Four and no more

We are done having kids. On any given day, we might waiver with how certain we are, but we have never dipped below 97% certain. And yet, every time M outgrows something, it gets packed up and put in storage instead of packed up and put out the door. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why.

It isn’t that waivering 3% that has me hang onto things, “just in case”. After all, we bought an SUV instead of a van, and with our two new car seats, we would be hard pressed to get a third in there. I’m also looking at changing up our fourth bedroom into an office for Scott and I to share rather leaving it as the ghost yard of all things baby.

While some things make sense to keep for a while — let’s hang onto all the 0-3 month clothes until they’re all out of her dresser — there are other things that are useless to hang onto. We have the infant car seat. The bassinet. The snoogle pregnancy pillow (pricey but so worth it). But I just can’t seem to let them go yet.

Our family is complete. Even ignoring the medical reasons against having a third — cholestasis tends to come back with a vengeance in subsequent pregnancies, and the odds of a baby with CTEV are also higher — we feel whole when we are sitting around the table as a family of four.

While obvious that it’s a big decision to decide to start a family, it is also a big decision to decide when to stop. I despised being pregnant. I struggled with the newborn stage. But never feeling those first kicks again? And never having those fleeting moments of peace, rocking a tiny human in the quiet of the night again? It makes my heart ache.

And so I’m going to let myself grieve.   While I can’t wait to see where we are going as a beautiful family of four, I have to acknowledge everything we are leaving behind. I will be glad to never again go through the agony of an induced labour, the pain of mastitis, or learning to sleep in 45 minute increments, but I will never forget the feeling of seeing my babies for the first time and I need to acknowledge I will never get that exact feeling again. This grieving is less about having another child and more about letting that phase of my life pass.

And so I’ll hang on to the memories of being a new mom. I’ll even hang on to all the “stuff” that comes with it. And I’ll let myself feel the sadness of knowing there won’t be another baby in our family because it won’t matter whether we stay a family of four, or go on to have four more, at some point, I would still have to face the end of that stage in our life, and it will hurt a little, all the same.

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Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Fit: more than just clothes

After two kids, I bare the war wounds that many do.  My thighs and hips have silvery lines, dimpley texture and jiggly movement and yet I have relatively no self-consciousness with them. My stomach mostly escaped stretch marks, and the skin is starting to look less stretched out. Give or take a little bit, it’s even back to its original size, possibly even its original consistency.

But as long as there is some padding around my waistline — which likely was there before kids too — I will still see my body as a work in (desperate need of) progress. Soft is weak.

I was talking with my fitness instructor about moving from stroller fitness to a bootcamp style workout and whether I was ready. She laughed and said I was more than ready and had been for a while. She then told a story about having drinks with a friend who also takes the same fitness session I do. This friend had told my instructor that she was trying to kick up her fitness a level and set herself a new goal: keeping pace with “the fit girl with two kids.”

I scanned the class for who the fit girl with two kids was, ignoring the obvious context and the fact I was pushing my double stroller at the time. Obviously, the fit girl was me. Once I made the connection, I laughed derisively. “I’m not fit! Oh man, you should have seen the back cleavage I had when I tried on a dress the other day”

My brain worked on dissecting that story through class. I thought about the strength of my legs as I rocked my box jumps that I used to have to do as step ups. I thought about the fact that planks no longer leave me gasping for breath, despite the fact they aren’t a cardio exercise. I realized I actually smiled when it came time for hill sprints. Yes, I was undoubtedly fit.

You can’t see my ab muscles. Even with a lower body fat percentage, I couldn’t see their full strength. That makes it hard to face my body in the mirror without judging the squishy bits. But when I chase after a giggling toddler at the park, or toss a baby in the air, I can feel their strength. I may not feel comfortable in a bodycon dress, I may not be able to squeeze into a dress I used to have to hold my breath to zip up anyway, and I may not confidently rock a cropped top, but fit doesn’t have to be dictated by our clothes.

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Currently: In August

I keep reminding myself that Fall doesn’t start until a few weeks into September but the beginning of August always feels like we’re heading into the last little bit of summer. So without further ado, here is what I’m up to this August! Currently, I am…

Currently August

…snacking (on): fresh peas. My garden is a hot mess but that’s because things are thriving and trying to take over each other’s spots. Tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots can fend for themselves but I go to battle for my peas.

…anticipating: C’s birthday. She wants a Princess party and while I’m not one of those moms opposed to it for feminist reasons (C loves the music and dresses. She has no illusions about awaiting to be rescued by her prince), I can’t stand the pink tulle that inevitably comes with the theme. Hit me with non-girly princess party ideas if you have any!

…borrowing: my parents van to get some lumber to turn a play structure into a castle. I’ve finally drafted my design, and I’m starting to get excited about it. Running out of days to get it done, though!

…admiring: a lot of moms out there who are balancing work and kids. I’m home all day, and I still feel I don’t get enough quality time with them (there is always something that needs to be done, and yet it never gets done either!) I go back to work in 4 months (what?!?! Already??!!) and I can’t figure out how to fit everything in. They’ll still pay me if I don’t show up to work, right?

…purchasing: hopefully a jean skirt. I refuse to go back to work without one (again, they’ll still pay me if I don’t show up, right?), but I refuse to pay full price for the one I like.

Thanks to Anne and Shea for another great set of prompts!

Categories: The new identity | 6 Comments

Resilient

Poor sweet M. She’s just been our unlucky little girl from the beginning, from the positive pregnancy test happening the day before my friend died, to being induced because my liver was trying to kill her, to the weeks of casting and years of bracing for clubbed feet. We thought we had finally caught a break when we were two months into solid food and there were no signs of allergies.

And then one rainy day, she threw up in the Safeway parking lot. And the floor of the car. And her car seat. And the kitchen floor. And her bedroom floor. Thirty minutes later — just as I had arranged for someone to look after C so I could take M to emerg, she stopped. And she smiled. And she babbled.

While I didn’t rush her to the hospital in the end, we did see her paediatrician as soon as possible, and she tentatively diagnosed M with FPIES – food protein induce enterocolitis syndrome — a rare form of allergy that occurs in the digestive system. It’s symptoms include projectile vomiting for 30+ minutes, approximately 2+ hours after eating, and can lead to dehydration and shock in as many as 1 of 5 kids with this type of allergy. Because of the delay and the fact there are no current tests to diagnose it, many kids are misdiagnosed or given improper treatments when they do go to the hospital.

While we’re no strangers to egg allergies, since C spent half a year unable to ingest them (though she had the typical IgE reactions), it’s different this time around. There is no EpiPen to pack into the diaper bag, because epinephrine can’t stop or slow the reaction. Once it starts, you have to ride it out, and treat the dehydration / shock is it appears.

It’s stressful. It’s stressful because she developed this allergy after having eggs many times before. It’s stressful because when she reacted again a few weeks later, we had to feed her each ingredient separately to see which made her sick (this time chicken). It’s stressful because I turn my back for a second, and she’s got something in her mouth and I never know what. I (figuratively) hold my breath for two hours after every meal, even if it’s something she’s eaten earlier in the day without issue.

But M, that sweet little girl? It doesn’t phase her. It doesn’t stop her. She smiles — albeit it weakly — through the whole thing. My little one might not have all the luck, but she is, if nothing else, resilient.

 

Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

Five Things Friday

We’ve spent the week processing the loss of my grandfather. While I know I still have miles to go in the grieving process, I also know I need a break from it, so I’m looking forward to the weekend. 

  1. Going for ice cream. We’ve done very little of that this summer  
  2. Setting up the pool in the backyard, with the sprinkler, the big umbrella and lots of liquids. It’s going to be plenty hot this weekend. 
  3. Playing some games with Scott on the patio in the evening. 
  4. Get some reading done. It bothers me to have a book unfinished. 
  5. Sleep. Definitely not enough of that lately!
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Five Things Friday

My kids are pretty much driving me batty this week. We had a mini-vacation, having been camping Friday through Monday with my family, so the kids are spoiled from all the ice cream, spoiled from staying up late, and spoiled from all the attention. M never wants to be put down because she was always in Grandpa’s arms or on Mommy’s back. C is constantly bored because there aren’t two boys poking at her with sticks (I fear she probably started that), or an older cousin making her presents every two seconds.

That being said, there have been a number of really sweet moments over the last few days that I don’t want to forget

  1. M’s great big belly laughs at her sister. M has always been a tough cookie when it comes to cracking a laugh. Weeks would go by where I would be the only one that she would giggle for, and that’s only if I tickled her just right. But the other day, as Scott and I were making supper, C was driving a little car around M, and she was just cackling with laughter.
  2. A soothing song between sisters. M’s separation anxiety is at its worst in the stroller because I think she knows I’m there but can’t see me. Since I refuse to drive to my sister’s (unless I am also running errands), it usually means a rough walk home from a tired and lonely baby. But today, C started singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” to her, and it melted my little heart — and calmed her sister down too (though having just seen Peter Yarrow live at Folk Fest, that song *might* be ruined for me).
  3. C’s silly jokes. C has one joke, and she tells it (using two different voices) as though it’s her and M interacting:Knock Knock

    Who’s there?
    M
    M who?
    M, you sure like some silly jokes!

    It’s not a good joke, but it usually makes us laugh at her attempt, and even gets a decent reaction from her sister.

  4. C is starting to understand consequences and responsibilities. M was chewing on one of C’s toys, and C started to get angry, and then said: “Oh no, M. You’re not supposed to chew on that! I should have put it away!”
  5. Spontaneous development. M has shown no interest in clapping. I don’t know why it’s always felt like such an important milestone to me. She’s started “dancing” when she likes a song, but her moves are all in the waist. But one morning, Pharrell’s “Happy” came on, and she started clapping her hands as though she’s always been able to do it.
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I’ve got a new game that I keep trying to convince C to play. It’s called 5 Minute Clean Up. We set a timer for 5 minutes, and see how much of one room we can clean in that time.

She isn’t in to it. I know, can you believe it?

It may not be the most fun game around, but it’s definitely the most successful strategy I’ve had for getting my house under control. You see, I tend to get bogged down in the details. Putting a towel away devolves into a Pinterest worthy re-organization project, and considering few people snoop in my linen closet, it’s not a worthwhile endeavour.

Here’s why it works for me:

  • I respond well to timelines. If you know you have 5 minutes to do a 10 minute job, you’re going to focus on what will make the biggest impact.
  • It doesn’t suck up my whole day. There are 6 rooms on my main floor that can conceivably be tidied in 5 minutes, adding up to just 30 minutes of cleaning time (elapsed time tends to be more, since inevitably, a toddler needs a book, a baby needs a nap, I need a snack).
  • It takes the pressure off everything being perfect.  The top of my piano is still messy, but all the small toys that M could try and choke on are off the ground.
  • I have a better idea of what I can accomplish in 5 minutes. I no longer put off unloading the dishwasher because I know it takes less than 5 minutes.
  • If a room requires more than 5 minutes, I’m ok re-setting the timer for another 5-10 minutes, because I know I haven’t wasted any time frittering around.
  • I can actually see what major issues need to be re-organized and make note of it for later.
  • The more often I do a 5 minute clean, the deeper I get in that clean.

What tricks do you use to get your house under control without losing an entire day?

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Five Things Friday

A year ago yesterday, we found out that M would be born with clubbed feet. While it was initially a huge wave of relief — we were anticipating an issue, and that was certainly much more treatable than the other options — it was also kind of world bending since treatment for CTEV (congenital talipes equinovarus) is relatively non-invasive from a surgical standpoint but drawn out over the first four to five years of a child’s life. I felt every emotion as I researched the crap out of it that day, and I’m glad, for the most part I did but here are the five things I wish I had known

  1. No doctor knowingly and willingly compromised treatment and while there are terrifying tales of mistreatment, a lot of the “warning signs” can be totally fine and normal in many cases so it’s best to not listen to armchair doctors. 
  2. Every step taken in this journey is two forward and one back. Except moving to BNB (boots and bar). That’s like 7 steps back into a dark pit filled with ice water and sharks. I mean, it’s doable and all that but it’s a tough learning curve.
  3. Keep it simple. I totally loved the easy click bar for full time where when it could just click on and off. But the spring-loaded articulating joints were a pain. The straight, steel bar is much easier to pack, to pad and to maintain on a regular basis. 
  4. Everyone knows someone with clubbed feet. And sometimes that person didn’t even know they did until they were much older and happened to mention to their parents about their friends kid and *surprise*!! Obviously, treatment can’t be that badly psychologically damaging. 
  5. You’ll never understand how resilient a baby can be until they’ve adjusted to their casts, their tenotomy and their BNB long before you do. 

I am anxiously awaiting the end of part-time BNB in 40-52 months. I’m anxiously awaiting the end of specialist appointments in 15ish years. I know every popped heel, blister, funky toenail and case of athlete’s foot will make me feel helpless. But I also know that most nights, we’ve got this. 

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Mom-iform

Can I just say I love that joggers are a style? I lucked into a pair thrifting (didn’t try them on, realized they were too small when I brought them home, waited until more baby weight came off and then… *angel chorus*).  It’s officially part of my mom-iform.

The first time I said “mom-iform” outloud was to my dad and he looked at me like I was crazy. But admit it, every mom needs that outfit that they can reach for when they need to be able to play with kids but also look like they have it together. Having an on-trend item? Takes it to another level

IMG_0862

(I suddenly wonder if I’ve taken too long writing this post and now joggers are out? Please tell me no. I’m trying my best here!)

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Adding It Up

My sister has a lawn care service.

I don’t know why that revelation blew my mind. It makes sense. They live on a huge piece of property, with a fairly decent slope to it. They own a successful business which eats up a lot of their time, and have three kids. We have commiserated with each other over the fact that laundry never gets done, and shared secrets for what to do when your kids are out of clean laundry.

But she still always seemed to have it more together than me.

I could never figure out what I was lacking. What made me so ill-equipped to face life with a smaller house, fewer kids and a husband who worked fewer hours? I could tell myself that my kids are younger. I could tell myself its because I value, even need, my downtime more. I could tell myself its because I’m not getting as much sleep at night. But at the end of the day, I just felt inadequate.

But that’s not the case.

Between establishing careers, raising children, pursuing interests and setting ourselves up for pinterest fails, something has to go. And it does for everyone. But we don’t often get to see how others cope with it, usually because we’re comparing our failings to their successes.

The day after I found out my sister gets someone to look after her lawn, I noticed our neighbour has someone come in to clean his house. And the house across the street had someone in to paint. While we used to joke that my brother-in-law didn’t have a toolkit, he had a wallet, there is something valuable in knowing your limits, and knowing your price. Is it worth it to pay for someone to do this so I can focus on something I find more important ore rewarding?

It turns out the issue isn’t with where I fall short. The issue is where my bank account does.

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