Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hell Week

Welcome to Hell Week.

What is Hell Week? Glad you asked.

Hell Week is the final crunch before your husband goes on paternity leave, and he works late every day trying to get things done. You, meanwhile, are 38 weeks pregnant, with a head cold, and a toddler with cabin fever. It's becoming increasingly apparent to you that you cannot go ANYWHERE alone with your child unless he is strapped securely in a straight jacket  stroller. Seriously, nowhere. Not even, you learned today, on a walk down the street. Because, seriously, your belly grows gigantic proportions every night, and the giant maternity tunics that fit you last week just laugh at you now as you try to button them over your girth. What I'm saying through all of this, is that you can not keep up with your kid anymore. You just cannot. You try, but you cannot. When he bolts away from you in the store, all you can do is helplessly hold your breath and pray for no big crashes while you hurry after him in that ridiculously pregnant way, shifting your weight from one side to the other in this weird, frantic shuffle. When you take him outside for a walk and he tears off down the street to throw rocks and talk to strangers, you are acutely aware of how little control you actually have over the situation. And, by the way, I think your kid is aware of it, too.

I've been surviving through this week one day at a time, barely. I've had a lot of help from cocoa almond butter and frozen waffles, thank you, Trader Joe's. Frozen food has become my beacon of salvation. My level of cooking right now is pretty much: Remove from freezer. Place in oven. Wait twenty minutes. Serve to family and feel like I've really accomplished something.That's what it's like around here right now. I'm on a roll, people. Winning.

This evening, as I prepared frozen chicken with frozen risotto, I got to thinking: Tomorrow is the last day of Hell Week! That means, there's only one more really tough day, until...the rest of my life changes forever. That hit me like a stun gun. I mean, really, is there anything more game changing than a new baby? These past four years have been so transformative for me. I've shed my skin and become someone completely new again and again: A wife. A mother. A mother for the second time. who will I be when the baby comes? I'm at that breathless moment on top of the roller coaster, before you go careening down and all around. Will the ride be as hard the second time around? will it be harder? Will it be even happier? I guess I'll know soon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This one and that one.

I always thought my pregnancies would be at least related to each other, but instead, they're like perfect strangers sitting across from each other on the bus, avoiding all eye contact. They have been so, so different. Mostly, it's the dramatic difference in my life that have made these pregnancies so unique. The first time around, all I thought about was baby. I was completely consumed by it. This time around,  I pretty much forgot I was pregnant until I was too big to forget anymore.

It's so different being a second-time mom. You have the whole, "Been there, done that" attitude,  and your life is such a crazy wonderful insane whirlwind of motherhood that, quite honestly, you don't have time to notice the little things like you did the first time around. And that's ok. You kind of float through your pregnancy, and you know this baby will be born, and you already know how much you are going to love and adore it, and that it's totally going to change your life. Only, this time, you're not scouring the baby books or deciding on your parenting philosophies. (Should we co-sleep? Cloth diaper? Baby wear? ). No, this time around, your only real plan is to throw open your arms and say, "Welcome to our chaos!" and love that new little baby with all your heart. Cherish every night-waking, diaper-exploding second of newborn, because this time, you know how fleeting and precious that time really is.

I guess things are different the second time around in more ways than just my lifestyle, if I had to be honest. Physically, it's been challenging. But also, less challenging. I'm a whopping twenty pounds lighter this time (yes, it's amazing what not eating Philly cheese steaks and fries every day will do for the scale), and in many ways,  I am so much more tremendously comfortable this time around. However, I've also been thrown a few curve balls. I've been dealing with chronic pain this pregnancy that is only getting worse as the baby gets bigger. I have the added challenge of entertaining a most rambunctious two-year-old, one who is not at all content to sit on the couch with me  all day, like I want to do.  I remember wondering last pregnancy how on earth I would manage to be pregnant and care for a toddler at the same time. Now I know. You kind of get through your days winging it, with some seriously slacker parenting. You let things slide. You don't go anywhere, really. Everyone gets cabin fever and goes a little crazy, but at the end of the day, if your kid has all four limbs in tact and has eaten anything other than cheese, it's a good day.

Collin, blessedly, has been toning down the crazy acting out we've been seeing around here lately. He's better during his waking hours, but I think that's mainly because he's channeling all his anxiety into bedtime. Let me tell you, it's been a bedtime s***storm over here, every night. We start the bedtime routine at 7:30, and so far he hasn't actually fallen asleep any earlier than 10:30. There are monsters, and clowns, and raccoons, and skunks that are just waiting for him to be left alone in bed. I can understand the monster and clown fears,  I even get the skunk fear, but the fear of raccoons is beyond me. So basically, he has an absolute PANIC attack if you leave him in bed alone and sobs and pleads with you to come back. It's pretty much the most heartbreaking sound you'll ever hear. I feel for the poor little guy,  I really do. I'm not comfortable with leaving him to cry himself to sleep, so things have been a little tricky around here lately.  I keep wondering how this is going to work out when the baby comes, but I have to remind myself that this is just a phase. This, too, shall pass (hopefully before the baby comes home). Everyone in our family has needs, and everyone deserves to have their needs met. That's what I tell myself. 

Aside from all the differences in my pregnancies, there are a few similarities.  I stomp around a lot in a hormonal, pregnant rage, just like last time. I crave cereal every night, just like last time. I think homicidal road rage thoughts every time I'm in the car, just like last time. See? It's not all different.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Now, we wait.

Today is the 14th, which means there is only one month between me and my due date. Only four weeks left. This baby has gone from being a million miles away, just a speck on my calendar's distant future, to being so in-my-face I can't escape it.

We're now in the "End Days." Those last gasps of pregnancy, where you're crossing all your T's and dotting all your I's, and scavenging leftover baby clothes from all your friends, and rearranging the whole house. I must say, it is SO much easier getting ready for baby the second time around, especially when we're not bringing baby home to a studio apartment. Sure, we don't have a dishwasher or laundry facilities where we're living right now, but at least we have SPACE. At least we're not dumping everything we own to make room for the baby. This time, we've only had to dump a few things.

I'm in that space again, that in-between space, emotionally. Where I feel my baby's arrival so impending, it disrupts my functioning. I walk around in a daze. I'm here, but not here. I don't sleep at night anymore. My baby is coming,  I know it,  I can feel it, and there is nothing else I can focus on. She's everywhere. The most surprising thing, for me, is how little fear I have this time around. I just want her here so badly, in my arms, against my heart. I miss her, and I've never met her. But there's no one else in the world I want to see more.  I long for her, my daughter.

Collin has been feeling the baby's arrival, too, though obviously not in the same way. This baby means something very different for him, and he is excited and asks every day if she's here yet ("Trust me, you'll know when she's here." Husband reassures him). But we're seeing the other side of sibling adjustment, the darker side. The anxiety, that presents itself as acting out and acting out and acting out. I know what he's really wanting is to know where he stands, do we still love him completely, even when he's behaving badly? Do we still cherish him as much as we did before the new baby came into our lives?

Yes, of course we do. We cherish you more than ever. But please, please stop throwing EVERYTHING. Please stop screaming and hitting and kicking.  I know you're confused and a little bit scared right now, and that's why we haven't sold you to the circus yet, but would a single interaction without having to grit my teeth be too much to ask?

Oh, Collin. He bounces so fast between "I'm a baby!" and "I'm a big kid!" that I'm sure he's having some sort of identity crisis.

Husband has put in his time-off request at work, we've arranged childcare for Collin during the birth, we've gathered (almost) everything we need for the baby. We've even washed all the tiny onesies and swaddles, and organized them neatly in their drawers. Now, all that's left is to wait. Wait for three to become four.