Saturday, December 25, 2010

Once, twice, three times a lady?

Last week I had my big 20 week ultrasound. I am happy to report everything is looking great with baby "String"! Baby is measuring a bit small, but no one seemed too concerned, so I decided to try not to be either.

The night before the ultrasound I wrote the following feelings on finding out the gender of the baby, something we have never done. This post appeared as a guest post on Mom vs. the Boys - a great blog about a mommy to all sons. Now that it has been posted over there, I thought I would share it here.

Many of you who are friends with me on facebook already know what we learned about the sex of the baby - but for those of you who don't know, I will post that tomorrow!

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady?
I wasn’t a little girl who always had a baby doll, dreamed of her wedding day or had a mile long list of future baby names.

I was raised with brothers, “the rose between two thorns” my grandmother called me. Although I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of life I knew this much: if I was going to be a mommy, I’d have a house full of boys.

Never being a “girly girl” myself, I didn’t image ballet class, hair bows and emotional breakdowns over receiving the wrong color sippy cup.

My motherhood dreams had a different sort of theme. Frogs in the freezer and monster truck rallies sounded like good old fashioned family fun to me!

The man who became my husband had a similar dream. He briefly considered the priesthood, but knew it wasn’t right for his life because he wanted to be a father of a different sort. Just as mine did, his images of parenthood involved little boys….holding baseball bats.

While pregnant with our eldest child we both just “knew” a daughter was on her way and decided to wait for the birthday to find out. After all, “there are only so many real surprises in your adult life” as people say. But, after 28 hours of labor we didn’t care what came out of me, as long as it came out. When our daughter was born my husband almost passed out – he thought I had given birth to a still born son. In his defense the placement of an umbilical cord can be confusing at first glance, and his wife may have forgotten to mention to him that newborns don’t come out pink and snuggly. Therefore, the announcement of a healthy baby girl wasn’t as climactic as TV dramas about child birth had convinced me it would be.

Twelve months later we found ourselves checking back into labor and delivery. We had stuck by our decision that gender is to be learned when baby makes their appearance, but we knew it was a boy. Except, it wasn’t a boy. She was a girl. And in a matter of twelve months we had become a family of girls.

Funny thing about pink things, they tend to multiply – and migrate. What started as a closet in the nursery full of miniature pink clothing turned into a room of pink and glitter. A year later our living room is covered in the feathers that have fallen off a play boa and our cupboards are stacked with pink and flowered plastic dishes.

Last week at dinner my baseball loving husband found himself raising his voice to two little girls.
“That is a fork, NOT a magic wand! We use it for eating, not waving! The next girl to use their fork as a magic wand will have their baby taken away!”

I tried to hold in my laughter. But, the next morning when he went to put his shoes on he pulled out a balled up knot of costume jewelry. The look on his face had me in stitches for hours. Things are too fun over here. Clearly God knew better about what we needed than we did. I wouldn’t give these moments back for anything.

As the pink took over, the thoughts of rowdy little boys faded. In fact, the thought of those rowdy boys jumping on my furniture and running up my grocery bill has become a bit frightening. We love our little bubble of estrogen!

We’ve got thing figured out over here, being a family of daughters. Just as my two beauty queens have helped me find my own inner girly girl, we’ve decided to add to our family once again. And here I sit. 20 weeks pregnant on the eve of the big 20 week scan. The element of surprise has been lost on us and in the morning we will be asking about the gender.

The gender of the third baby has become a bit of an obsession. I’ve been counting down the days and may have even purchased the IntelliGender test. I knew I should have left well enough alone and was acting like a fool when I set off the alarm in the store and had to take the walk of shame, showing what is was I had purchased and that yes indeed, I had paid for it. There I was, red faced and holding a blue and pink box splattered with question marks and promises that it could tell me what color rompers to buy. I couldn’t wait the recommended 10 minutes to read the results. When the test read GIRL I didn’t know if I was excited or disappointed. I felt the same as I had an hour and an embarrassing trip to the drug store earlier. And I was $25 bucks poorer.

Everyone knows a pregnant woman holds the right to change her mind. My problem is that I don’t know what I want. I go back and forth daily. Do I want to hear “it’s a boy!” and fulfill my dream of mothering a sticky, dirt covered goof ball? Or, do I want things to stay the same and be the family of girls, which I have so grown to love? Am I ready to let go of that dream of long ago and replace it with the pink colored reality that has turned into a dream? Will I have more than 3 children, or is this the final say on the gender(s) we will parent?

All I know is that I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. Waiting with so much anticipation that no matter what the morning brings, it may also bring a bit of disappointment because the excitement will be over. Then again, with my luck, we’ll have a modest baby who doesn’t want to share.

But if I was a betting women, I’d go all in on baby gal number 3!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Years of Anna Clare

A few weeks ago my second daughter turned 2. I’ve been thinking a lot about a letter I wrote her the first week of her life. I wrote about how much I loved her, and how I was so excited to see what being her mom was going to mean for my life. I also observed that I didn’t feel as though I knew anything about her, except that I loved her. To be honest, two years later I still feel that same way many days!

Her daddy was convinced she would be a he. After much waiting and worry, she came fast and before we knew it, we had two daughters. Her arrival sent us into such a whirlwind we had a difficult time choosing her name. She just didn’t “look” like any of the names we had picked out.

She has been difficult to read from the time she started moving within me and she has been difficult to get to know. She didn’t arrive with the goal of making herself know as her sister did. She has her own world, and has a tough time inviting others in – or caring much at all about joining the rest of the world. For this I loved her instantly, and this has been the challenge of being her mother.

She’s smart. Not in the way that she will recite facts we have made her memorize as is generally easy to do with a two year old. She has no interest in sharing her knowledge to please us; or anyone else for that matter. She seeks knowledge. It’s the very air she breathes. She wants to know how things work and will destruct anything to make that happen. Things are for a purpose – and it is ingrained in her to figure out what that is and how it works. She doesn’t care much for the aesthetic appeal of things. She wants to take it apart and put it back together, its color means nothing to her.

At age 2 she is already skilled at any and all things wires and cords

Anna is as sweet and loving as a little girl can be. She needs no affirmation and takes no direction. An empty corner and a project to figure out does more for her little mind than an audience. We had no idea she knew all of her numbers and letters until I overheard her whispering under her breathe while I taught her sister. I never taught her, she taught herself, and that is how she likes it.

There is never any middle ground with her. She is all or nothing. She lives constantly on one end of the emotional spectrum and refuses being taught to move away from that way of life. This is my biggest concern for her, and one of my proudest moments as a mother. I don’t worry about the trouble she will get into as a follower. Her own impulses are way too strong to follow anyone else’s.

Who says a little girl must laugh and smile at her birthday party? Why do that when you can read a book alone!!

This makes her a difficult child to parent. She cannot be forced to eat or sleep. Still, at age 2, she is up 3 times a night. Sleep training continues to fail her. She has not yet learned to comfort herself, nor does she seek comfort from her parents. She needs to cry and scream for hours and must get out what she needs to get out. She’s uncontrollable in a brilliant way. We have no idea what to expect from her in life, and although it is a very tiresome way to live and we have grown weary since her birth, it has also been one of the greatest joys of my life. Her daddy and I joke about how every grey hair and worry line can be directly linked to her birth, but that she will be the child to make a discovery or cure a disease and fund our retirement.

She is loving and goofy, the most serious and the silliest. She has an amazing ability of communicating with large animals that is foreign to every other member of her family; yet communicating with people seems to be a struggle for her. Fearless and powerful, if there is one thing I know about her, it is that she will always amaze me.

She makes me a better person. She teaches me daily that God has a plan and that sometimes it’s hard, but still perfect. She gives wonderful hugs and her smile has the power to bring joy to me like no other.
I can’t wait for her to be a big sister this year. I just know she’ll be awesome at it – and she’ll do it in a completely original and surprising way!

Happy 2nd Birthday Anna Clare!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mama as Memory Maker

I had big plans for Tessa’s 3rd birthday earlier this month. I did that crazy mom thing. You all know what I’m talking about. When you get this idea in your head that a certain day or memory MUST be perfect and if it’s not your children will never remember a happy childhood? The pressure and motivation to avoid motherly guilt for eternity turns you into a crazy memory making animal ready to eat her own young if they don’t pose for that picture, smile and have a wonderful day? A day that will forever be branded into their memories next to where they remember you as mom of the year. Someone tell me it’s not just me. Anyone? A show of hands in solidarity – please….

Because my eldest daughter has inherited her photographic memory from her father, in the days leading up to her 3rd birthday I became obsessed with the notion that she may be able to remember her 3rd birthday all the days of her life. I decided allowing her to decorate her own cake, compete with making all the color and flavor choices would be the perfect gift for a girl who is 3 going on 30. What better present than to encourage her greatest gift – being the boss!

I hyped up the activity for the entire week leading up to the big birthday. She settled on yellow cake in cupcake form, chocolate frosting and that there MUST be purple glitter covering every cupcake. Mom of the year was within my grasp and I began patting myself on the back before the cupcakes were even mixed.

Unfortunately, my back had other plans. Little gal number 2 did some climbing onto the bathroom counter and my pregnant self decided it was wise to climb up after her to retrieve her thus saving her from any harm. It was the natural response – being mother of the year and all. Baby girl and I came tumbling down, throwing out my back and landing on my swelled tummy.

I was in a bad way and unable to move. I crawled to our brand new couch and there I stayed for the duration of the day. Once the pain subsided a bit I began to cry hysterically that the cupcakes hadn’t been made and I had ruined Tessa’s 3rd birthday. My ever supportive husband offered to make the cupcakes himself but I would have none of it. I had promised the birthday girl. Instead of trying to rationalize with a clearly distraught pregnant woman, my husband gathered every material necessary for cupcake baking and delivered them to the coffee table sitting in front of the new couch we had delivered that morning.

It took a while for Tessa, my rule follower, to warm to the idea of baking in the living room. Once she realized it was indeed allowed (just this once!) she felt as special as any three year old girl could.

It was a very happy birthday and as soon as dinner was served (on the couch) and the candles were blown out – this mama headed off to the ER. Sure enough, my discomfort was no laughing matter. I was having contractions! An ultrasound tech was called in to do a check on the baby and I was given some good meds to settle me down and make me more comfortable. Because the ultrasound tech wanted to double check everything was going well with the baby, she decided while we were observing baby we could try to find out the sex. I was elated!

Baby was doing well, but overly modest! So, no news on that front. It was a bit of a tease as we have never found out the sex of a baby before birth and are excited that this go around we’re going to try it out. Thankfully, I was too relieved and feeling too blessed to be all that disappointed.

The day definitely did not go as expected, but turned out to be such a blessed day for our growing family. I was reminded that I have the exact man God knew I needed as my husband, I watched 2 little gals blow out candles and get messy with frosting and I even got a sneak peak at our newest little blessing.

My husband’s ability to embrace the reality of the day and make the most of a bad situation created a better memory than the one I had scripted in my over obsessed head.