My Motherhood Epiphany

*Yes, I promise that I’ll stop talking about my kids.  Hopefully soon.  But 3 months since having a baby, and 2 weeks since returning to work, kids are what’s on my mind*

I have an aquaintance who is all into childbirth.  She’s a doula.  She’s on birthing message boards.  She feels comfortable giving (sometimes unsolicited) advice to any pregnant woman who will listen.  And, to prove her devotion, she’s got a whole bunch of kids.  In the interest of this staying a LITTLE anonymous, I won’t say how many…but it’s a bunch…you’d need a special car.  And word on the street is that she’s pregnant again.  (I have no problem with people having a lot of kids.  Hell, there are people I work with who think *I* have a lot of kids.  If you can provide for them and love them, then go ahead and make babies!).  I don’t know her well, I see her MAYBE once a month, but sometimes I wonder if she’s more into the process of pregnancy and childbirth than she is actually being a parent.  It’s not a dig at her parenting, she could be a fantastic parent, but this is the image that I perceive.  Anyway, this post really isn’t about her.

I was recently browsing through a message board that I followed when I was pregnant, trying to catch up with my old board-mates, and I started reading posts by women who were just finding out they were pregnant.  In the past, I’d always had “belly-envy” right after I had a baby.  Extreme jealousy that I was finished with the journey and these women were just beginning.  It’s exciting to find out that you’re pregnant and have so many possibilities ahead of you.  But this time there was just….nothing.  I’m happy for these women, and I remember that time fondly, but I’m just sort of over it.  

At some point in the recent past, there was a shift in my psyche.  I’ve reached a place in my life where I’d rather be a mother to children on the outside of my body.  I really like being a mom to my kids.  My kids talk back and bounce off walls and try me every day with their emerging personalities….and I love it.  My job now is to guide them to become their own people.  I’m happy with my little tribe.

I liked being pregnant.  Actually, I LOVED being pregnant.  I felt good.  I had a maternity wardrobe with just enough funk.  I got a kick out of amusing people with how un-pregnant I acted.  Yes, I even enjoyed people rubbing my belly.  But, by the third time around, I didn’t need to talk about it.  My life didn’t revolve around childbirth.  Maybe that should have been my first clue that something was changing.  It would probably be different if I was a doula or a midwife of something else that involved birth.  My job has little to do with medicine or babies or reproduction (nothing, actually).  I’ve got other stuff going on in my life.  I’m just ready to move on.

I’m happy to no longer be a vessel.  From now on, I’ll be a touchstone.

Being the “Cool” Neighbor

This afternoon, I spent an hour talking with my friend’s daughter.  K is 19…and pregnant.  It’s sort of a tough, in-between, situation.  Although she’s not quite 20, it’s not really a “teen pregnancy” where it would be expected that her parents would step in and help.  Still, she’s not far enough into her life to really be able to do it on her own.  Her mother has allowed her to move back home, but it’s more out of generosity rather than parental burden.  She doesn’t have a high school diploma or a job and her boyfriend (who she says is supportive and ready to be a parent) is still in Alabama.  Basically, this isn’t going to be easy for her.

That said, she’s handling it amazingly well.  She’s beginning to formulate a plan and figure things out on her own.  Unlike a few of her friends, who are also pregnant, she’s taking her health and this pregnancy very seriously.  She told me that, now that she’s over the initial shock, she wants to be sure that nothing goes wrong.   She’s a smart girl…she’s just made a few wrong turns.  I won’t even say her pregnancy is a wrong turn.  She’s just had a few circumstances that have led her to make choices that I wouldn’t have made.

When K’s mom told me that her daughter was pregnant and that she’s be coming back to Georgia, I figured that I’d see her around but that I wouldn’t pry.  I’m not the sort of person who tries to get into other people’s business (although I ALWAYS want to know).  But today, while I was cleaning my car, K wandered down to my house.  She used to babysit for my kids, and she hadn’t seen them in a while, so it made sense that she wanted to come say ‘Hi’.   After she gave the kids hugs, I expected her to leave.  Instead, she sat down and made small-talk. 

I realized that she needed to talk.  I’d like to think that she came to talk to me because I’m so cool and hip.  In reality, I think she just needed to talk to somebody older who had nothing to gain or lose from her pregnancy.  She needed to talk to somebody who’d give her advice without it being emotionally charged.  Maybe she just wanted to hear about pregnancy from somebody who’d done it twice and would be honest about what it was like.

Whatever the reason, I was glad to lend an ear and give some advice.  I’d like to think that this is indicative of the relationship I’ll have with my daughter (who I’m already telling not to have babies until she’s 30).  Maybe she’ll feel comfortable to talk to me about anything.  Or maybe she’ll find her own “Cool Neighbor”.

Memories from a year ago…..

One year ago I was gigantically pregnant.  I was still the mother of one and I had no idea what it would be like to have a son.  I was nervous about childbirth and praying with all of my might that I would have a successful VBAC.  At this point in my pregnancy, I was trying to find a good way to induce labor.  As you’ll see below, extinguishing lawn fires is NOT an effective method.

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3.28.2008    38 weeks pregnant

Okay, I’ve tried all the tradition home methods for starting labor. I’ve decided that it’s time to move on to more “unique” methods. For example, yesterday afternoon I put out a fast moving grass-fire.

I stopped to pick Amelia up from our friends Avery & Jasmine’s house. Jasmine runs a small in-home daycare. The only kids there were Amelia and Jasmine’s daughter Makayla, so they were in the cul-de-sac riding their bikes. We all went into the house to get Amelia’s bag and I needed to make sure that Amelia went potty before we left. While we were in the bathroom Jasmine went outside to get the bikes and ran back in screaming that there was a fire in the neighbor’s yard and it was coming toward the house.

For a few minutes (maybe a minute) we tried to slow it down by using pots and pans to throw water on it, but it was just moving too fast. They just moved in and haven’t gotten a garden hose yet. Jasmine was talking to 911 and still throwing water and I ran outside and started knocking on doors. Her neighbor had a hose so I turned their water on and started spraying. By this time the fire was right up to the walls of 2 houses (the house right next to Jasmine’s and the next one down). At some point the woman whose hose I was using came out and started helping. I ran around to the back and got the hose from the next house down and kept spraying. Meanwhile Jasmine had moved on to dumping water on the neighbor’s front yard because the fire was right up to their door. We’d taken care of most of the fire when the Fire Dept got there and put out the hot spots.

When all was said and done, the entire lawns of both houses were completely burned, as were the front hedges of the house next door. Buckets, gutters and a couple fire hose holders were completely melted. Luckily, none of the houses were dramatically damaged and nobody was hurt.

It amazes me how lucky the situation was. That Jasmine only had 2 three year old there (that she hustled to the house across the street at some point)….she usually has 2 toddlers and an infant there too. That I happened to be there picking Amelia up and hadn’t left because I was trying to get Amelia to go potty. That the fire got right up against the parts of the houses that were made of brick. That the woman 2 houses down (who came out to help) happened to get out of work early today. Wow…crazy.

After the fire dept left I went inside to get a drink. When I came out the people next door were standing there (they’d JUST gotten home…can you imagine????) and the lady said “You must be the pregnant lady who put out the fire!” It wasn’t all me by any means, but it was sort of nice to be treated like a hero.

By the way….I’m still not in labor. I guess I’ll need to go out and find more excitement today.

Belly Envy

I’m going to start off by admitting that this is not my proudest moment. 

So, there’s a baby boom going on around me.  Everyone is pregnant.  Everyone.  And I’m totally jealous. 

I had 2 fantastic pregnancies. I felt good, I looked good, I had the cutest, quirkiest maternity wardrobe ever.  I’d flaunt my belly, talk to my belly….if I could have kissed my belly, I would have.  When Z was born, I very confidently said that I wasn’t done.  However, in the last 11 months things have happened that make me feel like maybe we’ll be a family of 4.

Childcare sucks.  It’s easily the worst part of being a working mother.  I can’t tell you how frustrating and exhausting it’s been to have to find childcare for 3 hours a day.  It would make no sense to put the kids in full-time daycare, but it’s impossible to find somebody who’s willing and able to watch kids for 3 hours in the middle of the afternoon.

Jason & I work opposite schedules and we’re both constantly exhausted.  We never see each other and we’re both caring for the kids alone.  As my friend Michelle once said “at least single parents get a weekend off once in a while”.  Because of this, our house is constantly messy.  It’s impossible to clean anything up while you have a baby getting into everything and a 4 year old doing everything herself (ie making a mess).

Most significant, I’m just not sure that I want to split my love among more than 2 children.  I know that I WOULD be able to do it…and my love would grow, blah, blah, blah…but it was hard for me to adjust to Z.  Amelia was my girl for so long…we had such a profound connection.  It took me much longer to feel that “love of a parent” the second time around.  (I feel it now.  Don’t worry.)

So, for the most part, I’m happy with 2 kids.  I love my two kids.  If you’re to believe the random ladies at the supermarket, we’ve got the perfect family having one of each.  Still, every so often I’ll hear a pregnancy announcement and it’ll just cut into my heart.  The worst is when I feel like the parent-to-be doesn’t deserve a child.  I know, horrible, but there are people who just don’t need kids (or MORE kids).  I’m not saying that they’re bad parents….they just probably don’t need more kids. 

I think that a lot of the time it’s that I feel jealous that they GET to have another baby.  They GET to be pregnant again.  As somebody said today, I COULD have another baby.  The thing is…I don’t feel like I could.  The stress, the money, the time.  I walked away from this friend muttering “yeah, sure I could have another baby….if I didn’t have to work and if I had a cleaning lady….”.  So, maybe it’s just my jealousy that I DO have to work and I DON’T have a cleaning lady.  Maybe it has nothing to do with babies at all.

Like I said…..not my proudest moment.