Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Here We Go Again...Baby Sideways Stories...

I should have a belly picture of my giant ballooning sideways baby tummy but as these days I spend more time tracking my kids no selfie at the moment. Also if taken today my bare tummy would show evidence of a purple circle of a bite mark given to me this AM by my baby no baby M. Yesterday Z. kicked me. I'm not sure if they feel my vulnerability and are taking advantage of it for a power play or they just want ALL my attention or they are just plain pissed off but its got to stop. The kick - which has never happened before - came after telling Z. no to something and the bite after I turned my attention away from M. to his father. School, although only two days a week for Z. comes the week after next and not a moment.too.soon. for us all...

So, sideways baby R. I was so psyched when the scan a few weeks ago showed she was head down. I really thought this time would be different - and it still could be - but it feels just a little too familiar. I've felt so awkward these past few days and it's all because she's got her big head lodged on my right side, my centre of gravity is completely off kilter. I feel like I have to start doing the inversions again to realign her at least to breech for the comfort of the rest of my pregnancy because at the moment she doesn't feel like she's budging.

S. asked me this AM if I was okay about having another c-section, as if I have a choice to be okay or not if this baby isn't in position. But I am okay with it. I'm not scared, although after my last experience I have reason to be (the spinal failed and therefore my level of sensation during the operation went from uncomfortable to downright painful). But my first c-section was perfect and so I know that things can and do normally go smoothly for scheduled sections. I am most discouraged about the recovery of the surgery and not being able to be 100% directly after the baby is born and having to manage 2 toddlers and a newborn while sleep deprived and healing. I also although have let go my ideal water birth, etc., etc. at least hoped for a vaginal birth so that I could experience labour and all that comes with a normal natural birth and was hoping that if I was able do it perhaps breast feeding would be a little easier this time around as well as some women on the VBAC pages have noted. 

Whatever comes, comes. We can't afford to go through all the acupuncture, chiropractor route this time - not that it worked for me in any case - and I refuse to obsess about it like I did with my other two pregnancies. I will start doing regular inversions and should walk more and do more yoga in any case and whatever after that happens will happen. Our third and final miracle baby will get here however she is destined to we hope in the healthiest way possible for her and me whatever that may look like. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Birth Order...

As we inch closer to the due date, I start looking at my children with slightly different eyes knowing that soon enough their order will shift slightly or  M. will no longer be our baby. He is growing into being a stubborn, hilarious, cheeky toddler, following closely in his brother's path in some ways but also very much blazing his own trail. Between the two boys he was the shy one. No longer. This part of his personality is slowly receding as he basks in the spotlight of attention he gets from strangers whenever we go out. And in all fairness, much like me with my older brother, next to Z. who has been blessed with the gift of gab, it's not hard to look like the quiet one. But no one, would ever call me shy. Birth order. And the more confident M. becomes in communicating, the more he interacts with others. It's remarkable how much his vocabulary has grown in just a few weeks. He says full phrases sometimes in response to our questions to him as opposed to just one or two words. Of course his pronunciation will improve and he mixes up words or uses the sounds that the animal makes instead of the noun but we know what he is trying to say as he repeats a word or phrase back, no, no want yogurt, no, no want banana, I love you, here you go, hold me....

It's hard not to compare the stages your kids are at when they are so close in age and also both boys, but we really try not to. Because I see how different they are and the strengths that one has at one age another one might have a different strength. And of course Z. being the first benefitted from a lot of one to one time from both parents. And I remember the last major milestones both kids were waiting to achieve I was surprisingly relaxed about it. I knew M. would eventually walk which he did within a perfectly normal time frame (13 months) and Z. would potty train which he did beautifully much to our surprise at a relatively early age for a boy (2 1/2). More than having confidence in us and our amazing parenting skills (ha) - I had confidence in our kids and their abilities and knew they would get there when it was time for them.

Now, facing my last trimester with this little bean currently kicking me, I'm a little daunted, I don't know why, to be the mother of a girl. Like its going to be so different. I'm not sure what my hang up is, it's just an adjustment of mind. And the fact that I really didn't think I would be mother to a girl.  And I know I will take cues from her like I think I've been able to from my boys until now. Of course I don't always get it right and we have our off days and toddlers are complicated as their brains are still very much developing to get even the simplest of concepts sometimes but they deceive you into thinking that they know more than they do and then sometimes they do! Which just makes everything even more confusing.

Our parenthood journey is only just beginning. And I am trying so hard to enjoy it all and not beat myself up too much about the small things and let our kids be who they are with us cheering them on,  teaching them the best we can as their parents, feeding their body, brains and souls, steering them the out of danger to the best of our ability and letting them just be.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Brothers...

In London 2013 (photo by S.)

Our boys are as close as they can be without being twins. They are 17 months a part. Z. doesn't remember life without M. And M. never experienced life without Z. They antagonise one another. Love each other until it hurts. Wake each other up in the morning and from naps. Steal each others toys, destroy each others towers, wrestle, play, compete for our affection. Look for each other when they've been away from each other for too long. Kiss and hug one another for no reason other than they can't keep a part. Try to console each other when they are sad. Make each other laugh. Run and chase. Did I mention that they wrestle? Wrestle, run, chase, kiss, hug, hit and repeat. Z. can't wait to start school, he talks about it all the time. I'm going to school tomorrow he says. And M. is coming? I've tried to explain that he won't be coming. It will be the first time in their life other than M.'s brief hospital stay when he was a newborn that they have ever been a part. They are always together. They are brothers and their bond is enviable. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

It's the Final Countdown... Third Trimester Stretch...

This is how I distract my kids while I'm making dinner (aside from Peppa Pig).

I broke down and bought a vacuum cleaner. We needed it. I've been vacuuming the previous tenant's cat hair from the radiators. Lovely. My allergies have been really awful these days and now I know one more reason why...

Earlier in the week I met with my new doctor. She said I could take Claritin (although I still haven't). I liked her. I can't say that she was the doctor of my dreams but she listened to me and was open to all that I was saying about trying for a VBAC x2 which she is willing to help me to do.

The baby will need to be closely monitored during labor (the risk is that the c-section scar will tear) and I will have to have an iv which is what I was expecting but I can walk around during labor - although I wonder how much, considering how sensitive those monitors are. I had one on directly after the doctors tried to move Z. and I was lying still for an hour and there were still long pauses and times when the monitor didn't seem to work correctly. (In the UK a failed ECV isn't an automatic c-section directly after as it is in the States, they monitor the baby and then if all seems good they send you on your way).

I think if I do get to try for a VBAC - if they baby stays in position that is, she seems to be head down now according to a scan last week, obviously that can change but its the first time even at this stage that's ever happened - I will need to labor at home on my own for a while if I don't want to be strapped down to a table. However, my new hospital is a good 40 minutes away, so it's a fine line we'll have to walk so that I don't inadvertently have a home birth. I will try to start Hypnobabies again if I can as if I do have a natural birth I'd like it to be as close to my ideal birth as possible despite all the medical - necessary and unnecessary - precautions.

I am trying to be hopeful while still keeping an open mind regarding having a third c-section, given my past history (two breech babies who didn't want to turn despite all my best efforts). But as I start this last trimester I know it will go by so quickly and this time it really is my last pregnancy, I need to enjoy it, relax and celebrate no matter what the birth looks like. Because at the end it will bring me the third instalment of the chaotic insanity of love which is about to hit our house like The Cat in The Hat after a bad hangover.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Catching Up...

We're in a strange place right now (figuratively not physically, although looking at my lead picture it is funny how much wood is in this house). We have a lot going on, a lot to do, our to do lists are long,  we are constantly moving and yet the pace here is so different from London it feels like there are long stretches of time when we do absolutely nothing at all. Of course that's not entirely true but without so many of the stress and time factors of living in a big city (like commuting) all of the sudden time opens up.

I am trying very hard to keep writing regularly particularly here as a memoir of what is going on in our life right now because we are in the throes of it and can't truly appreciate how lovely our life is. We do but we're still in the worried stage as it's all new and money and there is so.much.to.do. I was thinking this morning that in London we didn't have big financial problems, we were on a budget sure and didn't lead an extravagant life once the kids arrived but we splurged occasionally and wouldn't think anything of treating ourselves to top restaurants once in a blue moon or having a pizza night out at our favourite pizzeria. But we were lacking time. I never felt like I had enough time with the kids or with S. and I wasn't satisfied enough with my work because of it.

Now I can't wait to get to work and I can be flexible enough with my work day when S. works at night to spend a huge amount of time with my kids. But we have other worries, so it's hard to be completely at peace with life when it's not entirely worked out yet how we do it, everything -its only the beginning. We have projects upon projects upon projects. Even furnishing this house is one big project. There is furniture to strip and paint, chairs to reupholster, chairs to re-weave, curtains to buy don't get me started on the sofa or the shelves for the kids play room. And it all takes a bit of time, effort and of course cash. Then we've got the baby coming!

It's all very exciting and S. said to me the other day, you know once everything is up and running and the baby is here we are going to look at each other and wonder what the big deal was. But it's like that with anything new right? Neither of us have ever bought a car before (save S. when he was 16 years old) so that was pretty much the biggest / hardest decision of our recent lives. Getting married, planning a wedding abroad, miscarriages, pregnancies, c-sections, raising toddlers, international move, applying for S.'s green card, none of it seemed to be as hard as buying that damn car - I kid, sort of - but now we look at each other and think what was the big deal? Reading that last sentence back to myself I think we've also been through my father's stroke, S.'s near death experience with a burst appendix, our children hospitalised as newborns - I have never gotten into that here as that is their story to tell not mine - but I can tell you S. and I have been through a lot together. And this, this life, our daily struggles now, here are nothing compared to what we've already been through. First world problems.

I've been slowly telling our friends from London that we are expecting another baby. And the reaction is always positive but you can tell that everyone thinks we're a bit nuts with all that we've got going on. And we are. And it's a bit overwhelming at times and also just perfect. And if not now when? And if we don't go for it and try to lay out our life the way that we want when we have the opportunity now how can we ever expect our children to believe us when we tell them to follow their dreams? We've got one phone between us, one computer, one iPad, one car, no tv (and haven't for over ten years) no toaster our broiler is working fine for now and no vacuum cleaner (the dusting, sweeping, mopping routine is damn near killing me so that's our next purchase) BUT we are living like kings...

Friday, 18 July 2014

My Mobile Office...

I took a conference call with a potential new client in my car the other morning. It was six in the AM but I still knew that I needed to be out of ear shot of the sleeping kids in case they woke and heard me. They woke up and couldn't find me and S. had to put a movie on. This wasn't the first time I've taken a work call in my car. I've created this, I know that I have, I mean I guess I have? They weren't always this clingy but now that I don't go to an office everyday they expect me to ALWAYS be there.

Z. starts school in September and we are considering if we can afford it, doing 3 additional half days at another preschool, as the local preschool is only two days a week. I also think that a babysitter a few days a week would be better for M. than to go to school yet and would also help me with the new baby when I have to pass her off for a phone call or when she's more than just a sleeping newborn down the road. But at the moment I need to escape the house every time I need to do work unless they are napping. And I can't run to the nearest cafe with my newborn. Which means M. will have to adjust to my being home but not being with him. Does this happen?

There was an article floating around Facebook the other day about a mom who was arrested in South Carolina for letting her nine year daughter play in the playground behind the McDonalds while she worked. I kept thinking that there was a catch to the story, like it was after dark or something. There was not. It just boggles my mind the lack of support there is in this country for families, working parents, single mothers. Particularly if you are a poor single mother, trying your best. How do families cope? How does a single parent cope without the proper support? Childcare is impossibly expensive. A woman working at McDonalds makes less than what a babysitter would cost per hour.

We are struggling with it all and have the advantage of being employed, having savings to fall back on and dividing childcare between us. But we can't move forward without additional help and we can't afford additional help at the moment. I need to add clients in order to afford the childcare I need to be able to grow my business but I can't do that if I have two toddlers demanding my attention all the time.

In my mother's generation there were so many stay at home moms in our neighbourhood that they created small playgroups. Let's say there were five children per group that meant that every morning save the one you hosted you had a couple of hours to yourself while your kid was at the alternate house having playgroup, to do your errands, housework, whatever you needed. And these were women who weren't doing traditional paying jobs outside of the house but keeping the family and home together. They also had babysitting groups and would alternate babysitting for each other's kids so that the couples could go out or whatever they needed to do. I found a lot of playgroups in London which are great of course to socialise the kids and get out of the house for a bit but it didn't help the mom who needed a couple of hours to herself even to unload a dishwasher.

We don't have a lot of screen time at our our house which I've mentioned before, we don't have a TV only our iPad and computer so we watch movies. And I feel badly putting a movie on for a distraction but sometimes it's impossible to do anything like unload the dishwasher, cook dinner, do a load of laundry, without resorting to it. I can't imagine how mothers without the resources I have cope. There is a lot of advice for parents on what they should and should not be doing and how modern parents are all ruining their kids but there isn't a lot of constructive information on how to cope when there isn't an alternative for burned out, overworked and unsupported parents. What am I missing?