December 31, 2010

Adios, 2010

It's the last day of a year that surprised me in many ways. I wasn't really expecting such an evolution in my own character, nor was I expecting that positive pregnancy test on March 2, 2010. So I guess it goes without saying that when we rang in 2010, I sure as hell wasn't expecting us to have a second baby by the time the year closed out.

Life is odd.

Back in February, I picked the word complete as my focal point for the year. It was a good choice, even though I didn't finish up my thesis like I intended, and I am still working on seeing myself as a whole person. But something else happened instead.

I had a baby. My second child, a perfect baby boy. My Simon. And yesterday afternoon Roy came home from work early, and we were all in Charlie's room. I was nursing Simon in the glider while Roy and Charlie wrestled and played on the ground, and The Beatles' Revolver album was playing. Just minutes before, I turned on "Be Mine", the song that played on repeat for hours while I was in labor with Simon, and I picked up the little guy and we did the ol' hold and sway. Roy held Charlie and they swayed next to us and my eyes prickled with tears. It was just another dark afternoon in late December but it was also perfect. It was epic in its everydayness. I've been thinking of my defining moments in 2010, and that was one of them. Just being with my family, the family that my husband and I built together. It's not often that I feel complete, but in that moment, I did.

That is what life is like, or mine at least. It's these little, seemingly insignificant moments that I often come back to. Sure, it's the big stuff, too - I will never forget hearing Simon cry for the first time - but it's Charlie's belly laughs, Roy's arms around me in bed at night, the little sounds Simon makes when he's nursing, waking up in the middle of the night to find one of the cats snuggled in bed with us; these are the things that I treasure the most. I wish that I could stop time, bottle the smell of Simon's head, record every single adorable thing Charlie says, but I can't. I can only be there, body, mind, and spirit, and take my mental picture. I want it all to last so badly. But the second the camera in my mind goes "click," it's gone. The moment is gone, and all that's left is a memory.

You've heard all this before. All this sappy stuff about enjoying every moment, never taking anything for granted because you never know what tomorrow will bring, blah blah blah. It's hard not to resort to sentimental cliches when it comes to those I love so dearly because, to put another cliched spin on it, words often fail me. I'm not original or special, really; I'm just a girl who spent years waiting for exactly what it is I have now, and I could not be more grateful. Things are not perfect, not even close. As a matter of fact, there is so much that I would change if I had the chance. But at the same time, so little.

There's more to say, there are always more words, but this time, I'm going to just shut it and wish everyone a happy and safe New Year. Thanks, as always, for continuing to visit me in this space.

Welcome, 2011!

December 30, 2010

Remember these five things

We are awake because Simon is fighting sleep tonight. Roy just slipped me his notebook with a list of five things written out on one of the pages.

(I often ask Roy to list five reasons why he loves me. I'm such an attention whore and love hearing what he comes up with.)

Here's the list:

1) You are a great mother of two.
2) You are great at multi-tasking. (Damn right!)
3) You are good at spelling. You'd probably win at Scrabble.
4) You are way more patient than you give yourself credit for.
5) You're cute when you're sleepy.

I'm not sure how Roy wrote out this list while rocking Simon, but that's one of the reasons why I love him.

And I love this list, too.

December 28, 2010

General Updates

I haven't had much time to sit down and pound out a real blog post. I've had intentions of doing so, but what can I say. It's the holidays, there's been sickness, there are two kids who need me all the time, etc. But anyway, I thought it was time for an update of sorts.

Simon: Simon is six weeks old today, weighing in at 12 lbs 14 oz and 22.5 inches long. He's up over four pounds from his birth weight and is proving himself to be a quick gainer like Charlie was. He's a big boy, in the 90th percentile for weight, 75th for height, and 85th for head circumference. Simon has been socially smiling since last week but has been smiling unintentionally (that's my guess, anyway) since birth. He is also starting to track objects with his eyes, and he randomly makes little cooing noises. He's been lifting his head like crazy (another thing he's been doing since birth) and in general is just a really wonderful baby. Unlike Charlie, he doesn't have a witching hour where he cries constantly during certain times of the day. Instead, he screams quite a bit in the car (not always, but more often than not). I jokingly asked Roy last night if a screaming baby could cause PTSD, so frazzled was I after a 20-minute car ride in which he screamed the whole time. Despite the screaming fits, he really is a pretty mellow kiddo, and I'm fairly certain he will grow out of the screaming in the car.

As far as sleeping goes, he's okay at it. He sleeps either swaddled in his car seat (which is odd, considering how much he screams in it while the car) or in bed with us, usually unswaddled. We've tried other things, but this is what works for now, and I'm fine with it. He gets at least one good nap in a day, but like Charlie, he takes a lot of little cat naps here and there. If I'm lucky, I can get him and Charlie to nap at the same time each day, but my own napping abilities have gone down the toilet since he was born. He does pretty well at night, waking up either two or three times. Obviously two is better, but I can handle three, too.

Simon is a champ at nursing. This is something I feel exceedingly grateful for. Formula feeding was not an option this time around. For one, I simply didn't want to do it, and for another, it's so much cheaper to breastfeed. Even though our nursing relationship was interrupted when he was a week old, he went right back to the breast a week later - no latch, supply, or nipple confusion issues at all. I was (am) so freaking happy about that. It simplifies things so much to just be able to whip out my boob and put him on it. No need to make bottles, carry around formula and other feeding supplies in my already stuffed diaper bag, or anything like that. I love it. My plan is to breastfeed for at least a year, and at that point, I'll evaluate and see how we both feel about continuing on into Simon's second year.

Handling a newborn the second time around is so much easier. I'm so much more relaxed and have been able to just sit and enjoy my baby instead of worrying all the time. Every single day is a challenge, for the simple fact that there are two little people to attend to, but I'm doing it and I feel good about how things are going.

Charlie: Charlie is still his adorable and lovable old self. Gaining a little brother hasn't changed that. He's got a great vocabulary and just recently started speaking in understandable two-word sentences. (He was probably doing the two-word sentences before, but let's face it, I don't speak toddler.) He's almost 30 pounds now and is busting out of the diapers that he's been wearing for over a year. (He and his brother are both big boys and will likely stay that way.) At his 18-month well check, the doctor said he looks great but mentioned that one of his feet turns in a bit when he walks. It's nothing I'm really concerned about, but the doctor will check it again when Charlie turns two.

Today I caught Charlie trying to climb out of his crib, so it looks like new sleeping arrangements will be coming in the near future. And speaking of other new things, Charlie has begun acting out a bit in response to Simon now being the baby and probably also because he's approaching the age of two. Lots of tantrums and even some hitting and biting. I still don't really know what my discipline style is, and I haven't developed a consistent way of dealing with tantrums. (Do I ignore him? Tell him to stop? Hold him because it's obvious that he's feeling really upset? Put him in time out?) I'm not a spanker, that's for sure. I have lost it a couple of times and yelled at him, but that doesn't ever feel right to me. I have resorted to saying "No" a lot and explaining that hitting and biting are not okay. Perhaps I should start cracking the "how to deal with your challenging toddler" books.

Despite this maddening (but normal) toddler behavior, Charlie is just so much fun these days. Everything he does (except for the aforementioned maddening toddler behavior) is just so damn cute. He adores his little brother, and I can't wait to watch their relationship grow.

Christmas: Christmas was .... exhausting. We had three Christmases over the course of one day, which is kind of ridiculous. It was a good day but not the shiny sparkly magicfest I loved as a child. But it hasn't been that in years. I think I expected this year to be different because of the kid factor, but no.

We weren't really going to do gifts under the tree this year. Instead we were going to fix up our back patio as a play area for the boys and make Charlie a play kitchen. Both of those things had not happened and Christmas was rapidly approaching. So on Christmas Eve, I jumped out of bed and went shopping. I was bound and determined for us (especially Charlie) to have things to open on Christmas morning. In the end, I'm glad I did that, because it was really fun to sit around and open presents. Charlie didn't really get the concept, and Simon decided to projectile vomit while we were opening presents, but it was still a good time. (The play kitchen has been delayed until Charlie's second birthday, and the play area outside is in progress.)

In the end, if you add up gifts from us plus grandmas plus other family members and friends, the boys got a lot of loot, and now we are trying to figure out what to do with it all. I know for sure we are going to start doing a rotation thing, where we switch out toys to keep things interesting, as well as donating some. My general rule for acquiring new things is when something new comes in, something old goes out. It's easy for me and Roy to do that for our own stuff, not so easy when it comes to the boys. Damn, I hate that Christmas is such a commercial holiday.

Goal for next year: more handmade gifts, less gifts bought from big corporations like Target. I love Target but almost everything there is made in frickin' China. Better yet, I'd like to figure out an alternative to the traditional Christmas gifts. We just don't have the space for all this stuff!

My mom's visit: My mom flew in on the 19th and flew out today, and it was a good visit save for the stomach virus she caught while here. She had full disclosure that the boys were sick before coming, but I still don't think either of us really expected her to get sick. Well, it happened, and I feel terrible about it. We kept her quarantined in the living room for a couple of days, and everything worked out fine, but still, ugh. Speaking of that stomach virus, I still haven't caught it! And I hope to continue to avoid it.

Anyway, my mom spoiled us while she was here, treating us to dinners and groceries. She bought Roy a new battery for his laptop and a new coat, paid for an expensive pair of shoes and haircut/lowlights for me, and treated the boys to the ultimate Christmas gift: a playhouse for their play area outside. Awesome. It was so nice having her here; I loved seeing her interact with the boys. It sucks that she is so far away and that the kiddos get such limited time with her. Perhaps someday we will all be closer together.

Me: Well, I'm doing pretty good. I mean, I'm tired, but overall I'm in good spirits. I lost all the pregnancy weight very quickly and put on my pre-pregnancy jeans once my incision felt healed enough. I'm still not cleared for exercise or anything, and I'm not supposed to be lifting Charlie, but I have no idea how I can possibly avoid picking up my own kid.

The skin on my stomach is still pretty loose, and I have a few more stretch marks, but nothing major. I guess in general, my whole body could use some toning up, but I have made it a goal of mine to stop criticizing my physical appearance so much. After all, this body has grown two perfect little boys and is the sole provider of nourishment for one of those little boys right now. This body handled two labors and two major surgeries and is still kickin'. This body deserves my respect, so I'm going to try my best to stop talking shit about it.

Now that I'm not pregnant, I find myself wondering what the next step is. I didn't realize how much of a holding pattern I was in until I was home after Simon was born and found myself wondering, "What's next for me?" There have been so many changes over such a short period of time, and in many ways I'm ready to just sit back and enjoy and not make any big decisions. But let's face it, there are big decisions to be made. I still have goals and dreams and things that I want to do. While my family is my world, I am still an individual, and I still have this desire to make all my dreams come true. I've got a post brewing about all this, naturally.

In the meantime, though, both boys are sleeping (at the same time OMG), and therefore it's time for me to go take a shower.

Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Happy Holidays, from my family to yours.

It's a wonderful (and terribly complicated, often bittersweet, always confusing, downright strange, but yes, still completely wonderful) life that I've got. Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope Santa brings you a little something special tomorrow.

December 16, 2010

One Month/Getting Through It

It so happens that Mr. Simon is one month old today.

It also so happens that at right around 5:30 this morning, Roy jumped out of bed and sprinted to the bathroom. Seconds later, I heard the unmistakeable sound of vomit hitting the bathtub. And then Charlie woke up and decided that despite the fact that it was still dark out, he wanted to stay up. He wanted extra special attention. So did Simon. And Roy needed extra special attention. Super Leslie to the rescue, I guess.

Today wasn't supposed to start out that way. But once it started, it never stopped. Because once Roy threw up, I finally pieced together a couple of things.

1) Charlie threw up three times on Sunday morning and then was completely fine after that. On Tuesday, his poop turned light yellow (not to mention completely disgusting) and has stayed that way ever since. When I called the doctor's office about it yesterday, they said he likely had a bug working its way through his system.

2) Simon began spitting up quite a bit on Tuesday. He also started sleeping in longer stretches and was halfheartedly nursing between sleeps. When I told my midwife about it, she said that he could be gearing up for a growth spurt.

If you add those two things together with Roy's enthusiastic vomiting episode, then you get three sick boys, one of whom is only a month old.

And we all know what that means.

I'm next.

And I hate vomiting. I can't think of a damn person who actually likes throwing up, but vomiting is a special phobia of mine that I've carried around with me since I was a tiny tot. The entire day I've been absolutely dreading what I know is pretty much inevitable. I've even made my food choices based on how they'll probably taste coming up. Except nothing tastes good coming back up.

I am so fucked.

This stomach bug business is the latest in a whole laundry list of challenges that I've faced in the past month:

a long, unmedicated labor that ended in a C-section
a bladder laceration during my C-section
a four-day spinal headache
the invasive blood patch procedure to get rid of said headache
being catheterized for six days
the UTI from hell
being forced to stop nursing for a week (because of the antibiotics for the UTI)
handling a toddler and a newborn on my own

I'm not going to lie. It's been rough. But through it all, even as I sit here in crippling fear of the stomach bug that's sure to make me its bitch, I've been in remarkably good spirits. (Okay, there was that one time when I was sitting on the toilet bawling from the pain from the UTI from hell and swearing to Roy that I would never have another baby.) The truth is I've heard so much shitty stuff about what other people are going through, and I can't help but feel lucky. Christmas (my favorite holiday) is just around the corner, my mom's flying in on Sunday for a nine-day visit, I'm going to meet my sweet baby nephew around January 4, and I have this wonderful house full of boys and cats. (And fish. Roy is kind of obsessed with fish. Our fish are super breeders. They're threatening to take over the world.)

Watching other people go through hell has afforded me the opportunity to really embrace each moment in my own life. (Or at least try to. Sometimes I fail miserably.) I've spent so much time smelling Simon's head, looking into those penetrating eyes, and just drinking him in as he is right now. He's going to change so much in the coming months - hell, he's already officially not a newborn anymore, which kind of breaks my heart. There's a chance that I might never get to do this whole tiny baby stage again, so I'll be damned if I'm going to miss out on any of it.

So that's how I'm getting through it. I'm getting through it with the knowledge that the bad moments pass, and because of that, it's pointless to wish them away. I'm getting through it because there really is nothing like holding my sweet-smelling baby or my hilarious toddler or snuggling up to my cute husband.

I'm getting through it because this is my life. I had to change my shirt countless times today because of all of Simon's spit up. I spent quite a bit of time spraying disgusting poo off Charlie's diapers. I'm spending the night on the couch so that Roy can sleep in comfort, even though my back is fucking killing me and I know the cats will be crawling all over me all night. Somewhere in all that inconvenience and that cat hair and those disgusting bodily fluids, there's a kind of beauty. Subtle, strong. And real.

(Contrary to what I said above, I demand a fast forward button to get me through this stomach bug nonsense.)

PS - Happy one month birthday, Simon, you lovely little Scorpio. (Wish I wasn't so lazy about uploading photos to my computer - otherwise, I'd share some recent pictures.)

December 9, 2010

18 Months Old

Charlie turned 18 months old yesterday. Here I am, wondering again why someone doesn't invent a contraption that slows down time.

This past month I've watched my kiddo face a big change - the arrival of his little brother Simon. I wasn't 100% sure what to expect, but I figured Charlie would handle the transition with ease. So far he has proved me right. There have been no real issues so far. Instead there have been some really wonderful moments, where I've had the pleasure of seeing Charlie stroke Simon's ultra-soft hair, give him kisses, and say "Saz?" upon seeing him. It does so much to ease that guilt that I feel at having to divide my time and attention between two kids. I know that I have given each of them the gift of a lifetime: a brother and (hopefully) a built-in best friend.

Charlie continues to amaze me with everything he's picked up, especially all his words. I love that he meows when he comes across the picture of the kitty in his little first words book and that he goes "YOR!" for a lion roar. I love watching him run around the house with his floppy hair and a big smile on his face. I love that he asks me to read his favorite book at least ten times an hour. It just makes me so happy to see him be happy, to watch him grow and thrive.

Roy's aunt posted this on my Facebook wall a couple of days after Simon was born:

I had the privilege of spending time with Charlie yesterday. He is completely amazing and so smart! What a terrific personality he has, he's so happy and self-assured. It's easy to tell when a child has had wonderful parenting. Simon is a lucky little guy too! Can't wait to meet him!

I loved reading that. I love knowing that Charlie is making other people happy - just by being his completely wonderful self. (And frankly, I don't feel that my parenting skills have much to do with it.)

It's hard to believe that Charlie's next big milestone is his second birthday. I'll always hope to stop time (or at least slow it down), but since that is pretty much impossible, instead I will enjoy every moment with my Chuckles. It's not always easy being the mother of a toddler, but every bear hug and slobbery kiss, every smile and belly laugh make it all entirely worth it.

December 7, 2010

Three Weeks Old

It's been a week and a half since I last blogged. I've been caught up in the mysterious surreality that only parents of newborns can truly understand, where it's common to put your baby on the dryer in his car seat in a desperate attempt to get him to sleep, where you resort to singing Britney Spears pop songs in lieu of lullabies. I am tired but happy. I keep telling myself that sleep is for pansies. I'm not sure if I buy that.

I've been listening to Sarah McLachlan's version of Silent Night quite a bit lately, marveling a bit over the serenity I finally feel as a mother. It took me so long to get here, and much of the time, it was like walking through flames, burning away the unnecessary excess in order to really get at that maternal bliss. Except that it's not really bliss; that's just not the right word, because bliss is only part of it. I'm not even sure if I could ever put a word on it. It's complicated. Motherhood is complicated.

Simon is also a complicated little soul; from the beginning, he has had these very alert wakeful times where he has unflinchingly stared me straight in the eyes. I feel a little like he's peering into the deepest parts of me, and it feels good to be vulnerable this way, to not feel afraid. He's only three weeks old, but when I look into his eyes, he feels so much older than that. Yet he needs me in a way that only the frighteningly young need their mothers.

So it's been three weeks since this little man got stuck all posterior-like in my birth canal, and I still haven't written his birth story. I've been working on it here and there but mostly I've had him stuck on my boob, or Charlie in my lap, or I've been asleep (because I am a pansy, apparently). Every once in awhile, I venture out of the house, sometimes by myself, sometimes with everyone else in tow, and the world feels strange and bright. I know things will never be the same again, but that's the thing with kids - they change everything forever, and there's not much to be done about it.

Happy three weeks, Simon. What a perfect little boy you are.