So. Tomorrow Sydney turns 5. She's been in kindergarten for two weeks.
Lucy is nearly 8 weeks old and is mostly sleeping through the night (KNOCK ON WOOD).
On Sept. 9 Elijah starts preschool two days a week.
I am done being pregnant. I AM DONE. After a come-to-Jesus talk with my OB about the state of my torso at my 6 week checkup - he in no uncertain terms told me that another pregnancy would undo all the surgery I just had - I'm pretty solid on that side of the fence. My body has sung it's swan song. I am relieved. I am at peace with it. I looked down at my sweet little warm baby asleep on my chest last night and soaked it in, knowing that she completes our family.
I registered for the LA Marathon in March. I made a date with my friend/training partner to run in the early morning hours tomorrow. I am back on Team World Vision.
This is not to say that I am settled into my new life. We still have a long way to go. But I can almost smell it around the corner ... the turn of events that is about to unfold. We are embarking on a new chapter. I am almost ready to take a deep breath.
It feels really good.
It gives us great joy to introduce the newest member of our family, Lucy Carolina Huddle.
She burst onto the scene on July 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm, weighing 8 pounds, 4 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches.
We chose the name Lucy because little sister Lucy Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia is one of our favorite characters in fiction. Loosely translated from the Latin, Lucy means "as of light."
We chose the name Carolina because as a child I lived in North Carolina, it is where my little sister was born, and every summer for most of my young life my family vacationed on the beaches of South Carolina. The Carolinas hold some of my fondest childhood memories. Translated from the Latin, Carolina means "free man" and translated from French it means "song of happiness or joy."
We have long sensed that this child would be a source of great joy to our family, and it holds to be true now that she has arrived. She is such a good baby, she already exudes peace and she has a sweet, easygoing temperament. Her brother and sister are overjoyed to have her home! They take turns holding her and stroking her hair, she in turn cuddles in their arms and smiles her dreamy little newborn smiles. She nurses well, sleeps well, and feels like such a peanut to us all - as she is the smallest baby of the three - even though she weighed in at over 8 pounds!
I am recovering day by day. My umbilical hernia was repaired after my c-section, as well as two other hernias and an unexpected diastasis recti (my abdominal muscles were separated right down the center). The additional surgery took an hour, and while I am so thankful and pleased that when I am healed my body parts will all be where they belong, the recovery process has been hard. I gave everyone a good scare at the hospital post-partum by passing out in the bathroom, and since I've been home there have been some demoralizing moments of pain. I am getting stronger day by day (and plan to share more when I can!) but have so appreciated the words of encouragement and prayer you have lifted up for us this week.
I can scarcely believe that one week ago I was still pregnant, just moments away from seeing our daughter for the first time!
We are so thankful she is here.
Men who subscribe to my feed? You might want to back away slowly from this post. It's lady talk time. Hi/bye Papa!
Since I had the revelation that just because I don't want my tubes tied it doesn't mean I have to have more babies, I have been researching birth control. It almost makes me want to just keep getting pregnant so I don't have to deal with it (almost). There are so many opinions and so many options out there that it's hard to know where to begin.
This is why you always begin with your doctor. Dur. Which is exactly what I did. When I told him that I officially did not want my tubes tied, but I was interested in what options were available out there in terms of long-term, non-hormonal, reversible birth control, his immediate response was the copper IUD (or ParaGuard).
To give you a little background: birth control pills are not for me. I have tried the NuvaRing and I have tried several varieties of traditional pills, and both succeeded in making me a raging hormonal nightmare. I had weird side effects like extra sweaty hands, feet, and armpits, not to mention I was prone to epic emotional meltdowns for no apparent reason just three days before my expected period EVERY SINGLE MONTH! I was a delight on the pill, let me tell you. So, with my husband's support and encouragement I quit the pill several years before we began talking about trying to have kids. We became an, er, barrier method couple. Which worked out fine. I didn't get pregnant until I was trying to, and there was never a failure birth control-wise. It wasn't until later that when I actually looked into hormonal birth control and I realized that I actually had some major moral objections to birth control in this form (if you must know, I take issue with the notion that it does not prevent conception, only implantation). So! It only confirmed our decision. Moving on.
Now that I am an older lady, looking onward to twenty-ish more years of fertility that I fully intend to waste with my particularly virile partner (dudes, we've been pregnant 5 times ... that I know of), the idea of a copper IUD appeals to me in theory. No fuss! Reversible! Set it and forget it! I am told that the side effects of a copper IUD are minor and include heavier bleeding during periods, which doesn't bother me as I don't have issues with this, but I want to know more than what the internet and my doctor can tell me. Ladies? Are you out there?! Have you tried a copper IUD/ParaGuard? Does it, er, poke your partner? Did you get pregnant whilst using one? What is your experience and/or opinion? If you want to email me or comment here, either is welcome, as is any and all information you can pass on. I have read about some rough side effects with Mirena. I am planning to pick up race training as soon as I can after this baby is born (the first race tentatively on the docket is the LA Marathon in March ... we shall see about that big, hairy goal), and if any of you athlete mamas out there have anything to add that would be super helpful.
So. What your experience with IUDs? Yea or nay?
Before things got hairy in the world of pre-term labor scares, there has been a lot rolling around in my head about when this little lady will make her appearance. For a long time I thought her due date was July 14 (which ... NOPE! July 11). Then there was then the collision of this umbilical hernia of mine, and my perinatologist who insists that I let him fix it during my c-section every time I visit him (but he only does surgery on Saturdays).
So! Mentally I was planning to, well, plan for my c-section on Saturday July 6 or Saturday July 13. I know that ultimately my doctor makes that decision, but one of the benefits of looking toward your third c-section is the idea that you will pretty much know when the baby's coming (unless? Well, you're pregnant with Elijah and he decides he's showing up early to the party). There are some medical and legal reasons why a doctor cannot schedule a c-section for any more than 7 days before your due date. And I was pretty sure (for a few months now) that it'd end up working out pretty well for July 6, even though it would have been a bit of a squeeze.
The only problem with July 6 is that is the day my father died. It bothered me some at first, but I figured that it was one of those coincidences that would actually end up being a blessing. My mom has struggled with that particular date for obvious reasons, and in the back of my mind I wondered if I would end up with an earlier date because of what happened with Elijah. Anything's possible! But Saturday! I want it to happen on a Saturday! I don't want to have to get a second surgery to fix my hernia. I want to just be done with it, done with pregnancy, and move on with my life.
And now there's this whole thing where I might - if I go into labor in three weeks! - just have her in June. On whatever day. This is the part of giving birth (along with the constant cervical checking for dilation! Ugh!) that I was hoping to avoid with a repeat c-section. Dude! Not fair! And then seriously, Dr. G? You were going to PLAN her birthday for July 4? Which is admittedly kind of cool but also NOT FAIR to my other kids who do not have birthdays on national holidays?!
Well, that's it, really. I have no idea when she'll show up. As long as she cooks in there a few more weeks and comes out healthy, that's all I ask.
(Knocks on wood, crosses fingers, begs for this to not be jinxed because I dared write it out for all to see.)
(Aw crap. I'd better get to work on that hospital bag.)
Continued from Tuesday.
I woke up on the Wednesday following my little hospital adventure feeling ... all right. Not exactly well, but much better than I'd felt the day before. John was home, his mother had arrived to help me with the kids, and I was scheduled to check in with my regular OB later in the day. I picked my way carefully through the house. I drank water. I tried to be still. I still wasn't really feeling any contractions ... but this is kind of par for the course for me. I've been in labor twice (with each of my children!) and had no idea. I'd flipped through all my discharge papers from the hospital and included was four pages on pre-term labor and how to prevent it. No one had exactly said the words "pre-term labor" to me during my stay. But no one had said "false labor" or "Braxton-Hicks" either. The febrile fibronectin text was negative, so I figured I was out of the woods. I was curious about what my doctor would have to say, but I wasn't too concerned either. My biggest concern for this particular visit (which had been planned for two weeks anyway) was scheduling my c-section. As you'll remember, I'm determined to get my surgery scheduled for a Saturday so I can have my belly button (ahem, umbilical hernia) fixed. Looking back I can see that my attitude about it was a little naive, considering how things had played out the day before.
I went to the Mother's Day tea at Sydney's preschool that day (I would have checked myself out of the hospital to NOT miss it) and felt fine. I got tired at the end when Syd decided she didn't want to go home yet, but a few other moms jumped in to help me get her to the car (everyone knew about what happened). She was pretty tired and out of whack from having me gone all day the day before while her dad was also out of town. And her school is fun! And there were cookies that day! Can't say I blame her!
So. I showed up to my doctor with my paperwork from the hospital. My intake nurse had already heard about my little adventure the day before, and when I mentioned that I'd been dilated yesterday, she told me to get undressed waist-down so she could check me herself (have you ever noticed that people don't necessarily trust other people's assessments of how dilated a pregnant lady is? Every time I told a doctor or nurse that I was dilated they asked, "Who checked you?" or insisted on checking themselves. Is this something that medical people get wrong often?). And then I sat there for a long time. I could hear the nurse talking on the phone about another patient. I heard my doctor walking back and forth in the hall outside the room.
Finally, the doctor came in. The nurse had never come back to check me. He asked a few questions about the visit to the hospital, assured me that it sounded like a little virus, and as he was checking the baby's heartbeat his cell phone rang. He apologized (this is very, very unusual for my doctor) and excused himself saying that he had a family thing going on. So I waited a bit longer. When he came back he was all red in the face and he told me that his brother was on his deathbed with terminal cancer. Awful.
We got back around to discussing the pregnancy and I filled him in as much as I could about the time I'd spent in the hospital. We discussed my appointment with the perinatologist and I mentioned my July 14 due date (and how Dr. T the perinatologist had said that we should do the c-section on July 6 so he could assist) - and Dr. G stopped me and said "Well, I have your due date down as July 11, and I was planning on delivering you on July 3rd or 4th because I will be out of town on July 6. But let's be honest: You probably won't make it that long anyway. If you go into labor at 36 weeks I'm not going to stop it." He flipped through my chart. "And, your febrile fibronectin test *is* negative, but there's still a 5 percent chance you could go into labor in the coming weeks. And I don't bet against anything with a 5 percent chance of happening."
So, let's refresh things: I'm 33 weeks pregnant. (Also? I have had my due date wrong this ENTIRE TIME.) That means? That in three weeks this baby could be here. Be ... BORN. When I was expecting her the first week of July. WAIT JUST A MINUTE HERE. I thought I had 7 weeks. I mean, I KNEW that a baby was coming, but my brain just got completely blown. Suddenly I'm totally out of time. I just ... WHAT?
(Most of the rest of the appointment was a blur. He did tell me to reduce activity and increase fluids, I remember that. There was also mention of turning my delivery over to my perinatologist in the case that I insisted on July 6. But he said we'd talk about that next time.)
It didn't help much that as soon as I got home I started getting knocked out with HARD contractions. At one point I was standing there talking to my husband and the next I was doubled over all "hoo hoo HEEE" with my head pressed into his chest. There was no mistake ... I could definitely feel them. My MIL got all excited and started timing them at 7 minutes apart. Everyone was all, "LIE DOWN! DRINK WATER!" and yes, I did. The next day I did my best to sit on my rear all day (but how does one DO that with two small children?). A friend came over with her son for a play date. I puttered around the house with my water bottle and was still a mess by the afternoon (as were my children). I spent the entire evening in bed watching television. Every day I have to force myself to get up as little as possible and it's still clear that things are ... happening. The baby seems to be dropping. I am stressed as HELL (which is, I'm sure, totally good for this whole pre-term labor situation). I am trying not to be, but man. It's hard. I thought I had a bit more time. I have a huge to-do list I wanted to knock out before I started the long, hazy months with a newborn.
And I might still be able to! Right? There's still hope!
(and as I typed that I totally had a contraction.)
Baby girl says, "Oh Mama. You know you want to kiss THESE lips."
On last Tuesday I landed myself in the hospital.
It seems I have a special knack for getting myself into trouble at the worst possible times: John was out of town at a funeral and his parents (who live nearby and upon whom I lean on HARD at times like these) were also out of town.
A perfect storm, if you will.
On Monday morning I woke up feeling very nauseated. The night before had been rough. I'd forgotten to take my nightly dose of Zantac and struggled terribly with reflux all night. In between tossing and turning I have no idea how many Tums I ate. When I woke up with a sour stomach I suspected I'd eaten too many Tums. I powered through getting the kids fed and Syd off to school (thank you Zofran!) and took off with Elijah for our normal Monday shopping trip despite temps in the 90s. I was determined to catch up a lot of errands and I started to feel better. So, off we went! We got it all done, I picked up Syd from school, fed the kids lunch, put Elijah down for his nap and slothed about on the couch while Syd puttered around. She'd gotten enough checks on her chore and behavior chart to earn a movie night that night so we watched Wreck It Ralph on the couch with our dinner (which is a super special treat).
I forced myself to eat even though I was starting to not feel well again. I drank as much water as I could, figuring that I'd overdone it in the heat and that was probably my issue. The movie ended and I got the kids in the shower and ready for bed, feeling worse all the while. I had to cut our nighttime routine short, bailing out in the middle of our goodnight songs. Luckily everyone was tired and stayed in bed.
I lay in my bed, struggling. I tweeted a few of my symptoms ... really more as an indulgent "woe is me, I'm here alone and of course I feel like crap" whining session. A few people recommended that I call the doctor. I did. He was great, and recommended that I take Zantac, another Zofran, a Unisom, and get some rest. By then it was 10:30. I got up, took the meds, turned off the lights and got into bed, my stomach killing me. It was about 15 minutes before I finally got up and barfed spectacularly ... which sadly? Made me feel a whole lot better, even though I totally panicked and texted a few friends. What on EARTH was I going to do if I had the stomach flu (which as you'll remember, I do not tolerate well) on my own with the kids?! I called the on-call OB line again and left a message, and passed the rest of the night dozing in and out, up and down with diarrhea and still feeling gross. The doctor called back at 5 AM. I took the call, and he said that when I got up if I still felt poorly that I needed to come in and get checked out at L&D. He was concerned about my blood pressure.
I lay in bed for the next few hours, thinking about who I would ask to watch the kids. Thankfully a friend's daughter who babysits for us had just come home from college and I was pretty sure she'd be home. Another friend had offered to come over when she got off work at 12:30. My in-laws were headed back to town that afternoon. We still have our college student friend staying with us and I'd given him a heads up the night before that I was sick, and he offered to back me up with the kids in the morning when they woke up. Everything (thankfully) worked out. People were on their way to cover me with the kids. I got up, got into the shower, and got dressed. My (brilliant!) plan was to drive myself to the hospital. I was going to take city streets and pull over if necessary! Brilliant! Unfortunately, I was lightheaded and shaky after being up getting ready. I had to ask my college student to drive me in when our babysitter friend arrived.
An hour later I was in a bed at L&D, strapped to monitors, awaiting IV fluids. My blood pressure (thankfully) was normal. The urine sample I'd offered the nurse was so dark it was laughable. I expected a few hours of fluids, some Zofran, some rest, and then to be sent home by lunch time.
Well, you can guess how THAT went. Around noon the nurse came in and said, "Well, you're having contractions every 4-5 minutes. Can you feel them?" (Nope.) "The doctor wants to run a febrile fibronectin test to find out if you're in labor." (Oh dear lord.) And then an hour passed and they came back gather a sample for the test (it involved a speculum. Awesome.) and then a few more hours passed and the lab called to say they'd lost the sample (seriously?). And just as we were preparing to gather another sample (with another speculum! FUN!) they called to say that they'd found the specimen and I'd tested negative! Not in labor! And then the doctor said I could go home so long as I was not dilated. So they checked for that and guess what! I was dilated to 1 cm! So! Not technically "closed"! Great! And it was hours of this back and forth. Finally, they gave me a pill to stop contractions. Finally they discharged me. I'd received 3L of fluid with glucose, two doses of IV Zofran, a pepcid, and orders to drink as much fluid as I could and to eat at soon as I could.
And then I was wheeled straight down to my perinatologist (with whom I had an appointment that day anyway) and he checked the baby and my cervix via ultrasound and all was well.
All was very, very well.
She is measuring correctly, she is "large," she is healthy, she has lips like her mother.
By the time we left the hospital, John's plane was touching down (8:45 PM). We went straight to the airport to get him, and then home. Grandma was there and had fed the kids and put them to bed. I have never been so happy to see my own bed.
(more soon. I went to my regular doctor the following day and that appointment was a doozy.)
So in the last month or so something has happened in my brain. I think ... I think this is my last pregnancy.
(You'll remember on my post about getting my tubes tied that the jury was still out on that.)
Now listen, since then my kids have hid from me in the house (that hellish day was two weeks ago), so I know what you're thinking: "Well DUH, Manda. You have your HANDS FULL, LADY." Believe me, I know. And also? When people see me with my two small children and large pregnant belly? They LOVE to remind me of that. Daily. My favorite response, by the way, is "I'm one of the lucky ones!"
And I am. I know how blessed we are to have two healthy children and to be expecting another (by all accounts) perfectly healthy baby in two months. Sometimes when I stop and think about what my life would be like without my son ... I cannot believe how incredibly blessed we are. The intervention that saved his life, and has now saved the life of this baby girl, it blows me away that their lives are possible. It blows me away that I gave birth to a 10 pound, 7 ounce baby with no complications for either of us. My mother-in-law's mother was not so lucky. Seventy years ago she gave birth to a baby boy who weighed over ten pounds, had a very similar difficult labor story to my own, and because the doctor who attended her birth was not trained on doing c-sections, my MIL's older brother died at a week old. Her mother never fully recovered physically from the shattered pelvis she endured during the birth, and worst of all - obviously - she lost her baby. What an absolute nightmare.
But none of this is here nor there. About a month ago after we decided we were a no-go on tubal ligation? I suddenly had this realization that even though I wasn't going to get my tubes tied (still am not going to!) that it didn't mean that this couldn't be my last pregnancy. It sounds so dumb to talk it out like that, it's just so simple, but for some reason it felt like if I wasn't going to get my tubes tied that the possibility of more children joining our family was still there (and I guess on a purely technical level, YES, it IS still a possibility because anything is possible if both people involved are still fertile).
What I am saying is this: I think this is it. I think this is probably my last baby.
When I was pregnant with Elijah I never felt this clarity. (There! That is the word I have been looking for during the endless writing of this blog post, writing that has been interrupted roughly 856 times by my demanding 4 YO. Which I realize is oh, ho, haa haa SO IRONIC). Even when things were extremely difficult I never thought during that pregnancy that it would be my last one. I wondered about it A LOT, but I never felt clear on it.
Clarity is a strange beast. It kind of takes you by the shoulders and looks you in the eye and dares you to look away. It asks you, "But are you SURE? Are you OKAY with this?" And I suppose that when the answer is a shrug back and a simple, unhesitant "yes" you just know. And you just move forward and you don't look back anymore. When I figured this whole thing out it was just ... a relief. I can move on from pregnancy. I can move on from worrying about miscarriage, taking progesterone, gaining and losing weight, all the important and trivial things that come with this territory. When this baby is done with her baby things we can let them go for good. We can make plans. We can make space in our lives for what is next that is not babies. And don't get me wrong, babies are an awesome dream. But I'm ready for what's next. I'm ready for our family to go on to what is next. I'm ready to meet this little girl and give her a name and move her into our home. I've got dreams brewing for us all. For myself.
I know we will still have our moments. We will probably talk about more children from time to time (my husband looked across the table at me just the other night - which was fairly brave of him considering I'm miserably lodged in the third trimester - and said, "But wouldn't it be nice for Elijah to have a brother?"). But in this moment I have peace. I have clarity. And it feels really good.
On Monday I experienced the most terrifying moment I have had as an adult and as a parent. I have contemplated how to process through it, gone back and forth about whether I should write about it here. I thought about writing an anonymous post to Ask Moxie to see what she and other people had to say about this. But you know what? It's ok. It's going to be ok. I want to put a face on this for you. Because if it hasn't happened to you already, it probably will. And when it does I want you to remember me and remember that it's going to (most likely) be all right.
So here it goes. On Monday my children hid from me and wouldn't come out. I couldn't find them. I'd sent them ahead of me into the house ... we ate lunch in the back yard and Sydney suddenly had to go potty. The back door was open and I sent her inside to go to the bathroom while I gathered up the dirty plates and cups to bring inside. Of course her brother followed her (he follows her everywhere!). I took maybe 3 minutes picking up everything, then brought it inside and dumped it in the kitchen sink. I stood in the kitchen for a moment and pulled on my husband's sweatshirt that was hung over a chair. I stood there listening. It was too quiet. It was the kind of quiet that happens when little people are Up To No Good. So I called to them. I set off into the house (which is not a big one!) to find out what they were up to. I walked past the spare room and flipped on the light. Empty. I walked past their bedroom, the light was already on, and stepped inside the doorway to peek around and see if they were in the closet. Nope. And on to the bathroom ... no one there. And into my bedroom. Quiet. I walked through to the master bath and pushed open the door, that room was empty too. Huh. "This is weird." I thought to myself. I scanned over my messy room and unmade bed. I think I even set my laptop down on the bed at that point.
Sydney lately has a bad habit of hiding from me when she hears me coming and she's being sneaky. We've been having a lot of problems with her sneaking food and candy in the kitchen (we had to throw out all the Easter candy after she somehow climbed up and reached candy in a ceiling-height cabinet - and that was after she'd climbed over an "extra-high" baby gate to get into the kitchen). She knows that I have a stash in my bedside table (pregnant!) and has been caught sneaking Hershey Kisses enough times that I finally moved that stash to a higher drawer in John's dresser. And we keep our bedroom gated most of the time because she sneaks into my bathroom and gets into trouble and leads her brother there. And he? He still likes to play in the toilet. Basically they both know that my bedroom is off limits and so it's their favorite place to try to get into. Sigh.
After I'd scanned my bedroom and bathroom I walked back out and then noticed that they'd pushed the baby gate down to get in. My thought was that they'd found something interesting and scampered off to hide somewhere else in the house to eat it and/or not get caught with it. Another favorite thing to swipe is Daddy's iPod, which is usually on his bedside table. I walked back out through the hallway, listening hard for giggles, scanning for a little eyeball watching me from some dark place. Usually Elijah is the one to give them away. While his sister hides me innocently runs a toy car back and forth along the carpet, or laughs when he hears me come near. That was what was weird ... I couldn't find my son anywhere either. I went back to the kitchen. I looked in their favorite hiding spots out front, under the table in the corner between the couches and in the coat closet. I went back outside thinking they'd snuck back out when I was inside looking. Our house has a fenced in back yard, but the fence goes along each side of the house and makes two alleyways, and the kids sometimes hide there under their beach towels or a chair. Not there.
At this point I was starting to get a bit scared. I came back inside and headed toward the front door, thinking they'd snuck out front - also a big no-no (they have, admittedly, done this once or twice before). All morning there'd been men working at the next door neighbors' house - tearing up the driveway with jackhammers and sledgehammers and making a ton of noise. It was garbage day and trucks had been tearing up and down the street all day. When I came out and called the kids it was deathly quiet, the street abandoned. It was odd. Not enough time had passed for the kids to get very far, Elijah is not that fast, and no one was outside and there was not a sign of them anywhere. I came back inside the house and cycled through all the rooms again, calling to Sydney and pleading with her to please come out. Nothing. I went back outside and peeked into both next door neighbors' yards, thinking maybe they'd gone to visit neighbor dogs. Nope.
And this? Is when I completely lost my mind. I ran back out into the street screaming for the kids. A neighbor pulled into his driveway across the street and I screamed to him that I couldn't find my kids. I ran back into the house and dialed John, who was getting a haircut, and unintelligbly started screaming and crying into the phone that I couldn't find our kids. "WHERE ARE THEY?! I CAN'T FIND THEM! I THINK SOMEONE TOOK THEM!" I ran screaming back into the house. All through the rooms. All through the backyard again. "SYDNEY PLEASE!" I ran back outside and dialed 911. At this point 15 minutes had elapsed and I was positive that they'd wandered out the front door, someone had passed in a car, loaded them up and taken them away. It was the only explanation that made any sense. I banged on a neighbor's door. I flagged another two neighbors down in their cars and they drove around the block looking. Another neighbor set out on foot. John tore home from his haircut and ran through the house and found nothing. He came back outside bewildered after searching the house and yard and I yelled at him to get into the car. I saw another neighbor drive into her driveway - a neighbor that I didn't even know by name - and tried to navigate the options for 911 while screaming at her that someone had taken my kids. "They're 4 and 2!" I told her. She grabbed my arm. She looked at me and said "They're 4 and 2! They HAVE TO BE IN YOUR HOUSE!" And she left me on the curb and burst into my house with every intention of turning it upside down until she found them.
And there? In the hallway? Were my children.
It had been 20 minutes.
I was on my neighbor's heels, because for some reason when she said they had to be in the house I believed her. When I found them there in the doorway I crumpled onto them both. Screaming and crying all over them. My daughter said, "Mommy. You're squeezing me too hard. Mama! Calm down!" I sat there on the floor of our entryway and sobbed all over those kids. My daughter confessed that they'd been hiding under my bed. That they'd been sneaking candy in our room. Two of our neighbors were there and they went outside and told my husband and the five other neighbors - one of whom was also in hysterical tears - who were looking for them that we'd found them. My phone rang, the 911 operator who had finally picked up the call had heard me screaming and crying was checking back to find out what was going on. I somehow composed myself enough to take the kids back into the yard. I called John to find out where he was and cried my head off all over again. He was suddenly there with his arms around me. I was sitting at our patio table again with no idea how I'd gotten there, the children tooling around in the sandbox like nothing had happened.
When I finally calmed down, my pride started to get the better of me. I hadn't even thought to look under my bed because there's so much stuff in there there'd be no way two kids could fit under there (I later realized they'd been flattened under my comforter. And I figured it out that night because my bed was full of sand from their sand box). I'd panicked, which is the opposite of what you'd hope you'd do if something like this ever happened. I'd called my husband and until he'd arrived at home he had no idea what happened, he just knew it was something terrible. The neighbors must all think I'm a terrible mother. I must have looked crazy, running out in the street pregnant with my sweatpants on, unshowered in the middle of the day, screaming that I'd lost my children who had been in the house the whole time.
Thank God I have great friends who said: "WHEN this happened to ME" and commiserated with us that their children had done something similar at some point and the police had been called and the neighbors had seen them completely lose their shit in the street. Three families have told us that their kids have done this. I remember doing this to my mother when I was about Sydney's age (SORRY MOM I WAS THE WORST). It is a rite of passage of parenthood, I suppose, that moment when you have to go all Scared Straight on your kids.
(and oh dear lord the discipline that has gone on in this house the last few days. It has shaved even more years off the end of my life.)
That night as I read stories with my children and prayed and sang our goodnight songs, it occurred to me that some part of my innocence about having children had died. Just the night before I'd sung "You Are My Sunshine" without a twinge of it ever being possible for me to wake up one morning and not have my children in my arms. It - quite pathetically - had never really truly registered in my brain that there was any possibility that anything horrific could even happen to my children. That they could be stolen. That they could be hurt. That they could be killed. And this was on MONDAY, you guys. The day bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and killed an 8-year-old boy and seriously wounded his mother and one of his siblings. If that doesn't hit close to home for me WHAT DOES? I am the wife of a man who attends the finish lines of MANY major marathons a year. He works at them. He runs in them. I take my children with me to race courses ALL THE TIME. This is not to say I am not one of those overprotective mothers. I AM. I write my phone number on my childrens' arms when we go on class field trips (even when I am THERE). I never leave them unsupervised. My daughter is smart and sneaky and I hardly EVER let my guard down, as tired and pregnant as I am these days. I only let her go on play dates at parents' houses who I know are totally freaked out about things happening to their own children (LIKE ME). I don't leave her alone to go and shower or do really anything in another room because she always figures out a way to get into trouble. I don't want her to get hurt. She is attracted to things she knows she's not supposed to do.
And yet? I woke up. On Monday I woke up.
Parenting is hard for me. I feel like maybe it comes easy to some people but for me? Every day it is challenging. And that is really hard for a person like me because I feel like most things I've tried in my life I've succeeded at pretty naturally. School was never hard for me. I was good at my professional life. I think I'm decent at being married. And yet when it comes to raising children? There are some days when I feel like maybe I did ok, but they don't happen every day. I mostly feel like I'm always playing catchup, never accurately anticipating what is to come. I want to find the best words for my kids. I want them to feel loved, to know they are treasured. I want them to be disciplined. I want them to be spoiled. I love them so much it makes my heart ache. I want them to feel safe, but I want them to survive. I don't want them to be shocked when they find out what the world is really like but I want to protect them from it as long as I can. And maybe in the end that is what makes a person a good parent? That feeling that there is always more to do? There are always ways to improve? The knowledge that I am a fool and I will never be able to do this on my own?
What's crazy to me is that I get one shot at this. They get one childhood and it is happening now. Sydney is going to remember this one day when she is 32 and her 4-year-old hides from her. She is going to remember the words I said and the look on my face even if I don't.
And so I guess as much as it sucks, and as hard as it was, I'm glad I woke up a little more. It is my turn to be awake and their turn to sleep.
Ephesians 5: 14-17
"This is why it is said,'Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.' So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do."
Oh you guys. This dude. He's in a phase.
What? An "Oh my goodness he is SO super cute!" phase? Well, yes. That too. But also? He's doing this thing where he WILL. NOT. EAT.
Now wait, before you send me packing off to the pediatrician let me clarify: He snacks. He enjoys snarfing an entire banana on the couch while watching Sesame Street. He will eat Goldfish crackers hand over fist out of a baggie in his car seat. He loves Gogurt, cereal bars, string cheese, squeezy applesauce, waffles, and the occasional peanut butter and jelly. He will eat as much orange chicken or spaghetti and meatballs as you put in front of him (usually). He likes grapes, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and gnawing on (whole) apples. He chugs almond milk. He steals my potato chips and fizzy fruit juice and homeboy LURVES cheese pizza. He will eat a cut up hot dog after he's licked all the ketchup off his plate, he will usually eat dino chicken nuggets if he's hungry. He'll even bite the top off steamed broccoli! So? Manda! WHAT'S YO PROBLEM LADY?
Most nights? If it's on a plate and on the table he wants nothing to do with it. He won't sit in his booster seat because his sister no longer sits in one, and when we try to put him in one he gets so distressed that there's no point even TRYING to encourage him to eat. And yet, getting him to sit down and eat a meal is torture for all of us. Breakfast is a fun game of keep the 2-year-old off the couch with his waffle, if it's nice out we'll eat lunch outside and the dog steals half of it, and dinner? Oh my word I HATE DINNER.
I work to make a nice meal that will appeal to everyone. Sydney is a great eater and will usually eat most of what I put in front of her (she does, however, have trouble keeping her booty planted in her seat, which is a huge contributing factor to this issue). We've tried getting him a special plate with his PHOTO on it and Mater and Lightning McQueen! And special forks just for him! We've tried holding out on snacks so he'll eat with us at dinner. We've tried just letting him ignore dinner ... and learned the hard way (AT FOUR IN THE MORNING) that his empty tummy just wakes him up early and we are ALL punished for that. I've given in and gotten him a container of yogurt and some crackers instead of his dinner and he'll eat THAT ... which to me says that he is indeed hungry but there is some other AHEM STUBBORN issue going on, but it causes problems with his sister. Oh how I appreciate my Syd at times like this. She has always been a great eater, was always content to sit in her high chair or in her booster, always willing to try new things and always dependable when it came to food. This guy? Whoa is he a monkey wrench.
So, this is to say? HELP. How do you deal with dinner? How do you get your (little) kids to eat? This article was helpful to me but I think my son is still a little too young for this to work. What do you do? Do you make a separate kids' meal? Do you just serve up a tray full of snacks and wait for the phase to pass? Training obstinate children sure is fun!