Monday, October 26, 2009

Baby Games

Gage loves to play games with my belly. He kisses it, rubs it, laughs at how his arms can't reach around it. He shines flashlights at it, then turns them off, then on. ("It's day! It's night! It's day!") Lila is interested, too, but not nearly so intensely. She kisses my belly and certainly uses it for a pillow (which is funny when she gets tired - her head kind of rolls around on it), she pats it and says "Baby Josie kickin'!" but she doesn't really try to interact with it the way Gage does.

One of Gage's favorite belly activities is to share his blankie with the baby. He has a special blue blankie that he's had since babyhood, and he never sleeps without it. Anytime he's in the mood for a snuggle...out comes blankie. Recently he's taken to spreading his blanket out on my belly, then siting next to me and holding a corner of it for himself. He says, "Does the baby like that?" Imagining the rush of love that spreads through me at these gestures, the endorphins and relaxation, I am sure that she does, and I say Yes.

Sometimes Gage wants me to speak on behalf of the baby. I squeak out baby sentences and he thinks it's the funniest thing. The other day he put not one, but two blankets on my belly and I said in the baby voice, "Ooh, it's warm in here! It feels like summer. But I thought I was supposed to be born in the fall! How can it be summer already and I wasn't born?" Gage finds this *hysterical* and now needs to repeat the whole scenario several times a day. "Mommy, do that thing where the baby thinks it's summer!"

He always finishes these games by giving me a good squeeze and saying: "What's the baby thinking now?"

"My big brother loves me. I'm so lucky."

We are all so lucky.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Darn Pictures!

Why do my landscape-shaped pictures always get cut off? What's the deal? Do I have to do something special to make them fit? I'm copying them from photobucket (which I'm angry at anyway for deleting my adorable baby bum pictures, saying that they 'violate' their 'terms' [sneer]).

Pumpkin Thief

I'm almost through my 36th week. I have only three weeks to go before my due date...and I'm really getting excited. For months it was all I could do to think "Get through the pregnancy. Get through the pregnancy." Because even a straightforward, relatively uncomplicated pregnancy isn't *easy*. But now the focus has so shifted to "You will have a baby soon. You will be holding your newborn child sooner than you can imagine." I'm getting over yet another nasty cold and, finally feeling better, am relaxing into a peaceful "almost there" plateau. At Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow!?

I had an OB appointment today - I have gained 24 pounds and am 1cm dilated. I know that the 1cm of dilation doesn't mean much - I could be 1 cm dilated for another three weeks, or I could go into labor tonight - but it still feels good to see some official progress. I have lots of contractions and the baby is head-down and low, so it's all coming together.

Gage and Lila are excited to meet the new baby. Gage and I have been talking about how he and Daddy and Lila will come visit me and the baby in the hospital and he's getting into that idea. His only memorable hospital experience was one evening in the ER when he somehow scratched the inside of his throat while eating a pear and there was more blood than we were comfortable with. He was three at the time, probably around three and a half, and on the way to the hospital he quietly asked me, "Can we not tell the doctor about my froap hurting?"

I've explained that the part of the hospital he'll visit this time is a friendly part - all Mamas and their babies, nobody sick or scared. He seems okay with that, and the fact that I will be away from the house for a couple of days and, when I come back, it will be with Josie.

Strangely, a lot of well-meaning strangers keep trying to engage him in baby conversation by saying: "Wow, you'll be a big brother soon!" Gage always looks a bit confused, and I'm not sure what to say to that either. I know they're just being friendly, but Lila's right there, standing next to him. He already *is* a big brother! I end up saying, "And Lila will be a big sister for the first time." Pregnancy brain addles not only the pregnant woman...people come out with the most random, and often far too personal comments. I get just as many "Oh, you're absolutely tiny!" comments as I do "Wow, you look like you were due last week!" As a rule, it's best to just say "You look great." Let's not talk too much about size, can we agree on that? Every pregnant woman gets a big belly, and every pregnant woman is very aware of it.

Besides the cold, and the many viruses I've been dealing with in general the past couple of months, the only problem I'm having right now is nighttime. In addition to mild insomnia (I am writing this at 1AM, after all) I just can't get comfortable. I almost dread getting to bed because I know that the next several hours will be a string of wakings, a repeat of me rolling laboriously from one side to the other, only to wake and reverse the motion fifteen minutes later. It's long nights lately...long nights of peeing and rolling.

But soon this will all be a distant, and probably somewhat fond, memory. Mike said something to me the other day that made me smile: "You're at the stage where other pregnant women are jealous of you." He's right. I'm in the homestretch. I'm just about at the finish line. And that only happens by putting in the time, which is now (just about) behind me. If I saw someone as pregnant as I am I would know, "She's there. She's going to have a wonderful surprise very, very soon." I like being in that place.

When I was pregnant with Lila I really pictured her, as a newborn, as the female version of Gage. I imagined that she would have dark, full hair and huge eyes, a wise little expression. She was nothing like that at all! In fact, she had barely any hair and it was light-colored, and she almost never opened her eyes until she was several days old. What a shock! I can make two kinds of babies! Now my question is: Will Josie look like mini-Gage or mini-Lila? I have learned nothing - there's no possibility of a third kind of baby...just as I once made only Gages I now make Gages and I also make Lilas. Which will Josie be?

Lila stuns me with her memory and recall lately. She can look at any picture...people that she's met once, people that have aged significantly since the picture was taken...and know whose picture it is. It's amazing. I have never been good at facial recognition...nor is Gage. Mike is, and Lila is. But to see this tiny two-year-old look at a baby picture of a now-four-year-old friend and rattle off his name is amazing to me.

A few days ago Lila was riding in the cart at Wegmans, looked at me sweetly, and said, "Mama, will you sing that song 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do? I'm half crazy, all for the love of you?'" Impressed, I told Mike. He laughed and said, "Sounds like she didn't really need you to sing it at all!"

Gage has used a couple of adult-like phrases lately that just tickle me. He recently began saying "To be exact" and...get context. It cracks me up! The first time I heard it he said, "Mama? Do M&Ms and peanut butter go together? Smooth peanut butter, to be exact." This kid!

Today he was making a sandwich for me with plastic food - a waffle, a slice of tomato, a piece of lettuce (which he always calls 'salad'), etc. He was about to present it to me and pulled it back, quickly rearranging the tower. "This will make it more appetizing," he said.

We've managed to get out and do a couple of fun fall activities...of course, I have to grin and bear it as fellow hay riders watch me bouncing comically in a wagon, joking about "Way to induce labor!" or "Watch that lady! She's trying to steal a pumpkin!"



Next week will be full of Halloween fun - a parade and party at Preschool, Trick-or-Treating, and a party at Grandma's. I collected a few little things for the kids (bat-shaped lollies, pumpkin tattoos, tiny boxes of candy corn) and I decided to give them their treats today, so they wouldn't be lost in the overwhelming Halloweenness of next week. I told the kids before dinner that I had a surprise for them that I would give them before bed (I still needed to put the things together in their respective baskets). Gage went a little crazy, wanting to know NOW about the surprise - Where was it? What was it? Why was I holding out on them? Didn't he understand that he really wanted me to tell him NOW? He actually began to tear up and I had to say: "I'm a little sad I even told you about the surprise. It seems like you're not excited, you're upset. That's not what I expected." Poor guy. He pulled it together, though, and managed to wait patiently for the treats.

When he saw the his-n-hers baskets on the dining room table he ran over to one, his face bright with happiness, and said, "This is just what I thought! I thought about what the surprise would be and this is exactly it!" Then he and Lila gorged themselves on candy corn and apple cider, grinning drunkenly and begging for more tattoos on their skinny little arms.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Things have been so much better since the weekend.

I finally feel like my (pregnant) self again. I mean, I won't feel like myself myself until after I have the baby, but I feel so much better.

Our terrible day last week was Wednesday. On Thursday he developed a fever and a cough, which continued through Friday. My eye began to heal on Saturday (YAY!) and we were all on the road to recovery.

Mike and I saw David Sedaris speak and read Saturday night, while friends kept the kids. Overnight. Mike and I slept until noon on Sunday. I'm grinning as I write this. Sleeping until noon - it's the rarest treat these days, and just the thing I needed. I was able to put in my contacts again (YAY!) and things are just. So. Much. Better.

One thing that I learned...I need to be more proactive about having a distraction at the ready. Since the Very Bad Day I have spent some time each evening preparing a small craft for the next day, to be used when the kids need a positive diversion. Something to be doled out when they're at the brink of misbehavior...something to head them off at the pass. I've been drawing simple worksheets, mazes, coloring sheets. On Sunday while Lila was napping Gage painted and strung a pasta necklace (although he paused in his work at one point to say: "Mama? Painting noodles is not really my idea of fun"). Not really my idea of fun!? Where does he get this stuff!?

Another day I cut out black shapes - triangles, circles, big goofy grins - and outlined a pumpkin on another sheet of paper. The kids had a blast coloring their pumpkins and then gluing the shapes into faces. Five minutes of prep the night before = a peaceful fifteen-minute project the next day. I'll take it.

I know it won't avoid all problems, but it feels good to have a project at the ace up my sleeve.

In case you're curious, as of last night Gage got all of his toys back.

Lila has been using the potty almost flawlessly for several months now...we'll have a couple of weeks where she has not a single accident but then one day she'll suddenly have, like, three accidents in one day. After a good run I think, "Is this it? Is she really trained?" and then No, No she's not. But overall she's doing great.

Recently she's taken to announcing: "I need to go potty! I want to use the *big* potty, in the baffwoom." She starts to head upstairs, turns to look at me and says primly, "I need pwivacy." She disappears up the stairs and I hear the door close firmly.

Of course I have to invade her privacy moments later when I hear the toilet flush, because while she can get her pants down, pee, and flush she cannot pull her pants up, wipe, or stop flushing.

She'd stand there flushing the toilet all night if you'd let her.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bad

Now that it's dark, and quiet, and everyone else is sleeping I can finally reflect on the day with less anxiety. And what a day it's been. Two days, actually. All yesterday and all today I've had a raging eye infection, which is bad enough on its own but worse because I'm not used to wearing my glasses. Of course I can't wear my contacts with a swollen and red eye, so I have to rely on my glasses, which affect me physically (dizzy, headache, nausea) as well as psychologically (vulnerable, volatile, crabby).

I have not been my best self the past two days. The eye, the big, awkward belly, the constant heartburn. It's just not a good combination. I know that my bad mood has significantly contributed to Gage's misbehavior these past two days but I'm still shocked and embarrassed by how he's been acting.

Gage bit Lila yesterday. And Gage bit Lila today.

Gage is not a biter. He's just over four years old and we've never had a problem with aggression of this sort.

But the more I think about my own actions the past two days the more I feel responsible for his.

Today in the car. Late, on the way to the doctor for my eye. Couldn't find my health card, hence the delay. My fault. Rushing Gage, sternly chiding him in the car, "Buckle yourself! Hurry up!" This is a new challenge for him, and it's not easy. He has little hands, and the buckle is stiff and non-compliant. He strains to click the buckle into place and misses. "Hurry!" I nearly shout.

Who is this talking?

Promising donuts for a successful trip to the doctor. The kids are golden. They sit patiently and quietly. We run out of time and have to go straight to Gage's preschool. No donuts. I'm never unreliable, except today I am. They notice.

But he bit her, and that's a problem. Yesterday he got scolded, and got a time-out in his room. He seemed honestly sorry...he did his time, he apologized sincerely. And The same thing. Lesson? Not learned.

I lost it. And he lost it. And Lila lost it. I sent Gage to his room, seriously enraged. I held and soothed Lila, and when she was calm I went to Gage's room with a big box and started packing up his toys. He was freaking out, but I kept on...packing up his toy kitchen, his train set, his cars. I told him he could have them back in a week if he showed me that he could control his temper.

I went back downstairs to Lila and cried. And cried.

Gage, when released from time-out, shakily told me that it was hard for him to control his temper. I nodded my head and said "I know. It's hard for Mommies and Daddies, too." Obviously. But biting? It's not okay.

And now, six hours later, snippets of the evening are running through my mind, making me tear up all over again.

Lila, patting my cheek with the whole of her hand, saying "Mama, you feel better? No more tears? You not feelin' angry anymore?"

Gage, face damp, asking, "Please don't talk about my toys. I'm just going to keep crying."

Mike, looking at me with patient sympathy. Knowing I'm not me.

And all the while I literally can't see straight. My world is rounded and slanted and vision is like a bad movie filmed with a hand-held camera. Everything is wrong. Everything is just a little bit off. And it's been two full days.

"I have nothing left to give," I whispered to Mike at one point tonight, when Gage and I had finally stopped crying.

This is not me. I don't like this at all.

After bedtime I went to Lila's room, pulled her blanket up around her shoulders, watched the regular rise and fall of her chest, listened to the little sighing sounds she makes in her sleep.

I went to Gage's room, and climbed into bed with him. He didn't wake, but snuggled against me. He spooned his back into me, and then shifted so his furry head was pressing against my belly. Josie responded by swiping at the round top of his head with a hand or a foot, pressing her body against his, with me in between. When you're pregnant you're never alone.

As I nestled in Gage's bed with him the tears started up again.

He's getting to be so big now. He's my tiny little baby.

I want him to do the right thing. You expect too much.

His mistakes are my mistakes.

He needs to make mistakes.

I kiss his forehead and whisper "I love you. I love you so much."

He sighs in his sleep and murmurs back, "I love you too."

We all make mistakes.

We're none of us perfect.

But I know now. We're all going to be okay.