Saturday, March 22, 2014

When to Say When?

I am SO struggling with the idea of having more children. More specifically...struggling with both ideas: of having MORE kids and of having NO more kids. Yeah...I can't get my head around either option right now.

So what the heck? The thought of being "done" is so odd to me; I've spent so long being so consumed by trying to have babies. The thought of not trying, of putting all this infertility junk behind me leaves a kind of weird void. Not a bad void, but still a void nonetheless. It really is challenging to think of never being pregnant again, never getting THAT phone call or seeing the second line on the pee stick.

But then...there are moments when I feel SO ready to be done. Moments when both kids are inexplicably grumpy or fussy. Times when I'm trying to get some housework done and absolutely can not because someone needs another drink or to be held. And yeah, I love sleep-so there's that to put into the equation as well.

But those moments where I am DONE are fleeting. Always fleeting. Incidentally, the moments where I am sure that I want more are also fleeting. So yeah...I'm just a big pile of confusion and uncertainty.  I would say that we are 92-95% done (as opposed to 99.98% done while I was pregnant). So I thought maybe putting the pro's/con's of having another baby down on paper might straighten things out. Works in the movies?

1. I can experience pregnancy again (this could also go on the con's list, as I was so sick the entire time with Hayden).
2. All the firsts: first sono, first u/s, seeing them/holding them for the first time
3. Getting to go through all the stages again...just one more time!
4. Get to pick out an awesome name
5. Potentially having a boy would be kind of neat (but not make or break)
6.  Giving my girls another sibling*****And hopefully having another life-long companion!!!
7. All the excitement of getting ready for another baby (shopping!). Ok, I know this is a shallow one.
8. Having another child. That's "pro" enough. Another child to bond with and to love. Which, of course, is the most important reason of all.

1. Would be looking at going through the baby phase all over again once my kids are much more independent
2. I'm getting older...34 in June...and I wouldn't want to even try again for another year or two
3. Most likely, I would have to use medical assistance again. And do I really want to put myself through that emotionally or physically?
4. Childbirth. Enough said.
5. More kids = more money. And I'm not talking just about small stuff. I'm talking about college tuition, etc.
6. Going to and from Australia regularly would be a b*tch
7. Either we would have to move or the girls would have to share a room (not a fan of that idea). We have a big house with very large rooms, but that also means not as many rooms (3 bedroom house)
8. Pregnancy anxiety...about miscarriages, etc.
9. We would probably need a different vehicle, and I love mine already
10. Dh doesn't know if he wants a third, but is not completely against the idea
11. We have two healthy girls now (thank God and knock on wood) I want to chance it again?
12. Even less time to myself or 1:1 time with my husband
13. Spread even thinner than I am now
14. I hear that having 3 kids can be a weird dynamic
15. More opportunity for kids fighting
16. Most of my friends will be beyond the baby stage. And while this isn't a big deal, it will still be weird not having friends doing the "baby thing". It might feel a little bit isolating.
17. I've only ever said I would have two
18. I just don't know if I want a baby for the "right" reasons.
19. Not being able to really sleep for the next several years
20. Having my schedule dictated by a cranky baby
21. I just don't know if my heart is really into it

So, as you can see...the Con side is definitely a fair bit longer...and it was easier to write. BUT-the pro side has some "biggies". Having another child, falling in love with that child, giving my kids another sibling. Those are massive, unquantifiable things. And the thought of shutting that door forever is very scary and I'm not quite ready to be there. So I'm just as confused. Dang list didn't work.

How did you know when you were done? Is it a feeling that comes right away or that grows over time????

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

St. Patrick's Fail...Thanks, Pinterest.

St. Patrick's Day was two days ago. We did the usual stuff...both kids wore green Irish themed shirts, I had corned beef going in the crock pot (to have with our mashed taters and roasted brussel sprouts-oh and white sauce to go over the corned beef. Which, judging by my FB feed, Americans are completely clueless about. I guess it's a mostly Australian thing???) and even decided to treat Alex, hubby and myself to a Shamrock shake. Small for me. Because you know...that's like half my daily caloric intake right there-packed into green, thick, creamy gluttony. We'll ignore how I had like three a week last year while pregnant. Anyway. I thought I was doing well with the whole St. Pat's thing. I even bought Alex a bunch of boxes of Lucky Charms Rice Krispie treats to bring into school for her party. We were good.

Except that we weren't. Apparently, I missed the memo that St. Paddy's day is now like the new Easter/Christmas. Uhhhh-parently, a mischievous, spritely little leprechaun is supposed to sneak (invade) into your home and do quirky little things like leave green foot prints all over the place, pee green in the toilet and leave chocolat gold coins in its wake. This little bastard leprechaun is supposed to engage in all sorts of good-natured high-jinx. Oh what fun!

So naturally, when I picked up Alex from school, she wanted to know WHY the leprechaun didn't come to our house! He came to Johnny's house and to Brielle's house and to Ashlynn's house...He even came to her school! After all, there were even foot prints on the walls and chairs to prove it! The leprecaun left all the kids at school a green coin too. BUT..Brielle and Ashlynn got gold, CHOCOLATE coins AND Rachel's leprechaun left them GREEN milk.

"So where was OUR leprechaun, mommy?" (It also didn't help that I was pulling Alex out of her school-and therefore out of her party-early for a doctor's appointment. And NOT only any doctor's appointment...but one where she had to get three shots...thanks in part to getting bit by a friend's dog over the weekend...another story).

And that's when I realized I missed the boat. St. Paddy's day is now..."a thing". It's bigger and better than ever. So when did this happen? I don't think I even wore green on St. Pat's day when I was a kid???

But I think you Pinterest savy moms know that Pinterest is to blame. Thanks for giving more "with-it" parents cute ideas for how to make the day extra fun and special and memorable. Those seeds of creativity were sewn in parents' minds all over and a legion of mini red-headed dudes were now responsible for all kinds of crazy hijinks in homes across America...except ours.

So now I know. Memo received. St. Pat's day is a thing. Next year I will be ready for you.

Side note...I wonder if showing her the movie "Leprechaun" would squelch her yearning for a visiting leprechaun? Ok. Bad idea...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What I'll Do To Get Some Sun....

Alex, Hayden and I leave for Florida in less than two weeks and I. Am. Terrified. Seriously...ok, maybe terrified is an over-exaggeration, but I'm more than a bit worried. Worried about the flights only. I can handle Florida!

Ok, in reality, I'm probably resigned to the drama that this trip could turn into. I know I'm going to be stressed, I know that getting down there will probably suck the life right out of me and age me 15 years. But at least I know that, right? At least I expect it and am already anticipating it, right?

I should be old hat at all of this by now. Alex has traveled to Australia four times now, and Hayden one time. Alex has flown to Florida two times as well. But-I had back-up. I had my husband. Two people, four arms! Four eyes, twenty fingers. And no matter that the trip to Australia is a gazillion times longer than the trip to Florida-having that extra person makes things easier! I would totally be less stressed about going to Australia with two adults and two kids, than I am about going to Florida with one adult and two kids!

Alex is great...Alex knows the drill and listens reasonably well most times. Hayden. Oh Hayden. She is a different case altogether. She's mobile now. She wants to crawl and pull up and get into anything and everything she sees. She DOES NOT want to be still and sitting primly on my lap. And when Hayden starts getting mischievous-that's always when Alex wants or *needs* something. And home girl is like a broken record: "Mommy, can I get some juice...Mommy, can I get some juice...Mommy, I want juice...Mommy, I neeeeeeeed some juice-y PUHLEASE". So yeah...that happens in the middle of Hayden wailing about the injustice of not being able to eat the side of the coffee table, etc.

So I'm anticipating stress. I'm anticipating chaos. I'm anticipating that there WILL be meltdowns-especially as pay-back for our virtually melt-down free trip to Oz. I've emotionally resigned myself to this. There will be no sneaking in quick chapters of my book. There will be no five minute cat nap. There will just be preemptive planning to counter emotional outbursts BEFORE they begin!

Wish me luck, folks. This is new territory for me, having never flown with kids without the hubs. This indicates how desperate I am to get out of the snow and cold for a week! I'll deal with the flights...I'll deal with dirty looks...just let me see the sun for seven days straight!

On the upside...Dan is flying down later in the week so I don't need to do the flight back alone!

*sigh* I wish where we lived offered direct flights to Fort Myers...that would take away a big part of the worry...making the connecting flight...scurrying children through airports...oy.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Birthday Parties....Then and Now...

Do you remember your childhood birthday parties? Because I do. Probably not individual parties, but a miss-mash of years of eating cake and opening presents and popping balloons. Some memories, of course, really stick out-while others are vague and blend into my whole "kid birthday party" schema. I did have a great time at those parties though...I know that!

My sister and I were riding back to my house after going out to breakfast with the kids (breakfast is basically the only meal that Alex will willingly participate in...but that's for another post). I mentioned that I had started to plan for Hayden's first birthday which, incidentally, won't be until May. So I guess here is the first difference between birthday parties then and birthday parties now. I'm pretty sure that my mom didn't plan our parties two months in advance. She knew who she was inviting, she knew a general idea of "when" ("where" was a our house...duh) and did not use invites-but would call up the whole family and give them the "when" and "what time".

Anyway...I told my sister that we were doing a Pink Sock Monkey theme and what caterer I was going to use (in my defense...the first birthday party is always one of the largest and do I really want to miss it because I'm cooking???). She kind of just looked at me and said, "What's with all the themed parties these days? We never had any themed parties". Sister is single and has no kids. I should have started out with that.

But, it got us thinking and reminiscing.  There WERE no themed parties. Even kid parties lacked a theme. OK, maybe the theme was "balloons"...because that's what decorated our plates and napkins. So when did themes become a big thing? Our cakes was usually half a sheet cake with pink or purple or yellow flowers providing a decorative border. Or maybe, maybe we had a Carvel ice cream cake with those chocolate crunchy bits in the center (which was really the best part).

Things I remember from my kid parties: No themed cakes, balloons, plain plastic-ware, ziti (because there was always baked ziti at our kid parties), Jello mold, chef salad, bowls of the original cheese Doritos, because there were no other flavors, wrapped presents-because gift bags weren't really around, or I don't remember them being a thing, Pin the Tail on the Donkey (cliched, but we really did this), having a peanut hunt when weather permitted, having a pool party because my birthday is in summer (note-pool parties are still more than "acceptable" these days still), water balloon fights, playing tag outside, playing "Ghost Busters" outside, getting my first Cabbage Patch doll-which was TOTALLY 'da bomb. Barbies Barbies Barbies (none of the skankier/trendier big headed dolls)! Adults hung out with adults and drank and smoked cigarettes IN THE HOUSE, which my mother would NEVER allow these days (my parents never smoked, just the aunts/uncles), and there was always plenty of beer/wine for the aunts/uncles/older cousins/grandparents. Kids hung out with kids. No one hovered over us. We were given food, given cake and ice cream, but generally were expected to amuse ourselves with various toys laying around (or the aforementioned activities). There was, once in awhile, a pinata.

Man. Those were great days! We had fun. We had a blast! I still love revisiting those memories-and they were awesome frills...just enjoying each others company. Of course, then the first gen Nintendo came out and that led parties to get a little crazy. Duck Hunt while high on Pixie Sticks-yes m'am!

These days, parties are different. The kids still have a ton of fun. Hopefully, my kids will be able to reminisce about their parties when they are my age. BUT-things have definitely been taken up a notch.

In my social circle...almost everyone has their kid parties OUT (except for maybe the first birthday). With Alex, we tend to do two for just the family at our house and then the other for her friends/our friends with kids.

Parties now are at a bounce houses, Build-A-Bear, My Gym, various activity centers, Chuck E Cheese, Dave & Busters, a gymnastics center, ice skating rink, miniature golf...shall I go on? Because I could. And if you have them at home, you are usually expected to have various activities on hand, no letting the kids fend for themselves...there's bounce houses to rent, face-painters to hire, food to order/have catered. And I'm not saying that this is **necessarily** a bad thing. Well, the expectation part is...

And I'm not being snarky. I'm "guilty" of doing all of this. For Hayden's first birthday-we are totally theme-ing it out! My whole house will be pink sock monkey. She may even be in a pink sock monkey tutu (note...birthday outfits are also a "relatively" new thing...along with the popularity of tutus). When I was a kid-I wore my sister's hand-me-down dress with big sleeves and possible shoulder pads. So whatever.

I think, many times, parents do all of the above for the fun of it, and/or for the convenience. It's FUN (for us) to get the kids dressed up, to deck the house out in crazy decorations, to thrill them with a cake with their favorite character. Especially the first birthday-that one is for us moms! It's also damn convenient to have a birthday out. No cleaning the house, no slaving over food, no picking up after the party...and everyone has fun. So if those are our reasons....good on us! Things change, times change, traditions and practices change...that's life.

But I wonder if we also have gone above and beyond because children have gone to so many bounce house parties that they expect it? They expect to go out? Expect to be entertained? They aren't expected to entertain themselves and to simply be left ALONE to play with random toys? Kids need to be stimulated...but these also need to learn that they aren't going to always be entertained by someone/something else...they need to do their own thing sometimes (thus why I resist getting Alex involved in TOO many activities).

So I hope this isn't the reason why "place" parties have begun to become so popular. I hope it's simply because it's fun and convenient, but not expected. Because when stuff becomes expected, that's when the problems start....

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In Honor Of My Little Snow Pea....

...I just bought this onesie today:

FET Ice Age Infant Bodysuit                                                
I plan to proudly put my little monkey in this this summer!

FYI: Cafe Press has awesome Infertility know, for when you kick infertility's ass!

I'm proud of all Hayden's been through to get here! She's a fighter! She's tenacious!

And funny thing is-her personality is still that way. She is going to be my handful, my strong willed, wild on-the-go child. She's was (is) a fighter from (virtually) the very beginning! Heck-even in utero she was always bouncing, kicking, moving...ready to take the world by storm!

And what's not to celebrate about that?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Parenting After Infertility...

The thing about infertility is that parenting after is sometimes just weird...a weird flood of emotions... guilt. Guilt over the people (ones you know and others you do not) that are still fighting, still awaiting that one (one more) miracle baby.

My God. I was in that boat. I was in it for awhile, but not nearly as long as many women. I was lucky really, though it didn't feel that way at the time. Damn...I was lucky.

So I feel guilt, maybe a variation of survivor's guilt? But at the same time-I am so very grateful that I am no longer in that boat. I'm so happy that I'm no longer on the "mommy sidelines", which is how I felt for so long. I'm thrilled to be part of the "club" (another left over feeling). And I feel guilty about feeling happy, though I know that is just stupid. Of course I'm happy! Of course I'm ecstatic that I have my two girls. It would be far worse if I took it for granted.

But here's the thing...sometimes I do. And I hate it. I truly do. And I feel guilty about taking it for granted. I swore up and down that I would never take my hard-fought for kids for granted. I would never grumble in the night when I had to wake up, I would never complain about how my toddler doesn't like to listen the first (or second or third) time something is said. I would NEVER complain about being tired or sick or frazzled or having a messy house, stained clothes. The fact of the matter is, when Alex was first born, I LOVED the mess that came with a baby. I would sit and stare at baby bottles in the fridge. I was in awe that MY fridge now housed baby bottles! I loved the toys scattered around the living room, the clutter...the lived in (ultra lived in) look of the place.

My children are the two great miracles of my life. I would do anything for them, anything at all. Yes-I'd give my life for them in a heartbeat. They are my heartbeat. But...I still take them for granted more often than I feel I should. I complain about the mess, about the food on the floor, about never having time for myself, about being asked to play Frozen 79453 times a day, of being woken up, of being extended so thinly that I feel like I'm never doing everything up to the standards that I used to aspire to, that I used to envision.

And the guilt I feel over this is sometimes crushing, sometimes shaming. I, like so many infertile women, bartered with God. I prayed and asked and tried to make deals with him/her. And I vowed to never, ever take things for granted.

But I have, and I hate it. And I'm ashamed of it and know that there will be some infertile woman reading this passage who wants to kick my teeth in.

To her...I'm so sorry....but I had to get this off my chest.

I would never go back to how things were before children, never ever ever. What I have gained is nothing short of spectacular. It has changed who I am, who my husband is, our relationship and our identities. No, I would never go back. The thought of anything ever happening to my children is enough to make me break out in hives and feel faint (we can talk about the post-infertility paranoia/hover parenting/superstitions in another post). I love them more than anything...

So maybe this is a blessing stemming from my constant reappraisal of where I am, mentally? My battle with taking things for granted is strong and present and persistent because I know what it is like to be without something I so desperately needed. So maybe this isn't such a bad thing, after all? It forces me to think, to put things in perspective and mentally puts me back to where I came from 4+ years ago. And I don't want to forget that journey. It still hurts to revisit those feelings. It still makes me envious of "fertile women". I still causes my gut to clench. And so feeling those feelings again, maybe that will remind me to continue to do battle with the tendency to take things for granted. Because it will be a battle I'm always fighting. And sometimes I will win, and sometimes I won't-especially if I'm tired (I tend to get weepy). But I know this and a certain part of me has to be ok with the actual battle-because I am only human, after all. And at least I'm fighting the battle.

So on that note-I pray that God continue to protect our family of four....