Random Bits of Pregnant Incoherence

  • Yes, Husband is home.  And I am just so very, very thankful.  I feel like an entirely new woman.  Part of that may be due to the fact that the ‘allergies’ are going away.  But mostly it’s because…  my husband is home.  And that makes me so very happy. 
  • He brought me fudge, and Moose socks, and a stuffed otter….  Yay! 
  • I really just can’t stop hugging him and trying not to turn into a little gelatinous moosh-pile.
  • We’ve been busy already.  We went to see tulips on Monday, and yesterday we went to the zoo for a ‘celebrate Little Miss day’.  I had a hormonal moment where I started crying because I had forgotten the digital camera.  *sigh*  Yay for hormones.  Little Miss had a wonderful time.  She especially liked the monkeys.  I especially liked the hippos and the gorillas and the penguins.  We took a special pilgrimage to the penguins because of the kinship I feel due to my very own penguin waddle.  And, And….  Can I just say that I was rather impressed with myself for walking all over a zoo yesterday?  I felt like quite the ambitious full-term pregnant lady.  Alas, it did not bring on contractions.
  • So…  one of the pitfalls of military medicine is that the doctors deploy too.  I  mentioned briefly in my previous post that my doctor has been called up.  Whether she will be in the country when the baby decides to make an appearance is anyone’s guess.  Whether she will be available and not in training is also anybody’s guess.  I saw another doctor for my 38 week appointment on Monday–and we like him.  He happens to be the doc who delivered Little Miss.  He explained the situation a bit, and let us know that us pregnant women who opt to deliver with a family practitioner are now being split between just TWO doctors, but ‘the official books’ say that they have FIVE doctors at our Naval Hospital.  The three who are on deployment still get counted.  This sounds like military intelligence at it’s finest.  So the remaining two are stretched pretty thin at the moment, and…  well…  it’s just going to be interesting to see how this all pans out.
  • I feel pretty ok with the situation, despite my initial reaction of panic, but I still find it a little unsettling to not know *who* will show up in the delivery room or even *who* I will be seeing for any of my remaining appointments.  Husband and I were discussing it today and the scenario I fear most involves getting down to those last bits of labor when I’m getting ready to push when suddenly a strange person enters the room.  Strange person says, “Hello Mrs. R, I’m Dr. Whatshisface and I’ll be delivering your baby today.”  And of course I will cordially reply, “It’s very nice to meet you Dr. Whatshisface.  I’m Val.  Welcome to my vagina.”  Ah well, I guess a little bit of uncertainty is good to keep us all on our toes (because looking forward to labor and delivery doesn’t carry enough inherent uncertainty). 
  • We scored a double jogging stroller for a pretty decent deal today.  It always helps to go to church with the owner of your favorite local consignment store.  I’m excited about it.  I hope it will come in handy for getting back into shape after Ingrid finally arrives. 
  • I really hate those grocery shopping trips where you are down to next to nothing in your kitchen and you have to restock everything and you know it’s really going to hurt, but you also know you have to eat.  At least the ‘car cart’ was free and Little Miss was able to pretend to be Mario Andretti while we picked out frozen vegetables.
  • I so act like a really pregnant woman.  One moment I have the energy to conquer the world, (or at least the zoo), and the next I can’t keep my eyes open.  Always an adventure.
  • And I think that’s enough for now.

Chester Update:

I do believe I was bamboozled…. 

The cat was in the linen closet.  After a trip around the neighborhood by car, one on foot, an attempt to make fliers, and a whole lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth, the cat is now happily playing in the kitchen (with something he’s not supposed to, no doubt).

Disaster averted.  Don’t I feel stupid?  (In my defense, he is all black and the linen closet is very dark–especially at 1 a.m.).

Ahhhh, but it’s the very best KIND of stupid.  ;)

Gremlins……

Military Spousesknow it well:  When our s/os leave for any period of time there will be gremlins.  The kids will get sick, things will break, issues that he/she would have dealt with will fly out of control.  Well….  for a long time when DH would go out things wouldn’t break and colds and flu bugs would stay at bay and instead, it seemed, something worse would happen with a family member.  I’ve written about this before.

This away time we’ve had our fair share of real gremlins.  And I am grateful, because *knock wood* our family has stayed healthy in the larger sense of the word….

But here’s our rundown with the latest addition:

  • I got a small cold immediately after DH left.  Kicked it fast.
  • The first weekend, after a marathon of helping Little Miss back into bed (57 times, I believe….) I threw my back out.  I couldn’t stand up straight that day.  It was not good.  That lasted only about 24 hours.  I was so thankful, as I couldn’t figure out how I would make it through with my back out and a two year old and pregnant. 
  • Little  Miss had a tummy bug that wouldn’t quit and we couldn’t get in to see a doc.  She was sick for 2.5 weeks–1.5 of those being during this little adventure.
  • Little Miss went on a sleep strike and would not stay in her bed for many nights in a row. 
  •  Our phone line snapped in a little bit of wind and fell down rendering us phoneless.  The phone company would not believe it was their phoneline until I checked our phone box.  Yay for me and my skills with a flat-head screwdriver.
  • I caught….  these ‘allergies’ which feel like bronchitis to me.  I’ve been sick for most of the last week.  The meds the doctor prescribed made it worse.  I still have rainbow pleghm and phenomenally amazing coughing fits.
  • I got a phone call saying that there was a good chance my doctor would be in a warzone in two weeks instead of delivering my child…  It’s really anybody’s guess who will wear the catcher’s mit.  Stinks much more for her than me, but it’s a little late in the game for such a switcheroo.

And now for the worst of all occurring yesterday:

  • I lost our cat.  Chester must have slipped out without me knowing it at some point yesterday when I was in or out of the garage, or in or out with Little Miss….  When we left to go work in the church nursery last night I saw a flash of black and thought, “I’m sure Chester is inside.”  When we got home, I assumed he was in one of the bedrooms or closets curled up asleep.  I woke up at 1 or 2 and realized I hadn’t seen or heard him, checked the house, checked the yard.  He’s gone….  I feel absolutely terrible, and I don’t know what to do.  He’s been a part of our family since Husband left for Basic, and Little Miss adores him….  I’m praying he’ll come back or we’ll scout him out somehow. 

So yes….  I am glad for the lack of major catastrophe over the last almost three weeks, but this little stuff has truly worn me down to a nub.  And I really want our kitty to come back.  And Husband. 

A vent–Sometimes it’s nice to sweat the small stuff

I am revelling in this vent.  You know why?  Because it’s all small potatoes.  We’ve had our share of gremlins this detachment, we sure have but… so far *knock wood* nothing of the really serious nature.  Just of the very annoying nature.

So here is my vent.  My wonderful, normal, my world is mostly ok it just has minor irritants that give me a headache and make me want to sleep for a few days of sweet oblivion vent.  I’m so excited about my vent that I’m actually starting to feel better about what I’m venting about, so I better get started before I lose my oomph.

Ok, here goes: 

I am 37.5 weeks pregnant.  That’s really almost there.  That’s “if you have this baby now you are considered full term so just go out and get yourself ready” time.  That’s freaking huge belly time.  That’s full out penguin waddle time.  That’s sleep is difficult, and walking is difficult, and cleaning is difficult but you are still nesting all the time time.

And I am sick.  I have been since Friday.  I am coughing so hard that you would think that I was trying to deliver my baby by coughing her up.  My phlegm is colorful and rainbowy.  I feel terrible.  My throat hurts.  I am tired and energyless.  And my doctor says it’s allergies.  Ok.  Fine.  But the allergy medicine isn’t helping.  In fact, I feel worse.

My two year old is wonderful and delightful and makes me smile, but when she doesn’t she is…  being naughty in a two year old way.  She has been especially grumpy the last few days.  She has been a bit of a drama queen blowing every little disturbance of her little life hugely out of proportion and whining and crying about it.  Today at nap-time after I laid her down and firmly said, “stay in bed,” I went in to check on her only to find that she had stripped a poopy diaper off and there was poop everywhere.  Great.  Big pregnant me is on her hands and knees cleaning up poop, freaking fantastic.

AND my husband is still gone.  Just for a few days.  Just for a few more days…  but he is gone, and I’m tired and I am ready to be done.  He has been having fun seeing moose and whales and bears and things and being a tourist, while I have been corralling a two-year old poop flinger at 37.5 weeks pregnant and sick like a dog. 

*I* am going on a detachment when he gets back.  Yes.  I.  am. 

(ok, not really but the fantasy is so soothing….)

–Ok and I just had to say that Mary Kay Lady sent me an email plugging mother’s day specials and I’m fighting the sadistic urge to send an email that says simply ‘my mom is dead, thanks for rubbing it in,’ just to make her feel bad….   I won’t, I won’t but it’s tempting–

So there it is…  My small stuff vent.  No family tragedies.  No major illnesses.  No death or destruction.  Just….  huge and pregnant and sick and dealing with a typical two year old. 

I’ll take it!

All right.  Your turn.  Feel free to leave me a vent if you’ve got one.  And if it’s a ‘small stuff’ one celebrate the fact that it can be.  ;)

My Wonderful Imperfect Mother and Why There Might Be Hope for Me

So let me tell you a little secret:  My Mom wasn’t  perfect.

As a person and as a mother, she had imperfections, flaws, problems.  She really did. 

Strangely, I find freedom in reflecting on that. 

I’ve said here before that I long every day to be able to go to her and ask her questions about life, about being a mother…  It is so hard to be in the beginning of the journey of motherhood and not be able to share it with her.  It is so hard to not have her to lean on and to advise and to drive me crazy.  I would give anything to see her tickle Little Miss, or to have her send her presents and cards.  I positively ache at the thought that she will never, ever hold Ingrid in her arms and smell her baby smell.  I so wish that I could have seen her playing with my girls, talking girl-talk with my girls, teaching her things that only SHE really could.  I’d even give anything to have her purse her lips in that way she could and give her unsolicited opinion of something I’m doing as a mother.  I just don’t have any of that.

But what I do have are memories of her as my mother. 

My Mom was no June Cleaver or Martha Stewart or Mrs. Brady.  I didn’t come home from school to cookies and milk every day.  Sometimes, instead of Mom cooking up a 4 course meal, she just made Hamburger Helper.  She lost her temper.  I don’t remember her down on the floor playing with me a lot.  Sometimes there were cobwebs in our house.  We argued all the way through my early adolescence.  Sometimes she swore.  In fact one of her favorite ways to advise me was to ‘tell ‘em to ‘F off!’   She would sit down and eat junk food in large quantities in front of me (and sometimes with me).

She wasn’t perfect.

And you know what?  All of those things are some of my favorite things about her. 

There is this trend in parenting today (and maybe it’s not just today, but I do think that there is a heightened sense and a strange psycho-babble about it all now) to place great emphasis on ‘getting it all right’ so as not to screw up your kid.  You can see this in the multitudes of ways that women judge one another when it comes to parenting.  You cannot make a decision as a parent without knowing that someone out there will look down their nose.

In the church there is even this sense of making June Cleaver an Idol.  Women feel that they are called to live up to these….  amazingly high standards.  Never feed your kid junk food or they’ll be obese.  Play with your kids for X amount of time or else they won’t know you love them.  Don’t buy things with preservatives.  Don’t use formula.  Don’t breastfeed in public (now there’s a real catch-22).  Don’t spank.  Don’t spare the rod.  Act in only the most pulled-together manner in front of your children or else you will cause them to be emotionally scarred.

My Aunt Darlene has been kind enough to share some particularly meaningful insights with me since my Mom died.  She told me that before she and Dad were even expecting me that Mom had confided in her that she didn’t think she’d be a good mother.  She told her on an outing with ‘the nieces and nephews’ around before me that she didn’t know what to do with kids.  When she was pregnant with me, Dar said she was nervous and jittery and sure she was going to get it all wrong.

If I think about it, and look at things closely enough, I can see traces of that fear in her.  Mom carried herself with incredible poise, and confidence, but she could underestimate herself to a very large degree.

What she taught me though is that I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to get it all right.  *I* have only a limited amount of control over how Little Miss and Ingrid are going to turn out anyway.  They are their own people.  God designed them uniquely.  They are not mini-Vals or even cardboard cut-outs of a ‘kid mold’ that the June Cleavers of the world believe children to be.  There are a huge number of X-factors in parenting.  Some of it is circumstances, some of it is luck, and all of it requires an immense trust that even though we as parents are feeble messed up people that God will hold our children in the palm of His hand.

I have days where it is a struggle to want to get down on the floor with Little Miss and play for more than a few moments at a time (especially being this pregnant–YOU try getting up off the floor with a huge belly and joints all relaxing and stretching out).  I lose my patience….   I don’t always keep a perky happy but somehow still stern and disciplinarian voice.  Sometimes I skim through blogs, or sneak in a chapter or two in a book when I should be paying attention to Little Miss.  In the last two years, Little Miss has seen me cry many times.  Life has been tearful at times.  Sometimes, being a Mommy has made me tearful.  We’re having leftover Hamburger Helper for supper tonight–Why?  Because when Husband isn’t home I go for the ‘easy, mindless’ meals to cook and hope fore leftovers.  I let Little Miss eat Easter candy, and she’s already eaten Fruit Loops, and Lucky Charms, and some other varieties of ‘sugary cereals’ that I see other Mom’s turn up their noses to.

I’m not perfect either…..  Far, far from it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not a good Mom.  I know that because I can’t imagine having a better mother than mine, and she was far from perfect.

She showed through example not only how to be loving and maternal and how to teach values and instill convictions, but she also showed me that it’s ok to live a little, it’s ok to have fun.   It’s ok to be a human being.  There is such freedom in that.

So I look at my Mom and how she mothered me, and I think there just might be hope for me after all.  I am no June Cleaver or Martha Stewart myself.  I never will be.  But I think by God’s grace, and the humor and grit and sense of life my Mom gave me, I can be the kind of mother that my girls will look back at and be glad they had. 

I sure hope so anyway.

And a Little More Empowerment

In addition to my previous post today I gotta tell you about this. 

Remember The joys and tragedies of an OB visit?  Remember paper drapes and pink paper vests that cover half of each boob and come down to about 5 inches above your belly button?  Remember how degrading I find those things to be?

Well let me just tell you–I had my latest “wear nothing but paper” visit on Monday.  And this time I decided, as a couple of people wisely suggested, to take matters into my own hands.  I brought a light ‘old ladyish’ type robe.  When the corpsman handed me the paper stuff I smiled, shook my head, and said, “I brought my own coverings thanks.”  Then I changed into my very own, fully covering, comfortable, cottony-soft stuff. 

The doctor came in and I told her I hoped she didn’t think I was being silly, but that I felt so much more comfortable in my own robe.  To my suprise she told me she thought it was a fabulous idea, and that she hates the paper crap too.  She told me that at her last command patients actually got to wear fully covering cloth robes and she thought that was a much better idea.  (I was relieved to hear this.  At least *some* military facilities care a little bit about the comfort and dignity of their patients.)

And the biggest shot in the arm was–I just felt so proud of myself afterwards.  Instead of feeling degraded  by the stupid paper and laying their vulnerable waiting for my doctor to come in, I took matters into my own hands and transformed the experience with just a little bit of cotton.  Talk about a “duh” moment.  Oh yeah!  I *AM* in control, here!

I highly reccomend it.  I’m never gonna wear paper again!

The Upsides of Alone

Don’t get me wrong.  I really do hate it when Husband is gone.  This time around it took a few days for the ‘numbness’ to set in.  It sounds like a terrible thing to become numb to the feeling of missing one’s husband, but I have to admit it really does help. 

What I forget about as we’re gearing up for “Husband Away Times” is the fact that I don’t stop having good days.  In the bleakness of anticipating him being gone I imagine that my landscape will be painted only with rainy days of sitting around and moping.  No smiling, no laughter, no fun.  I forget that those things are even possible to erupt in the blahness of missing someone that you love very much. 

But they do–especially with Little Miss around to make me giggle, and remind me to play.  She also helps to remind me to get up off of my tuckus, much as I enjoy loafing on the couch. 

I have found that I remember my independence with DH gone.  When he’s here I’m not a sniveling little girl with no ability to do for herself, but…  I don’t *have to* do everything myself.  So…  those chores and tasks–little or big–that intimidate me a little bit, I sometimes let slide over to my very generous, helpful husband.

Mowing has always been one of these chores for me.  Growing up, Dad gave up on trying to convince me to go tackle our two acres of yard even (and for me especially) with a riding lawn-mower.  When I tell you that I had a ridiculous, but very significant phobia of things with wheels and motors I am not exaggerating.  When I celebrated my 16th birthday, I made everyone call it my “Ipteenth” birthday mostly because I didn’t want to face the fact that I was now ‘old enough to drive.’  To me the lawnmower was always even scarier because it had blades on it that I’d heard could cut off appendages.  *shudder*  When thinking about the possibility that I may someday have to mow I even fancied that perhaps I’d just take garden shears out and cut the yard one snip at a time.

So let me admit something pretty embarassing:  Until Today, I’d never mowed.

But I did today.  I got out there and got the thing started and pushed it around.  I’m not entirely convinced that the yard looks *that* much better, but I know I at least tried.  I now know it’s something I can do.  And strangely I found that between the exhaust fumes, the fresh-cut grass smell, and the little bit of exertion required resulting in a little endorphin kick, I actually kind of enjoyed the job (don’t tell Husband…  I’m not sure I’m ready to take it on permanently). 

Yeah–my first mowing experience can go down on the books as being when I was 26 years old and 36 1/2 weeks pregnant.  Go me!

On top of that, Little Miss and I went on a mini-adventure yesterday which also reminded me of this spirit that I possess that allows me to be ok with ‘aloneness’ and independence.  I’ve been wanting to see a certain flowery garden here, but forgot how very long our island really is.  We drove, and drove, and drove, and Little Miss got antsier and antsier and antsier….  So finally, I turned around and gave up on the search for the Gardens.  Instead we went to our favorite little town and had a picnic on the wharf there.  We wandered around, and she played at a park, and we did some shopping (Little Miss picked out a stuffed animal for her and one to give to Ingrid–both out of the bargain bin, hooray! ;)).  And then, after all that waddling, we called it a day and came home.  Simple enough…  Something that I *could do* with my daughter every day…  But when Husband is home I tend to want to wait until we can do things all as a family.  As a result I get a little near-sighted about what to do with my days…  I let myself get burned out on laundry and tidying and…  yeah occasionally actually cleaning a little.  I forget that everyday SHOULD be a day for an adventure.

Until he goes…  until I make myself ‘keep busy.’  Until I remember that he’s not the only one who knows how to drive out of town.

It’s not just little things like mowing and mini-adventures either, it’s….  2000 mile car trips with a small child–me driving the whole way (remember that wheel/engine phobia?).  It’s being able to navigate airports alone with a small child in tow without losing my mind.  It’s the very task of plodding along day by day missing him fiercely, but coping…  surviving, and some days even thriving. 

So I smile to myself at different times during Husband’s awayness and remember…  that I’m not just his appendage.  I am me.  I am a capable, able, woman who can in fact tackle this world and go out for adventures.  It’s good to remember.

Maybe it sounds silly to you that this isn’t something that I remember daily…  but I guess we all need our little reminders.

I’d rather have him home, but if he can’t be here it is good to find that there is still happiness in ‘alone.’   It’s good to remember that part of me that has always been wired to enjoy stretching out there by myself.  Too much stretching makes one pretty lonely, and I certainly get to those points too.

But on days like today and yesterday when I tackle the silly chores that always looked so daunting, or remember that I too can be a Don Quixote and not just a Sancho Panza there is reason for contentment, and the feeling that comes in the spaces of learning something out of a situation you didn’t wish for.

Please just don’t “at least” me today

Ok.  Here is what I know–what I have my head wrapped around.  What I strongly feel and believe.

  • Threeish weeks isn’t so bad.  It really isn’t.
  • This could be a deployment.  It’s not.
  • A few weeks of separation right now in the light of the 14-16-18 months that so many families are dealing with is a ridiculous thing to be upset about.
  • He could have been scheduled to be gone over Ingrid’s due date (and was for a time, and I was ready to tackle that, and would have cheerfully).
  • Many women have survived extended absences of their husbands during their pregnancy and delivery and after and 3ish weeks of him missing mine at the end really isn’t a big deal.
  • I could be going through some devastating illness, or be starving over in whatever country is starving right now, or be a refugee, or have no arms, legs, hair, armpits, or ability to smell.
  • This could be so much worse.
  • Yes it could.
  • I know.

You see.  I have perspective.  I have all the perspective in the world.  I get it.  I do.  I really, really do.

Here is what I also know:

  • All the perspective in the world doesn’t make even a little hiccup like this not suck if only a little.  It just doesn’t.  Gone is still gone.  Doing this alone is still doing it alone.  Missing him is still missing him.  Cushioning the blow of Little Miss missing him is still going to make me tear up and cry.  It could be worse.  Much, much worse.  But quite frankly, I’ve done some of that worse, and I don’t think that the existence of ‘worse’ means that bad isn’t bad, even if bad is only for 3ish weeks.

Yes…  Husband just took off for a brief jaunt to the arctic regions.  And I’m ok with it.  Really.  But I still cried.  I still miss him.  I still feel like a good bit of the color of my life has been drained out for the next 3ish weeks.

I’m still 35.5 months er….  weeks pregnant which makes me tired, and achy, and hormonal anyway.  Also, it’s hard to put on socks by myself.

I still have an active two year old to keep track of, who understands what is going on for probably the first time.

I’ve heard about all the “At leasts” I can muster when it comes to any of my husband’s trips.  He could be gone for 3 years straight while I worked as part of a chain-gang and wandered life’s roads with open oozing sores on my feet and someone would have to throw an “at least” or two at me.  I get tired of them.  In fact, I think that “at least” should be stricken from the English language because when it’s used to ‘help someone see the sunny side of life’ it almost always succeeds only in making the person feel worse or at the very least guilty for not being ‘happy’ that it’s not a worse scenario.

In fact, I want it stricken from the language if only so that I won’t ever hear my mouth utter the words again.  Because I know I’ve heard myself say them and wanted to hit myself over the head once they hit the air.  The words should just be banished.

So….  This is my preemptive strike at the the at leasters of the world:  No AT LEASTS for a couple of days, ok?

Don’t say:

  • At least it’s only 3ish weeks, that’s not so bad.
  • At least he’ll (likely) be back for the birth
  • At least he’s not in insert God-forsaken land of your choice here.
  • At least you don’t have leprosy.
  • At least you don’t live in the coldest regions of outer-mongolia (is it ever cold there?) and have nothing but a Kleenex box for shelter.

I’m 35.5 months…. er…  weeks pregnant, and quite frankly, I think ANY woman in that condition has room to complain about whatever the heck she wants to.  And I plan to…. until, you know, maybe tomorrow.  And then I’ll get on with the countdown and stay busy with the toddler and sort clothes for Ingrid, and clean out the room that will be hers, and hang up cutesy wall-hangings in her room and Little Miss’s.

And then I will joyfully celebrate the return of dessert into my life and (yes, of course, more importantly!) Christ’s resurrection on Sunday. 

And then I’ll just keep doing what I do until he gets back.

As for today, I’m about to go curl up on the couch with my recent retail therapy purchases–a new book, a new Celtic c.d, and a bowl of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch–until Little Miss gets up from her nap. 

And that will make me feel better as long as no one tries to “at least” me.