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Archive for the ‘Adjusting to a new baby’ Category

The in-laws are on the way over to pick Max up. Have I mentioned this year is getting better? My depression has subsided leaving behind only the occasional boredom that comes along with being a SAHM. Boredom that has always been around and that I only first experienced once I became a SAHM.

Last week I received an e-mail from a woman whom I used to party with back in the day – way back in the day. It was a nice surprise to hear from her and an even nicer surprise that she was offering to give me a free massage. We had reconnected through Classmates.com a few months ago and had been keeping in touch through e-mail ever since. When I sent a mass e-mail out with BellaGrace’s birth story, I sent it to her. She was moved by the story of my labor and decided that I was in need of a good professional massage. She couldn’t have had better timing. When I opened her e-mail, I knew my luck was changing.

When she arrived we talked comfortably and she got along well with my children – a feat that could make or break a visit from anyone. There was non of that weird awkwardness that you may expect from a blast from the past. The one quality I remembered most about her personality was still present – only stronger and wiser. She has this quality of honesty – stand up honesty – that I’ve always admired. So we talked and laughed a lot and then she gave me one helluvah massage.

My body is always in need of tension release especially in my neck area. These days, I’m sandwiched in between two little ones all night – one who nurses periodically. A professional massage was just what I needed. And it was double-great that she came to me, baring all her massage therapy equipment. Dear friends who read this blog, if you are in need of a wonderful massage, let me know and I’ll give you her information.

The subject of our 15 year high school reunion came up. Oh yeah, I’m going. And I was able to rope her into going with me! I missed our 10 year reunion because I was living in Chicago at the time. I probably wouldn’t have gone, anyway, because it cost around $200 and was a three day event. I guess they expected most of the class to be childless and still partying. This time, the reunion is at a country club, cost $45, includes four other classes, and is from 7pm – midnight, on a Saturday. I can handle that. But I have to ask, dear reader, what the hell does “country club attire” mean??? I’m not quite sure how I should dress for this event.

I’m going because I like where I’m at in life. Had this reunion been right after Bella’s birth, I’d be missing it. I imagine that only people who feel good will be going to this event. Who the hell would want to go if their life was in out-right shambles? Unless, of-course, they are hoping (or expecting) to find other lost souls to comfort their mood. I’m expecting to see familiar faces without really connecting with anyone. I’m expecting superficiality from most and genuine conversation from no one. I’m expecting to see hidden sadness on many faces and palpable happiness from few. I’m also open to the unexpected. All in all, I think whether I enjoy the evening or not, I will be happy that I went.

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Hey! I’m starting to get the hang of parenting two kids.

Bella is upstairs sleeping while Max and I are downstairs playing:

My biggest emotional obstacle was accepting that Bella is not going to get the same kind of attention that Max did at her age. Her experience in our family and my experience with her is and will always be different. And that is OKAY. Maybe if I was able to carry her in the sling all day I’d feel she was getting the attention she deserves (then again, maybe I wouldn’t). But I can’t carry her all day. I’m done beating myself up over it. She cries longer and more than Max EVER did, but she is still a happy baby. She is showered with love and affection.

I also had to get use to the fact that I can’t give Max the attention I was once able to give him. I now realize this is probably a good thing. He is very loving towards Bella and shows it everyday with lots of hugs and kisses. I can only assume that he learned how to show this love by experiencing it himself. He seems to be enjoying Bella. Of-course, he won’t always be so affectionate towards his little sis’, but I’m loving it while it lasts.

I’m just [finally] happy that we decided to have Bella when we did.

Max is sleeping in his own bed in his and Bella’s room. He makes it through half the night before quietly crawling into bed behind me. When he wakes and is not so quiet, Hal plays the night parenting role.

Max has adjusted to his new position of facing my back when he sleeps with me as I am always facing Bella. It is her turn to have easy night-time access to her beloved num-nums. Max is still nursing but only two times a day at the most. Usually, first thing in the morning and occasionally once in the afternoon. What can I say, he sees Bella nursing all the time so it’s kind of hard for him to forget about it. He tells me, “those num-nums are MINE!” And I always assure him, “no, Max, these num-nums belong to mommy.”

He never believes me, though.

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Yes, Max got his first spanking yesterday. I asked him where he put the toilet paper that he was using to clean out his nose and he looked me dead in the eyes and said, “I threw it in the toilet.”

“Good boy.” I proudly said.

Then I went into the bedroom, looked into the crib, and saw toilet paper draped over Bella’s face and going into her mouth.

I tanned his hide and made sure he understood why.

*I hate that I spanked Max and never want to do it again. Disciplining has been a huge struggle for me with him because of how strong willed we both are. I’m looking for better ways to deal with my own frustrations so that I can better guide him to “good” behavior.*

BUT…

In the middle of the groaning and moaning about the realities of my life I always feel the need to stop and count the blessings that crop up or linger around. In no particular order:

My paternal grandmother made these two fantastic quilts for my kids:

The horse one was sent to Max after his birth and the other for Bella after she was born. I hate that I *think* that I’m not crafty enough to do art like this. I want to be. My mom and paternal grandmother are both very crafty – so I do have it in me. Maybe once my body isn’t in constant pain (mainly my hands) I’ll learn how to knit, sew, and quilt. Hey, I’m still young – I’ve got lots of time to learn.

I can’t wait to lay these new quilts out on my kid’s beds.

This next wonderful part of my life is what makes me feel like I can and will survive the next year… and that is my relationship with my husband. Even though we have both felt the stress of parenting while poor – we have manage to stay supportive of one another. We don’t fight, we talk. We make one another laugh. We don’t argue over petty things, we keep the disagreement focused on the “real” issue at hand. We don’t blame one another for our personal sufferings, we acknowledge each other’s feelings and perspectives. Okay, I admit it… I do blame him sometimes but he lets it go in one ear and out the other. He understands that I’m “venting.” And if I get out of line – I admit it. Anyway, I really like Hal as much as I love him – and that means a lot.

The third good in my life… I have a couple of friends that I can call any time. And they call me, too. We support and value each other. I feel lucky to have these women in my life when so many people have trouble connecting beyond superficial interaction.

Then, of-course, there is my kids… they are both happy (I have no idea how or why – but they are), healthy & full of life and love…

and that’s all she wrote.

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I have a confession. This is really hard for me to write for fear that those who don’t have children won’t understand and those that do have children will look down on me. I’m feeling regretful that we had a second baby. Of-course I love Bella. I wanted Bella. We tried for four months to have Bella. I have never, not even for one second, considered giving her up by abortion or adoption. I wouldn’t “pawn” her off on anyone even if I had a willing receiver. I am just feeling like a horrible mother right now – to both of my kids.

My patience has been tested and it is wearing very thin. Max is an amazing child. I would say (naturally) that he is absolutely brilliant. I fear that I did him a huge disservice by having a second baby before he was no longer my “baby.” He has become blatantly insolent – testing me every chance he gets – rarely obeying the first time I ask/tell him something. Yes, I know this is normal behavior for a two year old but I still feel responsible for it in some way. He’s cooped up in our house all day with only a porch and back yard to escape into… and I have to be a willing party for that to happen.

Bella cries more and longer than I ever let Max because half the time I just want to ignore her and the other half, I’m genuinely involved with something I can’t break away from right away. I swat Max more than I ever in my life thought I would and my bond with Bella is nowhere as strong as it was with Max when he was her age.

Every day is a struggle to be gentle to my children. Every day I struggle to talk calmly so Max will listen and feel respected. I just want to feel like I can handle this. I want to feel less annoyed by my kids. I want my kids to be older so I can have a break during the day while they are at school.

And then there is my poor little dog, Oscar. Clearly, he has some brain damage. I am filled with so much sadness today.

I had to push his leathery tongue back into his mouth.

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I’ve made a big decision. I decided to stop writing for Mommy Magazine (a bi-monthly newspaper). I’ve been their natural parenting columnist since the second issue came out, September of 2005’.

At this point I’m not sure if this will be a temporary leave or permanent. I haven’t had a chance to actually tell my editor. I’ve been waiting for her to call me since, Sunday, so I’m hoping she doesn’t read this blog. I’m fairly certain she will understand. She’s the one who originally suggested that I take a break from writing in order to adjust to the whole “two kids thing.” When she made the suggestion I was still pregnant and had no idea how stressful I would soon find the responsibility of a deadline.

However, it’s not just the stress of a deadline that makes me want to stop. It is the amount of time it takes to actually crank out an article… it is too much. I spend at least two days writing and then have to spend another two days after I get the edit back. I’d rather be spending that time with my family.

My editor, though I have no other experience in which to compare, seems a bit over zealous in the editing department. Up until recently I’d get my work back already edited and had no idea what was changed unless it was painfully obvious (in which case I’d be upset). Also, I rarely felt like I had the final say in the articles that were printed and a couple times I felt they had been butchered. To be fair, I do think she’s a damn good editor – a bit on the tough side – but good. Also, I know a lot of my feelings are shaped by the fact that this is my first time writing for a publication – in other words… I’m still pretty green and have a lot to learn. I’m just not in the right head space to do this kind of work. The true bottom line to this complainy rant: I’m spending more time working on an article than I’d like. If I were writing for Brain, Child or Mothering, I *may* not mind so much – oh, and if I were getting paid it would be a different story, too.

My experiences with Mommy Magazine have taught me a lot – one thing being… when it comes to writing I need to *feel* in control of the final output. Having to write to please an editor has made me question my original desire to go to school for journalism. Obviously if I ever get a chance to write for money, it will be under the pretense that I’m writing to “please someone.” However, I’d much rather deal with that kind of pressure when I’m no longer a new mother of two small children… and when I’m getting paid.

Maybe I’m over analyzing this. The fact is, writing for MM was a good fit in the beginning but isn’t anymore. Maybe it will fit into my life in the future and maybe it won’t. All I know is that I can’t keep writing for them for fear of never being published again.

It’s not just the stress and the amount of time I spend writing an article, either, there’s more to it than that. It is also that I pay for it physically. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Between the time Max was born up until shortly after Bella was born, my pain levels were pretty low. Now, it seems that on a scale of 1-10, it’s at about a six on a daily basis.

Most of the pain I experience is a direct result of too much time typing. Though, it is also a result of normal daily repetitive movement. If I’m going to take in physical pain for my work right now, I should be writing for more than the benefit of others and my ego. Therefore, this blog is the only place I’ll be giving my time to write. It feeds my soul, sanity, and desire for a feeling of production and creativity. And while it’s nice to know I have a few readers… I’m still writing just for my own pleasure.

After giving birth I go into a protective mode with my energy. The only output I’m interested in is endeavors that give me strength and smiles back. Any free time to be found is sacred. All mothers know this.

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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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