Tuesday, December 27, 2016

what it is, and what it's not.

I know you're just reading this post for one main reason - to find out the sex of the new baby. So we'll just go right ahead and start with that. With, of of course, the caveat that gender is a social construct, and that we really have no clue what the baby will be like just based on its chromosomal makeup. Oh, and with the caveat that the big reveal is, apparently, equally important to Rowan as how much Parmesan cheese is on her pasta salad in the video.

OH. You should ALSO know that, like I've mentioned before, Rowan's been asking for a baby for at least a year and a half. Specifically, she's been asking for a baby sister. That's actually part of the reason we wanted to find out the sex early; we figured, the more time we had to prepare her, the better.

Oh, and one more thing. ...Kidding, that's all, here's the video. :)

So there you go! She was relatively unfazed, and she apparently has our next baby already planned out.

Me, on the other hand?

Okay, this is where I admit something that will make some of you think, "Oh my god, I've totally been there and I understand!" It'll make some of you think, "You're a horrible excuse for a mother and human. You should be grateful that you're pregnant at all." (It'll make the rest of you think, "I give zero shits about this and am unsure as to why this warrants a blog post.")

And of course. Of course I'm grateful that I'm pregnant. Of course I'm grateful that the tests showed that the baby doesn't have certain fatal chromosomal disorders.

But it turns out that you can feel more than one thing at a time, you know? I'm grateful, yes. So grateful.

I'm also a little disappointed.

I'll be completely transparent: I was hoping for a girl. It's funny, because when I was pregnant the first time, I wanted it to be a boy. When the ultrasound tech announced it was a girl, though, I burst into elated tears. It just felt right, like something - somebody - I had known all along. I didn't care at all that it wasn't a boy; I was beyond thrilled that it was a girl. 

Then I ended up having a hard time bonding with Rowan in the first few weeks after she was born, despite those early feelings of knowing her. I even referred to her as him, over and over and over. So feeling connected while pregnant, just because of which sex the fetus is? Meh. Clearly not essential. 

Also, like I said in the beginning of this post, I don't put much stock in assigned gender. This baby will be whoever he is, and it's my job to help him discover that and own that, not to dictate that to him.

So these are the things I keep telling myself to assuage the disappointment. Because...I really did want a girl. I love having a girl. I am shocked again and again at how much I love having a girl. Plus? I wanted to give Rowan the sister she'd been asking for. I wanted to pull out all of her old dresses, still adorable, still in pristine condition, and use them for a new baby. I want to have two best girls, my daughters. I wanted to update the nursery in my current favorite color scheme, adding coral and navy to the turquoise, and create a 3D paper flower mural on the wall. I didn't want to have to make the circumcision decision. I feel less confident about raising a boy who's a feminist than a girl who's a feminist. Girls feel like familiar territory; boys feel so alien. And? There are NO GOOD NAMES LEFT for boys.

You don't need to tell me that a lot of those reasons are utterly ridiculous. All new babies are unknown territory, regardless of sex. Personality is not determined by genitalia. It might be easier to raise a feminist boy than to un-teach a girl all the cultural patriarchal trappings. Boys CAN have flowers and coral in their nurseries, and even dresses, if that's what's making me upset.

And as for giving Rowan the sister she wanted? Well. First of all, as you saw in the video, her solution is just to have a girl baby next; no big deal (ha). Second of all, she is thrilled about her baby brother. She sings to him, she reads stories to him, she wants to snuggle him constantly. She runs up to me about a dozen times a day to hug my belly (never me; I'm chopped liver now, compared to Baby Brudder). She'll sigh and say, "I can't wait to meet the baby. When will I get to meet our baby?" When I explained that she could probably meet the baby a few hours after he's born, after he gets all cleaned up and has some milk, she responded, "Well, I could watch the baby when he has a bath. Just in case he feels sad or nervous." She's thinking about him all the time: She recently asked J.J. to get some milk for her and some water for me, then hugged my middle and said, "Baby, you'll get some water from Mommy. Through the umbilical cord!" One day we were snuggling and I said, "Rowie, you're my best girl. Oh, and the baby will be my best boy!" She looked at me indignantly and asserted, "No, he'll be the whole family's best boy!" She asked me last week if I was coming to the store with J.J. and her, and I told her I couldn't, because I had to stay home and wrap some more presents. "For me?" she asked, eyes wide. "Mayyyybe!" I responded. "And for my little boy?!" she exclaimed excitedly. She wants to know if the baby can go swimming, and if she can tickle the baby, and if the baby is allowed to eat whatever she happens to be eating at the moment. She threw her giant Rudolph doll down the stairs one day and apologized when she saw that it scared the shit out of me, because I thought she was falling down the stairs; then she asked, "Do you think that scared the baby, too?" I was brushing her hair one night and I asked her if she would be my girl forever (one of our routine questions to each other). She said yes and then said to my belly, "Baby, will you be my baby forever?" She went on to say that she would be the mommy and her baby would be the daddy and that they could have a baby together. I gently explained that that's...not exactly how it works, and she started to cry: "But then - who will be my best boy?!"

She's already in love with this baby, simply because it's our baby. (Oh, and because she has no CLUE what she's in for when we actually bring the baby home. Sorry, sister.) She tells everyone she sees that she's going to be a big sister, and that her baby brother is coming in the summer. She's still holding out hope that I'm carrying multiples and has devised a child care solution for that situation: "Maybe there's more than one baby in there! Maybe one will grow, and then one and one and one and one, and you can take care of one and Daddy can take care of one and I can take care of one and Gramma can take care of one! Then we'll have babies, babies everywhere!"

SO. My point? I'm trying to follow her example and just be excited about our baby. I've had a couple weeks to sit with the disappointment, as well as the guilt that came along with that. I also feel guilty putting this out there to the world, because he could very well read this post one day. What would that feel like for him? Hopefully, what he'd learn from that is that in the end, I love him because of who he is, not because of what I planned for him to be or what cute hand-me-downs of Rowan's he was able to wear. He'll understand that he's the exact kid I didn't even realize I wanted. And that, as Rowan said, he's our whole family's best boy.

(But there are still no good names left for boys. Don't try to convince me otherwise.)

...And because you know I love comparison pics, here I am at 16 weeks with Rowan:

Monday, December 26, 2016

not sure if I want to remember or forget, buuut...

Um, so somehow I'm already 16 (and a half) weeks along in this pregnancy. The first trimester was such a bitch that I promised myself more than a few times that I'd never have another baby again...which, of course, I've already softened on, now that I've had a few weeks of feeling normal again. It couldn't have been that bad, could it?

And no, comparatively, I didn't have it nearly as bad as some pregnant women do, in terms of sickness. Buuut it did suck. That said, I don't want to forget some of the details, and I know I will if I don't record them somewhere. I also want to start taking belly pics soon! Looking back through my old posts, it was right at this time during my pregnancy with Rowan that I started taking them. Maybe I'll get one tomorrow, in between our library trip and heading to the ophthalmologist to check for tumors behind Rowan's eyes (more on that here, but I don't think it's anything to be concerned about).

Anyway...here are the things I'm finally remembering to remember about my (second) first trimester. Even if some of it is stuff I'd probably rather forget.

:: The early scare
I think I was around six weeks along when it happened. My friends threw a birthday party for me and another friend, and I had just gotten home after a great night. Honestly - unlike with my first pregnancy - I hadn't really remembered to be scared at any point yet. The first time, I remember checking every time I used the bathroom, fully expecting to see blood (which I never did). Not this time. I had just started feeling totally horrific and ill, so I figured everything was proceeding according to plan. 

I got home from the birthday party, had to pee, and boom - there it was. Spotting. My heart dropped, and I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Go to the ER? Call my OB? Nothing? I ended up texting my OB, but it was midnight, so of course she didn't text back right away. I posted a message in my mom group (the one I joined when Rowan was three weeks old...who just happen to be the friends who had just thrown the party for me that night), and immediately got a flood of responses saying that a bunch of them had had spotting early on, too, and not to worry unless it was red and I was cramping a lot. I felt way better, but I called triage just to be safe; they said the same thing. My OB texted me back right after I hung up with triage and was also immensely reassuring. We ended up scheduling an early blood test and ultrasound just to check on everything. Even with all the reassurance, I did spend my birthday weekend feeling both disgustingly sick and afraid to be hopeful. Obviously, everything turned out fine, but I was pretty freaked out for a few days.

:: 24 hours of having twins
Spoiler alert, THERE IS ONLY ONE BABY IN THERE. Trust me, I double-check at every ultrasound, ever since my first blood test. So after my weekend of spotting, I went in that Monday for a blood test to check my hormone levels. The next day, my OB called me to say that my hormone levels were good. Great, actually. In fact...really really freaking high. So high, in fact, she wanted to know if there any chance I was a month ahead of what I thought.

For a minute, I got really excited, because that would mean I was 10 weeks along instead of six, which would mean only a few more weeks of sickness! Seriously, I was so ill at that point that the thought of possibly shortening my sickness by a month made me deliriously happy. But I also was 100% sure that I wasn't 10 weeks along. I listed my reasons for my OB, including the fact that I'd a urine test and a routine pap smear a week before conception, and asked her why she wanted to know. Turns out my hormone levels were off the charts. At six weeks, they should have been anywhere from, like, 1,000 to 50,000 [insert whatever freakin' units hCG is measured in here]. "What were mine?" I asked. "A hundred and twenty thousand," she replied. Shiiiiiit

And then I remembered the other reason hCG levels might be unusually high. "Please tell me I'm not carrying multiples," I hissed into the phone. The last THREE moms from my mom group to get pregnant were all carrying twins; was I the fourth?

My OB tried to slot me in for an ultrasound that afternoon, but I was working and couldn't skip it. I had one scheduled for the following day, and let me tell you, I spent the next 24 hours pretty much convinced that I was having twins. I thought about how we'd just turned the second biggest bedroom into Rowan's "big kid room," and how there was no way the nursery would accommodate two cribs. Would we have to move her back into the smaller room? I thought about our teeny-tiny cars and how we'd never be able to squeeze three car seats into them. I thought about how I still didn't feel ready for two kids, let alone three. But I also thought about how fun it might be, and how cute they'd be, and how it would be so crazy if I really were the fourth one in a row from my mom group to have twins. I mean, there are only 20 of us or so in the group; what would the chances be?!

But the ultrasound the next day showed just one little sac with one little sweet flickering heartbeat. I was elated, somewhere underneath the layers of rolling nausea and incapacitating heartburn. Which, actually, made a little more sense, given my skyrocketing hormone levels.

:: Rowan's family portrait
About a week after the spotting scare and the maybe-multiples incident, Rowan drew her very first picture of our family. She'd only recently drawn her first figure beyond scribbles, so I, of course, planned to frame and preserve and broadcast her first family drawing. Buuuut she had a little surprise for me. Remember - we hadn't told her yet that I was pregnant. Here's what she drew:

I asked her why she drew a baby, and she replied nonchalantly, "Oh, just in case we ever have one!" I'm telling you, this girl has been asking for a baby since before she turned two. She wants nothing more than to be a big sister. I almost spilled the beans to her right then and there, but J.J. wasn't home, and we hadn't told everyone in our families yet; I didn't want Rowan to let it slip to them before we could tell them. So I kept my mouth shut...and sent a photo of her drawing to pretty much everyone who already knew. Because omg. Adorable.

:: Timing our announcement
I meant to tell everyone we were expecting early on. I know different people choose different times to announce the news, and all for valid reasons. Some people wait until the end of the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage lessens significantly. Some people tell everyone in shifts - first family, then friends, then work, then the general public, or whatever (that's basically what we did with Rowan). Some people keep it under wraps as long as possible so they don't experience discrimination at work. Some people never make a public announcement, especially if they've experienced a loss before, which makes total sense to me. But I had always thought that, for my second pregnancy, I'd tell everyone pretty much right away. Not because I was under any illusion that we were safe from loss - hate to sound dire, but no one is, at any point - but because I know my style. I know that if I were to experience a loss, I'd want and need my village to back me up in all sorts of ways.

But, you know, best laid plans. I told my family and J.J.'s family right away, and a couple friends. Then I sort of accidentally ended up telling my whole mom group when I asked my panicked question about spotting in our Facebook group. Then Rowan told her teacher by way of her family drawing, which she had brought to school. Aaaand then I meant to tell everyone else, I really did, but I got so busy being sick and juggling work that all of a sudden it was just a few days before our 12-week ultrasound, so I figured I'd just wait for that. Oh, and that's when I finally had a chance to get together with my friend Tanya, who had generously agreed to take some announcement photos for us. And there you go...13 weeks along and finally an announcement

:: Telling J.J.
Oh, but I did tell J.J. right away, obviously. Well...sort of right away. We'd been going through the trying-to-conceive roulette for...I think seven months at that point, and September didn't seem any different. In fact, I thought for sure I was having undeniable PMS symptoms just as he left town for a work trip, so I told him as much and figured we'd try again the next month. I was bummed, especially since I knew I was at the point where I was supposed to start consulting with reproductive specialists, given that I was about to turn 36 and had been trying for over half a year (not very long, but that's what they recommend for women over 35).

Then I spent the weekend eating entire bags of yogurt puffs - you know, the melty kind meant for babies with no teeth - and devouring bowl after bowl of spaghetti topped with red wine vinegar, olives, and parmesan cheese. I felt like a bottomless pit. That Sunday night, after Gigantic Bowl Number Two or Maybe Even Three of pasta, I decided to take a pregnancy test. Two pink lines popped up almost immediately, and that was that. 

I sat there shaking for a minute, wishing I had already planned out a cute way to tell J.J. - like Rowan donning a surprise "big sister" shirt when he came home the next day or something. I tried to think of a cute idea, but I promptly fell asleep. So I took another test in the morning, just to be sure, and dropped Rowan off at preschool, thinking I'd come up with a fun way to tell J.J. while I had the house to myself for a couple hours.

Instead, the second I got home, I FaceTimed him. He was already sitting on the airplane, waiting for his flight home to take off, but he answered. "Uh, what's up?" he asked, surprised to hear from me when he knew I knew he'd be on the plane. "Well," I replied, my voice shaking a little, "your first kid isn't home to FaceTime with you...but your second one is!" Ad I flashed the pregnancy test his way. Aw, it makes me smile just remembering his sweet reaction, and how he tried to play it cool to the colleague he was traveling with. So it ended up being a pretty cute way to break the news after all.

:: Feeling like utter shit
And, of course, I must create a permanent record of the main theme of my first trimester: feeling like shit. Look, I don't know how people with hyperemesis gravidarum (or super extreme morning sickness) do it. I never even threw up, but I felt like I was on my death bed. I was seriously non-functional for large chunks of time over the course of two months. I'm not kidding - the sickness was incapacitating. I was terrified that it wouldn't clear up at the end of the first trimester, since it was so much more severe than with Rowan. Like, with Rowan, I felt crummy a lot of the time, definitely nauseated and exhausted - but nothing like this. My main issue was actually heartburn, which manifested as a weird, full-throat feeling, like something was stuck at the base of my throat all the time. It was worse if I laid down (or sat up or sat still or moved or...breathed...), and the only thing that helped was eating. So eat I did, but the eating only made the heartburn better for about a half hour...and then it would come roaring back, even worse than before. It. Sucked. Plus, all food made me want to puke, so it was hard to find anything I could choke down to calm the heartburn. I did manage to figure out a few palatable things, though: bagels, fruit snacks, Jolly Ranchers, apples, crackers and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and ice cold water mixed with orange juice. And one day I took Rowan to preschool and then swung by Zingerman's Deli for the most pregnant purchase I've ever made:

That would be a jar of sour cherry preserves and a jar of sauerkraut. Twenty freakin' dollars' worth of mmmmm. Most of my other cravings turned quickly into hard-core aversions (good-bye forever, nutritional yeast), but these two are still going strong.

So that's about it for now from this elderly multigravida (as I'm referenced in my medical record). Oh, hey, the bonus of being "elderly" in the pregnancy world is that you become eligible for some high-tech testing - specifically, chromosomal testing, which can be done as early as 10 weeks. And which I had done around 12 weeks. And which revealed info about this baby's chromosomal makeup. Which appears to be typical, in terms of anomalies. But (do you see where this is going?) these tests can also reveal whether or not any Y chromosomes are present. So remind me this week to share another sweet video reveal that we have...it's a good one. :)

Friday, December 23, 2016

let your heart be light.

I was so annoyed with myself last night.

I was annoyed because I was annoyed (and depressed, and cranky, and grumpy) for no good reason. NO GOOD REASON. Christmas is in a couple days, and we're just about ready for it. My siblings and I are planning to spend New Year's Eve together, and I'm so psyched about that. My three part-time jobs (consulting, writing for a local journal, and my Etsy shop) are all on welcome hiatus for a few weeks. Hell, I even HAVE jobs, which was my primary source of anxiety this time last year. And not only do I have JOBS, I have a warm, happy home, full of fresh food and clean water and the people I love, including a sweet little babe percolating in my belly (sixteen weeks along now!).

Right, so no good reason to feel crummy. But I did. And I was shouty with Rowan and short with J.J. and just...exhausted. So then I fell asleep on the couch around 8:30 and had to summon all my will to drag myself up to bed later that night. Because first-world problems.

I woke up this morning fully expecting to continue feeling Grinchy all day. I still have a thousand last-minute Christmas tasks to attend to, not to mention that I need to start catching up on all the household chores that I've been neglecting since I started feeling so sick back in September. J.J. and Rowan had plans to go out to breakfast together and then sledding and shopping, so I ended up with the house to myself for the morning.

And instead of shopping and wrapping and cleaning and baking, you know what I did? Freaking NOTHING. I laid in bed and checked Facebook on my phone. I read a book for awhile. I watched some Netflix and ate a lot of Christmas cookies and accidentally took a nap and made a delicious (vegetarian) Rueben sandwich. And then I did actually get some wrapping and cleaning done, before settling back onto the couch with my book and some more cookies. 

At some point, J.J. sent me an adorable video of Rowan sledding, and I realized I'd officially snapped out my funk. I saved the video to my phone and started looking through old pictures, and I realized that I wanted to remember all of the things that have made this season really, really wonderful so far (last night excluded). Of course, they're pretty much all centered around Rowan, because she is my best thing.

So here's what I want to remember most about this year's Christmas season:

:: Rowan was so excited to decorate our Christmas tree, which we did a week after Thanksgiving. We're still going strong with our fake tree, even though I really do miss the scent of a fresh one. She insisted on wearing her Santa jammies and a too-big Santa hat for the big tree lighting event.

And, naturally, she wasn't above judging our twinkle-light placement.

:: I love Rowan's love of Christmas cookies, and how excited she gets to help us make them. Here's her genuine looks of cookie ecstasy, first when I showed her all the sprinkles she was going to get to use, and then when she was frosting her first cookie of the season:

She also made cookies with Gramma (multiple times, including special Grinch cookies because Rowan loves the Grinch so much). They made gingerbread people one day, and Rowan made our family: a daddy cookie, a Rowie cookie, and a mommy cookie with a baby cookie in her belly. (And those are the mommy cookie's eyes, NOT her nipples. Despite evidence to the contrary.)

:: I love her Christmas list this year. It's such a kid Christmas list. For her first and second Christmases, she was too little (three months and fifteen months) to get the concept, and last year, she only asked for one weird, random thing: a train track toy, which we found on eBay (after figuring out what a "train track toy" actually was). This year? She gets it. She gets the idea of Santa, and she has actual toys that she pines after. Granted, they're pretty much all toys that she's seen on the wretched YouTube channel I let her watch while I do her hair for ten minutes every morning...but they're real toys. (The YouTube channel is Come Play With Me, and it's basically two little girls playing with their Anna and Elsa dolls, along with other assorted Disney princesses and Barbie characters. Whatever.) Anyway - her list consisted of four main items: the toddler Ariel doll (as opposed to the grown-up Ariel Barbie); a toy car big enough for her grown-up and kid Anna and Elsa dolls; a grocery cart that her kid Anna and Elsa dolls could sit in, but small enough that her grown-up Anna and Elsa dolls could push; and a Shopkins ice cream truck. It turns out the ice cream truck is no longer being manufactured, and it took me plus an army of my friends scouring the Internet to finally track one down that was being sold for a very reasonable $15, as opposed to literally $150omfg. Miraculously, that means that Santa found all of the toys she asked for...just in time for her to proclaim two days ago that she changed her mind and all she wants is a pogo stick. And thus Rowan learned the important Christmas lesson that Santa doesn't take orders past December 18. #sorrynotsorry

:: Speaking of Santa, it was such a joy to take Rowan to see him this year. Our mall hosts a couple of sensory-friendly Santa times, and we always go with my nephews during one of those times. One of my nephews has cerebral palsy, and it's so much better for him to attend during a time when we don't have to wait in line for an hour and there aren't dozens of screaming children swarming his wheelchair. Rowan was super pumped to see Santa, but I wasn't sure how she'd actually handle the big moment. Turns out that the girl who still sometimes gets weepy when I drop her off to the same gymnastics teacher every single week had no problem hopping up on a strange dude's lap and asking for toys.

(Sorry so blurry, had to zoom in and crop my illegal phone pic)

I guess he's not really a stranger; he's Santa. Still! Maybe give your sweet gymnastics coach a break, eh, Rowan?

:: This isn't exactly relevant to Christmas, but Rowan's excitement about our baby is possibly the number-one thing I'll remember about the holidays this year. She is CONSTANTLY hugging my belly, kissing it, and talking to her baby. She asks all the time what she can do to be a big helper when the baby comes, and she'll randomly say things like, "I'm so excited that we get to have a baby in our family," and "I can't wait to meet our baby!" I'll tell you more about all of this soon, because there are a million examples, and each one makes me feel a kind of joy and peace I didn't even know was possible.

Snuggling her baby.

:: And, of course, Big Rudolph is back in our lives. You might remember him as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tool of Bribery, the toy Rowan chose as a consolation prize after giving up her pacifiers last year. Well, he's back, and Rowan enjoys reading him "his" story on the couch...

...making him a sleigh to pull out of paper and yarn (totally her idea and execution - I was pretty impressed)...

...and tucking him into her vacant crib every night:

That's not creepy at all. Especially when you
walk past the nursery at three in the morning
and see his big eyes staring at you.

:: And "Rudolph" is just one of the dozens of Christmas songs that she's memorized and sings on an endless loop. They make her happy in a way I've never really seen before. Oh, except when she did the donut train shimmy this fall - this is a similar kind of happy. In fact, she even does a Christmas song shimmy:

Her favorite Christmas songs are "Rudolph" (obviously), "Frosty the Snowman", "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas", "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", and the "Welcome Christmas" song that the Whos sing in the Grinch movie. Like, that song is mostly gibberish ("Fa-hoo-for-aze, da-hoo-dor-aze"), and she's got the whole thing down pat. She mostly practices her songs in her bed at night (she is literally belting out "Jingle Bell Rock" at the top of her lungs through the baby monitor as I type this), but every once in a while, I catch a snippet on video:

:: We've been lucky enough in southeastern Michigan to have a solid snow cover for the last couple weeks, and Rowan has been taking full advantage of it. 

She adores the snow, and she's fearless when sledding, even taking on hills that give me pause. As a GROWN-UP. I haven't been able to sled with her this year (I don't worry too much about doing different activities when pregnant, but I kinda draw the line at sledding, especially with a toddler in my lap and unpredictable lumps of icy snow under my ass), but she and J.J. have been out pretty much any day that it's been over ten degrees outside. This is the video he sent me earlier today that made me realize I'd snapped out of my funk - she's sledding down one of the biggest hills in Ann Arbor:

:: As for favorite indoor activities lately - I wish I had a video of this where you could actually make out the words, but she loves to make "tall, tall forts" and bring in a small lantern and her copy of  the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" book, which she recites from memory after hearing it on J.J.'s phone in his car over and over.

:: We've been watching my favorite classic Christmas movies with Rowan - at least, the ones that are appropriate for a three-year-old. So, basically, "Rudolph", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and "Frosty the Snowman". Here she is feeding popcorn to THE BABY (NOT me, mind you; I am but an inconvenient conduit):

:: And, last but not least, she and J.J. have been super into reading comic books together every night at bedtime, and J.J. is teaching her how to use the Force. One night, long after bedtime, she called me up to her room, crying that she had hurt her finger because she was "using the Force too hard." #jediproblems

She'll also use the Force on you if you try to take a cute
picture of her, so good luck with that.

So in the event that you've been feeling Grinchy lately, I hope you can find something - a morning with the house to yourself; a walk in the snow; a cute preschooler singing Christmas carols at the top of her lungs - that helps your heart feel light.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

and then there were four.

And now for the news that I've been meaning to share for weeks, but have been too busy to actually write a post about!

I'm too lazy/technologically inept to size that photo correctly, but here's the sign a little closer up:

(thanks to my wonderful friend Tanya for taking these pics!!!)

YAY!! I'm thirteen weeks tomorrow, so we're due in June (which is what it says inside that heart up there). Crazy crazy crazy. Oh, and the other reason I haven't mentioned anything here yet is that I have been epically, horrifically, almost constantly sick. It was NEVER like this during my first pregnancy. I mean, I felt nauseated a lot of the time, and definitely exhausted, but this is next-level sick. Part of me feels like I shouldn't complain because I haven't actually been actively puking; I just feel like I'm going to about 90% of my waking hours. And even worse than the nausea is the heartburn, which is present most days and wakes me up some nights. It's not a burning sensation - it's this weird feeling like my throat is full with a huge lump. Which, of course, makes me want to puke.

Now that I'm closing in on the end of the first trimester, I'm starting to have more good days than bad, but it's been rough. I think part of the reason it's been so much harder is that I can't escape when I feel terrible. Yes, I can have J.J. or my mother-in-law be with Rowan (and trust me, they have been), but sometimes that's not an option. There's been a whole lotta Daniel Tiger up in here lately. And during my first pregnancy, I could retreat to my office while I was at work and just sort of feel miserable by myself, or I could call in sick if I felt truly awful (although I don't think I ever felt bad enough to do that). Not only do I have no office to hide in now, but I can't call in when I have work outside the home - I just have to go to my consulting appointments and article interviews. It's all worked out, obviously, but I was struggling for a couple months there.

And as for the big sister?

She's oblivious for now! We haven't told Rowan yet, but we will soon. Nine months is a long time for a three-year-old to wait - or, more accurately, for me to field a three-year-old's constant questions about whether the baby is here yet. I know she'll be excited, though, considering she's literally been asking for a baby for a year and a half. She talks about being a big sister constantly; she sets aside old toys of hers "for when we have a baby"; and a few weeks ago, she had a meltdown because she couldn't figure out where her car seat would go when we had a new baby who needed a car seat, too. We babysat for my friends' baby over the summer, and Rowan will still randomly mention that she's going to be a good big sister because she was such a big helper when baby Emmie was here. So - who knows what she'll be like when there's an actual infant in the house, but at least she'll be thrilled that one is on the way!

...Which is pretty much how I'm feeling, too. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

someone turned three (ahem, two months ago).

Well, I was about to launch into a self-propelled guilt trip about how I never posted about Rowan's third birthday, but you know what? Who cares? Here it is, two months late, which is actually less late than I was with the post about her first birthday party. Thumbs up.


Rowan's birthday was full of the little traditions we've picked up in her three years - but now all of them are infused with her own personality quirks, which makes them so much more meaningful. As usual, we started out her actual birthday with a special Rowie-Daddy trip to the store to get a bunch of rainbow balloons for her annual birthday picture in the backyard...

She was actually less cooperative this year than she was on either her first or her second birthday. It's harder than ever to get her to smile AT the camera, so I guess we're lucky we got any good shots at all! And we did end up with this funny one, where it looks like she's mega-pouting. I think she was just looking down, but it cracks me up:

"It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to."

A collage of pics from Birthdays One, Two, and Three:

We halted the photo torture session after just a few minutes and went inside so she could open her presents from J.J. and me before her birthday party started. We don't go overboard with birthday presents, since her aunts and uncles and grandparents tend to provide her with plenty of awesome gifts. This year, we got her exactly what she asked for: a little Kermit to hold in her hand (since she's been holding an Invisible Kermit in her hand for a couple months now), a soft Kermit to sleep in her crib with her, a dress-up doctor costume (because she wants to be a "cardi-lol-ogist for grown-ups" when she grows up...seriously), and a little mermaid toy, since she was on a kick of making us refer to her as "ABCD Monster Mermaid Ariel NOT Rowan".

I mean - when's the last time you were this excited about...well, anything?!

Just as she finished opening her presents, our family started arriving for her party. We chose not to invite her friends to the party, just like we did for her first two parties. Our families are pretty big, and our house is pretty modest. Plus, it's always hard to judge what the weather will be like. At the end of September, it could be 80 degrees and sunny, or it could be 42 degrees and raining. Of course, since we didn't invite her friends, it was beautiful weather; had we invited them and needed the backyard for overflow space, it would have been crummy. (Or that's what I told myself so I wouldn't feel bad about not having her best little buddies over.)

We decorated the house in her favorite colors - pink and yellow balloons, pink and yellow streamers, and pink and yellow paper products. We ate pizza and all her favorite snack foods: popcorn, mini chocolate chip cookies, and pink lemonade. Oh, and we served her signature "Rowie salad". It's actually the salad I make for myself for lunch every day, but she's co-opted it and named it after herself. It has spinach, quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, red onions ("But only TINY onions," Rowan demands), walnuts, cilantro, and Gorgonzola cheese, with fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar splashed on top.

The best food at Rowan's birthday party this year, though, was her birthday cake. J.J.'s mom made her an EPIC cake last year (there's a link at the bottom of this post to pictures of it, but it was Anna and Elsa from Frozen standing back to back, with their skirts forming a cake. UNREAL), and she offered to make her another cake this year. When she asked Rowan what she wanted, Rowan didn't hesitate: "A Lina's house birthday cake." Gramma and I were both a little confused. "What do you mean?" I asked her. "A Lina's house birthday cake!" she repeated. Lina is our neighbor, and Rowan worships the ground she walks on. "Like, a cake that looks like Lina's house?" I said. "Yeah," she replied. "With BB-8s on top."

And what Rowan wants, Rowan gets, apparently:

You have never seen a human dive into a cake the way that Rowan devoured her Lina's house birthday cake. She absolutely loved it - like, couldn't take her eyes off it, even for a quick family picture.

After her party, Rowan crashed for a good long nap, and then we rounded out the day by taking her to "the donut farm" (Three Cedars Farm). The donut farm is, by far, her favorite fall destination. She wanted Gramma to come, too, and Gramma was a good sport and joined us, even though she'd already spent her weekend making a Lina's house birthday cake and hanging out at Rowan's birthday party. 

We almost got a picture with all three of us looking at the camera...

...and we let our daughter shove even more sugar down her gullet, since apparently copious amounts of cookies and cake that morning weren't enough.

She also got to ride the "donut train", which was the real reason she wanted to go to the donut farm. Rowan is o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with this freakin' train. Like, it has made her shimmy with excitement in the past:

She was thrilled to ride it once again, and then she did everything else the donut farm has to offer: belly-flopped into the corn box, scaled the climber, rode the tiny tractors, milked a pretend cow, played on stationary trains, and leapt off giant hay bales without giving Daddy any warning.

It was awesome to brainstorm about all of Rowan's favorite things and try to combine them into one special day, all to celebrate the kind, hilarious, loving kid she is. And we continued the celebration the next day at her preschool by bringing in a special birthday snack (frozen yogurt tubes and pretzel Goldfish, her faves). She was still so nervous about school at that point. Even though I stayed that morning as an assistant, it was only her third day at preschool, and she was just so unsure of everything. Here she is, painting at the easel, wearing her birthday crown, and trying hard to hold herself together. Poor sweetie.

I have another post in the works about my three-year-old and what she's like these days, but in a nutshell? I feel lucky every day that I get to be her mama. And for the rest of my life. 

{here's the post from Rowan's second birthday}
{here's the post about Rowan's second birthday party}
{here's the post about Rowan's first birthday party}
{here's the post from Rowan's birth day}

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

this is my angry post.

This is the one where I'm just going to be angry. Not unifying or healing or advocating or moving forward or "classy" (eye roll). Probably not even thorough or sensical. Just fucking angry.

I've done my best to refrain from replying to anything on social media. I'm not going to change anyone's mind via Facebook (except maybe that one chick who discovered that actually, yes, abortions DO save women's lives, that's not just "liberal media rhetoric"). But this...hurts. It hurts my heart and my head to see what some of you actually believe and support, to learn that you are knowingly ignorant, to read your actual words claiming that you are happy to hide behind your cloak of faith, regardless of who that hurts. So no, I'm not going to fan the flames on your Facebook feed, but here's a small sampling of what I've wanted to say.

I'm all done with Trump voters claiming that you're not racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic. What, exactly, is the difference between being racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic, and "just" supporting someone who made promises to promote those paradigms? "I don't agree with him on that," you huff. "I'm not racist; I just voted for him because he's pro-life." Do not be mistaken: If you voted for him, you voted into office his ideals. You are promoting all of it. The wall. The narrowing of women's rights. The ethnic cleansing. The right to grab me or you or my daughter by our pussies. Yes, you are part of the problem. Yes, you are promoting the problem. Yes, you ARE the problem.

And those of you who are just so disappointed by people's emotional reactions today, because we just need to come together and move forward as a united front? Yeah, no. If Hillary had won, would you be happily supporting her and joining hands across the aisle? You fucking wouldn't. Your own candidate said he wouldn't, either, when he said he wouldn't necessarily accept the results of the election if Hillary won. Also: your candidate does not believe in coming together and being united. Trump's goal, as he has not only overtly stated but also personally demonstrated over and over and over again, is to marginalize those who are different or in the minority. He often switches up the flavors of difference he wants to dispose of, but his model is not one of unity. So, you know. Give us a minute to put aside our fear and shame and disbelief before we're ready to be united. And please, please don't waste your fucking breath telling me that the "classy" move is to support Trump simply because he'll be the president. I refuse to support hatred. He doesn't reflect what the majority of Americans want; the electoral college voted him in, not the people. And (like I read somewhere else today) - aren't those of you dictating that we be classy the exact same people who purposefully blocked President Obama at EVERY turn for the last eight years? "Classy" means nothing in a society plagued by class segregation.

Also? I have zero sympathy for those of you who whined about how very hard it was to publicly support Trump throughout his campaign. Actually, negative sympathy. Aww, did someone scrape off your Trump bumper sticker? Oh, boohoo, did someone call you out for supporting and promoting racism, or question how you could vote for Trump as a woman? Fucking wah-wah. Hello, welcome to life as an outsider. I have friends who are flicked off (or shoved, or shot) for holding hands with their same-sex partner in public. I read about a friend's Mexican-American niece who fled her high school this morning as her classmates chanted, "Build a wall, build a wall." I have friends who, during a family visit to the zoo, had a dirty diaper smeared on their car because they are lesbians. I have friends who worry every single day when they walk around because maybe their skin is too brown or their bellies are too large or their wallet isn't fat enough or their hoodie is too threatening - they worry that they'll be judged (at best) or killed (at worst). Was that hard for you, then, when someone gave you a dirty look because of your Trump lapel pin? Good. Maybe you'll take that and learn from it.

I'm not perfect. No one is. Not Trump, not Hillary, not Bernie, not Obama. Maybe Mr. Rogers was, which is probably why he never pursued politics. Either way, because I know I'm not perfect, I'm going to do my best to stay open-minded. Not because I owe that to Trump, but because I owe it to my daughter, and to myself, and to everyone in my life whose rights, livelihoods, and lives are directly threatened by Trump's campaign promises. 

I want to tell Hillary that it's not her; it's us. We failed her. She's been working her ass off for this for decades, and not enough of us did enough to meet her there. She shattered the glass ceiling, and we covered our eyes while a rich white dude ordered it reconstructed. Right now, I'm so, so ashamed of myself for believing in the bubble. If that's not taking advantage of my privilege, I don't know what is. It is shameful.

I hope I can find effective ways to enact the ideals of common decency once the shock and grieving have subsided, but I'm just not there. No, this is just my angry post. When I get there, though, this is what I want to remember:

On Monday, I explained voting to Rowan, who just turned three. We were driving and talking about what we were going to do the next day, which was Election Day. I told her we'd be going to a school to share our votes, and that it was our job to pick someone to be a new country leader who helped people feel kind, loved, and safe. I was ready to leave it at that. She was quiet for a minute and then said, "So we want to vote for someone who follows the rules of our house!" Uh, yes. Exactly. And in our house, we believe in kindness; in making sure the least among us are cared for; in making our voices heard, even if they're shaking (or "shrill"); in science and research; in questions and curiosity; in hope over fear; in the importance of welcoming and celebrating difference; and in equality. In our house, my daughter is valued as a whole person, not as a commodity. In our house, we believe that Black lives matter. In our house, we teach our daughter to smash the patriarchy, because (in the words of HRC), "When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit." 

And in our house, we believe that action creates change. So once I'm done wallowing in anger, I really hope I can embody the rules of our house and be the model of leadership my daughter is going to need. And that I'm going to need. I'm at least thankful for the wake-up call that no one else can make it happen for me.

It has to be me. It has to be us.

Friday, November 4, 2016

so I guess we're THAT family on Halloween.

Shhh, let's pretend I haven't been trying to juggle three part-time jobs, being home full-time, taking two weekly classes that are supposed to be self-care time but are actually just sabotaging bedtime every Monday and Wednesday evening, plus a preschooler who's still struggling with separation issues that are manifesting in so many nighttime wake-ups that I finally bribed her with Oreos if she'd just stop crying out for me three, four, five times a night. Which, you know, goes against all of my early childhood social work training, except the part that proclaims you gotta do what you gotta do.

Ahem. Right.

My point is, someday I'll get around to posting about Rowan's third birthday and all the other things I wanted to share during September and October. But in the meantime, how about some Halloween pictures? Yes? Yes.

Early last spring, totally out of nowhere while we were reading books together, Rowan told me she wanted to be a ghost for Halloween. I was 100% on board with this costume idea (cut some holes in a white sheet + smear on some face paint = my idea of a good Halloween costume), but also acutely aware that she was likely to change her mind a dozen times between March and the end of October. Then, over the summer, J.J. and I went out to see the new Ghostbusters movie, and Rowan had a million questions: What's a Ghostbuster? What do they look like? What do they do? How do they catch the ghosts? Why is the movie not for kids? Why won't grown-ups get scared about it? And then she told us that she wanted all three of us to dress up like Ghostbusters for Halloween.

Now, a Ghostbuster costume is a little more complicated than a ghost costume, but I sorta loved the idea of tramping through the neighborhood with my tiny ghostbusting girl, complete with a tiny proton pack. In September, we started talking about Halloween more and more, and - just in the nick of time, before we started actually putting costumes together - we parsed out that Rowan didn't actually want to be a Ghostbuster. She thought Ghostbusters were ghosts. Once we got that straightened out, it was decided that J.J. and I would be Ghostbusters, but she would be a ghost. A "spooky" ghost. And when I showed her the face paint, the deal was sealed.

My unbelievably amazing mother-in-law (who is the reason I've survived this crazy busy autumn without running away and/or selling my child) made Rowan a ghost costume that was WAY better than a holey sheet (it even shimmered and sparkled), and she got to practice wearing it to her friends' joint Halloween-themed third birthday party a couple weeks ago.

SO excited to try out the face paint for the first time. "But
not IN my eyeballs, right, Mommy?"

Ghost in the bounce house!

Took off a few layers of costume to paint a pumpkin.

My mother-in-law (have I mentioned lately how awesome she is?) also made a "Halloween house" with Rowan one day when she was babysitting...basically a gingerbread house, but for Halloween. Rowan loved decorating it, and I loved dipping the candy in the frosting for the next week or so.

When Halloween finally arrived, Rowan was out of her mind excited. That morning, her preschool did a low-key "trick or treat" through their building, which was so cute. She wore her costume the whole morning and wanted it back on IMMEDIATELY after waking up from nap. We waited until after our traditional Halloween pizza dinner to actually put it back on her, along with her face paint. And check out the "spooky ghostie face" she made for all the pictures we took:

J.J. ended up going as an old-school Ghostbuster, but I did my best approximation of Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon's character from the 2016 reboot). Our light-saber ghost blasters, DIY'ed by J.J., definitely completed our looks.

You might not be able to tell, but my glasses are even yellow
like Holtzmann's. Just missing some salty parabolas.

We went trick-or-treating with our next-door neighbors, who have an eight-year-old daughter (or maybe she's nine?). She was a total trouper for letting Rowan tag along, and Rowan really did a good job at keeping up with her. They ended up trick-or-treating for a looooong time, making it almost all the way to the end of our street and back - somewhere between a mile and a half and two miles! Our neighborhood boasted some pretty sweet decorating, including "haunted tunnels" in garages and hot cider stations, complete with adult beverage add-ins. Rowan found some ghostie pals in a yard along the way...

Still making her "spooky ghostie face".

...And chose exactly one piece of candy from her sizable stash when she got home. I told her she could have a couple, but she said, "No, just one," and asked for the candy necklace that someone had dropped in her pumpkin.

Supremely pleased.

She's already planning what our costumes will be for next year, which I think is adorable. And although I never would have guessed that we'd turn into the kind of family that does group costumes every year, it seems to be a tradition now - minus, of course, Halloween 2013, when Rowan was five weeks old and donned a Yoda hat as her costume. I managed to get dressed that day and answered the door for trick-or-treaters with some approximation of a smile, which was about all the postpartum costuming I could manage. It's gotten a little easier since then:

2014: Darth Vader, Padme Amidala, and their
daughter (spoiler alert) Princess Leia

2015: three Spideys

2016: two Ghostbusters and a "spooky" ghost

We'll see what her plans for next year turn out to be. In the meantime, let it be known that I am getting really, really good at eating Kit-Kats from my daughter's trick-or-treat stash with her less than ten feet away and without her noticing. #ParentSkills #HadToCapitalizeThatSoItDidntLookLikeParentsKills #PossiblyOnAHalloweenSugarHighRightNow

In case you missed it: Halloween 2015: A Very Spidey Halloween


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