Friday, August 3, 2012

June 6, 2012: The birth of our second son

The Birth Story of our second son:
The "short" (although, still long) version.
 A longer version may appear soon...

Two hours after I post my blog entry, I enter into the 39 week mark, and, as though right on cue (I’ve said I want to make it to the 39 week mark before having the baby), I go into labor.

After sleeping for about 1 hour, I awake at 12:30am.  I’ve been having labor-like contractions for a few weeks and fairly strongly for the past 2 days, so I’m a bit uncertain if this is “the real thing.”  The contractions feel the same as they have been feeling, but I still sense something is different.  They are more frequent, more regular.  I tell Mike I think this may be the night, but I also tell him, “Eh…I think I’ll go back to bed.”  I’m tired and surprisingly relaxed (perhaps having to do with the fact that I’m in denial this is actual labor for quite some time!).  But after a few minutes of lying in bed, I decide I really ought to get up, shower, and get ready for the hospital, “just in case.”

Some time after 1am, I tell Mike I think he should start timing the contractions.

“Already downloaded the app!” he smiles.

When he starts timing them, we quickly realize that my contractions are only 2-4 minutes apart.  Around 1:30 or so, I say, “Maybe you should call your dad to have him come.  Just in case.  If I’m not in actual labor, he can just spend the night.”  His dad is in NYC about 40-60+ minutes away, and he’ll be staying with our toddler, D, while we’re in the hospital.

Around 2:15am, I finally call my OB.  It’s a bit nerve wracking to call my doctor in the middle of the night.  My contractions haven’t been lasting a full minute for a whole hour yet, as the typical standard tells you (5 minutes apart, for 1 minute long, for 1 hour).  Then again, Dr. T has told me before that my labor will probably be fairly quick, not to stay at home too long, and not to necessarily go by that guideline. 

On the phone, I tell him, “I think I’m in labor.  My contractions aren’t lasting a whole minute, but they’re about 2 minutes apart—“
“Go to the hospital,” he interrupts.  Clear, calm, but firm.


“Go to the hospital,” he repeats.

“Okay.  Thanks.”  And our conversation ends.

I guess 2 minutes apart is pretty close…hm…

Mike’s dad arrives around 3am (glad we called him when we did!).  I am still trying to tidy up the apartment, asking Mike to put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher.  I pull out fruit to wash and cereal so it is ready for our son in the morning.  I have a list of numbers, food choices, general information for Mike’s dad, but I still feel there is more I could do.  It’s not as simple to leave the house this time as it was 3 years ago with our first.   And I am apparently the type of person to be organizing and preparing when I’m 5cm dilated.

But soon, when my breaks between contractions don’t seem long enough to really accomplish anything anymore, I suddenly realize I need to get to the hospital.  Now.

We leave around 3:15am.  Familiar.  We left around this time of night, also on a Wednesday morning just over 3 years ago to have our first baby. 

But history doesn’t entirely repeat itself. 

We hit some traffic on the way to the hospital—yes, traffic on 95N, at 3:30am on a weekday. 

“You have got to be kidding me,” I say.  Hundreds of tractor trailers are merging from 3 lanes into 1 as apparently there is middle-of-the-night construction ahead.  I begin to get a little anxious.
Thankfully, our exit is not far and we arrive at the hospital around 3:45am.  We are here.  When the doctor checks me at 4am, he reveals I’m 5cm dilated, but at least we are here now.  It’s been three years, but positive memories come back to me as I enter the familiar building.  The doorman immediately tells me “second floor,” without saying another word…We have to ring the bell to find a nurse when we enter the waiting area…The nurses are kind and welcoming, the doctors are nice, there is excitement in the air.  This is all familiar…

Of course, I don’t look too excited.  I am in a great deal of pain and I don’t have a lot of rest between contractions.  I decline an epidural and the resident OB says no one will ask me if I want one again.  “You’ll have to ask us if you want one,” he informs me.  I like this.  They’re not pushy.
My doula arrives soon after we do and exclaims over how in control I seem considering my contractions and that I’m already 5cm dilated.  I warn her we are not done yet!  But for now, I am breathing through each contraction calmly, and telling Mike about what has been happening in the latest season of Mad Men during my “breaks.”  It’s a comical scene.  And one that lasts for the first hour or so.

But at 5am, the resident tells me I’m 7cm dilated and that he is going to have my doctor come to the hospital now.


“I could deliver your baby, but most doctors like to be here for their own patients.”

“No—I want my doctor here, of course. I just mean—I’ve only been here an hour.  He needs to come already?”

“Yes, I think you’re going to have your baby soon.”

One hour still feels like a long time when you’re in labor, but…I’m going to have my baby this soon?

From 7cm on, I don’t think I talk about Mad Men anymore…I feel as though they’ve turned up the heat in this room. I’m sweating; I feel shaky.  My doula encourages me, “You’re doing great!  You are such a rock star!” (This is what doulas say, I’ve learned)

I feel compelled to explain/exclaim, “This may look like I’m having fun, but I am not having fun at all!”  I turn to Mike, “I don’t like this…I don’t like this at all…I don’t like feeling this…”
Mike is the only one who can ask me if I want an epidural, and so he does.  And while I do want to feel no pain, of course I want to feel no pain, logically, I inform him with a bit of irritation, “There’s no point now.”  I’ve made it this far.  I’ve done it once before and for a lot longer, so I try to keep breathing.  Just try to make it.  Picture a warm sunny beach…the water…hearing the waves…

When my doctor arrives by 5:30, he says I’m 9 ½ cm dilated.  He asks me if I feel the urge to push, but of course, by now, the pain has increased too much; I don’t feel the urge to do anything at all.  I want the pain to end, but I don’t want to do any work to get it to end.  I am propping myself up with my hands; I can’t even sit on the bed.  I don’t want the doctor to move my feet.  All of these feelings should be a clue that my body is ready to push, that the baby is ready to come out, but I insist I don’t “feel” like pushing. 
At some point along this way, my breathing transitions into a steady and painful, “AAAHHH!”  Mike tells me it doesn’t seem as though I’m screaming out of control, more a controlled yelling.  But I feel I can’t help this now.  To me, this lasts 20 minutes, but Mike says it’s only a few minutes.  My doctor, who has stepped out for a moment (we’re all just waiting around, after all, for me to be “ready” to push), hears this and comes back in, assuming this is indicative of a woman about to have a baby.  And he’s right.

I still claim I don’t feel like pushing.  If someone were to ask if I logically knew I should be pushing, I think I would say, yes, I should be pushing.  But when you don’t want to move a muscle even, how can you feel like doing anything, let alone a really big energy-requiring task?

The nurse suggests I just try to push.  I decline this at first, but then the logic in my brain finally takes over and I know, I need to at least try, see what happens, get this over with.  “Okay, I’m gonna try to push,” I finally announce.

I start to try to push and then…
Mike tells me he starts to see the head of the baby.
“Get this bar out of here!” My doctor yells (a bar I’ve insisted be placed over the bed so I can use it to help me focus in pushing—even though the staff have all said I won’t need it.  They are right. I don’t even want to move close enough to touch it).  They break down the bed in a second and while I continue to yell, “AAAHHH,” in less than 60 seconds…

My baby is born.

Just like that.  One minute of pushing and my precious little baby boy is placed onto my chest.  After a moment, Mike cuts the umbilical cord, there’s a blanket on my baby, and he’s nursing sweetly and soundly.  What was just happening 5 minutes ago?
I am astounded.  Mike and I stare at our baby.  I feel as though I’m in a mild state of shock.  The past hour, and especially the past 10 minutes, have been a whirlwind.  And now, once again, my life is changed irrevocably.  

At 6:17am, I look at the clock.  There has been a lot of activity in the last 10 minutes.  I see a few people in the room I didn’t even know entered.  “Does anyone know what time the baby was born?”

The room is silent.  A few laughs.

“Maybe around 6:10?” I propose.
No one responds, but when I look at the birth card later, I see the time of birth is written as 6:10am.

I look down at my precious baby: 7 pounds, 14 oz, 19 ½ inches long, born on a sunny Wednesday June morning.  He has a head full of dark hair, beautiful blue eyes and a handsome manly face.  It is amazing how nine months of nurturing, caring for, doctor appointments, food monitoring, back aching—how it can all come to an end in just a few short hours. 
And now…those few short hours end and I sense the years that lay ahead of me with my boy, the lifetime I will have with my son.  We are a family of four now.  And it feels good.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

38+ Weeks Pregnant: A little excitement, a little waiting...

This entire past weekend, I feel as though I could go into labor at any point.  There are several signals my body is sending me, not to mention the increased intensity of my labor-like contractions.  Mike calls his parents to give them a heads-up that we have a feeling the baby will be coming this weekend (they will be coming to watch D, our toddler when we go to the hospital).  I let my mom know, as well.  I cancel my plans to be away on Saturday and lay low.  Besides not wanting to be far from home, quite honestly, walking has gotten to be quite uncomfortable.  Since the baby "dropped" about a week ago, it's been not very comfortable, but with the increased contractions and pain when the baby jams into my cervix and back, it is getting harder to be mobile.

Mike and I operate during the day with reserved excitement.  We prepare as much as possible for his parents' stay with D.  We make sure to keep things clean, have their bed ready, towels out.  Mike takes D to his gym class in the morning and after cleaning (again), I rest.  It is really hitting us--this baby is coming not just "any day", but he could be coming today.

Now if you see me turn to the side...
I go to bed "early" on Saturday night (meaning, by 11pm), in the hopes that I can manage a little sleep before I wake up in labor or to my water breaking.  This is how I imagine it.

I do wake up frequently and feel the cramping of a contraction.  But I fall back asleep each time, and soon, the sun is lighting up the bedroom.  It's morning.  And the baby hasn't come.

Oddly enough, the painful contractions have lessened significantly on Sunday.  There are still things telling my body that the time is near, but I am a bit less uncomfortable.  We attend church, D enjoys his class, and the church throws us a lovely coffee hour in honor of the baby-to-come.  I'm glad that we are able to make this special morning.

So despite my body's apparent readiness, it's now Tuesday night--38 weeks, 6 days pregnant, and I'm a bit uncertain if I can read my body's signs now.  I truly believed I'd go into labor over the weekend, but since that hasn't happened, the adrenaline has waned, and I feel resigned to the baby's appearing when he's ready.  That excitement of "It very likely could be today!" has turned to a more surreal feeling again, making labor and the baby seem a far off idea once again.

I say this, but yet, when I go to bed Monday night, wake up at midnight to go to the bathroom, then again at 1am to go to the bathroom--I feel like I am going to repeat my first labor.  With that pregnancy, I woke up at midnight--bathroom, 1am--bathroom, but as soon as I stood up, my water broke.  Of course, this time, that doesn't happen, and I resign myself again to accepting this experience for what it is--and that it is not necessarily the same as the first time around.

Obligatory "whoohoo" mirror shot
Then again (I could start every thought with "then again!"), tonight, as I sit on my bed and write thank you notes, using my belly as a desk, I can't help but try to interpret signs.  This baby is whamming and jamming just like our first baby did the night I went into labor.  And yet, this baby has been doing that every night for the past several nights...And now, haven't we finished all we have to do pre-baby?  We finally bought a car a week ago, I had my girls-night-out, we had the church celebration, I caught up on thank you notes.  Not to mention the slew of other "to do" items that we've at least semi checked off the list.  Once we finish that "last" thing, aren't I supposed to go into labor a few hours later?  Are we actually getting some bonus time to, what, relax or something?

And I appreciate that time.  I mean, realistically, there are still always things to do every night, even without an additional long "to do" list.  There is still a heap of laundry on my bed, loads of dishes on the counter from dinner, and toys to pick up.  I still have to shower, get ready for bed, unwind.  And it's almost 10pm as it is.  That doesn't leave a lot of relaxation time.  On top of that, sitting, standing and walking are all bringing me quite a bit of pain as the baby's head (or something) continues to stab at my cervix.  So I'm slow, and there isn't a whole lot I can do at the moment.


Having dinner together as a family, watching D tackle Mike before bed, listening to my toddler's "concert" as he sings into a microphone and plays his guitar, putting together a solar system model and setting up a mini-planitarium, placing his special clover he picked just for me into a tiny tiny vase, talking with Mike leisurely as we lay on the bed in stillness--these are still priceless moments, whether one calls them relaxing or not.  Every night when we put our son to bed, I take a mental picture and wonder, "Will this be our last night as a family of 3?"

But none of this is my timing.  I leave it to God.  I have always said I wanted to make it to 39 weeks pregnant with this baby, as well.  The brain and lungs are still growing up until this point, and while the baby would be fine at 38 weeks (or even a bit earlier), if I can make it to that ideal 39, then I am happy.  And I'm only a few hours from that goal, so unless this turns into a crazy night, the baby will not be here before 39 weeks.


We wait.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Local Church Coffee Hour for New Baby

Today, we are blessed to experience a celebration of our baby-to-be at our local church.  After the service, they host the Coffee Hour in our honor, complete with a cute baby cake, chocolates in blue gift boxes, and a sweet message for each guest.  The baby receives an adorable hand-knitted blanket and piggy bank, which match perfectly in his room.  And D receives a toddler bible book and Finn McMissle car (he doesn't want to watch the movie, Cars2, but he knows the character and is very excited!).  Even Mike and I receive a parenting book and a lovely arrangement of flowers.  The church family sings "Happy Birth Week" to the baby, and D has the time of his life getting to eat a whole piece of cake (and I even left the icing I scraped off on his plate, so undoubtedly, he got to eat that!). 

We truly appreciate the church's love and support for us!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet your big brother, Baby!

As I've mentioned, in The Happiest Toddler on the Block, the author speaks of how whatever attention you may not be able to spend on your second-born child, know that your first-born will give him that attention four times over.  If, when our baby is born, our toddler, D, is anything like he is now, our second born will never be lacking attention. 

While in some ways, I can't give as much attention to this pregnancy as I did my first, in other ways, I have a constant companion who is with me, to talk about "the baby," go to my OB appointments with me, and give me and the belly much needed love--my 3-year-old son.  To him, this pregnancy is brand new.  He has never experienced this before, and he is there with his big blue eyes and toothy smile, excited every step of the way.

So meet your three-year-old big brother, Baby Bouteneff 2! :)  He's been thinking about you since you were the size of a grape!

Starting around 7 weeks pregnant or so (when D is 2 1/2 years old), I bring up the idea of a baby.  We have a few "big brother" books, so I read them to him, to get him familiar with the idea of a baby.  I make no mention of how I have a baby in my belly.  He is still pretty attached, and I am not sure how he would react to sharing me, or inviting a baby to live at our house.  He also has the kind of personality to think about things for a long period of time.  He impresses me how he remembers details, events, people from months or even a year ago.  On the same token, he can remember things that make him unhappy, and bring them up repeatedly, making himself anxious.  I am not certain which direction the news of a baby would take him.  So I go slowly.

I do know however, that he has always had a sweet disposition and is kind to babies.  Months ago, when D was a young 2, we see a baby crying at the library.  I tell D to make a funny face and maybe the baby will stop crying.  "What funny face?" He asks.  I give him an example, the classic "hold the sides of your mouth and stick out your tongue" face.  D does this with great concentration.  The baby stops crying.  Success!  A few minutes later, the baby cries again.  Without a moment's hesitation, D pulls out the serious funny face again.  The baby does not stop crying, but D keeps trying.  He is sincere in his task, even without success this time.

So while I don't plan to tell D about the baby early in the pregnancy, he is smart, and by bringing up the idea of a baby at all, reading "big brother" books, and talking about my friends who are pregnant (and their sons, D's friends, who will become big brothers), D gets the idea.  He gets in the habit of joining me on the bed in the morning, cuddling and asking me questions about "the baby."  No one has actually told him there is a baby in my belly.  But he starts asking questions anyway, touching my belly. 

"How does the baby come out of your belly?"  

"It goes--whooosh!" I gesture from my chest to the bottom of my torso in a fast motion.  "And it comes out!" 

"How does the baby get into your belly?" 

"Hm..." I think.  This is one I'm not prepared to answer at not even 2 months pregnant.  "The mommy and daddy make the baby go into the belly."  Somehow this answer suffices for now, but I know it will not for long.

Finally, while we are having lunch one afternoon, D flat out asks me.  "Is there a baby in your belly?"  I know my son, I know how he reacts to big news, and I know I must be casual about this. 

"Yeah.  There is.  What do you think about that?" 

"Um. That's funny," he smiles.  It doesn't seem like much of a surprise.  He then asks me about what the baby plays with in the belly. 

"The baby has water in there, so the baby can swimg around.  And an umbilical cord to play with.  Not too much though." 

From here on out, the baby is "out of the bag," so to speak, and D takes a particularly strong interest in it.  While most of my friends' children his age are not so curious about their mom's baby bellies, D can't get enough of it.  We take out a few books from the library that friends have recommended, and here D gets some big lessons.  The books are intended for children much older than a 2-year-old, and we skip and summarize many pages.  But D gets the point.  He knows the basics of how a baby is put together and born.  One Saturday afternoon, out of the blue, D asks me, "How come the sperm loses its tail when it reaches the egg?" 


Needless to say, I'm surprised my 2-year-old is asking me this question.  Mike is there as well and recalls seeing this picture in one of the books from the library.  He fields this question for me.  "Because once he reaches the egg, he's done swimming and doesn't need the tail anymore." Ah, that's why.

Other than the scientific questions D asks, he mostly just wants to love the baby.  We get in the habit of singing a lullabye song before nap every day, "A song to make the baby go to sleep."  D loves to hear how I sang this same song to him when he was in the womb, and would wake me up at night.  He asks me to tell him this "story" over and over.  "And then, after I would sing the song to you, you'd calm down and cozy up in my belly, and fall fast asleep." 

D feels the baby moving on my belly before Mike does, and from then on, "I want to feel the baby move" becomes a statement I hear many times a day.  When we visit Mike at work one day, and his coworkers comment on how they hear he will be a big brother soon, he immediately and proudly, lifts up my shirt to point to my belly, explaining that's where the baby is right now.

He kisses my belly; he talks to the baby in a high pitch squeaky voice.  He gives the baby a "marssage" by rubbing my belly.  He tells the baby many times a day that he loves him (my heart melts to the floor the first time he says, "I love you, baby" to my belly!).  He knows my new limitations with my big belly and respects them.  At this point, just a few weeks away from my due date, I can't bend over easily, I can't run fast, I can't go on amusement park rides with him (we go in the winter to Sesame Place), I can't pick him up much.  He even reminds me, "The doctor said you're not supposed to pick me up," when I do, "But you like to pick me up." 

While toward the beginning of my pregnancy, D asks me once, "Who is the baby's mommy when he comes out?" he quickly gets the message--the baby is mine, the baby is ours.  I say how lucky we are to have a baby in my belly because not everyone gets a baby. (And of course, he asks, "Why does not everyone get a baby?" and many other questions follow) 

I don't talk much about the fact that the baby will be living with us at first.  But we do turn a small living area into a new baby room, we give D a toddler bed, a new dresser and move his crib and changing table into the baby room.  We do these steps slowly, gradually, and focus on the changes in a positive way for him, not mentioning it is because of the baby we are doing things.  I remember reading that a parent should not tell the older child, "We can't go to the playground because the baby is sleeping," but rather, phrase it in such a way to not have the baby be a reason for preventing fun things.  "We can't go to the playground right now, but maybe we can go after lunch."  I don't want D to view the baby as an obstacle to anything for him.  At least not yet.  With my physical limitations, I also stress how I will be able to do more of these fun things with D once the baby is born.  I hope that this will give him an added bonus to the baby's birth--I'll be able to pick him up again easily, for instance.

In my last trimester, I ask my son pointedly, "Where is the baby going to live when he comes out of my belly?"  D smiles and speaks in a way as though he thinks I'm silly to ask this question.  "In our house."  I figure he knows this.  He ought to know this, but I am reassured hearing him say this.  D visits a friend who has bunk beds and also enjoyed them in our trip to Club Med.  I tell him maybe one day when the baby is older, he and his brother can have bunk beds.  He is beyond excited about this idea.  Now we talk openly about where the baby will be in the house, what the baby will play with, toys that are for the baby.

A month ago or so, D sighs, "The baby has been in your belly a long long time." 

"Yes, you're right." 

Once our friends have their babies, D begins to ask when our baby is coming out.  My answer starts as, "Not for a long time still," but gradually changes to, "Not for a while, but it's getting closer," to "Not right now, but soon."  As we near my due date, I explain how his grandparents will be with him when I'm at the hospital and the baby is born (he knows Dr. T. will "catch the baby" at the hospital when he comes out).  But I point out that he will get to visit us at the hospital (although he says he'd like to just stay at home and build skyscrapers out of blocks with his grandfather.  I tell him, we'll see when the time comes.).

A few weeks ago, D whimpers from the back of the car one afternoon, "I wish the baby would come out of your belly right now!"

"I know, but we have to wait a little bit longer," I tell him.

He does a tiny cry.  "But I want him here right now!"

Today, D even goes as far as to say, "After you have this baby, I want you to have another baby."

"Oh yeah?"

"Actually, I want you to have five more babies!"

"Wow, that's a lot of babies." 

Mike asks him, "Where would all the babies sleep?"

"Right here in my bed with me!  We'd sleep all cuddled up.  And they can share my body heat and I would share their body heat."  Our little boy has it all figured out.

Over the weekend, we let D pick out a gift for the new baby.  He takes a great deal of time choosing between the varius baby items in the aisle.  After much thought and exchanging items multiple times, he settles on a set of nesting cups that can attach in a line, forming a caterpillar.  He is proud of this gift and we wrap it together.  Then he "hides" it under a blanket on his toy car garage.  He knows the baby can't find the gift or open it himself, but D likes to search for gifts, and he says he will help the baby find it and open it for him, "Because the baby can't open a present yet." 

He seems very aware of what the baby can and cannot do.  He knows the baby will cry a lot, "Because the baby can't talk yet.  Why can't the baby talk yet?"  He knows the baby will not be able to walk or crawl yet, will have to wear diapers all the time, will eventually smile and laugh and play--but not at first.  The baby will be able to look around and make little noises. 

He's met a friend's baby sister, and this friend warned him, "Babies cry a lot!"  But he was beyond thrilled patting the baby's back and helping her to burp.  He still smiles and talks "baby talk" to babies he sees at our library classes, at My Gym, and to friends' babies.  He watches out for them, putting his arm around 1-year-old twins to guide them into various rooms of our house, telling us if a baby puts a toy in her mouth.  He even coaches an 11-month-old girl, "that toy is too small for you," patting her on the shoulder.  "Sorry, baby.  You're just too little," sounding like a very mature young man.

He is excited to see the baby on sonograms, to hear the baby's heartbeat, to ask our OB questions.  He is in love with this baby already.  I know he may not always be ecstatic to have a sibling.  They will fight, he may not always want to share.  He may test the limits, he may get jealous.  But above all else, he is thrilled to have this baby in our lives.  He may only be three years old, but he knows this baby is a blessing from God.  A blessing not everyone receives and that we are lucky.  And he loves this little blessing with all his heart.  And I thank God this baby has the blessing of our wonderful first born son as a big brother.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

37 Weeks: The final count down...

 So yeah, I have back pain when I walk, move around or stand up.  This baby jams against my cervix and sometimes my lower back, causing a pretty intense pain (thankfully, always short-lived though). And yeah, somehow this has actually given me a "pregnancy walk."  And it's getting really hard to fake walking normally at this point.  But, despite this, I still love having this baby in my belly.  I want to meet him, of course.  Dying to see what sort of little baby he is.  Will he look like our first son?  What will his temperament be like?  I have to say, from Day 1 with our first born, D, he has made his personality known.  Feisty, demanding a lot of attention, but loving, gentle, curious and strong (among many other characteristics).  So what will this baby do the moment he's born?  At week 1?  Month 2?  What will his awesome little belly laugh sound like?  And who will he grow into as his personality takes shape?  It is going to be such an incredible awesome ride.

But for now, he's in my belly. And he's mine. "Mine, all mine." And while I'll love the world seeing him, I also love our special quiet moments together now, where the world does not see him. Unless they look carefully enough and see that fluid movement of my belly or an elbow pushing out or a sudden WHAM as he kicks. This hasn't been as easy as a pregnancy as my first, just in the nature of its being a second. I have a toddler to take care of and can't rest or relax as I could before. But it has still been a wonderful pregnancy, and I know I will remember these days very fondly. And I know part of me is going to miss having the baby inside of me.  I'll never forget the feeling of after giving birth, my belly feeling so empty, so quiet and still.  Relaxing in some ways, but I also missed it in other ways.  I write this all now while my baby is twisting and spinning and pushing away inside of me, nonstop, continual.

Right now, I know where my baby is at all times. He is safe, within me, my little womb baby. He is adorable in every way, even though I can't see him. I almost can't believe I am capable of bringing another life into this world. It seems such a strange idea that I did this once, but to be able to do this great honorable thing two times? It is an honor, a blessing, and I thank God for my little baby boy.

And I can't wait to hold him, to cuddle him, and to bring him into our family.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

37 Weeks Pregnant: Girls' Night Out

As I've expressed before, things, by nature, are going to be different the second time around the ole pregnancy block.  But the baby is just as special as the first one.  You still love the baby in your belly just as much, you pick out a name with just as much care, wash the clothing and set up the crib and stand back to smile, just as much as before.  So this time around, since we didn't have a baby shower, I told Mike I still wanted to feel that special celebration with friends/family.  It isn't about the gifts.  It's about feeling loved, cared for, that others are excited for you, and that you have support around you.  And I definitely feel that way, celebration or not--I have lovely friends and family who give me support and love in so many ways.  But hey, a girl wants a little party every now and then.

So Mike suggested he put together a night for me to go out with my girl friends and just celebrate.  No stress of having to cook, clean, get food or drink ready in the house.  Just have some drinks, sample lots of food and sweets, and enjoy the company of my circle of women.

And that's just what we did.

For only giving friends a few weeks notice, we manage to get 10 of us together on the same night.  My friend picks me up at home (always fun to have a ride in a car with your friend), then we pick up another friend at the train station, and off we go to a fun bar/restaurant in White Plains.  As the other guests stroll in, I introduce each member of the party by name and a few other facts (so many of my friends' introductions end with, "And she's also an artist." :).  By the time the last guest arrives, all the other guests are able to introduce each other, and we have amassed quite a sense of comradery. I have to say, I feel very lucky to have such awesome women in my lives.  Women who have newborn babies themselves come out, a girl who hasn't had a night to herself since her 3 year old daughter was born comes out, girls from over an hour away come out (one even who is 36 weeks pregnant herself).  One friend makes up a fun balderdash-inspired "Bad Baby Names" game (and you know you have great people when they all are actually into it), and one friend champions on our behalf when we spot a bug on the wall (free dessert platter ensues).  Some girls exchange contact information and others comment on how nice it would be to all get together again.  You know you have a great time when you realize your parking meter money is running out, and you never thought you'd use it all up.

I leave the night feeling good.  Not only does it feel nice to have these friends in my life, but it feels pretty darn good just to get out of the house by myself to see a bunch of friends in an intimate party.  Where I can joke around freely, talk seriously, laugh, share stories.  It's just good to be reminded of who you are as a person, outside of a mother.  This is what makes us good mothers to begin with.

So thanks Mike, for getting this ball rolling, and thanks to my ladies for being so awesome!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

36 weeks: As relationships change...

I'm sitting with my toddler, D, one day at his little dining room table, having a smoothie and crackers--quietly, peacefully (although with much talking).  He is looking out the window, commenting on the cars, asking me questions about animals, why smoothies have to be cold.  "What does an owl eat?...And why does he sleep during the day and be awake at night and is called nocturnal?"

This is one part of our day.  He is usually happy and calm, we eat together, or perhaps I am cleaning while he eats, but we are still close, talking.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, so we have a lot of one-on-one time together, but something strikes me about this scene.  This scene of Mom and son, our private little time throughout the day.  I suddenly realize in my heart what I obviously know in my head--this scene is quickly going to change.  My heart gasps.

A friend of mine recently had her second son.  She told me that while she was in the hospital--"And you'll notice this too," she warned--holding her little baby, she realized just how big her 3-year-old really was.  She was used to still cuddling with him, and when you cuddle with your 1-year-old, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, and you have no other child to compare it to, it still feels like you're cuddling your little one.  Maybe he's a little boy now, but he's still little; he's still your baby.

But soon enough, he's not your baby anymore.

Part of me feels guilty writing about this, expressing this on a blog about my second pregnancy, my second baby to come.  I want to have only excitement, only joy in thinking of having my second baby.  And I do have an extreme amount of excitement and joy.  But however you slice and dice it, the second pregnancy, and your second baby (especially if you are having the same sex baby as your first) is not going to get the same kind of attention as your first.  Starting from conception, a second pregnancy cannot get the same kind of devotion as a first.  I struggle to find time to write in this blog; I had 7 baby showers (yes, a lot!) for my first pregnancy, none for my second; my husband came to all my OB appointments for the first, and only 2 or 3 for this second.  I can't sit and rest and relax, breathing in the joys of my pregnancy in the same way I could with the first.  But in a lot of ways, this seems to work out.  People say their second babies tend to be more relaxed, less needy than their first.  Indeed, if they can't have 100% of their parents' attention from the beginning, maybe some of them do learn to cope, adjust, go with the flow more. 

Your second child may not get as much attention as your first did at the same age, but then, your first is not going to get as much attention as he has been used to his entire life.  We all know this.  Of course this is the case.  Your time is divided now.  Parents are creative though--they are excellent at multi-tasking--playing a game with your 1st while rocking your 2nd, reading a book to your first while nursing your 2nd, kicking a ball around with your 1st while your 2nd relaxes in a sling around your body.  We figure things out.  But still.  We know this is a challenge parents and children face.

Karp mentions in Happiest Toddler on a Block two things that have always stood out to me:
1) Don't feel guilty about not giving your 2nd child as much attention as you did your first.  This 2nd child doesn't know any different.  Instead, try to keep things up with your 1st child, who does know the difference.  And know that whatever attention you can't give your 2nd baby, be confident that the baby will receive four times that amount of attention from his older sibling. :)
2) Karp points out that a first born child is a child in an adult's world.  A second born child, however, is a child in a child's world.  There is something about that idea that actually brings a tear to my eyes, makes me smile.  As adults, we like to think we get on our 1st born child's level, going to "dinosaur land" with him, making up silly songs and rhymes, telling weird stories, going on adventures in the backyard, painting pictures and doing crafts.  But we are adults.  We bend down to our child's level, and this is special in its own right, but we're still bending.  Inviting a younger sibling into the magical world of an older sibling is exciting.  It's special, unique, and a bond that is made for sibling to sibling.

And how amazing that we are giving these two children this gift.  That we are going to be able to witness this awesome awesome gift unfold right before us.

Still, there will be an adjustment.  An adjustment I have talked about to numerous friends, family members, even acquaintances or strangers in a doctor's waiting room.  I want advice, I want stories, I want ideas to make things easier for this huge life changing transition for our amazing toddler.


What people don't seem to talk about is the transition a parent might feel as she loses her only child, and becomes a mother of two.  Yes, we talk about practical things--"When will I sleep?  How will I shower?  How can I get dinner and bath done for my 1st born when my baby is going through the 'witching hour' of constant crying?  What about my 1st born child's classes?  Will my baby get to nap properly?" etc etc etc.  And yes, we talk about the emotional changes of having a baby, any baby. Your body goes through a lot, and your mind and your heart go through a lot too.  One of my friends, a mother of 4, said every car ride back from the hospital, after each birth, she would break down in tears.  We are emotional, hormonal, our lives have changed,  and we've given a new life to the world.  It is huge.

But these are things we expect somewhat--things that are mentioned at least in books, with some friends.  What my friends have not seemed to talk about, is how having a second child will make you feel about no longer having that first child all to yourself.  We think so much about how our first born child will feel, losing the spotlight, losing the devoted attention of his stay-at-home-mom.  But how will the mom feel losing the devoted relationship of that first born--her the only child, and herself?

When I look at my toddler, sitting a this table, looking out as the sun beams down on his face, I think of this.  I smile and I savor this moment.  This is tranquility.  We don't get this through a lot of the day, when he is riding cars around the house, singing at the top of his lungs, whining about putting clothes on, or announcing his actions as he shoots a ball through the basketball hoop.  Through the noise, the playgrounds, the classes, the play dates, I don't think of the change our relationship is going to have.  It is active; it moves me along and I don't always have time to think.  We have other peaceful moments too though--cuddling on the glider before bed, snuggling in with a book, painting a picture...but there is something...I don't know, just something about lunch at this table...What is it about lunch at this table that makes this feeling wash over me?

As I type this, I lean my head back for a moment, look at the ceiling, rest.  Can I answer my own question?  "What is it about lunch at this table..."  I don't know what it is.  What makes this lunch time throw me into the realm of nostalgia.  But...I know I will miss it.  A doula I meet with tells me, "Enjoy these last few weeks with your son," and it hits home.  Yes, enjoy these weeks (weeks!), because through all the chores and projects and clothing to be washed, mattress to be ordered, these are my last precious times alone, in this way, with my only child.  And I will miss them.

I will miss it...yes...but it still makes me smile.  Perhaps a little wistful, but mostly a smile filled with peace.  I guess that's the thing about  this sort of change.  You know why it's going to change.  My little boy is going to be a big brother.  He is going to teach our baby, show him the world, care for him, give him kisses on his booboos.  He is incredibly sweet with babies and shows more interest than any child his age that I've seen.  He is a little child in an adult's world.  But he will have the chance to give his world to his baby brother.

And that is why I think my smile is still peaceful.  I'm treasuring this moment, storing it in my heart.  My only child and me.  This is our time.  Our special time which is going to very soon change...But the change is going to incredible.  We have been blessed--all of us--my husband, myself, my son.  How can you imagine how amazing something so incomprehensible is going to be until you experience it?  There is a loss of our relationship as mother and only child.  But there are so many gains in the change of our relationship.  Like seeing my husband blossom into a truly amazing father after the birth of our life-changing first-born, I will witness this special child blossom into an older brother.  He will be my helper, my buddy, we will go through adjusting to this baby in our lives together.  There won't be those quiet hours when I have my baby with no one else to talk to.  I will have my toddler.  And no doubt, he is going to be filled with things to say to me.  I use the words "amazing" and "incredible" so often because I truly believe these events are those descriptions.

While I can't know what our new lives have in store for us, I can imagine the things that make you want to have a second baby in the first place.  The cuddles of infancy, the little baby movements, hands above the head while lying down, all the baby firsts you witness...and the trips our boys will take with us, playing in the yard together, sharing (or not always sharing) toys, laughing and fighting together, going on adventures (as D likes to say), canoeing 1 adult and 1 child per boat, giving each other surprises on birthdays, holding family traditions around holidays...

When a special relationship changes, recognize it and feel it.  But as you remember why this special relationship is changing--that it is changing because of an incredible gift God has given you, a gift you have wanted, and do want, so badly...then you have to smile, because you have been blessed.  You are lucky.  I mean, really really lucky.


I have snapped this picture in my mind.  And now I snap another picture in my mind, of my two boys, sitting at the table, drinking their smoothies, looking outside the window, talking to one another about the cars going by, about the cat across the road, D explaining how owls eat mice, and even stinky skunks.  And this makes me smile too.  My boys...

My boys.