Jealous of what I already have?

More and more often these days, I find myself thinking about having another baby. Wouldn’t it be amazing?, I think. Then I remember how little our house is. And how often I’m alone with my kids while my husband works nights or weekends. And, the real kicker, how expensive childcare is.

I know you’re probably thinking, you’ve said this all before. What’s changed?

On the one hand, nothing has changed. If we could afford a bigger house in our neighbourhood and childcare expenses, then, yes, we may be more seriously considering a third child.

On the other hand, I’m so super lucky to have what I always wanted: two amazing kids.

I just found out that one my friends (who is also my next door neighbour) is pregnant with her second baby. Her first is just a few weeks older than Bo. When she first told me (last night, by text) I felt the familiar kick-in-the-gut stab of jealousy. What?  Why do I feel this way?  She’s getting exactly what I already have and, yet, I’m feeling jealous of her?

I saw a girl at work yesterday who is due to give birth to her first baby later this month. She is huge and feels uncomfortable. And I was jealous.

My husband showed me a picture of his buddy’s brand new daughter last night. She was still a little bloody, and naked, and perfect. And I was jealous.

After a semi-decent night’s sleep and a chance to reflect on all of yesterday’s baby-related revelations (we won’t even discuss Kim and Kanye), I’m starting to wonder if what I’m really jealous of is the fact that these people are just starting their family building journeys. They still have all the craziness and unknowns and excitement of pregnancy/childbirth/life with a newborn ahead of them.  Is that it?  Perhaps.

I have to remind myself that I hated trying to get pregnant and I didn’t really enjoy pregnancy. But seeing two pink lines on that test (ok, who am kidding, those 20 tests!) is so freaking amazing.

And actual labour and childbirth was not my favourite (nor was recovery) but those sweet new babies are the best.

Plus, there is that wonderful year of maternity leave.  There was nothing better than having a year at home to focus on my family and spending time with my sweet baby.  But that also means returning to work, which has been significantly harder the second time around and I imagine would bet even tougher if I had to do it again.

I know that it’s time for me to start focusing on the next stage of life – helping my babies grow into successful people.  It appears that it just may take me a while to come to terms with the fact that our family is complete.  In the meantime, I will do my best to smile and wish my friends well as they continue to grow their own families.

Nerves

It’s back to work for me tomorrow and the nerves are really starting to set in.

I’ve done everything I can do to get ready.  The freezer is stocked with meals.  The fridge and pantry are full of fresh food. My work friends have planned lunch for my first day, so I don’t need to worry about bringing something to eat.

Laundry is done.  I cleaned out my purse.  I packed a bag of shoes (for those who don’t live in a cold climate or take public transit, this is because I have to wear winter boots for my commute!)

Mom took me shopping for my birthday and bought me a new black suit, as well as a great dress.  Along with the few things I bought at the outlet mall in Florida, I’m feeling pretty good about my back-to-work wardrobe.  I tried on a few combinations so I know I can get through the first week without having to do much thinking about getting dressed.

I found a MAC gift card in my wallet (from who knows when?) and got myself a new lipstick.  My nails are painted.

So, that’s it.  There’s nothing more I can do.  Except worry, of course.  I worry about my boys.  Being away from them sucks.  I worry about having so little time together.  I hate knowing that our evenings are so short and that our time together will always feel rushed.  I worry about work.  I feel like I’ve lost some of my spark and I’m just not as sharp or quick on my feet as I used to be.  I worry that I’m not going to be able to keep up with the expectations that my new bosses will have.  I worry about not being able to keep the house organized.  Laundry, cleaning, cooking…

All of this, of course, is nothing new.  Moms go back to work after having children all the time.  I’ve done this before.  I know it will be hard and I also know that I will get through it.  I know that I will have moments where I suck at being a mom and I suck at doing my job.  But I also know that I need to go easy on myself at first because it will get easier.

Deep breaths.

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

I took a pregnancy test yesterday.

I woke up at 7am, needing to pee, and stumbled into the bathroom.  As I’ve done countless other times, I reached into the cupboard and fumbled around in the dark for my (dollar store – no sense in wasting big bucks) test and the empty cup that I’d stashed there the night before.  I peed in the cup and used the dropper to add the required amount of urine to the test.  And then I waited.

No, I didn’t think I was pregnant.  In fact, I knew the chances were slim to none.  But, my OB required me to take one before he would insert my new IUD.

Over the past six years, I’ve done the whole pee-on-a-stick routine a lot.  Each and every time, my heart pounded in my chest as I waited with hope for the second line to appear.  I’ve never taken a pregnancy test hoping that it was negative.  And, crazily enough, this time was no exception.  I knew, for practical reasons, that it wouldn’t be good if I was pregnant again.  Financially, it would be bad for us.  Work wise, it would be bad for me.  But knowing I was about to take measures to prevent pregnancy for the forseeable future, I had a brief moment of wanting to be pregnant again.  The test, of course, was negative.

The logical side of me was relieved.  Of course I couldn’t be pregnant.  We don’t have enough space!  We don’t make enough money!  I wouldn’t be back at work long enough to be eligible for a mat leave top-up again!  The emotional side of me felt a bit disappointed, though.  My baby is getting so big!  He’s going to be going off to daycare soon!  He’ll wean from the breast before I know it!

As planned, my OB inserted the IUD that afternoon.  It hurt like a mofo and I bled a little bit afterwards.  I have to get an ultrasound in a couple of weeks to confirm that it’s in the proper place.  And then, after that, we won’t have to worry about birth control anymore.

I know this is a good thing.  Although I’m not totally ready to accept it, I know we don’t plan to have more children.  I don’t expect that our family plans will change but at least I can take some comfort in knowing that we haven’t done anything permanent.  Maybe one day our situation will be different and we will try to have another child.  Likely not.  But, either way, that option is open to us.  For now.

What could have been

I was out for a run yesterday morning when I ran past “the one that got away.”  That is, the first house that D and I ever made an offer on.  The house we lost in a bidding war.

Six years ago we were renting a condo together.  We had been married for a little over a year and were ready to start a family.  We knew we didn’t want to have kids in a condo so we began our search for a house.

At first it was kind of fun.  We’d pop into open houses on the weekends and take different routes through our preferred neighbourhoods to check out what our options may be.  After a couple of months of casual looking,we started working with a real estate agent who helped us get in to see houses quickly when something desirable would come on the market.  We saw a lot – I mean A LOT – of houses.

In January 2009, we found it.  It was a great house.  It met D’s criteria of being a bit of a fixer-upper (he wanted to do some renovations himself) and it was in the neighbourhood we wanted.  It was a corner lot with a nice sized backyard and a private driveway (which is pretty uncommon for the houses we could afford in this neighbourhood.  Most have a mutual drive).

We brought my mom to see it (always feels good to have parental approval!) and even brought in a contractor buddy of D’s to get advice on what we could/couldn’t do before making a formal offer.

I don’t think either of us slept a wink after we submitted that offer.  I know I spent the night imagining what our life would be like in that house (and I’m pretty sure D was remodelling the whole thing in his head).  I could see us living there and loving it.  I could picture our future kids playing in the yard while we BBQ’d. I could see us walking to the nearby park.  This was our house!

After a stressful day of negotiations we ended up losing the house to someone else. We were shocked.  I was definitely devastated.  I knew, logically, that there would be other houses but I had to spend a bit of time grieving the life I had imagined in that house.

A couple of months later, we found our current house.  And to be honest, I don’t regret what happened at all.  Surely we would have been very happy there. But the house we ended up in is our home.  We have amazing neighbours, with tons of kids on our block.  We are a short walk to the daycare and to public transit.  It’s hard to picture how life would be if we lived somewhere else.

Thinking about what might have been if we had bought that house makes me realize how often our lives take twists and turns that we don’t expect (or that we don’t necessarily want).  And how these twists and turns can impact everything that happens afterwards.  For example, we decided that we wouldn’t start trying to get pregnant until after we had purchased a house.  If we had succeeded in buying that first house, we would have started trying to conceive sooner.  Would it still have taken us 14 months to get pregnant?  Or would it have happened right away?  It’s crazy to think we could have a five-year-old instead of a not-quite-4-year-old right now.

My friend’s twins turned one recently. I sometimes think about the day that she told me they were expecting the twins. We had just told them we were pregnant with our second child, Puppet.  We were so excited to be due around the same time.  Our older sons are the same age and we had really enjoyed spending our first maternity leave together.  Then, a couple of weeks after we’d shared the news, we lost Puppet.

Seeing those one-year-old twins (who are so sweet and funny!) makes me think about that crazy, awful twist my family’s life took when we had the miscarriage. We would have had a one-year-old child now too.  But instead, we have this amazing, sweet, happy, strong and handsome little seven-month-old boy.

It’s kind of like the house that could have been: Something we loved and thought we wanted more than anything else.  Something we lost that was beyond our control.  The house was just a thing, not a person, but both those losses led us along the path to where we are right now, today.  I don’t know what might have been, but I do know what is.  And at this very moment, there is nowhere I’d rather be than in this little house with this family.

The lost one

It was a beautiful morning.  I put the baby down for his nap and his big brother was busy playing outside with my husband.  I set out for another run, feeling behind on my 5k training after a few days out-of-town.

I started down the street and I felt good.  The sun was out and it was warm, but not too hot.  After some pretty cold September days, it felt amazing.  As I ran, I thought to myself, how is it already late September?

All of a sudden, it felt like someone had punched me in the gut.  Late September.

My baby – the lost one – would have turned one this month.  If he, or she, had lived, my baby would be a year old.

I felt a bit shaky as I gasped to catch my breath.  I had forgotten.  That dreaded date had come and gone… and I had forgotten.

I wondered, what does this mean?  I still think about the miscarriage often.  But I don’t think about it everyday.  I see my friend’s twins who were born at the same time that I was due and I don’t feel horrible anymore.  I look at my six-month-old baby and I know he was the one who was meant to be part of our family.

But it’s September.

Last year, September was a month I looked forward to with all my heart and then dreaded to my very core.  Even when I found out I was expecting again, I knew September would be a tough month.  Earlier this summer, I realized that I could have had an almost-one-year-old.  So then how did this September manage to creep up on me?

As I ran on, I decided this means that I’m healing.  I’m not a horrible mom for having forgotten that awful due date.  Yes, I still have moments of sadness for the baby I never got to meet.  But I have many more moments of gladness for the family I do have.  I’m not as sad or as scared as I was this time last year.  I’ve learned that bad things can happen and that good things can come out of it.  I am able to think about the baby we lost and the baby we got to meet, knowing that I love them both.

I didn’t see any of this coming when I laced up my running shoes and stepped out my front door this morning, but I see it much more clearly now.  I am healing.

Butting heads (and breaking my heart)

My relationship with my three-year-old is pretty strained these days.

Littleman is a good kid. He’s happy, smart and funny. When you first meet him, he’s very shy. But once he gets comfortable, he’s your best friend. He’s sensitive and cares about people. Other parents have described him as kind.

But he’s also 3. He is strong-willed and impatient. He’s testing boundaries and attempting to do things on his own.

Lately, I’ve been having a tough time with him. Even when I’m trying to do something fun with him, he always pushes. Always fights me.

On the other hand, he is a perfect angel when he spends time with my parents. He’s great with my husband. It breaks my heart that they can have such fun with him while my time with him is a constant battle.

In the past few weeks, I’ve tried extra-hard to be more patient and to nag him less. I know it’s been an adjustment for him since his baby brother arrived five months ago, so I’m trying to do some fun things with him. But it doesn’t seem to matter. Even if we spend a whole day doing things that revolve around him (going to the park, eating a picnic in the backyard, jumping through the sprinkler), we still end up butting heads. Why?

My husband recently said something that just made it all hurt even more. “Why don’t you try just playing with him instead is nagging him?”

I know that’s what it looks like to everyone else, but they don’t see the whole picture. Still, those words stung.

I’m stuck in a hard place. I’d love to take my older son for some one-on-one time. There are so many things I’d like to do with him. But I’m also exclusively breastfeeding an infant who won’t take a bottle. When the baby needs something, most of the time I’m the only one who can respond.

So of course Littleman is going to prefer the time he spends with his dad or his grandparents. They’re the ones who can focus solely on him.

We do have some good moments, which I savour as much as I can. I love my kids so much and want them to be happy.

I know my situation is not unique. Moms everywhere deal with this when their second (or more) babies come along. And I know this won’t last forever. Soon enough, the baby will get older and won’t be so reliant on mommy. But knowing all of that doesn’t make my heart hurt any less.

A horrible accident – teaching my kids about road safety

A horrible thing happened in my neighborhood last week. A seven-year-old girl was struck by a car and killed.

It makes me feel sick to hear about a child dying. As a parent, it absolutely terrifies me. My heart breaks for the family involved in this tragic accident.

We live in a city (Toronto) where there is lots of traffic. On top of that, there is tons (I mean tons!) of construction work going on. Because of congestion on the major roads, more and more cars are cutting through residential neighborhoods, like ours, to avoid traffic. Everyone is in a rush and cars are moving too fast.

I don’t know what happened in this particular case, but I do know that being a pedestrian these days is scary. My son and I were almost hit on the way home from daycare one night last year. It was dark and rainy. As always, I thought I had made eye contact with all the drivers at the intersection before we began crossing the street, but one car mustn’t have noticed us and turned right in front of us. I grabbed Littleman and jumped out of the way. We were ok but it shook me up.

Hearing about a child being killed just a couple of blocks from my house reminded me how important it is to teach my children about safety around the road. Littleman knows he has to hold an adult’s hand to cross the street and that he needs to stay with us and listen when we are near the road. However, he’s only three so I know he can get distracted and forget things. It terrifies me that he could so easily dart out into the road and not be seen by the cars that speed through our neighborhood.

I know that horrible accidents happen everyday but, having it happen so close to home is a stark reminder of how precious life is and how quickly something terrible can happen.

I realize that I can’t bubble-wrap my kids to protect them from injury or death.  And I can’t live my life in constant fear of something happening to them.  But, what I can do, is take this horrible situation as reminder to do whatever I can to teach my children to protect themselves and keep themselves safe.