Letter to My Second (and Last) Child on the Eve of His 1st Birthday

Dear son,

You are about to turn a year old in two days, and I am a mess. I look as if everything is under control most of the time, and I am making positive progress toward some major physical/personal milestones; however, I am also crying several times a day right now and your father is forcing me out for my runs so that I will feel better.

You see, when we learned that we were having you, we also knew you would be our last child. I am 41, and although it is theoretically possible to continue adding children to our family biologically or through adoption, it is not personally recommended physically for the prior and not financially feasible for the latter. We are done. The magnitude of this is great. I am not saying that you and your brother aren’t enough, it’s just that there is no choice in the matter. I explain this more in an earlier blog post. I am quite aware that the fear of choices being taken away is why I am planning to run this half marathon and climb a fourteener. I want to do it all while I can. It’s my mid-life crisis.

Now that we know you, we can’t imagine life before you. You are an absolute ray of sunshine in our lives. Your disposition is contagious and we are all happier because you are here. I look at your sweet face with your four-toothed smile, and I melt. Every time. You are getting more brave every day, standing on your own for almost 15 seconds, although no steps yet. I can tell that you are going to be tenacious, but also kind. You give more kisses than your older brother, and I thought he was the snuggliest kid in the world. You can fight over that distinction every day if you wish.

But when I look at you, I also see how much time I have to spend away from you while working at a job I need to keep our family going. I look at a year that whizzed past as you spent hours every day in the arms of Miss Nicole or Miss Jacey at day care. I know they love you dearly too, and I am thankful you have loving arms to hold you when I can’t. But I wish it had been my arms all day. I wish I could have gone full Dr. Sears and had you attached to me 24-7. But I couldn’t. Again, the lack of choice breaks my heart.

Every cliché holds so much truth: You can’t get that time back. The first year goes by so fast. Don’t blink-you will miss their childhood. But for those of us who must work, we miss a lot. We don’t get a fraction of the time we need with our babies. We trust that they will turn out well-adjusted even though they had to spend so much time away from the one person they need most during the first year. We try to make every weekend count with our kids. Every nighttime snuggle is that much more cherished. We negotiate our time and manage somehow.

But I don’t know about you. How do you manage it? Do you miss me? Do you feel abandoned? You sure don’t look like you are sad or depressed, but then, is this not-ideal situation all you know, so you don’t hope for 24-7 mommy time? That is sad, too. You and your brother will never know what it would be like to have me to yourselves most of the day. For that I am sorry. You might be thankful. The jury is out on that one.

It’s just important that you know that if I could, I would be with you all day, every day. Maybe before you are in school one day, I can spend time away from work and stay home, but there are no promises. Daddy and I are doing the best we can for you and your brother. It will never ever be enough for me, but I hope it is enough for you.

I love watching you grow and see your sweet personality develop before our eyes. I would never ask to go backwards on this journey together, but I will pause on photos like this one today and cry for the baby that I wish I could have held just a little bit longer every day. You might as well get used to this crying now. It’s part of who I am. Just ask your Aunt Tammy who is probably crying as she reads this too. It’s genetic.

Now here is a choice I can make. I can cry it out, run it out, or climb it out, but I will also focus on the moments that we do share together and be thankful. I can’t wait to see what the coming year has in store for us. The ugly cries are under control now. Let’s celebrate!

Love,

Mommy

 

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Mother’s Day: Why do we do this?

I am not a curmudgeon who believes that we shouldn’t recognize moms for their hard work. But the older I get, the more I wonder why we continue to celebrate this holiday when so many people have a difficult time with it.

There are the people like me who have lost their mother, and the day always brings that familiar lump in the throat as we quickly scroll past images of peers celebrating with their mothers on Facebook.

There are those who do not have mothers to celebrate at all, because their mothers were the source of pain and/or neglect in their lives.

There are those single moms who might not be recognized at all if there is no other family member to prompt the kiddos to make her breakfast in bed, paint a picture, or dig up some dandelions to present to her on that day.

There are also those who desperately want to be a mother, and haven’t been able to conceive and/or adopt. This day can bring sadness for these mothers-to-be.

Finally, we have those who were mothers, but lost a child. I can’t imagine the grief that this day must bring for them.

Allow my idealist side to offer a proposal: Is it so revolutionary to consider sharing your thanks with your mother, should it be an option and appropriate for you, on many days of the year without Hallmark reminding you to do so? We all have these handy devices that allow us to set reminders for ourselves.

Why don’t we look around us and give moms a hand on a regular basis? Arrange to look after her children so that a mom can go shopping or sit in a quiet room for a few hours if needed. Tell a mother she is doing a great job on a random day. That probably means more anyway. Encourage kids to be kind to their mothers every day. Let’s toss out the one day a year model.

Now, my realistic side will offer a perhaps more achievable proposal: Since American society is not likely to let go of this holiday, why not do the above, AND also be mindful of the people in our lives for whom Mother’s Day really sucks. Reach out and tell them that you are thinking of them on what must be a difficult day (not on Facebook, but in real life, or by a phone call or card). Take care when you address a group at work, church, or other gatherings that your blanket wishes of “Happy Mother’s Day,” might hit some people right in the gut. Celebrate, yes, but be mindful of the fact that not everyone has a reason to celebrate with you, and assuming so can unintentionally hurt people close to you.

Myself, I made it through another Mother’s Day with only a few tears while talking to my sister, and otherwise tried to have a “normal” day with my kids. I appreciated them, they appreciated me, and that did not diminish today, the day afterwards. I imagine tomorrow will be much the same.

 

7 Ways to Get the Most out of Fertility/Pregnancy Forums

 

I pulled an emotional all-nighter on the fertility forums a few years ago. I discovered that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach these sprawling archives of hypochondria and obsession.

Close-up of a positive pregnancy test.  Shallow depth of field.
photo credit: everydayfamily.com

 

Timing is everything

The subject of your worry undoubtedly occurs to you in the middle of the night, but don’t lose sleep waiting for someone in Europe to answer your anxious forum post at 3 a.m. Their advice usually involves the metric system and a 24-hour time stamp. It’s best to post, rest, and start refreshing your browser once people are waking up in Maine.

Let grammar be your guide

If someone is telling you, “trust me i c u having pain in adomen at 4 mo don’t worry it not ur baby u have gas,” followed by 15 emoticons that include fireworks and a soccer ball (?), then keep reading before you grab the Beano. This person is not an OBGYN.

Use the friend test

Is your concern something that you would share with a friend? If not, post on the forum and feel the exhilaration of anonymity. There are, after all, only a few people whom we can call to ask what the difference is between a hemorrhoid and anal prolapse.

If your concern is something you would ask a friend, start there and then use the forum as a second opinion if you think she is wrong. Be sure to follow up with that friend if you discover that 83 people on the internet disagree with her. She needs to know that you really can be 9 months pregnant without knowing it.

Don’t use your real name

The last thing you want is for your post about how many times per month you obsessively pee on a stick to go viral.  Unless, of course, you are prepared to explain to future employers that this behavior demonstrates your determination, your willingness to challenge the assertions of others (“Reliable up to 6 days before your expected period,” my butt!), and your ability to continue making an investment when the return is not immediate. Otherwise, stick to using the name of that former boss you don’t like or your mother-in-law.

Learn the lingo

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to decipher posts that read, “My DH and I are ttc after our DD. I have POS 2x PO, but BFN. Pixie dust, please.” I initially thought this person’s designated driver made a purchase order for something from Tinkerbell. Once you learn the shorthand, you can scan posts efficiently and feel like an insider. There are glossaries. Learn the shorthand and feel like one of the cool kids.

Avoid the snowball effect

If you search for a forum post about “feet swelling during pregnancy,” but land on one so worrisome that it prompts you to start googling “foot cancer” or “gangrene,” back up a minute, go to your bookmarks, and look it up on the Mayo Clinic website. There are always people out there who share their oddball scenario on a forum that just doesn’t apply to 99.99999% of the world.

Just call the #*^& doctor

As my sister would tell me repeatedly during my pregnancies, your OBGYN chose this profession. They signed up for something that requires on-call hours and anxious women. Make them feel useful. There is no way you can possibly have a question they haven’t heard before, and you won’t see them answering questions on forums. This is your one way to know for sure if you are a hypochondriac or not.

Seriously. You can fret and rephrase your forum question over and over about whether your extreme nausea is a sure sign you are carrying quadruplets, or you can make one phone call and get some help with the nausea as a bonus.

I am a fan of forums, and I use them for comfort, as long as they remain comforting. I use forums as a place to gather more questions, but I don’t use them as a place for answers. I can share my pain, my joy, and my hopes without a filter, and the community (usually) responds with support and love.

 

Not everyone has that kind of support in her life, so by all means- lean on each other, anonymous moms. Then go call your doctor.

Shh! Don’t tell my husband because he wouldn’t understand.

My husband doesn’t read my blog. At least, I don’t think he does. To test my theory, I am going to throw this out there and wait: 

I wish we could have another child. 

There. I said it. 

My youngest is turning a year old in two months. He is crawling and walking and too busy to snuggle for hours. I am experiencing that particular mix of pride and sadness that the first year is almost over. I instinctively reach for my empty belly and wish I could do it all over again.

I loved being pregnant. Even this last time with twice-weekly monitoring sessions and pre-eclampsia that had me worried most of the time, I loved it. 

I also love babies. I love how they meld themselves on your chest as they sleep and clutch your clothes in their little fists to hang on. 

  

A few things prevent me from having another child. First, since I had pre-eclampsia last time, I’m likely to have a repeat case should I become pregnant. Possibly a more severe case that could threaten my life and/or the life of my child. 

Second, although biological children are out of the question, adoption is out as well. The high cost of living in Colorado is reflected in the cost of childcare. We are a two-income family in order to survive. Financially, a third baby would ruin us. 

Finally, I am thankful for my sweet family just as it is. I already feel guilty that I don’t have enough time to share with two kids. 

My desire to have another child is not coming from a position of lack. It’s something much more complicated. In my last post, I said I wouldn’t blame age for how I feel. Maybe I can get away with it here. 

Forget sports cars and bungee-jumping. My mid-life crisis is that I won’t hold a tiny baby that is mine ever again. There. It’s out. 

Time to lift my chin and go in to pick up my baby who just woke up and is raising his little arms up, elbows first, in his best little chicken impression. 

This too, shall pass.

My Google History: A Mother’s Quest for Truth

The best part of middle-of-the-night wakings is that I have that extra time in my day to do research. I am willing to post my google search history from the last week if you will share your own search history favorites with me in the comments section.

102.5 fever 8 month old

102.9 fever 8 month old

Immune disorders in infants

Baby sticking tongue out

Reactive airways disease

RSV recurrance

Bounce house locations

Can doctor know if wheezing is viral or bacterial by listening?

Flying geckos

Sand lizard lifting feet

Baby upper lip blister

Umberto Eco death

Transformer Optimus Prime

First baby sign language

Preschooler wetting bed are boys harder to potty train at night?

When should teeth come in?

Why is my baby not talking?

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Is my baby sick or teething?

Are moms over 40 all tired?

Energy levels new moms over 40

Goats laughing

(it goes downhill from there)