Tag Archives: my husband

Dad-o

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I happen to think that I picked one of the best men around to be the father of my children.

Side note: I happen to know tons of women who think they picked a pretty awesome guy to be the father of their children and that makes me really happy. I have a lot of gratitude about that, and I think it’s pretty cool that my friends have such great husbands.

Awesome dad exhibit 1: He jumped rope for them.

Awesome dad exhibit 1: He jumped rope for them.

Awesome dad exhibit 2: He wore these bunny ears while feeding the baby.

Awesome dad exhibit 2: He wore these bunny ears while feeding the baby.

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Awesome dad exhibit 3: Then he let the kids ride on him – which they do ALL. THE. TIME.

In addition to being an awesome father, my husband also made me feel pretty special on Mother’s Day. Special like, took all three kids to the grocery store on a Saturday morning so he could make me French toast. Then sending me off for a pedicure with strict instructions not to return for several hours. And when I did finally return, not only did he make me chocolate chip cookies, but he also made me scotcheroos. I’ve never, ever, ever had anyone make me chocolate chip cookies. I’m always the one making them for other people – usually my family – and I LOVE doing it. But I would often jokingly complain that no one ever made ME cookies. And then he did. His first time ever. And they were awesome.

So I knew that I wanted to make Husband feel really special on Father’s Day. And I did make him a favorite dessert and get him a cool T-shirt and some of his favorite snacks and a gift certificate for golf. BUT, my favorite parte was something the girls and I worked on over a month ago. I asked them all the reasons they loved their daddy, or things they wanted to thank daddy for, and this is what they came up with.

Daddy …

  1. I want to thank you for making our bunk beds. (Bean)
  2. I want to say thank you for helping me do my best each day. (Monkey)
  3. I want to say thank you for cleaning up our toys downstairs. (Bean)
  4. I want to thank you for getting out our playhouse. (Bean)
  5. I want to thank you for picking up all the sticks in our yard. (Monkey)
  6. I want to thank you for covering us back up with our blankets at night. (Bean)
  7. I want to thank you for making food for us when we’re sick. (Monkey)
  8. I want to thank you for the special Mother’s Day for Mommy. (Bean)
  9. I want to thank you for buying us toys. (Monkey)
  10. I want to thank you for building our wood playhouse. (Bean)
  11. I love it when you give us hugs and kisses at nighttime. (Monkey)
  12. I love it when you snuggle with me at nighttime. (Monkey and Bean)
  13. I love it when you wrestle with us. (Monkey)
  14. I love it when you eat at the table with us and we’re all together. (Bean)
  15. I love it when you give us rides on the lawnmower and let us steer. (Monkey)
  16. I love it when you push us high on the swings. (Bean)
  17. I love it when you help me ride my bike. (Monkey)
  18. I love it that you help me in swimming class. (Bean)
  19. I love it that you help me pick up the apples from the apple tree. (Monkey)
  20. I love it that you help me with puzzles. (Bean)
  21. I love it when you give us horsey back rides. (Monkey and Bean)
  22. I love it when you take our pictures. (Monkey and Bean)
  23. I love it when you give us a bath and you let us throw toys at you and squirt each other. (Monkey)
  24. I love it when you play hide and seek with us. (Bean)
  25. I love it when you hold us. (Monkey and Bean) 

Daddy, these are the reasons why we love you!

I also had the girls answer these fun questions about their daddy:

 

All About My Daddy

By Monkey (age 5) and Bean (age 3)

 

My daddy is 17 feet and 40 inches tall

He weighs 40 pounds

His hair color is brown

His eyes are blue

His favorite TV show is baseball

He likes to go to Qdoba

His favorite food is Hello Dolly bars

His favorite drink is soda

For fun he likes to play with us

I love it when my daddy gives us piggy back rides

My favorite thing about my daddy is when he plays outside with us

I ❤ MY DADDY

Father’s Day 2013

Husband they love you sooooo much. They adore you. You are so important to them and this family and I am so grateful to have you as my partner in the most important job of our lives.

xoxo

They will always be daddy's little girls.

They will always be daddy’s little girls.

I’m So Glad We Get to Do This Again (and, an explanation)

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Blogging has just not been a top priority for me lately — as much as I’ve wanted it to be. Usually I’ll have a story running through my head; a partial post bursting out of my brain; funny or introspective thoughts I’ll want to run by other parents. Normally I’ll be scrambling to get it written down and the words just pour out. But for the past four months I just haven’t had the head space. Not that I haven’t had the constant chatter in my head … because I have … it’s just seemed like an insurmountable task to actually get those thoughts down on paper.

This pregnancy has been much harder on me mentally and emotionally than my pregnancies with Monkey and Bean. I don’t know exactly what accounts for that … except that I know that every pregnancy is different. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it has a lot to do with already having two young kids to take care of. Add to that the overall growing pains of raising a young family, i.e. some terrible two’s, growing independence, and general “WTF am I doing as a parent anxiety,” plus work obligations and ding, ding, ding — you get some major emotional/mental exhaustion which leads to more crabbiness, short temperedness, anxiety. Don’t forget the extra credit — the hormones and physical tiredness and limitations that come with every pregnancy.

I honestly think that the physical limitations of pregnancy sneak up on you so slowly and gradually that it’s almost unnoticeable until one day you’re just SO frustrated that you can’t fit between the bathroom door and the sink to brush your uncooperative 4-year-old’s teeth and you just LOSE it and yell “WOULD YOU COOPERATE SO I CAN BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!?” And then you realize that you just totally overreacted, and yes your 4-year-old is being a pain, but you’re mostly just pissed because dammnit, you cannot MOVE normally.

And as far as the hormones go, all I’ll say is that in the moment your reactions seem rational. And for anyone who’s never been pregnant and thinks that the whole “hormones” thing is just some ploy to act like a crazy person, believe me, it’s not. Because honestly, no one wants to feel like a crazy person.

OH! And the extra, extra credit — being pregnant during the summer of 2012. Do you think that will be a thing that women who are pregnant this summer talk about? “YOU were pregnant during the summer of 2012?? OMG, ME too! That HEAT was just unbearable, and I just didn’t go outside for like three months, unless I could lay in a pool like a beached whale and not move and be jealous of everyone with their fruity drinks, and we kept the air set to 73 degrees, but I was *still* always hot, and it was just miserable, and …”

I think what drove all this home for me (why I’m experiencing this added mental/emotional exhaustion) was being away with my husband for our final “babymoon” this past weekend. We quite literally, did nothing. We ate, we walked, we sat, we walked, we sat, we ate, we slept.” Repeat. No one needed our attention. We didn’t have to follow anyone else’s agenda. We were only concerned about our own needs. There were no stressors or obligations. We watched all the other parents enjoying the three-day holiday weekend with their kids and we were a little sad that our kids weren’t with us, and envious of all the family fun. In the moment, I tried to remind myself how much harder it would be if the kids were with us, how the weekend would not be ours, and that I needed to just relax and enjoy the alone time. I told myself that those kids were probably being pains. But still, I was a tad sad and we were really excited to get home Sunday afternoon.

And then after I got home on Sunday afternoon I wasn’t so excited to be there. Because damn, they need A LOT of attention! And at times they can be pains! And I am TIRED! But seriously. This is what I realized — I did nothing while we were gone. I did nothing except eat, walk, sit and sleep, and I was still physically tired and limited (there was no light hiking as I hoped; baby being in VERY uncomfortable positions made slow walking and sitting the only things comfortable). So take me, already tired, physically limited and uncomfortable, and add caretaking and stressors of everyday life and work, and yeah. I’m kind of crabby! So I guess this weekend made me realize there’s probably nothing earth shattering about why this pregnancy has been more emotionally/mentally draining, except for normal things that have left me with little motivation to tackle extra things.

Hence, not much head space left over for blogging. I guess I feel like I’ve been surviving these past few months as opposed to thriving.

BUT, what I’ve also realized in the last few months, is that I’m so glad we get to do this again.

My brother-in-law is getting married this month to a wonderful girl and in June they asked me to look through my photos to see if I had any of the two of them together. So I started in 2010, the year they started dating and the year Bean was born, and boy. I really started to miss two-year-old Monkey and baby Bean. I may have shed a few tears.

It made me realize how glad I am that we get to have another baby. I can’t wait for the snuggling and the feedings and even the diaper changes. I can’t wait to see how this third person will enliven and enlarge our family. I can’t wait to see what she looks like, and slowly peel back the layers of her temperament and personality. I can’t wait to see Bean in the role of two-year-old big sister, like Monkey was for her. I can only imagine how Monkey will fill her role as biggest sister. She is such a nurturing soul, and already is instructing us about when, how and where she wants to hold and feed her baby sister.

Honestly, they’re both so excited. Have I mentioned that they both walk around with their loveys stuffed up their shirts and ask me if I want to feel their babies move?

This little girl is already such a blessing to our family and I really feel like she completes us. After being so indecisive about should we or shouldn’t we have a third, I feel so privileged that it was even an option.

With Monkey setting the pace for us, I’m just so happy that I get to experience all these stages again one more time.

New Beginnings

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It’s been almost four months since I’ve blogged, and this post isn’t even necessarily about the fact that I’m only about four weeks away (!) from having this baby. Or the fact that we’re having our THIRD girl!

No. What’s top of mind for me tonight is that my first baby is going off to 4k in the morning.

How did that even happen? When she’s sleeping at night and I check on her before I go to bed, I just stare at the long legs, the long hair, and the very big kid sleeping in the bed. I picture her as a teeny newborn and it’s a little mind boggling to realize how very, very quickly this all goes.

I’ve had these realizations before. Especially after having more than one child. The second time around it’s easier to keep things in perspective when your infant isn’t sleeping through the night, or you’re trying to get rid of the pacifier, or struggling through potty training — it’s easier to tell yourself, “This will only last a few [fill-in-the blank — days, weeks, months].”

As a parent, we’re so excited when our child reaches a new level of independence, be it sleeping through the night, being able to wash his/her own hands, getting their own water. Let’s be honest, mostly because it means less work for us.

But my latest realization was different — for the first time, I realized how truly short a time period it is that our kids are 100% completely dependent on us.

I mean, between six and nine months babies are already less dependent on us because they’re crawling. They can move away from us. Bean was walking at 9.5 months.

Wow, right? At nine months old, NINE MONTHS, the amount of time it took you to grow them, they’re already doing things independently. Without you.

And it just snowballs from there. Their independence milestones just keep getting bigger.

As a parent, we feel like our job is to “raise” this new life. To take care of them, provide for their needs. They NEED us, right?

But really, I’m starting to realize that our job as a parent is to teach them how to succeed in life … without us.

And that’s just a little sad, isn’t it?

I remember my mom wistfully telling me (as an adult) “I gave my kids wings so they could fly.” As an adult, I thought that was great! Now as a parent that makes me boo hoo hoo. I think it’s the hardest thing in the world to so lovingly and tenderly put so much time into another human being just to watch them walk away from you.

Monkey’s first day of school tomorrow reminds me of the first time I dropped her off at my mother-in-law’s house to go back to work after maternity leave. The girls’ Nana has been watching them four days a week since they were 10 and 12 weeks old, respectively. They LOVE their Nana and love going to her house. They’re usually a little disappointed on the weekend when we tell them “No, you’re not going to Nana’s house today, you get to stay home with Daddy and me!” (much to our chagrin).

I remember trying to be really brave and matter of fact when I dropped Monkey off that first day back to work. I almost made it too, until I started bawling at the last minute and then basically had to run out the door. I was so sad that someone else was getting the privilege of spending 8-9 hours of the day with MY baby and that someone wasn’t me. Someone else was getting to *be* there. I was jealous.

Ultimately the experiences Monkey has had over the last 4.5 years at Nana’s house — the memories she’s made and the bond she has with her Nana — have been a benefit to everyone, including me and especially her. The same is true for Bean.

And I know that school will be SUCH a blessing for Monkey. She is so looking forward to it. She will love it and she will thrive. She has an inquisitive nature and it will be so wonderful to watch her mind growing right before our eyes.

But it’s definitely bittersweet. It’s hard to watch this child I love so much take another small step away from me. Even though she was in preschool two mornings a week last year, this is a bigger step. Every day there will be another person, aside from her Nana, her dad and me, who will occupy a central role in her life and development. Another person will get to spend 3+ hours a day with her that I won’t get to spend with her.

My friend who is a teacher wrote this last night and I can only hope all of our kids will experience a teacher or teachers like this in their lives:

“I am excited as always for the first day of school. Parents who are nervous about sending their kids to school: remember, your children are spending the day with peers, but they are also being welcomed, taught, challenged, cherished and watched over by teachers who open their classroom doors, their arms and their hearts to your children. Teachers, remember that tomorrow your rooms will be filled with the most important people in the world, and every one of them is their parents’ heart and soul and pride and joy. Handle with care. And parents, remember, we teachers teach because we want to love and guide your children. We know you see your child as a miracle; know that we do, too. Work with us, and know that we take what you say to heart, and we have the very best intentions in what we do to help your child grow and thrive. Most importantly parents, talk to us. Give us the feedback we need to make the most of our time with your child. I know that it is hard to believe that anyone could feel about your child the way you do — but know that your child’s teachers spend the majority of their lives trying to do and give everything they can for the students they’re blessed to work with. Have a beautiful first day of school everyone!”

I’m hoping I can keep my boo hoo hooing to myself.

Why I’m Not Hoping for a Boy

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We have two girls. Two wonderful, lovely, beautiful girls. So must people assume that we’re hoping this baby is a boy. Nah. It’s so cliché, but we’re just hoping for a healthy baby.

There would be pros and cons to having a boy or a girl.

I would love to have a boy because it would be a whole new experience. It would be something totally different. And it’s nice to think of Husband having that dad-boy relationship that I have with my girls. He’s a terrific dad to the girls, and at the same time it would be nice for him to have a boy to balance out the estrogen.

I would love to have a girl because as excited as I would be about the whole new “boy experience,” it simultaneously scares the sh*t out of me. At least with girls I kind of have a clue about what I’m doing. I remember one night at my grandma’s house when my cousin (who’s like my sister) was sitting on the floor with me and we were both changing diapers. My cousin has two boys. I was changing Bean and she was changing her son K. We both looked at each other’s baby’s (opposite) parts and she said, “I have no idea what to do with that.” And I said, “I have no idea what to do with THAT!” At least I’m familiar with my daughters’ parts!

If we have a boy I think it will be easier for me not to compare my kids to each other. Especially when it comes to comparing the baby to the first two. It’s already hard enough for me not to compare Monkey and Bean.

If we have another girl, I’m afraid that the baby will break up the super close bond that the older two girls have. On the other hand, I have two best friends. I know it’s unlikely to have two best friends, and you’re probably thinking that surely I’m closer to one than the other. But I’m not. I truly do have two best friends. And in many instances, having one of us stay neutral while the other two get worked up, has helped resolve conflict faster. So I think it could be awesome for them to each have two sisters.

Regardless of whether it’s a boy or girl, those girls are going to looooooooooove on that baby like you just won’t believe. They were baby obsessed before, but I think they’re going to take it to a new level. They just LOVE babies (real and pretend).

With all of that said, it’s still fun to guess, right!? After all this time, Monkey is still hankering for a brother, while Bean wants a sister. We told them that one of them will get what they want. 😉

For what it’s worth, my intuition told me “boy” from the moment I got a positive pregnancy test. I refer to the baby as “he.” However, lately I have been doubting my intuition because this pregnancy has been pretty much the same as the other two.

Here’s what the old wives tales have said:

  • The Chinese pregnancy calendar says GIRL, and it was correct for both Monkey and Bean
  • The baking soda test says GIRL (pee in a cup and if it sizzles it’s a boy; if it does nothing it’s a girl)
  • The baby’s heartbeat has been over the place. At my six-week ultrasound it was 137. I had another ultrasound at 9 weeks and it was 178. At my last two check-ups it’s been in the 150s. Typically when we listen with the Doppler at home it’s in the 130-140 range. With the girls, the heartbeat was usually in the 150s-160s. The last time I input the heartbeat in the above gender prediction tool it said BOY, but it has said GIRL before, too. So it’s a toss-up.

Husband thinks it’s a girl. We’ll find out tomorrow if my mother’s intuition is right! (it was right for both girls)

What do you think!??

(And if you’re so inclined, please say some prayers for a healthy baby)

I’ve Never Been Pregnant on Mother’s Day Before

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This is What I’m Going With

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Lately, I feel like everything with Bean is an epic battle to the death. And obviously, there are no winners.

Here’s a typical scenario from our house in the last three weeks:

Morning

The mere mention of going to the bathroom and getting dressed sends Bean into a flailing tantrum complete with arm waving (and mostly unintentional) hitting, kicking, tears and screaming. We’re talking head thrown back, on the floor, ear-piercing screams.

Sometimes, she will willingly take off her clothes, but then when I suggest getting dressed, she just runs away. If I happen to grab her before she gets away from me (because I refuse to chase her), then the above tantrum ensues.

Bedtime

Most of the time Bean is all too happy to get into pajamas, but the tantrum inducer is when (gasp) her father, (God forbid) attempts to help her with getting ready for bed. Last night as I was brushing Monkey’s teeth and told Bean that daddy was going to help her, the above tantrum ensued. Same goes for helping her go to the bathroom, getting her pajamas on, washing her hands, you name it.

Mealtime

I made homemade waffles last weekend. They were dang delicious and so much easier than I remember. Especially now that my waffle iron is accessible and I learned not to overfill the darn thing. Bean loved them. But then she accidentally dropped one of her last two pieces on the floor. No biggie, right?

WRONG.

I picked it up and threw it away. Bad idea. Cue tantrum. Except a mealtime tantrum has the added bonus of Bean being strapped into a chair, thus able to fling her body back and forth and all around without falling out. It’s awesome.

I was stunned.

I explained to her that the waffle was dirty, but that it was okay because I would give her one of my waffle pieces.

Didn’t matter. She wasn’t hearing it. She wanted that dirty waffle piece back and there was nothing I could say or do to make her happy.

And generally, that’s how it goes.

The instant something happens that she doesn’t want (or the suggestion of something she doesn’t want to do), it’s the end. There’s zero ability to talk with her. There’s no communication. She just shuts down.

All of the wonderful parenting techniques that we employ with Monkey (all of the parenting articles I’ve been poring over), don’t really work.

  • It doesn’t matter if I give her choices. She just screams “NO!” back at me about everything.
  • It doesn’t matter if something is a rule (establishing rules and expectations so that I’m not the bad guy). “The rule is that when we get up in the morning, the first thing we do is go to the bathroom.” Or, “The rule is we brush our teeth in the morning and at night before bed.” We run through all the people who brush their teeth and go to the bathroom in the morning. Meh. Most times she could care less what the rule is.
  • Asking her if she wants to do something now or “in a minute” always gets the “in a minute” reply. But then when 5 minutes goes by and I tell her it’s time to do XYZ, generally we still get the tantrum or the running away, or the running away followed by the tantrum (like this morning).
  • We’ve been really trying to talk to the kids like we would talk to another adult. The example in an article I read was along the lines of, “If you saw an adult knock over their milk at McDonald’s you wouldn’t jump up and start berating them about how clumsy they were and how they should be more careful and then huff off to get some paper towels.” Not that we’ve ever done that; generally we’re pretty calm about those types of things. But, you get the point, which is, “Don’t treat someone poorly, or more importantly, force someone to do what you want, just because you’re bigger than them.” Because that sets up all sorts of problems that leaves kids vulnerable to sexual predators, peer pressure, etc. How-ev-er, like I told Husband, if he dropped his piece of waffle on the floor and I threw it away because it was dirty, he wouldn’t start flailing his arms, kicking his legs, throwing his head back and screaming. I’m pretty sure we’d just talk about it.

And that is my biggest frustration. There’s just no communication. No opportunity for any of the above. The only thing that somewhat works is empathetically saying how I think she feels. “I know you’re mad, honey. I know you want to keep playing. I’m sorry that we have to get ready for bed.” But even if she stops to listen to me, she still doesn’t then cooperate.

The only time she wants to do something is when she can possibly beat her sister to it. Which honestly is unfair to Monkey because then Monkey’s always second. Or, if Monkey beats Bean, Bean still cries and has a tantrum. Good grief. I’m exhausted just thinking of all the tantrums.

I feel beaten down. I feel like I’ve just had it. I am pulling out all the tricks and it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference.

I don’t yell much. We don’t spank. We do use time-outs, although this Aha Parenting Web site advocates for doing time-ins (sitting with your child) instead of time-outs (which apparently make them feel isolated and alone with their feelings). I tried that this morning with Bean when she wouldn’t cooperate about getting dressed. She just laid in her bed (naked) and yelled at me to get out. I stayed anyway. I have no idea if it helped.

Up to this point we’ve been trying to follow Love and Logic parenting techniques (I say “trying” because we like the philosophy but we don’t always execute) which focuses a lot on empathy and consequences (as well as choices, routines/rituals, etc.). However, Aha Parenting advocates for not issuing punishments or consequences (unless they’re “natural” and not “parent-imposed” consequences) because when kids are acting their worst, that’s when they need you to love them the most.

Aha Parenting argues that when kids are dwaddling and being slow getting ready for bed, the last thing they need is for you to yank away stories or cuddle time as a consequence. But when we’re running out of time to get Bean to bed (and we KNOW she’s probably acting out from being tired), it seems like a natural consequence that if you’re not cooperating and you’re making things take longer, that you don’t get stories. It’s not even really a punishment! It’s not like we’re saying “No stories because you’re being sassy or because you hit your sister.” It’s a natural consequence. We ran out of time. I feel conflicted about this whole “consequence/punishment” thing.

I don’t really yell much. BUT, when pushed, I do raise my voice (not to a yell, but it’s raised), I do get a mean look on my face, I do lose the ability to negotiate and communicate and just start barking orders. Basically, I get angry and frustrated. I also say things I shouldn’t; things that I try not to say. And then I find myself still saying them: “Why do you have to be so uncooperative?” “I am so sick of this.” I know this is bad because I’m sending her the message that she, as a person, is bad.

Day after day, night after night, these are my interactions with my child. She knows that I’m frustrated. One of the things I remember from the Love & Logic CDs is that if you send your child the message that you can’t handle them, they’ll think, “Geez, I must really be bad if even my own parents can’t handle me,” and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The kid acts worse and worse, and the parent is less and less able to get a handle on the situation. I’m afraid that’s going to happen.

I also feel like the frequency of these occurrences makes it more and more difficult for me to remain calm when they happen. I’m immediately on edge because I feel like I already know the outcome (major tantrum), and no amount of choices, or empathy, or quietly speaking to her, or whatever is going to help.

I feel like a failure. Not just because she’s not listening and cooperating. But because there’s no room for any negotiation, communication, education, discussion. Period.

Aha Parenting says “Kids who feel connected to their parents naturally want to please them,” and that:

Defiance is always a relationship problem. If your child does not accept your direction (“I don’t care what you say, you can’t make me!”), it’s always an indication that the relationship is not strong enough to support the teaching. This happens to all of us from time to time. At that point, stop and think about how to strengthen the relationship, not how to make the child “mind.” Turning the situation into a power struggle will just deepen the rift between you.”

Since I seem to be engaged in a non-stop power struggle (epic battle to the death), obviously I’m not connected. Failure.

My child does not feel connected to me, she will think that I think she’s a whole lot of trouble and that she can’t be contained, therefore she will become increasingly troublesome, and basically I just ruined her chance at becoming a successful person, not to mention we don’t have a relationship.

I know this is extreme, but it’s my fear.

I am not used to this. I am not accustomed to encountering a problem that I can’t solve, even with repeated effort. Am I not trying hard enough?

Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?

Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?

I will also add that I think she’s definitely not getting enough sleep.

After getting through the difficulty of her wanting us to be in the room while she fell asleep and waking excessively at night (2-5 times every night), we’re now dealing with her early rising. She goes to bed beautifully now, but instead of sleeping until 7 a.m. like normal, her waking has gotten earlier and earlier. First it was 6:45 a.m. Then it was 6:30 a.m. The past two weeks it’s been 6 or 6:15. And today it was 5 freaking 40 A.M.!

She’s also started taking shorter naps. At least I feel like that’s more normal for her age — she just turned two, so I can’t really expect her to continue taking 2+ hour naps. An hour and a half is more in line, but sometimes it’s only an hour and 15 minutes, or like yesterday — 45 minutes! Between early waking and shortened naps, she is just not getting enough sleep.

And thirdly, her picky eating is at an all-time high. We trying our best to follow the advice of our pediatrician who tells us every time I express concern over her picky eating, “Your job is to prepare and serve healthy food. Her job is to eat it. If you start bribing, rewarding, coaxing or cajoling, you’re not doing your job.”

So, for the most part, we serve the food. Sometimes we’ll ask her to try one bite (she always refuses). But do you know how hard it is to serve your child a meal that has all the components of something they would like (or have eaten before) and have them push it away on sight, screaming and crying??? Or just start picking things off the plate saying “Yucky?” (Yes, I’m sure you do, because you’re probably a parent reading this). UUUUUGGGGGHHHH.

I bet Bean is down to a list of 20 things that she’ll readily and gladly eat, not including dessert, and only two of them belong to the fruit/vegetable category.

Since we don’t make separate meals, and since we nearly always give dessert (so as not to set up a good food/bad food paradigm), Elise gets a lot of yogurt for “dessert.”

Do all of these things mean anything together (lots of tantrums, not getting enough sleep and picky eating)? Am I missing something?

I have been praying. Praying that God will guide me, help me, direct me to the resources I need. I pray that he will let Bean see how much we love her and that he will open her heart to listen to us.

Believe me, I DO NOT want to crush Bean’s spirit. I do not want her to grow up believing that people who are bigger than her get to tell her what to do.

I get it that it’s a good thing that she isn’t going to do what she doesn’t want to do, just because someone else says so. I know that research shows that she will be “almost impervious to peer pressure.”

But in the meantime, I don’t know what else to do.

Aside from reading parenting articles, pouring out my feelings on this blog, asking for help, and praying, the only thing I can think to do is this:

Every time I see her naked butt running away from me I’m going to think, “She’s running away from drugs,” or “She’s running away from a stranger trying to harm her.”

Every time I see her flat-out refusing to do what I ask, I’m going to think, “She’s saying no to underage drinking,” or, “She’s saying no to teenage sex.”

At least that’s what I’m going with now.

But I’ll repeat my plea: Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?

Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?

Quatro

Standard

Probably the least revealing thing about the series of posts I wrote in August about whether or not to have another baby was that deep down, I always knew that I wanted to. I was just scared. Scared that we wouldn’t be able to handle three.

Perhaps this was God’s way of making me feel secure in the decision to have three babies — His way of letting me know that we have enough love, enough patience, enough space and enough money.

I don’t have doubts anymore. I know I would like to have a third baby and I know we’ll figure it out.

My fourth miscarriage made that clear to me.

Even though I went off birth control in July, with the intention of trying in the fall, we (mostly I) still had been so indecisive about whether or not it was the right decision.

As soon as I felt supremely confident in the “yes” decision I would exuberantly proclaim the news to my husband, and then the next day, or the next hour I would have doubts.

In the past I’ve said that I’m incredibly lucky that it only takes me a couple of months to get pregnant. And that held true this time; it only took three tries.

And then nine days later I already knew it wasn’t going to work out. I wasn’t even five weeks pregnant yet.

I got a positive pregnancy test on Saturday, November 19 which was only day 24 in my cycle (for those of you not familiar yet with pregnancy lingo and logistics, that’s REALLY early — I had been having very short 26-day cycles.) That Monday, I called my midwife’s office and she had me start hormone testing right away. My first hCG test was 51, which was indicative of a 3-4 week pregnancy. My progesterone level was 19, which was fine, but a little low. HCG levels are supposed to double every 48-72 hours and progesterone levels should increase 1-3 ng/ml every couple of days. These initial values were my baseline and would be used to compare with the results of tests every 48 hours to see if the numbers were rising appropriately. (http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/earlyfetaldevelopment.htm)

Flashback

Through early hormone testing when I was pregnant with Bean, my doctor discovered that my initial progesterone level was 28, which was really great. My follow-up test showed that my level had actually dropped to 26, which was still a good number, but your progesterone level is not supposed to drop. My doctor proactively put me on a synthetic progesterone — Prometrium. His theory was that perhaps I was experiencing early losses because my body was not making enough progesterone to support the pregnancy until the placenta takes over and starts making it at 12 weeks. These hormone tests also showed that my hCG level was doubling every 48 hours. While synthetic progesterone exists, if your body doesn’t make the hCG hormone, there’s nothing you can do.

Since I’ve had problems with my progesterone in the past, my midwife had me start taking Prometrium right away as a precautionary measure. My next hormone test was on Wednesday, November 23 and my hCG level was 94. A little concerning because it didn’t quite double. But the nurse told me it was the “gold standard” for hCG to double in 48 hours and that she didn’t think I should be worried. Further research on my own showed that indeed she was right and that as long as the hCG was increasing by 60% in 48-72 hours, the pregnancy was still viable.

The smallest alarm sounded in my head, but I quieted it with optimism and positive thoughts because my God, it was still SO early. My first hCG test with Bean was when I was 4w3d pregnant and that level was 142. Here I was only 3w6d pregnant and my hCG was 94. Doing the math, I figured that my hCG would be 376 by the time I hit 4w3d with this pregnancy — way ahead of the game!

My next text was Friday, November 25. I took time out of my Black Friday shopping to stop in at the clinic. The nurse called me about two hours later with the news. For some reason, I knew it wasn’t going to be good. My hCG was only 113.

I was so confused. In the past, my miscarriages have always been announced by spotting. My negative association with seeing red spotting is so high that even when I’m not pregnant and not trying to get pregnant, just getting my period makes me fearful and feel like my body has failed. And then I have to consciously remind myself, “I’m not pregnant. This is supposed to happen.”

So the fact that I wasn’t spotting and my hCG level was only 113 was confusing. The nurse said that some women can go on to have normal pregnancies, but it didn’t look good.

All weekend I held onto the slightest possibility of hope. I still didn’t have any spotting. I changed my mental outlook — instead of feeling like the miscarriage was a foregone conclusion like I had all the times in the past, I tried the power of positive thinking. I tried to believe in it, to will the pregnancy into existence. I pictured the number 226 in my head, and thought, even if it’s only 200 it will be okay. I prayed.

By Monday, November 28 my hCG was back down to 51 again.

I didn’t start spotting until Wednesday.

My emotions were all over the place.

I was sad, but not devastated. It definitely wasn’t as heartbreaking as my first two losses before I had any children, before I knew if I could have children.

I was a little jealous of all the pregnant celebrities.

I was immensely thankful for the two beautiful children I have here on earth.

I was very grateful that it didn’t happen later. For me at least, miscarriage is emotionally and physically easier to deal with when it happens so early.

Technically, this pregnancy, like my very first pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, was considered preclinical, or a chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy “occurs when a pregnancy is lost shortly after implantation, resulting in bleeding that occurs around the time of the woman’s expected period. The woman may not realize that she conceived when she experiences a chemical pregnancy.”

In other words, if someone hadn’t been trying to get pregnant and testing and tracking their cycle, they probably wouldn’t even have known they got pregnant and miscarried; they would have just thought their period was a few days late. But I did know, and even though they were chemical pregnancies, they’re still counted as miscarriages.

The Disappointment

Mostly I guess, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that this is so hard for me. And hard for everyone, really, who has love to give to a baby. Why is it so hard? It should be so easy. You have love, you want to give love to a baby, so you get pregnant and have one.

Why doesn’t it happen like that?

I’m disappointed because I thought we found the “cure” for my losses. After Bean was born I did a battery of tests that turned up nothing unusual that could be causing me to lose pregnancies. While my doctor could never be 100% certain, we thought my trouble was my too-low progesterone.

So, naively I guess, I thought that taking the Prometrium would mean that loss wouldn’t continue to be a problem for me.

I’m very disappointed that early pregnancy is not filled with joy and happiness for me. When I get a positive pregnancy test, I’m filled with excitement and joy for about 5 minutes. And then the worry, anxiety and trepidation set in because I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Because I know I have to take things one day, one hour at a time — the visits to the lab, waiting for test results, the many ultrasounds.

While I’m thankful for these hormone tests and ultrasounds, because I would rather *know* than not know, ultimately they don’t really help me control anything, which is what I really wish I could do.

The Anxiety

After this last loss I picked up the book To Full Term from the library about a woman’s monumental struggle to bring her son into the world after her first child (a daughter) was born 12 weeks premature, then suffering two miscarriages (one at 13 weeks and one at 8 weeks), and then losing twins at 20 weeks. It’s almost incomprehensible that one woman would be put through so much. Her journey truly is remarkable, not only because it was through her own dogged determination and insistence that doctors listen to her, but because she has now created a resource for other people. A way for women to stand up and fight for their unborn babies and to seek answers after a loss.

I could completely relate to author Darci Klein’s description of getting a positive pregnancy test:

“I should be thrilled. I wanted this. I try to imagine holding a tiny baby in my arms. Awestruck. But my thoughts quickly turn to all those other sticks with two lines, all the thwarted promise.”

In the book, Darci describes how she’s told her husband that she’s pregnant with less and less fanfare.

I’ve been there. Not so much with telling my own husband, but how we tell our closest friends and family members. I still have the digital photo of Monkey at 10 months sitting underneath the Christmas tree holding a sign that says “I’m going to be a big sister,” in a hidden folder on my computer hard drive. We had that photo printed and framed and we gave it out to our parents and siblings as a surprise Christmas gift. Three days after Christmas, at my six-week ultrasound, the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat.

I started crying when I read Darci’s reaction when she started spotting in her pregnancy with her son:

“‘Don’t panic,’ I say aloud. I repeat the words in my head, but my chest heaves from the familiar threat of bright red blood, just like I saw when I lost my first baby at 13 weeks, and later with my twins.”

It’s an all-too familiar scenario for me.

The Stress

Everyone from friends to doctors to co-workers will tell you to relax during your pregnancy because increased stress can harm the baby. But telling that to someone who has experienced a loss is so counterproductive.

“Multiple studies have confirmed that pregnant women who’ve had a loss experience far more anxiety during future pregnancies than those who’ve never miscarried. After loss, women must push aside the constant whisper that things could go wrong again.”

The Fear

It’s funny how quickly you forget how truly hard it was to bring a baby into the world after you have the baby safely delivered in your arms. When Husband and I were embarking on this latest round of trying, we honestly didn’t even discuss the past difficulties.

Those memories all came rushing back for me the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test and started going for the hormone testing and waiting anxiously for the results phone calls. I remembered again how hard it is. And I couldn’t escape it. Every two seconds I would remember that I was pregnant and it affected all of my decisions (don’t have too much caffeine, don’t take any ibuprofen, don’t have any cold cuts or soft cheeses, how much should I exercise?).

To be perfectly honest, part of me is scared to try again. I’m scared I’ll get pregnant and then lose it again.

I can relate when Darci says she wasn’t prepared for the fear.

“I feel almost embarrassed that I hadn’t anticipated the most obvious risk of all: the gripping terror that I may lose another baby.”

Just last week I tried to convince myself that two kids was perfect. I thought about all the reasons my life would be easier with two kids instead of three:

  • No need to worry about fitting two car seats and a booster in a too-small sedan (or the alternative — buying a new car).
  • No worry about having enough space in our house. The girls could share a room for a few years so that we could have an upstairs toy room, and then when they’re older and don’t have so many toys, and more importantly, want their privacy, we can move Bean back into the room she has now.
  • No more struggles with breastfeeding and the internal guilt of having bottle fed my babies for the majority of their infancy.
  • No more diapers since Bean is almost potty trained.
  • No postpartum blues and the strains of only getting 2-3 hours of sleep at a time.
  • No real worries about having enough money to do family trips (at least not any more than it will be for one kid).
  • Not having to deal with one kid feeling left out (as much) because there wouldn’t be a “middle” child.
  • Always having an even number of people in our family, which also makes those family excursions easier (because everything comes in a “family four-pack”).

And then a friend posted a picture of her brand new 15-minute old baby, and I didn’t see the diapers, the breastfeeding struggles, the car seat dilemma, the potty training, the money concerns, the space constraints, or the lack of sleep.

I saw this perfect little creature who had just joined their family. A brand new life. And I knew that I still wanted that one more time. I want to be handed my newly delivered baby and relish in that moment again. That moment when we get to meet the new person we created. I want the newborn yawns and the first bath, the itty bitty clothes and the extra cautious drive home from the hospital.

I’m still skittish though. I don’t know how many more times we can put ourselves through this. I am so unbelievably thankful for the two beautiful girls I have. More than anything, I don’t want to try so hard for something and end up disappointed about what I don’t have, instead of thankful for what I do have.

Part of why I wanted to share this very private personal struggle is because I think many more women in my life than I realize have struggled with pregnancy loss. It’s almost never discussed. And my biggest takeaway from Darci Klein’s book was that we must fight for ourselves, fight for answers, not accept the antiquated obstetrics guidelines that most doctors are so quick to offer, and move beyond secrecy and silence. I plan to write a follow-up post in the coming days with some resources that I found helpful.