By Me, For Me (a lesson in learning how to take my own advice)

I’m ashamed to say I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself since our night of false labor last week. I was just so convinced that I was having a baby that I hurtled myself past the mounting anxiety and insecurity (are we ready for this?) and decided I am ready, excited, and prepared to meet my baby boy. Then: nothing. So in the wake of this little let-down, I’ve lost my sense of humor, my appreciation of the present, my joyful sense of anticipation, and my ability to stop thinking that the grand moment has passed. Boo hoo, Ashley. Boo hoo.

So as a kick in my pants, I’m going to make a list of things I felt like I had learned from my first pregnancy and translate them into my present situation. Ye-es this is an obvious step, but I had somehow exempted myself from benefiting from my own wisdom because (I thought) it’s so different with your second child. So I’ve just puttered along acting like I am doing something to which I’m entirely new. And that’s not entirely true. So, here goes.

1. Enjoy your leisure time, Ashley! And, yes, you do have leisure time; you just need to make the most of it. Fast. Because it’s going on vacation for a while. Read books! Watch movies! Talk to friends on GChat for prolonged periods about nothing in particular! Start as many ‘projects’ as you like. Take the time to cook something complicated for dinner. Listen to podcasts of This American Life or Radiolab. Just recognize the gift of alone time as it has been given to you. No, it’s not as easy to choose your leisure time as it was before Margie was born, but that doesn’t mean it’s disappeared. You have naptime, post-bedtime evenings, and any time Joel offers to help (an offer always to be accepted and NEVER to be squandered feeling guilty).

2. Enjoy having time to focus on one person at a time. Remember how after Margie was born you felt that you never got to have a conversation with Joel or to just enjoy his company anymore? Well, that too is about to go on vacation for a bit (at least the one-on-one time after Margie’s bedtime). And you’re going to be too exhausted to have meaningful give and take for a while. With anyone. This time around, you’re also going to have to take a short break from laid-back time with Margie, because your attention will have to be shared until the little man decides he can take a good nap, give you some nighttime rest, and/or play contentedly by himself. None of which–you’ll remember–will probably happen very quickly.

3. Remember to relish the present. Don’t live too much in your preparations. Ignore, as best you can, your physical awkwardness and discomfort and just tune-in to what’s happening. Don’t forget to take time to be silly, to satisfy Margie’s whims (or, some of them, anyway), to notice how the weather is changing oh so slightly, to appreciate Joel, etc. Your life is not suspended in time until Abel is born! This moment is all you have. Yes, I know you’re rolling your eyes at the Hallmark-ish-ness of this one, but it’s IMPORTANT. So at least listen while you roll your eyes. Please.

4. Keep your anticipation joyful, not begrudging. Or, in other words, stop being so spoiled. You have so much wonderful awesome to look forward to; don’t resent having to wait on it for a couple of weeks for goodness sakes! You’re NOT going to look at your newborn and say, “Geez, kid! Finally you decide to make an appearance! What took you so long?!” So stop acting like it. Quit it with the bad attitude. And another thing…give the people of the world a break. It’s really okay for them to say things like “Are you sure it’s not twins!?” or “You’re about to pop!” or “Woah, look out!” or to just stand there and laugh like that one guy at the grocery store yesterday. They are not trying to be mean. And, no, you are not unusually gigantiudinous, even if you feel like it and they say so. You are doing just fine. So take their comments as cheers of encouragement and congratulations. Because the people who are insulting you aren’t doing it out loud and to your face. Get over yourself.

5. Relinquish control; trust God. Nope. You are NOT in control of much. You are especially not in control of when your labor begins, what your blood pressure does, what your doctor advises, whether Abel will be laid-back or not, OR whether Margie will decide that because she has a baby brother she suddenly wants her crib back AND her diapers, for that matter. So be still and take it as it comes. Trust yourself to solve problems effectively as they arise instead of obsessing about them in advance. You have what you need to handle what the future holds, BUT that’s true only if you keep faith at the center. So do, please.

Whew! I could go on like this all day. But I won’t. I feel better, and I hope that doesn’t mean I’ve just off-loaded a bunch of yuck on you. Thanks for listening. More soon.

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Still Public, Still Pregnant, Still Pottying (like a big kid)

So my attempts to make this blog more private were futile. My only option, it seemed, was moving to a different platform and starting from scratch. And though there’s not a lot of content on this blog it seemed like too much of a hassle. Not to mention, I’ve been roasted in the past (by myself and by my closest pals) for starting over with a new blog too many times. So we are still public, and anyone who wants to can know our business. Which is probably true, blog or noblog. The quest for privacy was sparked (I suspect) by a hormone spike and fueled by…well…all the things that are terrifying about the interwebs. I’m moving on.

As for life these days, I’m just really VERY large and usually QUITE uncomfortable and typically LOUDLY panting. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But just a little bit. I have reached 38 weeks 3 days, and everything is seeming very healthy and ‘normal’ and open-ended. As in, we are waiting through every minute like it could happen any minute. Joel has joked that the one upside to my high BP throughout my pregnancy with Margie was that someone (my doc, whom I LOVE if you need a LR recommendation for an OB) said “okay, GO!” and we went. And there was very little guesswork. Which I suppose does seem easier if you’re not the one with a Pitocin drip and an un-elevated bed and wading barefoot in the firey lakes of onecontinuouscontraction of Hell. But I think what has him most anxious is that a few nights ago I had a few hours of false labor and we really thought we were going to meet our baby boy. He has decided that this spontaneous event should definitely not happen during the night and, if possible, after September 1. Toward these ends, he is keeping me as comfortable and happy as possible (and I’m not putting up much of a fight). Last night, after Margie’s bedtime, I sat amidst a throne-like configuration of pillows in our bed, watching Mad Men on Netflix, and sipping hot tea. “If you need anything,” he said, “just text me.” Pretty luxurious, huh? One insightful family member has hypothesized that it has something to do with the boy-ful-ness of this baby and Joel’s subconcious need to make sure he arrives hearty and strong. In any case, I’m rolling with it.

As for Her Sweetness, Margie has been doing really well with her potty use. She’s wearing panties during awake times and Pull-Ups during asleep times. She occasionally wakes up dry, but I’m not ready to take the plunge into washing sheets every day (twice a day) while nursing and caring for a newborn. Also…I know that Pull-Ups are supposed to be the enemy of all that is good and right in the world and just another piece of evidence that corporations are evil BUT they’re saving me a truckload of anxiety for the moment. So forgive me, please. I just hope Margie can when she still needs to wear them in high school. Yay, Margie! I’m so totally proud of her.

She is also getting more verbal every day. Some of my favorite things she says:

“Cayfool, Mama” (translation: “Careful, Mama”)

“I know! I haban idea!”

“Open Sesame Street!” (which now just means “open,” since hearing her cousins saying “Open Sesame” to an automatic door)

“Monsters comin'” (her one and only response to the question “Why?”)

I’m really looking forward to seeing her interact with her baby brother (whom we are planning to name Abel Andrew, by the way). I know it won’t be easy for her to share attention all of the time, but it will be worth it for the moments that she knows he’s ours and loves him just like we do. So that’s about all of the update I have for now. Thanks for bearing with me while I waffled about whether to keep posting here. More soon.

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We rearranged our living room to incorporate a small playspace for Margie by the front windows. We’re loving the new set-up, and I think Margie likes it, too.

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My Need for Minty Freshness

So, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything akin to the kind of pregnancy cravings so often portrayed in TV shows and movies. When I was incubating Margie, I ate A LOT of french fries and A LOT MORE watermelon. But mostly I think that can be chalked-up to the fact that I had just done four (or six?) months of Weight Watchers points counting and was ready to splurge. I know, I know…growing a child demands more discipline! But, alas, I have little in this area of my life.

And THIS time around I had an urge to eat one of those junky Totinos pizzas (and I did…please pray for my unborn), but that’s not exactly in-league with pickles and ice cream. No, what I’ve been having this time (instead of cravings) is an attraction, an affinity, an obsession with all things minty. Mint. Mint. Mint. I’ve never loved the taste, feel, smell, EXPERIENCE of one flavor so much. I go to my mother-in-law’s herb garden and pick it and rub it between my hands just so I can huff it for the rest of the day. I mean, if I were a smoker, I’d be buying menthols, y’all. Gross, right?

I’m loving this craving. And I hope it sticks.

So…in no particular order, here are my current mint fix products. Please recommend others you like!

p.s. I thought about calling this post “Constant Craving” but that made me think about K.D. Lang. So I thought better of it. But now I have the song stuck in my head, and, well, y’know…misery loves company! You’re welcome.

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On Her Second Birthday

Today, on Margie’s second birthday, she woke up in a rotten mood. I said, “Happy birthday, Margie!” and she replied “NO birthday, mama.” This because she’s trying (I think) to tell me that she’s had enough of this birthday business. For the last few weeks–really since her cousin Davey’s birthday–we have been singing happy birthday, playing birthday party with stuffed animals and babies, and saying “happy birthday” more as an affectionate greeting than anything else, roughly equivalent with Good Morning!, Great to see you!, or I love you! And last weekend we had a little birthday party for her. It was a truly great toddler party, complete with the requisite poop incidents, present envy, and melty ice cream. As far as she’s concerned THAT was her birthday, not today. So I understand her resistance; time to move on.

But, for me, today’s the day. Today marks two magnificent years of motherhood: of worry, exhaustion, negotiation, panic, growth, change, wonder, elation, spontaneity, hilarity, amazement, and unbounded affection, all elicited by one remarkable little girl. I haven’t counted the times I’ve counted her toes or kissed her head or wiped her bottom. I haven’t counted the times I’ve counted her as my greatest blessing. It all feels like infinity to me now. Abundance. Eternity. She’s what makes me know that there are things that have no limits, fit in no containers, defy quantification. She taught me that there’s a God.

Thank you, Margie, for being you. And for teaching me how to be your mama. I love you more than you’ll ever know (unless there comes a day when you are a mama too).

So, even though she will throw it back in your face, send out some good birthday vibes to my little one today.

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Music Maven No More

Preparing a place for the baby boy in our home has required the surrender of our “guest” room, i.e., the room where all of our miscellany was collecting dust. And one of the biggest categories of said miscellany is our cds. Our mountain of cds. They are stuffed in binder pockets three deep, stacked in towering Pisa piles, and almost assuredly all scratched to hell (pardon my language). It’s a discouraging sight: the money invested, the memories and emotions involved (all so long-past), the question of what in God’s name to do with them now. It’s really no wonder it’s the one little nook of the room that still hasn’t been organized or cleared out. My best idea is to attempt to rip the ones that are still play-able (and deemed listen-worthy) onto my computer and trash the discs, but I can’t begin to imagine how many hours that would take. I know this seems like no big deal to most people, a simple organizational task, but my stomach ties itself in knots at the mere thought of handling them all, both physically and aurally.

Let me try to explain. I was once one of those people who loved nothing more than to get a tip on a new band, check them out, devote myself hopelessly, and then repeat the same process. I listened, I purchased, I swooned. So much so that it shocks me how little appeal this whole process holds for me now. I worry: am I boring? am I socially isolated? have I lost of the emotional inflammability that music used to stir into a roaring bonfire on a daily basis? When I’m in a reasonable frame of mind, more sensible explanations offer themselves: I’m a busy mom; I spend no time listening to music (primarily because I spend so much less time driving and so much less time alone); choosing music became too much of a competition between Joel (who also likes to stumble on greatness) and me and it gave me a sour taste. Whatever the combination of precipitating factors truly is, the fact remains I can’t muster the interest and energy required to sift through all of the junk to find the gems anymore, even when I try. And I have tried.

But it seems I’ll have to accept the fact that my adulthood won’t find me ravenously consuming new musical offerings from every hot new thing that flits across the Pitchfork website. In fact, I’ve been thinking lately how difficult it’s going to be to keep up with my golden oldies, most of whom are still churning out albums. I’ll have to deepen my devotion, even while narrowing it. I guess this means I’ll never be the hip mama who eschews the kiddie tunes, never again be the friend who churns out mixes for friends, and I’ll just have to resign myself to doodling “I <3 Neko Case” on my notebook until the cows come home. And enduring Margie’s teenage eyes rolling back in her head while I crank up the Decemberists, as though I’m forcing her to listen to Peter, Paul and Mary.


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Pool Spoiled

These days–these days of 100 degree heat and toting 35 extra pounds and swollen feet and short of breath and “outside mama!”–I am loving the pool, our little oasis across the way…twenty-six steps away (thank heavens). I do my best to negotiate one swim per day, just to cool down and move freely as a teeny tiny break from this overwhelming heaviness, but the more I want it the less Margie will be convinced. I know, I know: what kid doesn’t want to go swimming?! Apparently…mine. Some days she wakes up with an emphatic, “no, mama, no swim t’day.” As if swimming isn’t one of those activities universally-loved by children of all ages! When I do manage to make the pool sound appealing enough and get her all outfitted with swim diaper, swimsuit, water shoes (aka “swimmin’ boots”), we make it there and she has a maximum time limit of about seven minutes of actual, pleasant swim time before she’s out of the pool, turning on the “tunes” and dancing, or (as in the photo above) begging to be let out of the gate, insisting “done!”

So I’m thinking I need a new strategy. For a while, should we limit our swims to one-per-week and see if this renews her interest? Maybe so. Or maybe I’ll just tie her to me and force her to swim until I’m done. That would require earplugs (and perhaps even a helmet and mouth guard) on my part, and it might mean some lasting emotional trauma for her, but some days it seems like it might just be worth it.