Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Note to Self

Dear Kate,

Some day, you will have another two-year-old in your house and you will question your ability as a parent. You will be pulling your hair out on a daily (hourly?) basis wondering what you did wrong to turn your sweet baby into an evil, emotionally unstable monster. You will spend hours each day just wishing for him to go to sleep so you could get a break, and when he is finally asleep, you will look at his angelic face with those fat cheeks and those plump lips and those long curly eyelashes and hate yourself for not enjoying your time with him and call yourself a horrible, impatient mother. And then he will wake up, and you will once again count down the hours until he is asleep again.

It is at those moments that I want you to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 3 is just around the corner. And 3 is just plain lovely.

3 is reasonable. 3 can be negotiated with (and 3 will like to negotiate, too). 3 understands the idea of a reward for desirable behavior. 3 can sort of spend some time on his own. 3 goes to his room, sulking, when he is mad—unlike 2, who throws a fit right in front of you (and everyone else around you) and tries to bite you or kick you. 3 tells you he is sorry and means it. 3 is either polite or shy in his interactions with others—unlike 2, who loudly says “you bad” or “I no want you talk to me” when greeted by a store clerk/neighbor/grandparent/etc. 3 can make his own choices and delight in them—unlike 2, who always picks the second choice (Apple or orange? Orange. Red pencil or blue pencil? Blue pencil.) and then freaks out and screams “I no want it” when you give him exactly what he chose. Just like 2, 3 insists on doing things “by myself”—but unlike 2, 3 is actually able to do those things by himself. 3 listens and follows directions and remembers things for more than 10 seconds. 3 tells you he loves you and means it. 3 wants to give you hugs and kisses and tells you, “You are a nice girl, mommy.”

3 will have his own quirks. 3 will perfect the notion of stalling. 3 will ask endless “why” questions. 3 will begin experimenting with lying. 3 will occasionally throw a 2-like tantrum. 3 will try to play you against your husband. 3 will talk nonstop. 3 is loud (but not as loud as 2). 3 will have significantly more physical strength, so roughhousing with 3 will bring on new injuries for you.

But 3 is lovely. It is loving, sweet, energetic, compassionate and kind. 3 is a different world. And if by writing this, I have jinxed the remaining eight months of 3, the last four months still have been totally worth it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

She's a Brick. House.

I promise I won’t do this often, but I have to right now. A month ago, I used to read other women complaining of morning sickness and sore breasts and uncomfortable sleep and thougth how lucky they were and wished that I could be in their place. Well, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

Symptoms suck this time around. Just as it was with Child, I made it to six weeks with nothing more than increased appetite and fatigue. And at precisely six weeks, it all went to hell. I am dead tired. All. The. Time. I feel dizzy. I am constantly nauseous. The sensitivity to smell is killer. There is no better way to describe it than a really bad hangover that has been with me for almost two weeks now. I just want to throw up so that I could feel better—but although this helps with hangover, it does not appear to make any difference with morning sickness.

The only time I feel relatively normal is when I eat. But roughly 10 minutes after I eat, I begin to feel sick again. And another 10 minutes later I begin to feel hungry, which makes me feel even sicker. So I eat again, which means that I eat every 20 minutes. Do you see where I am going with this? By the time all is said and done, I will be roughly the size of a HOUSE. And while we could definitely use a trade-up to a larger house from our two-bedroom townhome, I don’t think my eating and becoming a house myself will solve our cramped-for-space problems. I have not stepped on the scale because I am afraid of what I will see. I gained about 40 pounds with Child, which was above the recommended 25-35 pounds, but I brushed it off because in the end, I pushed out a 9 ½ pound baby and was pretty damn proud of myself. But this time, I am getting worried because in addition to eating constantly, I am not eating too much healthy stuff. The thought of vegetables—especially salad—repulses me. I am craving carbs—crackers, pasta, bread, pastries, you name it. And cheese. I can eat ridiculous amounts of cheese (although that’s nothing new—the ability to consume cheese, chocolate and fire-roasted marshmallows in quantities unimaginable to normal people is the skill I have been developing for many years now). I am also going all nutty for fruit, especially juicy, sweet and tart fruit like berries. Unfortunately, here in the mid-Atlantic, berries are not in season in March, so I have to pay ridiculous amounts of money for less-than-desirable-quality strawberries and blueberries.

Possibly the most frustrating part of nausea is that I can not handle drinking water. It makes me gag. And that is very odd for me—I am a water freak. I go through at least 3 liters of water a day. And I know the importance of hydration right now—I just can’t make myself drink it. Ugh.

Among the less annoying, yet still unpleasant symptoms:
  • Boobs getting increasingly sore every day, although they do not exhibit any sign of growth—something that I would really appreciate, being an A cup and all.
  • Gums bleeding like an SOB every time I floss.
  • Frequent nosebleeds.
  • Getting up in the middle of the night to pee and not being able to fall asleep.
  • Heart racing really fast all of a sudden.
  • Mild cramps on and off, making me worry that something must be wrong. (Seriously, should I be calling the doctor about this? It is nothing major—like mild pre-AF cramps—but is that normal? I think I am going to go scare myself now by checking with Dr. Google).
  • Oh, and Child is sick again, so I am sure to add a lovely collection of snot, watery eyes and hacking cough to my list of symptoms by this weekend. And Husband is out of town all next week, so yeah, it is going to be a good week. Not.

OK, now that the complaining is off my chest, here is the disclaimer. Every time I feel particularly crummy, I remind myself that all of these things are good signs (except for cramps--see how I have already started to freak myself out?). That it will be worth it in the end. That these same symptoms (though much, much—did I mention MUCH?—milder) brought me Child, the coolest kid I have ever met.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I began writing here to help me sort things out. I am prone to depression—at least I think so, although I have never gone to a professional to talk about this. Let’s say that I am definitely prone to being overwhelmed by life—which then spirals into feelings of loneliness, sadness and helplessness.

When I am down, it helps me to talk things over or write my thoughts down. I didn’t realize just how much this helped me until my miscarriage last year. Getting those thoughts out on a virtual piece of paper was a tremendous relief, and in the end, it helped me understand when I was ready to move on.

At that same time, as I was struggling with my thoughts, I began reading other blogs, finding comfort in the stories of others who have been there and crying with those who were going through even tougher challenges. After lurking for a while, I began feeling compelled to comment on some entries—especially when the writer was going through a difficult time and needed some support. I began commenting anonymously at first, but soon came across a few places where I had to sign in to be able to comment. I knew what this meant—that I was cracking the door to my blog a little bit, potentially inviting someone in. And someone came. And it felt so good.

But with time, a sense of uncertainty settled in. None of the people I know in real life know about this blog. I don’t think I want them to. This is my space, I want to be me, and I am afraid that if someone I know in real life discovers this space, I will have to be careful in what I say. I like this space just the way it is—open, personal, uncensored. But it also feels weird—and perhaps somewhat dishonest—to keep this space a secret, particularly from those closest to me—like Husband, the person I used to tell everything to. Will it come back to bite me in the ass if someone I know eventually stumbles upon it? How do I maintain my anonymity? Or should I just get over it?

Thursday, March 15, 2007


[I wrote this entry yesterday, but I could not bring myself to post it because of this and this. I cried and cried. I do not deserve this happiness when there is so much sorrow in the hearts of these two wonderful women. So I felt guilty posting. I am so sorry, Adrienne and Larisa.]

I had a few panic attacks this morning before the ultrasound. Shortness of breath, clammy hands, heart pounding so hard I thought my whole body was shaking. “You shouldn’t worry so much,” Husband said, “it is not good for the baby.” “I can’t just turn it off,” I snapped back. I did really well since last week, but last night, the panic set back in.

“We could expect anything,” Husband reminded me when we parked the car. “Yes, anything,” I thought and tightened by grip on his hand.

I did not look at the screen. I covered my eyes with my hands. It felt like I was here just yesterday. I could not stand the thought of seeing another disappearing life.

And then she said, “And here is your little person.” My heart stopped. “And I see a heartbeat,” I heard Husband say. And all of a sudden, I felt as if I woke up. I looked at the screen and I cried. She said the baby looked perfect, measuring precisely at 6 weeks and 3 days, with a heartbeat of 113. I cried again when she left the room. I buried my head in my husband’s chest. He hugged me. “We are having a baby,” he whispered, and I saw that his eyes were wet.

By the time I got home, I felt different. I felt free. It felt real. I have a baby with a beating heart. I don’t know why I feel so positive. I have made it this far before; it was a month later into the pregnancy that it all crashed and burned. But I am not going to question it. I can’t completely turn off the worry, but I want to allow myself to feel good about this. We are having a baby.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I was awake most of the night last night. I have fallen asleep on the couch just about every night for about a week, but last night, I could not sleep. I am coming down with another respiratory bug (ugh). But it wasn’t the scratchy throat that was keeping me up. My mind was racing. I had gone in for another blood test earlier that day, and while I was waiting for the results, I began thinking bad thoughts. You know, the “what if” thoughts.

I wonder if it’s self-preservation. I keep telling myself to let go of fear. This is out of my hands now. I can’t lock the door and keep this baby inside if it is not meant to be. I keep telling myself to enjoy it while it lasts—however long or short that may be. But I can’t seem to be able to let go of this fear. Lying awake, I kept preparing myself for the bad news. The low numbers. The unviable pregnancy numbers. I pictured how I would react, how I would try to hold it together if the call came while I was in the office, how I would tell Husband. Reading Adrienne’s suggestion to try to visualize this baby (as the cab driver thought me), I realized that I have not given any thought to whether it was a boy or a girl. I have not thought of names. I have not pondered creative ways to make the announcement to our parents or co-workers. Looking back at the last 10 days, I realize that I have not really thought of anything positive about this pregnancy because my mind was so focused on preparing for the worst. And that’s so depressing because I want so badly for this pregnancy to work. But it is self-preservation, so I mustn’t feel guilty about feeling this way.

When morning came, I felt better. This may sound odd, but after all that thinking and tossing and turning, I felt somewhat prepared for the bad news. But I also held out hope. When the call came, my hands were shaking and my voice was quivering. An unfamiliar voice asked for Kate. “Why isn’t this Kathy, the nurse who always calls me? Did Kathy not want to give me the bad news?” I thought. In a dry, emotionless voice, the nurse went on about getting my results back and how I should call for a sonogram appointment. “A sonogram?” I asked. “We wanted your numbers to be above 5,000 before you could go in for a sono to check on viability,” she said. “And?” I said, my heart jumping out of my chest. “Your test came back at 19,227.” And like an idiot, I asked, “Is that a good number?”

Ummm, yeah, that’s a good number. Before calling Husband, I checked to make sure I knew exactly how good this number was. It is definitely in the upper range for 24dpo, but so was my earlier number of 675 at 15dpo. There is a huge variation in HCG numbers, so I am not going to let my mind wander over to a place where it starts to think these higher-than-average numbers mean that we are going to have a high-risk pregnancy with multiples or a molar pregnancy (which, I guess, wouldn’t be that unlikely since I had a D&C in early December)—and oh my god, why can’t I just be happy with a good, solid number? Bad mind, bad, stop wandering.

So there you have it. I am ready to be consumed by positive thoughts. I am going to make myself think positive thoughts. I have six full days until the ultrasound on Wednesday, and I am damn sure going to think positively and get excited.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Bumble’s recent post got me thinking about how we visualize our children before they are born (or even conceived). And it reminded me of a very strange encounter I had when I was barely pregnant with Child. I was just a few weeks along, definitely not far enough to exhibit any visible signs of pregnancy. I worked downtown (how I hated that 1 ½-hour one-way commute!), and on that particular day, I was taking a cab to a client’s office for a meeting. I rarely took a cab there—I usually just walked because it was about 15 blocks away, and I enjoyed some fresh air—but on this day, I was running late, so I hopped in the cab.

The driver was a woman in her 50s, with long braided hair, wearing a long, flowery sundress. As soon as I got in the car and told her the address of my destination (it was a government building, not a hospital), she asked if I was going to the doctor to check on the baby. “I don’t have a baby,” I said. “No? Then you will soon,” she replied. “I can just picture him by looking at you,” she continued. “A little boy, about 2 or 3, with curly blonde hair, blue eyes, playing in the pile of fallen leaves.” I was speechless. It gave me chills—not only because she could sense and see my baby, but because I could see him, too. After the shock wore off, I dismissed it—I told myself it was just an easy guess since I have fairly light, curly hair and light-colored eyes. But this visualization kept coming back to me. And every time, it gave me chills. I have goose bumps writing about it even now.

And now I have this child. He is 3, he is blonde, he has sky-blue eyes, his hair is incredibly curly, and he loves jumping in the piles of leaves in the fall. The image is a touch different from reality but only because his hair is thicker and shorter than the wispy curls I imagined then. But it is him, the little boy the cab driver told me about.

I so much wish I could find her now. I really need her help in telling me that this baby will be OK, too.

Monday, March 05, 2007

It's good in bread

[Warning: Acceptable TMO-level breach ahead. Please exit while you still can.]

Did you know that yeast infection is very common in pregnancy? Well, it is, and I am apparently the living proof of it. If someone would have told me about this earlier, I would have drowned myself in active-culture yogurt or any damn preventive measure I could get my hands on. But no one told me.

I have a very strong love-hate relationship with yeast, minus the love part. Before now, my body and yeast got together three times. First time, it was an unpleasant surprise, but it went away without much struggle and I could finally say, “well, now I know what a yeast infection feels like. Mark that off my to-do list.”

Second time, it surfaced a day before we were leaving for a trip to attend our friends’ wedding. Recognizing the symptoms, I went to the pharmacy and picked up an OTC treatment. I woke up the next morning feeling like I was on fire. I was in enough pain to actually consider canceling the flight and skipping the wedding. I didn’t, but what I learned from the experience is that the OTC stuff does not get along with my privates.

And then there was a third time, when yeast arrived in the place I was not expecting—my breasts. And this particular encounter with yeast was worse than any pain I have ever experienced. Labor was a piece of cake compared to yeast—not only in the intensity of the pain, but also due to the fact that this pain engulfed me every two hours. For two months.

Those Lamaze breathing techniques that did nothing for me during labor finally came handy for pain management during breastfeeding. Child was a lazy eater, and he was tongue-tied (which means that his tongue did not come out as far as necessary to have a good latch). But after crying and biting my lip at every feeding session for an entire first month of his life because it felt like someone was jabbing needles in my nipples and down my breasts—not only at latch-on but throughout the whole feeding, I finally confessed to a friend that I didn’t know how much longer I could do this. And instead of telling me that “it will get better” if I gave it time or that I must just have a lower tolerance for pain, as my mom and the lactation consultant told me, she actually said, “I think you should call a doctor and ask if it could be yeast.” And so it was. It took three two-week rounds of high-dose Diflu.can to finally get rid of it.

So now, yeast comes into my life again. It has been a full week since I filled the prescription for treatment—and I am still not feeling quite right. To add to the stress, after taking the treatment, I read the medical pamphlet that came in the box and found out that this drug is pregnancy category C. What the frick? Do I not have enough to worry about with this pregnancy? I mean, I know the doctor who prescribed it was also the doctor who confirmed my pregnancy, in the same appointment, so she would not give me something that would be bad for the baby… But what if she had a major brain fart and just forgot? And more importantly, this treatment doesn’t even seem to be working! So what’s next? I have eaten so much yogurt that even the thought of it makes me sick. Thank goodness for Kefir.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


When Husband travels (and he does so frequently), the Child reacts in two ways: by being an absolute pain in the ass the entire time or by being a pure angel. This trip, he was in the latter category. Or so I thought—until tonight.

Ever since we moved him from a crib to a "big boy" bed in mid January, his night-time routine seems to have extended to last roughly an eternity.

1. Read books
2. Brush teeth
3. Use the potty
4. Put on jammies
5. Lights off
6. Tell a story
7. Sing a song
8. No, two songs
9. No, four songs
10. Rub back
11. Two more times
12. Rub belly
13. Don’t forget to say "ding" when finished rubbing belly
14. Lay down for "one minute"
15. Tuck in
16. Say night-night, sweet dreams
17. Walk out but leave the door cracked open

Mind you, six weeks ago, this routine ended at step #6. But more than that, over the last month, he has absolutely mastered the skills of stalling. And this has added the following steps.

18. Can I have some water? (I usually give in to this, but only once)
19. Can I have a snack? (No way, dude)
20. I need to go potty. (I gave in to this one a few times, but there is always “nothing coming” since step #3 took place just half an hour ago)
21. I need someone to sleep with me (see response to #19)
22. I want a truck/engine/train tracks/Pooh bear/polar bear/puppy/you-name-it to sleep with me. (I usually try a preemptive strike on this one and ask him which toy he wants in bed before I proceed to step 17)
23. I need a book. (Usually ignored)
24. I am too hot/I don’t like these pajamas. (See response to #23)
25. I am too cold/I need someone to cover me. (See response to #23)
26. I am not tired. (See response to #23)

Not all of these happen every night. But at least three or four are a pretty sure bet.

Tonight, however, I did the unthinkable. I skipped steps 7 through 9. I tried #7, but my choice of song was dismissed, so I said, "Fine, no songs then." He seemed fine with it. We finished the routine, and I rushed off because the phone was ringing—and it was the said traveling husband, who usually doesn’t have much opportunity to chat while he is traveling. So I really wanted to get the phone. And then, my angel was no longer an angel.

Of the two of us, I am usually the parent who gives in more easily. I tend to discipline less. And therefore, I get taken advantage of much more. I have really struggled with this last summer because my feelings were hurt so often (how strange is it that a two-year-old can hurt a grown woman’s feelings...). So I am really trying to change that. I mean, I still want to be me—I want to be a mom who comforts and loves, but I want to be treated with respect. So I am more firm. I follow through on my word. And I think we have a much better relationship now (plus, being out of the terrible twos really helps).

So tonight, when stalling attempts continued, I didn’t give in. After being turned down for every request, the Child remembered that I didn’t sing a song. And when I said no, oh, the flood gates opened. At first he cried and wailed, but when he realized that he was being ignored, he got mad. He screamed. And screamed. His requests were getting more and more unreasonable. This went on for roughly 30 minutes. 30 looooooooooooong minutes. I finally couldn’t stand listening to this any longer, so I opened the door and told him that if he wanted the fire truck, he could get up and get it since it was right at the foot of his bed. "But I will be too cold," he said. What the fuck? "Child, you get your fire truck or stop crying." So he did. He got the fire truck. And then he flung it across the room.

And that’s where I snapped. I yelled at him. Got right in his face and yelled at him. And right away, I knew I was wrong. I am not a yelling type. I don’t believe in yelling or spanking or biting back when the child bites you or any of that bullshit. I disagree with that wholeheartedly. Abusive behavior is not the lesson you want your child to learn. So I hated myself for yelling. He started screaming even louder, so I walked out and closed the door—for my sake, not his. It was my way of putting myself in timeout. What I forgot was that this went against step #17 ("walk out and leave the door cracked open"). And so he continued to flip out of the next 15 minutes because of that. During this time, I was trying to decide whether going back there would be giving in. He finally cried so much that he started coughing and gagging, and I could not stand it any longer. I gave in. I went upstairs and opened the door. As soon as the door was open, he stopped. He saw me standing in the doorway, lied down and buried his face in the pillow, away from me. I waited a few moments, then sat down next to him. I told him that I was sorry for yelling and that I yelled because he made me mad, but that was the wrong thing to do. He told me I made him sad. And he was smiling. We said our goodnights, and that was it.

So did I fail twice tonight? I know I failed because I yelled. That was wrong. But did I also give in in the end? His happy smile at the end—that’s what puzzled me. Was he so happy because he got his way? Or was it because we were friends again, neither of us mad at each other?

They say three is a magic number. Where do I get a magic wand to help me parent a three-year-old?