On Being a Queen

I absolutely LOVE this blog post that I read this morning, about being the Queen of your own family. It is exactly how I feel most days (when I’m not pregnant, achy and sleepless). Read it if you’re a mom– it will truly brighten your day (or make you cry a little, if you have the– pronounced just like in Big Fat Greek Wedding– “hormone-eeez”).

Now, off to change a HUGE poopy diaper. Gregory has now stopped his playing 3, I count 3, times, to grunt and make “that face”. Two of them, he actually had to hold onto the furniture for support. Oh man. The joys 🙂

Teeth

I’ve wondered for a while why Gregory only has 5 teeth. Most kids his age have near complete sets!

I’ve also been dreading the “dreadful molars”. It’s made me wonder if the reason he hasn’t ever had any “teething” episodes was due to the fact that all of them have been front teeth thus far. I’ve heard the horror stories of kids waking up screaming at all hours of the night, wandering around the house whining, high fevers…we’ve only given him tylenol once in the last year, and I want to keep it that way as long as possible.

But I did a little investigating as I was brushing his teeth today…4 new teeth coming in, 2 of them, molars! They were already popped out to the point where I was able to make a tapping sound on them with the brush (he loves having that toothbrush in his mouth, so he lets me take my time!).

This is GOOD NEWS, people. We haven’t noticed any unusual fussies– in fact, he’s been in a great mood for the past couple of days! No fever, no waking up in the middle of the night. The closest we came to anything unusual this week was one morning when he woke up at 6:45 instead of his normal 7:30-8am time. And even that was explainable, since Janelle admitted that she and her friend who spent the night had been a little loud as they got ready for school that morning.

There HAS been an excessive amount of drool, but hey, if that’s all we have to go through to get these teeth in, I’ll TAKE it!

Logos Moi

I’ve been trying to write this post for an entire week and a half. Even now, I’m not quite sure I have the words to express something important that I really must say.

This entire pregnancy, I’ve been really really struggling with my thoughts. These thoughts are centered around fear, guilt and resentment.

I know now that when I’m pregnant, my main struggle is irritability. I have HUGE personal space issues, and having a baby kicking me nonstop greatly aggravates this tendency in me. Half the time, I want to scream and go sit in a dark corner and just be left alone. Irrational, but it’s really truly how I feel. I also know that pregnancy makes every.little.thing. seem like such a huge.deal. I have to work hard on an hour to hour basis, reminding myself to take things, even small things like another driver acting stupid, with one huge grain BLOCK of salt.

But what I was experiencing this time around was definitely different. More caustic. More pervasive. These thoughts definitely had me in their grip and would NOT let go. I have thought about them on an HOURLY BASIS (this is not a joke, I’m dead serious) for the past SIX MONTHS. Yikes.

What were these thoughts? I actually wrote them all out last week, in an effort to analyze and perhaps purge myself of them. I knew that I was going to confession on Saturday, so I wanted to get some of it out in the open.

These thoughts were all about my fears about becoming a mother of two. I love Gregory SO STINKIN much that ever since I got pregnant again, I’ve felt like he is getting cheated. Here is a small excerpt of what I wrote that day:

The first overwhelming feeling I dealt with was anger and resentment towards this new baby for already getting in the way of my relationship with Gregory. Those first 16 weeks, I was so sick, I could hardly stand being around him. So many smells, so much movement required…it all made me want to vomit. I missed G so much during that time. I missed playing with him, cuddling with him, spending all day getting to be his mommy. I was angry that something was getting in my way. My inability to keep producing milk for him after getting pregnant also made me sad– G would cry, wanting to nurse, but there was nothing there. I felt like he was getting the short end of the stick so much, and it made me hurt for him.

As I began to acknowledge these feelings, the guilt set in. How could I be resentful of this new baby, just for existing? It wasn’t his fault that my body and hormones were reacting in such a way! How could I be so evil as to resent a baby, especially my own baby?

That frustration melted away as I began to feel better physically, but it’s back every now and then, usually when I have no lap for Gregory to sit on as we read books, no energy to hold him for more than a few minutes, no ability to bend over 50 times to play catch.

And the guilt part never really went away. I still wonder if I will ever really love this baby as much as Gregory. A part of me thinks that I never will. Maybe it’s because with Gregory, part of learning to love him was learning how to embrace my new role as a mother. Now that I’ve accepted it, adding a new person into the mix doesn’t feel as monumental. I could be mistaking this lack of transition for lack of love.

Some of these feelings were getting additional air-time because I was noticing a difference in Gregory.

I know that he senses things are about to change. Last Friday, we went to a breastfeeding refresher course. Enough people around me, new and veteran moms alike, are having trouble, getting mastitis, etc. that I knew it wouldn’t hurt just to go.

The lactation consultant had us each hold a baby doll, practicing different feeding positions. Up until this point, Gregory was happy as a clam, playing with all the different toys in the room, smiling at all the other ladies. The moment I picked up the doll, however, Gregory completely freaked. Ran over to me, started whining, trying to crawl/claw his way up onto my lap, eventually resorting to cries. Later, after the instructor put the doll away by her chair, we found Gregory STOMPING on it! STEPPING ON ITS FACE. It was terrifying and so sad.

Remembering how wonderful those first few months were, makes me afraid that it isn’t really another baby that I want and feel nostalgic for– it’s that I want to have Gregory be a baby again, to go back in time and live through it again. Were these feelings somehow transferring themselves onto G?

So, as you can see, I was having lots of internal issues.  LOTS. Both my mother and Jesse will tell you that everything I’ve said here is completely accurate and made it’s way into every single meltdown I’ve had since August.

Unsurprisingly, all of this ick became the center of my confession last Saturday.

You know what I love? I mean, really really love about Orthodoxy? In all 5.5 years of going to confession, I have never once been met with judgement. Never ONCE been made to feel like a horrible person for my sin. Never once.

I have only been met with unconditional love. This is across the board, from 8 different priests, at 4 different parishes, 3 different jurisdictions across the United States! It’s not a one-time fluke. I truly believe that they are acting on God’s behalf, because I’ve met the same exact spirit of love dozens of times. God doesn’t heal us through guilt, and confession is ONLY about healing.

I don’t know about you, but I find that absolutely amazing.

Fr. Lawrence explained it best this time around. He said, “The only thing we are judged by now is Love. Once Christ came to earth and defeated death, there is no guilt. No condemnation.”

Anyways, all of this stuff came out. 6 months worth of fear and resentment.

And you know what? Fr. Lawrence never ONCE validated any of it. Never once said, “these feelings are natural and normal.” Because that would’ve been wrong. He wasn’t trying to make me “feel” better, he was trying to act as Christ and heal. And, sometimes, healing involves  shooting down lies, calling them out for what they are and blowing them to smithereens.

Instead, he immediately began talking about the logos moi, who I’ve heard about many times. Those thoughts that buzz around us like flies until they can find somewhere to land and take root. Once they take root, they are like a virus. They kill the person in order to multiply.

The mistake that I think many Christians make is to assume that these thoughts are actually from them, that they are part of our “fallen humanity”. But that is exactly what they want us to think, because they then get to stir up guilt. We think, “wow, how can I actually think that? I am so awful!” There is productive humility, and there is destructive humility, the kind that makes you think that sin is too great to ever overcome. The kind that lies in you for months, festering, because you feel too weak and too awful to conquer it.

There was a lot of other confessing that went on during that hour, but I cannot tell you how free I felt when I was done. Perhaps a picture or a poem would scratch the surface. Maybe a song. But truly, there is nothing else.

And you know what?

I have not thought ANY of those things since. For the first few days, I didn’t trust it. I couldn’t believe that a few hours had gone by and I hadn’t thought about how crazy hard having two kids is going to be.

A few more days went by. I decided, with much trepidation, to re-read all the thoughts and feelings I had written about the week before.

These thoughts, which had been so pervasive within me that I could’ve recited them verbatim, felt like they had been written by a stranger. They meant NOTHING to me. I can’t even describe how weird it was. Not a single one of them felt like my thoughts. Not a single one of them gave me even the slightest twinge of fear.

As I said, Jesse has been a front row spectator to all these thoughts and feelings, as he’s had to hear them, on and off again in various forms, for the past 6 months. When I told him that they were ABSOLUTELY gone, it shocked him into silence. Even he could not believe it.

I know that having two kids will be tough, I’m not blind. But I suddenly have no doubt in my mind that I will love Anthony just as much as I love Gregory. I am excited to meet him and not just eager to be done with pregnancy. It’s as though my heart and my brain got reconnected. Whatever Christ did to heal me last Saturday reunited those two.

33 Weeks

Getting so close to the finish line! I am super tired today, as G got woken up really early (7am), and I was up almost all night with achy hips and a crazy baby who would not stop rolling around for hours. I actually woke up at around 4am and tried to do “pelvic rocks” so as to make him “float” away from my ribs, but no cigar. Thanks, kiddo.

At my midwife appt. yesterday, I told her exACTLY, under no uncertain terms, where his butt, back, feet and head were. After a few minutes of feeling around, she looked at me and said, “Wow! You’re right!” Yes, I thought, I know it. I feel punches and sharp karate kicks under my left ribs and what feels like quite a battering ram of a head squashing my bladder ALL the time. Not to mention the fact that my belly is almost never symmetrical anymore…there’s just this BABY BUTT sticking out like a cantaloupe along my right side.

Gained another 3 lbs. these last 3 weeks, so that’s good news! Right on track. I still have another 7 to go before I get to what I finally weighed with Gregory.

hurry up, Baby Anthony....

Parenthood

Even if you don’t watch or like the show, I guarantee that this is one of the saddest 2 minute clips you’ll see on TV. So much is said in the last minute, but there is no dialogue, just terrific acting.

Maybe it’s just the pregnancy talking, but this makes me tear up every time I watch it.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/SnUwwv6KPU-ieh330tBGJw

Infant Seat vs. Convertible Seat?

I’ve been debating whether or not to try and acquire a new infant carseat for Anthony. We had one with Gregory, but it happened to be in the Corolla when Jesse was hit back in July. Instead of buying a new infant carseat to replace the old one, we used the insurance money to buy G a nice Britax that will last him until he’s ready for a booster seat.

The Chicco 30 is very highly rated for safety, so it was at the top of my list. Only...it's $160...

We still have our Combi Coccorro, which I received at my St. Seraphim’s shower. The problem with this carseat (we found in those first few days after the accident) is that it can flip backward far enough that the baby is almost upside down! Scary problem to have, to be sure. At that time in my life, I was way too overwhelmed (moving across the country, packing the apartment, fighting the car insurance battle, finding out I was pregnant, the usual stuff) to deal with the problem, hence, we let Geico reimburse us for a new carseat and didn’t think twice.

our Combi

Since then, however, I’ve done a lot more research and realized that we were installing the carseat wrong. Apparently, threading the shoulder strap back around the back through the intended clips keeps the carseat nice and snug. I found a couple tutorials on Youtube, and today, Jesse tried installing it in our Rav 4 with complete success.

The advantages to using the Combi over an infant seat? Well, there’s the obvious– we already own it, saving us at least $160. That’s a big plus. Secondly, it’s ranked highly for safety. Thirdly, in our smallish (in comparison to a SUV) backseat, there was no way we were going to be able to fit 2 carseats AND a third person comfortably…unless the carseat was pretty compact. We take my little sister Janelle many places after school, so this would’ve been a drag, to be sure. The Combi, however, is known for how compact it is, seeing as it is Japanese and made for economy cars. In fact, their “claim to fame” is that you can fit 3 of them in the back of a small Toyota or Honda! After installing it next to G’s big Britax, Jesse informed me that there was still room to comfortably carry a 3rd passenger. WIN!

But there are still some things that I loved about having an infant seat for Gregory. For the record: I am a huge proponent of baby-wearing. I plan on using a single stroller for quite some time, pushing G in the seat and “wearing” Anthony in a sling or wrap. I plan on wearing Anthony during the day while I do chores, play with G, etc. I plan on wearing him at church, in the grocery store, you name it.

In my experience with G, baby-wearing made shopping trips so easy and relaxing for the both of us– babies like being close to their mommas, what can I say! Happy baby=quiet baby=happy momma! G never had any colic or reflux, which is in part due to his constitution, but I wonder how much of it had to do with how much I wore him. Researchers claim that the absence of reflux and colic are two of the huge benefits to baby-wearing, so it could be…one of the ways that I established a nap schedule with G was to wear him for about half an hour. He got so sleepy (99% of the time) that putting him down for a nap was a piece of cake.

But there were times as we were out and about when I just wanted/needed to set him down, and the infant seat was perfect for that. For instance, when Jesse and I went out to eat, it was nice to be able to set him in the carrier and rock him to sleep. There were also times, as he got older, when wearing G (especially in church!) was too much stimulation and kept him from napping. It was very helpful to be able to go somewhere darker, put the shade over his face, and rock him to sleep. Also, a portable bed for nights out with family would be nice.

So, I’ve tried to come up with a way that I can have a portable baby seat on hand in the car for these types of situations. So far, this is the best one I’ve seen:

It rocks or stays still

It folds flat for travel! This would be a great feature so that it wouldn't take up much room stored in our trunk

It even turns into a toddler chair! Gregory would LOVE having something like this. Whenever one of the carseats is sitting in our living room, he uses it as a chair and reads from it!

I don’t know, is there something better out there? Anybody? I’ve also considered the Fisher-Price Rock N Play Sleeper. Opinions?

toughening up…

sigh.

There are days when I wish we hadn’t picked such a tough MA program. As of yet, I haven’t heard of an MA program that requires 1. a language comp. test, 2. a general comp. test, and 3. a 45 page thesis paper. I’ve heard of programs that require #2 or #3, with a general language requirement maybe, but never all 3.

Then again, I think I need to toughen up. This program has been a HUGE blessing to me, especially as a teacher. For instance, the Latin requirement (for the record, I could’ve picked German or French): when I teach my kids vocabulary, I don’t need a textbook to remind me of what the important prefixes and suffixes are. I know them from Latin, and I can easily guide the kids through what they’ll need for the SAT. Also, studying a language for this long has made the intricacies of grammar my everyday playground.  When they ask why something is written incorrectly, I don’t have to settle with saying general things like, “well, it’s awkward sounding!” I can instead elaborate, showing them, for instance, how their relative clauses don’t line up with the noun they are referring to. I can teach them the distinction between the subjunctive and indicative, which is something we hardly ever discuss in the English language.

sigh.

But it’s sooo much work. I’ve now clocked around 15 hours of translating, and I am only a 4th of the way done with my 500 lines that I have to prepare. It’s maddening to think that he’s only going to pick 20 of these to test me on.

Also, did I mention that I am not allowed a dictionary on the test? I need to memorize EVERY verb, every noun, every conjunction, in all 500 lines. That amounts to around 10,000 words. OHMAGOSH.

But really. I’m grateful. Seriously. This torture, in total for all 24 units, has cost me less than one semester at Biola did.

Then again, it’s torture that I PAID for…as a general rule, I am only going to undergo this type of thing again if someone is PAYING ME to do it!

 

Maternity Photos, 31 Weeks

Okay, I promised a few photos, so here they are!

This is my favorite grin of his 🙂

Tickling G

Wherein G throws one of Anthony's baby shoes at the camera 🙂

the epitome of our family dynamic

"Kisses for Gregory!"

G literally INSISTED with much screaming that he be the one to walk himself down the dangerous stoney hill (actually, now that I say this, I see that this picture was taken at the base of the hill, when we'd almost reached the park...I'm not THAT overprotective, really...)

G's outfit, brought to you by Baby Gap and Converse, was all bought at a garage sale for less than $1...kid you not!

For the record, G was not supposed to be in ANY of these pictures. He simply saw the camera and kept jumping in. I have to say, I'm grateful he did-- he's too precious!

31 weeks

I couldn't believe it-- he actually gave Anthony a hug on command!

This is when he REALLY started to ham it up for the camera, giving me lots of "awww!" hugs

I just LOVE this preppy sweater of his that we got for 50 cents at a garage sale!

16 Month Letter

Little Boy,

Every day, you remind Momma again and again that you are turning into a little boy and are no longer a baby. It makes her a little sad (okay, a LOT sad), but it’s also so exciting!

The biggest way you are growing, in leaps and bounds, is in your language development. We never taught you any “baby signs”, and yet you are so good at communicating what it is you want from us. You say things like, “joos” for juice and “crack-uh” for cracker. You string together words, saying things like, “Mama, boo?” if you want to read a book, or “Dadda, ball?”. Just yesterday you walked up to a stack of bananas on the counter and said, “Bellah-buh-buh?” over and over again, interjecting, “Plee? Plee?” in your oh-so-polite-and-desperate way. You are so good about saying “please” before everything, and you are even better about saying, “Dak-doo!” (thank you) when you get it. Sometimes, when Mommy or Daddy is eating, you come up and lick your lips incessantly, saying, “more? more? plee?”.

Even though you are getting so many words under your belt (Mommy can’t even keep track of how many words you know now! Dozens!), there are still times when we don’t know what you want. You jabber away, using hand motions and your cute little voice intonations, and we run through the list of usual suspects. “You want num-nums? Ball? Book? Outside?” You grunt angrily for each. When we get to the “right” one, however, you shout, “YEAH!”

Your Grandma was sitting at the computer the other day when you came up, jabbering. She ran through the “list”, but none of them fit the bill. She tried again, but you were just so frustrated that she didn’t understand what you were “saying”. Finally, you grabbed her hand and led her to the doggie’s crate, where she was napping. Grandma let Claire out, and you two frolicked and played for the longest time. It was obviously what you’d been trying to say!

Your joyful “HI!” and soft, “bye-bye!” are two of my favorite words, especially when you wave or give “cuddles” to go with it. We have so many pictures of you hugging (ie. squashing) the doggie…

Physically, you were 23 pounds at your appointment last week. That’s definitely in the 25th percentile! Way to go, Little Man!

You are so very athletic. We raised your little basketball hoop up another notch, and you can still make baskets. You’ve even established some pretty good shooting form– often, you only use one hand to guide the ball, and you are getting some pretty awesome back-rotation, just like all those NBA games you stare at on TV. You’ve started bending your knees and getting into it. Mommy and Daddy can’t wait until you jump! You also catch bounce and chest passes with ease. The day after the Superbowl, Mommy could toss the little football at you and you’d catch it while running!

One of your favorite things to do is to read books. You know so many animal sounds now, including “ROAR!” for the lion and “Hoo-Hoo!” for the owl. Sometimes, Mommy can entertain you in the car by practicing different kinds of doggie barks back and forth! Your favorite book is “Goodnight Gorilla”– your eyes get SUPER wide when we get to the part where the zookeeper realizes all the animals came home with him, and sometimes you shout, “Woah! Woah!” in anticipation of that particular page. When we get to a page with trains, you say, “Choo-choo!” and pump your fist downward. You also know how to put shaped pieces into puzzles!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, has noticed how socially comfortable and well adjusted you are. Unless it is late at night, you are just happy to be hanging out with people. You smile and expect people to smile back. You have no problem running away from Mommy and jabbering with strangers. You are especially fascinated by other kids, especially girls who are older than you (hmmm…). When we take you to Daddy’s high school basketball games, you have a special “fan club” of about 15 different 7th and 8th grade girls who fawn all over you and play “ball” with you at the end.

Since you are obsessed with body parts right now (especially with your belly!), we go through the list a few times each day. You can point to your ears, eyes, hair, nose, tongue, belly and especially your “pee-ee-ees!” (piggy toes). That one is definitely your favorite 🙂

Your naps are a bit of a mystery to Mommy right now– you still take one, 99.9% of the time, and it’s usually exactly 3 hours after you wake up in the morning. The length is what’s perplexing– sometimes it’s a 2-3 hour power nap, sometimes it’s only 1.5 hrs. Occasionally we can sneak in another 45 minute nap at around 3pm to help you make it to your bed time at 6:30pm in one piece. When we do put you to sleep at night, however, you STAY asleep until 8am the next morning. It’s wonderful and keeps you healthy and happy, but it’s also sad, because Mommy and Daddy miss you terribly by the time you wake up, 13 hours later!

You have still not been “sick” since you were 2 months old. You have a tiny cough right now that’s been fading away since you woke up. A few days ago, you had a slightly runny nose. But that’s it– one super healthy kid! Also, we detected another tooth– your fifth!– that’s grown in on top. The only way we know you’re teething is by alllll the excess drool…

In just 8 more weeks, you will be our “only baby” no longer. While that makes Mommy sad, she knows that you will have so much fun playing with your little brother someday. You are such a sweet and loving kid, and I hope you’ll rub off on him 🙂

Love you tons,

Mommy

32 Weeks!

Yesterday was the 32 week mark.

For comparison’s sake:

32 Weeks with Gregory. See how well rested? Le sigh...

OOOh.so.tired looking....yes, folks, that's what being pregnant while chasing a toddler is like!

I’ve come to find that my babies like to stick straight out! People keep asking me if it’s a girl, because I haven’t “spread”. I guess there are different shapes to baby bellies? Mine is the type that is narrow side to side, but sticks out further than usual.

32 weeks is tough, but with the help of my chiropractor (I love that lady!), I’ll make it through. Definitely got some serious heartburn issues. Morning sickness comes and goes. Anthony doesn’t kick anymore, just mOVES and strETCHes all the time. It’s more uncomfortable than the kicking was, I’m afraid. He decides to put his heel right underneath my rib cage. While he stretches out, little by little, I’m like, “ow, ow, OWWW!” just praying that it will subside soon. I can actually see opposite sides of my belly bounce at the same time while he stretches– one side, I presume, is fists, the other is feet.

Oh yes, and SO MANY Braxton Hicks contractions. I’ve decided to only count the ones that wrap around my entire back and make me stop breathing normally. Is that okay?

Praises: No swelling and no stretch marks…yet….knock on wood, right? Did I just jinx myself?