Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Missing Mamasay: No Contraction Can Compare

"It's been so lonely without you here, I'm like a bird without a song" ~ Prince 

I've lamented a few times about how emotional and hormonal this pregnancy has been. Is it because I'm carrying a baby girl this time? Is it due to the warmer summer days and the resultant swelling? Is it because I'm also parenting a rambunctious toddler while trying to care for myself and the little one inside me? Perhaps all of these elements play a part, but I think one of the main issues this time around is that my mom is not here to share this experience with me.

I try not to get too sorrowful and Debbie Downer on this blog, but sometimes it feels good to release some of what I've been going through. It's one of the main reasons I write -- it's my therapy. And hopefully in the process I can connect with others who may relate. So, what is giving me the most pain right now? It's not the Braxton Hicks and general discomfort that I've had for the past few days. And I'm sure it won't be the actual labor and delivery of LL. It's missing my mom. 

Sure, she was very sick when I was pregnant with Q. She wasn't quite the super strong mama I had always known. But, she managed to be the major source of support for me that she always had been. That did not change due to her illness. We talked daily. She shared her mama wisdom. Or she just listened in her absolutely attentive way. She helped me prepare for his arrival, from gifting us Q's changing table to supporting our use of a doula to advising me it might be a good idea to take a week for ourselves after the baby is born. She consistently gave great advice without being pushy about it. I miss that terribly.

But when I wish that she was still here, I allow myself to fantasize about her healthy self being here. It's much too selfish of me to wish she was still here, suffering through her cancer. I wouldn't want that for her or for anyone else. I try to rejoice in the time I had with her. That she was able to at least guide me through my first pregnancy and meet her first grandchild. But sometimes it's not easy. I want to cry to the heavens above and plead with her for some help. Mom, I need you! This pregnancy business can be such a lonely one. And how ironic, I know, to be carrying another being inside of you and feel such solitude. So I dream of her in full health, playing with Q, lending me her arms, and simply understanding.

I've decided that my mom will be my focal point to get me through labor this time. I will think of her bravery in her fight against cancer. I will think of her enduring strength. I will miss her. But I also know part of her will be with me during one of the most important moments of my life. When the pain seems too much to bear, she'll be holding my hand.

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's a Q, Q Summer . . .

" . . . now you're gone" ~ Bananarama

I finally managed to upload a bunch of pictures from our camera, so here's what Q has been up to this summer. Just a bit of gardening, visiting local parks, swimming, and hanging with friends. I feel a little guilty that we haven't done more this summer. No real getaways. But hey, I have this baby baking business as an excuse. Next summer will be different. In many ways.

I can't believe it's almost over. The last summer of Q. Soon to be the fall (and many seasons to come) of Q and ??

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bumpin' the Bump: Pregnant at a Concert

"How many tons of love inside, I can't say" ~ Sade

This Saturday we have plans to go to the Sade concert (with John Legend opening) here in Oakland. We bought these tickets almost a year ago -- before I was pregnant or knew that I would be extremely so. Sade is one of my all time favorite singers and I've been looking forward to this show for quite some time. What I want to know is . . . do I have to fight for the right to bump my bump? Will people judge me for being 8+ months pregnant at a loud, crowded concert? Do I care?

Well, mostly I'm just curious. I'm going, so obviously enjoying this concert is more important to me than what people think. But I wonder what will go through other concert-goers' minds when they see this belly that has everyone thinking I was due yesterday.

Thinking of wearing this maxi dress (from Target)

Also, it could be an opportune moment to play one of those pregnancy jokes I wish I had the gumption to go through with. Like when some stranger comments on my pregnancy, act like I have no idea what they're talking about. Or talk loudly with a friend in the bathroom about how I feel like I should get this lump checked out in my stomach. Or be the one to order all of the drinks for my group of friends just to get a reaction. Or surreptitiously spill water between my legs and cry out "It's go time!" Oh, how I wish I had the lady balls.

What if I really do go into labor at the Sade concert? What an awesome story! And then she'd have to be named Sade, right?

In any case, out of all concerts to go to at 38 weeks pregnant, I'm thinking this one would rank near the top. It's not like it will be this earth-shattering, raucous event. Sade and John Legend will only woo this baby into the world with gentle, soulful, swaying rhythms. And what better way to become acquainted with the sounds she will be surrounded with for a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preschool Parenting

"Teacher, there are some things that I still have to learn" ~ George Michael

Q starts preschool in just a couple of weeks, and it's the best of timing and the worst of timing . . . all at the same time. I know he's excited and ready for this new adventure, and it's only two mornings a week to start. But with the new baby coming, I don't want him to feel like we're pushing him out of the house. As in "we've got a better model now, get your little booty to preschool!" One preschool teacher friend told me that I should hope that she comes late so that he'll be off to school first and won't associate it with the baby's arrival. Another preschool teacher friend told me that Q starting preschool is the perfect special, big-boy activity. Like he's got something just for him. I'm of course going with the latter school of thought. Or I'm trying anyway.

Leading up to the actual first day of class, there are a number of events for both the parents and the students. We've already attended our new parents orientation. This weekend we're going to a little meet and greet with the other families in his class at a local park. The following weekend there's a parent work party to help spruce up the school. And the Thursday before school starts, there's a "get acquainted" day at the school so the kids can see their classrooms and meet their teachers. What I like about his preschool is that, although it's not a co-op, there's a ton of parental involvement. I'm looking forward to getting involved, but right now it's tough to imagine how much time I'll have to give with a newborn. I so want to be a good preschool parent. I want Q to know how important his school is to me, and I want the staff and other parents to know I'm not some slacker. T said I should plan to get more involved next year and that folks will understand why I can't do more now. I guess he's right. But in the meantime, I'm attending all aforementioned events. We'll see how the rest of the year goes.

I'm trying not to get too stressed out about the fact that LL's due date coincides with Q's first week of school. If we had better planned for this pregnancy, then we wouldn't have thrown two major changes at Q at the same time. But I feel in my heart that he will love his preschool. There are so many cool activities, great teachers, so much time for free play, and he loves to be around other kids. Still, I don't want my focus on LL's impending arrival to take away from his milestone. My baby boy is going to preschool!

Parents of preschoolers (now or in the past), how did you help your kids to prepare? How did you adjust? What makes one a good preschool parent?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

36 Weeks: What the What?! Already?

"Got to be there in the morning, when she says hello to the world" ~ Michael Jackson

I truly can't believe it. I'm in my last month of pregnancy. How did that happen? All of a sudden I feel like labor day could happen at any moment which is somewhat terrifying. I'm maniacally trying to stock up on supplies, finish up LL's nursery, and wrap things up at work -- Monday is my last day, phew. I haven't been very inspired to blog in my free time because I've been freakin' exhausted, going from sitting to standing makes me short of breath, and my swollen hands are aching. I'm just a barrel of fun right now. Get it? Barrel?

More of a torpedo actually

Anyway, I know I'm due for an update before my actual due date hits. This may or may not be the last pregnancy update, depending on how these last few weeks go. Even though I'll be off of work, I have Q's potty training to tend to and a few other items to get to scratchin' off my to-do list. Plus, somehow we have plans every weekend for the rest of the month. I don't know what's wrong with us.

So, at 36 weeks . . .

Fruit/veggie size: Crenshaw melon 

How baby is doing: She's head down and making her way downtown. She enjoys leaning to the left side and making her mama look all lopsided.

How I'm feeling: Have I mentioned that I basically have carpel tunnel in both hands due to all of this extra fluid? I have wrist braces that I wear when I sleep or when I'm on the computer (well, I should be wearing them right now), but I've also done a couple of contrast baths which help relieve the aching and stiffness tremendously. Otherwise, definitely feeling the pressure of her moving lower down but still not able to eat very much food in one sitting. I certainly try, though. Also, I'm 50% effaced as of this past Tuesday.

Cravings: Chocolate, but that's nothing unusual

Aversions: People who blurt out commentary such as, "Whoa! Twins?" or "You look like an apple!" or "How many weeks pregnant are you again? You look about 50 weeks." (Seriously, people have uttered these exact words to me.)

Looking forward to: Meeting with our OB group at the hospital and tour of labor/delivery unit on Monday night. Even though we've been there done that, I'd like to get a little refresher and see if anything's changed in the last couple of years.

P.S. You know what cracks me up? How tiny that woman looks in my pregnancy ticker on the right.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Making the Most of These Moments

"It's a fast lane world that we're living in, Sometimes love takes a little test bend" ~ Lee Roy Parnell

These moments. The ones right here in front of me. I need to cling to them in heart and spirit. I need to stop whining about myself and remember to be thankful. Thank you to these wise mamas who reminded me of this very notion.

Dear Baby --  A Lesson in Learning to Be Present

The Mommyhood Memos -- I Want Life to Revolve Around Me

Aura Joon -- Hello, and Goodbye (wasting time)

I read these posts over the last few days and each has made an impact on me, combining to give me the gift of happiness in the present. Of remembering that Q will only be this age at this one time. That his sense of wonder is so precious. That we have so little time left as a family of 3 and that I want to go into the transition of our family of 4 with a sense of calm and an ability to just be.

Both T and I have been bogged down by the stresses of life lately. Sometimes life just seems too hard. He has been making many career and work-related adjustments and his energy has been pretty low when he is home with family. And then I am of course emotional and tired from working, parenting Q, and baking this baby girl. We had a talk the other night about how we need to focus more on the positive. I have one last week of work and then I'll have a bit more time for QT with Q (including attempts at potty-training) and some last minute prepping for LL. And hopefully I'll get one more date with my husband before she arrives. But as time seemingly slips away from us, I want us to revel in each moment. I don't want to be that "woe is me" mama. So I am aiming to enjoy even the little parts. We ended up having a great weekend together as a family, hitting a couple of different parks, going out to breakfast during which Q actually ate happily at the table, going to two different parties where he was well-behaved and we had fun with friends.

In the moments that don't seem so fun, I want to be able to rely on my sense of humor. Without ever saying it in so many words, I believe that's the best parenting advice my mom ever gave me. She was able to laugh in most situations. She could be kind of cynical and quite sarcastic, but it was always with the undertone of good humor. She told me I was her optimist because I liked to "make a fun time of it." Sometimes I don't know what happened to that part of me. Where did the optimism go? I want it back. And this weekend showed me that I can be that person again.

Every parent with older children tells us to enjoy this time. That it goes so fast. And I'm starting to understand what they mean. There's something special about being needed so desperately for guidance, for help with understanding the world, and for some simple affection.

Rockin' is serious biz.
Now if  I could only remember to take more pictures to capture these moments . . . 

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Panic! It's Manic Mercury in Retrograde!

"You must be my lucky star 'cause you shine on me wherever you are" ~ Madonna

I should have known. In the past, I would have known. When a friend on Facebook posted that Mercury was in retrograde, it all made since. What does this mean? Why does it matter? Well, if you take any stock in the sway of the stars and planets, then it's a period when all communication goes haywire. In other words, I now know the real reason why I lost my iPhone for the first time in the 2 and half years since I've had it. The planet Mercury came down and snatched it out of my swollen, pregnant fingers and placed it in my co-worker's office long enough for me to panic and imagine some identity thief with all of my information. Some miscreant tapping his fingers together and whispering "excellent."


 When Q fell down and cried later that evening, I couldn't help but break down, too. But this time it wasn't because I was feeling Q's pain -- it was because I missed my phone desperately. After going about 36 hours without my phone, I realized it was probably a good break for me. A time to reflect on how dependent I've become on my phone and how ridiculous that is. And a time to get one of those phone tracking apps for the next Mercury in retrograde! Yes, it's sad that losing my iPhone felt like losing one of my children. But back to my original point, Mercury in retrograde! It's a crazy phase (lasting until the 26th this go around) that allows you to blame any communication mishaps on the alignment of the planets, and in this age of super-communication, a whole heck of a lot can go wrong. I'll be shocked if this post actually publishes.

Back in the day, I used to be into all of this zodiac stuff. I would have been the one to notify my friends about Mercury, and they would humor me and groan about all that could go wrong. But with growing older and mama-hood came some more practical theories on which to base my life. Like I'm tired and super pregnant right now, so it makes sense that I would misplace something. But what's the fun in that? You can only blame it on the brain for so long. From now on (or for the rest of this pregnancy at least), I'm looking to the heavens for (mis)guidance.

Some tips on how to behave while Mercury goes all Charlie Sheen up in here:

1) Take more time to think before you "speak." Double check every text message you send, every email, every Facebook post, every Tweet. This would be the time that you accidentally send your mother in law that sexy note intended for your partner.

2) Save and re-save and backup. Even the most stalwart computers have been known to completely fail around this time.

3) Feeling burned out on social networking, blogging, etc.? Now would be a great time to take a little vacation from the online world.

4) Expect some delays. If you're not late, someone else will be. Which leads up nicely to . . .

5) Go with the flow. But don't go too far! Those expert astrologists out there (who are these people anyway?) say that it's a bad time to make commitments or travel plans. So, if at all possible, pretend you have no real responsibilities to be anywhere. And when your boss gets mad at you for not showing up to that work conference, you know who to blame. (No, not me. Mercury!)

It will all be over in a few weeks. Just like my pregnancy. Yikes.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Patience & Persuasion: The Two P's to Parenting a Toddler

"Crystal blue persuasion, uh huh" ~ Tommy James and the Shondells

There are days when I feel like I will never develop the skills it takes to be a good parent. The days when I frustrate too easily, yell too quickly, and let myself become overwhelmed. Then there are days when I can see myself growing more successful. Blooming into a stronger mama, like the star jasmine we planted in our backyard that took so long to flower but now emits its sweet scent. These are the days when I feel confident in my abilities. When I know all that it takes is the right balance of patience and persuasion to maintain a happy household. You know that saying "happy wife, happy life?" It really should be "happy toddler, happy life." I realize that doesn't rhyme, but you get the gist.


Lately these balanced days are few. I am 8 months pregnant after all. Who can master the fine art of patience and persuasion on pregnancy brain?!? (Yeah, I pretty much cling to that excuse.) To truly be on your game with a tot you need your wits about you at all times. It's much too easy to rely on time outs and meaningless statements like "be a good boy." You have to come up with some sort of way to redirect them or to give them a choice between two things that you are okay with while avoiding bribery. Perhaps this doesn't sound that difficult. And some days it isn't.

But when your lower back is screaming at you to rest and your toddler is arching his back in protest while simultaneously biting you as you try to strap him into his carseat, patience and persuasion can be quite elusive. I catch myself promising Q a treat if he sits nicely in his seat. On really bad days, I use all of my strength in one arm to hold him down while the other arm works on manipulating the straps. Huffing and puffing and swearing under my breath. This is especially fun in public. I hate to admit that I go there. I hate when my first impulse is to push rather than gently persuade. But it's the truth. My patience is nowhere to be found. Mental acuity is as far out of reach as is anything below this ginormous belly.

I am able to see the light, though. I won't be pregnant much longer -- instead I'll just be delirious from lack of sleep. Something to look forward to! Still, somehow I'm learning. I'm realizing what works and what doesn't. What simply provides instant gratification with a sizable portion of guilt later. When baby girl arrives, hopefully I will be well-armed with the two P's. Q is sure to have a bit of an adjustment ahead of him and I want to be there at my best for him. And to be ready for whatever his sister brings to the battle when she enters those toddler years.

I want to earn another P in mama-hood -- to be proud of myself.