Friday, August 29, 2014


Wednesday, August 27 2014

Our milestone for the day:

Wow.  Somehow Mason and I are suddenly part of that club of people who post "first day of school" photos on their social media.  We have a magnet clip on our fridge reminding us of fall fundraisers and class contact information and when we're responsible for snack.  We'll be receiving information about signing up to organize holiday parties and volunteering for fall cleanup day-- all things that real moms and dads take care of but seem like a very grown up thing for me to do.  However, there's no turning back time-- it's real and it's here and honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love having a preschooler--As I've mentioned numerous time, each stage is my new favorite.

This morning, I surprised Charlie with a chocolate sprinkle donut because, well, that's the way we celebrate here in Spahnville.  (And truthfully, pregnant women should probably be eating more sprinkle donuts than the APA actually recommends.  So I bought two, just to be on the safe side.)

Thanks to some scheduling re-arranging (with a zillion doctor appointments this week), I was able to take Charlie to school for his first day.  Normally, his daycare provider will drop him off, but both Mason and I wanted to be there for the big send-off today.

Just after we snapped the photos, Mason pulled into the driveway.  "Daddy's here!" screeched Charlie as I was buckling him in.  He was so excited that Daddy came home to be part of the action and walk him up to the school building.  Mason mentioned that although Charlie was excited, his grip continued to tighten as they approached the school.  I lagged behind the two of them just enough to let that lump in my throat find a secure spot-- and I took in the scene.

Though his palms may have been sweaty as we walked to the school building, as soon as we arrived at the blacktop, we found Keira and all was right with the world.  These two stuck together like glue right up until it was time to go inside.  Even then, they clutched hands and walked in side by side.

Tommy and his bright green backpack walked right behind-- although he declined the photo opportunity.

And there they go.

I admit that I held back tears as I watched them walk through those doors.  It's so emotional but in such an exciting way.  I knew he was going to soar today-- I knew he was right where he needed to be.  He's ready for this step, he's growing up quickly-- but with enough little moments (both endearing and frustrating) to remind us all that he's still our little boy.

This year is going to be monumental for Charlie-- I can feel it.  School is just the beginning.  He's starting to understand letter sounds and has sounded out a few words while we read-- which thrills him to no end.  I'd be surprised if he's not reading bits and pieces in the next year.  He seems to love numbers and sequences and mathy type things and of course, his current obsession is dinosaurs which he continues to learn more about all the time.  Preschool has been on the horizon for weeks and he's so excited that it's finally here.  He's thrilled to play with the tools and paints and blocks in the future.  He's excited to learn about letters and numbers and animals and plants.  He doesn't seem convinced that he needs fifteen new friends-- but I think he'll get there.

For me, being involved in the school-world means I'm sometimes too aware of what is "coming next". I realize that we've officially stepped onto that continuous moving walkway of ranks and percentiles and peer-comparisons and there's really no turning back or hopping off.  We'll be kept abreast of his progress and be made aware of his challenges and we'll do our best to help him out whenever we can.  While I know he's a talented kid, I'm not naieve enough to think that we won't have our share of struggles and challenges.    I want him to understand how important school is and I want him to embrace learning.  I want him to try his hardest and work through challenging material-- weather that's putting together puzzles now or solving math problems with the alphabet in high school.

But more than anything, I want him to be a good person-- even at four years old.  I want him to use school as an opportunity to learn and still do good for others.  I want him to notice when others are hurting-- and then I want him to offer a hand to help.  I want him to respect others, even those who seem so hard to respect.  I want him to hold tight to that curiosity and ask questions and never settle for an answer that doesn't seem right.  (Unless he's asking his mother ten zillion questions about Ninja Turtles or Dinosaurs or how plants breathe CO2-- all of which I have a very limited supply of answers.) I want him to reach out-- to meet new people, to escape that comfort zone every once in awhile.  I want him to gain independence and confidence and grow into a person who is comfortable in their own skin.  I want him to be able to do this even when other kids laugh at him or tease him for being himself.  I want to shield him from so many of the experiences that I know he will encounter over the next few years-- the ones that are painful and hurtful and hard to understand--- but the ones that every child goes through and must experience at some point.  Of course, I know I cannot do this and somehow he'll navigate his school years like kids have done for years.  And preschool, is just the beginning.  Here's to a new chapter in our lives....


Monday, August 25, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Okay everyone, channel your inner Maria here.  Ready?  Here we go....

Taking a deep breath and going for long walks
Running through sprinklers and sitting for late talks
Hanging out pool-side and kids' water-wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Walking up stair-steps and sleeping a whole night
Being on my feet and still feeling all right
Lying in bed while the alarm clock rings,
These are a few of my favorite things

Swimming laps outside and taking long bike rides
Chasing my kiddo and discovering new slides
Soaking up summer and all that it brings,
These are a few of my favorite things...

When the pain flares
When the back aches
When I can't jump-stand-or sit...
I try to remember the babe on the way, and know it will be worth it.

And now, I think I'll go make some baby clothes from curtains.  Fo' realz.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Countdown

When I was pregnant with Charlie, there came a time (around the 41 week mark) when I started to believe I was going to be on the Today Show for being the first person whose baby stayed in utero forever.  Sound crazy?  I was totally serious.  I knew that baby was never coming out of me.   And then, miraculously, a few days later that baby really was born and I realized that I may have become a little irrational there toward the end of pregnancy.

This time around?  The irrational brain has already set in.  I'm nearing 37 weeks and cannot wait to be finished with being pregnant.  All along, I've told people that I feel well and I'm doing fine, which for the most part, has been true.  But that being said, this pregnancy has been much more difficult than my pregnancy with Charlie.  As I mentioned before, the emotional toll has been so much different, but physically, this has been a tough pregnancy.

I was so fortunate to never suffer from morning (or afternoon or evening) sickness, although I did feel nausious every time I sat in the backseat of a car.  And I thought I was going to die when Mason innocently took the scenic route through Dubuque on Mother's Day weekend-- as I clutched the door handle and kept my eyes focused outward and tried not to think about the curvy, windy, hilly roads we were traversing.

My body changed very early into pregnancy--walking was difficult almost immediately.  Last time, I dealt with sciatic pain but this time, I've experienced severe (like, severe) ligament pain in my groin.  (It's a delicate place to have pain but oh my gosh, we use those muscles a LOT-- and you'll never notice this more than when they hurt.  Like, continuously for months and months.  Whew.)   I've also been short of breath for the past several months.  Catching my breath seems impossible-- which makes me only want to exercise more-- but that involves walking which is definitely out of the picture.

Around Easter, I came down with that terrible flu that can only be described as violent.  It depleted almost every ounce of energy I had and it seemed to take me three times longer than normal to recover completely from it.

Early this summer, I realized that bending over was officially uncomfortable and something I'd try to avoid at all costs.  Mase teased me about it-- saying that I still had four months to go! We both knew this was something that didn't bother me until the very end last time.

Now, at 8 months pregnant, sleep eludes me and is one of the more uncomfortable ways I can think of spending time.  Although I have every pregnant sleep aid imaginable, nothing seems to help and I'm lucky if I sleep in two hour increments.  (And don't even begin to say this is nature's way of getting me ready for a baby in the middle of the night.  I call bull-spit on that one.)  I've taken to sleeping on the basement couch, which helps a bit-- but by no means is a cure for my exhaustion.

And as of last Wednesday, I've come down with a terrible cold.  It's just a cold--but it happens to be that upper respiratory viral junk.  It started with some mild coughing and then led to a fever-- that eventually crept up to over 102 on Thursday night.  Once I had my fever under control with Tylenol, the cough seemed to escalate.  It went from being a polite little throat clearing to something that makes you think you're next cough is going to end with your head over the toilet.  Think full-body-contortion coughing.  (The kind where you shiver a little at the end.)  Today, my stomach muscles are so sore from days of coughing-- to the point of it being almost unbearable.  Except, I have to bear it-- there's really no other option.  I stood in the bathroom last night, in the midst of a coughing fit, while my belly seized up and shook with every cough.  Tears streamed down my face as I thought, "I'm never going to feel well again".  My throat is raw and sore but I'd take that a thousand times over the belly pain I experience when I go into a fit of coughing.  I'm dreading the next few days but know that toughing them out is just part of dealing with anything viral.

I'm feeling irritable (well, naturally--I think the cold is a huge part of that) and I'm starting to be overly-annoyed with my inability to do things.  I even wish I could pick up Charlie's toys without losing my breath or being so sore from bending over.  Everything is an effort-- washing dishes, making the bed, doing laundry, tidying up the house-- nothing seems effortless anymore.  I have a wish list of things I want to complete in the next few weeks (some sewing projects, some cooking projects, some getting-a-nursery-together projects) but all of these things require me to move, which is something that I'd rather avoid right now.  I'm realizing I might need to do that thing I hate to do: Ask for help before Baby is here...but it's hard to do and something's holding me back.  I'm also planning on working right up until Baby is born, but even that sounds pretty daunting right now.  (Not to mention the tiny fact that there is still no plan for my sub when I'm gone which is slightly stressful.)

So all in all, this post has been one giant vent-session to the world.  (Or, to the five of you who have read it-- for which, I apologize) I know things will get better. I know I'll get over this cold eventually (and hopefully before I'm in labor with zero stomach muscles left).  I know I'll be able to sleep again in a few years.  I know when I meet this baby, the pain of the past few months will somehow fade and everything will seem worth it.  Three (or four) more weeks.  Three (or four) more weeks.  Three (or four) more weeks.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I will do this.       

Routine Check

The other day I had my 36 week appointment.  They weighed me and measured me and listened to the baby's heart beat.  They told me what's going on with Baby at 36 weeks (mostly just growing?), and asked if I have any questions.  Charlie begged for a snack the entire time and was somewhat pacified with a sticker at the end of the appointment.  We set up another appointment for a week later and at that time will, hopefully, participate in the same routine.

Routine.  How did these appointments become so routine? In some ways, I can't believe I'm nearing the end of this pregnancy.  In other ways, it's been the longest 36 weeks I've ever experienced.  So much of this pregnancy has been different than my pregnancy with Charlie, and for so many reasons.  When I found out I was expecting Charlie, we circled February 19th on the calendar and focused on all the "things" involved with having a new baby.  We researched car seats and strollers and gliders, we bought the crib and bedding and an assortment of cloth diapers.  I joined websites and forums all devoted to topics like baby-wearing and breastfeeding and homemade baby food.  I attended every prenatal visit with a sense of routine-- that everything was fine and nothing could possibly go wrong.  And amazingly, that's exactly what happened.  We cruised through the pregnancy and brought Charlie home from the hospital on March 2nd.

Then, after two more pregnancies that ended with heartache, the idea of a nine month pregnancy seemed out of reach, almost elusive in a way.  When I found out I was expecting this time, it seemed like suddenly, we were at the base of a ladder containing 280 rungs-- days until a supposed due date.  The ladder never felt sturdy, it never felt anchored in any way.  I imagined myself climbing a rung a day, but never knowing if there was even another rung to step on tomorrow.  I tried to relax, and did to a large extent.  But the feeling of uncertainty never completely went away.  Is this morbid?  Maybe.  Probably.  Or maybe it's just something that happens when you lose the normalcy of pregnancy.  When you realize that zero days of a beating heart can be taken for granted.

I know for me, personally, I always was aware of complications that could arise during my pregnancy with Charlie.  But honestly, until experiencing a loss, I had no idea what that could actually feel like.  I never imagined it could affect me the way it did-- and remain tucked into my memory so firmly.

Next week, I'll have my 37 week appointment-- and then only three more visits until Baby's due date. I keep climbing that ladder, rung by rung, each day a little more anxious to meet this little person.  I'm trying to trust my body right up to the very end-- which, surprisingly, is somewhat difficult to do.  When I was pregnant with Charlie, I wanted him to marinate as long as possible-- I felt like my womb was the safest place for him and I wasn't bothered at all to be over 41 weeks when he finally came into the world.  With this one, however, I think I'll experience a huge sense of relief when the baby is actually born.

It's crazy to realize that the end of this pregnancy is in sight-- it's been a long, tiring, road but I feel so fortunate to have been given the chance to do it one more time.    

A friend insisted on taking a belly shot of me on our first day of school.  Don't you love the tie-dye?!