12239279_10100819158676633_6853731273726244885_oThere’s something about a warm baby on my chest that makes me want to write down everything, but the moments and memories from even just one week are already floating away like clouds.

The adjustment to life with two has been much easier than I thought, which makes me afraid for the other shoe to drop and us to spiral into a world of increasing difficulty. I try to push those thoughts away in order to simply be, but the nagging is there, heightened by the fact that at 5 weeks postpartum last time I crashed and developed post partum depression/anxiety/ocd which left me feeling crazy and needing to be medicated.

So far the newest, who we call Lil G, is a much easier baby than his big brother. He sleeps well (enough for a newborn), and is so far handling nursing with my overactive letdown like a champ. Some pain and nipple cracking is happening, and yesterday after his doctor appointment when he was in pain the nursing was really painful, but overall I’d say we’re in a really good place for week 1. I’m nervous about next week, though, when I am tasked with getting both boys ready and out the door to get Potamus to his daycare/school that’s 30 minutes away. I feel like I’m in for a challenge, though Potamus has adjusted quite well to being a big boy and having responsibilities like getting himself dressed in the morning.

But right now, I’m just snuggling with Lil G on my chest, trying to soak in all the newness of this moment.

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Hopes

When I was a kid, I distinctly remember my mom saying “don’t get your hopes up.” I rationally know that it was a moment-in-time-specific saying, but it stuck with me, and has had a profound effect on many things that I do. I halt my emotions, rather than feeling them, in order to put myself in emotional limbo until all.the.facts.are.known.

I was doing this with my recent pregnancy. Because my sister-in-law had a 10 week miscarriage, I was afraid that an early announcement would bring about a similar result (not rational, I know), but announced secretly, anyway. I was afraid to let myself get too excited about being pregnant, in case it meant losing it (and then deciding the next steps, which almost 90% would be not trying anymore). When Potamus asked for a sister, and I want a girl, I held off even entertaining the idea that it could be a girl. Sure I know that I’ll love another son, but I want a girl.

In the past few days I have been catching myself calling the baby ‘her.’ I spent ten hours cleaning out our office/guest room and moving the changing table from the garage into our new nursery/guest room. I know it’s just nesting, but when my parents arrived I was just naturally calling it ‘her room,’ and saying, ‘when she gets here,’ etc. And I realized, when doing my mindfulness app, that I actually want to get my hopes up. Will I be sad, and go through the emotions if anything were to happen to this baby, or if she were to be a he, yep. And I’d also be fine. I’d know that I can handle emotions and changes and everything turns out okay.

So I’m letting myself get my hopes up. And I’ll deal with the consequences later. Because I’m tired of living like my life is on hold until I know X or Y or Z happens.

I am Jennifer Huston

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“Did you hear? They found her body today,” I said as I was laying in bed with Boof last night. While I don’t normally like to talk about, or even watch, the news (especially when I am in the throes of crisis counseling), I felt particularly drawn to this case, to this smiling blonde woman in the pictures plastered on the news. I had just spent time in Newberg, Oregon, and her face just looked back at me from the TV and the internet news media.

I am Jennifer Huston. I could feel myself empathizing, putting myself in her shoes. And while the police haven’t yet confirmed the cause of death, and she wasn’t found in the San Juan islands like some people thought, I resonated with the mythology around her disappearance and subsequent death. I don’t know what actually happened, as the articles said she complained of headaches in the days before her disappearance, but what I do know is that there is a mythology surrounding her disappearance and death. Suicide. Maybe they will come out with this confirmation today, maybe not at all, and my heart hurts for her family and her two kids who will grow up without her.

Regadless of what happened, the story in my mind is one that mixes with my own story. My own emotions. That feeling I get inside when it all seems to much and I just want to run away from it all. As if taking off on a full tank of gas and $40 in my pocket will solve the big life problems of being a wife, a mother, a worker, an American, a person with mental illness, an adoptee. As if running away will solve any of it. Will give me a break, at all.

Lying in bed, Boof said, “I’d hope that if you needed to leave for awhile, to clear your head or get rest or whatever that you’d tell me.” And I said, “in a good  moment I would. In a sane moment I would, you know? I’d schedule it and go and get some rest, but in my crazy panicky moments, you know, the ones where I’ve found myself driving 45 minutes north only to end up at the doorstep of my childhood home? In those moments I would want to escape, leave it all behind, reinvent myself in a world without responsibilities. It crosses my mind, and I hope it’s not something I ever do.”

I’m not talking about suicide. Just leaving. Escape. That blessed freedom on the road of nostalgia to a time when I didn’t feel so tied down to it all. That feeling of the woman in Kate Chopin’s Awakening, who simply walks into the ocean and drowns in order to escape. Because sometimes it feels like it’s all too much. Though, not right now, I just know that feeling. Of wanting to leave and take my green SUV and trail mix and sleeping pills to the San Juan islands for a retreat. And I could see not wanting to come back, not wanting to face the embarrassment of a country-wide manhunt, having to explain that “I was just tired y’all, I just needed a break.”

I had hoped the story would end differently. That after a week of missing mom reports we’d learn she had checked herself into a remote spa for some downtime, or a hospital for an evaluation, or that she was camping by herself and emerged stronger and healthier. Instead we hear a story of a life lost, without a cause given (yet), and two boys and a husband who are left to pick up the pieces. I think that bit inside me, that wants to leave, is outweighed by the thought of Boof and Potamus left to pick up the pieces. My heart goes out to the family, her boys, her husband, her friends. And maybe, just maybe, a story like this can help mom’s get the rest and relaxation they need, without resorting to disappearances, or suicides, or leaving families to pick up the pieces.

 

Two Going on Annoyed

My budding teenager

Look at that face, it says it all! My boy is two and he’s clearly annoyed with mama’s antics. Though the mood swings go the other way, too, and we find ourselves giggling in bed at night before he finally nestles down to sleep. It’s only been two weeks, but I’m amazed at how smoothly weaning went. There are times I still find myself reaching to flop my boob out, but I haven’t, and it’s all just seemed so easy that I could pinch myself. This is why I kept my goal in mind over the summer, when I was having a rough patch, because ending easily for both of is was totally worth it!

I’m really enjoying the “terrible twos,” though tantrums aren’t very fun, it is neat to see how he’s asserting his independence and asking for things. Today on our walk he ran twenty five feet ahead of me and then turned to look where I was. Or how when we passed a dead end, he turned to go down that street and waved ‘bye bye’ to me and blew me a kiss before giggling and running back to me. He’s funny most of the time, and can be easily distracted from a tantrum when I let go of my expectations and do something silly, too.

I’ve really enjoyed Winter Break, but truthfully I am looking forward to the exhaustion of a normal schedule. Not having any predictability to speak of for the better part of two weeks has begun to wear on me. Sure I don’t like getting up at 6am knowing I HAVE to be out the door by 7 to get to work, but at least it’s consistent, ya know?

Will the sun come out tomorrow?

I have no idea. But the sun is out today and my mood is that contentedly happy sun-napping-cat feeling. You know the one. And just like I know that my nervous-breakdown crazy feelings are complicated by the time of year/horribly raining weather/darkness/crazy schedule, it’s moments like today where I realize all the little things that make me super happy.

Like the fact that Potamus slept through the night last night. Why yes, the first time in almost 22 months, and I couldn’t be more proud. The fact that he did it IN HIS OWN BED, even better! I’m also ignoring that sleeping through the night meant waking up at 5 (because we were then able to get him to snuggle in bed with us until…wait for it….NINE A.M.!). Yeah, that’s right, adding it up (taking into account his 5-5:45 am crying in our bed jag), I got 11 hours of sleep. Sleep feels amazing. In that book I mentioned yesterday, she said that research shows that parents are about 5 months behind in sleep by year 2 of their child’s life. That’s about how it feels. So getting 8 uninterrupted hours PLUS 3 snuggled up…feels freaking awesome.

Family time. I’ve seen Boof so little the last few weeks that it’s nice to just get to do stuff together. Boring family stuff, like daycare open house, and dog-training. And eating Chipotle. That was yummy too. And stealing kisses in the kitchen while Potamus is eating his blueberries. It’s just being around my husband that calms me, makes me feel like I’m not alone in the world of insanity. We don’t even have to have any deep conversations, just existing in the same breathing space.

And the weather. Hot dang I love fall. I mean, the leaves are turning, if you stand really still the sun warms you (but you still need a sweater), and it feels crisp and new and exciting. Normally fall is like this until November, but then it’s Thanksgiving and looking forward to Christmas so that I can get through the dreary rainy season. So the record rainfall has seriously cramped my style lately. It feels good to sit in my big comfy chair with the sunshine beaming through the window.

 

Our Little Adventurer

The Seattle weather has been sunny lately, and Potamus has been in an adventurous spirit. The other day, while Scrummy was in the backyard peeing & barking at imaginary intruders, Potamus stealthily went to the back door, slid it open a little bit more, and he was off…tentative at first, and soon he was crawling his little barefooted heiney toward the yard. I had to put the kabosh on all things outdoorsy because it was cold, he was barefoot and not wearing a coat, and had started to whine because of it. But this new adventure is exciting, it means he’s going to want to get outside and PLAY soon and hopefully spring is coming and maybe he’ll be walking and we can go to the park and explore our backyard and all sorts of fun things!

I’m glad he has his cell-phone, in case he needs to call me while he’s out.

And he's off!

 

Christmas Photo Shoots

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Don’t let these lovely photos fool you. The Christmas festivities with my adoptive family were fraught with emotion and tensions and I might have yelled and slammed the door a few times. I threatened to leave. Because my parents were micromanaging every move, saying things loudly like “watch that plastic bag, babies can choke,” as if A) I don’t know that, B) that plastic bag is stalking my child, and C) I’m such a shitty mom that I’d let him put a bag on his head, tighten it and sit there for 5 minutes until he dies. I mean, seriously.

But more than the micromanaging, was the pressure I felt for Potamus to perform a certain way during present opening time. They were generous and overwhelmed him with every version of the B. toy brand from Target. They love giving gifts, but sadly for them, he was more often interested in the bows or wrapping paper or dancing to Manheim Steamroller. Which Boof and I LOVED to witness. The Christmas magic was alive in his eyes, as he danced and napped with grampy, and got to experience snow for the first time. But my parent’s jealous comments about his other grandparents, paired with the pressure they put on Potamus to react a certain way with the toys, was so frustrating that I wanted to (and sometimes did) scream. UGH.

At the rate they’re going it’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophetic path of 2nd class grandparentdom. Right now Potamus is a flaming ball of pure love toward everyone, but at some point he will notice that he can’t quite fully be himself with them, or he’ll have to react or act a certain way when they give him a gift or ask him to do something just for an arbitrary memory, instead of just being himself. And I don’t want him to resent them for that.

So I’m open to advice. How do you handle parents/inlaws when they become pushy overbearing grandparents? I’ve tried the talking to them route and my mom just gets hurt and shuts down and my dad is defensive.

HELP!