Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

Let the Countdown Begin

Monday, January 14th, 2013

36 weeks/9 months

Maybe I’m twenty-seven going on seven, but I still like to make paper chain countdowns for exciting events. Well truthfully, I can justify any event to be exciting enough to paper chain. Birthdays, holidays, vacations, doctor’s appointments, root canals. Pap smears? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Nothing preps oneself for the awkwardness of that appointment by paper chaining down those nerves.

I think most of the world would agree then that a baby is definitely paper chain worthy.

With 4 weeks to go, I might be getting out the stapler and scissors a little too early, but I’m ready to countdown. We’re in the red zone. I’ve got my victory dance ready. It’s nearly midnight. The magic is about to happen.

Are you tired of the countdown talk yet? Sorry people, we haven’t even started.

It’s a much different feeling this pregnancy because with my first I was terrified to have a baby. With one birth under my belt, I know it can be done and it doesn’t scare me as much anymore. Yes, there are still some nerves, but most of my feelings are bordering on pure excitement.

We’re at the point where the little bambina could come at anytime. Yes, I want her to continue to grow as healthy and big as she needs to be, but it wouldn’t be totally bonkers if she made an early debut.

This means that we’ve entered a very interesting, very difficult stage of pregnancy.

The waiting game.

It can be a cruel one.

I’ve watched friends and family have babies a couple of weeks early or right on time over the last couple of months and it’s left me hungry. My arms are aching to snuggle a newborn, yet I have no idea when they’ll be filled.

With my first, I was a week overdue and I’m trying, desperately and unsuccessfully, to prep myself with a “she’s going to be late” mentality.

I know, I know, “babies are easier in than out” and “enjoy it while you can,” but there’s just something about this new phase as a family of four that I’m happily ready to start.

I know they’ll be moments with two children that I’ll think, “why was I in such a rush?” Or I’ll long for the days of peeing with absolute freedom, peeing with impunity!

I’m aware newborns are not all snuggles. Enter colic, acid reflux, mixed up sleep schedules, complete dependency. I know it can be hard and realize that it will be hard in some moments, but somehow those thoughts are not curbing my enthusiasm.

I haven’t hit the “I’m so tired of being pregnant please remove this watermelon of a baby by any means necessary,” stage…yet. I’m just thrilled at the thought of making her tiny and sweet acquaintance.

This excitement though heightens the mind game that is the waiting game. These are the last few hard weeks of pregnancy physically, but also mentally. The waiting game is a mind game of epic proportions. When will these contractions get serious? What day will she come? Today? Tomorrow? Three weeks? When should my mom fly out? Too many unknowns!

Soon the dearly beloveds in my life will start sending daily “thoughtful” texts with inquires and excitement about her arrival. This majorly ups the waiting game ante. Too stressful for my blood, I fold.

My solution? Paper chain my feelings into a countdown I can see and maybe, just maybe, feel like I’m doing something to cajole her into the world each time I rip that little shred of paper.

You can bet your bottom dollar when it gets really close to time, I’ll do more pointed cajoling with some serious stadium stairs, spicy foods, and sexy time but for now, the paper chain will suffice. Honestly, experience tells me she’ll do what she wants, when she wants, wives’ tales aside.

And so it begins and tick tocks on the clock…the waiting game.

Add a Comment
Back To Great Expectations

Get Your Nest On

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Usher penned my current feelings so well. Sing it boy, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no…u got it, u got it bad.”

What do I have bad?

Nesting.

I do not remember this case of the nesties the first go round because working full time up until my due date left me no time to nest like I’m doing now. (Read: compulsively sweeping floors and wiping down bathrooms into the wee hours of the morning. Who am I? Not my usual “I clean bathrooms every other week” kind of gal. I know, I disgust me too.)

As the house full of party guests chortled and imbibed (we’re so pretentious) at our New Year’s Eve party, I found myself on my hands and knees, sweeping up food as it fell to the floor. It was in that moment that I realized I was a crazy nesting stereotype.

The one-handed countdown (5 weeks!) to birth has only put my nesting into overdrive.

Rumor has it there are a lot of different ways to nest. Some are the stock their freezers full of prepared meals type. Others are the phased in stacks of fresh laundry type. Me? I fall into two types of nesties.

Online shopping type. Maybe I’m making this up, but I feel compelled to buy things to prep for the baby. Yes, I admittedly love to shop, but now this impulse to find a few new scrumptious baby things feels urgent and primal. Cue frantic tizzy thinking of the diapers and clean onesises still needing to be purchased for baby girl. Heart palpitations. How late is Target open tonight?

Fantasize about organizing type. I cannot open a closet or enter a room without NEEDING to organize it. Typically, making dinner or playing with my daughter trumps any actual organizing, but I stay up to all hours of ungodly thinking of all the things I need to organize.

Lacking actual motivation to execute organizing is also part of nesting. Supposedly, right before a lady goes into labor, she’ll accomplish her organizing fantasies in a spurt of pre-birth energy. Prior to this she may just be too tired to do anything about them.

My sleep deprivation hopes that spurt happens soon because I just can’t quite manage to pull my pregnant apple bottom off the couch to attend to those cluttered closets and rooms. I wouldn’t say I’m a hoarder, just a lady who knows how to throw things in a closet and forget about them. Nesting is numbering my ignoring days though. Husband’s clothes that are not color-coordinated and have not been sorted since high school? You’re high on the hit list.

Bless my family who was in town and helped me deep clean my freezer, organize my spice rack, sort baby clothes, haul donations to charity, and all other sorts of glamorous little nesting priorities last week. I really know how to treat my house guests. They can’t hate me too much. Nature shows all female mammals suffer from the nesties and really it’s a way to prepare hearth and home for the safe and welcoming arrival of a newborn.

I try to explain the feeling of nesting to others but it is hard to describe. How does my husband who still wears some of his high school shirts (the classic ones mind you) that if I haven’t used something in the last 24 hours I now consider it clutter and I must donate it or throw it out or I will combust into a fit of fiery hormones? How do I explain the furious and imminent need rising in my chest to forget anything but spending the evening deep cleaning the baseboards? How are these priorities not everyone’s priorities? Anyone? Bueller?

As my nesties get on everyone’s last nerve here in the homestretch, I ask, please just envision a sweet…uh, hippopotamus trying to spruce up the place for a new little baby bundle. That’s an adorable image no one can reject and much better than the slightly panicked, overwhelmed, unable to relax, weird cleaning lady I’ve become.

Image: Nest via Sergiy Telesh/Shutterstock.com

Add a Comment
Back To Great Expectations

A Pregnancy In Review

Monday, December 31st, 2012

34 weeks/7 months

As the end of 2012 draws nigh, let’s review some of the beautiful, unexpected, and some expected highlights of the pregnancy thus far.

A little year, er, pregnancy in review if you will. While I’ll never be able to do it my media crush, Tom Brokaw worthy, let’s give it a stab. All the reputable media outlets do it. VH1 is reputable right?

Take that and rewind it back…a pregnancy review complete with hashtags I’m still trying to make happen. #ICan’tQuitYou

1st trimester

We discover we’re having a baby! We feel moony and elated. It is our hearts’ fondest desire.

Baby name discussions immediately get tabled because the husband and I are both stubborn oxes with very different opinions who tend to melodramatically ralph at the other party’s suggestions. #TillBabyNamesDoUsPart

We learn we’re having another little lady and I do a cartwheel of joy for the gift of sisters. And matching outfits. My husband sees the dollar signs of two weddings but tempers that worry momentarily with all the girl paraphernalia we’ll get to reuse. #GlassHalfFull

We tell our two-year-old daughter who in her very own toddler way promises to love and cherish the baby because she’s “not going to scare her.” #ShellSmotherHerBecauseSheLovesHer

We tell the beloveds in our lives that we’re expecting another baby who mostly, kind of, sort of, already guessed it. #LuckyGuess

I’m overwhelmingly grateful to become a mom again and for the people who taught me to cherish pregnancy and motherhood.

2nd Trimester

I, scratch that, WE welcome the return of my boobs. #PregnancyPerks

I school the peeps on things to avoid saying to a pregnant lady. #CheckYoSelfBeforeYouWreckYoSelf

I crowd source the question of having a second baby shower and people share strong opinions on the topic. #JurysStillOut

I get where cuddly, lazy, sleep-all-day, eat-all-day pandas are coming from and wish people thought my pregnant lady, panda-like shenanigans were just as cute. #PandasGotItMade

I confess I pee my pants regularly. My husband quits reading the blog. #IJoke

I embrace being the stereotypical hormonal pregnant lady we all know and love. #HotMess

3rd Trimester

I proudly teach my mom the phrase “grower not a shower” and it’s relevance to how different bellies show. #MomQuitsReadingTheBlog

We survive the worry of a health scare with the baby and feel overwhelmingly relieved for the miracle of a healthy baby.

We welcome the glorious holiday season and the clear trump card it is to wear maternity pants to every holiday party. #StretchyPantsForTheWin

Her Royal Highness, Princess Kate reveals she’s with child as well and I’m certain she totally copied me. #TrendSetter

I remember why the third trimester can be a bit tricky as the burgeoning belly makes its presence known and vow to channel Santa’s jolly ability to work a belly. #HollaForHemorrhoids

Currently…

This brings us to today, the cusp of January.  We’ve reached the stage where people give the belly the once over before saying hello and I could post over-share dilation updates on Facebook (I promise, I’ll spare you).

I’d upgrade my panda status to heffer status after visiting a dairy farm last week. I learned them cows go on community bed-rest at 7 months, which makes me feel as if cow society might be a bit more awesome than human society at the moment.

As the end approaches, long gone are the days when people be thinking my belly is small, and big and huge are starting to escape their lips. This is a good sign. I should be huge. Huge, hormonal, and happy is the third trimester in a nutshell.

We are a smidgen closer to baby name diplomacy and I’d like it in writing that I’m being very cooperative to avoid going over the “can’t compromise” cliff.

Harper knows that a baby is coming and regularly asks when “sissy boo” will be here. She no longer lists the contents of my lunch when asked what’s in my belly. She sweetly asked me to hug the pretend baby in her belly the other night and I melted.

Sure, the pregnancy is getting a bit uncomfortable. I want to say a swear every time I drop something and have to bend to pick it up. I’m constantly hungry like a wolf (not as the song suggests but lit’rally ravenous). I now pee every 3 minutes and expel gas every 8 minutes. At least I give a courtesy check to see who’s behind me before breaking wind? So thoughtful.

But as the year wraps up, I realize there are only 6 weeks left (Come again? 6 weeks!), and things are about to get really real and exciting in the pregnancy department.

She’s almost here. The very thought fills me with more excitement for the New Year than I can possibly put into words. It’s going to be a bit different, a bit messy as we transition into a new stage but mostly, I’m looking forward to it being a bit of everything I’ve ever wanted to grow and love my family more. I want to relish these last few weeks and the anticipation that fills my heart for the upcoming year with a new baby.

Image: Classy bathroom mirror photography at roughly 33 weeks

Add a Comment
Back To Great Expectations

Forget the Mom Jeans, Let’s Talk Mom Hair

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

33 weeks/7 months

It’s a trend that’s stuck around longer than pogs, scrunchies, patterned pants, or Justin Bieber’s pre-pubescent innocence. It’s stood the test of time through each decade.

It’s the mom-cut.

Does the very word make visions of Kate Gosselin’s reserve mullet immediately dance in your head? McGruff and his crime fighting nephew Scruff need to take a bite out of the crime that is the mullet. Reverse or traditional.

The mom-cut, despite its negative connotation ain’t all a bad thing. It can go really right or really wrong in my book.

When I’m feeling particularly deep thoughts, my soul wrastles with the question: what is it about having a baby that makes many a mom shed her locks?

I’ve done it. My sister just did it. And my sister-in-law is about to do it. The shedding of motherly hair is a thing. I’ve found that many a mom dramatically cuts her locks within the first year of having a baby.

I’m neither pro nor con. Just an observer and a perpetrator, but I have a few theories about the phenomenon.

First, I vaguely remember people telling me my hair would fall out after having a baby.

I do not remember however, anyone telling me I’d feel like a Yeti shedding every inch of hair my head had managed to grow in the past twenty-seven years of life. If I washed, brushed, touched, moved, sneezed, or thought about my hair it fell out.

It drove me nuts crazy to regularly find strands of hair smooshed into my newly acquired nursing cleavage in all its leaking milk glory. It covered every inch of my bathroom floor and clogged up my drains.  The final straw was finding my hair in my daughter’s diaper. I do not want to know how it found its way there.

That postpartum hair is a force to be reckoned with. It’s everywhere. Basically, “hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband, cause yo hair is attacking errbody out here.”

I said to my hair, “Enough hair. Off of my head!”

And so I chopped.

Other hair cutting theories include practicality. Short hair can be easier. New babies or more babies usually means less time for primpin’ and primin’ and off with the hairs moms go. I get that. I tried that.

Maybe moms do it to counterbalance the gallons of milk that are now the ol’ chest. Boobs and loads of hair can be too much business and weight for some ladies to handle.

Perhaps it’s slightly symbolic. Motherhood is an amazingly crazy life change, and an easy outward reflection of that inward change is a new do. It’s as if the new cut sings Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” to each passerby as it bounces weightlessly off of a mother’s shoulders.

It’s a tricky one, to cut that hair or not. I admit, I experienced a brief bout of choppage regret as my short haired dreams went a little more Hilary Clinton circa 1994 instead of a more modern-day Michelle Williams chic. (No disrespect to the former First Lady, she’s just 40 years my senior, not exactly my target hair age group).

Please let it be known that neither short hair or long hair is superior. I’ve been a short hair wearer most of my life. I’m even coming to terms with the fact that long hair and I may never be friends; but I have made my husband swear not to let me cut my hair after this pregnancy on an “I need a change!” hormonal whim.

I fully endorse the shorties, but I think making the decision in the light of day, not during the sleepless delirium of a midnight feeding where the hundredth fallen hair grazing my arm makes me bawl in hysterics is probably the best choice. For this postpartum go round, I’m thinking I’ll work the topknot, or don a beanie or sombrero. If nothing else I can claim the current beauty trend to forgo hair washing for a week.

After my hormonal choppage regret rage simmered down, my hair grew on me (see what I did there?).  I realized, it’s just hair. Grow it out again, lady. Leave it short. Do whatever makes you and your tendrils of hair happy. To thine own hair self be true.

As one who has lived to tell the tale of the mom-cut rite of passage, I’ve often wondered if other mothers have felt the same siren call of the scissors as they whisper promises of ease, change, and fulfillment in one cut. Did you do the do? The mom-do? Any regrets?

Image: My chopped locks and the edible cheeks of my 6-month old daughter

Add a Comment
Back To Great Expectations

“I Carry Your Heart With Me”

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Grief is debilitating at times and my heart aches for those feeling so much of it this Christmas.

It is difficult to reconcile the hard reality of life that people leave it so suddenly. One minute they are there, and the next they are gone. The only panacea for loss I’ve found is to feel it, live it, and talk about it.

As I was doing some Christmas shopping the other day, a memory surfaced that I haven’t recalled for a long time. The baseball hat in my hand took me back fourteen Christmases ago to the baseball hat I purchased for my dad, a cancer patient undergoing his first round of chemo. The hat was meant to cover his soon to be bald head. He never lost his hair. He never wore that hat. He died that Christmas day.

Fourteen Christmases later, that memory still stops me in my tracks. As with the death of any loved one, you never really get over it; you learn to live with it.

As another year stretches between that memory, I can’t help but think of the milestones logged in those fourteen years that were unattended by my dad. It hurts. Sometimes so much that my heart still feels as stunned and craven as the moment I first learned he was gone.

Becoming a parent made me miss my dad in a way I didn’t know I could.

Having a second child heightens the ache in my heart for him. It’s another unattended milestone. Being a parent makes me need my parents more. I wish I could ask him the hundreds of questions I didn’t know to ask him before he died.

Like any who experience loss, I will never get that chance. Instead of letting that grief, that injustice consume me, I remember what I have learned from loss. This is my one chance, my one life, to let my husband, children, family and friends know how much I love them. I never want it to be a question how much I loved them.

While I still miss my dad, the place in my heart that broke after he died feels a little less sad as I watch my daughter with my husband. Their love reminds me that losing great, means loving great.

As I watch my husband with my daughter, I freeze frame the memory to tell her later, just in case she faces the same heartache of losing her dad too soon.

I’ll tell her how they “wrastled” every night before bed as she ran at him yelling, “I’m gonna knock you down!” and leapt at him in a fit of giggles. I’ll tell her how she use to ask for “silly kisses” as he tickled her with is goatee.

He’s quick to tell her he loves her, but someday, after his passing, his voice and words will be hard to conjure, and while I’m certain she’ll know he loved her, she’ll need these memories to remind her just how much.

It is bittersweet at times to bring another life into this world when one of the people I love the most is not here to share in the joy. However, I know that no matter how robbed I feel at times, I come back to love.

His loss reminds me to say I love you more. To be kinder. To be softer. To be forgiving. To choose joy.

Everyday I tell my daughter, “I’ll keep you forever.” I know that one day we won’t always be physically together, but her memory, her heart, I’ll always carry with me. Just like I do with my dad.

One Christmas, fourteen years ago, took my dad, but it gave me the great gift of gratitude for the moments I do get with the ones I love.

To my dad whom I still miss so deeply, thank you.

During this holiday season, I pray you find peace and happiness. May your heartache, grief, or loss, be a little less as you feel the love of family and friends.

Add a Comment
Back To Great Expectations