Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World Travel and Alone Time

One of the big upsides of Navy life is the opportunity it presents to travel around the world and the United States. I know, without doubt, that if I wasn't in the Navy, I never would have visited some of the places that I have.

Over Thanksgiving, I had one such opportunity. J's ship was pulling into Marseilles, France and it happened to align with a 4 day break I had for school. So, we discussed our options and we went for it. I flew to France (sans kids) and enjoyed 2 days alone with the husband. AND IT WAS WONDERFUL. I know there are many parents who couldn't imagine leaving their children and going to another country, even for such a short time, but I am so unbelievably happy I did. Not only did I get to spend some much needed one on one time with a husband I hardly even get to see (9 days until he is home for deployment!), but I also got to spend some much needed time by myself while I was on the 15+ hours of flights.

I think it is sooooo easy for military parents (or really any parent) to give up time for themselves to spend it with the kids. There's always a million reasons not to step away, money, guilt, babysitters, etc. But, I really believe this time away is critical. I knew one mom who hadn't been away from her baby for more than 2 hours its whole first year of life. 2 hours!

I'm not saying that I want to spend all my time away from my kids, I actually love spending time with them (despite what gets said on this blog on occasion), but at the same time, I think is crucial that we as parents maintain our adulthoods and our sense of self. I know that I will look back at this time when my kids are young and wonder where the time went, I don't want to look back and wonder where I went.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moms and the Military

I just read an article on CNN about a family that lost a mother at war. Against my better judgement, I scrolled down to the comments section and read and read and read. And while there was the normal claptrap about the war and such (I won't get into my opinion here either way), I was shocked at the significant number of comments by women and mothers that stated that this woman was a bad parent for being in the military with small children. A significant number of these women seemed to suggest that this woman was actually a bad mother for continuing to serve after she had children. As if to say she didn't love her children as much as her military career. That somehow the decision to stay in the military was merely a selfish one and actually at the expense of her child's happiness.

I will be honest, since I have had children, I have greatly struggled with my military service. I work long hours, I am away from my children much, much more than I would like to be. But at the same time, I enjoy my job. There is an inherent difference in being a Naval Officer that I know I will never find in another career. I know that no other job will provide me with the mental challenge and satisfaction that this one has. Also, no other job will provide me with the opportunities that I have received. I have a college and master's degree with no incurred debt, I have seen the world twice over, I have grown as a person and as a leader. And, not for nothing, I met my husband through my service. So, I have to say that I am torn. I am thrilled with my career in some regards and others are keeping me from the things that I care about most.

But, no matter what my feelings are, I will never believe that I am damaging my sons in anyway. They are loved. They know they are loved. Sure, they would like mommy to be there every night, but they understand she can't be. I am providing them not only with the things that they need (food, medical care, shelter), but I also present to them an example of what a woman can do. And, I know that if I wasn't challenged in the way that I am at work, I wouldn't be the same mother that I am. You see all that growing that I have done as a naval officer also shaped me into the parent that I am. My confidence, patience, level headness and countless other qualities that I gained from military service will be passed onto my boys through my example.

So, for all the people that believe it to be irresponsible for a mother to go to war, I disagree. We all have our challenges in life. Mine take a different spin. Whether I continue my military service or not after this obligation, I know that staying in after their birth was absolutely the right decision. And I know without a doubt that my sons will be better men because their mommy was a sailor.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Bad Mammajammas (or however that's spelled)

Well folks, we are officially 5 weeks into our 10 week stay in hotel hell and we are surviving, not thriving. Honestly, it hasn't been THAT bad, just bad. We have had our runs of colds, coughs, snots and eye gunk that has me on the edge about whether or not the kids should go to daycare and I have to say that I feel sorry for the poor souls that are in the rooms next to us. Yes, I am that lady who has the kids who wake up crying at 0445 (but hey it's a military town, everyone is up anyway right?).

So my biggest challenge so far has been how to enforce good parenting practices in a completely impossible setting. For example, the rule is you sit at the table until everyone is done no matter how much or how little you choose to eat for dinner. No table here, so trying to get the 2 year to stay in one place is just not happening. Also, generally when a fit occurs, I ignore it until the kids realize that it isn't working and then we talk about it. Well, I don't think allowing screeching for 15 minutes at 0530 is particularly neighborly, so I have been giving in a lot more easily than I normally would.

So what's a mom to do? Throw out the rules, survive the next 5 weeks and hope for the best when Dad takes over (mwhahaha!) or try and maintain some semblence of order and discipline in a wackadoo setting? I think ultimately survival will dictate a mixture of both, but this is truly a tough nut to crack. I fear that we will walk back into our house with two horribly behaved children that will take weeks of re-programming just in time for Christmas visiting so everyone will see what monsters we have raised. The pressure!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tales of the AEGIS School Nothing

Well, here we are 3 weeks into living in a hotel, kids in full time daycare and Mom trying her best to keep up in school. I can honestly say I have never been more challenged, stressed or exhausted in my whole life.

First off, living in a hotel room with a mini fridge and a microwave is a special hell all to itself. I believe interrogation tactics might be easier to endure at this point. Everyone is on top of each other, sharing a bed with a 2 year old is the least restful sleep anyone could ever get, and I live in constant fear of the kids being too loud (which they often are). Poor B has no where to stretch his legs and my crawling/cruising 7 month old (who does that this early, geez!) is doing his darndest to find every child safety hazard in the room.

Daycare, oh daycare. I don't think I ever truly realized how lucky we were to have a nanny (who won't be coming back, we are devastated and in a major scramble). Seeing the very sad little faces plastered in the door when I leave and come back every day has been beyond heartbreaking. B has especially struggled. And I now live in constant fear of someone being sick and what I am going to do (if you miss too many days - ie 2 - you get dropped from the course). I am so paranoid, that I have two daycares and a babysitter set up as back ups.

And least of all, this school is really hard! I have been trying to shift myself back into study/learning mode and maybe I am just too old, but it ain't working. I'm doing all right, but a lot of times it's by a wing and a prayer. I wish I had more time after class to study, but I have to get the kids by a certain time and I really hate leaving them at the day care longer than I have to.

So, needless to say, the times are pretty exciting right now. I told hubs yesterday, I feel like a dog in the corner trying to fight my way out. I am constantly on the look out for another glitch in the plan and constantly running scenarios for how I am going to deal with them, which makes for one frazzled mommy. Thank goodness it's only 7 more weeks. :/

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kid Count

So, I have always been confident that I wanted 4 kids. I’m the oldest of four children and I absolutely loved growing up with siblings. When I held T in my arms for the first time, I knew that he wasn’t my last baby. Even in the most challenging of times, I have never wavered in my desire.

Until yesterday. Let me set the stage…B is a poop smearer. When left to his own devices, he will, on occasion (I think this was the 4th time) go into his diaper and “paint.” It is truly one of the most disgusting things in the whole world. It smells, it makes me gag, it’s the worst. This was on top of a challenging morning that included at 5 hour round trip to our next duty station to complete some daycare paperwork where both children screamed the whole way. On top of not sleeping the night before because I am just super wound up due to all the upcoming changes and missing my husband.

So, when I woke from my 15 minute (15 minutes!) nap to find the damage that had occurred in that short time. I lost my sh!t. Completely and totally, I cried, I yelled, I broke down. And I thought to myself, I don’t want anymore children. I don’t even want the ones I have.

Now, I, of course, gathered myself, gave B a shower (a cold one is what the ped has recommended to break this behavior), and cleaned up the bedroom. But, I still didn’t even want to look at B, let alone creating another one to make things worse. After I got everyone to bed, I sat and thought and while I still want 4 kids, I don’t want to have anymore until I can count on J being home more, which is a while off. But more than that, I need to cut myself a break. I push and push and push and don’t rest because pushing makes the time go by faster, but I’m just asking myself for too much.

In the end, I just have to remind myself that it’s 80 days and that I just sometimes have to say no and take a break (but duct tapping B into his clothes first  ).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Long Overdue Post

What an absence!

Well, we have had an interesting month. We have once again said good bye to Dad and I am kickin’ it single mom style. As is our way, I have done my best to keep us super busy so it doesn’t feel so empty around the house. We have visited my parents and grandparents, been to the zoo, pool and everywhere else I can think of to keep us from moping around the house.

B is adjusting as well as he can to Daddy being gone. Fielding all the questions about where Daddy is, can we talk to Daddy, when is Daddy coming back has been really tough. I just want to burst into tears every time I hear them, but I know that I can’t. Between potty training and nap reductions, B is having a tough time. I can say with confidence, the boy is pee trained. He goes to the potty when he needs to and won’t mess in his pants. Poop is a whole different bag. We are still working on that one. He’s working out some issues that are affecting his normal sunny disposition. But, he still is a great little boy and wows me every day with how smart he is.

T is hands down the happiest baby I have ever met. Almost never cries, always greets you with a smile and just LOOOOOVES laughing and playing with his older brother. He really is a joy. Hearing him laugh at B acting a fool just warms my heart. He’s a solid food man now and I am already noticing a decrease in his nursing which makes me a little sad.

Needless to say, we have been moving and shaking. AND we have a huge adventure coming up in a month. I’ll be starting a school in Dahlgren for 10 weeks, so B, T and me will all be living in a hotel and the boys will be in daycare for that period of time. So, things will be interesting! And I am happy to report that it is only 93 more days until J returns!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Runnin' on Empty

I can’t believe there is already only a week left before J flies out to deployment again. We have filled the past two months with so much family time, vacations, appointments, and other junk that I am just plain pooped. Add in a baby would refuses to sleep and you’ve got one run down mom-mom (B’s name for me).

So, as a look at the next week’s schedule, I’m torn. Do I continue to run myself down cramming in as many family memories as I can to steel myself for the next 4 months or do I take a really good break and get myself as rested as I can for the next 4 months? In my head, I know that I need the break, the kids are going to eat me alive, but in my heart, I so love the wonderful moments we had these past two months and I can’t stand to not make just a couple more.

We really have had an amazing couple of months. We have reached so many milestones and the boys are starting to seem so grown up. B is potty-trained, sleeping in a big boy bed and speaking in whole sentences. T is rolling over, eating solids and sitting up on his own. What happened to my two little babies? We have seen B’s intelligence (and thereby naughtiness) blossom. Who would have guessed the child could correctly identify a tapir? And the most wonderful part has been seeing my two sons become ever so attached to their daddy. There isn’t a day that goes by where B and Dad don’t do something that just makes my heart melt. Last night, it was playing Rock Band guitars together and having a dance party. There is no where T likes to sleep better than snuggled up against Dad.

So, while it may cost me my sanity, I think that I’ll suck it up and keep running on empty to fill my heart and head with great moments that will push us through until December.

PS – Although it should seem way longer, 4 months seems like a drop in the bucket and I know it will be over in no time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Great Chore Debate

So, I’m pretty sure that all couples have similar issues, but in J and I’s case the “division of labor” debate seems to take up an inordinately large amount of our time. We have been engaged in a battle of wills for about a week now over who will take something upstairs (think Everybody Loves Raymond’s suitcase episode).

For us, we seem to be in a constant one up of who does more and who does more at work this earning them the right to do less at home. With both of us being in the Navy, we both have a pretty good argument. We both work really hard, so when one comes home, it’s tough to get it together to clean out the baby potty, cook dinner, and numerous other tasks that constantly are breathing down on us. I will openly admit that these issues have been a big issue in our marriage. We have weekly “business meetings,” where we try our best to lay out the tasks that are likely to be sticking points and assign them out, but inevitably, something always comes us that brings us back to who works harder.

So, who does work harder? It’s a tough answer. Yes, J is on sea duty and I am on shore. But, there are inherent things that only Mom can do (breastfeeding, anyone?), so even though I might be having an easier time at work (note: might), I still have stuff at home that I am responsible for. So what does that add up to?

As you can see, there’s no good answer. There is no quantitative way to figure out who should have what chores based on who works harder. So, we just have the same argument over and over again. Hooray! One would think that two Naval Officers, who spend their careers managing people, parts, and places could works this out, but no…we’ll argue who works harder until we retire, have no kids at home and then we’ll just find something else to argue about. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Potty Update

So, here we are, a week and a half post-done with diapers day and I have to say, the results are mixed.

First off, the boy has peeing in the potty DOWN. He’s had the past 3 days pee accident free (note the qualifier, more on that later). He willingly sits on the potty and goes without complaint. I consider him to be more or less trustworthy in this respect.

Poop, oh poop. Poop isn’t going so great. After an initial poop in the potty last Wednesday, we have had no success in that respect since then. There have been a lot of cute pairs of underwear lost to the cause. We’ve had some poops in diapers (which he HATES wearing now, BTW) that some how made it out of the diaper and on to the walls, which I have to say is the single grossest thing I have ever had to deal with as a parent. So, poop and B are kind of a mess (ha ha!).

I have to say, we are kind of at a loss for what to do. If we check him mid-poop, which we often do, we immediately take him to the potty and try and get him to go. He will immediately clam up and stop pooping and hold it until he just can’t hold it anymore and it comes out in his underpants or diaper. We are terrified of giving the boy a complex, so we are nervous about forcing too much on him at once.

What’s a parent to do? Right now, we are hoping for some miracle to occur and he will just get it. I know that he is young to be potty trained (2 years, 1 month), so I am trying to not get to wrapped up about it, but I feel like he could do it if he got over whatever the problem is. I just don’t know what to do.

But, to not end on a sh!tty note (ha ha again!), I have to praise my two children for some crazy recent accomplishments. B has finally grasped language. He uses sentences, he counts, he uses pronouns. It’s crazy, it’s like over the past month he just decided that he really wanted to talk and so he did. Nuts! And little T is unbelievable. He may just be the happiest baby I have ever seen. He laughs and babbles constantly, he loves to watch his brother. And most importantly of all (for me at least), he is sleeping through the night!!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Potty Wars...Day 3

Well, we are a solid three days into potty training…we’ve had some goods, we’ve had some bads.

He will go on the potty and use it. We are running at about 50%. He understands that when he goes on the potty he gets candy and treats and is very happy. We have been thoroughly encouraging and haven’t yelled at him at all (self control is waning though). We have started making him help clean up the mess when he doesn’t make it to the toilet. So, I think he gets it, on the potty good, not on the potty bad.

However, he has not successfully initiated any time on the potty. We have to remind him to sit on it and he will occasionally fuss about it if he is particularly interested in something else. He doesn’t always seem to realize that he needs to go, which leads to dribbles. Also, and this is the big stinker (both figuratively and literally), he hasn’t pooped on the potty. He has been waiting until we put his diaper on for nap or bedtime to drop the load, which kind of defeats the purpose. I’m sure at some point I am just going to have to suck it up and let him wet the bed, but man, I don’t want to clean that up.

Anyway, I feel like we are making progress, he is drier for longer and longer periods and we are going on the potty more and more. So, we are thankful for that of course, but it would have been nice if we had one of those kids who figured it out in a day. Sigh…

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Battle Begins

Well, we have set a very important date. On June 20, we are starting hard core potty training. It’s just time. There are just so many reasons. The poops are just too gross for me and J to take on anymore. Diaper cost with two kids is back breaking. Plus, B is old enough and has the understanding level to make this happen.

We have made a small foray into it. We have done a couple of afternoons in underpants and B does not like how they feel when he goes to the bathroom. You’ll hear “ew, gross” from across the room and find him standing in a puddle. He hasn’t gone on the potty yet, but he did pee sitting on a chair next to the potty (I personally count this as progress). He sits on the potty multiple times a day happily.

I have done a lot of research into this and it seems there are several camps, the 24 hour camp, the let it happen on its own camp, and the high level of encouragement camp. I am not one to let it happen on its own. I love my son, but it might be when he’s in high school when he decides to go on his own. So, although, I don’t think 24 hour training is in our future, I do think that after one concentrated week, we can get there. It’s amazing how many opinions are out there on potty training.

It’s especially promising because J will be home that whole week and B just loves to do what his daddy is doing. It’s amazing how close those two have become in such a short time. Although, J does discipline him more now, B is rapidly becoming Dad’s little clone. The peals of laughter that I hear throughout the house when they are playing together just make my heart melt. I really think that B will potty train quickly just to impress his Dad.

It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks go and I will report back soon on our progress.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Wonderful Life (Mostly)

Having Dad home has been absolutely wonderful. I can’t say enough how glad I am to have my husband home. It honestly feels as if a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I don’t think that I smiled as much in the past 9 months than I have in the two weeks since he has been home. My boys are just loving being with their Dad and there is no happier sound that hearing my son and my husband laughing and playing together. Just melts my heart.

But, even in the wonderful haze that we have been existing in, there’s still a lot of adjustment that has to occur and it hasn’t always been easy. First, the division of chores/diapers has been a sticking point. I have tried my best not to beat the “I changed every diaper for nine months, now it’s your turn” drum, but, darn it, I did and I should get a break from the poop patrol. Also, the constant bend over and pick it up dance that goes with my husband is getting a little tiresome (the man seems to just shed clothes, there was one day I picked up no less than 6 pairs of socks).

Discipline has been another sticking point. B doesn’t always see his Dad as an authority figure (although it is getting better), which drives J nuts to no end. So, he sometimes over disciplines to try and get his point across. Needless to say, B has been spending some serious time in time out lately. Presenting a united front has been challenging. Also, Dad isn’t a let the baby cry type which undoes a lot of the hard sleep training working I have been doing. So, we have had some “discussions” (read: whispered shouting matches) about child rearing.

However, in the long run, things have been great. We took an amazing trip to Disney which let us bond as a family of four (nothing like a plane flight for family togetherness) and now that we are back home, we have been meshing even more. Like, I said, I have had a permanent grin on my face and I know that won’t be going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

5 More Days!

I apologize for my blogging absence, but I have been caught up in a whirlwind of preparations for the hubs return. We just can't wait!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Just Plain Pooped

All I can say is that I am just so very, very tired. T is now over two months old and, when added on to the months of no sleeping due to itchiness, it’s been a long time since I have had a good night’s sleep. I know I really shouldn’t complain, T is a good sleeper, only up once a night around 2 or 3, but still, I daydream about when I will be able to sleep for 8 hours straight (something I fear may not happen for the next 18 or so years).

Add on to this not sleeping, working full time, single parenthood (only 2 more weeks!), and general nonsense and you end up with one tired lady. I keep trying to think of ways to streamline, but nothing realistically can be cut. J suggested switching to formula, but I think that might actually be harder (it involves water procurement, measurement, blech). The pups and kitties are getting seriously neglected so there really isn’t anything I can streamline there. B needs full time attention, the stuff I have found him eating lately is highly concerning, so I can’t let him out of my sight for a second.

I am sure that people who see me at work and on the street must think I spend my nights in the ditch. My hair can only be described as a hot mess, my glasses are broken, I constantly have spit up on me somewhere…motherhood just isn’t pretty. I constantly forget what I am supposed to be doing, I have left my keys in the front door multiple times.

But, the nice thing is, I’m really enjoying my life. I love the funny things that B does and watching just how darn smart he is getting (too smart sometimes). I love the great big gummy smiles and giggles that little T gives me. The puppies are being so well behaved and are B’s best buddies. The only thing that could make all of this better is the rapidly approaching return of Dad! So even though I live in a three ring circus and my appearance shows it, I can’t complain too much (I still will though!).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Little Caveman

I came to an interesting realization when B and I were battling last night. I was approaching him as I would approach an adult. I wasn’t really reasoning with him, per say, but I was expecting him to use logic that he clearly doesn’t possess. He’s nearly two and a boy (double whammy) and trying to get him to understand why he has to clean something up just wasn’t working.

I have to admit, B and I have really been at it lately. He gets frustrated when I don’t understand him or I won’t give him something that he wants. He responds to these situations by striking an inanimate object and making this horrible “aaannnhhh” noise at you. I have broken him of hitting people, but still he hits. He KNOWS that it aggravates me and will look directly at me while he does it. He has moments where he seems to be mad for no reason, just randomly striking out at things in frustration.

Anyway, last night, we were really going at it, it was bath time and B wasn’t ready to stop playing with this gear game he has. Here I was, directing him to do something, expecting him to understand that time was up, and he just wasn’t. He started throwing his toys on the floor and hitting the table. It was that moment I remembered a book I had read Happiest Toddler on the Block. In it, the author describes toddlers as cavemen (and women) that we as parents are supposed to civilize. B is a caveman. He language skills aren’t great, he is impulse and pleasure driven, and seems to have no higher level reasoning.

So, instead of battling and expecting him to make the decision for himself to behave, I simply picked him up and stated firmly that we were going to the bath and weren’t playing anymore. Sure, this lead to much crying and gnashing of teeth, but I wasn’t as frustrated and, in the end, the experience was much more pleasant all around.

Now, I’m no expert and certainly not parent of the century, but I sometimes think that parents (I am sure I do this) think too much of our children’s ability to reason and make decisions for themselves at such a young age. There have been countless times where I have seen parents trying unsuccessfully to reason with their cavemen. No more for this mommy, well at least not until he is older.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Back to Work!

6 weeks have gone by far too quickly and I find myself back at work. I have made it through 3 days so far and it hasn’t been horrible, but it hasn’t been great either. Thankfully, we have some big events upcoming (J coming home!!!!) that have made the transition a little easier for me. Having something to look forward to makes the pain of working a little bit less.

The biggest challenge I have had so far is settling back into my routines, both at home and at work. The morning is going fairly smoothly so far. Wake up, nurse, shower, feed B, leave. I have it timed out pretty well and can reasonably be out of the house within an hour, however, any hiccup could seriously derail me. Once I get home, it’s nurse again, then playtime, dinner, baths and bedtime. This 2 to 3 hour period is generally pure chaos. Last night, I intercepted B coloring on the walls with crayon, all I can say is thank God for washable paint! Someone is generally crying or angry at any moment, but we are getting better. I have successfully gotten both boys to bed by 7(ish) clean and fed, which is really all one can hope for. Then, I get all the chores done for the day and take a few short moments to watch TV or read before I fall asleep (if I make it to 9:30, it’s a win!).

At work, I am settling back into all the mess of a million emails and trying to catch up on all that has changed. We have some big events coming up that have kept me very busy to make sure I’m not the dodo. I have hit the gym 2 out of 3 days so far with the plan to get back there on Thursday and Friday. One bonus of J’s return is the supreme motivation to not look busted on the pier, so I have been highly focused on weight loss. I am hoping to be more or less caught up by the end of the week.

One of the most significant changes at work has been pumping. I drag in my pump every day and have had great success so far. I do three pumps a day, which matches up to T’s eating schedule at home. I don’t feel like my supply has lessened at all and it’s actually nice to not have someone hanging on me every 3 hours. I have to admit, it hasn’t been the horrible experience that I was expecting.

So, 3 days in, we are surviving. Only 33 days to go until Dad comes home to change all the diapers, clean up all the messes and give Mom a break!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back to Working Mom

The last few weeks have been a blur and now I find myself one week away from returning to work full time. It seems that 6 weeks has flown by and I simply am not ready. I mean, technically, I am ready. I have a freezer stocked with pumped milk, T will willing take bottles, the nanny has been here getting settled into her own schedule with the boys. But, I’m not ready to leave them yet. With B, I was at home for nearly 6 months (I was in school, never gone for more than a few hours at a time) before I had to go back to real work. This time, 6 weeks! This is compounded by the fact that I got my next assignment last week and it’s going to be tough and it’s back at sea. Like, mega tough, if I make it home while in port, that’s a win for the day.

At the same time, I am kind of ready to go back to work. I miss being intellectually challenged beyond block building and car racing. I miss not having to hear constant crying from multiple children. Most of all, I want a break from changing diapers. I enjoy my work for the break that it gives me, I know that I am a better parent not staying home.

But, it isn’t a good feeling to place your 6 week old in someone else’s arms and walk away from them. Last time, I felt more ready. B was stronger and more established. I didn’t check his breathing constantly while sleeping, I didn’t worry about how much food he was getting because he was already so solid. To me, T just doesn’t seem sturdy enough yet for me to head out. But, go back to work, I must. I’ll just have to enjoy these last few days at home all the more.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Time's Flying by TOO Fast

How can it be that I am already packing up newborn clothes? It just doesn’t seem possible that my little premature wonder is already outgrowing things. After the struggle to gain weight that we went through in the first weeks, it’s shocking to me how big my little boy is getting. He’s just like his brother, takes a little while to get going and then, boom, big time weight gain.

I have to admit, I got a little teary packing things away today (darn hormones). It’s just a reminder that those special first days are only memories now. Pretty soon, T will be crawling, running, wrestling, and generally driving me nuts like his brother. It’s very sad to me in a lot of ways. I have to admit, that so far, little newborns are my very favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love my toddler, but, to me, there is no better feeling in the world than when a teeny tiny little baby snuggles up against you. I love it. I love how he smells, I love the little noises he makes, I love all of it. I don’t even mind the late night feedings and the crying. Now, I admit, I have had two easy babies, no colic, no fussiness, generally go with flow kind of kids.

I am also struggling with the fact that my husband, his dad, has missed an entire clothing phase of his life and all that goes with it. He hasn’t gotten to smell his little head while holding him. He hasn’t gotten to snuggle up with him in bed. He hasn’t even had to change any diapers! I have no idea how J is holding up, I can’t imagine how painful it must be to have to know what you are missing. 49 more days!

But nonetheless, the feelings of longing for those little babies moments are already returning, even though I still have a little baby! I guess it’s just another sign that this won’t be our last baby, I hope.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I got that Itis...

Mastitis, that is. I am through it now (still taking antibiotics though) and, let me tell you, that was brutal! Probably the sickest I have been in a long, long time. I basically have two lost days where I was down with a mega fever, chills, and pain. Terrible, wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

It was rough not only from the being sick aspect, but I still had to care for my two little boys. Thankfully, I had help in town who was more or less able to run the house and take care of B, but I still had to nurse every couple of hours which really took it out of me. I made it through, and I will do everything in my power to make sure I don’t get that again.

I have to admit, I am not loving nursing the second time. I really didn’t love it the first time, but I slogged through 8 months because I know it’s the best thing for baby. This time, ugh, I like it even less. Sitting down every 2 or 3 hours just really isn’t in my time line. And T is a terrible, terrible nurser on one side (hence, mastitis), so I really have to focus on getting him to do a good job, making it even less enjoyable.

In some ways, I feel bad for feeling this way about nursing. There are so many people who tell you that they love it. They love communing with their child and could spend hours just staring at their baby. I cannot. I feel antsy the minute I sit down. I often read or search on my phone while I nurse. I know that I should be appreciative of the time that I have with him and my ability to nurse, but I just can’t sometimes.

Anywho, we are surviving. Our visitors are all gone (for now) and we have a couple of days on our own to try and get the routine settled out (what routine? It’s really a free for all). And, we are getting so, so close to homecoming, only 57 days!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Survival of the Fittest (this week has proven I am not)

This week has been all about survival. The transition from one to two children has definitely been fraught with challenges. I spend a great deal of my day in a zombie like haze moving from one diaper change to the next, one feeding frenzy to another, and generally, one unmitigated disaster to another. I can totally understand the saying that you aren’t “really” a parent until you have more than one kid.

Here are just a couple of the situations that I have found myself in since coming home from the hospital. Example one, both kids are crying because they want to eat, who has top priority? Sure the baby can scream louder, but B can cause more damage if left hungry. Current solution, feed B and nurse while sitting at the table with him. Example two, both boys wake up with poopy diapers at exactly the same time, baby has a blow out, B has on occasion gone inside his diaper, who do change first? Current solution, change baby while watching B like a hawk. Example three, B NEEDS to held while baby is nursing. Current solution, hold both, one nursing on one side, the other one hearing stories on the other side.

The concerning thing is that I have help right now, in a couple of weeks, I won’t, it will just be me. I know things will get easier. T is a good sleeper and is only up at night to eat so as he gets a little bigger, I’ll get more rest. And really, that makes all the difference in the world. B’s patience is getting better, still not good, but better. Also, I’ll just get the hang of this. Every day I feel a little more comfortable being the mommy of two boys, so I know that soon, I might just be confident. And, it’s only 66 days until J comes home, so the best help will arrive then!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Big Arrival

Well, we did it, J and I are now the happy owners of two little boys. In something of a whirlwind (I went in for an amnio, got told I was having a baby instead), we went from the controlled chaos of a single toddler to the sheer pandemonium of a toddler and an infant. Now, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, both of my boys have been better behaved than I expected, but there is certainly an added element of stress to everything that goes on in the house.

I won’t go into the gory details of the birth story, I was induced, it sucked, but I will talk a little bit about the minutes after. J had been calling throughout the day since he had received the “hey, having a baby” email in the morning. He was super supportive every time he called and really wanted to be as involved in the process as possible. At my lowest moments, he told me all the right things to make me feel better and help me through the labor. He called shortly before I began pushing and encouraged me and promised to call back soon to help me through the last bit. Well, due to a very short time of pre-pushing (they told me at least 30 minutes until he would be low enough, it was more like 5) and only 5 pushes, J wasn’t on the phone when the baby was actually born. He called about 20 minutes later. I was elated that he was only the phone congratulating me and speaking to his newborn son, but, at the same time, I couldn’t help but cry for all the things that he had already missed and would continue to miss for the next 80 odd days.

I felt very sorry for him in that moment. You could hear the strain in his voice as he told his son how sorry he was that he couldn’t be there and how much he loved him. I know that he has shed many tears thinking about how his boys don’t really know him and how he fears they will be afraid of him when he returns. I know how hard he works to stay connected to his family and how it doesn’t always feel like it works.

I wish there was some way I could bottle up these next few months and save all of the wonderful newness about being a parent again so that he could experience it too, but, alas, no such magic exists and pictures and videos can only get you so far. I know that my husband is doing important work and that he is doing the right thing, but I still can’t help but wish he was home to see and hold his new little boy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mommy Roadkill

Some days of mommyhood just don’t live up to the “best thing that will ever happen to you.” Some days the little crises, degradations, and just all out unfairness get the better of you and you really have to wonder what you have gotten yourself into. And it’s not just the children that you presently have, it’s the future ones too. Sometimes, they just all gang up on you and bring you down.

This occurred to me yesterday.

First, I’m over being pregnant. I have once again become a member of the “pee your pants” club. Any sneeze, too hard laugh, and sometimes for no reason at all leads to it. All you moms-to-be, panty liners are a savior. I include this in one of the dirty little secrets about pregnancy that no one clues you into. This wonderful group includes hemorrhoid pads (I picked up some Tucks the other day in preparation for the birth), not being able to cut your own toenails, and the thousands of other indignities that you get to enjoy along the journey to motherhood. Anyway, I’m over being pregnant. I itch constantly, my liver function sucks, and I have about as much energy as a three toed sloth. Thankfully, at most, I have two weeks to go. 4 March can’t get here fast enough (although it will probably be 25 Feb).

Second, my son. My lovely, wonderful, inquisitive son dumped an entire bag of shredded cheese throughout the house while I tried to chase him down to take it away. He grabbed it off the table while I was cleaning up from dinner and the rest is history. I have to give thanks for my dogs though, they did all the clean up with a smile on their faces. I may pay for it today, but yesterday, I couldn’t have been happier that I didn’t have to sweep. B, totally age appropriate, is a maniac. He wants to explore everything, high or low, near or far, if he can see it, he wants to figure it out. The fifteen minutes where he played quietly with his trains the other day was shocking. Generally, he is on the go at a high rate of speed for the majority of the day.

Anyway, once everyone was to bed (pups included), I enjoyed a quick bowl of ice cream and headed to bed myself (not to sleep, but to itch laying down). But, today is a new day. B may be wonderful today as he was this morning when he actually addressed me as mama, my bladder is behaving and I itch at only a minimum level. And if today gets the better of me as well, there’s always tomorrow.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crunch Time!

Well, the countdown is officially on. I got the news that I can’t carry past 38 weeks, so at the very latest on 4 March, the Betz family will be welcoming a new boy to the fold. I will be having an amnio to check for lung development on the 24th and, if ready, I’ll get induced on the 25th.

I was expecting this, but the shock is no less. That basically gives me 3 weeks to enjoy having only one child, to get everything ready, and to get myself mentally prepared. I have a plan of attack that breaks up a lot of the tasks (grocery shopping, cooking and freezing, pet prep), but still, there is A LOT to get done between now and then. And I can’t really do any of it right now, as my house is in shambles because we are getting several rooms (kitchen, living room, bedroom) painted.

The biggest challenge that I am having is the mental preparation. I can do all the physical stuff, purchasing and cleaning, but getting myself in the right mindset to have a baby again has been tough. First off, I really am struggling to face the fact that J won’t be there and that I have to labor with my mother instead of my husband (neither mom nor I are really thrilled about this arrangement). Now, J freely admits that he wasn’t exactly an “active” participant (he got the nurse when I started throwing up), but still he was there.

Second, I have gotten B to the point where he can do a lot for himself. I don’t have to feed him, I can let him play in another room on his own (thoroughly B-proofed, of course), and most of all, he can entertain himself. He plays with the dogs or cats, he plays with his blocks, he dances, he doesn’t need me there for every second. I can make dinner, go to the bathroom, do the laundry without a helper all the time. B and I went out to dinner last night and while not the most enjoyable dinner out I have ever had, we managed it relatively easily. I cannot imagine how we are going to do that with two. I really can’t. I can’t figure out how we are going to grocery shop. Heck, I’m still trying to figure out how to get them both in the car by myself.

Third, I just don’t know how ready I am to go through the no sleep, constant nursing, lots of poop cycle that I am headed into again. We have lots of help, so I know that things will be fine, but I have a lot more responsibility this time around. 5 pets that won’t understand why things are changing so much (last time, I only had 1 dog, J had the other 4). A little boy who has been the center of the world for two years. Plus a house that is doing its darndest to fall apart around me. There is so much pressure on me already that I just don’t know how I will add this additional responsibility on without going bonkers.

But, again, I know I am not the first person to do this and I won’t be the last. I have help. Family members will be with me for the first month, I have the nanny, we have people coming to clean. I can do this. Like the little engine that could, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Being Thankful

While I walk or work out, I listen to several different parenting podcasts to pass the time. My all time favorite is the Manic Mommies, who are working moms that openly and hilariously discuss the challenges of trying to “have it all.” Recently, they interviewed a couple who started a Thankfulness website that challenges everyone to be thankful for three to five things everyday and to log these things either with their website/app or in a journal.

Well, I have taken on the challenge. I feel like lately the pressure of an almost 2 year old, managing a household single handedly and being mega pregnant and super, super itchy has just made me miserable. I feel like I do nothing but yell and pout and complain. I haven’t felt to joy of everyday life in a while, so I decided to start logging things everyday that I am thankful for instead of always thinking about all the things that frustrate and upset me.

It hasn’t been easy everyday, I have already logged my thankfulness for naptime and baby gates several times. There have been days where I can’t seem to come up with anything until after B has gone to bed. There have been days were being thankful for anything feels forced, but I still took the time to sit down and write things down.

Looking back on my week or so of entries, I have also noticed small, special things that I had been overlooking before. B has learned 4 new words in a week. J sends me nice emails more often than I thought. The dogs behavior isn’t as bad as I thought it was. It was a real boost to see all the things that I have to be thankful for in just a week.

I’m not delusional, there are really, really tough days ahead. I fear that the day little NB is born will be both one of the happiest and saddest days I have ever experienced. The challenges of cholestasis are looming and the challenges of bringing a new baby home all by myself is even more daunting. But, if I remind myself of all the things there are to be thankful for, like rocking my little boy to sleep before he gets too much bigger, then we can make it these last 118 days.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Registry Politics

I received a very interesting phone call last night from Babies R US. A registry person called and asked if I wanted a personal appointment because my registry was missing some important items.

With our second boy on the way in less than two years, I am having a challenging time coming up with what we really need when it seems like we have everything. NB doesn’t need a stitch of clothing, I think there are some things that B never even wore. We have towels and sheets, baby tub, diaper genie, bottles, pump, just about everything. I am going to sleep with NB in the room with me, while B kicks it in the crib until J gets home (the logistics are really just much easier this way). So, that just leaves a stroller and some diapers. Thus, I have a pretty sparse registry.

BTW, can I mention just how darn expensive these double strollers are. It’s highway robbery! I really want a Phil and Teds for space, jogging, and convenience, but I just can’t stomach spending that much money. I know that I will ultimately, but it just stinks. Plus, I have to have a double for the nanny, so we really almost need two strollers (I WILL NOT buy two Phil and Teds).

Anyway, I digress, I kind of feel bad that this baby won’t have anything “new,” but then I remind myself that it really just gets barfed and pooped on AND they don’t remember anything anyway. So, it doesn’t really matter what they wear, sit it, play with.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Halfway There!

We’re on the downhill! Finally, after 131 long, long days, we are now on the backside of this deployment and the end is somewhat in sight. I mean, it’s still 131 days, but that’s way better than what we have been facing. Our countdown chain is finally somewhat manageable and I might actually be able to string it downstairs instead of keeping it piled up in a garbage bag.

It’s strange to think that in that short (ish) amount of time, B and I will transition from being a two person household to a four person household, first with the arrival of NB and then the return of Daddy! I am grateful that my son is a fairly flexible person (something I think that we have cultivated since his birth – what other 3 month old flies across country twice and moves across country). I think that he will adjust to these changes with relative ease.

My parents will be staying with us for the first two weeks after NB’s arrival and I think that will be crucial to B. My father, Grampy, is the single best person in the whole world to B. Old Grampy can calm the boy in a way that I have never seen. He doesn’t tantrum with him, he just loves him. We will also have some other visitors in the first month, so that should give B some much needed extra attention while Mom is otherwise occupied. Then, Dad comes home, and although I am sure that B will have no idea who he is, I am sure that he will quickly fall into a good relationship with his father.

The only beings I am concerned about having transition problems over the next few months are 3 little kitties and 2 puppies. None of the cats were living with me when I had B, they were all in RI with J, so they have never experience a newborn. Two of the cats have grudgingly accepted the existence of B, they hang out in high locations whenever he is about. One, Nosy Rosie, has really taken to B and loves to sit with him and be petted and even lets him pick her up. Lou, one of the dogs, was with me when B was born and really did a great job with him. I remember him running between the crib and me when they baby started crying. He would constantly check in the stroller when we were out on walks, just to make sure his baby was still there. Lou, I’m not so worried about. Sully, though, may present a problem. Sully is hands down J’s dog and may miss him more than anyone else. I already know he is going to have some jealousy issues. My plan is to get out on a walk every day (weight loss!) to try and help Sully adjust.

So much to think about and plan for! But, at least we are on the downhill!