Moving With Children

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We’ve been in our new old house now for about 2 weeks.

The week of the move things were crazy. I mean bat poop insane.

An example: We went to buy boxes/run errands as a family of 4, and decided to bring the poor lonely dog along. When we got home the baby, who hates the car, was screaming his head off, while D had just taken a giant dump. I manned her, while Merp manned the baby. An hour and a half later, D asked, “Where’s Henry?”

We had left him in the hot car, baking in the afternoon sun.

Thank GOD he’s okay, but wow. Not a good moment in our life as dog parents. We were so consumed with our human babies we completely forgot our fur one… ūüė¶

That incident about sums up the last few months in which I’ve been silent in this space.

BUT UGH… I had an entire post typed up, with more juicy details, that literally DISAPPEARED when I pushed publish. Maybe multi-taking has something to do with it?

Right now, a¬†high needs¬†fussy baby is writhing around on me in the carrier, a toddler is trying to climb the pantry to get to the treats, and my house looks like Box City barfed all over it. AND I have an Au pair (who is the best thing I have ever done in my entire life. Hands down. LOVE HER). Thank God for her, as she prepares our Blue Apron dinner, because without her help I’d have checked in to the psychiatric unit weeks ago. No joke.

God help the woman who spends her day alone with toddlers and babies with no assistance at all. This multiple kids thing is INTENSE. My husband and I agree that he is LUCKY to go to work. The job of the stay at home parent, with or without two extra hands, is by far the most challenging thing I have EVER done.

Two for the Show

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Last week, the light of my life turned two years old. Two!

If I wasn’t well acquainted with the tremendous mental, physical, and emotional growth of the last two years for her AND me, I am now.

Cradling her baby brother in my arms, while I watch her jump, twirl, attempt ballet poses, sing, and dance demonstrates the miracle of the human form quite beautifully. In just two years she’s transformed from a completely dependent infant into a little girl – a frustrating, brilliant, silly, sassy, active one at that.

Here’s a little bit more about D right now…

  • She still LOVES Thomas the Train and trains in general. She spent 15 minutes this morning watching real locomotives chugging through mountain scenery while I nursed her brother.
  • She is equal parts big girl and baby, wanting to put on her own shoes one minute, but to be rocked the next.
  • She is quite the singer. D dazzles us with¬†various renditions of “No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed,” monkeys has been replaced with everything from babies to turtles¬†and then back to monkeys again. “Mama finger, mama finger where are you…” is another one and it gets stuck in all of our heads frequently so that we have to ban humming it and other children’s songs at the dinner table. “Twinkle Twinkle” had a good run, during which she’d have her father and I stand outside at dusk and sing it again and again, followed by her singing it again and again. The¬†mischievous monkeys, however, have been the favorite for the last two weeks now . She carries a phone, remote, or other similar shaped object around pretending to call the doctor, FOR HOURS.
  • She still fights sleep, especially naps. She ends up in our bed some nights, especially in the few weeks her brother has been home, which makes for an interesting evening of ¬†avoiding kid kicks, and/or moving her so I don’t fall off, while also comforting/feeding her gassy brother. My husband ¬†insists that her brother won’t be like this, that we won’t create this kind of “sleep monster,” but I’m pretty happy with the fact that she goes down in her big girl bed and stays there most of the time and has for many months.
  • She’s obsessed, I mean obsessed with her “binkies.” If we let her she’ll carry several around at once and talk to them, yes TALK to them. We’ve had full on meltdowns because we can’t find “blue” binkie, or any of the other various colors we have floating around the¬†house. Binkie will be going bye bye at age 3. In fact, D was so stressed out about it before her birthday that she made me reassure her, over¬†and over, that the binkies would stick around when she turned 2.
  • She’s a talker, that’s for sure. 8 times out of 10 we can understand her. Here are a few favorite phrases:
    • “Mama I want to go upstairs downstairs, beach, pool, playground, MyGym etc.” This kid always wants to GO somewhere.
    • “Treat mama, I want chocolate treat.” She’d eat candy all day long if I let her.
    • “I love it.” (When she’s eating something particularly delicious)
    • “I’m sick.” “Owl is sick.” “Mama is sick.” (She’s also obsessed with stories about the hospital, doctors, and playing doctor).
    • “No no no no NO.” She was singing this today while she was eating lunch. For real.
    • “That’s a black one.” She loves to identify things by color. Black, red, pink, yellow, green, blue, white…
    • “See guys working.” She likes to walk to the construction sites near our home to see the workers and their equipment. Hey, if she’s the next home improvement wiz I would be thrilled!
    • “This is mama’s, dada’s, mine, Pat’s, baby Leif’s, Henry’s.” She’s been quite concerned for months now about who belongs to what.

Where some kids are tidy, D is not. She’s a mess and mischief maker, going from one room to the next sprinkling a trail of chaos as she goes. I treasure her curiosity, but I’m trying to teach her to clean up after herself too (it’s not easy). ¬†Together we read all the books, and now count all the chocolate covered raisins. I’m amazed at how well she’s adjusted to life with a little brother. I’m amazed by her beauty and strength and light every single day. I feel so very blessed to call this special two year old my kid. How did I get so lucky?

Little Leif’s Birth Story

A week ago yesterday, I sat in a pre-operation room at Providence Holy Cross hospital in West Hills, California awaiting a C-section to bring forth my second born child, but first born son.

The month, and days, and moments leading up to that morning were anything but joy filled.

There was my fear that he wouldn’t turn.

There was more¬†fear when after trying EVERYTHING he didn’t get any closer to the cephalic position, fear that he’d be the 1 in 10 breech baby with a major or minor birth defect.

Then there was even more fear still about leaving my baby girl behind for 3 to 5 nights.

And finally, there was something beyond fear – humor murdering terror, I’ll call it – at the thought of the surgery itself, my body to be sliced open like a cadaver in anatomy class, my baby to be pulled from my bloody insides, a strange species delivered into a strange land, the cold, hard planet of the operating room. I had weird thoughts like that, I really did, visions of a mutated creature who had chosen me as its host. I realize now that where some are prone to postpartum depression, I teeter on the edge of¬†gestational insanity the entire time I’m pregnant.

When a wiry nurse had finished setting up my IV fluids, I started to cry.

“I’m just so scared,” I sobbed, the mascara I had put on for post op pictures, a¬†surprise benefit to¬†being able to plan my child’s birthday (that’s what I told myself at least), streaked down my face like war paint in the rain.

And then when a new baby was rolled in front of¬†her mama’s “room” next to me, calling out for warmth and love, I cried even harder. This was really happening. I was going to have another baby. I was also going to have major abdominal surgery in minutes. I then expected to see a miserable mother wheeled in next and even murmured under my breath, “I should so not be seeing this right now.”

But what I heard and what I saw, through a crack in the curtain in front of me, was beautiful.

I saw a big burly dad cradling a swaddled infant in his arms, as a bubbly blond baby nurse explained eye ointment and vitamin K shots.

And when I heard the baby’s mother get wheeled into the curtain divided recovery room next to me, I couldn’t help but keep listening. Their soft, calm voices. The mother’s response to her recovery nurse that she had no pain. The sweet muffled grunts of a baby latching for the first time.

I wish I could thank this little family, whose¬†baby’s birthday is shared with my son’s. Their post op moments filled me with so much strength.

After that, I wiped away my tears, took a deep breath, and prepared to drag my IV bag with me down the hallway.

As I was walking in my sheet of a hospital gown toward the double doors of the operating room, I started to shake. It was freezing cold. And despite the gift of perspective from my neighbor family in c-section fun, I was still so very afraid.

I shook through the insertion of the spinal, which after numbing medicine was no more painful than a bee sting.

I continued to shake as they laid me down, fitted me with an oxygen mask, and pulled up a blue sheet to shield me from the gory reality that is this kind of a birth experience.

When I realized I could no longer feel my legs, I started to panic. The cumbersome oxygen mask and blue sheet in my face made me feel like I was about to be buried by the ultimate surgery complication – death.

So I spoke up. The sheet was adjusted. The mask replaced with two buds in my nose. My arms left unrestrained with a promise to keep my hands behind the curtain.

And then my amazing, gracious, beautiful, talented doctor, who described that awkward sheet as “blue sky,” started her work. She had called me the night before, joking that she was a Gynochiatrist when I bawled my eyes out that this wasn’t how Leif’s birth was supposed to go. Up until the moment they cut me, I still had a hard time accepting it.

After¬†some extremely quick sensations of tugging and pulling, ¬†Leif began to wail. Unlike his sister’s birth, where silence marked her first seconds of life, Leif came forth into the world a blazing trumpet of sound.

“He’s perfect,” Dr. Long exclaimed, “Stephanie, he’s absolutely perfect!”

When asked if I wanted to do skin to skin then and there, I declined. Something didn’t feel right to me about holding my baby boy for the first time with my innards exposed, blood weeping from me onto the floor. But I did want¬†to see him. To kiss him. And so they held him up for me, all 21 inches, 8 pounds and 10 ounces. And when he was swaddled they brought him to my lips and I kissed his round little face, that back then looked so much like his sister when she was born. But his hair! Dark and thick and almost curly.

Oddly, I had a dream a week or so before Leif was born that in hindsight I should have considrered more seriously.

In it, Levi held up a perfect baby boy, presumably Leif. This stunning child had dark hair and blue eyes, just like the one I was blessed with a week ago. It’s like Leif was trying to tell me through that dream, to “calm the f down mama. I’m going to be okay. And so are you.”

The next phase of surgery didn’t pass as quickly as the first. Levi went with his baby boy into recovery, while I stayed behind to be put back together again. While doing so, I smelled smoke and heard the teaching doctor who I agreed to let attend with his student, explain that they had just found endometriosis on my left ovary and cotarized it away. I was not expecting to get a mini-lap out of the deal! But hey, I’m thrilled they could do some damage control while in there.

It felt like a lifetime before I was reunited with my loves, Levi and Leif. And when I finally had my baby boy in my arms, peace and love and light ran through me stronger than the morphine they’d given me to help numb the pain. Even if he hadn’t been “perfect” in the 5-fingers and 5-toes sense of the word, he Is perfect to me. ¬†His latch. His cries. His round face and dark hair. Perfect. The beginning of Leif’s life story was a lesson in letting go of plans and learning to be brave. Leif’s birth may not have been my ideal, but it was exactly what it needed to be.

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Making Peace with The Pitts

With the countdown on to my scheduled c-section, I’ve been thinking, Googling, and crying WAY too much.

Until today.

I think I’m finally at peace with the status of this pregnancy.

I think I’m finally through the darkness, and reaching for the light.

I’ve had moments of anger and resentment toward my innocent baby boy that have astounded me – as if it’s HIS fault I won’t get the perfect birth experience I’ve dreamed of. I’m ashamed to admit that, but it’s true, it’s honest, and that’s what this space is for. I’ve failed to enjoy anything this last week and have instead been consumed by self-pity. I’ve been a¬†gross version of myself, a version I don’t like. Yet at the same time, I know it’s an important part of the process – this moving through the shit to get to the salvation.

As far as I know (after almost a dozen ultrasounds, including an additional level 2 day before yesterday, and copious amounts of blood work), other than being breech, Leif is perfectly healthy.

This pregnancy is perfectly healthy.

AND I’m perfectly healthy.

Things could come up. There might be issues. There might not. But so what?

As one lovely blogger reminded me, love will win if I let it. The magic will come if I reach for it. And as a friend said via text, it’s time to STOP, we’ve¬†only a few days left as a family of 3. WOW.

This is really happening.

I’m about to have another CHILD.

And since I’m already prone to so much mom guilt, why am I torturing myself? The bad wolf has been so darn hungry lately, but it’s time to kennel him for awhile because the good wolf is skin and bones.

My gorgeous, stubborn, ridiculously intelligent toddler has certainly picked up on the energy of me and all of this¬†change. There was a week of no naps and all of the over-tiredness whining that entails. There’s been some major clinging. Some kick filled tantrums.

But there’s been a lot of talk about babies and the hospital, coupled with swaddling of creatures big and small (the dog is NOT a fan) too. And the most hilarious, but kind of sad, thing of all: my little girl, who’s been sleeping in a big girl bed on the floor since 14 months, is now taking naps in her crib! She insists!

I worry so much about leaving her for 3 to 5 days during recovery. As much as she adores her Dada and grandma, I still handle bedtime all of the nights. I’m still the one who brings her the lost pacifier at 4 AM. Who she comes to, arms stretched out for snuggles and early morning kisses. It breaks my heart to think about how she’ll cry out for me when I’m not here. But I have faith in her Daddy, for whom she squeals with joy when he walks in the door after a long day.

I’m hoping she’ll surprise us.

That she’ll be stronger than we think.

We’ve been talking about the baby, hospital and my absence for weeks. Every time the doorbell rings she thinks it’s grandma coming to take care of her. Grandma brings presents and treats and lots of silliness.

And finally, I put a call into a specialist, Dr. Wu, who delivers breech babies vaginally. I want to make sure I’ve explored every option. Apparently, I’m an excellent candidate and baby L is too.

I doubt I’ll go that route, but it’s nice to know that there ARE options just in case.

Sad, but true

The ECV didn’t work, but it wasn’t that painful, so at least there’s that.

After two attempts, one to the left and one to the right, my doctor was unable to get baby L’s head past the mid line. He just kept popping right back to the belly button area where he’s been for awhile now. Frustrating.

The next day my tummy was sore, and my heart was too (still is actually).

I’m really, really, REALLY sad to report that I scheduled a c-section for 3/30. The thought of a major abdominal surgery, 4-days in the hospital away from my baby girl, the painful recovery, the missing microbial benefits for my boy, the scar – ALL OF IT – just make me want to cry. I’m on the verge right this second, but I just can’t anymore.

The¬†worst part though is that he’s breech at all. It’s making me worry so much. The higher rate of defects associated with breech babies is terrifying. My Google mania has made me realize that there’s so much they can miss on anatomy scans and prenatal testing. Stats don’t comfort me. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t comfort me. Months of healthy scans and blood tests don’t comfort me. I’m a mess!

This time around I’ve had such a stress free pregnancy until the last few weeks! I’ve practiced feeding the good wolf. I’ve learned about positive thinking. I’ve read about the law of attraction. But now I’m miserable. Sad. Worried. Anxious. Unhappy. Irritable. It comes and goes throughout the day, but I’m always brought back to worry. Because at this point, what can positive thinking change? I can hope for the best, but I can’t fix anything if it’s already broken.

I’ve even asked my doctor if I can have another level two ultrasound to see if they missed anything. Why would this help? Because at least we’d be able to mentally prepare a little bit if something IS wrong. We’ll see what she says tomorrow. The only thing working for me is that I don’t have a gut feeling one way or another – things COULD be totally fine, but I’m just so freaked out that this isn’t going as I thought it would. Not the peaceful, joyous final pregnancy I had planned for.

I’m also considering a second ECV at 39 weeks the day of my scheduled c-section. This time with an epidural (which makes them more successful). This time with another doctor assisting my own (Kim K. had 3 kicking her baby’s little butt into place). That’s part of why I want a second level 2 scan – it¬†should be able to see if there’s a short cord or something else preventing my boy from moving. I certainly won’t have a second ECV without one, because doing so without further exploration seems too risky.

If I wasn’t sure about being done having children, now I am. I can’t do this again. The worrying is far worse than the months of morning sickness, the weight gain, and all the aches and pains associated with pregnancy.

I believed in my heart that eating, thinking, and living healthy¬†would be all I needed to nurture a healthy pregnancy and a happy ending, now I’m not so sure…

Breech babe, Toddler trouble, & a Big Move

 

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Me, 37 weeks pregnant, post Reiki session.

When I found out my baby was breech at my 33 week appointment, I immediately began ALL the things to help him turn.

I’ve been belly dancing using this video because I heard it can loosen the hips and help a breech baby flip.

I’ve been laying upside down ala Spinning Babies.

I’ve done head stands in the pool, frighting my fellow swimmers in a pre baby bikini because I don’t have a maternity swim suit.

I’ve gone to 3 chiropractic appointments and 2 moxibustion acupuncture visits, goodbye money.

I’ve been crawling around on all fours.

I even did a Reiki session with my spiritual mentor.

But now, I’m 37-weeks and it’s time to turn him. Manually. From the outside of my¬†uterus. Goody!

Thank you Kim K for graciously sharing your own ECV story with all of us. For real though, Saint West is a gorgeous child and like Kim I’ve gained far more weight than is recommended, a risk factor for breech presentation, so let’s hope I have a similar result: A successful ECV, a healthy, beautiful baby boy via the vajay, and an insta worthy body in 3 months (I kid! But hey ANYTHING is possible).

But, today¬†when I saw my doctor, I lost it. I’ve been losing it a lot lately, to be honest. Call it pregnancy hormones or circumstance or both, but I am EMOTIONAL. This IS NOT how things are supposed to go. Baby boy is supposed to be HEAD DOWN by now, nestled in between my thighs, almost ready to¬†pop forth into this¬†crazy world after 12 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing (that’s what I’m visualizing). When¬†I read that some consider being head down “the first developmental milestone” something developed¬†all right, a litany of worries I didn’t have before. Is he okay? Why hasn’t he turned? Is something wrong that they missed? Does he have a short cord? Is he okayyyyy?

All the while, my daughter has been a Stage 5 nap fighter for the last week. I’ve tried everything. Staying in the room. Leaving the room. Trapping her in the crib (she’s been in a big girl bed since 15 months old). Epsom salt baths. Essential oils. Deep talks. No sleep until a car ride for this kid. Until today – she¬†is currently asleep in her bed at an appropriate nap time and it’s a MIRACLE! My beautiful girl is brilliant and vibrant, but sooooo difficult at times. THANK GOD for our Au Pair. We had a tumultuous first week, but now we’ve all adjusted to one another nicely, though her presence hasn’t made the beginning of the terrible twos any easier.

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Also, we’re moving. We’re selling our beloved Ventura Air Bnb home, which has been killing it, and our primary residence because we have to relocate back to West Los Angeles. It’s such a high cost area that we need the money from both homes to make it work. This move is bittersweet and won’t happen until June, but STILL. Adult life be Cra. Finances be stressful. Making new friends be weird. Having a second child be terrifying.

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As for that last one, let me say it again: having a second child IS TERRIFYING. The reality of it all hit me at my Sprinkle. The last two years of my life flashed before my eyes as I pawed through a gift bag of newborn clothes.  I felt the cluster feeding. Heard the crying. Winced at the sore nipples. The sleepless nights. The diaper blowouts. The struggles with tummy time. The raw pain of Post partum healing. I wonder what it will be like with so much less of me to go around. I wonder about the love and worries that come along with it.

I’m grateful, but I’m also so very scared.

 

 

 

 

35 weeks, Change & Challenges

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I have so much to tell you.

Like about how I can’t believe this pregnancy is almost over, and how totally excited I am to be done. A baby boy in my arms. My daughter’s brother. My husband’s son. I want to tell you¬†how uncomfortable I am, 70 pounds heavier than when I started, my thighs chaffing as I walk, something my hair stylist referred to as the “chub rub.” She told me Vaseline helps. I’ve decided that I don’t like being pregnant AT ALL, but it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that keeps me going. It’s the reality that not everyone who wants to, will be. It’s the pain, with the most beautiful gain.

I want to tell you how at my last appointment, baby boy was breech, after being head down for the ENTIRE pregnancy. About how I am doing the squats, the walks (when I can), the poses, the things to make him move. I went to acupuncture yesterday, so looking forward to the silence of needles laying on my side, only to be told to lay on my back with the practitioner talking my ear off for 20 minutes.

Like about how, even though D liked our new Au Pair instantly those first few days, she’s struggling to adjust now. She cried the entire time I was gone yesterday for that awesome acupuncture appointment, mentioned above. She’s struggling to be left alone with her for even a few hours. I thought we were over separation anxiety, but no, not even close. It took months for her to adjust to her babysitter who came once a week. I was silly to expect anything different.

I want to tell you what a wonderful person our new Au Pair is, and how I know we’ll all make it work, but for now there are driving lessons, and language barriers, and mom guilt. Shouldn’t I do it all? Shouldn’t I be making money too, to help pay for this? Why is it taking me so long to finish my book? Why do I feel like sitting down to do anything other than dote on my child, is a waste of time?¬†¬†I know our Au Pair will prove SO helpful when the new baby comes, when I finally make time to write and study for the real estate exam, a new career I plan to try in addition to writing because I LOVE it, but for now I teeter between relief that help is here and guilt that I need help at all.

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I want to tell you all about D. How at 22 months she can sing all the songs. How she loves dance and helicopters and fire trucks. How she can count to 10, point out all the letters. How she is brilliant and beautiful and fragile and stubborn. Sleep has gotten easier, eating has not. My toddler’s attempts to assert control over her environment are exhausting. I’m learning to be more patient every single day.

I want to tell you about our pending move, back to the city, but closer to the coast. About the changes, so many changes, and the challenges, but there just isn’t enough time to tell it how I really want to tell it.

I have approximately 35 days to prepare, to adjust, to write, to reach, to stop gaining so much weight… 35 days as the mother to only one child… 35 days left of pregnancy…there is no room for fear, only joy, but I’m having a hard time finding it lately, despite all I have to be thankful for. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because loving someone so much is stressful. Every decision I make is guided by this love.¬†How will I possibly love another someone this much and have room for anything else?

How are you my blogging family? My blogging friends? My reading ones? I may not be commenting as often as I’d like, but I am here, thinking of you all and hoping you are well.

xo,

Steph Mignon