A Mom to Two

It’s been tough to want to write, considering I wasn’t able to write about the fact that we’re expecting until this week. Mostly that’s what’s been on my mind, in various degrees. We are so grateful. It was a scary thing, to admit that we were ready to try again after our loss in February. The fear was overwhelming at first, and then the excitement came close after. It’s amazing how those two emotions can coexist. It’s also amazing how many questions can come up in such a short time.

I read an article about a 3 year old boy who had no friends show up to his party. Then I thought, oh dear Lord, what if my son has no friends come to a party? How will he make friends at 3? What am I supposed to be doing to ensure my child has friends? Did I have friends at 3? Is that a realistic expectation? I can’t remember when I first had a party with people outside of my family, but I think I had to be like, 7 or 8. Isn’t that more realistic? It certainly sounds more reasonable. Also, my child is going to be sorely disappointed if he thinks every year he’s going to have a party like he’s turning 16. I want him to know he’s loved, I don’t want him to think he’s entitled. It’s our job as parents to teach him the difference.

Daycare for two children is a lot of money. A LOT. Of money. We have about 9 month to figure out what we’re going to do. Pay things off, save every penny, quit spending on things we don’t need, etc. No more hair color for me, Andrew quit smoking thank God, so no more cigarettes for him. No more eating out because we don’t feel like cooking. A dinner out once or twice a month is fine. A coffee run once or twice is fine. We just need to rein it in a bit. I say this all the time, but now that the chances of this baby making it to term have increased, it has allowed us to have more hope, and also to start planning differently.

It’s been a challenge to enjoy this pregnancy thus far. Mostly because for the first 12 weeks, I was waiting for bad news. When I saw the heartbeat at our 12 week appointment I just cried. I didn’t realize how afraid I was, or what a relief it would be, until it happened. I would be lying if I said the fear was gone, or if I said now I’m sure everything will be ok. I’m not, and I don’t know that there will come a point in this pregnancy where I will feel that way. I don’t think we’ll have another child, so this is my last shot at being pregnant. I’ve been consumed with fear, and obsessions, and guilt, and it’s kept me from enjoying things the way I’d like. I can’t say “the way I should” because honestly, I’m not sure there is a “right” way to enjoy pregnancy. Sometimes it downright sucks. Other times, it’s the best. Either way, we’re done after 2, so my time to start enjoying being pregnant is now. I hear that fear during pregnancy after loss is normal, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself about it all.

We are thrilled to be having a baby girl. I’m also experiencing all those things that moms go through when adding a child to a family of 3. Am I taking time away from Carson too soon? Will he still love me as much if there’s another baby that needs my attention? Will the guilt ever go away? Will we ever sleep again? How are we going to afford everything? Then the good stuff comes. What will she look like? Will she have dark hair? Will she love being outside like Carson or will she want to be indoors?

Excited and apprehensive. That isn’t so bad, right?

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A Lesson in Being Present

I have a mom update that’s fairly difficult to share. Hopefully, someone will relate or at least be motivated to do some work.

Carson choked earlier this month. I’m still struggling with flashbacks, and guilt, and fear. I saw him choking and panicked – I was so terrified, I picked him up and started hitting his back, with no idea what I was actually supposed to do. Thank God Andrew’s mom was with us and knew. I just panicked.

I realized how woefully unprepared I was when it comes to medically taking care of my child’s life. When the food finally came out, and he started breathing again, I burst into tears. I walked to the bathroom and tried to calm down. To her credit, my mother-in-law was very kind to me. It was the night before our honeymoon, and so I felt even worse leaving him for 5 days.

It seemed like, in a moment, life without him flashed before my eyes. I never believed that was a thing until then, just like I never believed that seeing red in anger was true until it happened to me. I felt like I’d collapse. Since then, I’ve had moments that I’ve felt overwhelmed with the fear of his loss, where the thoughts of life without him invade the present and completely take over. I hope eventually these moments of crippling anxiety and fear and grief and shame about what happened will go away. I’ve been assured they will. In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on what I can control. I’m going to take a first aid and CPR class. I’m putting my phone away when we have time together, and I try to enjoy every moment, even when he’s fussy. I sit with him and let him be upset, I hold him while he cries and do what I can to make it better, even when sometimes all I can do is let him cry and tuck him in to bed. Tonight he was sweet and happy, and I was so grateful to read him the same book a million times, to smell his hair, hear him read, giggle with him, and help him learn how to use his spoon. He fills my heart up.

I hope I never forget that, in an instant things can change, without any warning, and to enjoy things in the moment. Ultimately, that’s all we have. One moment. This one. It seems like, since the beginning of September, things in my world have been in a constant state of change – some good, some not so great, some painful, some scary. Eventually everything will settle back down, and life will cruise along in the middle of the road again. Until then, I’m working hard to see the positive of everything I can, and reaching out to people who can remind me what those positives are, when I can’t figure it out on my own.

It all comes back to God, doesn’t it?

Fair warning. This is not a blog about motherhood. Not directly, anyway.

I can’t tell you why things happen the way they do. I’m not sure anyone can. I believe my higher power has a funny way of reminding me to be engaged in my own life. Sometimes it is easy for me to get lost in a fantasy world of what-ifs, and all that does is distract me from the present. Whether it be about a past relationship, friendship, job, or bad decision, or just in who I am and the way that I’m made, allowing those thoughts to take over my head space and make a home there does nothing good. For anyone.

I’ve had several close friends in my adult life, and for one reason or another, we always end up drifting apart, or abruptly ceasing to have any relationship at all. I have wracked my brain attempting to understand why this happens – I’m the common denominator, so, is it me? Maybe. People I thought I’d be friends with forever no longer seek me out, even when we’re in the same room. My attempts to continue the friendships were met with a cool response, and after trying repeatedly, I just quit. I can’t imagine anyone would want to continue to pour energy and love and time into a relationship when it’s clear the other person has no desire to do the same. I’m thankful to say that I do have friends today that I can count on, that I could call or reach out to in any moment and know that they will make me a priority. It’s good to have friends like that. Friends that are there when times are tough, and when times are good

I believe that there are seasons in life, and some relationships only exist for a particular season. Whether that be a previous boyfriend who taught me what I deserve and what I won’t tolerate, or a friend who showed me that it’s ok to be nerdy, or a job that made me realize that my talents were of value, all of those relationships were necessary to get me to where I am right now. Happily married, learning how to be a mom to a toddler, actively trying to become a softer, kinder, more God-centered person, actively trying to learn how to love myself as much as I try to love others. I’m attempting in my day-to-day tasks to remember that everyone deserves kindness, and that my judgment is rarely asked for and never necessary. These are tall orders, people. Some days, it takes a lot for me to be kind to everyone, including myself, and to reserve judgment. Thankfully, I am still a work in progress, and I have the opportunity today to make different choices than the ones that made me unapproachable. I hate to even admit it, because I know a lot of people who are naturally kind, and soft, and compassionate, and who don’t take everything so seriously, or personally. I’ve not been gifted with those abilities. I’m working daily on them.

I have been gifted with passion, and empathy. I am a feeler – I feel things deeply, and things move me in ways that are difficult to describe. I am caring, responsible, creative, organized, and thoughtful. I’m smart, and I’m driven, and when motivated, I’m good at getting results. It’s difficult to even write positive attributes about myself – it feels like bragging or something. I’m just so quick to point out the things that I’m not, that it should serve as a good reminder to think about the things I am. God made me, even with all my imperfections. I’m not sure that I’d blame God for things, like my alcoholism, or my eating disorder, or my low self-esteem. I think, over time, life just alters the original mold God created us in, and it’s our job to try to get ourselves back to the way he intended us to be. The closer I get to who I think that person is, and what that mold looks like, the better I feel. So instead of getting lost in the what-ifs of life, of how things might be different had I not been made so stubborn, or had I not made that one particular choice that one night, instead I’m trying to be present in every moment. It makes life that much sweeter.

Monday night let down

I’m upset tonight. It took me a while to figure out why, but now I have, and I have no immediate solution.

Andrew and I get limited time with Carson, and look forward to evenings with him. He was so tired after daycare that he couldn’t stay up, and while he was awake he was a fussy, unhappy baby. I wish I intuitively knew how to handle those moments, but usually I just walk away feeling like I could’ve handled “it” better, whatever it happens to be. Then I read about different ways to handle whatever it was, which ultimately makes me feel worse.  To be fair, I’m also mentally fried and emotionally drained, but I think were that not the case, I’d still feel worse.

I was just disappointed tonight. Our time was cut short by 45 minutes because he didn’t get enough daytime sleep. I just want to spend all the time I can with my kiddo. I panic when I think about how he’s being disciplined when we’re not around, and it gives me anxiety to not know. I know it’s irrational, but it’s where I am in this motherhood journey. I just want to be around him all the time, and I still get emotional when I think about all of the things I miss while I’m at work. I understand it’s necessary to be a working mom, I just, days like today I really miss him. Silly? Yes. But also true.

Parenting Win

Parenting is becoming more of a challenge the more Carson grows, as you might expect. It is so fun to watch him figure things out. It’s also a pain, because he just pushes the limits over, and over, and over. He’ll touch something, I’ll say no thank you, that’s not for babies, and he’ll either take his hand off and go somewhere else, or put it back and look at me to see if he’ll get the same response.

To his credit, after he’s done this a few times and I’ve gotten up to redirect his attention, it is rare that he’ll do it again. He really, really wants to mess with the dials on the grill. We watch him stand there, staring longingly at it, swinging his arms back and forth, before he turns around and entertains himself elsewhere. I’m so proud in those moments. I’m astonished that he remembers without us saying anything, and that he actually makes a decision on his own to do something else. I understand that he won’t do that every time, but the fact that he does it at all makes me happy.

He has also gotten in the habit of throwing himself down on the floor in a tantrum because he gets told no, or asked to go to a different room, or because I opened the fridge. Doesn’t matter really. Usually we don’t play into this, because if we don’t, he stops. Usually. Sometimes it’s hard not to giggle a little, because he’s just so cute even when he’s mad, but body language is so important so I try hard not to. But when he picks up one of his spoons and chucks it down the stairs to see what I’ll do, I’m telling you, I struggle not to laugh. I also get a fit soon after, because he can’t go down the stairs on his own and I won’t retrieve his spoon.

So, overall yes, we are lucky that our kid is mostly well-behaved. We are grateful that, as of now, there are more times when he listens than when he doesn’t. We are also in full-on toddler temper-tantrum mode, and Andrew and I have done an excellent job of not reacting, or yelling, or anything. There are many days where I don’t feel adequate as a mom, like yesterday. That is of my own making, and no one else’s. Then there are days like today, where I feel like we’re doing a good job at this whole parenting thing.

Toddler Phases – Throwing Food – Hooray!

There are so many ways to discipline children, to teach children, to feed them, to nurture them. So many that say you should do it this way or that.

Andrew and I don’t want to be parents who yell or scold our child for going through normal, natural phases in life. Throwing and hitting as a toddler is normal – he’s trying to figure out big emotions and he doesn’t know how to let them out, so he throws or hits. Rather than yelling at him or scolding him, saying NO in a loud voice, etc, we’d rather try something different. Ultimately, I know that sometimes, the only way to get through to a kiddo is for a voice to boom. But I want my child to know that having big emotions is ok. “I understand you’re angry, but I can’t let you hit” is an example of what I’m talking about. “I see that you’re upset and that’s ok, but we don’t throw things”. And the like.

I’m sure there are parents out there laughing at me. I’m sure they’re saying, that will never work. I just know that for a long time when I was a kid, I did not feel like I was allowed to be angry or upset. No matter what I did in those moments, it was not ok to do so. I’m still figuring out how to be angry and upset. I’m 33. So, no matter how silly or ridiculous it might seem, Andrew and I are willing to at least try something different.

Currently, Carson is in love with throwing food off of his high chair. A little research tells me that the reaction he gets from us is half the fun. Well, great. So, we’ve been telling him no all this time, and it’s clearly not been working. Our next attempt at combating the food throwing is to get him a chair that we can pull up to the table, to eliminate his ability to view the floor, and feel more a part of. He loves to sit on our laps and eat, so it isn’t always that he’s full. Sometimes it is – he’s normally quite clear when he’s done eating.

I’m not sure what the next parenting days, weeks and years will bring. I’m sure there will be days where I laugh at myself and my goals and ideas. Today I just want to put in the effort to try to do things differently, and see what happens.

Letting Go of Fear

I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block lately. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with the summer, or just an increased workload, or the large amount of changes that have happened in a short amount of time, but every time I’ve sat down to write something, I’ve deleted everything. I’m simultaneously the happiest I’ve been in a long time and also a little bit sad.

I’m definitely entering a new season. I made an important adjustment in my personal life, which directly affected the friendships I had around me. I knew it would. I attempted to prepare myself for it – although when it actually happened I was surprised at what a surprise it turned out to be. It’s been good though – I’ve had to get out of myself, and put my hand out again. Reach out to people and begin to re-establish relationships that I’d cut off, for whatever reason, intentional or not. It’s shown me that sometimes, the right thing to do is let go. It’s shown me that humility is important, that an apology must have meaning, and that people have a large capacity for forgiveness. I’ve also had to learn how to pray. How to really pray. How to mean what I say when I pray. I’ve had to relinquish control, over and over again. I’ve had to acknowledge that having no control means being free of the misguided thoughts I have about the correlation between maintaining control and finding happiness.

It isn’t easy. Finances are big area of my life that I struggle with turning over to the god of my understanding. I just feel like I need to be super analytical and hypersensitive to all spending, and if I behave that way then we’ll be fine, yet in the same day can say, screw it lets go to Target. Therein lies my problem – as I’ve been told recently. I’m attempting to find human solutions to spiritual problems. I’d never heard that before. Not once in 7 years. And maybe I’d been told that but it didn’t sink in, however now it has, and it’s got me wondering what life would be like if I could just align myself with the person I think god would want me to be. Instead of constantly battling myself, I would surrender instead. I wonder what that would be like. I can surrender pieces, or fully surrender in moments, but it’s not very long-lasting, and I’m constantly fighting some sort of internal battle.

I don’t want to be a person who is mean, or judgmental, or rude, or dishonest. I don’t want to be cold, or unapproachable. I behave that way in my most insecure moments, when I’m vulnerable and afraid. I don’t want to live that way. I want to be someone who is kind, and thoughtful, and loving, and asily approachable. I also want to be someone who lives by my values. I don’t want to be so afraid of how a person will react that I’m unable to speak truth that may be difficult to hear. I don’t want to be so afraid of how a person will react that I don’t stand up for the well-being of my son or my husband. I don’t want to be so afraid of how a person will react that I don’t give myself the time and space I need to take care of myself.

I don’t want to live my life ruled by fear anymore.

That means I need to start taking a lot of different actions, which I’ve already begun doing. It means surrounding myself with people who want to grow. I know that I’m never going to be 100% sunshine and rainbows. Everyone gets pissed off and has to vent or gossip, spend too much money or eat two different desserts after dinner. Humanity means imperfection. I’m thankful for that. But recently I’ve been striving towards being better, which sure as hell beats sitting around, wishing for things to change. I’ve been trying to build a relationship with my god, and I can tell that it’s making a difference. Growth is hard. There’s no denying that. I also know I have a long way to go. Today I’m just grateful I’m on my way.