Saturday, March 31, 2012

Leah 2.0

Just because it's almost April and I'm finally getting around to actually posting this doesn't mean it hasn't been in the works for a long time. 

I'm just lazy.  And pregnant.  Extra points are a given for actually getting anything done. 

Yes, our sweet girl is two.  It's very difficult to believe. 

At two...

...Leah isn't really into dress up yet, but adores wearing hats, gloves, necklaces, shoes, and anything else a little unusual that she can put on her body.

...Is fiercely independent.  I can't tell you how many times a day I hear, "No, Leah do it!" or "SELF!"  She wants desperately to be able to dress herself, but (lucky for me) isn't quite there yet.

...Has gotten extremely picky about life.  She does not appreciate it if her food is cut up into bite-sized pieces, and would much rather have something totally unmanageable, like an entire sandwich or piece of pizza.  We sneak-cut her food, because if you do it in front of her, she totally freaks out.  She *might* possibly be a control freak - and I have no idea where she got that.

...On the picky front, she also can't stand to have dirt or hair on her hands.  It's probably her biggest complaint throughout the day.  Mommy!  Come quick!  What's her ailment?  A hair on her finger.  Good thing we have two dogs...

...She is very sweet and polite.  She almost always says please and thank you, and will offer a bless you or excuse ('scuze) me after a sneeze or burp.

...Loves to open and close doors.  She's much better at the closing than the opening, and once even locked herself in her room.  Thank goodness Daddy was around for that one, and the knob has since been changed.

...Her favorite book right up until her birthday was Pinkalicious.  She could honestly recite the entire book - with very, very minimal prompting - from memory.  In the past few weeks, we've gone back to some old favorites like "Are You my Mother?" and "The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear."

...Caillou is still her favorite show.  Actually, it's pretty much the only thing we ever let her watch.  I'm not sure it's a favorite so much as a lack of options.  I am amazed at how much she learns, and she loves it just the same.

...Is an excellent helper, and loves to have something to do that immitates mommy.

...Has gotten away from being a snuggler, and has been known to exclaim, "No, Daddy!  Don't give me kisses!"  On the other hand, the girl loves to be tickled. 

...Loves to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider, or anything from our music class.

...Still isn't a very social creature.  Even though we've been going to church for a year, and even though mommy works in the room with her, she just isn't comfortable around big groups of people.  She hangs back and does her own thing rather than joining in with the other kids.  She's pretty good one on one, but definitely not in big groups. It's just not her forte.

...Loves to pull the covers up over her head when she goes to bed, and has to have an army of teddies in with her. 

...Hasn't climbed out of her crib.  In fact, she hasn't even tried (much to her mother's delight!).  She loves to play in the crib, and can be up there for hours playing quietly.  Sometimes, loooong after I think she's down for her nap, I'll suddenly hear her talking to herself as she plays. 

...Wears size 4 diapers, size 6 shoes, and 2T clothing. 

...Finally has a full head of hair!  Waahoo!  It is constantly in wild woman mode, and looks completely unkempt three minutes after I brush it.  She also almost has a full set of teeth; she's shy one or two little ones on the sides and one set of molars. 

...Adores anything related to pretend food, shopping or cooking.  Also loves to play with the babies she got for her birthday, and push them in her stroller.  Her babies are always being well tended, and I can count on her to diaper and blanket them.  I can't wait to see how she'll do as a big sister!

...Counts independently to twelve, knows most of her basic colors, the alphabet and recognizes close to half of the written letters.  And the number 8.  Right now, she's into skipping three and four when she counts.  They used to be her favorite - now they're so last yearOne, two, five, six is how things go in our house most days.  Although she does none of these amazing things in front of people, so I may as well be lying.  (Come to think of it... have I mentioned that she can read and do quadratic equations?)

We couldn't be any more blessed by this sweet little person.  Even though this is probably the most difficult she's ever been in her whole life (not saying much, give how darn easy she's been all along), I still think she's awfully easy for a toddler.

Happy belated second birthday to my beautiful little pumpkin.  I can't begin to tell you what a blessing you have been to my life.

Friday, March 30, 2012

18 Weeks

Swollen much?  We've had beautiful weather this March (as I write this, it's predicted to be 87 degrees tomorrow), and along with it, an absolute onslaught of early spring allergies.  Ah, Claratin.  I miss you!

Baby size: Sweet potato (about 5.5 inches)

Weight gain: 4 pounds (even though I look like I've gained much more!)

This week has brought an increase of lower back pain.  Mine typically starts at about 9 weeks - even though it's not supposed to start until sometime after the 20th week - and it's getting tough to ignore.

Insomnia, check.  Luckily, what with it being spring break, I've been able to trade sleeping at night for sleeping at nap time; a ridiculous luxury, in my opinion.

The trade off for those two less than desirable side effects is that I've been able to feel some very distinct - very, very little - movements from our little one.  Instead of the log rolls I've been feeling, I've got actual hand/foot action.  Little, tiny kicks or punches that still feel sweet, slightly indescernable, and amazing.

And possibly hiccups; I'm about 90% sure I've felt those once or twice. 

Healthy and happy and very round?  Bliss.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mommy, wear diapers please.

And, just like that, our adventure in potty training is over.

At least for now.

Believe me, I tried to talk up all the perks of wearing big girl panties - the fact that she gets an M&M ever time she goes in the potty chief among them. 

She was adamant: Want to wear diapers.  And if she's not on my team about this whole potty training thing, what hope do I have?

Besides that, it's become pretty clear to me that she's just not quite there yet. 

Every single milestone that girl has overcome, she's done so with ease when she was ready.  Transition from breastfeeding?  Totally her idea.  Starting legitimate solids instead of baby food?  She quit the stuff all on her own, and tried to tell me to give her the goods.  Leaving the paci behind?  No prob. 

So I have to believe that when she's ready to tackle this challenge, it will be - well, maybe easy isn't the right word, but certainly not this hard.  Progress will be made because she's there, and that's not what we have just yet.

Besides, I'll be off again in 8 short weeks (pause for my happy dance.  And.... go.) and we'll try again then.

What's another box or two of diapers?  Nobody goes to high school still wearing them. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

One small step for Leah, two giant dumps in her pants

So, you guys, this potty training thing? 

You all got through it.  Right?  'Cause we're on day two and it's not looking so promising.

One of my greatest struggles as a teacher is knowing when kids really get what I'm trying to teach.  Often times, with kids who can talk the talk - that is, answer all my questions and thoroughly discuss whatever I'm teaching - it turns out they have no idea how to actually apply it to what they're learning when it's test time. 

I don't know why, but sometimes a gap exists between what we can talk about doing and what we can actually do.

That has definitely been the case with my little potty trainer. 

We've been talking for weeks about Big Girl Panties and how we don't poop or pee in them. 

Where does poopy go?  In the potty!!!!

The girl can shout it enthusiastically, and I'm pretty sure if I gave her a crayon, she could even draw me an accurately colored diagram.

When it comes the actual doing of it? 

Ah, another of those photos she'll thank me for showing the internet when she gets older.

I might as well be asking her to create a solution for peace in the Middle East. 

She has zero frame of reference for what I'm asking her to do.  The time spent on the potty is completely wasted, because there's always a little surprise in her pants ten minutes later, no matter how long we sat there. 

Or, maybe she is contemplating a solution for peace in the Middle East during all that naked-butt-sitting time. 

One success.  Two days.  Patience, patience, patience. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The one where I compare my pregnancies

Okay, 17 weeks (minus one day) isn't exactly far enough along to truly compare... the word implies that enough has actually happened to give us similarities and differences.  Clearly, at not even half way, there's a way to go on the happening front.

Overall, things have been largely the same: very little nausea, the tired that takes up so much of my energy,  no heartburn, some cravings, and best of all - no major medical emergencies to speak of.

Things were so much the same that I began to be convinced we must be having another girl.

Until, of course, we weren't anymore...

Which has left me examining my "similar" pregnancies a little more closely, and wondering if there are any (possibly?) gender-induced differences to speak of. 

Turns out, there are.

With Leah, I craved spicy.  Like, tongue-on-fire spicy.  For those nine months and probably three afterward, nothing I ate tasted even a little spicy.  My nose would stream.  Casey would cringe.  And I?  I would sigh and accept that even the spiciest out there was barely more than a little bland. 

I don't have that super power this time around... in fact, it's pretty much business as usual for me and my taste buds. 

With Leah, I was an absolute narcolept.  I've talked about this a bit before.  I slept like a rock through my entire pregnancy.  If I sat down, I was probably asleep within about five minutes.  I could wake at night without having any real recollection of it in the morning.

I thought at first it was due to the simple fact that because I have Leah, I don't rest as deeply; now I'm convinced that it's just different this time.  I'm an insomniac instead of a narcolept.  At least 3 times a week, I wake in the wee hours - 1:30, 2:30, 3:00 - and cannot fall asleep again.  It's awful.  Torture.

Chicken.  Last time I avoided it like the plague.  Even the thought of it made me gag.  I truly thought I was never going to like those foul fowls again.

While I'll admit that this time it isn't my favorite food, I'm not completely revolted by the thought of it.  I've even been known to tolerate and - dareIsayit? - eat it. 

If I get my way and we're really lucky, we'll have another pregnancy.  If for no other reason than I'm dying to know if these changes have anything to do with gender, or if every pregnancy is, indeed, just a little different.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Conversations are elloquent at two

I've said it from the beginning, and it's still just as amazing as the very first time.  Our girl is a talker

She is going through such a fun phase when it comes to verbal development. Of course, she has been in the repeating everything phase of life for a while now, but the way her words and sentences get strung together, and the sweet, high-pitched inflection with which she says them are too precious. 

So I had to jot down a few of my favorites.

She can be demanding...
"Eva!  Listen!  Mommy, Eva's not lisnin' to me."
"Daddy gave this teddy to yooooouu! {meaning herself}  This teddy mine!"
"Brody!  Knock it off!"
"No like it either."
"Play in the bath more!"
"No!  Rock a minute with mommy!"

She can be inquisitive...
"What's that mommy?"
"Mommy, hear the helicopter?"
"Did you see that bird, mommy?  It fly away."

She can be funny...
"Fart!  BIG fart!"  {By the way, I would love to take back the day her daddy taught her that little gem}
"Look at me, mommy!" {Said while doing something silly}
"That tickles, Daddy!  No, Daddy, don't tickle me!"

She can be insightful...
"Leah's baby drinks from that bottle."
"Those polar bears smell stinky!"
"A triangle!  'Nother triangle, 'nother triangle."
"See those letters?  That letter R."
My favorite: "Daddy, stop bein' ornery!" (used in the exact perfect context, without any mimicking whatsoever.  LOVE.)
She has the funniest immaginary conversations, too.  Sometimes, when she is having trouble falling asleep, I can hear her upstairs in her crib and the dialogue is too hillarious and completely random.  The girl remembers everything, and it comes up sooner or later in conversation - regardless of whether there is an audience.

I don't know where she gets this stuff, but I sure am grateful I get to be there to listen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Something blue

I'm not gonna lie: there's much more apprehension in my world about having a boy than there ever was having a girl.

I get girls.  We're normal.  Although a world full of men will disagree with me, the things we do make sense.

Everything, right down to changing the diaper and dealing with all those extra... seems odd to me. 

{Three words: pee pee tent.}

But this love.  It's big, and it's very real. 

The blue elephants.  The teeny, tiny feet.  The "Mommy Loves Me" onesie I've currently stashed in my dresser so I can see it every day.  The slender, warm body I'm in production of. 

Mommy loves me.  I'm going to be the mommy to a boy

And OH, how I love him already.  Even if he is a little more foreign to me right now (and maybe always, and that's okay) than my little girl. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

16 weeks and a surprise

We met with a new doctor yesterday for our 16 week appointment. 

The doc who delivered Leah left a little over a year ago, and the one I met with intially isn't my favorite.  He's awfully negative and literal when it comes to statistics and odds, and had me about convinced that I don't want to try for a VBAC (which I definitely, definitely do). 

The new doc is awesome.  I feel much more comfortable with her.  In addition to the fact that she is a woman who has actually been through the process of labor and delivery herself - a giant plus, in my book - she is also very open to and supportive of the idea of trying to let nature take its course before we jump in with medical intervention.  She's a keeper.

We also got an ultrasound that I hadn't anticipated, and a little something else...

This is the oh-so-immodest and highly intrusive between-the-legs-shot, which I'm sure Baby will thank me for displaying on the internet later in life.

See those three little dots right there?  Yep.  You know what that means.

It's a BOY!

And when I finished picking my jaw up off the ground, I began to get really excited.

I was convinced we were having another girl - despite the, you know, 50/50 odds it might not end up that way.  So far I'm 0 for 2 in the gender guessing game. 

There is still a slight chance this may not be accurate, given the fact that it's still early and the ultrasound machine at the doc isn't particularly advanced.  But those three little dots are clear even to me, and our doctor gave it 99%.  All in all, I'm pretty confident that we'd better add a little more blue to our baby wardrobe.

Oh boy, it's a boy!  A whole new kind of adventure is just beginning, but we can't wait to meet you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Healing is forever

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how easily I wound up on the "other" side. 

I never really fell into the category of infertility - and thank God for that.  That being said, I'll never be fully cured of the heartache that is the desperate wanting, losing and not getting a baby. 

Through the grapevine that is the internet, I came to read one of the best posts about infertility I've ever seen. 

I can't tell you how much this post touched my heart.  How easily the tears fell as I saw myself - the me from only a few short and lonely months ago - in these words. 

Compared to so many stories out there, 8 months and a miscarriage is a walk in the park.  And yet, I don't think I'll ever forget or recover from the experience.  The uncertainty.  The lonely.  The hurt that stems from what should be joy.  The desperate longing.  The frantic clinging to slim hopes, which are dashed so easily.  The forced smiles when everyone tells you to just relax.  The constant awareness of 9 months later. 

It's a form of torture many people understand.  Unfortunately, those people seem to be vastly outnumbered by the obnoxious "easy-conceivers" who I'll forever (irrationally, and through no fault of their own, since I used to be one of them) loathe. 

Even though I'm on the other side; even though I never really "understood" to begin with, I know that recovered isn't a term I will apply to myself. 

I'm just lucky.  That's all that separates "us" from "them," and it will never again be lost on me how easily that veil could fall and the fortunes reverse.

When I feel this little one move, I'll say a little prayer of gratitude, and shed a tear for the divine blessing that made it possible.  It's an answer to prayer, and although I will never understand why mine was answered and others' are not, I will not take for granted the fact that the answer was YES.

Thank you, God for my YES. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A little wigglin'

It's my absolute favorite part of being pregnant.
I'm not fully there yet; the books say I shouldn't be feeling what I'm feeling quite so early.  And maybe I'm wrong and it's just a little stomach flutter.

Having felt it before, though, I'm convinced: this baby is a movin'.

It's not the big kicks and leaps I know it will eventually become.  It's not even really anything except a little rolling waaaay down low in baby land.  If it didn't come at certain times - the same certain times Big Sister used to get the wiggles, I might add - I might even dismiss it as some other perfectly natural bodily function. 

I didn't feel it with Leah until about 20 weeks, and then it was a little different.  Looking back, I wonder if I missed this sensation because I didn't know what I was looking for. 

This time, though, having been through it, I know that rolling sensation.  I vividly remember it. I've been looking forward to it for more months than I can count. 

This little miracle is moving.  That amazing, awe-inspiring wigglin' that tells me there is, indeed, a beautiful life growing in there. 

And it is every bit as awesome as I remember. 

Love, love, love being pregnant.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pink and green are birthday colors

I've talked before about the fact that in my next life, I'll be a party planner. 

I like decorations.  I like to color-coordinate.  I like little details that probably no one else notices.  I like all the "before" stuff that comes with a party.

Unfortunately, it means I tend to pick up my camera before the party really starts, and then put it down and miss all those "moments" during the party itself.

I captured a few... a very few.

The biggest thing I failed to capture, though, is how much it overjoyed me to have my friends and family around to celebrate our little girl. 

I didn't capture the laughter and giggles of 6 toddlers when the bubbles came out.  The way they grinned as they chased pink balloons.  The way our little house was lit up with people and love and generosity.  The perfect sunny, spring day.

We're awfully blessed, here in our little corner of the universe.  Healthy, happy, full of love. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birthdays, cake anxiety and crazy pregnancy dreams

First, we made this:

Then, we made this:

Today, we made this:

For this:

Not to imply that the last one is as amazing as the first two, but I have to admit it: I'm pretty dang proud of this silly cake. 

Maybe it's because of the anxiety and anticipation leading up to it.  I literally had nightmares - not just regular scary dreams, but the weird pregnancy kind where the most bizarre and unsettling things happen - about making this cake.

Not to mention, it was something of a production requiring a host of tools I never knew existed.

It began on Thursday, when I did the actual baking.  We ran into a slight hitch when my wonderful, helpful assistant dropped one of the layers on the floor, requiring an 11 p.m. run to the store and another afternoon of baking.

We decorated the cake last night at like 11:30 while watching Father of the Bride Part II.  Oh, and just in case you were wondering, 11:30 and pregnant ladies?  We don't get along so well.

We whine and complain.  A lot.  Especially when we've encountered each other two nights in a row. 

But we still make kick-butt cakes when push comes to shove (and it usually does - the push being off the couch or out a tall window, depending on how much complaining there was). 

In the end, all the stress and worry was totally worth it. 

I'm not sure I have it in me to top this one.  This very well may be as good as it's ever gonna get in the cake decorating department.  Good thing I saved it for a birthday she's always going to remember.  That is how it works, right?

To My Baby Girl

My darling 2 year old big girl,

I can't begin to express my joy over this second year of your life.  Although you stole my heart even before I laid eyes on you, I think it's possible that this second year was even more amazing than your first.

Your first steps.  Your first words.  Your growing vocabulary.  The sunshine of your laugh.  Your sweet generosity and helpful spirit.  Your stubborn independence.

Everything in my life is sweeter because of you.  It is impossible to believe that we've now known one another for two whole years; these days are beautiful and devastating because I know you will be small only fleetingly.  Someday much too soon, you will fly away on wings of promise to your own dreams, never fully understanding that you are the epitome of mine.

You are precious in every way.  The joy in my heart, the anchor in my soul, the love of my life. 

Don't forget to listen to God's voice in everything you do and everywhere you go.  He always answers prayers.  I know: He brought me you.

Happy birthday.  I love you to the moon and back,


Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Circle of Life

The first really warm day of spring - 65 degrees, that's right!

Trip to Costco.

Visiting the zoo in the afternoon.

A movie about the animals we saw at the zoo.  Or, at least, part of it, so Mommy and Daddy can make dinner.
While sitting in the Costco box and wearing a hat she picked out herself, no less.  I mean, really.  It's the only way to watch movies.

Yes, Casey and I are children of the 90's in case you couldn't tell...

BLT's and the first bacon I've had since finding out I'm pregnant.

No planning or grading to do this evening.

That's an excellent Sunday night in my book.

Welcome, second trimester!

Baby size: Lemon (3.4 inches)

I have to open this post by observing that it's still difficult for me to comprehend the fact that I'm as "baby-bumped"-out as I am.  There is absolutely no question about it: I'm pregnant.  Even when I'm out and about, strangers notice.  No amount of prenatal yoga seems to make a dent.

There's no way to compare my first pregnancy with this one. I'm two completely different sizes.

September 2009: 14 weeks

November 2009: 25 weeks
What hasn't changed, though, is my excitement over leaving the first trimester behind.  I feel better, although to be fair I haven't felt bad in the last month or so.  Both times, I've been extraordinarily lucky when it comes to the first trimester yuckies. 

We finished reading The Hunger Games to the baby.  We didn't read it consistently because I had some ambiguity about it's content, what with it being about kids forced to kill one another.

At the end of the day, though, as anyone who has ever miscarried can attest, the strongest desire is for that tiny one just to survive; to make it.  That makes "Hunger Games" a perfect fit.  Besides, we read The Illiad for the same reasons when Leah was tiny, and she doesn't seem too demented so far...

Either way, I think we'll pick up with Harry Potter again before too long.  I love, love, love that Casey reads to our babies, even before they're able to hear his voice. 

More than anything else, I have to document the sense of relief I feel at entering the second trimester.  Another milestone where the risk drops considerably, and we're that much closer to meeting this little one. 

Gratitude?  I'm up to my eyeballs in it (and that's saying something, given the belly it has to overcome to reach that high!!!).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The older you get, the more you know that beauty means pain

Our beautiful big girl,

Today, you got your ears pierced.  It was supposed to be a birthday present from a mommy and daddy who love you very much.  Although as I think about it nowI'm not sure it's the world's most loving gift, you did better than I could have dreamed.

You were so patient as the girls marked and double checked your ears.

Even though you looked a bit apprehensive as the big moment approached, you were such a trooper!  You were pretty surprised when you found out just what "ears pierced" really means!  You cried for a few seconds, but as soon as the candy bowl appeared,

you exclaimed, "Candy!" and the tears dried up immediately after that.

You even managed a smile (that breaks your mother's heart).

Besides, once we mentioned your two favorite words (ice cream!),

you were all smiles and told us, "feel better now."

Happy birthday, big girl.  We promise, next year we'll get you something that doesn't require any holes to be punched in your body.  We are so proud of you!


Mommy and Daddy

Thursday, March 1, 2012

When fertility affects friendships

It's been two years since that special day.  It's beyond difficult to believe.  How can time pass that quickly?

I'm left reflecting on a great many things as the little's birthday approaches, but without question one of the biggest changes in my life over the past two years has been a very distinct shift in my social circle.

Sure, men can pee standing up.  But we?  We can make people. 

It's just that some of us go a different route than others.  Some of us make those people early in our lives and others wait or don't make people at all.  All of it is perfectly okay. 

Still... it creates a gap.  The haves and the have-nots.  Two completely different worlds that, within a friendship, must exist simultaneously. 

It's a gap I often haven't been fortunate enough to bridge. 

I can't regret the decision entirely, because in the absence of my other life friends I have found  new and extremely rewarding relationships with many amazing women forged through the bond only motherhood can create.   

As I addressed those invitations, I had such unease about who to send them to.  It was a funny feeling; there are a few people from my old life I'd like to come.  To be totally honest, though, I'm not sure we're even still friends.  I'm just not the same person I was two years ago.  The hours we keep are completely different and the priorities have shifted so greatly that conversation seems awkward and forced.  Not to mention, I don't know how many years in a row I can continue asking people to celebrate all the milestones in my life without any real way to reciprocate.

Come to your birthday and drink with you until 2 a.m.?  I can't.  My babysitter is sick and my kid gets up at 6.

At least with other mommies, we're all on square footing: you come to my kid's birthday party, I'll come to yours.  Accepted socialization hours are 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at places where no one is expected to sit still or behave themselves.  Conversations about other people's bodily fluids are perfectly normal and encouraged.

Part of me thinks it's a sad state, the fact that these two worlds don't coexist naturally. 

The other part of me, though, the one that delights in my little girl's development, can't wait to potty train and loves to hear the stories of all the mommies who have been there before me, thinks it may just be part of the journey.  One of the many things we go through on this path; giving up pieces of who we used to be in order to become new and better creatures lucky enough to be named MOM.

For many reasons, I hope it won't be like this forever.  Either my friends will have kids eventually and we'll be able to rekindle the bond that once existed, or my own children will get older and the time constraints will become less or different. 

Either way, it's a casualty I didn't foresee two years ago. 

Is it worth it?  Always, always. 

I changed my font at