Archive for February, 2007

Okay, my last post was a great venting post for me. I feel like everything with MIL and her friend is going to be okay. It does feel like the right thing to do is to just avoid them. If I do have to interact with either of them (and I feel threatened) I’ll just have to remind myself that I CAN be the better person.

Max bit Bella today. Talk about a totally upsetting moment. Poor Bella. At least now I know beyond a reasonable doubt that Max needs intense supervision at all times while with her.

Max is a pretty physical kid, I’ve begun to notice. Last week, we had two play dates at our house. The first one was with B and the second with O. They are both relatively the same age as Max. B is a physical kid. He and Max got along great. They rolled around on the floor, ran and jumped all over the beds, and even wrestled a bit together. Max LOVED him. Now O, he is a very reserved and introverted kid. The main difference I noticed between B and O is that B liked to play with Max while O was content just playing next to him. Max would take a toy from O and he’d simply walk away and find something else to play with. When Max did the same thing to B, B got upset and would try to take the toy back.

When O left, Hal and I were in a bit of shock over how mean Max was to him the entire time they were together. Hal asked Max, “do you like O?” And Max said, “me don’t like O.” Then, Hal asked, “well, do you like B?” And Max replied, “me like B!” So weird. I NEVER thought a child who was only 27 months old would have preferences in who they like to play with.

It’s not just how he plays with other kids, though. He loves to rough-house with me, too!

Teaching Max to share has been our challenge as of late. He is already having to share mommy with Bella so sharing anything else is just not in the cards for him – so he feels.

When Bella is sleeping I have been trying to NOT clean and instead play with Max. I can’t do that all the time but when Hal goes back to work and I’m alone, playing with Max is going to get bumped up in my list of priorities. Yes, folding laundry has been higher up on that list – until now.

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I’ve been avoiding going over to my in-laws home for a while now. MIL caused some family turbulence with some dramatic behavior just three days after Bella was born and has been treating me like I’m the invisible girl ever since. I wasn’t the direct cause of her drama, Hal was, but she’s got to take her anger out on someone. She’s not really outright mean, no, she’s too passive aggressive for that. She just gives me the silent treatment.

At first I didn’t mind but then she brought a friend of hers into it – indirectly, of-course. So this friend of hers acts sort of like a protective shield for MIL’s ego. Her friend is outright disrespectful, antagonizing, and condescending to me (well to everyone but I’m just talking about me right now). This is the same woman who actually had the nerve to tell me that because I was raised an only child I can’t possibly know how to raise my own kids and books won’t help me. Yep, she said this right to my face about five months ago. I was so shocked and taken aback by her ideas about motherhood that I couldn’t even muster up a decent retort. She went on to tell me that I really *should* be asking MIL for advice more often because she raised three kids of her own.

Yeah, this scene happened a few days after MIL got upset with Hal and I because we are “know it alls” who act like we don’t need her advice. See, Hal and I don’t ask for her advice (but she gives it anyway) because we are pretty resourceful people. Duh, a librarian and an ex-bookstore manager – of-course we are going to consult the books first! Then, secondly we go to my friends. I never begrudge MIL the space to give me advice but for her, it is the fact that I don’t see her as my beacon of parenting information that is upsetting.

I feel bad for MIL because she has some serious insecurities and an extremely low self esteem. When she behaves like an ass towards me I let it ride. I’m not interested in pointing out her painfully obvious character flaws and I don’t expect her to change. My modus operandi for the past year and a half has been to accept her just as she is and complain if need be on the drive home.

I just recently learned from watching Land Before Time, that you should NEVER begrudge anyone of their dignity – that everyone needs to feel like they have something to offer. Little Foot’s grandpa is so wise! Hal is great at doing this and it is something I have been working on for almost two years now: not feeling the need to point out other people’s flaws to them. However, MIL’s friend really gets to me. She’s coming really close to being told off. Postpartum is NOT a time to be fucking with me.

Last Sunday, against my better judgment, I went over there for dinner. MIL’s friend was present and felt like challenging my knowledge about… gelatin. She did this because I said that my son couldn’t have pudding (but he could have the pie) because boxed pudding usually has gelatin in it.

Just so you know… gelatin is usually made from ground up animal bones. Not something a vegetarian wants to eat. It can also be made with a veggie source but unless the packaging specifies it, you have no way of really knowing. When I have called a company to ask what source their gelatin came from, the typical response is, “what-ever source is cheaper that day.” So, the no-brainer standard rule for vegetarians is to just avoid it all together.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into the boring details of the altercation here but I will tell you that it ended quickly and abruptly with me just turning around and walking away – while MIL’s friend was in mid-sentence. That was my way of slapping her in the face. Talk to the back, bitch, as I disappear.

TAke a deep breath. Breath, Rosa.

I came to the realization that during these very special weeks postpartum I need to protect myself from situations that seem overwhelming. That is why I have been avoiding the in-law’s homestead. Oh, well, another VERY important reason is that when Hal takes Bossman out I get some much needed bonding time with BellaGrace. I really love the time I get alone with her.

Not to knock having one child but for me… I think about when Max was an infant and wonder why on earth did I ever think THAT was hard??? When it is just Bella and I, I pop in the Buffy DVD, sit my ass on the couch, and watch hours of TV uninterrupted and totally relaxed. She just nurses and sleeps in my arms the entire time. And this is hard how??? Okay, I know, the first baby IS hard and it was for me for about the first year and a half. I think it is just that having two has made me appreciate this infant time differently – especially when Bella and I are alone.

So, Hal is going back to work next Monday. My mom will be in town next Wednesday until the following week then she’ll be leaving on Thursday. After that, I will be on my own. I’m actually feeling ready for Hal to go back to work – in a way. I’m ready to be alone with the kids. I like when it is just me at home because there is a certain amount of consistency in managing/guiding Max’s behavior that just doesn’t happen when both Hal and I are present. We parent differently and respond to situations differently.

I’m actually proud of Hal and I. We managed to spend this entire month together without getting into one fight. We barked at one another (mostly me at him) a couple times but nothing to cry home about. I think this month has been a real testament to how compatible we are with one another – especially considering my elevated hormone levels, the amount of stress we both have felt with having a newborn in the house again, and the lack of sleep we have both experience. Go us.

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Hal went out tonight to see a guest speaker at a local college and I’m home with Bella. Max is at grandma’s house and I’m feeling like this is about as much of a “break” as I’m going to get for a while… and it is nice. It is 9pm and I’m actually just logging on to do a quick update then I’m off to bed.

First and foremost… we got some of the cleaning done today that was stressing me out yesterday. Yay! After I bitched about it for way to long this morning Hal said, “you know, I just wish you would be more cheerful about it when you vent.” Haahahahaha! Then, he did everything I asked him to do. Yeah, he rocks.

Bella is gaining weight like the beautiful baroque goddess that she is – which means she is getting plenty of mama’s milk – which means that I don’t have to wake her up every two hours during the night to feed her – which means I am getting as much as five FULL hours of sleep every night!!!! I don’t know how long this is going to last so I am enjoying it while I can.

I’m doing a lot better coping with Max’s need to “hug Bella” all the time (he says that a billion times a day) and in helping him to remember to be gentle. We only had one incident today and it happened because he was tired and angry that he couldn’t sit on my lap. Mostly, if I remain calm and let him at least kiss her a couple of times (every time he asks) we avoid the lashing out episodes. It is when I lose my patience – because it can get really annoying to repeat the same thing over and over again – and tell Max that he can’t hug Bella that he freaks out. And since I don’t want him hugging her – because it seems to be too tempting for him to hit/squeeze/scratch her when he is hugging – I have started saying, “we don’t hug tiny babies, only kisses.” Fortunately, he seems to be okay with this alternative.

I’ve also picked up some new language to use with him because I hung out with my nature mama friends yesterday. One of the things I heard them saying to their toddlers (often) was, “put your listening ears on,” in order to get the kid’s attention. Didn’t always work but it was great wording so I’m using it. Finding the right words to use with Max is more challenging at times than keeping frustrations in check. Actually, having the right words to say to kids helps to keep frustrations in check.

I also noticed one mama remove her son from the environment when he was getting upset about something, take him outside to talk with him, then she brought him back into the space to continue what he was doing. I forget these things when I’m at home all the time and I forget to use these communication techniques while at home so that was a nice reminder of a good way to handle a melt down.

I’m mostly exhausted everyday and overwhelmed with just the normal day to day activity. I pretty much expect to feel tired all the time until I’m getting more sleep at night however, I’m thinking the feeling of being overwhelmed will slowly dissipate as time goes by. Or rather, it will ebb and flow as the kids grow and change.

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My husband is usually very good at helping to keep the house clean – and he should be because I refuse to do it alone. However, he is a pack rat and I am a minimalist by nature. Even as he is exclaiming, “well, the kid should never be down here in the first place,” (referring to our downstairs living room area) he has got to know that what he is saying is stupid and he should child proof as he cleans. You know, instead of stacking his shit everywhere so our two year old can throw it around. Grrr, I’m irritated right now. And it is not because our house is messy, it is because the mess was made by Max (upstairs) and Hal (downstairs) and neither one of them will throw their shit out! Seriously, I’d like to just throw everything away.

Okay, maybe if it was mY mess, I’d be a little less irritated.

Let it go, Rosa, just let it go. It is going to be messy around here for the next 18+ years. Let it go.

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I wrote a while ago about my midwife giving me this great advice… that when you have one child you are experiencing what is known as “optimal parenting.” However, when you have your second you’ll have to learn to be okay with what is known as “good enough parenting.”


Though, I’m not so sure of what my idea of “good enough” is. Today, I thought that I must have been causing some long-term damage of sorts to my son’s self esteem. He has been unbearable and I have felt, um, less than patient with him. Actually, I was great while at the birthing home for our two week check up – and in front of other people – but when we were at home – alone – my hatred for his ornery behavior was not only written all over my face but noticeable in my voice and words. In short, I feel like today was one of those days where I do not want to repeat MY behavior.

I had a mini melt down and cried a little because for a few moments there I felt like I had made a mistake having our second child so soon. And that is a horrible feeling. It’s not true, of-course, but still. Bella isn’t going to get the attention I was able to give Max when he was a baby. She isn’t going to be held as much, I’m not going to be able to gaze into her beautiful eyes for quite as long, and she will have to cry longer before I can get to her. I feel horrible about all of this. I also feel horrible that I can’t give Max the attention that I was once able to give him.

Fuck this bullshit. I wouldn’t be feeling any of this if we lived the way humans were meant to live. Communally. Fuck.

So, I have to ask myself, what is good enough to me? And, how can I do it?

I’m not going to give up trying to be the momma I want to be, the momma I see myself as being, the momma I want my children to grow up knowing. I know I can do this. It is just going to take a bit of time to catch the groove of parenting two.

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Wow! Two in one day!

I’m finding that there is a four o’clock wall that shows itself everyday. I hit it head on and can barely keep my eyes open thereafter. Hal took Max to Lola’s today so that he could get his hair cut at a barbers close to her house and so I could have a break.

My original plan was to lay down and nap with Bella but she had other ideas. She was not in a napping mood so nixed that arrangement shortly after I got comfy next to her in bed. Then I decided to set her in the crib, let her cry, and take a hot, hot, hot shower in attempts to revive my head. This may very well be my daily wake-up method for that 4pm wall. It seemed to do the trick in bringing me back to this planet. As soon as I got out of the shower, dried off, and dressed I rushed in to get the crying Bosslady. It’s really comforting to know all I have to do is pick her up and she immediately stops crying. It is also a wonderful thing because it shows me that she isn’t having other issues – like with colic – that would make her cry. She soon fell asleep in my arms so I laid her down and ran to the computer.

I really do need to find time everyday to write. I’m dreading the inevitable… which is that I am going to HAVE TO get up earlier. Not just to write, but so that I can start my morning with Hal.

Before I even set foot out into the living room a shower is essential. It is the first step in bringing me back to life, or to something resembling it. Next, I must have a cup of coffee. I wont even look at my kids before these two steps are taken and lord forbid my husband attempts to have conversation with me.

Our whole morning routine still needs to be set and it is looking like it may not get done until I am *forced* to get up at 6am because Hal is up for work, Max is up needing breakfast, and Bella is up needing to be changed, held, and fed. Hal takes care of Max every morning with breakfast but he is not going to have time to care for Bella, too. Ideally, she will sleep a little later than all of us and that will give me the time I need to write. Oh, then there is always the unexpected chores like washing the nappies or running to the store for breakfast foods. Oh boy, my life is about to get 10x’s busier.

I was going to try and start all of our “routines” while Hal is off from work but, screw it. I’m going to take this time to relax and sleep as much as possible. I have plans, back-up plans, and a back-up plan for the failed back-up plan worked out in my head – that’s good enough.

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It feels like FOREVA since I last wrote something just for myself. I’ve been busy with other writing stuff and of-course with mothering two young children. I’ve made it to the two-week postpartum mark and have managed to not snap. Having Hal home has been such a wonderful blessing and I think by the time he goes back to work I’ll be as prepared as I can be for handling both kids.

I spent a couple days mourning the loss of my friend, Monica, then felt that I couldn’t give anymore attention to that. The visit at the hospital was intense and emotional and yes, I did “lose it” and sob pretty hard. Her mother and boyfriend gave me a few moments alone with her so that I could talk in private. It gave me a chance to tell her how I feel about what was going on, our history, and my hopes for her future. I’m not a believer in miracles, however, I do think doctors are often wrong about their medical predictions.

The last update I received was that she is starting to become aware and reactionary to pain. One of the nurses even said that she thought Monica visually followed her movements as she walked around the bed to care for her. So, this is good – her eyes are open a little and she is responding. I hope the brain damage prognosis is what the doctors are wrong about.

On the drive home I noticed every cemetery as well as the many funeral homes along the way – there seemed to be an unusual amount on the road we traveled. The numbness and sadness I felt lingered in mid-air as I wondered what would happen to Monica and when it would take place. Having to “wait” for birth and death is very similar. I felt the same numbness and defeat as I waited for Bella to be born (even as she was crowning I just didn’t believe the pain would ever end) and just like with Monica, it all seems like it will never end.

I can’t even imagine how hard I would be taking this if I hadn’t created an ocean of space between the two of us. Intuitively, I’ve always known something like this would happen. Drug addicts don’t live long healthy lives.

A few days after visiting Monica I got a nasty, huge, painful sty in my eye. It’s now starting to go away but, yeah, that has been fun.

Well, Bella is doing wonderfully. She is nursing and sleeping well and has even started smiling already! I have yet to capture it on film but that is just a matter of time. She actually sleeps a little too well so I often have to wake her up every three hours to nurse. Sometimes, I cheat and let her sleep longer because I’m in such awe that I can go back to sleep without latching her on. Oh, there is one little challenge that we are having. She gets all crazy sometimes when we are laying down because she hasn’t quite figured out how to properly latch on in that position. Usually when this happens I have to sit up and hold her in the cradle position before she’ll latch. It’s really annoying and I’m very thankful that she doesn’t understand what I’m saying to her. I don’t have a lot of temper control at three in the morning which is when this always seems to happen.

Max is still adjusting (to be expected) but is doing well with all of the changes. Hal has started putting him down to sleep at night – which is a huge change – so that I can nurse Bella before she gets laid down. Bossman is even sleeping in his own bed… through the night! We are talking about moving a bed into the kid’s room so that Bella and I can sleep in there. The road is wide open as far as teaching Bella what is “normal” in our home and what I would like to see is her sleeping on her own before she is 18 months old. Then, with any luck (fingers and toes crossed) Max will follow pursuit. I really want to experience a full-night of uninterrupted sleep again… soon. I also want my boobs back and would love to have sex in my own bed again.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I’m forgetting to update about but that is going to be the case until I can figure out how to steel some time everyday to write.

Here are some pics of our labor and the two bosses…

Early Labor:

Labor is starting to pick up. I’m going in and out of Laborland (unlike with Max – whom took me to Laborland and wouldn’t let me leave, I only visited while birthing Bella.):

Yeah, that’s right, I’m cool:


Sweet big bro:

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Hal, Bella, and I are driving up to the hospital that Monica is at today.  It’s weird to think that this may be the last time I see her alive.  At first I wasn’t sure if I should even go but after thinking about it realized that I would only regret not going – I couldn’t regret going.  Her boyfriend “hacked” into her e-mail account to find my contact information.  This is all so surreal to me.

My mind can’t help but to go to that dark place of “what ifs.”  What if I had been keeping in touch with her?  Would this have still happened?  What if she was present at Bella’s birth the night before?  Would she have still taken 51 muscle relaxers for her pain the following day?  She spread them out through-out the span of the entire day (she didn’t take them all at once).  Her boyfriend said they were having a really great day and it wasn’t until the early evening hours that he noticed how many she was taking.

This woman was my friend through so much and I was hers, too.  I don’t regret (believe it or not) having made the decision to make some space between us but it still hurts that I had too.  She had been on a downward spiral of pain med-addiction for years.  After having Max, I couldn’t be there any longer to watch her destroy her future.  I didn’t have the patience to be her friend.  I didn’t have the emotional resources to be her mother – the rock in her life.  I know she knew (knows) how deeply I love her.  I know she too thought that we’d reconnect after some time went by.  Oh man, this is too much – I just can’t believe this is happening. Brain dead?  Death?  It is just so sad.  And she has a seven year old son.

I fear loosing it while at the hospital.  I’m so scared to see her hooked up to that machine.

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Bad News

I’m not even sure how to process this.  Monica, a friend of mine since I was 17, has overdosed on pain medication.  It was accidental.  It happened on February 3rd.  She is on life support and if she is able to come off it, she will be 75% brain dead.  If she has to stay on it, she has chosen (by signing some papers with her doctors a while ago) to be let go.  I’m numb and a wreck.

Our friendship was not a healthy one so I stopped communication with her 17 months ago, when Max was 10 months old.  She was at Max’s birth.  I always expected that we would come together again when she either pulled her life together or I had the extra resources/energy/patience to be the friend she needed me to be.  Historically, our friendship ebbed and flowed so I guess I expected it to continue that way.  This is just heartbreaking and I’m so mad at her.

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Releasing these feelings

I have noticed some personality changes within Max while he is at home. He has gone from being a mostly quite, laid-back, introspective yet defiant toddler to a loud, rambunctious, and hyper child. I wouldn’t even necessarily categorize his behavior as “defiant” either, it’s more like extremely opinionated and strong willed – which I’m okay with.

His change in personality is no-doubt a reaction to needing to hold his position in our family. It is a constant reminder for me to be present in every moment that I am with him. Even when I am nursing Bella I have to do it while talking with Max. If I am not paying adequate attention to him he lets me know by repeating himself over and over again until I snap out of my daze and respond. It seems that all he is looking for is a genuine response from me which includes eye contact and softly spoken words. This kind of response is what makes him feel loved and needed and I can see the pleasure in his facial expressions when I am adequately present.

His loudness these days is very challenging for me. It makes me cringe and worry that Bella is never going to be able to sleep in this house. It is also just plain irritating. When Max is speaking very loudly – or screaming for the heck of it – I am working on maintaining an even-toned lower voice. It is not something I do automatically. Often, my auto-reaction is to also speak loudly to him. However, I have noticed when I’ve been even-keeled it has brought him to a calmer state much quicker than trying to force/discipline him to stop screaming. HA! Forcing a toddler to do anything is not a worthy fight.

On my fourth day postpartum I cried because it hit me that my one-on-one time with Max was now scaled back. I thought about those long afternoons waiting for Bella’s arrival when I was lying in bed and Max jumped all around me playing – and I cried. I know it is just a matter of time (and timing) before moments with Max become more and more but in this waiting period of working that out, I feel a little sad.

It has been hard for me to allow Hal to step in and parent more, too. Seeing them leave to go to the library or run errands while I stay home with Bella (I need to be careful not to over-do it for the first two weeks after giving birth) has been difficult. Allowing Hal to discipline Max is getting easier but also still a bit of a challenge.

Instead of lying in bed staring at Bella when Max and Hal leave, my energy has been spent writing out these experiences and feelings so I can better handle the day to day moments of parenting. For this reason (and of-course many more) I am so happy that we breastfeed. Nursing Bella gives me the quite and solitude I need with her – even when Max is latched on to the other boob. I love that moment when she pops off the breast, lays her head on the soft of my skin, and has that look of complete and utter content – even a little smile. Makes me just want to eat her face.

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