Posted in parenting, Pregnancy

What this day means to me

The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.

Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.

I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.

Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless.  Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.

There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be.  Then suddenly wasn’t to be.

I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.

I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.

I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?

We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
Especially today.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.

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Posted in Children, Family

Two, but not terribly terrible

I went to the bathroom and I mean to tell you, I was not in there longer than a minute. Probably 40 seconds tops. I don’t piddle in the bathroom. Well I do piddle, but I don’t piddle, if you know what I’m trying to say. All those years of teaching school taught me how to pee fast. When you leave 20 some-odd young children alone in a classroom, you better only do it for less than a minute. That real life skill has proven to be very handy when you also must leave a 2 year old alone in another room of the house, which doesn’t happen very often. Usually she follows me right along. But today, she had more important things to do, like picking out her fingernail polish.

Earlier we had a fight, a big one. You see, every day this little girl wants to wear a “beautiful duress” as she says. I let her choose one this morning that she wore until afternoon. Then, after eating lunch with Ashlynn, the dress was wet and dirty. She wanted it off and wanted another beautiful “duress”. Well, this time I chose, and she didn’t want to wear it. It turned into a fight. A literal, physical struggle of me trying to push the thing over her head and pull her arms through the arm holes, while she cried and fought and kept getting it back off her head.

Yes, part way through this battle, I thought of giving up. It was a dress, for crying out loud. A truly inconsequential item. Why was I fighting a 2 year over what she was going to wear, especially when we weren’t even leaving the house? The thought crossed my mind, but was overruled by another thought. The little girl is headstrong. Of late, she is super duper, bigtime headstrong, and if I gave up, it would send a message to her. The message that she won. The message that she is the boss of me. That the simple act of throwing a wall-eyed, screaming Mimi fit is all it takes to get her way. Because of that, I dug in, and because I’m bigger and stronger, I won.

She left the room crying loudly. She wanted nothing to do with me after that. She paced back and forth crying. Pulling the skirt of the dress out to look at it, she kept repeating, “it isn’t beautiful. It isn’t beautiful”. I felt terrible. She wouldn’t let me console her. So I did what all first time, questioning mothers do, I left her crying in the hallway and I went to google.

I read: The strong-willed child is self-motivated and inner directed. They aren’t easily swayed from their viewpoints (or choice of “beautiful duress” in this case) And they want to be in charge of themselves (and in EK’s case, everyone else as well). I was advised to give her authority over her own body. Exactly what I didn’t do. This article went on to make me feel terrible as a mom by saying these children feel their integrity has been compromised if they are forced to submit to another’s will.

My thoughts went something like this, like the angel/devil on the shoulder thing:

Mom 1: BUT SHE’s TWO! She can’t run the show all the time!

Mom 2: But it was just a dress. Completely unimportant.

Mom 1: But it is a matter of principal.

Mom 2: But it wasn’t a matter of morals.

The strong willed child wants respect. They like to have choices. They want to pick out their own stinking dress.

The article went on to give me suggestions on how to handle her, of which did not say to pin her down and force her to wear something that in her eye is not a “beautiful duress”.

So, yeah, I botched this one.

Big time.

Later…..I amended it, I hope.

We made up, I think.

At nap time, she slept in my arms, as sweet and as precious as the day she was born. While I watched her little mouth do that suckling thing, I thought about what kind of kid she is. I wondered if this new EK was a stage she is going through or if this is her personality, just now appearing.

I truly did not ever imagine she would be so independent. So head strong. So…..dare I say it……bossy. Just a few months ago, she was a timid, cautious child who sat back and observed before jumping in. She was easy to deal with, curious of all things introduced to her, sweet and kind. And now, she’s hitting the dog with a stick, and bossing anyone and everyone who will allow her to. She is raising her voice and demanding people do her bidding. She wants it to be her idea first. She argues like something I’ve never seen. And if you change your standpoint and agree with her, she’ll argue the other side that she was just arguing against! She tells me she’s busy and “just a second” when I tell her to do something (Things she’s heard from me, I know) When do you punish your kid for sounding like you?

I realize that she is only two and that she has great qualities and traits and potential for leadership, but in a little toddler who still sucks a pacifier, sometimes her ways come across as a little bratty. That is the last thing I want. A bratty kid.

Wow, this parenting is no easy gig.

She is two. But she is not a terrible two. Before you start thinking I’m all down on my kid, I AM NOT. She is my love, my precious gift, and she is amazing in so many ways. She does not wreak havoc, make disastrous messes, or terrorize or even throw tantrums. Yet. I’m going to say yet. Because I am not sure what is ahead. It’s all just a little confusing because it’s just a side of her that I haven’t seen and didn’t think would be a part of her personality, and I really, really hope it is only a stage.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. I held her while she napped, and then suddenly her eyes popped open. She began crawling out of my lap, informing me she was going to paint her fingernails. Informing me. Not asking. But telling me she was going to paint her fingernails. I chose not to fight this battle with a no, and instead told her I WOULD PAINT HER FINGERNAILS FOR HER. But first I had to go to potty. She was left to choose her polish and that’s when I went to the bathroom.

40 seconds, people. I was gone no more than 40 seconds. Heck, it could have been 25. It’s not like I timed it.

When I walked out of the bathroom, she was already in charge. Full leadership mode. She had chosen the color she wanted from Ashlynn’s bag full of polishes, unscrewed the lid, and was taking care of business.

I can’t complain.

She was doing a great job.

So I let her finish her left hand, and then I painted her right.

 

 

 

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Posted in Children, Family, Uncategorized

Fingerprint

I have a new item to add to my most prized possession list.   On second thought, it’s more like the only item on my most prized possession list.

I’m in love.

It’s a necklace and it deserves an explanation.

 

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It was a gift to me from my darling, dear, precious friend Mrs. Z when EK was born.

At first I was baffled by it.

It was a brown cardboard box labeled Priceless Prints.  Inside was a ball of clay with a page of instructions.

The idea is to press a fingerprint from your loved one in the clay and then return it to the company and they will turn it into a silver pendant.

A keepsake treasure of a loved ones fingerprint.

I waited a while to do this, simply because her finger was just so tiny.

You can see that the whole pendant is the size of my pinky, her little fingerprint only claiming a small part of the silver.

Recently, I felt it was time to capture it forever.

 

 

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That small indention is the fingerprint of my daughter.   At close inspection, you can make out the wavy lines.

The gem is her birthstone. A garnet for January.

The back is stamped with her initials EKW.

I will carry a piece of her with me for the rest of my life.

When I leave her at school for the first time in a few years, and then return to an empty home, no doubt I will touch this necklace, thinking of her and hoping she’s doing alright.  And I will check the clock a hundred times before 3:00.

When she packs her bag for her first overnight sleepover, the first time away from me for the night, I will still have her near me, secretly hoping the phone will ring and she’ll ask me to come get her.  I’ll jump up in my pajamas, not bothering to dress myself and rush right over.

When I drive away from her dormitory, tears streaming down my cheeks, continually looking in my rearview mirror, I will think back to the day I pressed her tiny forefinger into the clay to make this necklace.

I will wear it around my age spotted neck, through all the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

 

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I love her little hands, her little fingers, the tiny fingernails with chipped red polish.  I think of her fingerprints.  Their uniqueness to her and no one else.  They are her mark.  I wonder where her little hands will go, what they will do.  And I pray that she will leave her fingerprints on this world in a good way.  That she will do good with her hands, that she will touch people’s lives and make a mark.  A one of kind, unique touch that only she is capable of.

As far as I’m concerned though, she already has.

 

Posted in Children, Family

Moment Dwelling

Last night a physical sickness hit me and I couldn’t sleep because of it.

I crept out of the bedroom leaving my husband and EK snoozing soundly, grabbed a down comforter, my robe, and headed to the couch where I still couldn’t sleep.

I got my laptop and for a reason unknown,  I began looking at pictures I had stored on it.  For three hours, I looked at my baby’s pictures and videos from way back.

Oh my heart.

My cheeks began to hurt and I realized I’d been wearing a smile for a very long time.

You tried to tell me how precious, beautiful, adorable, etc., etc. she was and boy, were you right.

Now that I’m a bit removed from that baby-baby stage, I can’t hardly believe how wonderful she was.  And she still is, just bigger.

It’s just that when you’re in the big middle of it, sometimes you see through a glass darkly.  Or as J-Dub would say, your tail lights are brighter than your headlights.

But last night, everything carried a new light.  The way her hair grew.  The dimples on her hands, her budding teeth, the way her rolls of fat lay upon one another,  her grins and her frowns.

I sat and watched each little video from before she was born where I videoed her kicking in the womb, to her cooing, to rolling, to her wounded soldier crawl, to sitting, and all the beautiful steps in between.

After breakfast this morning, I sat her in my lap with the computer and continued my nostalgic trip.  She knew that was baby Emma on the screen and her face wore the most proud expression as she watched herself growing up and doing this little things that we praised.

Our movie watching didn’t last long.  She wanted to read a Monkey book, and color on the TV with a blue marker, get in the clothes I was folding, eat fish and peaches, then play with the dogs and chickens.

Now she stomps around in too big play shoes, puts Cheerios in her ears,  and throws a mean temper tantrum.

We’re just doing life over here.

I have to remind myself that these mundane, day-to-day chores are the little things that become the big things.  In another year, I’ll be watching the videos and studying the pictures from this season of our life together and realizing how precious, beautiful, adorable etc., etc., she was.

 

Then……

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And now….

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I must tell myself to live in the moment.

I’m trying.

Posted in Children, Family

18 months old

Dear Emma Kate,

Today you are 18 months old.  One and a half.  You are a delight to this world.  You make it a better place to live already, in just 18 short months you’ve truly made a difference in many people’s lives.  Remember to always strive to add beauty and make this world a better place.

Let’s see……there is so much to say about you.  First off, you are talker!  You aren’t easily understood except by those close to you, but you talk up a storm, and I don’t just mean you babble.

You like to pray, and that makes my heart so happy.  When we sit down to eat, you remind us to “pay” and you reach for our hands.  You bow your little head, but still peek out from under your hair (we know that because we’re peeking at you too).  When we’re finished, you say Amen and squeeze three times.  It is so precious.

You love books as always and want us to read to you all the time.

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You are so smart.  I know I’ve told you that since you were born, but you were born smarter than most adults ever manage to become!  You love to write your letters.  You call them all E, A, and O’s.

You sing songs.  Your favorite is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and you have these sweet hand motions that go with it that you learned from play group.  You also sing If You’re Happy and You Know it, B-I-N-G-O, You are my sunshine and lots more!

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If you had a choice, you’d be outside!  You are not a prissy pants, although you do like dressing up in necklaces and grown up shoes and calling yourself “toot” (cute), but you also eat dog food, waller in dirt, and don’t mind a little grit under your fingernails.

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You love our dogs Drew and Grace and it is so funny to hear you talk to them.  If you’re not giving them hugs and kisses, then you’re telling them “Go, Move, and No”!  You also love the chickens and you hug their butts all the time.

You are just a little thing.  We’ll be going to the doctor soon for a check up but I bet you weigh just barely over twenty pounds.  You can still wear 12 month clothes and the 18 months are just a little roomy for you.  You are super healthy and have never been too sick!!!  I’m so happy about that.

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As far as your personality goes, you are adorable!  You like familiar people, and it takes you a good while to warm up to others that you aren’t around much.  It hurts their feelings sometimes I think, but they’re grown ups and can deal with it.  So you keep on being careful around others and be choosy in your friends.  You are a watcher and an observer.  You don’t just jump in and do things, but you analyze situations and sit back rather than dive right in.

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You are a mommy’s girl!  And you’ve even started being jealous if someone else touches me or tries to love on me.  You yell “no no no” and wring your little hands.  It’s so cute.  I know you won’t always be a mommy’s girl, and there will be times that you, dare I say, will even think you hate me.  But I will love you no matter what.  Through all the highs and lows and ups and downs.  You are my baby girl.  You’re growing up and I am so proud to have you!  Always know how much you are loved!

I love you!!!!!

xoxo

Mommy

Posted in Children, Family, Pregnancy

Breast Weaning Woes

I’m categorizing this blog under the Public Service category because somethings just need to be said, that no one said to me.  And also because I feel the need to vent.

I’m a little bit peeved at the female race right now.  Yes, women, you.  Don’t point at yourself with your eyebrows raised in surprise like that.  Yes, you.  I’m feeling a bit uninformed, a bit left out in the cold, and a whole LOT OF  shocked at the fact that nobody told me how painful weaning my baby from breast-feeding would be.

To my male readers:  don’t check out quite yet, I have something for you too.

To the mothers out there:  you told me how much pregnancy sucks, you told me how painful labor would be, you warned me of the pain of beginning breast-feeding, how badly it hurt when they latched on. You told me about the hard recovery from a c-section, the hormonal swings, the postpartum depression.  But no one, I mean NO ONE mentioned how painful weaning would be.

I chose to breast feed because I believe in it.  I believe in its goodness.  I never expected to last 6 months, never mind last a year and onward.  My little EK loves to nurse.  She asks for it all the time.  “muck”.  It has been beneficial to her, to her health, to our bonding, etc., etc., etc.  I could go on.

I must be honest, I felt a little weird nursing a toddler, even though deep down I knew I shouldn’t.  But Western Society sexualizes the breast, rather than embracing its intended function and breast feeding a toddler or older is frowned upon.  Dare I even say stigmatized.

I slowly began to wean the baby around 12 months.  First we night weaned, then we began dropping a feeding here and there.  Finally we were down to 2 feedings a day.  I kept it like this for several weeks.  And then the tantrums began.  When I had to postpone her desire for “muck”, she got mad.  She cried.  She pouted.  She hit whatever was closest, sometimes me.

This past Thursday, after a hitting episode, I just said.  “no more, there’s no more milk”.  I’ve stuck to it, but it’s a lie.  It’s one big whopper of a lie, because let me tell you folks, there’s still milk.  There’s a lot milk.  And my bosoms are engorged!  The pain is almost unbearable.  They’re hard, and hot, and lumpy and leaky.  Originally XS, they’ve expanded to a size XXX.  It’s not fun.

To my male readers:  I think I now know how it feels to have testicles.  You know how you guys are always protecting yours?  I get that now.   If something comes near you; a ball, a small child, you instinctively put your hands up to guard your jewels.  I get that now.  Because they hurt.  And especially when they get bumped.  I get that.  You have no idea how much I get that now.   I cry out like a little girl.  And feel like hitting back whoever or whatever has bumped them.

You have no idea how badly I want to allow my girl to nurse again to relieve the pain and discomfort, but I feel like I would really be taking 300 steps backward.  She still asks for her “muck” but the fits have stopped and she seems to be happy with substitute nourishment and comfort.  It’s not really her suffering from weaning.  It’s me.

I think I did this the smart way.  I weaned gradually.  There was no “cold turkey” .  And yet, I still have an overabundance of supply.  I’ve pumped a little just to grant myself an ounce (pun intended) of relief.   And now I have cabbage leaves in my bra as a home remedy to help drain and dry up.  So guess what?  Not only do I hurt, I am uncomfortable, I am downright grouchy, but now……I smell like slaw.  All I lack is fried chicken.  Just add that to my woes.

Which brings me to my advice.  To all you young mothers or ladies thinking of becoming a mother or thinking of breast-feeding.  Do it, it is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong, the benefits are astounding.

But  for me it has not been a piece of cake to wean, I’m here to tell you.

Since no one else will.

<END OF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT>

But can anyone bring me some fried chicken?

Posted in Animals, Family

A day in the backyard with 5 chickens and two dogs

Today the weather is agreeable.  The skies are a cobalt blue with an occasional fluffy cumulus cloud in the distance.  The wind is slight. It’s still chilly enough to need a coat, but when you find a good place to sit in the sun, your insides begin to warm and your heart smiles.

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As does your mouth.  Me and little britches went outside to enjoy it for a while.   The chickens were making an awful ruckus earlier in the day and I thought we’d better scout for eggs in case they’re laying willy nilly as they are prone to do.

In case you’re new here, my backyard is home to  5 wonderful chickens, two dogs and an occasional visit by me and my girl, EK.

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That’s Drew, wanting his belly rubbed.  It’s a dog’s life.

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The dogs are sweet, albeit a bit rambunctious.  And EK is a bit leery of their wagging tails, licking tongues, and overall ambitious nature.

Our girl dog, Grace, is a heeler/shepherd.  A tad on the hyper side, a herder of all chickens,  and may I add that she also is in heat.  It’s important to the story, trust me.

She loves Emma.  She just doesn’t understand her boundaries.

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She wants to love on her but outweighs her by about 25 pounds.

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Emma is always glad to see the dogs, as long as she’s in someone’s arms, safe and protected.  I set her on the ground and told those dogs NO, and allowed the morning to progress.  Drew is content chewing on a stick but  Grace wants to see EK up close and personal and Emma was happy to see her.

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Right until Grace rolled over on her back begging for a belly rub, bumped Emma and made her fall down.  I of course, did my parental duty and ran right over to brush away the tears and scold the dog, but not before I snapped a picture or two.  Not to worry, she was unscathed.

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Time passed.  A chicken wandered over, Grace followed.

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Emma fretted, but was relieved when Grace herded the chicken along and ignored the need for a belly rub.

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It’s okay, Emma.  It’s ok.

Later, a new dog entered our backyard through a bad spot in the fence.  A small black, high jumping dog.

We had gone inside but spotted him through the window.  Was he after the chickens?

Nope.  Just Grace.

We (as in J-Dub)  ran him off twice, then we (as in J-Dub) fixed the bad spot in the fence.

Who knows.  In a few months, the backyard may be home to five wonderful chickens, two dogs, and a passel of puppies.

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All wanting their bellies rubbed.

Authors note:  I started this post when EK was asleep, then she woke up and sat in my lap here at the computer.  I showed her the pictures and she said “Emma”  “bock, bock” “Drew” and when she saw Grace she said, “NO, NO, NO”.    And then “night night”.  She’s so precious.