Halloween, baby.

We didn’t really do a pregnancy announcement, because by the time we felt comfortable publicly announcing the pregnancy, most people knew already. But I did make an instagram post with pictures of J in her past Halloween costumes and the year in which they were taken printed on the photos, along with a ‘2017’ picture of her in a ‘Cutest Sister Ever’ t-shirt. We didn’t know exactly when baby M would be born, but we knew it was around then. As it turns out, D’s cesarean is scheduled on Halloween! We were briefly upset about this, but have since come around to the idea of a Halloween birthday. So unless baby decides to come early, she will be arriving in (gulp) 25 days.
D’s second pregnancy has been harder than her first. She’s been overall really healthy (that is, no issues that put her or baby in danger), and we’re so thankful for that, but she has had far more pain and been much more limited in what she can do this time around. She has symphysis pubis dysfunction, which means her pubic bone is separating a bit and she has a hard time with a lot of movements – and having a toddler involves a lot of movement of a lot of different kinds. She’s been having accupuncture and trying not to do the things that aggravate her SPD, but it has been tough – for all of us. Mostly for D, because of the pain and because stepping back with childcare and household duties is hard. J is finally gettting used to having less access to D’s body, and I am getting in the the swing of being the one who does almost everything – and realizing that the feeling I had of doing everything earlier on was inaccurate. I remember reading somewhere that when you have a kid, taking care of said kid and your household takes 180% effort, so if you feel like you’re doing 90% of the work, you’re probably doing about half. I think of that often, and even more now that I’m doing a much higher percentage. I hope that doesn’t sound self-pitying, because I am truly okay with it in the sense that I think it is fair and the right way for us to manage things right now. But I am sometimes overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, and how exhausting and physcially and emotionally draining that can be. Before this last few months, I’d never been ‘touched out’ before, and now I often don’t even want our cat to rub up against me. And I’m surprised by how much things have changed before baby M has even arrived. For some reason, neither D nor I anticipated that things would change so soon (when she was first pregnant, she was sick all the time) and how much that would affect us all. D said recently that she feels like she’s missed out on a chunk of J’s life because of being less involved, which is sad. For instance, before D was pregnant this time around, she did most night wake-ups with J because that was what worked for all of us. When J woke up, she called “mama!”. As I started to do more night wake-ups after slowly decreasing my medication to make me more alert at nighttime (I take an anticonvulsant that makes me sleep very deeply), she switched to “I need a mum!”, and now it is “I need mummy!” I know that shift has been difficult for D, but if I’m being totally honest, as an NGP who struggled with feeling like a bit of a spare at the beginning, I like being needed in that way, and I like that J accept me doing some of the things she associated with D before. D’s pregnancy has been a part of that change. J never (or rarely) insists on mama, and yet she also doesn’t seem to prefer me, which is good. It feels like in that sense, Di’s pregnancy brought us balance. Of course, I don’t know what alternate path may have been before us this past nine months – perhaps things would have shifted similarly, regardless. 
And baby M? We had an ultrasound today to monitor her amniotic fluid, since D was induced last time because of oligohydramnios. We’ll get the results next week. Despite fairly frequent scans, I’d say on the whole M gets far less attention in utero that J did, but now at 35 and a half weeks she is a fiesty little kicking machine who refuses to be ignored. As D’s belly roils away, M seems more of a presence and I feel very affectionately toward her – not the same as with J, where so many expectations of parenthood and love and baby-having were projected onto her, but a sort of sweet excitement and anticipation of meeting this little being who will be joining our family. I felt horribly guilty at first for feeling so differently about M than I did about J (and if I had been J’s GP, I’d have felt even worse and worried about it being some weird biological thing), but I’m okay with it now. So much is different with a second pregnancy/child, and I will let that love grow as it may – and it’s defintely growing. 
J asks to listen to her sister many times a day. We talk to her a lot about when she was a baby, and look at pictures and videos of her, which seems to be helping her get ready for this new presence in her life. She often tells us stories that begin with “When I was a baby…”, such as “When I was a baby, I had a dog and his name was…Jake” (not at all true), and “When I was a baby, a nurse came by and she give me a bath at the hospital.” (True.) When we talk about how Mummy and Mama are going to stay at the hospital when baby M is born, and that she will be staying with Granny and Grandad at our home and that they will visit the hospital with her, she gets a stormy look on her little face and says she wants to stay at the hospital with us. It breaks my heart, but it’ll be okay. It has to be okay, right? I think I’m as nervous about it as she is.
And J is two. I can’t summarize how much I love two as an afterthought to this rather lengthy post, but I will say that is is a smart, funny, very vocal and very physical kid who turns sommersaults, and tells us actual stories, and sings mashups all the time. When we get home from being out, she runs to find a book and curl up with her soft friends. She’s just the best. More on my favourite two year old, later.

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Sleep: It could happen to you.

I’ve been meaning to get back here for a while. Big Things have been happening: J turned two just over a month ago, my wife is 35 weeks pregnant, we’ve moved, etc. I would like to blog about some of those things

But I felt obligated to come back here, after so many posts in the last two years in which I complained about sleep, to say: it is getting better. At 23 months, I was freaking out about  the fact that J was still waking multiple times a night and we were inching closer to having a newborn as well. And feeling like maybe our casual, no-cry, attachment-parent-type approach to sleep was an epic failure and our kid would never sleep well, ever. But then, magically, we started getting the odd seven hour stretch. Not all the time, but often enough. It. Was. Bliss. (Um, except for my poor pregnant wife who has to pee every 90 minutes.)

But here is the big news: last night, our kid slept from 8:30pm until 7am. Seriously. She’s not sick, we didn’t drug her, she just… slept. In her own bed. (And also stayed dry all night. She takes potty learning a little too seriously, which I think may have impeded her sleep in the last few months.) Let’s do it again, sometime, kid. Please?

 

Mother issues.

This afternoon, we went to visit my mom and stepdad to celebrate my stepdad’s birthday.   Soon after we arrived, my mom said to my wife “we’re so used to having J around now that we tidy everything that she might get into away before she comes”. This is one of many statements my mom has made lately that are very clearly meant to assure us of her exemplary grandmotherly-ness and of J’s hypothetical safety if we do eventually leave her with them.

Which we haven’t done. We’ve never left J with anyone for more than 1/2 an hour. Why? Well, in the beginning it was definitely us being overprotective. But for the last year, we’ve mostly really wanted to. So why haven’t we? Because I don’t trust the person who most wants us to leave J with her (my mom), and I feel too guilty asking someone else to babysit J when I won’t leave her with her own grandma.

My mom loves J. So much. It isn’t that I don’t trust her intentions, which is what I feebly said when she accused me of not trusting her. I know she’d never hurt J on purpose. But what went mostly unspoken was what I don’t trust: her judgment. And in the event of her poor judgement leading to some awful place, her honesty. If J, for example, hit her head while my mom was taking care of her, I don’t 100% trust that she’d tell me, because she hates being blamed for anything so much that she can never accept responsibility. Which wouldn’t be as huge of a problem, except…

Except that when J was 3 months old, I specifically asked my mom if I could leave J with her for a minute while I left the room (everyone else in the room was a child). A minute later, I saw my mom leave that room, and when I went to see what was going on, J was alone, on a waist-height bed. When I confronted my mom, she said that she asked J’s ten year old cousin to watch her and that she should have known better, and when that answer didn’t fly, that I should have specifically told her (my mom) not to leave J with the kids.

Except when J was about 7 months old, and my mom was alone with her on her second floor balcony, my mom dangled her over the balcony to “show her to the neighbour”. Half an hour before that happened, my mom had complained of being so dizzy that she couldn’t stand up.

Except that I routinely find prescription medicine pills that have been dropped on the floors at their house, and when I mentioned that as a safety issue, my mom angrily responded that her home is so much cleaner than mine (true, but I don’t leave pharmaceuticals on my floor).

Except today I discovered a bottle of super strength cleaning product WITH NO CAP ON, AT FLOOR LEVEL in the “baby proofed house”. And when I freaked out about it, all she said was that she didn’t think that J could have got to it.

I’ve felt sick about it ever since. I feel super stressed that J could have perhaps taken a slug of cleaning liquid, bad about the fact that I’m always making my (unwell and depressed) mom feel bad, angry that she’s so undependable in so many ways, and on a pettier level, increasingly frustrated that this dynamic is getting in the way of D and I from having a date night. Or a date morning. A date anything that doesn’t have a pit.

Nothing will make my mom change. Even the prospect of spending more time with her granddaughter, which is probably very high on her list (though at this time, I think it’s equal parts desire and power struggle). So where do I go from here? What would you do, internet friends?

Ten Things on a Monday

  1. I haven’t blogged in ages, and I keep wanting to sit down and write, but it’s been so long and I feel overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start. And so, here’s a ten things post to summarize the past couple of months. (That’s thing number one.)
  2. A month ago, we decided to look at a condo that my wife found online and really liked. We weren’t really even seriously looking, but we went to see it, loved it (it’s bright and homey and has lots of windows, and only shares one wall with another condo), and then we bought it. We bought the first place we looked at, isn’t that kooky? We offered a quick close because that is what the sellers wanted, and we took possession on Thursday. I still can’t quite believe we are homeowners. We’ll keep living here at the campground during the summers, but in the winters we’ll stay in the condo.
  3. We also bought a car (before we had any idea we were buying a home) which we picked up last week. Neither transaction went entirely smoothly, and July kind of disappeared in a haze of tediousness, but hey – new car, new home.
  4. D is 26 weeks pregnant. We’re so busy, I sometimes forget. So does D, but baby M is doing lots of kicking these days and generally making her presence known.
  5. Because our new condo is in a different city, D has transferred OBs. I suggested she see my OB/GYB because I love her, and so we had an appointment with her but she is going on maternity leave (the nerve, right). Her replacement sounds good though, so we’re going to go with her. Their office has pictures and write-ups about famous women everywhere, and it’s an all-female practice. It has a good feel to it.
  6. J is going to be two in a month. She is so much fun, I am really loving this age, despite the emotional tumult and the struggles for autonomy and the constant “NO, thank you’s”. She speaks like she’s three. She uses 10-15 word sentences and uses the past tense, and talks about yesterday and tomorrow and tells us SO much about her experience of the world. It’s fun, and makes things much easier because she can communicate so well. She’s so ahead on most milestones that I feel awkward talking about it, because I don’t want to be all “my-kid-is-gifted”. Also, she is so quiet when we’re around people she doesn’t know very well that if I were to tell them the things she says it would sound implausible. So when people ask if she talks, I say things like, “oh, yeah, she’s pretty chatty at home”, and there’s a weird sort of dissonance between out-in-the-world J and at-home J.
  7. I made a friend! We met at J’s music class, and she has a son who is a couple of months older than J. We had a playdate this morning, and it’s pretty exciting to meet someone who I actually really like who has a kid that’s J’s age. Unfortunately the kids don’t play that well together yet (they are basically total opposites), but I’m hoping that will come with time. J definitely likes them both – though she was silent the whole time they were here, after they left she chattered away about them for a good long while.
  8. I think our 15 year old cat is getting close to the end of her life. She’s had a bad UTI and is just ending her second course of antibiotics. She is thinner, not terribly happy, and I just feel like she isn’t going to bounce back. Maybe I’m being pessimistic. And when she does die, there will be an extra layer of grief because she is also J’s cat – J loves her so much, and the thought of her experiencing that difficult to understand loss guts me.
  9. J is still a terrible sleeper. I feel like a bit of a failure. I really thought it’d just come, in time, and it has not. Right now we’re working on getting her to fall asleep alone, and then we tackle the staying-in-her-bed-all-night issue. I don’t mind co-sleeping if she sleeps, but she kicks – not accidentally, on purpose. In order to annex more bed. I hate it, it’s making us all miserable, and it needs to stop.
  10. We’re going camping tomorrow! Yurt camping, at Macgregor Point. Any tips on camping with a toddler are welcome!

We have a talker

It happened really suddenly. Until a few weeks ago, J had a huge number of words but mostly used them individually, with the occasional two or three word sentence. And then she said four words together, then five, and now, our child is never quiet. She tells us what is happening:

“Two people! Dogs, walking on road.” “Felix not happy. Felix under couch. Now Felix under table!” “Mommy not happy. Mommy sad. NO hitting.”

She tells us what she wants: “Want oat bar, YES PLEASE!” and “Shoes on, go outside, blow bubbles” and “NO TAKE BOOK AWAY, MOMMY, WANT BOOK, READ READ”. I’m fairly certain that she would like that to be in all-caps.

She tells us how she feels. When we got back in the car after visiting a conservation area with a farm, she announced: “Outside. Fun. Happy. Animals!” She’s also quick to tell us when she’s either “sad” or “not happy”, but these announcements are still often coupled with throwing things.

She knows the titles of 90% of her books. She’ll even recite parts of them. It blows my mind. Also, on the flip side: my mind misses the glimpses of quiet that I had until recently. The chatter is almost incessant, and while I mostly love it, I also love quiet. I was a quiet kid (and am a quiet adult). I have seen videos of my wife as a child, and she was a serious chatter box. So… there’s that. I’ll adapt, I suppose, get used to the unending chatter the same way I got used to the white noise machine we started using to help J’s sleep. When the power went out for a few hours last night, I could barely sleep without the crackly faux-water noises that have been the backdrop to our sleep for the past year and a half. Between the night noise and the day noise, I doubt a quiet house will ever feel the same to me. But it’s all worth it, because this kid has said “I love you, mommy. Big hugs!” about five times already today.

 

Sisters without caveats

I have three sisters, but I still feel like an only child in a lot of ways.

Two of these sisters are my step-sisters, whom I have known since I was fourteen. One (H) is two years younger than I am, and the other is six years older (A). I lived with H one week on/one week off for four years, and we were sort of close-ish during that time but haven’t been since then. She is emotionally distant (to everyone in the family, not just me) and very conservative, in a family of bleeding hearts. A and I are closer, but still don’t see/talk to each other that often in recent years. When her relationship with her kid’s dad broke up about 6 years ago, we saw a lot of each other and I took care of my nephew at least one day a week, but she has a new partner now and we live in different cities and while I love her, we don’t have the shared experience of having grown up together (we’ve never even lived together) and we’re also pretty dissimilar in how we live our lives and parent our kids. I’m still very glad to have her as a sister, but I wish that we’d grown up together for at least a little while.

The sister I did grow up with was born when I was four and a half. One of my earliest memories of sisterhood was asking how long it would be until she’d play with me. She never did. My mother thought something was ‘wrong’ from right when N was born, but it wasn’t until she started having seizures that anyone took my mom’s concerns seriously. N is severely intellectually disabled, moderately physically disabled, and has uncontrolled seizures. She didn’t receive an actually diagnosis until about 10 years ago, with the advent of more advanced genetic testing – she has a micro deletion syndrome. I’ve thought to myself (self-pityingly) on occasion that I had none of the benefits of having a sibling, and all the drawbacks. She was in and out of hospitals for our entire childhood (and still is), and she required so much care and energy from my exhausted, depressed parents that they didn’t really much of those things to give to anyone else – not each other, not me.  I vacillated between thinking that N would be ‘cured’ and worrying N would die. I think they probably did, too. They separated, got back together, then finally divorced (which was a relief to us all). I did not have a happy childhood, and I sure as fuck did not have a happy sibling relationship.

I don’t have a lot of unfulfilled dreams that I plan on inflicting upon my kids, but I want so very much for them to have a reasonably pleasant childhood and a good relationship with one another. I want J to have a sister without a caveat*. Even if it’s love/hate, I want them to have that intimacy with one another that I have so often wished for. I always thought my mother truly hated her sisters, but when I told her we were having another child she told me “they’re my best friends”. That’s either some powerful sister-magic, or some serious bullshit – but it sure is compelling.

 

* She also will have a sister with a caveat – F, her donor’s child, who is her sister and also not since she lives on another continent.

10 Things on a Thursday

  1. So I didn’t get a chance to do an update after our dating ultrasound, but all was well and Beebo was measuring a couple days ahead (as was J, at the same gestation). We got to see some movement and the ultrasound was super clear compared to the one we had with J.IMG_3109
  2. We also went through with NIPT – the Pan.orama test. Because of Easter, our results took a little longer, but we got them last week. Beebo was given a ‘low risk’ result, which is great, and we also found out the sex. We’re having another girl! I was hoping to raise sisters (probably because of my own sister baggage and fantasy of what a sister relationship could mean) so I am pretty stoked.
  3. D is finally feeling less nauseated. It comes and goes now instead of being constant, and she’s much more interested in food. She’s working, but trying to take it easy a bit – she does freelance academic writing/editing and also landscaping, but at this time of year mostly landscaping, which she is finding hard on her body. Overall, she is feeling most pregnancy sensations are happening earlier and stronger than in her previous pregnancy. And she’s looking at least a month further along than she did last time.
  4. We still don’t have an OB which feels weird. Our GP will be making the referral soon and then we start seeing the OB at 18 weeks-ish. It all feels very casual this time around, which we are okay with. Our GP is great and the OB we are being referred to is also great. Never imagined we’d feel so comfortable not using a midwife, but it feels like the right choice given J’s birth and D’s family history of cephalopelvic disproportion and cesareans.
  5.  J is going through a super challenging phase (at least I hope it is a phase) where she is throwing things a lot and really testing limits, mostly by doing things that just aren’t safe, specifically to get attention. She seems to do this especially when D and I are talking to each other rather than including her. I’m finding myself getting quite frustrated with her, and the whole ‘distraction and redirection’ thing that worked so well when she was younger is just not working. Yesterday she hit me in the face twice with wooden toys. I’m trying to regroup and remind myself that, smart as she is, she doesn’t have a lot of impulse control and her feelings are BIG.
  6. This behavioural change, oddly, has coincided with a HUGE leap in language development. She is using some 4 and 5 word sentences (though often without prepositions or pronouns) which is really neat, and tells us when she is happy and ‘not happy’. Being pursued by a toddler swinging her arms and chanting ‘not happy’ makes me… not happy. But she also uses these verbal skills to chat about the “tiny baby a mama belly” which slays me.
  7. She also knows all of her colours, which happened really fast and without much guidance on our part. She is constantly telling us what colour things are, with a fairly high level of accuracy. She seems to think that some browns are purple, though..?
  8. We’ve been spending lots of time outdoors now that it is warmer, and J loves being outside so much. She was over-harvesting the flowers from our gardens, and so D told her that the bees need them to make honey. Now, she’ll walk up to a flower, reach out, and then stop, and say to herself “flower. bees. honey.” It’s adorable.
  9. We did an Easter egg hunt and it was the first holiday J really participated in. It was such fun. We hid dairy-free treats and schleich animals in plastic eggs in the garden and she loved unearthing them and cracking them open.
  10. After a rough bout of teething and illness, we are bedsharing more and more. Do any of you co-sleep with two kids? HOW?IMG_3319