The First Trimester (Part Deux)

When I was pregnant with Evelyn, I posted about each of my trimesters and figured I’d try to do the same this time around.

I broke all of my own TTC rules with this pregnancy.  I tested way too soon, I peed on a stick every day for at least a week to watch the lines get darker, I kept on taking my temperature, even after all the positive tests.  I wanted to be sure.

Pregnancy after a miscarriage is hard, but in some ways it’s also easier.  My first pregnancy, before I had ever miscarried, was pretty blissful.  Even though the unfortunate possibilities would occasionally swim around in the back of my head, I didn’t give in to them.  That won’t happen to me.  That only happens to other people.  At the same time, I had to push the negative thoughts out of my head because I had convinced myself that I would never be able to survive a loss.  The heartbreak would be too much for me to take after 6 long years of trying.

Now that I have experienced that loss, I have worried about every little thing and for some time I didn’t really allow myself to “believe” that I was actually pregnant.  At the same time, I know if I have another loss, I will survive it.  I made it through the last one and I can do it again, if that’s what I need to do.  The fear of the unknown is gone to a certain extent, so that’s what makes it just a tiny bit easier.  But still, every day that passes is another day for something to go wrong.

So, I was a little unnerved that I had virtually no pregnancy symptoms during the first trimester.  I kept waiting for the nausea to hit me.  I waited to be repulsed by certain smells and by even the thought of certain foods.  I wondered when I would be hit with crippling fatigue.  But, week 7 came, then week 8, then week 9…and still nothing.  I was worried.  I didn’t feel pregnant.  Maybe it was all wrong.  Maybe I was imagining it.

When I went in for my first doctor appointment, I expressed my concern over my lack of symptoms, so they arranged for me to have an ultrasound 2 days later.  As soon as the tech put the wand on my belly, I could see our little peanut moving around!  He told us right away that the baby was there and there was a heartbeat (178, I’m thinking girl!?) and I cried just a little as a huge surge of relief washed over me.

Despite the fact that my pregnancy symptoms have been almost non-existent, that doesn’t mean that I have had it easy.  Once I had my ultrasound and was able to relax just a bit, then I got sick.  One morning, I woke up with a strange rash on my back that turned out to be shingles.  Fortunately, I got off pretty easy.  I stressed myself out a ton, reading about shingles online and expecting to be in bed and in pain for weeks.  But in the end, the rash didn’t really spread, and it only got a little itchy.  But, by the time that was clearing itself up, then I came down with the flu…and I’m not talking a little cold…I’m talking monster flu.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so utterly sick and miserable.  I spent about 3 days on the couch, unable to do much except for cough, sneeze and gag.  I couldn’t even really sleep it was so bad.

I went in for my NT Scan around 12 weeks and was able to have another ultrasound.  The baby was being shy and the tech could not get the measurements he needed to be able to complete the screening, so they offered me a Panorama test, which is a blood test that will check for chromosomal abnormalities and I’ll also get to find out the gender!  The baby’s heart rate was 176, so I am still thinking girl. 🙂  They offered me a bunch of other tests as well, since I am considered to be high risk this time because of my age. *eye roll*  I probably won’t do any of them unless some concerns arise.  I also passed my first test for gestational diabetes, which was a big relief since I had to manage that with Evelyn.

One thing that is really different this time around is that I have been completely ravenous all the time.  No food aversions for me…and my body wants carbs! Ugh…I’ve already gained more weight than I would like to mention and I’m a little worried that I am going to gain a lot more.  My belly is popping out a lot sooner this time.  At 13 weeks, I look like I did at 20 weeks with Evelyn!  I wish I could say it’s all baby.  Yikes!

This pregnancy has been so different from my first in so many other ways.  It’s been a lot harder to sit and daydream about the little one since I am chasing after Evelyn all the time.  My symptoms have been a lot milder too, so in general, I just haven’t been “feeling” pregnant.  I found out that I was pregnant very early, so the time seems to be dragging on and on.  At the same time, the weeks are flying by.  I’m really looking forward to the second trimester, feeling movement, and beginning to prepare the nursery.  And I’m hoping things will begin to calm down, so that I can just try to enjoy it for a bit, since this will very likely be my last baby.  Having any more is at the top of my Murtaugh List.  I’m just too old for this sh*t.

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It’s been awhile…

It’s been quite some time since I have posted here, and I don’t have any particular reason for staying away.  I guess I just needed a break.  A lot of changes over the past year have left me in a strange state.  I don’t know if it’s depression or exhaustion or just indifference.  You know all those big life changes that cause the most stress?  Even the good ones…getting married, moving, having a baby…can take a toll.  It seems I always experience big life changes in large lump sums.  Never one at a time.

This year, I left my job to become a stay at home mom.  It was strange at first, especially after 20 years of working.  20 years.  Is that even possible?  I still don’t feel like I have figured out how to be at home, but I can at least say that I have gotten used to it and it’s mostly been a great experience.  I am very grateful to be able to be home with Evelyn, but at times I wonder what on earth I am doing.  I sometimes feel like it was a frivolous, impulsive decision, even though we planned for it.  I guess for someone who has worked so hard and been in the workplace for so long, being at home feels almost irresponsible for me.  I am by no means saying that stay at home moms are frivolous or irresponsible.  Being at home is hard work and taking care of children and raising them to be decent human beings is a complicated and worthy undertaking.  It’s just still strange for me.  I often joke that I’m going through a mid-life crisis.  I probably am.

My miscarriage in October made the latter part of the year a bit of a blur.  This kind of loss is weird.  It’s not like a break-up, when you have someone at whom you can direct your anger and hurt.  It’s nobody’s fault, so you have to just sort of move on and get past it.  I don’t know how to grieve this way.

Then, only 6 weeks or so after my miscarriage, I got this…

…and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it.  Of course I was happy, but also scared and worried and a bit in disbelief.  The holidays came and went, I announced the pregnancy to my family and a handful of friends, but I couldn’t help but think about the fact that if the first baby had stayed, we would have been finding out the gender by then.  I totally distracted myself with online shopping during the month before Christmas, buying gifts for Evelyn’s birthday and for Christmas itself.  I didn’t allow myself to become too attached to this new little being and I felt like this cloud was hanging over us.  I didn’t take pictures or videos, which is completely unheard of for me.  For the first time since Evelyn was born, I just didn’t feel excited about much of anything.  This is a pretty depressing pregnancy announcement, isn’t it?

I’m still trying to work my way out of that funk and it’s been hard because I have also been physically unwell.  I am planning to write soon about my first trimester, but to make a long story short, I have been in physical pain for months (back, sciatic) and have had multiple illnesses over the past few months (shingles, influenza).  It’s been a rough year so far, but I am trying to move forward.  I will be starting physical therapy sessions next week and I have slowly recovered from the other sickness that has had me down.

I am looking forward to Spring and to many happy occasions that my family will be celebrating this year…graduations, a wedding, our baby.  I’m working on my spiritual growth, which is something that I have neglected for far too long.  I hope to be posting here more often again and I am finally starting to feel attached to the new little alien in our lives.  Evelyn is insisting that it’s a girl and we should be able to find out for sure in a few weeks…and it’s nice to finally see a light at the end of this dark tunnel I have been walking through.

 

Staying at Home: The First 30 Days

 

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A lot of people told me that staying at home would be a huge adjustment and I could see why it would be for many people.  Many first time moms decide to stay at home after the birth of a baby and getting adjusted to a newborn is definitely huge.  I can remember my two months of maternity leave after Evelyn was born.  I was in a constant state of shock/panic/exhaustion.  Learning how to read a baby’s cues and establish a routine is hard work.  Add breastfeeding to that and there is very little time left in the day to shower, eat, sleep and otherwise take care of the basic needs that keep us all feeling human.

Since all of that is behind me, transitioning into being at home has been pretty smooth for me, but I have had to adjust in other ways. I’ve probably been a bit like a kid on summer break. You know, no more work, right? Woo Hoo! I can stay up late and watch back to back episodes of Dexter while mindlessly scrolling away on Pinterest and Facebook. Before I know it, it’s after midnight and I know I’ll regret this tomorrow afternoon when I am fighting Evelyn to take a nap and I end up passed out on the floor next to her bed while she’s grabbing my face and whispering in my ear “Are you OK, Mommy?”

Time to get serious…

Establishing a routine is something that I haven’t really accomplished yet.  I chose summertime to leave work for a few reasons, primarily so that I could enjoy the season and all it’s activities with my daughter.  So, we’ve really been on the go since I have been home.  We’ve had guests come and go, a family staycation, and we’ve gone to visit family ourselves.  Needless to say, that hasn’t left much time for “normalcy” in our world and it’s something that I will be striving for in the next 30 days.  I know that Evelyn needs the routine and I definitely need a stretch of “normal” days so that I can really work at potty training with her.  I’d also like to develop a regular blogging routine, since I’ve got a pile of half and unwritten posts, a guest post, and a 50 Things book that I am working to finish.

One of the things I worried about most before I left my job was that Evelyn would miss school.  She’s 2 and a half, after all, and had been attending daycare for almost a year.  I was afraid that she would miss her friends and teachers and that maybe I was being a tad selfish for pulling her out of that social environment to trap her like a hermit at home with me.  After about the second week, I was feeling super-smug and proud of myself that she had not once mentioned school.  This wouldn’t be so bad after all.  Maybe she didn’t really miss school at all and I was just being silly to worry about it.  Then the harsh reality hit me one afternoon when we were driving home from an outing.  Her daddy and I had taken her to the new Children’s Garden that had just opened at Penn State.  It was awesome.  She got to play in water and rocks and sand, run through a tunnel in a big cave, bang on some musical chimes and climb on a happy caterpillar.

There was a group of daycare children there with their teachers and she was eager to join the group and run and laugh with the other kids.  At one point, when the teachers were trying to round up the children to move to a different area, she wanted to go with them and was upset when she couldn’t hold onto one of the rings attached to a rope which is designed to keep them all together.  On the way home, I asked her, “Did you like the garden?  What was your favorite part?”  Her response…. “The KIDS!”  The doubts started to creep in again as I realized that even though she might not verbalize it, she did miss school and her friends there and playing with other kids.  Why wouldn’t she? So, I know I need to make sure she gets out of the house and has a chance to play with other kids.

I also haven’t really had a chance to feel the full effects of the financial consequences of my actions. I have still been getting paychecks and a payout for the vacation time I had accrued, so it’s hard to gauge just how broke we really are. To be continued in August…

Probably the biggest setback I have had was a severe case of sciatica that set in just about the time I was leaving work. I have been living on ibuprofen for the past month and visited the doctor last week. I’ll be doing lots of stretching and core-strengthening exercises, icing my back a few times a day, and I got a script for physical therapy. If you’ve ever had this kind of pain, I’m sure you can attest to the fact that it’s AWFUL and debilitating, especially when you’re trying to run after a little one who requires being hoisted onto one’s hip multiple times a day.

I guess I could sum this all up by saying that I don’t think it has completely sunk in that I left my job and I definitely haven’t exactly figured out how this new role is going to play out for me. My house is not suddenly sparkling and I haven’t put on makeup for weeks. But I can tell you…I am having a BLAST with my daughter. It’s so amazing to be able to be with her and see and hear all the funny things she says and does. Sure, there have been frustrating moments and I am sure that it won’t always be fun, but for now, I am loving every second of it.

things I want to remember: Evelyn at 30 months

dandelion

I’m really not one of those moms who calculates her child’s age in months until she’s off to college, but 30 months has some significance for me.  I work for an infant/toddler education program and when children turn 30 months, we begin to prepare them for the transition to preschool.  Preschool.  I can’t believe my girl will soon be reaching preschool age.  Heck, I still refer to her as “the baby” most of the time.  Where did the time go?

I also have been a very bad mom when it comes to recording milestones.  I have taken enough photos to wallpaper my whole house, but I’ve really slacked on any other kind of record keeping.  But certainly, I want to remember her as she is right now.

Dear Evelyn,

You are only 2 and a half, but you know so much.  You are wise beyond your years.  People have always said you seem like an “old soul” and I agree (you take after your mom).  One of the things that surprises me most about you at this age is your grasp on the spiritual realm.  I wouldn’t have believed that a child your age could have any kind of comprehension of that, but you do.  A few weeks ago as we were driving by the coffee shop (which also happens to be our church), you pointed it out, “There’s our church!”  I agreed, “Yep, that’s our church.”  You started in on me.  “That’s not your church, Mommy.  That’s not Daddy’s church.”  I said, “No, it’s God’s church.”  Your eyes widened and you whispered, “YES! God loves me and my family and He says Pray to Me…”  Whenever it’s time for books at bedtime, you always pick out the Bible stories or books about God and I love watching you fold your hands and close your eyes as you sing “grace” at meal times.

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You love to talk and sing.  You know so many songs, I can’t even keep up and you make up new words to the tunes of songs you already know.  You are always singing…and reading.  You love books too.  Lately, when I put you to bed at night you manage to get books into your bed and I always find you with at least one book tucked under your head or arms when I come into check on you before I go to bed.  There are times when you ask me to read to you, but then end up reading another book on your own and not really listening to me anyway, and then there are times when you will curl up on my lap and listen to every word.

You’re a mommy’s girl right now.  Most of the time you protest if your Daddy tries to do things for you, but soon I will be leaving my job to stay at home with you and I think that will quickly change as you will probably get bored with your dear, old mom.  You’ve started calling me “mom” in the past few days.  It’s weird to hear the shift from “mommy” to “mom.”  It makes you seem like such a big girl when you say it.  You’re growing by leaps and bounds every day.

You love to play with our neighbor, Kole, and ask for him every day.  You also love your friends at church, Piper, Maria, Grove, and now Baby Harrison.  You just love babies.  The teachers at your daycare sometimes let you play in the baby room if you don’t nap while you’re there.  You also love to play with older kids, especially your cousins.  Recently, your cousins came to stay with us for a few days and when they left, you cried, “But I miss them!!”

You’ve never been much of a risk-taker and you are so serious when you are trying something new.  Recently, we took you to a carnival and you wanted to ride all the rides, but I had to tell you, “Smile, Evelyn, you’re having fun!”  You smiled then, but it took some work on my part.  I think you just forget to smile…you are too busy studying and analyzing everything.

You are a very sensitive kid and I am trying to come to terms with that and see the positive in it.  It is a positive thing.  You cry easily and are easily offended if someone corrects or scolds you.  Your breath holding spells have decreased, but you still have them and it’s still hard to watch you struggle through them, even if I have become accustomed to it.  Somehow, this extra sensitivity will work to your advantage. It’s a part of who you are.  Tonight I watched you rock and sing to your baby doll, then read her a book, and lie down next to her to put her to sleep.  So sweet.

tea party

There is so much I am looking forward to doing with you in the months ahead as I make the transition from work to home.  I pray that I am doing the right thing by leaving my job to stay at home with you and I hope that it will be a learning a growing experience for both of us.

Today at the grocery store, the cashier asked you how old you are.  You held up two fingers and said, “I’m two,” very matter-of-factly.  Then you added, “and I’m three,” and added another finger.  Not yet, little one.  Don’t rush it.  You’re already growing up too quickly.

 

can we really have it all?

 

have it all

Like many women today, I grew up with a working mom.  Though my mom stayed home with me during my preschool years, my parents divorced when I was 5 and she had to enter the ranks of working, single moms.  I grew up thinking that the idea of a stay-at-home-mom was a relic of yesteryear.  Nobody did that anymore.  Women are strong and self-sufficient and take care of themselves and their families.  The media and pop culture burned the image of the woman who could “have it all” into my brain.  The career, the family, the picket fence, and all the trappings…the new American dream.

It wasn’t until I had my daughter and returned to work that I started to realize that maybe this idea was crap.  Whose brilliant idea was this anyway, that women should have it all?  Don’t get me wrong, I think that women should be able to have whatever they want, so long as they are willing to put forth the effort to earn and maintain it.  But all of the things…all at the same time?!  Can I see a show of hands of working moms who are not stretched to their outermost limits?

I felt guilty, guilty, guilty all the time.  Guilty about being away from my daughter, guilty that I couldn’t concentrate at work, guilty when I couldn’t contribute as much to the housework as my husband, who was staying at home at that time.  I felt like I was spread too thin and I couldn’t give enough energy and focus to any one thing.  I still feel that way most of the time.  On the surface, it seems like I “have it all”, but most of the time I feel like I feel like I’m only barely keeping my head above water.

So, when does the camel’s back break?  When does “having it all”  turn into just existing, going through the motions, and not really enjoying any of it?  When Michael started a new job in September the weight of it all really came down on me.  He had to be out of town for 2 months for training and I was left to drag a crying child to daycare,  work all day, drag a crying child home again and then the house work started.  Dinner, bath, books, bed.  Then wake up and do it all over again.  and again.  Weekends didn’t even provide a break because I would spend them cleaning, cooking, and preparing for the week ahead.  I know, many of you do this every day, with multiple children, extracurricular activities, etc.  Whether you do it out of necessity or choice,  you struggle just as I do.

At the risk of sounding a little dramatic, I have to say that being in this situation really made me think about the meaning of it all.  I started wondering what was the point of stressing myself out, stressing Evelyn out, so that I could work to afford to send her away to have someone else take care of her all day.  I prayed so long for this child and I wanted to be with her all the time.  Before she was born, I never even considered being a stay at home mom.  It was never a possibility that crossed my mind.  We would never afford it.  I wouldn’t feel like an equal partner if I couldn’t contribute financially to our family.  But when Michael unexpectedly became a stay at home parent when Evelyn was only 2 months old, I started to think about it being me instead.  I wanted what he had.

I began to plan it in my mind.  I had no idea if it would ever happen, but but I daydreamed about it.  We talked about it and hoped that when Michael finished his Master’s studies, he would find a job that would allow me to stay at home.  Since this was something I had never considered before, we had not planned for it, but we started to take little steps to make it happen.  We used our tax return to pay off my car.  We switched our phone service.  We ditched cable.  We factored in the hundreds we will save on child care, gas, and wear and tear on my car.  At first, I wanted to wait until we had another baby.  I figured I would go on maternity leave and not return to work.  But, after almost a year of trying to conceive and two chemical pregnancies, it occurred to me that I could wait for another baby that might never arrive, and miss this time with Evelyn….or I could just pick a date and go for it.

So, I am happy/terrified to announce that I resigned my position at work and will be a full-time, stay at home mom, starting in July.  I have no illusions about the fact that it is going to be hard, but I feel it’s what’s right for this season of my life, for my child, and for my family.  I’ve had time to be young and crazy, travel, get an education, work, build connections in my community, and now it’s time for something new.  I think it’s nearly impossible to have everything all at once and really be able to appreciate it, but maybe, over a lifetime, we really can have it all.

letting go (allowing kids to take risks)

taking risks

I have a feeling that the older Evelyn gets, the more “letting go” posts I will be writing.  It seems that from the time they are born, parenting is just a process of letting go, little by little, of our children.

As a first time mom and self-proclaimed worry wort, I am sometimes hyper-vigilant about protecting my child from any possible pain.  Not just imminent pain, but hypothetical pain.  If I could wrap her in an invisible bubble, and shield her from all the heartache this world has to offer, believe me I would.  I worry enough for the whole family and sometimes I worry that my worrying will effect her in a negative way.  Evelyn is already a very sensitive, cautious child.  (I wonder where she gets it?)  She observes, she plans, and she’s not a big risk-taker.  I haven’t done much baby-proofing in my house because I didn’t have to.  She has never really tried to get into the cabinets, climb on the furniture, or pull the dog’s ears.  While it’s been awesome to have such an easy child, I also worry (there I go again) that she is too cautious…and when life does bring her disappointment or pain, she doesn’t handle it very well.  She’s not one to brush it off and keep on going.  But that’s something I want her to learn.  I want her to sometimes take risks and to learn to get back up and keep going if she falls.

This weekend the temps climbed into the 50s and the sun shone bright across cloudless, sapphire skies.  It was perfect for getting out of the house to relieve our cabin fever.  We decided to venture out for a walk in our neighborhood.  There’s an alley that runs by our house.  It climbs uphill past some neighbors and Evelyn loves to walk up and run back down.  Every time she wants to run down that hill, I worry.  What if she falls?  What if she knocks her front teeth out?  Every single time we start to descend that hill, my desire to keep her safe from pain wrestles with my understanding that she needs to be able to run and have fun without me shouting, “Be careful!” after her all the time.

This time, as she started to run, the worrier in me started to fear the worst, but instead, I fought that feeling and ran next to her, enjoying the huge smile on her face as her hair flapped behind her.  She was having so much fun and I didn’t want to ruin that moment of freedom for her by imposing my own worries on her psyche.  She triumphantly made it to the bottom of the hill and I was feeling good about myself that I had allowed her to take that risk.  Then she wanted to do it again.  This time she ascended the hill with her daddy.  I poised myself at the bottom of the hill and pulled out my camera so that I could capture the huge smile on her face as she neared the bottom.  I never got to take that picture because about halfway down the hill, she fell.

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Her daddy scooped her up and she immediately went into a breath-holding spell.  The words started to come out of my mouth, wanting to blame it on someone, “That’s why I hate the idea of her running….” but then I stopped.  What good what it do?  She had taken a risk, she had fallen, and it was nobody’s fault.  All we could do was pick her up and assess the damage, and help her to move on.  The damage came in the form of a large goose egg on her forehead with no damage to the rest of her face or teeth.  Typically, after a breath-holding spell she gets very tired and since she hadn’t napped, we had to fight to keep her awake for a few hours, until I felt comfortable allowing her to go to bed.  For awhile, nothing could soothe her pain, but when I asked her if she wanted to help me make some cookies in the kitchen, she brightened up and was right as rain in a few minutes.  Later, I showed her the bump in the mirror and she looked at it strangely, but didn’t seem to care.  The next morning, I asked her what happened to her head, wondering if she would remember the incident.  She struggled to even remember that there was anything wrong with her head.

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This letting go thing is going to be an ongoing struggle for me.  As she grows, and starts taking bigger risks, I will have to grow too. Sometimes letting go means having to watch your child get hurt.  This made me think of all the times my mom had to sit back and watch while I took risks and made mistakes, from my trips to Europe to my relationship decisions.  She probably wanted to tell me all the reasons my choices could end badly, but she didn’t.  She let me learn and let me grow and I built the strength I needed to fly because she didn’t put me in a bubble.  Sometimes things worked out great, and sometimes I fell and got hurt…and then she helped me assess the damage and helped me to move on.  And just as my mom did this for me, I will do my best to carry it forward for Evelyn…because all the best moments require us to let go, cast off our worries, and take a little risk.

What risk had the biggest payoff for you?

How do you handle watching your children take risks?

This post is linked up to Our Sunday Best on Momnivore’s Dilemma!

someday

I’m a highly sensitive person.  I take a lot of things to heart.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  I’m weepy, a sap if you will.  My eyes well up during praise time at church.  Sometimes I cry when I watch my daughter sleeping (and then I wonder why she’s so sensitive).

I found this book at a thrift shop today and I started to get teary-eyed after about 3 pages, so I stopped reading and just bought the thing.  When I took it home, my husband read it to Evelyn in its entirety.  I bawled my eyes out.  It’s simple and beautiful and I’ll probably never be able to actually read it to my daughter without getting all choked up.

Do you have a favorite book that you read to your child?  Is there one in particular that pulls at your heart strings?

someday