Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Wonder of Words and Wordlessness

Here's the thing. Before Emmy had words, I was absolutely ACHING for the moment she would be able to verbalize her needs. Parenting was primarily a guessing game,a la "Is Em hungry? Is she crying because she is thirsty? Because she is too hot? Because she hurt herself? Is it already time to change her diaper (again)?"

Now that Em has words, parenting has become a heck of a lot easier on so many levels. She tells C and I if she is hungry, what she is in the mood to eat, if she needs to go on the potty (most of the time), if she is looking for a specific toy, and of course she also shares her thoughts on the meaning of life (which include the importance of Elmo and gold fish crackers).

Granted, Em's vocabulary is still limited, and most of her words need mama or dada's keen ear and interpretation. "Slide" and "outside" sound remarkably similar. The way she says "Mickey Mouse" sounds more like "meeemowww". And it took C and I a good thirty minutes the other night to figure out that Emmy was saying "I want lunch" (she actually wanted dinner, but "lunch" has become a stand in for pretty much any meal). It sounded like "aahwahhhhlunnnnnnnnnn".

As much as I absolutely LOVE the fact that Emmy is communicating with us, I really kind of miss our wordless days. Just 6 months ago, our relationship relied heavily on silly sounds, grandiose hand gestures, and the interaction of our bodies. I could make Em laugh uncontrollably when I made sudden, low howls, like in this video from December:

Sometimes, I can still make her laugh like that with funny faces and silly noises. But most of the time we are too busy talking, singing, or engaged in some other form of verbal communication, to rely on a non-verbal, maybe somewhat more primal means of communicating.  And I know that with the end of nursing on the horizon, a HUGE part of our non-verbal communication is going to soon be a thing of the past.

Do I love Em's words, and her unique toddler vocabulary? Absolutely. Do I look forward to future intimate mama daughter talks that last for hours and hours? Yes, so very very much. But a little part of me will always miss baby Em's gurgles,giggles, squeaks,squeals, and other wordless wonders.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Emmy Sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

This would definitely qualify as one of those moments when my daughter's cuteness just floored me (and C, who took this video). Call me crazy, but I am pretty sure Em has a really fantastic ear for music for a 20 month old!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

P.S. Have I Told You About the Time Emmy Fell Off Her Slide?

It just occurred to me that I never blogged about one of the scariest moments I have had as a parent thus far, which only took place a week ago... or was it two weeks ago? I can't even remember because I am trying to mentally block it out of my memory...
C bought Em this super little slide, perfect for a toddler (about 3.5 - 4 feet tall). We stationed it in our living room, so that she would have a way of playing and climbing and expending her crazy amount of energy indoors as well as outdoors. Em LOVES the slide. She uses it every single day.
About two weeks ago, the Saturday after C had brought the slide home and we had put it together, Em was climbing the slide steps for the umpteenth time while I waited for her at the bottom of the slide. She got to the top of the slide, got into sitting position, and then... somehow managed to fall backwards, right onto the floor.
I can't even begin to describe to you the fear and panic that overtook me. I ran to Em, of course, who was lying on her side and crying, and swooped her up in my arms. I totally ignored that voice in my head that told me NOT to pick her up just in case she had broken a bone or something. Em was definitely hurting BAD..  and then her body just kind of went limp, and her eyes rolled back in her head... and for about five very long seconds I totally thought that my lovely and beautiful daughter had died in my arms...
In those five seconds, the world stood still as I ran for the phone and dialed 91. With my hands shaking terribly, phone to my ear, I tried to jostle my daughter into consciousness.
Em's eyes opened a little, and she cried confusedly as I rattled away, half-screaming, half-crying, to the person who had answered my emergency call.
Within minutes, the paramedics had arrived, as did two police cars and some other sirened vehicle. In those two minutes, while I cried to Emmy to stay awake stay awake stay awake, I also called C, who happened to be just around the corner in his work van, and he rushed home. By the time everyone arrived outside our house, Em had calmed down, and even said "CARS!" when she saw all the lights and people on our driveway.
After explaining the situation to the paramedics, they advised us to take Em to the ER, especially since she still seemed a little out of it and sleepy. A few hours later, after some basic tests and an MRI, Em was declared "fine" by the doctors, and we were able to go home. They said that Em may have just lost her breath while screaming, which caused her to faint, or else her body just shut down momentarily due to the shock of the experience. Either way, it was definitely the best case scenario we could have wished for.
Having my daughter wilt in my arms was the most frightening thing I have encountered in a very very long time, if not ever. I just realized today that I have told none of my family members, or friends, or co-workers about the incident, which seems so weird, because I tell everybody everything about Emmy. I think I seriously was just trying to block it out. But it happened. I just pray that nothing like that ever happens again.

The Beginning of the End (of Breastfeeding)

Like many things in life, this is one of those good thing/bad things that makes me happy/sad. Emmy is starting to wean – probably not so much because she wants to, but more because my milk supply has taken a second-trimester-of-pregnancy nosedive.  
C and I have been talking about weaning Em for months upon months now, but it has never quite “taken” because a) my body has felt like it NEEDED to breastfeed as much as Em expressed her need to breastfeed, and b) because Em is a super-headstrong breastfeeding enthusiast, and because I have not been quite ready to give up on the bonding opportunity that breastfeeding has provided, I haven’t exactly been pushing her to stop.  
But now that my body is in full-speed-ahead baby production mode (look no further than my fast growing baby bump for evidence), the weaning process is kind of being forced upon us. And as much as I think I would be okay with tandem nursing Emmy and the new baby, I think there are several reasons why weaning Emmy prior to the baby’s arrival is a good thing.
I am hoping that weaning will encourage Em to sleep through the night, rather than waking up several times a night to feed (her daily nursing sessions are down to one feeding prior to going to bed, and one feeding upon her first morning waking, around 5:30 am).  I am also hoping it will show Em that she can get comfort from many other sources, such as hugs and kisses (from me as well as from other family/friends), holding hands, encouraging words, etc., and that she learn some techniques to comfort herself. I know these are important lessons for her to learn in advance of her baby brother’s arrival.  
It hasn’t been easy, though. Em is acting super anxious these days. I can’t leave her side for more than a few seconds without her having a mini panic attack. Drop off at daycare this morning was the roughest it has been in a long time. And she is trying to get her hands down my shirt and on my boobs as often as possible, which I have also been trying to gently discourage, asking her to hug me instead, and telling her how much I adore her hugs.  
I try to play it cool, like NOT nursing is no big deal.  But this whole thing isn’t easy on me, either. Em and I are closing a pretty huge chapter of our relationship, and that is very sad and a little scary. I know in my heart that our relationship will continue to grow and bloom in new and unexpected ways, but putting this aspect of our relationship behind us is definitely making me emotional.  I guess I too have to learn to depend on other sources of comfort, like our hugs.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Little Swimmers Are Oh-So-Important

Ok, first of all, to make clear, I am not talking about sperm. Sperm ARE very important TOO, but that is just not what this post is about.
This post is about those swim-friendly diapers they make for little kids.
You see, I decided to be a good mommy and take Emmy to the outdoor pool at the JCC this past weekend. It was a beautiful sunshine-y day, and I knew Em would love every minute of splashing around in the kiddie area.
I packed our bag – my suit, her suit, sun lotion (SPF of 6 bazillion), her sun hat, a towel for us to share, water, and a change of clothes. And diapers. But not the Little Swimmers diapers. I packed regular diapers.
Because in my head, though I was well aware of the fact that swim-friendly diapers DO exist, I thought, “what’s the big deal about putting Em in the pool with just a regular old diaper? I mean, what did mamas do BEFORE swim-friendly diapers came along? Surely they just used regular old diapers underneath the baby swim suit.”
I didn’t think it would be a huge deal at all.
So Em and I arrived at the JCC, changed into our suits, and ventured into the outdoor kiddie pool area. Em had a blast, shrieking and splashing and sort-of-kind-of moving her arms and legs in a swimming-ish fashion. I tossed her and twirled her and tried to be not-so-self-conscious about my ever-growing preggo belly. It really was super fun.
Until I noticed…. (cue the creepy music, please)
The bottom half of Em’s bathing suit had blown up to the size of a humongous truck tire, and was threatening to absorb ALL of the water in the entire kiddie pool. It looked like something out of a horror movie… like the BLOB or a KILLER TOMATO or some other nefarious alien being. I looked around nervously, hoping that the other parents around the pool (whose children were all swimming comfortably in their Little Swimmers diapers) wouldn’t notice that Em’s rump rivaled that of J. Lo.
But, yeah,  OF COURSE they noticed.  
One mom scooted over to me and said, “you know, I have an extra pair of Little Swimmers you can borrow if you want. Your girl’s diaper looks like it is going to explode any second now. Seriously.” And she honestly looked really worried… like we were on the verge of a nuclear meltdown.
So I tried to play it cool, and accepted her kind gift. And then I just RAN LIKE THE WIND, with Em held at an arm’s distance, toward’s the ladies room. I felt like screaming “SHE’S GONNA BLOWWWWW!” but I bit my tongue and remained as calm as I could under the circumstance.
When I say Emmy’s diaper had absorbed a good 80 pounds of water, I swear I am hardly exaggerating. I don’t know how she managed to keep the thing on. I honestly don’t know how it didn’t manage to drag us both down to the bottom of the 3 foot pool.
What I DO know is that I will never again bring Emmy into a large body of water with her regular pull-up diaper on. This mama is a Little Swimmers convert, through and through.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recommended Reading: Illegal Hippie Daycare

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the long haired, patchoulie burning crowd. But this post, from Sarah Knight at the blog Mamas Against Drama, had me laughing pretty darn hard, in that "oh my word, that is absolutely horrible and unthinkable" kind of a way. Totally made me appreciate the fact that my daughter's daycare is safe and... legal?
Read it. You'll laugh (and feel bad about laughing).

Reflections on Two Years of Marriage

C and I are celebrating our anniversary today. Two years ago, C and I were surrounded by our friends and families as we read (and cried through) our vows, exchanged rings, danced our hearts out, and began our life together as husband and wife.
It kind of blows my mind, to be honest. On the one hand, it sort of feels like we’ve been together FOREVER already. Like, how could it ONLY be two years? We’ve been through so much together in 730 days (no, make that 731, because this year was a Leap Year): the birth of our daughter, the death of my mother, the deaths of two grandparents, buying and moving into a new home, a job change for me, two emergency room visits, two flights across country, about 962 illnesses (yes, I realize that is more than one illness per day, but I still think that is an accurate count), and now our second pregnancy. Whoooosh! It’s no wonder we are so exhausted!
And yet, on the other hand, sometimes it feels like we have JUST gotten married. Despite or maybe because of all the craziness we’ve been through, and all the “thick and thin” we’ve experienced in our brief time together, I still find myself just absolutely CRAVING time together with my husband.  I feel like we help each other with daily stresses (out-of-control laundry situation, work-day gone awry, a house in desperate need of cleaning), we are super partners in parenting, and we have been each other’s true supports through the challenges of the past years. But it feels like we’ve had maybe a week’s worth of non-stressful, non-parental, JUST US time in the past two years.
I am comforted greatly by the fact that C and I have gotten through the past two years without much fighting. I figure that if we could adjust, as a couple, to the myriad of life stresses and emotions that we’ve experienced these past two years, and come out on the other side still holding hands and kissing one another with love and passion, we’ve got a good thing going on.
Do I hope things get easier, and that the years ahead will be less stressful? Absolutely. Do I think they will actually BE less stressful? Very, very VERY doubtful. Because I know that raising two kids will be trying, and that our family will doubtless experience more grief, more stresses, more illness, and more unforeseen curveballs that will surely throw us for a loop.
I also know that our roles as parents will continue to eclipse our roles as wife and husband, and that C and I will need to make concerted efforts to find time and space to connect. JUST US. I know that is going to be key to keeping us strong and happy, and our family foundation strong and happy.
In our third year of marriage, I am going to make C and Me Time a priority. Even with the new baby’s arrival, and with the added responsibilities that will come with raising another child, I am going to make it my personal mission to make sure my husband and I get a date night every few weeks. Because I owe it to C, and I owe it to me, and I want to make sure that in another two years, as we celebrate our fourth anniversary, we are still holding hands and kissing one another with love and passion.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Looking for Advice: Prepping Em for a Little Brother…

I’m a little concerned.
Emmy has been the sun, the moon and the stars of our family for the past 20 months. Our family time has been primarily focused on her needs, and giving her plenty of love and attention.
The new baby’s arrival is going to bring change. Our family dynamic is going to change. As much as I would like to tell myself that even when the baby arrives, I will be able to provide Em with the same amount of love and attention as I am able to today, I know that is not really true. I know that time and attention will need to be shared, and that Emmy will see and feel the difference.
I have tried explaining to Em that I have a baby growing inside me. On a few occasions, Emmy has kissed my belly, as if acknowledging the baby’s presence. On other occasions, Emmy has pulled my shirt back down over my belly and said “Bye bye, Baby!”
Mmmm… this is going to be tough.
I want to prepare Emmy for being a big sister. I have read and researched what other parents have done. They have read books about babies with their toddlers in the months leading up to the baby’s arrival. They have bought their toddlers baby dolls and played “family” to help the toddler get acquainted with a baby’s needs.  They have involved their toddlers in preparing the baby’s room and belongings, so they start understanding that change is on the horizon.
This all makes sense, of course.
But Emmy hardly ever sits through an entire book.
 And while she likes putting her baby doll to bed, she also REALLY seems to like throwing her doll on the ground for amusement.
And I have no idea yet as to what we are going to do with the baby room to make it “ready” for our little monkey (except that in an ideal world, I would love to create a giant wall hanging for the nursery, with a tree and sunshine and birds with pretty beaded eyes and lots of little flowers on the ground… ah, if only there were 4 more hours in a day that I could dedicate to this project).
I know I have plenty of time to prepare Em for what is coming. I know that once my belly really starts popping out, and the baby starts moving and kicking, it will be easier for me to talk to Emmy about her little brother. I know that by the time the baby arrives, Emmy might have the patience to sit through an entire book about becoming an older sister, and she might better understand why it is not so great to throw the baby doll on the ground. And maybe in the coming months I will even have a better plan for the baby room, and can involve Em in the preparations.
But I am wondering how others have dealt with this kind of experience. Did you spend much time prepping your first born for the arrival of a sibling? Did they respond well? How did your child react when you brought the new baby home? How have you and your family adjusted to a new dynamic? Any suggestions on how we can help Em prepare?

Monday, June 4, 2012

But I Don't Know if I Can...

Emmy’s birth was a far cry from the one I had imagined. In the days leading up to the projected date of my daughter’s birth, I daydreamed about what the experience was going to be like. I envisioned a semi-panicked, middle-of-the-night ride to the hospital in the back seat of my husband’s car. I envisioned sitting on a birthing ball, begging for ice chips and cold washcloths to cool my forehead, and singing very loudly through my contractions as they got closer and closer together. I envisioned groaning and moaning, and walking and squatting, and burning sensations and maybe a lot of screaming. I envisioned squeezing my husband’s hand with all my might as I clenched down and used all my emotional and physical strength to push Emmy out into the world.
None of that really happened. Instead, Em stayed inside my uterus ten days past my due date, and after a not-so-spiffy non-stress test, I was admitted to our birthing center and administered cervidil. Though I started to experience something that seemed akin to normal contractions on the cervidil, it wasn’t long before I was put on pitocin, and contractions were forced mightily upon my body.
Now, I have heard plenty of women try to describe what their natural contractions have felt like, and what I felt was NOTHING like their descriptions. I found out the hard way that induced contractions, coupled with back labor, feel like whopping electrical shocks sent right through the spine. Every contraction felt like a burst of lightning had hit my body. And the pitocin drip made sure it happened every few minutes for hours and hours on end, leaving little time for recuperation or rest.  
I have had my share of broken limbs, teeth terrors, and other physical pains in my life. I think for the most part I have dealt rather well with pain. But I could NOT deal with pitocin/back labor contractions. It was too much for my body to take. After 16 hours of crying hysterically and feeling like my body was being ripped into two pieces every few minutes, I gave in and ordered an epidural. And the next morning I had a c-section.
The afternoon following Emmy’s birth, the operating doctor came over to me and explained that I had a very unusual septate uterus that had prevented Emmy from getting into proper position for birth. She also told me that she wasn’t sure I would be able to have a VBAC delivery if I was to have a second baby, and she told me I should see a uterine specialist to further investigate the issue.
I was somewhat relieved to hear that there was apparently nothing more I could have done to try and birth Emmy the natural way. I had wanted a med-free, operation-free birth for my daughter, but that just hadn’t been in the cards for us, thanks to my body’s apparent oddity.
Since Emmy’s birth, I have had two ultrasounds examining my uterus, and no one has been able to find the septum that apparently is hiding somewhere. It’s a complete mystery. I am sure the operating doctor wouldn’t have LIED to me about my crazy septum, but no other doctor has been able to find it.
Now, being pregnant with my second child, I have become semi-obsessed with figuring out what is going on inside my uterus. I want to know if, because of this mysterious and ellusive septum, I should not even be getting my hopes up for a VBAC birth. It would be pretty horrible to get  myself all mentally and emotionally prepared for a natural birth again, just to find out it simply isn’t a possibility.
But what if the septum WAS a fluke? What if the doctor THOUGHT she saw something, but it wasn’t really there? What if I AM capable of having a VBAC?
I have asked my midwives to get their hands on the detailed medical reports from the birthing center Emmy was born in (which is no longer in existence). I have asked them to speak with the operating doctor to see if they can jog her memory and find out more about what she saw. I am determined to find out as much as I can, because I want to know if my body is capable of birthing without medical intervention. I need to know.
When I talk to my co-workers about my VBAC dreams and my desire to feel my body naturally go into labor, they look at me like I am crazy. The most common response is, “why don’t you just schedule a c-section and get it over with?”
But if I have a choice in the matter, I don’t just want to “get it over with.” I want to experience contractions. I want to LABOR. I want to have the same “holy crap I can’t believe my body just did that” experience that so many other women have felt.
I just don’t know if it will even be possible.