Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Open Letter to my Contractions

photo by Lemaire Photography
Let's just put it out there right from the start, contractions: you need to get serious or GTFO.

I know, you are getting my body ready for birth. You are doing your God intended job. Whatever. Let's be real here, all these theatrics are getting a bit tiring. At some point you ought to start moving towards getting this baby out of my belly, and so far you're just wasting away your sweet time and my sweet energy. It's the bit no one's laughing at anymore. You need to move on in your routine, friend.

There was a time, a week or two ago, when the anticipation was exciting and new. Your new tricks and pains made me all giddy, and had me rushing to the store for jell-o and hospital snacks. You had me watching the clock anxiously, timing your arrivals carefully. I wanted you to keep coming back for more. I was getting ready for us to take the next steps in our relationship. It was all butterflies and dreamy eyes, but those early days of courtship are over.

Now you're just feeding me the same lines over and over again. You lay it on thick for a while, leave me breathless at times, and then you're out the door like nothing ever happened. I'm left here with nothing to show but another embarrassing false alarm - apologizing to loved ones because, "I thought it was the real thing this time." I thought you were here to stay. I thought we were heading for the big day. I guess I was wrong.

So I'm here to let you know, I'm done. I need commitment, or you need to hit the road. At the end of the day, I'm wanting a baby, and if you're not ready for that sort of thing, don't bother showing up. Because I am done calling family with your false promises, and I am sure as heck not showing up at the hospital just to be jilted.

Am I making myself clear?

It's not that I don't want you. I just want more from you. I'm done playing games, contractions. I know you have it in you to give me what I'm looking for. I know we can do this thing if you will just pull your weight in this relationship. So put on your man pants, and let's see what you've got.

I'm ready if you are. Let's do this thing.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April Resolutions

It's nearly the end of the month, and I realized I haven't shared any details about what I did in April for my Happiness Project Goals. I actually had to reconfigure the whole happiness project system, because I started to realize that five compounding resolutions per month was a bit much for me, especially while pregnant and (in the near future) dealing with a newborn/infant. I decided to go back through my previous months and look at what was working and what wasn't, and narrow each category down to three items instead of five. I'm still keeping the other resolutions in mind, but I'm not driving myself crazy over the fact that I'm continually failing at them.

April was a month I decided to take for myself. I had originally planned May as my "me" month, but I decided to switch things around because my energy level has been so low. Plus there's not a whole lot of "me" time available when caring for a newborn, so I might as well get some in while I still can.

1. Shower Daily
  • I know, gross, right? Why on earth does this need to be a resolution? Well, it just does. One of my biggest problems since becoming a mother is not getting in as many showers as I should, and certainly not daily. But seriously, showering is such an indulgence for me it feels downright selfish to do more than every other day. I haven't showered every single day this month, but I came pretty close. And I even made up for it for it by showering twice a few days. It's been pretty magical.
2. Enjoy Food
  • I enjoy food. Always. But recently, I've been making a conscious effort to really appreciate  the meals I get to eat without a wailing baby on one hip. Rob and I have been out to more dinners in the past month than we have since our pre-wedding days. I've been indulging in fresh (and sometimes overpriced) fruit and buying special treats for myself without feeling guilty. I'm also currently making my way through an over-sized box of Lucky Charms that I have to hide from Lucas.
3. Rediscover Passions
  • My brain seems like it's in a constant fog nowadays, so I majorly rely on my lists and planner to make it through the day in one piece. Sometimes, though, I forget that the things that aren't on my list are the most important things in my day. So this month I've been trying to carve out time for things I love, like going to San Rafael Park with Lucas, or reading an actual book. Recently I've also gotten back into photography and finally learned how to use my camera that I've had for a year and a half. Some days I even forgo the lists or make them super simple things like make the bed, water the plants, etc. and focus on doing those things I love. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Waiting Game

Every day just feels like a waiting game now. I wasn't sure if I would get that feeling this time around, but it's finally here. I feel ready and anxious. I'm taking long walks and eating spicy foods and hoping these braxton hicks contractions will turn into something more. I'm waiting for my doctor's appointment and fantasizing that I'll be four or five centimeters dilated, even though my contractions haven't been that bad today. I want to meet her, want to hold her, want to bring her home in my arms and show her she's been loved for so much longer than she can know.


I'm also very anxiously awaiting the proofs from our recent maternity shoot with Lemaire Photography. I had seen the work they had done for friends and others, and I knew these photos would be amazing, but good Lord! The little sneak preview we got here was above and beyond what I had hoped for. I can hardly wait to see more.

So much anxious waiting. What's a girl to do?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Facing Fear

I'm working on my photography, random photos will abound.

I want to write more about what pregnancy has been like this time around before I start to forget it all. It won’t be long until I’m thrust once more into the pandemonium of new motherhood and can hardly remember what I ate for breakfast (the answer will probably be: nothing), let alone the quiet observations of some late pregnancy afternoon. 

In some ways, I’m very grateful for how quickly this pregnancy has flown by. I haven’t had time to slow down while chasing Lucas through the wild, fast changes of toddlerhood. When I was pregnant with Lucas there was this terribly stagnant feeling towards the end of my pregnancy; it felt like I was waiting for life to begin. This time, there is no pause, no waiting. When the universe throws her into my arms, we’ll have to hit the ground running if I don’t want to land on my face. And although it sounds daunting, there’s a comfort in the constant motion. 

Because it’s the moments when I’m alone, when the house is quiet and Lucas is sleeping and Rob is working in one form or the other, that I find myself unnerved. It is only when the day slows down that I get scared of the what ifs and maybes of my wandering mind. 

And I know that it’s natural for me to be frightened of going through postpartum depression again. It’s not as if I’m freaking myself out over reading the what could go wrong sections of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I’m not scared of someone else’s horror story. I’m scared of my own. I'm scared of the dark days that I remember. I'm scared there may be things I have forgotten.

How could I not be scared? 

But, as scary as the prospect of going through that again may be, I try my best not to dwell on it. Because ultimately, I have no say in the matter. I may have postpartum depression again, and if I do that is bridge I must cross when I come to it. I am grateful to know that this time I will not have to go it alone. And maybe I won’t have postpartum depression. But maybe she’ll have colic, or be a terrible traveler, or any other numbers of “what could go wrongs.” I can’t know. And dwelling on the billion different outcomes that may unfold in these coming months won’t make a damn bit of difference. 

The best I can do is put one foot in front of the other, and bravely face the fact that I don’t know what’s coming next. I must accept that this journey is entirely different than anything that has come before. That I can't make things happen one way or the other based on my hopes or dreams or worries or fears. Bringing another person into this world doesn't work that way. Because the moment that she comes screaming into the world, she'll no longer be a part of me. She'll be her own person and set off on her own path from the moment she takes that first breath.

Our love story will be different than mine and Lucas’ regardless of any similarities. We'll dance our own dance to the steady rhythm set by her heartbeat and no other. She will have her own story, and it will intertwine with mine in a way that is entirely unique. Entirely ours. It’s beautiful and exciting notion. And it makes me feel a little less scared.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The End of an Era

These days are ticking away at a pace that's fast and slow all at once. I'm five weeks away from my due date, and were it not for this giant belly and baby's constant kicking, I can't imagine anything feeling less real. It's all gone by so fast this time. I've hardly had time to process this pregnancy, let alone write about it. I can't believe it's almost over. And despite the discomfort of late pregnancy, I've got to tell you, I'm not quite ready for it to be over.

I remember being this pregnant with Lucas. I was so excited and so ready to be a mother. I could hardly wait for my water to break or the contractions to become regular. The car seat was installed, the hospital bag was packed, the nursery had been ready for months. I would take long walks in hopes of inducing labor. I went to the hospital twice with false alarms. I was anxious, restless, ready.

These days don't feel anything like that. I'm trying, without success, to slow down time. I know her day is coming, but every day I seem to whisper beneath my breath, not yet. The laundry isn't done yet, the car seat isn't installed, the hospital bag is not packed - as if somehow my  lack of preparation will hold off the inevitable. As excited as I am to meet her, hold her, kiss her beautiful face; I'm still not ready. Not yet.

Because her arrival marks the end of an era, a time and a place I will never be again. It will be the end of Lucas' run as my one and only, and it makes me sad to know the days of just us two are almost over. Before I became pregnant again, I thought Lucas was going to be my only child, the first and last, my forever baby. Letting go of that notion had not been easy for me, and as our duo days come closer to an end, the more I find myself struggling with it.

I'm missing him while he's sleeping; sneaking into his bedroom to watch the rise and fall of his chest. I'm letting him watch too much TV for the simple pleasure of having him sit next to me on the couch. I'm reading Goodnight Moon ten "last" times, because I'm the one not ready to say goodnight. I'm allowing him to pass the days as he wants; going on walks just to gawk at the granite boulders in front of the elementary school or spending hours in Target staring at vacuum cleaners and detonating all of the noise-making toys.

I'm cherishing the simple moments; the unrushed nature of our days. I'm appreciating how calm and quiet it is, tantrums and all. I know this is the end of an era, and the beginning of a new and even more exciting one. Soon our lives will be forever changed; our realm of love expanded to include this new life that I still can't quite wrap my head around. We'll succumb to the unpredictable rhythm led by small, flailing hands and primal wails. Soon, but not yet.

Not yet.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hello Again

I was MIA all last month, after promising to share new resolutions and keep up with my once a week postings. But, I'm not sorry in the least (unless anyone really feels like I left them hanging, in which case I'm a little bit sorry). I found that my path needed to shift directions, and what I had originally planned for my March resolutions was not what really needed improvement at the moment.

March was going to be about socializing and making more time for friends, which is admittedly an area where I find myself slacking quite often. But with pregnancy dragging me way down on my energy level, I wasn't up to the task of keeping up with everyone just yet. Plus, there was someone way more important that needed what little energy I had left in me...Lucas.

So, I decided to switch up my resolutions and make March my month for parenting goals.

1. Limit Screen Time
  • This is why I was gone all last month. In an attempt to spend more quality time with Lucas, I decided to shut off the computer during the day. He still got to watch Thomas and Friends during mealtimes, but unless I was dying from a lack of energy (and there were a few days when I was so sick that Thomas had to babysit a little) I kept Lucas' screen time to a minimum. Same for me. I didn't post on Facebook (with the exception of a few baby shower photos) or blog all month, and I tried to steer clear of social media for the most part. It was nice to take a step back and get out of the bad habit of checking the computer when I should be focused wholly on playing with Lucas at home. I think limited screen time is going to be one of my greatest resolution successes from now on. 
2. Practice Patience
  • Can I just tell you, I thought I was such a patient person until I had Lucas? I mean, it was one of those traits I was really proud of having. Now I can hardly write those words without falling over laughing. Me, patient? Right. Patience is a daily struggle for me, especially with the irrational tantrums of a two-year-old taking place every half hour or so. This last month I really focused on not losing my temper with Lucas, even when he's screaming repeatedly that he wants more gummy vitamins which I clearly cannot give him for reasons he clearly cannot understand. And even though I don't always keep my cool, I can tell you I'm doing a whole lot better at it now than I was on March 1st. Success.
3. Actively Listen
  • This resolution went hand in hand with practicing patience, and has honestly made one of the biggest differences in how my relationship with Lucas has been evolving this last month. I love to listen to Lucas while he narrates his day nonstop, because it's stinkin adorable. However, I have limited patience when he gets upset and starts whining. But by actively listening to why he is upset, we've avoided more major meltdowns than I thought possible. Sometimes he just wants his frustration validated, and that's okay. Simply telling him that I understand why he's upset and that his feelings are valid sometimes help us avoid a screaming rampage. Not always, but sometimes. And I'll take whatever I can get. 
4. Have Adventures
  • This resolution was easy and so much fun. It was all about letting Lucas take the lead on what we were doing whenever we were out and about. For example, when we would go to the park, he'd often play for a minute then wander off and I'd try to coax him back to the swings or slides. This month I went off the trails with him and let him pick up and throw all the rocks he wanted, instead of playing on the playground. I mean, the whole reason we're out is for his benefit, so why not let him do what he wants? As long as he wasn't putting himself in danger, I let him do his thing. Happy baby equals happy mama.
 5. Play silly/outside/on his level
  • There is no questioning that Rob is the fun parent. He does airplane rides and rocket ship and all kinds of fun stuff that pregnant mom is simply incapable of doing. Plus, I'm old news. I'm home all the time with him, so hanging out with mom isn't cause for excitement and celebration. But that doesn't mean I should stop trying to be fun, right? Instead of resigning myself to being the less fun parent, I tried to make our day to day more fun by making sure I played silly and made Lucas helpless with laughter every day. And if the weather permitted it, we played outside every day. And even with my ever-expanding belly and discomfort, I got on the floor and played on his level every day. I may not ever be as great as Fun Dad, but having Lucas tell me he likes hanging out with mama is more than good enough for me. 
 March was my best resolution month yet. I felt like I really saw progress with all of my resolutions, even the organizing and love resolutions from previous months. The parenting resolutions were amazingly rewarding and somewhat easier than I had anticipated. And overall, I can definitely say that my happiness project is making me much happier, which is the whole point, right? Now, it's on to April resolutions...
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