Cupcake: I’ll take the Spiced Cake, please

With my due date now less than two months away, I am becoming increasingly aware of how time is ticking by. This pregnancy still seems to be crawling (and I’m okay with that), but I know I will look back and say how quickly it all went. And I will lament that I never cherished it enough, and that I can no longer remember how Cupcake asked “Do you want a hug, Mommy?” when I was crying last night during an overwhelmed-mom moment, or how Skittle wanders through the house every day calling “Waaaah waaaah waaah” as she searches for her water bottle just as my beloved childhood cat would prowl around crying for me to hold her.

These days alone with my girls, just me and them while Daddy is at work and we are free to snuggle and fantasize and play to our hearts’ content, are numbered. Poppy is coming. Every day his arrival is one day closer and, once he is here, I know that everything will be different. The days will become a blur for a while. I will forget to memorize the way Cupcake’s hair curls at the ends. I will forget how Skittle stands in front of our coat closet and “sings” her jibberish and, when we clap at her performance, she takes a little bow. I’m going to forget who they are and I’m not going to have the time to savor everything they are becoming. I’m not always going to have the time to hold them, smell them, feel them against me. It’s sad, but it’s true. That’s just what happen when a new baby comes into the home. Life shifts and moves in mysterious ways.

And so with that said, I want to write two posts some time within the next few weeks, one dedicated to each of my girls, in an effort to memorialize who they are right now. Of course, I know it’s impossible. Capturing the essence of everything that someone is on paper really only reduces them to a 2D version of themselves. But it’s something. It’s better than not even trying. Years from now, it will remind me of the details that will be hardly a whisper of a memory anymore.

These posts are going to be long, but I’m doing this for myself. Because I am desperate to hold on. And I’m doing this for them, so that they know I did my best, and I loved them then as much as I will in every day after this one.

This one is for Cupcake.

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Cupcake.

My firstborn. She’ll be five in November, which is incredible and unimaginable, and also seems like a long time coming.

Let’s start with the hard stuff, the stuff no mother likes to admit to. Because the truth is, it has not often been easy to be Cupcake’s mama. I hate labels and yet if there is one for her, it would be “strong-willed.” She is a strong-willed, challenging child who tests me at every corner. Please don’t tell me that is the nature of a toddler. All you have to do is watch her with her peers (not in just one moment, but in a collection of similar moments) and know that she is entirely different. She has been a challenge since shortly after her first birthday, when the tantrums started way earlier than I ever imagined they would. She was the child at a farm playdate when she was just 18 months old who was crying and screaming because I wouldn’t let her touch the rabbit pellets (poop) or because she couldn’t put her fingers into the chicken pens, while all the other children paraded around, following behind their mothers like good little chicks, just happy to see and touch the animals that they could. While it has gotten better with age and improved verbal skills, it is like this to some degree, in some way, at every single playdate. I’m not exaggerating.

As part of this strong will, she is terribly defiant. When I ask her to stop doing something, she will ignore me. When I ask her to do something, she won’t. When I tell her not to do something, she will try to do it as fast as she can, before I can even complete my sentence, so that she can say I never told her not to do it. And the more I want something from her (like saying “sorry” when she accidentally hurts someone or shaking someone’s hand at church), the more she resists. I am no master of indifference, but I’m learning to be, because it’s often the only way to get through to her. This, I will concede, is probably partly because of her age, but it’s to a heightened degree. It like this with nearly everything. Just yesterday, right before “quiet time” (no more naptimes for her), I started picking up the scarves and hats she and her sister had been playing with and she was upset because she wanted to play with some of them still. So she went to their toy grocery cart and upended it, sending “groceries” everywhere and making an even bigger mess for us to clean up. It’s moments like this that often make me feel like a failure as a mom, like, “Why can’t I just get her to listen?! And cooperate?! And BEHAVE?!” And it’s made especially difficult because she and I clash fiercely in this way. While I am the person who is uber-agreeable, willing to make sacrifices and go out of my way to please others (also, not always a desirable trait, I know), she is just the opposite. So it’s hard for me to understand and embrace this side of her.

And yet, I don’t want to let myself start wishing for an easier child. Her will is part of her. Whom I love far beyond space and time. And everyone assures me that a “strong-willed” child can be difficult, but they are going to achieve great things. They know exactly what they want after all. (And I can attest to that…”NO! Do NOT tickle me!” and “I don’t want the blue bubbles. Only pink!” and “DON’T talk to be like that, Mom.” and “I will NOT wear that!” and “I need five more minutes!” and…and…and…) So she’s going places. But I already knew that. I’m just a little terrified for the ride.

Cupcake is also toy-obsessed. Which I find curious since Honey and I are not the types of parents who buy their kids a toy every time they go to Target. She gets toys for her birthday, Christmas, and Easter, and occasionally if we find a good deal at Goodwill or go on vacation, and that’s it. Seriously. And yet…she is the child (the only one of 15 or 20, mind you) who is crying at a friend’s birthday party because she wants this toy and that one and every other one that the birthday girl unwraps. And I am the parent wiping her tears, whispering in her ear that she can add it to her wish list, and feeling oh-so-embarrassed. When we brought home a toy for each of our girls from Goodwill a few months ago, she sobbed because she wanted her sister’s toy just as much as she wanted her own and, in what I know was very real pain to her, she said, “I wish [Skittle] had never been born. She should have stayed in your tummy forever.” And just the other day, out of the blue, she started crying because she wants the same giant doll house as her best friend has…which led to a discussion about how we don’t have room for that because Skittle will soon be moving into her room so that Poppy can have Skittle’s room and Cupcake’s subsequent declaration that she doesn’t want a baby brother (whom she very much wanted five seconds before and after) anymore. Le sigh. It still baffles me, but I’m rather used to it by now. This is just how we roll ’round here. And some day, I trust, she will learn that there is more to life than dollhouses and puppy purses and every other toy on the planet.

And for all struggles that I have with Cupcake, there is so much to love about her. She is just a ball of emotion, always functioning with her heart and not her head. This can be a challenging aspect to deal with as her mother (or anyone who comes into contact with her), too, but it’s also beautiful. Essentially, she is a heart with arms and legs. Anger, excitement, fear, frustration, disgust, irritation, curiosity, disappointment, and great, forgiving love…it all shows. And comes flying at whoever is in the way. She doesn’t hold any of it back. My mom often says, “You always know where you stand with [Cupcake],” and it’s true. She hides nothing and has no shame in expressing exactly how she’s feeling to whoever is there (be it stranger or best friend). She is quick to anger and quick to laugh. And just like her mama, she falls in love easily. Two days ago, I had maternity photos taken by a photographer we’d never met before that day. At the end of the night, Cupcake asked for a hug and kiss from our photographer and said, “I love you, Brigette.” And that’s just how she is with nearly everyone. She becomes attached quickly, which I think is a beautiful way to live life, but it’s frightening as her mother. I already can see all the broken hearts that lay ahead for her.

She is clever too. And smart. I was a dedicated, straight-A student in school, but I think her braininess is all her dad’s. He has a brain like no one else’s. He craves knowledge and education. And he’s a sponge, so he remembers it all too. Cupcake is the same way. She loves to listen to her daddy’s explanations on what Pluto is made of or what a sewage plant is. She asks lots of questions and listens with rapt attention and, moments later, will regurgitate to you what she just learned. When we met with a dear blogging friend last year, the very first words out of her mouth were to explain how babies come of vaginas. And for a while, she was often heard saying, “I have a hypothesis!” We’ve outgrown that phase (mostly), but now she is happy to tell anyone who will listen what the umbilical cord does. She’s a mini brainiac, full of ideas and facts and theories and solutions, and it blows my mind every day.

And her confidence! Oh my, I would kill for the confidence she has. I once had someone (a stranger whom Cupcake had just introduced herself to at her cousin’s party), tell me, “Her confidence! That girl owns the room when she walks into it! Don’t ever let anyone take that away from her.” This stranger was right. My Cupcake can walk into a room full of strangers without even a heartbeat of nerves. She is bold and proud. And if ever there was a social butterfly, it is her. And it is possibly the quality I admire most in her. What has me quaking in my boots and looking for the shadows to disappear in, is her playground. She lives for social situations. When we go to the park or mall play area, it is not so that can play on the toys, but so that she can play with someone new. She doesn’t hesitate to ask someone she’s just met, “Will you be my friend?” and then proceed to run off to the play with them. She’s been this way always. While other toddlers go through separation anxiety, she would toddle away from me without looking back. It used to be so that she could go investigate all the fun toys and, while that is still true now, she is also always, always seeking someone to play with. And she’s also that child who will talk with any stranger anywhere — from the cashier at Target to the dad she doesn’t know at the park (she especially adores men, which is terrifying for this mama who is also a sexual abuse survivor and suspicious of every man) to the teenager who has no interest in her. Some months ago, I remember her turning to the man behind us in line at Starbucks and saying, “Hi, my name is [insert full name here — first middle and last]. It’s nice to meet you.” There’s just no social anxiety for this girl. And while I live in fear of her befriending the wrong person (kidnapper, child molester, etc.), I also live in fear of her social fearlessness disappearing with age and the insecurities of adolescence. But my hope is that this a permanent part of who she is. And while it may be tamed as she searches for who she is in those teenage years, I pray that it will never be gone and will return with full force as she once again finds herself later in life.

And then there are other things about Cupcake that can’t be labeled or categorized, but simply must be named, listed, described because they make her her:

  • She is constantly doing somersaults and hand stands on the sofa as she watches her two PBS shows before quiet time (the only screen time we allow each day).
  • While she enjoys playing on her own (especially when playing with the toys that she cherishes most and doesn’t want to share), she is also really amazing about playing with her sister, considering how little and non-verbal Skittle still is at this age. Today, they spent all morning playing “grocery store” and then having races up and down the hallway.
  • For as much confidence as she has around others, it is peculiar to me that sometimes she lacks so much confidence in her abilities. It is typical that if she doesn’t believe she can do something, she doesn’t even want to try. The amount of tears and encouragement and praise and bargaining that we had to go through just to get her to attempt to write her name when she first began preschool last year would stun you. (For the record, she is now a pro at it.) And already, as we talk more and more about her learning to read when she starts “big kid school” (still a year away), the more she insists that she doesn’t know how to read and can’t learn it.
  • She chews her toenails. Gross.
  • She was the one kid in her preschool graduation photo with her finger up her nose. Again, gross. And embarrassing. And sort of adorable.
  • She bounces back fast. She has always been the kid who runs into walls and falls down and gets skinned up and never says a “boo.” She got an awful black eye and an ugly goose egg last year and, while she did cry then, it lasted less than five minutes and then was never mentioned again.
  • Her face is prone to blemishes. I guess that’s what they are. They’re weird to me. They never come to a head or go away without help. Up until about six months ago (when I finally got tired of it and insisted on picking it), she had a small pimple on her chin for two or three years. (I’m really not kidding here.) As soon as that pimple was gone, two blackheads popped up in identical places on either side of her nose. I picked at one recently, but the other one remains. And I suspect it will until I banish it too.
  • She has a lot of fears, but they’re not of the dark, or monsters, or boogie men. She fears things like the sound of trains, or our belongings being washed away at the beach, or her sister being hit by a car in an empty parking lot. There are times when she won’t go alone into her bedroom because you can hear the horn of a very-far-away train in there. That’s when she asks her sister to come play in her room with her. I love how Skittle is a substitute for Mommy. :)
  • She loves to sing. At a recent family reunion, she gave each person their own private serenade, all to the same song — “Let it Go.” (And no, we’re not Frozen-obsessed here. She’s seen it just once, but prefers Ariel to Anna or Elsa. She had just been given a Frozen microphone, though, and “Let It Go” was the only song it sings, so of course it was the only song she would sing too, even though she has quite a repertoire.)
  • Her interests right now are arts and crafts, books, playing outside, princesses, animals, babies (the real thing, not dolls), and anything sparkly. She’s fairly girly, but I love that she also will play with dinosaurs, cars, and plenty of other stereotypical “boy toys.”
  • She hates her feet being dirty and will freak the eff out if sand or dirt gets in her sandals.
  • She also freaks out if there’s a bug anywhere nearby. Frequently, I get called into her bedroom at quiet time because there’s a “bug” on the floor. It’s usually lint.
  • She’s highly anxious (something even her preschool teachers have commented on) and can get herself into a panic over almost anything. Two days ago, it was because our photographer’s shoes and socks were near the water and the tide was coming in. Sometimes, it’s because Skittle is making a mess with her water bottle. Or because she’s afraid another kid will play with the toy she wants at our playdate. Or because a book has a ripped or crumpled page. It’s an endless list.
  • She has constipation problems. It’s something that began just after her first birthday and we struggle with it even now. At this point, she’s been taking Miralax almost every day for over two years. (This was recommended by her doctor and appears to be the standard treatment for the issue…I’m not sure it’s the right answer for us, but it’s also the only thing that’s come remotely close to working.)
  • My child who once hated the camera now loves it. She often asks me, “Can you take a picture of me?” Sometimes she smiles sweetly and sometimes she is a ham. And she loves to take her own photos too! Just like her mama.
  • She is so excited for her baby brother to come. She wanted it to be a boy and has nicknamed him “Charlie” and talks to him frequently. She loves to feel him move. Early in this pregnancy, she said so sweetly to me, “I love the baby. I hope he loves me too, Mommy.’ The sweet innocence in that heartfelt desire nearly made me weep.

And so that is Cupcake in a “nutshell.” Which really is much bigger than the shell of a nut, isn’t it, since this post has gone on and on? But s  he truly is a fine mix of sugar and spice, though perhaps a little more spice than I prefer in my cupcakes. But that’s what makes her unique, and mine. It’s easy to wish, on our worst days, that she was easier, more agreeable, a better listener, not so emotional, more willing to share, and so forth. But then she wouldn’t be my Cupcake. And so I’ll take her exactly how she is, impossibly sweet, but bold too, and with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg and molasses thrown in. She’s amazing. She’s incredible. She’s delicious.

And I’m the lucky one who gets to enjoy her every day.

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To the One Who Isn’t Here

Dear Baby-of-Long-Ago,

Sometimes I feel you. Not so much in the ethereal, mystical, magical way of smelling the random scent of lavender or feeling a gentle breeze blow through a room with closed windows and knowing it’s you. That’s only happened once or twice, when seeing a rainbow or a butterfly in the most unexpected places, and even then I don’t know if it was you or my hoping it was you. I’m not sure the dead come back to us like that, or if they leave us whom they love alone so that we can move on in peace.

So it’s not you I feel precisely, but the absence of you. The ever-constant, gentle (and sometimes less-gentle, more raw, stinging, pinching, punching, painful) knowing you are not here. You are not, and never will be again, here. In this very place. With me. With us. Your family.

I go about my day just as I did before your short stay here on earth, except now I have two living little ones to look after, and I am more tired, busy, and cranky and happy all at once. I don’t light your candle every night anymore or cry for you every day. And yet, your not-here-ness is here, drifting silently and invisibly around me, humming in my ear like a mosquito at times, fluttering through my thoughts like a hummingbird at others, and rattling me like an earthquake when things go really badly. These days I feel free, mostly, and yet I am still somehow never quite free of you. Which is okay, because your memory doesn’t hurt me all the time now, and on most days there is a sweet nostalgia in thinking of you, the baby who has stayed a baby to me, the baby who never got to grow up and forever remains as small and precious as a tadpole.

There is something unique and uniquely painful about losing a barely-there baby. It does not take long for people to feel justified in forgetting. And they start to expect you to forget, too. And with time, you do. Not entirely and not forever, but there are minutes and then hours and then maybe even days when you don’t think of your loss and what was and what could have been, and you start feeling guilty for that. I feel guilty for that and find myself grasping at moments, trying to prove I haven’t moved on, haven’t betrayed you, because that somehow means I’m the mom I want to be. The one you deserve.

But the truth is, no matter how often or how little you cross my thoughts, I will never move on, not fully. There is a part of me, the old, pre-miscarriage me, who lives with you in the past. And unlike everyone around me who doesn’t remember anything about you and your time here unless I forcefully bring it to their attention, you are always on my mind during the “remembering days” — the anniversaries of the day when I learned of your conception, and of your goneness, and of course I couldn’t forget your due date if I tried.  But your memory comes to me at other times, too. I am reminded of your absence most when I watch your sisters for too long. They bring me such joy. Across years, I have seen their personalities evolve and unfold. I held them in their immediate, wet, oh-so-real newness and, with awe and some heartache, watched as they have each grown into a bigger, more independent, strikingly beautiful version of those babies they once were. And now there is another baby on the way and, God willing, I will get to experience that with him too. But for you, I have none of that. I did not just lose a baby, but years and years of feeling your soft weight enfolded in my arms in a hug, and watching your eyes widen under the same long lashes as you discover the world around you, and seeing all the ways you change and stay the same as decades tick by. You never got your chance to become anything and it makes me sad for you and sad for me because there is so much more than a kidney bean-sized embryo that I lost.

I often think of you as the Baby-Who-Almost-Was, but even when I do, I know there is no truth in that name. Because there is no “almost” about the place you had here. You were. You existed. And in my past, and my memories, and the empty space in my heart that no amount of babies or love can fill, you still do. You were. You are. In some ways, even if it’s only in the hole that you left behind, you still live amongst us.

So you’re not forgotten. I don’t always remember, but I can’t forget. I won’t and I don’t want to. There’s not much I can give you now with me here and you in some not-here place, with me solid and alive and you a wisp-of-smoke ghost in my life, but I can promise you that I love you still and I won’t forget you and I won’t try to. You are still, and forever, mine.

And maybe that’s the best way to be.

With big love,

Your Mama

Oh, My Heart….

Just had to share this sweet photo of my two girls. In my last post, I mentioned wanting to share with all of you something meaningful, something that matters. Well if ever a post like that exists for me, this is it. These two matter. More than anything. They are my reason for everything.

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Hope all of you reading this in the U.S. had a happy and safe 4th of July! xo

Sticky and Stuck

I’m feeling stuck. I can’t decide what to write here, or if I should write nothing or everything. Should I give pregnancy updates? Talk about my day-to-day with Cupcake and Skittle? Get philosophical on what it means to be a mother, or infertile? Get sentimental and remember the baby I lost, but haven’t forgotten? I sometimes think I should participate in Microblog Mondays, but I usually don’t even think of it until Monday night and then it just seems like too much work.

I think part of the problem is that I want to write something meaningful — something that matters — and I’m not sure this is the right place for that, or if what matters to me matters to anyone else. And honestly, I don’t even know what matters to me right now. I have two kids and another on the way, and I’m just tired and rushed and a bit overwhelmed, and writing anything coherent seems like a daunting task. And it’s really hot here in the Pacific NW, where A/C is not really the norm inside homes (including ours), so I’m not just stuck, I’m sticky. With sweat. And unmotivated to do much of anything because of it.

See, I have a lot of excuses for my lack of content, but none of them really mean anything, do they? So just please bear with me as I try to figure this out. I’m not sure if I’ll be writing more or less in the coming weeks, but I promise you I will continue writing as I feel inspired to do so. And many thanks to all of you who have stuck around. Whether you lurk in the shadows or comment on every post, I feel your love and appreciate your support.

While I’m here, let me give a brief(-ish) pregnancy update in an easy-peasy bullet point format:

  • I just began my third trimester (depending on who you ask). I’m 27 weeks as of yesterday.
  • I’m still struggling with “morning sickness.” It’s better than it was in the first trimester, but I suffer through periods of nausea several times a week still. I vomited just tonight, right after dinner, per my usual once-a-week meet and greet with the porcelain throne. It kind of blows my mind since it was never like this in my last pregnancies. I hardly had any sickness with Skittle and, though I often felt very nauseous with Cupcake, it was gone by 13 weeks. And yet here I am, at 27 weeks, with vivid memories of what the inside of our toilet looks like. Crazy.
  • Besides the nausea AND my severe seasonal allergies, I’m feeling pretty good. Tired, but not terribly so. The headaches that I was having for a good few weeks are gone now. I don’t have the same shortness of breath or leaky bladder that I did in my last pregnancy, and no blood pressure spikes or hemorrhoid flare-ups yet (though I am fully expecting both of those to come knocking at my door down the road).
  • Emotionally, I’m feeling pretty strong and serene. I have my moments certainly, and I can feel my anxiety creep from my stomach to my chest to my throat when this baby has been too quiet for too long, but I’m managing to keep it mostly under control. Hourly kick counts help. And by “hourly,” I mean every hour that I’m awake of every day, I keep a tally sheet of how many times Poppy kicks, and I have been for the last seven weeks. I know it’s a bit insane — proof that I’m by no means “normal” when it comes to pregnancy — but it really does help to keep the crazies under wraps.
  • We’ve chosen a name! Just tonight. We had it narrowed to two and I told Honey to make the final decision because I just couldn’t. I love them both too much. The name we’ve chosen is a bit unusual and, though used exclusively for boys in the U.K. (where it originates), it’s become trendy to use it for girls here in the U.S. That worries me some, as well as the fact that his initials sort of allude to a swear word, but all in all, I adore the name we’ll be giving this little boy and am excited to reveal it to our friends and family (and on this blog!) after his birth.
  • I’m whittling away at my pregnancy “to do” list. So far, I have asked my friend Leigh to be my doula again, hired a birth photographer (sooooo excited for this one!), hired a maternity and newborn photographer, started stocking our deep freeze with freezer meals, and done lots and lots of shopping for our little man. But I still have more shopping to do, plus preparing the nursery, making more freezer meals, and moving Skittle into Cupcake’s room (which I am beyond terrified for).

And an update on the rest of my life:

  • I’ve been feeling a bit isolated and lonely these days. With Cupcake out of preschool for the summer and me having so much I want to accomplish at home, I’m finding that we don’t get out of the house as much as we should. We’ve had a few playdates and I’ve gone out with Leigh several times, but most of my days are primarily spent with a 1- and 4-year-old. They make me laugh, but it’s not the same as having the company of an adult. It’s times like this when I really miss Lillian and the rest of my mom’s group (which has essentially fallen apart over the last two years). So I’m painfully aware that my social life is in the crapper right now. But I’m thankful for my one good local friend, Leigh, and the support and comedy that she adds to my life. We spent all of this past Saturday making homemade strawberry jam and we have other fun things planned for this summer, too.
  • Though Honey is gone most of the day, working hard on a project at work that is finally nearing its end (thank GOD!), he comes home and somehow finds it in himself to have a good chunk of quality time with his girls and to help me around the house. Right now, I’m typing this post up and he’s sweeping the kitchen floor (after having already done the dishes and going to fill my car up with gas), that’s how amazing he is. I hope to write a blog post on him soon, but suffice it to say, I am so, so, so lucky this man is mine.
  • Cupcake is four-and-a-half now and still has one year of preschool ahead of her before entering “big kid school.” She’s about to have her very first haircut and I’m nervous but ready for the change. This girl continues to challenge me with her strong-willed ways, but we are now past the worst of the toddler power battles and every day with her is becoming more and more fun. She’s thrilled to bits to have a baby brother on the way.
  • Skittle is 20 months and every day with her is a joy. Her two-year molars are considering their entrance and so there’s a lot of drool in our house and a few difficult nights here and there, but overall, this girl just amazes me with her fearless, determined, playful, and loving spirit. I don’t want this stage to end! But more on that later. I hope to write a post on each of my girls sometime over the summer.

So that’s where we’re at in a nutshell. Up next for us:

  • Getting the results to my one-hour glucose test. I’m really, really nervous for this since I failed last time (but then passed the the 3-hour test). I just want to be able to eat all.the.ice.cream, you know? It’s hot here!
  • A road trip to Idaho to visit family. Not sure how it will go being trapped in a car for four or five hours, but I’ve done it before in pregnancy. I can do it again!
  • Massages and attending a painting party with my friend Leigh. I’ll also be taking boudoir photos for her later this summer since the last time we made an attempt, she came down with strep throat.
  • My maternity photos at the end of this month. I’m paying an obscene amount of money for this photographer, but having her take my maternity photos has been my dream for a while. She’s a-mazing!
  • My 32nd birthday in just a few more weeks.
  • A visit to my sister in August. She’s going through a divorce and is really in need of the extra support these days.
  • A final litttle hurrah as a family of four over Labor Day weekend, when we go stay at a rented house on Puget Sound. Sounds relaxing…I really hope it is!

There’s a lot on the horizon for us and, as summer turns to fall, the crowning glory will be this baby’s birth. It’s crazy, and incredible, to imagine.

Boy, Oh Boy!

The vision that I have of our family is ever changing.

I was once convinced that my first child would be a boy. I was wrong. And then, I thought my second one would be. Wrong again. I think, if I’m being completely honest with you and myself, I really only told myself they would be boys because what I really wanted was a girl and I didn’t want to feel the biting pain of disappointment when there were no vaginas in sight. But either way, I somehow convinced myself — I was destined to have a boy.

But after the arrival of Skittle, my second precious girl, I began to allow myself to imagine a house full of little girls. The thought to me was so sweet and magical, and so perfectly fitting as I am about as far from being a tomboy as one can get, that I became attached to it. I tried not to, because I knew the likelihood of one day having four girls (four being our ultimate goal), was not great, but we all know how the heart works. It does funny things. Sometimes, it falls in love with the wrong people or illogical ideas. Sometimes, it does it over and over again.

And yet, despite my heart making a wish, despite the vision I’ve had of our family for over a year now, we have a baby boy on the way.

KABOOM.

When we learned Poppy’s gender, it sort of felt like my heart exploded. Tears popped from my eyes. I knew they weren’t tears of joy, but in that moment, I couldn’t explain any of it. I was expecting this news, but hadn’t been particularly hoping for it, and I just felt sort of ambivalent. I couldn’t label what I was feeling as happy, sad, excited, disappointed, scared, or anything else. I just felt all of it and none of it all at once. That was the most unexpected part for me.

As the news sank in throughout the day, I came to realize that I was feeling much sadder than I had wanted to feel. When this time came, and I suspected it would come eventually, I had hoped to feel overwhelming excitement about the tiny little penis inside of me. I didn’t.

I felt SAD that I may never hold another baby girl of my own in my arms. Sad that the sparkly satin headbands and frilly cupcake leg warmers and pink pink pink would be going by the wayside. Sad that baby dolls and My Little Pony might start competing with trucks and superheroes in our home.

I felt MAD, mostly at myself, because I had gotten my hopes up about having another girl. If I hadn’t started hoping, I wouldn’t be feeling so crummy.

I felt SCARED that I don’t know how to be the mom to a little boy. I don’t know anything about cars and trucks, or sports, or superheroes. I hate the color blue. I am a girly-girl. I am just about as stereotypically “girly” as one can get. And my husband is no macho man. What the hell do we know about raising a boy?! And how was I going to afford buying a whole new wardrobe for our little guy? (Consignment and thrift shopping has helped, but I still have spent an obscene amount of money — already! — on this kid.) And my girls were both relatively easy and amazing sleepers…what if having a boy is different? This pregnancy has already been harder on me, what if raising a boy is too? And don’t even get me started about masturbation, uncontrollable boners, and drugs… (My husband and his brother are both recovering drug addicts. Addiction runs in the family. Especially for males.)

And I felt RESENTFUL towards just about everyone. Every person who made me feel like we “needed” a boy. Like our family wasn’t complete without a boy. Like somehow, if Baby #3 had turned out be female, we would be missing out on something big. And resentful towards everyone who sent text messages and posted on Facebook saying:

  • “Yay! You’re going to LOVE having a boy!”
  • “Congrats! I bet you’re SO happy!”
  • “Praise God! I was praying for this for you guys!”
  • “Oh my gosh! I bet [your husband] is so thrilled to finally have a boy!”

As though, of COURSE, I would be thrilled. I should be thrilled. And my husband, even more so. (News flash: Honey wanted another girl, too. Not every man feels the need to have a son.) And I even resented my mom, who asked, “Are you excited?” and when I didn’t respond positively, she finished with saying, “Well, I’m sorry your baby is a boy,” because that wasn’t what I needed to hear either.

And then, the common link between all these feelings, the undercurrent, the one that ran the deepest…I felt GUILTY. I felt like the worst person in the world, because who resents their loved ones when they only mean well? And I felt like the worst mother, because why couldn’t I just be happy? My friends and family were right, I SHOULD be happy! And even more, I felt like the worst infertile, because dammit, I had a BABY growing inside of me and that should be enough. There were people in this world who would kill to be in my position, carrying any baby — boy, girl, monkey or otherwise — and I had once been one of them. Who was I, suddenly thinking I had a right to have any baby I chose? I felt like a selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, entitled brat, and I hated myself for it. The guilt ate away at me for days.

I’m relieved to say most of these feelings didn’t last in such intensity for very long. I worked through them. I processed them. I searched for the silver lining. And I learned to have a little grace, mostly towards myself. I’m only human after all. Even in the best of circumstances, there can be mixed feelings. That’s normal. That’s OKAY. I don’t need to justify it. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m allowed to grieve. As I wrote in a recent post, there is grief around every life corner. I don’t need anyone’s permission to feel what I feel. I can own it and feel it, really feel the huge weight of it, accept it and embrace it (maybe over and over again, as necessary), and then hopefully move on. And if I can’t move on, that’s okay too. There are some feelings and emotions that just never go away and, instead, you learn to live with them. It’s all part of being human, isn’t it? And there’s no shame in that.

Everything “bad” thing I felt immediately after learning about this baby boy has diminished, but they haven’t gone away entirely. I still feel sad sometimes, sad and scared and guilty, but the good feelings have moved in and made their home, too. I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m in love.

This baby was loved before I knew he was a “he” and that hasn’t changed at all. And now that he has an identity, and I think maybe even a name, and I feel him move at all hours of the day and night, I love him even more.

Everything that I have loved about having a baby girl isn’t going to go away because he’s a boy. Each moment will be unique to him, but I will still have chubby thighs to squeeze and fine baby hair to smell and one day he will learn to say “mama” in that sweet toddler voice I love to hear. That won’t change.

Most of all, I believe this little human was chosen for us. Just for us. He is our intended one. Meant to be. Meant to be ours. Two X chromosomes, or an X and a Y, it doesn’t matter.

He is ours.

He is loved.

And we’ll figure the rest out along the way.

Just for Fun

Thank you so much for all of the comments on my last post! I used nearly every suggestion offered, both here and on Facebook, and they really helped me to get through a miserable few days. I’m happy to say I turned a corner early in the weekend and am now feeling almost good as new. Oh my gosh, I’m SO glad I can say that. It was feeling like it would never happen there for a while. So thank you! I appreciate all of you.

It’s a busy few weeks here for us. Between our anatomy scan earlier in the month, my mom’s visit over this past holiday weekend, Cupcake’s upcoming preschool “graduation” (quotes used because she’s actually not done with preschool…there’s still one more year to go), trying to get a few things accomplished for baby’s autumn arrival (like making freezer meals and doing a little — ahem, a LOT of — shopping), and taking boudoir photos for my dear friend Leigh, I don’t have much time for anything else. Certainly not enough time to write a coherent blog post!

So instead, I’m stealing an idea from MissConception and putting together a little “getting to know me” post. If you’re a blogger, I encourage you to do the same. I’d love to learn more about you, friends!

Four jobs I’ve had:

1. Child Support employee for the state of Idaho

2. Cashier at a pharmacy/gift shop

3. Pet sitter (I started my own business when I was 8 years old and had lots of neighbors who were brave enough to allow me to watch their pets while they were out of town.)

4. Data entry and secretary for an abrasives manufacturer

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

1. Titanic

2. P.S. I Love You

3. Notting Hill

4. Harry Potter (all of them)

Four books I’d recommend:

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

2. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

3. Room by Emma Donoghue

4. Good Grief by Lolly Winston

For cities I’ve lived in:

1. Rathdrum, ID

2. Lewiston, ID

3. Tampa, FL

4. Federal Way, WA

Four places I’ve visited:

1. Sydney, Australia

2. Cancun, Mexico

3. Nice, France

4. The Grand Canyon

Four Places I Could Visit Over and Over:

1. London, England

2. Kangaroo Island, Australia

3. Disney World

4. Any of the Hawaiian islands

Four things I just won’t eat:

1. Sushi

2. Red meat

3. Chocolate pudding

4. Clam chowder

Four things I could eat every day:

1. Milkshakes

2. Stuffed jalapeno-mozzarella pizza rolls from Pizza Pizzazz

3. Grapes

4. Fluffernuts

Four TV shows I used to watch and miss (and watch in reruns as much as I can):

1. Friends

2. Gilmore Girls

3. Parenthood

4. Brothers & Sisters

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

1. Taking boudoir photos of my friend Leigh

2. Our annual road trip to Idaho

3. The sunny summer weather

4. Giving birth and meeting our baby boy

Four things I need right now:

1. A massage

2. Coffee

3. Another vacation

4. A nap!

Four dreams I have for our future:

1. Have four children

2. Buy a bigger home

3. Celebrate our 10th anniversary (three more years!) on Maui

4. Travel the world

Have a great week! xoxo

Seeking Help!

I’m at a breaking point and, in an effort to reach the masses, am going to post exactly what I posted on Facebook just moments ago:

Seeking advice and tips! For over three days now, I have been VERY congested. Thought it was my seasonal allergies, but now I suspect a cold. I can’t breathe AT ALL, have had two nights of almost zero sleep, and am feeling pretty miserable. Hoping the symptoms will let up soon, but in the meantime am looking for anything that might help to relieve the horrible congestion, plugged ears, and sinus pressure. What hasn’t worked: saline nasal spray, sitting in a steamy hot shower, BreatheRight nasal strips, Vicks, steam from a boiling pot of water, Sudafed, and Benadryl. The ONLY thing that provides relief is a medicated, fast-acting nasal spray, but it only lasts an hour or so and I can only use it every four hours for three days max and I’m trying soooooo hard to not even do that. Any other ideas out there? Anything I haven’t tried? Give me all you’ve got, people! I’m feeling desperate and, as long as it’s safe for the baby, will try just about anything!

If you have any new ideas for me, please don’t hesitate to suggest them. I am really, really, really getting desperate. Like, really. :p