Just pack the d*mn bag already: a lesson in how not to go into labor

Yes, I fell for the hospital-provided professional newborn pictures. Hook, line, and hormone-induced sinker.

About three weeks ago I had a new baby. (Hooray! Go me!)

Baby Daphne arrived 10 days before her due date, healthy, happy (sleepy, rather, which equates to happy for her parents), and weighing in at exactly to the ounce the same birth weight as her big brother. Apparently my uterus has a very strict weight and size capacity for humans growing in it, and, as it turns out, I appreciate its fastidiousness in adhering to the rules.

Since Wee Connor was born in Charlotte and Baby Daphne in Chicago I knew there would be a few differences in the birth experiences. And while I won’t go into gory details of the actual birth, the basics are that I had a planned c-section with Baby Daphne since Connor was an emergency c-section after 26 hours of back labor. (For the record, that is not what we call in the business a “fun time.”) Continue reading

You’ll be receiving Christmas cards in February this year.

Dear Everyone On My Christmas/Holiday Card List,

shame gif.gifI’m sorry. I really am. I’m sitting here eating Valentine’s Day candy and there is just nothing I can do other than apologize.

But the fact of the matter remains: you will be receiving your Christmas cards from us this year in February.

I am fully aware how ridiculous this is.

I am fully aware that nobody does this.

I am also more than fully aware that many people have more on their plates than I do who still manage to get their cards out in a reasonable timeframe.

I can assure you with every fiber of my being: I am aware.

But, again, it doesn’t change the fact that you will be receiving a lovely holiday card with the words “Merry Christmas” on it and our lovely faces plastered all over over the front with a nice little family update printed on the back. In February.

“But why?” You say. “Couldn’t you just not send them instead?”

Well, sure. Yes. Technically, that is an option. But they’re here. They’re printed. They’re gorgeous. I spent time on them. And, more to the point: I spent money on them.

So you’re getting your Christmas cards in February.

How did this happen? Well, I can actually explain that, too.

When I got the Christmas cards I was so excited, I finished the return labels, sealed them up, and had them ready to go. Only then I realized I didn’t have stamps.

Then, thinking  I had plenty of time I procrastinated getting stamps. This was the fatal error. Obviously I should have just gone to the post office one day while Connor was at school and gotten the damn stamps. Probably like the day the cards arrived. Again, I am aware.

All of a sudden Christmas started coming really fast. Like, really, really fast. I was ill-prepared and found myself scrambling between OB appointments and shopping and decorating and family coming in that, well, it just kept getting pushed off.

During this time we also rearranged our house a bit for Baby Daphne’s impending arrival. Because Wee Connor started crawling out of his crib (remember this, as it becomes important later!) we put him in a big-boy bed (which I believe used to be just known as a “bed”, but modern vernacular now dictates it be called a “big-boy bed”, apparently). Then due to the layout of our house, we moved our bedroom into the front living room (in a somewhat common Chicago layout, our condo has a front living room and a back living room) that is also next to the nursery and put Connor into our bedroom.

We also made a large-scale “KonMari clean out our crap” effort during this time in order to make room for this rearranging nonsense. It’s still a work in progress but it truly is freeing. I emptied out two closets’ worth of stuff we had been dragging from house to house to house. But this all took a lot of our holiday time while we had family babysitters available and in town. This was made more exhausting by the fact that I was starting to go from, “Eh, I’m pregnant, I guess” to, “Oh, no, 6 months pregnant is actually legitimately pregnant now.”

No worries, I kept telling myself, I’ll just send the cards out around New Year’s. That’s still in the limits.

Then we found out that our dog Brinkley’s cancer was back much sooner than expected, and it was spreading everywhere. We gave him one last treatment as a palliative measure hoping his last few months would be good, instead of having him slowly decline. However, we knew at most he would only have a few more months and this cast a shadow on my entire existence.

And then Connor stopped sleeping.

A quick elaboration before I go on. This “stopped sleeping” thing was not a cutesy, “Oh, he’s going through a regression, he’ll be back to normal soon,” kind of thing. It was a, “he literally comes out to come get us 15 times in 2 hours in the middle of the night” kind of thing. It was a, “he will not sleep until one of us is lying down with him, and toddlers do not care if they sleep perpendicular to the direction of the bed” thing. It was a, “how can such a tiny human being take up so much space in a bed?!” thing. And remember that whole bit I told you before about how he was now in a big-boy bed? Well, turns out that kids who can climb out of their cribs before they’re ready to understand how to stay in their rooms have trouble staying in their rooms. Chris and I started taking turns cramming our gigantic adult bodies into Connor’s twin bed with him just to get a few hours’ rest each night. It was, quite literally, worse than having a newborn. Also, he wouldn’t take naps.

There was no joy in Mudville.

It was mid-January at this point. The cards still weren’t sent. Chris and I were, to be frank, unraveling.

We hired a “sleep consultant” because it’s 2017, we live in a large city in America where sleep consultants are widely available, and there was no way we could possibly handle another minute of Connor not sleeping, let alone have him be so unable to sleep when the new baby came in April. She put us on a strict sleeping regimen to help Connor learn how to fall asleep on his own and for him to learn to stay in his room until he was allowed to come out again. This took about 10-12 days total.

Then our world fully came down around us.

img_3581

I love you, Brinkley Dog. And I always will.

We started realizing Brinkley’s palliative treatment had little effect on him. We could tell our time with him wouldn’t be the two months we had hoped for, but more a matter of weeks. His body started shutting down. The cancer ate his insides more and more. He could no longer control his bodily functions well, and he was in such pain he started getting periodically aggressive with us.

We gave him steak dinners. We took him to the park for some tennis ball chasing. We didn’t get angry if he got into the trash, or went to the bathroom inside. Sending out the cards dropped off my priority to-do list completely.

And then it was time. We had to let him go.

I still can’t talk about it without sobbing uncontrollably. Truth be told, I still can’t even really talk about it at all.

I was semi-nonfunctional for probably about 2 weeks after.

Slowly, I started getting back to semi-functional.

And now, all of a sudden, it’s the middle of February.

And my Christmas cards still are sitting on top of my built-in in my kitchen, waiting to be sent.

Which is why, my dearest friends and family, you will be receiving Christmas cards from us in February.

I hope you giggle at the absurdity of it. I have. It’s really the only way to overcome the complete and utter embarrassment of sending Christmas cards in February. And while, yes, I could just not send them, as any normal person probably would do at this point, I want to let everyone who is getting these cards know I love them and have thought about them through the year. I also hope they understand that sometimes if they need to send Christmas cards in February–figuratively or literally–I will never judge them, but rather embrace their struggles they’ve had, both big and small, alongside their successes and end-of-year summaries on the back of the cards with their smiling faces, just as I know you will do with us.

And so that, friends, is why you’re getting our Christmas cards in February.

Early pregnancy: first kid vs. second kid (oh, also, I’m pregnant again.)

wood-152

“Point to Mama’s belly, Connor! Point at the belly! Point! Ugh, okay, FINE. Let’s just get the shot.”

When Chris and I started down the path of Having Children (capital ‘H’, capital ‘C’) we agreed we both wanted “more than one.” How many more was generally left up to “let’s just see where we are after two and go from there.” The question of sibling spacing in our family was pretty firm, especially after I did a long, fully-researched, self-serving article for a publication on that exact subject. We knew we wanted our kids to be no closer than 2.5 years together. We would rather have them be further apart than what we considered “desirable” than too close. We knew we wouldn’t start “trying” (“trying” meaning “taking the goalie down”) until the kiddos would be at least 2.5 years apart.

So I guess this all is really my roundabout way of saying YOU GUYS I’M PREGNANT AGAIN AND I AM ENTIRELY BAFFLED BY THIS FACT. 

Continue reading

Slinkies and school supplies and back-to-school fun, oh my!

Supposedly fall is approaching. I know this for a few reasons including, but not limited to:

  • The beginning of the onslaught of pumpkin spice-flavored ev.er.y.thing.
  • The temperatures in Chicago slowly but surely starting to edge toward “habitable,” if not “downright lovely” (mid-to-high 70s, yes please!)
  • People continuing to tell me it’s the middle of August despite all my sensibilities telling me we’re just starting into June, and people ending up being correct
  • The start of my Facebook feed being overwhelmed with pictures adorable, well-kept, freshly-clothed children standing in front of their homes with backpacks on

That’s right. It’s back-to-school season. And, for what it’s worth (which is admittedly not a lot), I adore these back-to-school pictures. Never stop, Facebook parents. Never stop. These back-to-school pictures are enough to make me channel Meg Ryan’s character in the beginning of “You’ve Got Mail” and start waxing poetic about bouquets of pencils in the fall (autumn? Does she say autumn? Probably.).

Wee Connor is still too young to go to school*, let alone back to school, but it turns out that doesn’t mean I can’t join in on the fun.

image001Enter the Gill Park Back-to-School Bash on Thursday, August 18th. While this is probably an atypical blog post for me in promoting an upcoming event, I wanted to put the word out because I think community events are important and, more importantly, fun. Also, slinkies. There are going to be so many slinkies.

Community events like this are not only fun but remind us why we love living in the city. This event is not “just for” anyone, it’s for everyone who wants to come out, play (with a 4-foot tall slinky because ohmygoshthat’sathingtheydid), and interact with other people from the neighborhood who are prepping the space on their cameras and phones as needed for these back-to-school pictures they’re about to take. The first 100 guests will receive a free backpack and slinky, and there is even face painting, mascots, and snacks as well. You guys, this is going to be fun, even if I don’t have a kiddo going to school this year.

Wee Connor and I will definitely be there, and I hope if you’re at all interested or just want to find out more about Chicago neighborhood events you’ll come join us. If you see us and we don’t know you, please say hi!

So quickly, let me tweet the deets:

The What

Gill Park’s Back to School Bash

The When

Thursday, August 18th
4 – 7pm

The Where

Gill Park
825 W. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL

The Cost

FREE! Now you seriously don’t have an excuse, right?

The Why

Because it’s back to school season and that’s a million times better than anything flavored with pumpkin spice. More importantly, because it’s going to be a ton of fun and community events in Chicago are awesome. They’re why we live in the city!

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

 

 


*You can bet your sweet bippy when that fateful day comes I will be snapping those pictures of my fresh-faced, backpacked child and bemoaning the passage of time with the best of them. Also, I’ll be crying. Not the cute one-tear-down-the-cheek while I reminisce about the little Winston Churchill lookalike I took home with me from the hospital what seems like 10 minutes ago, either. I’m talking real-life, Mom-is-so-uncool-and-not-in-a-cute-way, nose-running ugly crying. Admitting it is the first step, I think.

It’s a…

…HEALTHY BABY!

Holy crap. It’s a healthy baby. We had our 18-week ultrasound with the full intention of finding out the sex, which we did. And it’s a boy. But most importantly…IT’S A HEALTHY BABY. To say that Tax Lawyer Husband (TLH) and I were a bundle of nerves going in would be the understatement of the year.

However, all is good. All is healthy. And now we can breathe again. Only 21 weeks to go! Now to learn things like, “how to take care of a baby.” That might be important.