Thursday, June 13, 2013

The moments that really, really hurt

My children are awesome.  I'm saying this partially because it's 3pm and they are all currently peacefully napping in various parts of the house (none in a bed for some reason), and if you'd asked me an hour ago when everyone was melting down I may not have used the word "awesome" to describe them.  But they are.  They are awesome. 

P is growing taller, getting stronger, becoming more and more a young man.  My clumsy, gangly first grader is now become a well coordinated and sturdily built second grader.  He was laughing in the car over something and when I got him to calm down I found it was a funny part he'd gotten to in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."  I've never even read it, me, with the English degree, but the kid doesn't want to put it down.

Ambrose is silly and giggly and so, so very proud of his accomplishments.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and enjoys cuddles now more than ever.  In quiet moments he'll calmly start some of the silliest little conversations rife with 3 year old logic and it's all I can do not to fall over laughing hysterically.  Do I see the hair on his legs?  That's big tall man hair, and when he's all grown up ("like 7 or 5 or 10 or something") it will be so hairy like daddy's. 

Cosi has just cut her 4th tooth with seriously no fanfare.  She's such a chill little person, takes a lot in stride... if I'm there.  Sometimes if daddy's there too, but really, it's alllll about mama!  She has set up her own wonderful schedule that is easy to accommodate, and my word is she fun!  Not yet crawling but moving all over the floor, rolling, pushing backwards, pulling up, pushing back to seated, grabbing toys, sometimes flipping to her back and using her pudgy legs to push herself along the floor on her back toward her destination.  She's adventurous and vocal and I can't help but laugh at the very un-princess like noises that protrude from her smiling lips.

My children are awesome and fun and they fill me with joy and pride.  I enjoy discovering with them and playing with them and reading to them and learning with them, and honestly I feel like every week or so they just get easier.  A little more compliant, a little more compatible with each other, a little more trustworthy, a little better at sleeping.  Oh, my, I am so excited by the changes I see.

And yet....  it's been harder recently in a way I wasn't expecting.

It used to be when it was just the boys and I that people would typically pick up on the fact that they were "with" me, if not on the fact that I'm there mom.  They'd see a boy or two running around and then see the person near that child or talking to/at that child and they'd put it together.  No prob.

Not since Cosi.

No, now I have a baby that looks like me and this seems to negate my relationship with the boys in a lot of people's eyes.

I'll be walking with them and people will take their hands like I don't exist and pull them off to try to "help them find mama."  My child slips and falls and people push past me to pick them up, dust them off, then won't move so I can get to them since they don't register that I'm the mom.  Someone comes to shove their face into C's face and go nuts over her "pretty blue eyes!" and when C's adorable 3 year old brother comes over with a smile they nudge him away, thinking he doesn't belong with my family (oh, the look on my son's face, suddenly invisible to the strangers who used to swoon over his own pretty eyes). 

We'll be having a great time as a family then someone will come over and ask me if my children are lost.  Or someone will tell my child to go to his mom, the random black woman across the way.  Or tell me that they didn't see anyone with my kid and they were worried he was all alone, when I've been beside him the whole time.

Total strangers are no longer perceiving us to be a family.  Having a Caucasian child who is younger has totally thrown off people's perceptions.  And it's driving me nuts.

Certainly we had issues like this before C was born.  The time P was close to me at a toystore playing with a toy in their freeplay room and the employee who had been talking to me saw him, changed tones, and told him to leave before she called security (I was happy to see them close soon after).  He was 6 then.  And numerous occasions of "is he lost" did happen before, admittedly.  My favorite?  The time Ambrose ran off from me at the kids museum, I was looking for him, he was looking for me, and until I personally found him none of the other parents who were helping him look figured out that I (the white woman looking for her child) might be the mother of him (the black child looking for his mama).  Painful, and a bit scary.

Before becoming pregnant I had pretty much gotten to the point where I never wanted to be pregnant.  I was so, so worried about what a biological child's presence might do to our precious sons.  I am more than delighted that C surprised us and joined our family, and really 99% of the time my family is treated the same as everyone else's.  If people have thoughts they are often kept to themselves, and really most of the time anyone says anything (like the "is he lost?" comments), they are trying to be helpful and always apologize for being presumptuous.

The most painful comments, arguably, aren't those coming from people who don't know that we are a family.  They are the comments coming from people who know full well that my boys are my boys, that they are my sons, my REAL sons, and that my daughter is their sister.  These comments are the sort that I had hoped never to hear.  It's one thing to have a stranger ask "do you have any of your own?" and another to have someone who knows your family exclaim, in front of your children, "you finally had one of your own!"

My heart hurts for my boys.  It hurts because they are my own, they are special and loving and wonderful, and they should never, ever have some idiot comment make them second guess their place in our hearts and in our family.  My heart hurts for C, too, since I can see the incredible love she has for her brothers and I can only imagine the guilt she may find herself feeling one day over this, over how her brothers were treated simply due to her presence.  None of my innocent children deserve that.  They don't deserve to be pushed aside.  They don't deserve to be treated as a Chosen One with unlimited expectations and relatives laying claim to who they are.  They are all just tiny little people who need love and acceptance, equally so. 

I am trying to look at the positive.  So, so many people *do* immediately see us as a family, and for many who know us the birth of our third child was treated like the birth of any third child, exciting but not the same as a first child. Much of the time we're a regular old boring family and I'm so okay with that.  It hurts when people say things that can harm my children's sense of worth, but at the same time, how would a family such as ours have been treated, say, the year I was born?  Or the year our parents were born?  As much as I wish for further progress, I do have to step back and give thanks for the progress that occurred already before our time.  That our family can exist at all, that we can eat at the same table, swim at the Y together every week, play at the park together and the vast majority of the time no one says even one thing negative about it. 

We've come a long way.  And we are moving even further all the time.  Just hoping that by the time my children are my age these comments are just a distant memory of a place less civilized than the world they will inhabit. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Little Hands...

Sometimes, like now, I look at the tiny little girl sleeping in my lap.  Oh, she's getting big, growing strong.  17 pounds, five months, sitting up, babbling.  But she is, in reality, so very very small.

I hold her little hand, small, soft, warm, pudgy.  I hold it and I fiddle with her fingers.  When she's awake she'll grip me, grab toys, reach, play.  But asleep she is a little warm lump.  Her hand is limp and maleable and I play with those fingers.

And I wonder.

What will these hands hold? 

In the immediate future I see toys, books, sand, sticks, and very soon small bits of food.

But what else?  Crayons, pencils, markers.  Books, phones, computers.  Tools, instruments, flowers, and the branches of a tree worth climbing.  And other hands, lots of other hands.  Her parents, her siblings, her extended family, her friends, and one day her loves, her spouse, her own child. 

I hold my daughter's precious tiny hand and realize that it will grow, slowly but surely.  It will grow and lengthen and harden, and one day it will be as my own hand.

Her eyes, still blue despite my expectations, are so bright, so happy, and as many point out so beautiful.

What will they see?  Toys, books, brothers, places, food, animals.  They are small now and their scope is small now, but one day they will be the eyes of a young woman and they will see the world. 

Her feet are tiny and rounded, not yet walked upon, but one day all too soon they'll be running, strutting, walking, dancing. 

The boys are no different, just a bit further along their path.  They are getting bigger, their experiences more varied, their world more interesting.  One is discovering social interactions that I cannot be there to aid with, learning not only how to spell complex words and subtract two digit numbers, but also how to interact with the wider world around him.  Another is coming into his own childhood, learning his letters, learning to sit, learning to listen, exiting that first infantile phase of life to begin breaking off into the next level of growth.

It's sad and exciting and wonderful and worrying.

And it is going so, so fast.

One day they will be adults.  I am sure they will retain a bit, or a lot, of their current personalities.

My first child, the perfectionist,  the boy who needs to know everything about everything, the child with great loyalty.

My second child, the one who wants to make people laugh, the one who makes friends easily, the one who cuts loose and runs free and jumps and dances and screams, the one deeply concerned with people around him.

My third child, so sunny and happy and calm, interested in this great wide world, happy just to sit and watch, and full of laughter and light.

They will be so different when they grow up, but as their mother I'm sure I'll always see the similarities to their childhood selves.  So many places they'll go.  So many things they'll touch.  So much they'll see, do, hear, play.  So much promise, so many journeys ahead.

But for now they are my sleeping children, safe in our home, resting under their parents' watch on a quiet and calm Sunday.

Monday, February 25, 2013

So little time...

Seriously, life with 3 is fun and wonderful and exhausting!  We're loving it, but also looking forward to a bit more sleep and a steadier schedule.  You know, someday.  For right now, there's a cuddly warm baby to hold.

A BIG baby might I add.  This girl jumped 2 clothing sizes in under 2 weeks, and is now sitting pretty in 9m clothes, with some 12m in there.  She won't be 4 months old until next week.  She has an average sized head, pretty average legs, arms and feet, and a huuuuuge long torso!  Due to her relatively small head size, she has great neck control and has since very early on.  She sits with assistance, loves to pull up to stand, flips to her side, and detests tummy time though she'll put up with it sometimes if there's a toy to lick and/or a mirror in which to stare.

Ambrose is adjusting, with tantrums and loudness and general Ambrose behavior.  We did have the boys in the same room together at night but we've taken a week+ break from that, so we can all get a bit more sleep before trying again.  We kinda need that nursery at some point soon, but if we need to keep Cosi in our room for another year so we can all get sleep at night so be it.  Though I'd rather she go to the nursery at, say, 6-10 months, somewhere in there :) 

A knows his bit letters and several of his little letters, and knows a few of the number by sight too.  He's still counting 1-20 with 13 and 15 omitted, just as he's been doing this past year.  He's recognizing many words now, though not spelling any out.  And today?  He wrote a few As.  Like, real As.  We clapped, it was awesome :)

P is huge and great and sweet and completely in love with his baby sister.  Like, he would give up everything in the world just to sit and sing silly songs for her and clap for her and hold a smile for 20 minutes up in her face so she can study him.  Seriously, this girl could not ask for a better biggest brother!  He's reading so very well and writing well, and he's making great plans and doing great kid things.  Seriously, after years of rages and behavioral issues and fits and worry and counselors of different sorts and laying awake at night worried for this kid... he's seriously like just a normal kid now.  Yeah, we need to still monitor him closely.  Things like sleep, water, good food, and fresh air, while general requirements for most if not all children, are absolute requirements for him and any upset in their balance can lead to hours of anger and angst.  But he's doing so much better and at this point he's catching himself, helping himself, and learning to regulate himself.  He's such a smart and kind soul and he's driven to do good things for others.  I can now easily and clearly see him growing up to be a very, very great man :)

Not too much else to report, or maybe too much little stuff.  Not enough sleep, trying to eat healthy but it's hard this time of year, adjusting to a new little person and 3 children's vastly different schedules, just lots of adjustment going on over here.  And a lot of outside time and a lot of play time and a lot of fun too! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Where is the time going?

Short and sweet here:

-Cosi is 2 months and incredible.  12 lbs 14.5 oz, 24 inches tall/long and her teensy head is now 15.5 centimeters.  That puts her at 80th, 97th, and 80th percentiles respectively.  She smiles a lot, sleeps well at night, eats like a champ, mimics our speech, plays gently on the floor, and can amuse herself for a long time just by looking at things.  Seriously, she's amazing!  And yes, I'm a bit in love, haha!  Jury is out on her hair color which I swear looks different every day and in every light.  Blond eyebrows now, lighter than the orange of last week, and from the brown up until then.  Her hair looks brown but sometimes it looks red.  Her eyes are still a gorgeous blue but so were mine until 6 months, when they became the green/hazel I have now.  It's a bit of a fun guessing game :) 

-Ambrose is now sleeping in the same room as Paxton, is pretty much fully potty trained with a few night accidents a week, is learning his little letters and knows all his capital letters.  He's moving past the regression we saw immediately following Cosi's birth.  He's also her favorite person.  I'm about to register him for preschool this Fall, 5 mornings a week.  Wow.  He'll be totally psyched for it!

-P just got his assignment for 2nd grade.  I can't believe I'm going to have a 2nd grader this year!  And then he'll turn 8... I swear I judge how old I am by how old he is!  He's reading up a storm, is obsessed with the Titanic tragedy, and isn't so happy about A moving into the same room as him.  While A is pretty much past the regression, P is moving into it (and hopefully moving right back out!).  At least he's old enough to talk to one-on-one and he'll agree to certain terms and things.  He's a very logical boy, this one, so negotiations are pretty easy.  Except for the magical bits, like "well, I don't like that so I'm going to build a time machine and go back and change that."  I actually had to explain time paradox to the kid, and he decided he would take all of civilization along with him ("It would be a very big time machine.") and once he'd altered time, he'd bring everyone on Earth somewhere wonderful.  Okay, sounds good!  :) 

Not too much else to report.  We have a new shed, money is tight but getting better, I'm already starting Spring cleaning, I've started to exercise again, it's in the 70's today and gorgeous, I'm enjoying dressing a girl waaaay too much and spend too much time staring at cloth diapers and baby carriers online.  Life is good.  Especially with a quiet sleeping baby on my lap :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Falling in love

For some reason, what with her growing inside of me for so many months, I was kind of expecting the bonding process to be different with Cosi than it was with P or A.


Not that I'm worried this time around :)

With Paxton, there was love.  Lots of love.  Lots of hope and anticipation.

But we didn't bond right off, or rather, *I* didn't bond with *him* right off.  His bonding to me is another story, though we were exceedingly lucky in that he certainly did bond with us despite the many challenges there.

I expected a lot of immediate love and this sudden surge of emotion and, well, no.  That didn't happen.  I'm not a huge emotion kind of girl.  I'm the sort of person who eases into things: routines, relationships, love.  It takes me awhile to wrap my head around a whole new exceedingly important person, a now permanent fixture within my life.  That's not to say that I'm indifferent at first, oh no.  I would have died to protect him, I rushed to him countless times when he made noise in the night before I even woke up, and I had the greatest joy playing with him, taking pictures, dressing him, caring for him, etc.

But it was nothing like the Mother's Love.  That love?  It blew me away.  The first few months I would care for him and love him and enjoy him, and then suddenly there was this month-long period of bonding that was so incredible and wonderful and heartbreaking and painful and joyous and explosive and, well...

It was like every day I'd look at him and be even more in love.  Every night I'd feel sad as I said goodnight and left him in his room, since I wanted to be near him, holding him, feeling him, smelling him, just basking in his glorious presence.  It literally felt like my heart was exploding with love, to the point where it physically hurt sometimes to love him so much.  It reminded me of the grinch at the end of Suess's famous tale, with his heart growing and growing and growing.  It was like my heart could not possibly contain all my love for him, and so it physically had to increase in size.  Whereas before this period I had a whole world outside of him, suddenly my existence and his became inseparable in my mind.  He became a part of me then.

The same thing happened with Ambrose.  Oh, I loved him, my word did I love him!  I cared for him and smiled at him and would give anything to keep him safe and make him happy.

But a few months in once that bonding period hit... it was the same thing all over again.  Weepy when he wasn't with me, joyous to the point of pain when he was.  Every day thinking I couldn't possibly love anyone more, and the next day finding that I loved him even more still.  And then, his existence was a part of me again.  While we had been happily living as a family of four suddenly we were A Family of Four.  It was on a whole new plane.

So here I sit with my sweet, squishy, third child in my arms.  I love her.  My word, do I love her.  But thing is, I'm still adjusting.  I'm still having to remember to say "kids" instead of "boys," still learning to use the word "daughter" and "girl" and "she" and "her."  I'm still learning to make her name part of my daily vocabulary, still having to remember that I have three kids and not two.  Oh, I'm not forgetting her anywhere or delaying in meeting her needs, it's just that while her presence is exceedingly important it is not deeply, deeply ingrained in my psyche such as to be a part of my existence.

I guess in a way I'm just sitting around waiting.  Waiting for that painful and wonderful bonding period to happen again, knowing that odds are it will be the same this third time around.  And while I wait, I enjoy her and love her.  I kiss her pudgy cheeks and stroke her soft warm head.  I gaze into her beautiful blue eyes and feel my heart break when I hear her cry from the back seat, just wanting her mommy to pick her up.  She's knows me and I know her and we're falling in love with each other, becoming an even more vital part of each other's existence, just as it happened with my older two children. 

And it's beautiful. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Those precious moments...

.. Go by too fast.

My oldest child has been with us over 5 years now.  He's seven.  He's in first grade.  Now he's reading and writing and having grown up conversations.  He wants to be known by his nickname.  He's so grown up...

... he used to have the softest voice.  He hunted for buggies and tried to catch "bum-bees."  He would match things together and call them friends.  He used to fall asleep in my arms.

My second child is three, potty trained, learning letters and spelling his name.  He's sleeping in his big brothers bunk bed, wearing new 10.5 sized shoes, doing chores and preferring friends over us half the time...

... he used to cry if we weren't holding him.  He nursed constantly, cuddled in tight, and lay beside me all night.  He would happily lay in a sling all day, nestled against me.  He used to fall asleep in my arms.

Me baby girl is three weeks old.  She's already outgrown her newborn clothes.  She's a great nurser, calm and alert, very easy going baby who mostly sleeps at night.  She already has great neck control, already recognizes us.  She's growing well... and fast.  Right now she's asleep on me as I type one-handed. 

Time is moving quicker with each child, flying by.  My learning curve is lower, transition time faster, and with the need to get back into a normal schedule I find myself all too often putting her down and sending the boys to do something so that I can complete some chore. 

Laundry?  Dishes?  Cooking? 

These have to get done.

And yet, I cannot help but think of all I'm losing by folding pajamas or cutting carrots.

I'm so lucky to have so much time with my children, and yet I'm still greedy.

I don't want to miss this...  I don't want to miss their smiles and laughter, their jokes, their milestones, their discoveries. 

It just goes by so, so fast.

And I'm happy about this, really.  I'm proud of their growth, happy loving who they are today, and really I don't wish to relive the early days with the boys, nor Cosi's first days.  I love whi they are today, and tomorrow I'll love who they are then.

Yet, by now I know all to well that these moments fly by.  They grow, they learn, and soon the will not be the same amazing spirits I love so deeply right now.  I will love them for who they are, and yet I mourn prematurely for the loss of the little beings who inhabit our home right now. 

No picture, no video, no lock of hair or salvaged outfit will ever truly capture this moment, this precious, incredible gift, this tiny and fleeting pocket of time right now, right as it is.  All I can do, really, is live it and love it. 

(and maybe order out sometimes...)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

She's here!

Cosima Sophie was born at 8:06pm 11-6-12 at the Women's Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill.  7lbs 13 oz, 22 inches, perfectly healthy :)

Birth Story:
I was 8 days over my EDD (or 9 going by my original EDD).  On Monday I requested a membrane sweep, but given that they already had 3 women laboring in their 3 rooms (with an extra room across the hall just in case) they didn't feel comfortable sending me into labor and asked me to come back on Tuesday, after my ultrasound at UNC to check for fluid levels. 

I went to UNC yesterday morning for my ultrasound and they found that my fluid levels were very, very low.  They ran a biophysical profile while I was there, which we passed with flying colors.  She was practicing breathing, she emptied her bladder, she kicked, heart was wonderful, etc.

I headed right over to the birth center for a non-stress test and consult on my ultrasound.  Again, the non-stress test went perfectly, she was very alert and responded to everything, so they kept me on the machine for the smallest amount of time they could (20 min?).  I spoke with 3 different midwives there and they were all happy with the BPP and NST but all very worried about the fluid levels.  I asked for the membrane stripping again, and not only did they do that in the most aggressive way possible (with my permission of course), they also came up with a game plan for if that didn't work.  Worst case scenario was me going in for an 11:30am appt today and heading right over to UNC for an induction. 

Membranes stripped around noon, contractions started coming on every 4 minutes around 2:30pm, headed to the birth center around 4ish (contractions 2 minutes apart and no longer able to walk through them) and was 7cm by the time we got there around 4:45.  Got in the tub as soon as they let me and didn't leave until she was here! 

Labor was intense!  Not what I was expecting, but I kind of went in with the thought of 'expect the unexpected."  I started to fall asleep between each contraction, so it was pretty much like "pain pain pain sleeeeeep pain pain pain sleeeeeep"  I pushed for... an hour?  Hour and a half?  I think they were expecting her to come out even faster but I sort of had to ease into pushing, took me awhile to get the hang of it.  The midwife had me stop pushing for a few contractions since I had an "anterior lip", I was 9.5 cm dilated and she wasn't coming through with that little bit left.  That to me was the hardest part of the whole thing, like sheer torture and I just couldn't not push!  The midwife had a plan B, where she pulled back the cervix while I pushed and that was much better, haha!  Still not instant baby, but pretty close.  She crowned and then pretty much shot out of me at 8:06. 

Seriously, I'd been going from pain-sleep-pain for so long that suddenly there was a baby on my chest and I was like "OMG a baby!  What on Earth?"  Didn't take me too long to wake up enough to wrap my head around it though!  Unfortunately it took a good 30 minutes to stitch me back up :?  But it's mostly torn skin and doesn't look too bad (they tell me anyway).  Cosima latched really quickly and went at it on both sides back and forth for a good hour and a half.  We left the birth center at 12:44am, as we were still wide awake and figured that it would be easier to rest at home and drive with no traffic. 

Today is definitely a day of sleepiness and transition, which I'm sure we'll have for awhile!  So, SO glad my little girl is here safe and sound and that my boys are doing well.  My big guy is nothing short of amazing as a big brother and he's all smiles.  My little guy... might take him awhile haha!  But he's pretty much the same as his big brother was three years ago in the same situation, so nothing abnormal there :)  Hoping recovery goes quick and smooth, can't wait to take my little girl out and about and show her off!