It was bound to happen. I have 2 boys who have very little regard for personal safety. They both think that you are standing still if you are not running as fast as you can. And, as Luke is fairly new to this whole “walking” thing, he falls a lot.
Well, Wednesday morning last week, the day after an amazing Halloween night full of adventure and costumes and adorableness, I get the call. I had just pulled in to the parking lot at work. I hadn’t even taken my seatbelt off yet. My phone rings and the caller ID is Luke’s daycare. I always have a brief moment of anxiety when I see that name on the caller ID. I assume that most mother’s do. I always hope that it is something minor like ‘he ran out of diapers’ or ‘I need to update his immunization records.’ But deep down, I always assume it is something terrible.
When I answered, the voice on the other end said, with a rushed voice, “Luke is okay, but…”
My heart sank. Before she could get the next words out of her mouth a million tragedies are running through my mind. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and I truly don’t know if I can handle one more thing. I have had about 4 weeks of non-stop everything with barely any moment to catch my breath.
Between my husband going out of town for a week for work to my own work travel to school events, Halloween, sicknesses, and life in general, I haven’t had a single moment to recharge. I am someone who needs time to recharge. I know that about myself. As a result, the craziness of the last month has sent me into a funk… A funk in which any emergency might break me. This call from daycare did it.
“Luke is okay, but… He fell on a toy and the corner hit him in the face and split his lip. It looks pretty deep and it may need stitches.”
She sends me a picture of him (when I get it, I die a little inside) and I let her know I will be right there. I call Luke’s doctor. She tells me to take him to the pediatric emergency room. I didn’t even know our city had a pediatric emergency room. I call Matt. He does absolutely nothing to calm me down. He asks if he needs to go with me. I say no even though, inside, I am freaking out and begging him to be there because I truly don’t know if I can do this alone.
Just then, the light comes on in my car telling me I need gas. Fuck.
I stop at the gas station.
On the way to pick up Luke, I call my friend who is usually pretty good at calming me down. She doesn’t answer. After all, it’s not even 8am yet. She calls me back, sensing an emergency. I tell her about the situation and she, as hard as she tried, did little to comfort me. At this point, I just need my baby in my arms. I need to assess the situation myself.
I get to daycare. Luke looks pitiful. His face is swollen and bloody. His eyes are puffy from crying. I know he can tell that I am freaking out. I try not to show it. The cut does look pretty bad. I don’t think it needs stitches but, I am not a doctor. We head to the emergency room just to be safe.
I check in at the ER and I didn’t even have to sit down in the waiting room. A nurse was waiting for me at the door to take us back to our room. Luke perked up once she started taking his vitals. He seemed to forget about the gaping hole in his lip and was mostly excited to explore this new and exciting hospital room. The doctor took a little too long to get there because Luke pretty much destroyed the room. Between the latex gloves, hand sanitizer, and hospital gowns, there was very little floor showing by the time the doctor got there. He even unplugged something at one point that set off a little alarm.
He was acting like himself which brought my craziness down several notches. The doctor assessed him and determined that it didn’t go all the way through and it didn’t cross the “lip line” so no stitches were necessary. He prescribed an antibiotic ointment and sent us on our way.
He fell asleep in the car on the way to the pharmacy so I sat in the car in the parking lot and cried. Not a sad cry, but a cry of relief, of exhaustion, of release.
On a normal day, and on a grander scheme, this is not that big of a deal. Toddlers fall. It happens.
But, as I am sure many other mothers feel on a regular basis, I am just trying to make it through each day, one step at a time. This parenting thing is hard enough on a good day. But after a month of not being able to recharge, a month of zero self-care, a month of absolute crazy, I broke. And it sucks. And it makes me feel weak. And it makes me feel like a bad mother.
Ultimately, I know better. I’m freakin’ awesome. But in that moment, on that day, I hurt for my baby. And it is a hurt that doesn’t go away just because his lip is healing. It is a hurt that is screaming at me to take care of myself.
Last week was Noah’s 6th birthday. He’s been talking about his birthday since the day after his 5th birthday last year so, needless to say, he’s been pretty excited as we approached the big day. The problem with this birthday, however, (and with every birthday for him from now until forever) is that his little brother’s birthday is 5 days before his.
Obviously, this is entirely my fault and it has ruined his life.
The Saturday before his birthday, we threw a huge party at our house for his little brother, Luke. It was Luke’s very first birthday so it was kind of a big deal. I invited the entire family from out of town. I also, because I know this is tough on Noah, made sure to invite several kids Noah’s age so that he would have kids to play with while we celebrated his baby brother.
On Sunday, I had all of the out-of-town family over for a special “family party” just for Noah. We swam, opened presents, ate pizza, and decorated Batman cupcakes. When all of the family had to leave, Noah declared that this was “the worst birthday ever.”
Shake it off. He’s tired and full of cake. He expected a giant party at a trampoline park with all of his friends. Fine. This will happen eventually. But, he has an early August birthday. It is damn near impossible to round up all of the friends that he wants. I promised him a party in September after school starts. “It will stretch your birthday out a whole month!” I promised. This did not do much to soothe his miserable heart.
On Wednesday, his actual birthday comes around. I divided up his presents so he would have some to open before he heads off to camp and some to open at his birthday dinner that night.
He opens the first present. As he’s tearing the paper, I realize I don’t have my phone. I wanted to take a picture. I run into the other room to grab my phone out of my purse, turn around quickly to snap a photo, and BAM. I smash my phone into Noah’s mouth, almost knocking his loose front tooth out. Cue the blood. Cue the tears.
He had run up to me to give me a hug and tell me thank you. And I (basically) smacked him the face for it. Best mom ever.
After the tears were dried, the blood wiped up, and the rest of the presents opened, he asked me where the cupcakes were to take to his summer camp class. DAMMIT!! It never even occurred to me to send cupcakes to summer camp. Awesome mom award goes to me.
Okay, no biggie. I’ll send cupcakes on Friday.
To make up for it, I threw a handful of suckers in his lunch box and told him he could share them with his friends at lunch. Did I count the suckers to make sure there were enough for everyone? Nope. Did he hand them out to a few friends, only to have several friends mad at him and then not have any left over for himself? Yep. Was he crying when I picked him up from camp? Of course he was.
It’s official. I am the world’s greatest mother.
Okay. I will redeem myself at dinner. That night, Noah had specifically requested to go out to eat where he could order waffles. Awesome. We went to a local breakfast joint that serves excellent waffles. Halfway through dinner, Noah stops eating. When I ask him what’s wrong, he whispers in my ear that he has to poop and we need to leave the restaurant “right now!” Noah doesn’t poop in public bathrooms so, back home we go.
I will do better next year. I don’t know if it is possible to make it any worse. Happy birthday Noah!
Just this past weekend, I pulled out Noah’s first tooth. I got a little sentimental as this was my first baby’s first lost tooth. The tooth fairy came and brought Noah a dollar. All was well with the world.
Then, this past Tuesday, we were in our hectic after work/after school craziness. I was rushing to get the baby fed before I had to go back out to see clients, Matt was scarfing down dinner because he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat while watching both kids, and Noah was running around pretending to be a cheetah. Standard Tuesday night.
Apparently, pretending to be a cheetah involves running around on all fours and picking things up with your teeth. Some of the things that this particular cheetah needed to pick up with his teeth were the throw pillows on the couch.
Also, as a cheetah, when you pick up a throw pillow with your teeth, you must thrash about with the pillow in your mouth.
Naturally, as does happen when you thrash about with a throw pillow in your mouth, the pillow is bound to come loose, fly across the room, and nearly rip out another baby tooth from a 5 year old cheetah’s mouth.
Noah’s crying and holding his mouth, blood dripping everywhere. I put Luke down, and try to get Noah to the bathroom so we can clean up the blood and I can assess the situation. [Noah, however, is too concerned with trying to find a mirror so he can look at all of the blood in his mouth first.] Tooth is still intact, very loose, but intact.
I clean up the blood, Noah rinses his mouth out until the tooth stops bleeding, I give him strict instructions to leave the tooth alone, and I go to work.
The next day, when Noah gets home from school:
NOAH, in a dreary voice: “I pulled my tooth out today.”
ME: “Awesome buddy! Where is it?”
NOAH: “Elijah accidentally knocked it out of my hand.” Still, super sad-sounding.
ME: “Oh no! Did your teacher find it?”
NOAH: “Yes. It’s in this baggy. But I don’t think that’s my tooth.”
Noah hands me the baggy and, inside it, is 2 tiny bits of white plastic. First of all, baby teeth are gross and, especially when they are pulled out early, are bloody on one end. Second, any look at my kid’s mouth full of cavities and silver teeth, would demonstrate that his baby teeth are not pristine white like this tiny bits of plastic.
Turns out, there was a substitute teacher that day. I emailed his actual teacher and she said she would look for Noah’s tooth. Why wouldn’t the substitute just say, “I couldn’t find the tooth”? How, in any situation, is sending home bits of plastic better than telling the truth? And, if she actually thought it was his tooth, what the hell?
I think we may be leaving a note for the tooth fairy tonight. Which is probably not worth a whole dollar.
UPDATE: Noah’s teacher found the tooth behind the play kitchen in the classroom! She even let him call me from her cell phone with the rest of the class on speakerphone and they all cheered. All is right with the world.
We have been working on a lot of developing at my house. Luke recently got his first 2 teeth and Noah just got his first loose tooth. Luke has been trying to crawl for months but has only ever managed a hefty scoot. Well last night, he officially crawled on his hands and knees while chasing after a football. And Noah has his first flag football game this weekend.
We are busy.
Well, last night, Luke also tried meat for the first time. I have been looking for ways to help him sleep a little bit longer at night because he still gets up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. Gerber makes all kinds of flavors of pureed 2nd-stage baby food that includes a little bit of meat for some added protein. Luke tried turkey and sweet potatoes and seemed to love it.
I watched him closely for a little while after to make sure there were no adverse reactions, Matt and I gave him his bath, and he went to bed right on time. Good night, right?
Well, Luke wakes up at about 11:30pm, which is normal for him. He wasn’t showing his regular signs of being hungry. He was fidgety and wiggly- basically full of gas. Most nights, if he nurses for a minute, it will help him to pass the uncomfortable gas but that just wasn’t working. So, I did all of my gassy-baby tricks. Nothing worked.
Then, when I decided to just give up and snuggle with him, he let out the biggest, wettest, loudest, explosive shit ever and it made Matt sit straight up in bed. Turns out, Luke’s tummy was not a big fan of the turkey and sweet potatoes.
There was yellowish-brown liquid poop all down his leg, and into the footie part of his pajamas. It was everywhere. We get him onto his changing table and he is still squirming a bit. We peel his PJs off him, trying not to cover anything else with poop (failing miserably as we go along), and get his diaper off.
Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the Diaper Genie is full beyond capacity so we have nowhere to put the poopy diaper and the wipes warmer is out of wipes so we have nothing to clean the poop with.
At this point, it’s starting to be hilariously funny because it feels like this stuff only happens to us. We get the wipes refilled, Matt changes the diaper bucket, I get Luke all cleaned up, applying some diaper cream, and then……. Luke has another massive blowout poop all up my arm, all the way to my elbow. Awesome.
Matt takes over and gets Luke another diaper and cleans him up while I get myself cleaned up. We get him in new pajamas and I start rocking him to get him back to sleep. Next thing I hear is another loud, foul-smelling, wet explosion. This one was mostly contained in the diaper but did seep out a bit requiring another pajama change.
It’s well after midnight now and Matt and I are basically giggling at the absurdity of our situation. We get it! You don’t like turkey and sweet potatoes. No need to make such a big deal about it. Surely you’re done (famous last words).
Luke has quit squirming. Seems like the gas and diarrhea are gone. Luke starts sucking on his hands and showing signs of being hungry. He starts to nurse and I see his eyes close as he falls asleep. I can finally let my guard down and relax. Nope.
Luke proceeds to projectile vomit all over me, my pillows, the bed, the headboard, everything. Then, he just falls asleep. Almost like that was the last thing he had to check off of his to-do list for the night.
Meanwhile, I had to change all of my clothes, strip all of my pillows down before finally realizing that it soaked all the way through to the actual pillow, then had to find a new pillow. I could have changed the sheets but we still haven’t washed the other set of sheets from the last time Luke spit up all over them so I just laid a towel down over the mess and went to sleep.
Luke might be a vegetarian now.
The first thing I need to tell anyone who is thinking about having a second child is that the transition from 1 kid to 2 is so much harder (and more complicated) than the transition from baby-free to 1 kid. It is still wonderful and rewarding (and a lot of other things too) but I was not prepared for the insane degree of difficulty that would be involved when trying to navigate a newborn/infant/baby and a young child all at the same time.
When Luke was brand new, he was what some people might call a “Velcro baby.” He had to be attached to me at all times. The moment I set him down, even for a second, he lost his freakin’ mind. He was the happiest baby imaginable as long as I was holding him. Add that on to the fact that Luke is hungry constantly, nurses to soothe himself, and nurses for his snacks between breastfeeding, and I didn’t get a lot done. And, it made it especially difficult to be even a halfway decent parent to our older son, Noah.
To deal with this, Matt and I just went with the “divide and conquer” method of parenting. Noah became his kid. Luke became mine.
Now that Luke is older, he likes to be put down some times so he can play and he doesn’t eat quite as much as he used to (sort of), so Matt and I are able to alternate kids a little more regularly. But it is still overwhelming.
I feel like I can only be a great parent to one kid at a time or a sorta-okay parent to both kids. And I miss my one-on-one time with Noah.
Matt is the one now that knows the kindergarten routine inside and out. He knows which shorts Noah likes to wear to bed and what his favorite TV shows are these days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I don’t have to watch Odd Squad every night but I do miss the snuggles that come along with late night TV.
And while I am the main parent for Luke, that means Matt gets to swoop in when he’s being all cute and adorable and I get the late night feedings and the tearful daycare drop offs (my tears, not Luke’s).
But, Matt can’t parent Noah by himself. It makes it extra difficult because Noah is a high energy kid. And not in a “oh my kid likes to run around a lot” kind of way. Noah has to run around a lot ALL THE TIME. He only has 2 speeds- 90 mph and asleep. There is no middle, no range of energy levels. When we go to trampoline parks or bounce houses, he doesn’t fall asleep on the way home. These kinds of activities just add fuel to his already high-intensity fire.
But, like all things parenting, we are learning as we go. Matt and I have never strived for perfection. Our mantra has always been “do what works” and so far, what we are doing is working. I am sure we will continue to struggle. And we may have a few successes here and there.
In the meantime, we will continue to try to manage on 5 hours of sleep and minimal conversation.
When a kid starts at daycare, one of the things you can most definitely expect to happen almost immediately is that they are going to get sick. The extent to the illness varies but, inevitably, temperatures will rise and someone is going to get puked on.
As I have mentioned, my new baby Luke started daycare about 3 weeks ago. He loves it, I’m still struggling with it- I don’t see that changing any time soon.
[Side note: I can make it all the way to my car now before I start to cry. And sometimes, I don’t cry until I get to work. Winning!]
Well, after the first week, Luke started sneezing more than usual and started sounding like a little pig when he slept. That eventually turned into a drippy nose and runny eyes. He didn’t have a fever and he was acting just as happy as always so, no big deal.
Saturday rolls around, we go through our normal sleep routine of nursing before bed. I swaddle him super tight, kiss him goodnight, and place him in the cosleeper. Matt was down the hall putting Noah to bed and reading bedtime stories.
Luke started to shift a little bit but, nothing out of the ordinary.
Then, out of nowhere, a geyser of spit-up shoots into the air. This giant spit-up fountain is spewing about 18 inches skyward and plummeting back down onto my sweet baby’s face and all over the bed.
A wave of shock and fear falls over me and all I can think to do is shout “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” over and over again as I try to clean spit-up out of Luke’s eyes and ears while also trying not to drown myself in this milky, smelly mess.
Seriously. I have never seen this much spit-up ever. There is no way he drank this much. He had to have been storing this in some secret spit-up compartment for days in order to produce this much. He didn’t even seem all that upset about it. If anything, he had a look of pride in his eyes as I grabbed blankets and burp cloths and rags from everywhere I could think to grab them to clean this mess up. He looked almost as though he did it on purpose to make sure I was paying attention.
After what seemed like forever (probably only a minute or 2), Matt heard my panic and came running down the hall. He, too, was astonished at the volume of spit-up. He also seemed to be more upset that I had just changed the sheets on our bed that morning and the other sheets were still dirty on the laundry room floor (oops!).
This week, it happened. Twelve short weeks flew by and my maternity leave was over. I started struggling with the idea of sending my precious new baby to daycare at about 10 weeks in. Before that, it seemed so far away. Either that, or I was just too tired to really think too far into the future.
Maternity leave is interesting. You really spend the first month trying to recover from delivery. Regardless of the kind of delivery you had, recovery takes some time and some adjusting. Not only is your body recovering, but your family is too.
The second month of maternity leave is when it starts to get so much better. By then, you and your family have figured out how to get things done and the baby has developed some routine. This time around, I really soaked all of it in. I didn’t get much done around the house because I spent all of my spare time staring at him while he slept, rocking him while he nursed, and making silly faces at him when he looked at me. We really became an awesome team.
And then that last month is when the baby can respond to you and that amazing bond gets even stronger. You know what makes him laugh. You know what cries and sounds mean what. He starts to make the “poop face” and the “I’m about to lose my shit” face. But he also stares at you as if you are the most beautiful and magnificent person in the whole entire world. It feels wonderful.
And then the real world rips it away from you because you have to go back to work.
This transition has been absolutely heartbreaking. Because I knew this would be a struggle for me, Matt and I chose a very highly rated daycare which means it is freakishly expensive (and we totally can’t afford it but we’ll figure out a way to make it work). I guess I thought that would make this easier. It hasn’t.
Day 1 I cried all morning. Fortunately, Matt went with me for drop off. I sobbed the entire time and Matt pretty much had to drag me out of the door. They were super nice but it was terrible.
When I picked him up that day, they told me that he struggled taking the bottle and he barely napped all day. This made me start sobbing again. What kind of awful mother am I??!!
When we got home, the baby was ravenous and nursed like he hadn’t eaten in days. Then I stared at him for about 20 minutes and then he fell asleep for the rest of the night. On this terrible day when I was separated from my beautiful baby all day and cried all day and all I wanted was to stare into his big blue eyes, he was awake for 20 minutes. This sucks!
The second day, I was able to soak in the morning a little more. I stared at him and snuggled him a little too long before getting him ready. I drove a little slower on the way to daycare and watched him in the rearview as he giggled to himself. I made it into the classroom, calm and collected. I handed the baby to his teacher and l immediately lost it. I sobbed and sobbed and had to kiss him about 14 times before I was able to walk out the door. He did sleep and eat better at daycare that day so my evening was a little more pleasant.
The third day, today, was a little bit better (so far). I managed to get him all the way into his classroom, talk with the teacher a bit, hand him off, and I only turned around 3 times to kiss him “just one more time” before I left. I made it all the way out the door and into the parking lot before bursting into tears.
I am not sure who on earth invented this horrible ritual and who in their right mind thought that 12 weeks was long enough for maternity leave (unpaid by the way) but, as I said before, this sucks.
I know that this year is going to be amazing for Noah. And I know that you are going to be an amazing teacher. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared to death of all the changes coming our way.
So this year I have a few special requests of you.
Please foster his empathetic nature. He is so kind and sensitive to other people’s emotions. This can be seen as being too emotional or struggling to pay attention if you don’t take a minute to acknowledge the sensitivity. Please take that extra minute.
Please hold him accountable for his actions and his decisions. Like most 5 year olds, he can be impulsive and self absorbed. Call him out on it. Don’t let him get away with not following the rules. He will test every boundary so consistency is key. Please be consistent.
Please keep an eye out for peer pressure. He wants to be liked so badly. He thrives on friendship and attention. This is a dangerous combination if he chooses the wrong friends. Please help him choose kids that like him for him.
Please be patient with me. While I will try my very best to not be a helicopter mom (as my husband makes hovering, helicopter noises behind me), he’s my first baby in school and this is really hard. I’m going to ask a lot of questions. I’m also going to do my best to let my son use his own voice. Please listen to his voice so that I can do a better job at not hovering. And just know that I’m going to cry. Probably a lot.
Noah is sweet and silly. He goofs off and gets frustrated. He gets really excited when he does well and throws a mean tantrum when he fails. Please guide him in the right direction. You’re in charge of setting the stage for the rest of his academic career. Please help him and me to get off to the right start. I’m scared and excited. I can only assume you are too.
I never thought that taking a shower would be such an ordeal. I never imagined that along the way I would forget taking care of myself used to come so easily. But having a baby changes things.
Since I got home from the hospital with my perfect, healthy newborn, I have remembered that life with a newborn is always a new adventure to be navigated.
The shower, for example:
1. My boobs hurt! You would think that when the warm water hits my boobs that it would feel good. Lies! All lies. It hurts! In fact, when anything hits my boobs it hurts. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm water, cold water, or anything else, it hurts. Even when I dry off after the shower, the towel itself feels like sandpaper on my incredibly sensitive breastfeeding nipples.
2. My boobs leak. I forgot along the way, over the past five years, that any and everything makes my boobs leak. Just thinking about my boobs leaking makes my boobs leak. After the shower, if you wonder what that wetness is dripping down on your feet, it’s your boobs leaking.
3. I feel like I need to get permission to take a shower. I know that this is not the case. But in order for me to take 15 to 20 minutes off in order to take a shower, I have to check in with all parties to make sure that they can watch the baby while I take a shower. Then while in the shower, I hear the baby cry and I feel like I need to rush my shower in order to take care of the baby. My husband suggested, after I told him I felt guilty, that I wait until after I put the baby to bed for the night to take my shower but, that means I could sleep even less than I’m already sleeping. No thank you.
4. I just feel so gross. Between not being able to shower on a daily basis, wearing the same clothes day after day after day, and having another human being attached to me non-stop, I feel gross. There is no rhyme or reason to this, I just feel gross. Being pregnant sucks for a lot of different reasons, but at least I was able to shower on a regular basis. I might not have been able to see my feet or my downtown region but I was able to shower daily. Taking care of a newborn eliminates that possibility.
You never really think about the importance of a shower until you don’t have one. It doesn’t really feel like one of those first world problems until the ability to take a shower is a luxury. And then comes the mommy guilt because at the end of the day, I’m complaining about a shower when I’m responsible for another human being’s existence. I feel like a terrible person because I want to put the baby down and take a frickin shower. But then the baby screams and cries and wants to be on the boob and now I’m a terrible person who selfishly just wants to be clean.
Maternity leave should be called dirty mommy leave. Or something else similar because… I’m tired and dirty. What was I talking about?
Last week, we sold our house. After 10 years, we sold the first home we ever bought together, the home where we started our marriage and our family. While it was a sad and happy time for me, it was only a happy moment for Matt as he was never the biggest fan of the house in the first place.
However, it was the only house that Noah has ever known. We have spent the last 2 and half months looking for houses and keeping the house clean for showings but, after all of that, it was clear to me that Noah was not fully aware of what moving actually meant. We talked a lot about how we would be living in a new house and a new family would be living in our house. That didn’t seem to help clear up the picture.
It still didn’t quite sink in even after Noah met the new family that would be living in our house. He said, “So they’ll be living in the guest room right next to me!?” So I knew we still had some work to do.
And we didn’t even try to broach the subject of how we would be moving away from his best friend next door. I just wasn’t at a place where I could handle the repercussions of that conversation.
However, when moving day finally came, the house was empty, and we were pulling out of the driveway for the last time, Noah did one of the sweetest things I could have ever imagined.
Me: “Okay buddy. We are leaving the house for the last time. Do you want to say goodbye?”
Noah: “Yes. But can I get out of the car to say goodbye?”
Me: “Of course you can.”
So I got him out of his car seat, he walked up to the house, and placed his hand on the siding. Then it happened.
Noah: “Goodbye house. Thank you for letting me live in you. Thank you for keeping my family safe. Thank you for letting my dogs play in your yard. Thank you for watching my toys while I was at school. Thank you for loving me just as much as I love you. I love you so much and I will miss coming home to you every day. I hope your new family is good to you. I love you.”
Me: [Sobbing like a giant, pregnant baby.] “That is so sweet buddy. Are you okay?”
Noah: “Yeah. I’m fine mommy. I’m ready to go now.”
It’s these moments when I remember how sweet and innocent they are. When the most important things in life are family, dogs, and toys. And when coming home is the most comforting thing to happen to you all day. On to new adventures.