Monday, June 28, 2010

The Lime Grows Into a Shrimp

People tell you that you will be tired during the first trimester of pregnancy. I was prepared for this. I was prepared for the 8:00 p.m. bed time, the need for an extra cup of coffee just when they are telling you you can’t have the extra cup of coffee, and the need for a 2 p.m. siesta every day. However, I was not fully prepared for the fact that my first trimester of pregnancy, while trying to keep up with a 20-month-old, would virtually suck my will to live.

I can talk about this with relative ease now because I’m past it. I’m rounding the corner and sliding into home as we speak and the beginning of Week 13 begins. But just a few short weeks ago, I had some serious questions about my right to be a parent. I don’t discuss this on my blog because I want pity or because I want to bring people down, but I mention it because it’s a low, dark, scary place to be and no one should ever feel like they are alone in this place.

People often ask you in early pregnancy if you are feeling sick and it’s actually quite comfortable to discuss nausea with others because good, old morning sickness is well-known and expected. They are a little more hesitant to ask you if you’re depressed; that puts people a little more on edge. But my family noticed “I was not myself lately” and when I called my mom or sister in tears on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, I really just needed someone to tell me I was normal and that this too shall pass. And sure enough, it did.

The hard part was that while I could try to explain to David and my family why I was not myself, why I snapped easier, why I fell apart easier, why I would spontaneously burst into tears if the dishwasher needed emptying again, the one person I could not explain this to was my closest buddy, my right-hand man, my most treasured playmate, Finny.

For Finny, life on a daily basis is new, amazing and wonderful and filled left and right with exclamation points. “I wanna go the park! I wanna go to the pool! I wanna play choo-choos! I wanna milkshake!” But how could I go to the park and the pool? How could I play with choo-choos and blocks? How could I even throw a smile or a song his way when all I wanted to do was lay in bed with my eyes closed? And then of course, how was I going to keep up with two little ones in a few months when I couldn’t even keep up with one? I didn’t deserve to be a parent. I wanted to pack my bags and run for the hills.

But then, the miracle of life kicked in. The kumquat in my belly grew into a fig and that fig became a lime and now that lime is the size of a medium-sized shrimp. He can urinate and kick and he has teeth budding under his gums and fingerprints on his fingers and his eye muscles can clench and his mouth can suck, and well, I guess the truth is, unbeknownst to me, I was doing a lot of work in there. Growing a human being will take a lot out of a gal, and growing a tiny human being while also raising a tiny human being might just knock you off your feet.

But the other truth is this, just when I thought I could not muster the strength to sit at the sandbox, Finny would start singing “Barbara Ann” at the top of his lungs with a few extra “Ba-ba-ba’s.” Just when I thought I had no energy to kick the ball around the yard, Finny would put on my sunglasses and start dancing to “Billy Jean.” Just when I started wondering how I could ever keep up with another one and why I had wanted to in the first place, Finny would climb into my lap, rest his soft, baby hands on my forearms and with book in hand, say, “Read it.”

Parenting is a give and take and sometimes if feels like there’s a whole lot of taking going on. But the gifts when given are small but enormous all at the same time, and despite the fatigue and the blahs that sometimes come with pregnancy, I’d do it again and again for the touch of those soft, baby fingers resting on my forearm, that soft, baby head resting on my chest, and that soft baby voice shouting through the bars of his crib long after I’ve left the room, “Nite-Nite, Mommy!”

Nite-nite, Finny. Mommy’s sorry she’s been such a crab. She’s growing you a shrimp who has big shoes to fill.  It’s going to take a lot of work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

From Bieber to Brando

At around midnight, it started again. The crying of a toddler who can’t sleep. It had happened the night before between 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Last night, it started even earlier and lasted even longer. Finny stood awake in his crib from midnight to at least 4:30 in the morning without a clue as to why he’s decided the wee morning hours are the time to party.

He’s not sick as far as I can tell. There are no outward symptoms of illness, although he does have a heavy stream of drool going on these days. So, it has to be one of two culprits, right? Ears or teeth. Again.

At midnight, David went in and attempted a good rocking, but this technique has lost its luster as Finny does not rock to sleep like he did in the old days. So back in the crib he went and cried and cried. I went back in at 2 a.m. and tried talking it out with him, you know man to man.

“Finny,” I reasoned, “What’s wrong? Do your teeth hurt?”

Blank stare.

“Do your ears hurt?”

Blank stare. “Get down! I wanna get down!”

“Well, it’s bed time. You can’t get down. It’s time to sleep.”


“Daddy’s sleeping.”


“Pop-pop’s sleeping.”


“Jane’s sleeping too. What if Mommy comes in and lays on the floor beside you and we listen to some lullabies?” I left and returned with blanket and pillow to resume my spot from six months earlier on the hardwood floor—why did I want hardwood floors again?

Then, Finny proceeded to talk my ear off like an oblivious airline passenger for the next hour and a half while I feigned sleep. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Fan. Choo-choo. Airplane. Up high. Moon. Stars. Tissa. Blankie. Ba-bye Blankie. Ba-bye Tissa. Milk. Snack. Juiccccce! Cheese. Gramma.”

Then, he counted, “One, two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, four.”

Then, he counted again, still preferring for four to follow nine rather than three and discarding the need for ten all together.

Then, he named body parts. “Eyes. Nose. Elbows. Knees.”

When his presentation of words failed to make the impression he had hoped, I watched through squinted eyes as he tried another tactic.

“Uh-oh!” he shouted as he crossed over to the far corner of his crib and dropped his pacifier between the crib and the wall. “Uh-oh! Where’d Tissa go? Where’d Tissa go? Tissa dropped. Wash Tissa.”

When that old trick failed to stir the fake slumbering Mommy, he hurled everything in his possession at my defenseless body already aching on the hardwood floor.

“Ba-bye, Blankie! Ba-bye, Pooh! Ba-bye Tigger!” Thank God, I had the foresight not to put him to bed with The Complete Works of Mother Goose.

Then, Justin Bieber made an appearance. You know you are watching too many daytime TV talk shows when your twenty-month-old knows the words to Justin Bieber’s smash hit, “Baby.” As I cuddled with Tigger on the floor, Finny started a Bieber dance party in his crib, jumping up and down, singing, “Baby, Baby, Baby, Ohhh!”

That’s where I drew the line. “I love you, Finny. Go to sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.” And I gathered my things and left.

I’m not sure how long he cried after I left, but this morning, the rasp in his voice indicated that Justin Bieber had been replaced by a young Marlon Brando. Though I’m not sure that Brando had to work himself up quite so much to achieve his trademark whisper.

Oh, please, God of teeth and all things mysterious about the sleeping habits of babies and toddlers, please, please say it is okay for me to dope Finny up on Motrin or Benadryl before bed tonight. Please, please let him save his Bieber concerts for the high chair and the crying for 7 a.m. I may be better prepared to deal with it then and my poor glasses are more likely to survive a little longer if they don’t spend another night glued to my face, beneath my pillow, or under my armpit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Let’s talk about what’s been going on in my house this afternoon all during what we will loosely refer to as “naptime.”
So, today, after lunch, I put Finny down for his afternoon nap. Then, exhausted from a morning of play, play, play, I put myself down for my own afternoon nap. Just as soon as I found myself drifting peacefully into a coma, I heard it. The distinct “clank” Tissa (Finny’s pacifier) makes when she hits the floor.

“Tissa! Tissa! Tissa!” Cries of desperation shouted from Finny’s crib. So, I wrenched myself out of bed and sternly walked into his room to retrieve Tissa for a smiling Finny, who may or may not have given me a devilish wink as he pointed at me and said, “Gotcha!” I told him firmly that I would not come back again.

I left and once again lay down and drifted off into my tranquil coma. This time I was in even deeper when I heard the distinct “clank,” again followed by shouts of “Tissa! Tissa! Tissa!” I was not going back in. He had been warned and besides I was crossing over to the other side of nap heaven.

I heard his cries of “Tissa” through my foggy nap brain for a few minutes and was able to ignore them, until I suddenly heard another sound—gagging. At this sound, I immediately popped out of bed and ran to see what my poor child was choking on. Once again, there he was, standing at the edge of his crib grinning his head off, and this time, covered in puke.

“Yucky!” he said grinning broadly. Furious, I began to wipe the puke off of his hand and continued as he directed me, saying, “Yucky toes. Yucky shirt. Shorts. Blankie.” I pulled him out of bed to change his clothes and sheet, and after I had changed his clothes, he bolted down the hallway shouting “Choo-choos! Play Choo-choos!”

Once everything was cleaned up, I put him back in his crib and got in the shower, where I was able to successfully block out all nap protests under the running water. It wasn’t until I emerged once again that I heard “Clank” followed by “Tissa! Tissa! Tissa!”

Wanting to avoid another barf session, I entered the scene to once again retrieve Tissa. Finny was there smiling and for a second time, standing in a puddle of his own self-induced chunder. This time, judge me if you will, I lay an extra blankie over the puke and made him sleep on it. And that’s what he’s doing this very minute as I tell you my story.

Some people say a little lavender on the pillow will help you sleep. Today, for Finny, it was regurgitated turkey and cheese on whole grain. To each his own.