO MUCH SMALLER. Instead of sitting downstairs in the dark, spending my evening in worry, I had a support group of dear friends encouraging me, making me laugh, and lifting our family up in prayer. It was exactly what I needed - but what I never expected.

You know, no one knows about this little blog. No one in my family, anyway. (It's nice to just have your own private little outlet, you know?) Beyond that, though, very few people in my real world know about the blogs that I read. Certainly no one knows about how much time I spend on Twitter each day, and while I don't think I'll change that, I feel more confident now. Last night confirmed for me what I've known for some time now - that these blogs offer community. Support. Friendship. A helping hand and a hearty laugh from people who are in the same boat. It's not narcissistic, it's realistic. It's smart. It's brave. It's humbling to put yourself out there and invite everyone in, knowing that you're quite possibly inviting as much criticism as support. And yet, it's gratifying and encouraging because, through it, you see that you're not alone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Friday - You Know What That Means!

And here we go...

1. Thank you for the input re: next week's ultrasound. I ended up calling the hospital to see if they had a policy and they do! Well, sorta. Superfluous family members are allowed in at the very end (after the tech has taken all of the measurements and done all of the thinking required for their job) to see the live-action baby. By that time, we would have already had our Finding Out Moment. I would be okay with my mom coming for that, but instead, she'll be babysitting the boys. She was perfectly happy to have some alone time with her grandsons, so problem solved! We'll show her the disk when we get home and all will be well.

2. Last night as I was laying with Christopher and settling him for bed, I could hear the planes flying overhead. It reminded me of the many many nights I spent at my Nonna and Nonno's house while I was growing up. They live just minutes from the San Francisco airport and we would spend HOURS with the binoculars up to our faces watching the planes land outside of their huge bay window. I have fond memories of hearing the planes coming in late at night or early in the morning as I was drifting off to (or out of) sleep. It was a comfortable feeling, hearing that last night, but it also made me think about how different things are now that I'm grown. Living only an hour away, I no longer have occasion to sleep at their house. To hear the planes coming in. To wake up to Nonna asking if I wanted hotcakes for breakfast, knowing that she already knew the answer. It left me with a little ping on my heart. Trust me when I say that I do realize how blessed I am to still have these two wonderful people as such a constant part of my life.

3. Today Tim signed and returned the offer letter for the new job! It's going to be a new adventure for him, and for that reason we still have our anxieties and apprehensions about it, but I cannot aptly put words to the flood of relief that washed over me when the fax went out this morning. Every breath of this day has been one of thanksgiving. We are truly blessed.

4. Poor little Christopher is WIRED. He's upstairs with Tim this moment saying, "wake up! wake up!" It's 8:30pm. No doubt the entire cup full of M&Ms that the hairdresser gave him during his shift in her chair today is taking its effect. Right on time.

5. My "enter" key has stopped working 9 hits out of 10. The new computer can't come a moment too soon.

6. Do you think that Vince The ShamWow Guy is going to be our kids' Billy Mays? These are the things that consume my mind these days. Billy Mays has been doing infomercials since I was a kid and here's young Vince making sure Camera Guy is following him from ShamWow to SlapChop. Just curious.

7. I decided today that I need a hobby. Scratch that. I need something else that I can put off, add to a list, and then feel guilty for not getting to. You know, along with the laundry, vaccuuming, cleaning the kitchen floor and the bathrooms, finishing Christopher's baby book, starting Jacob's baby book.... But I was thinking about you knitters and Shelby's knitting club and thinking, "I don't do anything." Someone slap some sense into me...and then clean my house.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's really more an issue of "Does The Radiology Dept. Have Enough Tissues On Hand For The Tears My Mother Will Shed?"

The other day I was talking to my mom on the phone, an occurrence that repeats itself usually about three or four times in a twenty-four hour period, when she related a conversation that she had with her neighbor. The tail-end of it went a little like this:

Mom: "And I told her that I wouldn't be back in town until Thursday because on WEDNESDAY my daughter gets to find out whether her baby is a boy or a girl....and....maybeI'llgettogoalongonthatappointment."

Me: "Um? Could you repeat that last part?"

Mom: "andmaybei'llgettogoalongonthatappointment? Maybe?"

Now what the heck am I supposed to say to that? This is something that I hadn't even considered. Ever. Not for my mom, and not for Tim's mom (who lives right down the street and has BEEN right down the street for every ultrasound I've had thus far. DOWN THE STREET. NOT IN THE ROOM.) Of course, it had occurred to me that my mom would be in town on that day, and I just figured that she'd stay home with the boys and wouldn't that be exciting to tell her in person this time?

I stammered through a brief, blow-off type of response that went something like, "Oh, Mom, I hadn't even thought of that. Um...I'd have to talk to Tim about it., you know, Tim's parents aren't coming...and maybe that would be a little awkward...and...well, lemmetalktoTimandI'llgetbacktoyou."

Apparently running your words together when you're nervous about the response is an inherited trait.

I figured that the whole "lemme talk to Tim" about it thing would be my way out. I figured that he felt the way that I did - that the Finding Out Ultrasound is a very special and intimate moment to be shared only with your spouse and the Perfect Stranger Technician (although, we always have the same girl, and her son is in my nephew's CCD class, and we've kinda built a relationship through the years.) I feel like the Finding Out Ultrasound is akin to the Delivery Room Reveal, absent the "getting to hold your baby right away" aspect. No one is in the delivery room with us (except the army of doctors in the OR for my c-sections), after all. But it turns out that Tim's take was far different than I'd expected. As usual, his perspective is far broader, far more generous, far more open, and far more loving than mine. (Don't get me wrong, though, I don't think that my feelings on this are selfish- he's just always more generous in these things than I.)

Tim's perspective: It would be a really special moment for my mom to be able to share with me. This is her (perhaps only) opportunity to see an ultrasound like this because thirty years ago they just didn't do it this way. Most likely this is our last baby (which deserves an entirely separate post considering the Catholic Factor and our commitment to NFP and openness to life) and will I regret passing up this opportunity to share such a special moment with her?

See? My husband's major flaw: always thinking of others above himself. Geez.

Now. My response to this was, and remains, that if we invite my mom, we absolutely have to invite his mom. It's all or nothing at this point. Sure, the question could (potentially) be easily solved by calling the hospital and inquiring as to what their policy is on visitors in the ultrasound rooms. They are BIG rooms, so I don't imagine that space would be an issue, but it is very possible that they have rules against inviting the whole town to watch the Baby Movie. (And it really is a Baby Movie. They have a huge LCD screen up on the wall and everything. It's ridiculously deceiving, actually, because the baby always looks like it's eight pounds and ready to be born...even in first trimester ultrasounds.)

I'm sure that, to the reader, my feelings on the matter are clear. I imagine that, because of that, most people would tell me to just follow through with my original inklings. And. Okay. I'll admit that part of the reason that I don't want anyone else in there is that when other people (OKAY AGAIN, specifically my mom. And sometimes Tim's mom.) get emotional, my back goes up and I react by becoming overly stoic. And kinda sarcastic. And pretty annoyed. YES, I DO EXPECT TO HAVE THE MONOPOLY ON EMOTION. AND, YES, I KNOW THAT THIS IS WRONG, BUT I'M PREGNANT SO LEAVE ME ALONE. That being said, my concern is that my inability to deal with their emotion is not a valid reason to not invite them - although, I don't want my childish reaction to others to mar that moment. You know? I hope you do because I really just don't.

And I'm really torn over this. AND I NEED ADVICE. I may not listen to it, but mostly I'm just curious to know what other people would do. So here's the question: Would you want your mother present for your Finding Out Ultrasound? How about your mother-IN-LAW? Do you think that they would want to be there? (I suppose that last one is a silly question.) What would your husband say?

I NEED ANSWERS. Take a poll. Ask people on the street. Ask everyone you know. And then report back here. Inquiring minds want to know. Inquiring pregnant minds want to know or they'll cry. HALP!