Sleep Is Worth Fighting For

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Before I had Little E, just about a month ago, I would have killed for a full night’s sleep. My back hurt, I couldn’t sleep on my stomach, I was waking up every few hours… I would look at my peacefully sleeping husband and think horrible, horrible thoughts in my sleep-deprived jealousy. I couldn’t wait to give birth and be able to sleep again.

I know what you’re thinking: “How did she think she was going to sleep with a newborn?” This is not my first rodeo, folks. I knew what I was getting myself into. But the first time around, I did it alone. My daughter’s father was not in the picture. I woke up for every feeding and diaper change. I was there for everything. I dealt with sleep deprivation like a champ. But this time around, I had my loving husband by my side. Surely I would be able to alternate middle of the night feedings with him. Together we would get through this without a hitch.

Sure, I remembered how hard it was. Sure, I had read about women who wanted to strangle their husbands in their sleep. But my husband and I are a team! We were going to beat those odds.

The two days after I had Little E, while we were still in the hospital, confirmed everything I believed. My husband was the epitome of what new dads should be. I couldn’t get out of bed so he changed every diaper and was hands on with all of the feedings. It was a beautiful thing to watch… this transformation that he made. Before, he was the man who wouldn’t hold anyone else’s baby – ever. But here he was, so involved in our own fragile little newborn. It’s still beautiful to watch them together. But I digress.

We came home from the hospital and things stayed roughly the same. I would wake up for the midnight and 3am feedings, then T would take the 6am and 9am shift. Or vice versa. I would get up with the baby for an entire night so that he could catch up on sleep, then he would do the same for me. His nights became increasingly more difficult, as the baby wouldn’t seem to go back to sleep for him, so I tried to take a couple nights in a row to his one night.

Then I told him that I was mostly recovered from my c-section and he went back to work. The babymoon was officially over.

Please let me preface this by saying that my husband is still very involved with the baby. It is not me against the world, even when I’m so tired that I feel like it is.

Depending upon his work schedule, he still tries to help out in the middle of the night, which I am eternally grateful for. Then there are the nights that he can’t help and even though these nights are not his fault, I look at him peacefully sleeping and I wish harm on him. Not death or dismemberment, but at the very least the same excruciating calf cramps that would wake me up from a deep slumber while I was pregnant. I’m sure he’s wished the same upon me those nights when the baby gives him a hard time and I’m fast asleep. I’ve snapped at him over the stupidest things… something I was hoping would end after the surge of pregnancy hormones had escaped my scarred, shriveling body. We often go to bed barely speaking now, not because we’re angry with each other (as far as I know) but more out of sheer exhaustion. There’s a good chance that at any given moment in our house either someone is sleeping (the baby) or someone needs a nap (either one of us).

To the teenagers out there thinking, “I want a baby so that I have someone who loves me forever,” or the early 20-somethings thinking you’re ready, I say this: This is how you know if you’ve found true love or not. When you are so tired that you want to physically harm the person you love, but you stop yourself because you would miss them and your life would be infinitely worse without them in it, that is true love. I have found that with the man of my dreams… even on the days when I’m fighting for 5 more minutes of sleep.

Thank you

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I know it’s sappy, but with this pregnancy drawing to a close I want to take this post and thank all of the people that have dealt with me over the past few months. I know there have been times when I have been down right intolerable and to the best of my knowledge I haven’t lost any friends permanently over it. So let’s start there.

To my friends, thank you for dealing with the fact that I had zero motivation to do anything during trimesters one and three. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hang out with you. It was simply that I could not leave the comfort of my pajamas, my couch, and Netflix. Getting dressed and putting in effort to look half decent were not on my to do list for those long months. And even though I kept the house half-decent (you’re welcome, my loving, obsessive-compulsive husband), the thought of entertaining anyone at our house made me want to take a nap. Otherwise I would have invited you over to sit and watch Netflix with me. Thank you all for realizing that this was just a phase and not thinking I was abandoning you forever. I hope I was still there for you in some way if and when you needed me. Co-workers, thank you for dealing with my unbridled rage towards people in general and letting me vent my work frustrations on you. And thank you for telling me how good I still looked, even when I felt like my body resembled E.T. (which I still believe, by the way).

To my family, thank you for tolerating my mood swings and crying fits (those of you who saw them). I was far more emotional during this pregnancy than my last one. Granted, there were far more life-changing events this time around too. I married the love of my life and I lost one of the most important people in the world to me, my grandfather, along with a few other ups and downs. And while I’m so grateful I had my mom, stepdad, brother, and sister nearby this time around, it was definitely hard being away from all of my New Jersey family. There was definitely more reason to be emotional this pregnancy.

To my in-laws, thank you for welcoming me and my daughter into your family so completely, for trusting me with your son/brother’s heart, and for making us feel like we were completing the puzzle of his life. Thank you for helping out and babysitting on the days where our schedules overlapped and neither of us could switch shifts. Thank you for helping to organize our wedding and baby shower. We could not have gotten through the past few months without you.

To my mother… I could not have gotten through the past few months (who am I kidding? past few years is more accurate) without your help and guidance. You’ve supported me through motherhood, through my relationship with T and all the insecurities about taking the giant leap to move out of your home and in with him, through my wedding, and now through this pregnancy. You’ve watched my Peanut almost every weekend so that I could work and help support my family. You’ve been understanding when I worked through the night, which made me sleep all day and left me barely able to make it to your house on a Saturday to spend time with her. Not to mention the days when I felt like I had been hit by a truck and really couldn’t make the drive up. Never once did you make me feel like I was burdening you or like I was a terrible mother, even though I felt like one.

To my daughter, it’s been a rough couple of months for you, little one. I went from playing in the yard with you and running around like a maniac to having no energy at all. You’re taking on the role of big sister soon and there will be so many changes in your life. The one on one time hasn’t ended, I promise. It will just have to be planned better now. Thank you for understanding on the days where you’ve had to play by yourself in the playroom because I physically just couldn’t move. Thank you for falling asleep next to me on the couch instead of tearing the house apart when I’ve fallen asleep at 7:30 and you’re still awake. We’ve had some hiccups here and there, but we’ve talked through them and I think we’re going to be okay. I know you’re going to be the best big sister ever. Even if you can’t have your “bunk-crib” invention. Trust me, you’re going to enjoy having your own room once the baby is here and up at all hours of the night. Most of all, I’m sorry that you’ve had to bear the brunt of my mood swings and impatience. Thank you for being so understanding beyond your years. I don’t know what I did to be lucky enough to call you mine, but I’m happy I did it.

Finally, to my husband… I don’t even know where to start. You had no idea what you were getting into when we agreed to start trying for a baby. Neither of us expected for it to happen so quickly. But I wouldn’t change a thing. You have supported me through every up and down from this pregnancy. You’ve cooked when I had no appetite for anything; you’ve cleaned when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. You’ve calmed me after my weekly emotional meltdowns and you stood by me when, early on, I started spotting and was convinced we were losing the baby. You’ve dealt with my nonexistent libido, the way I can go from happy to crying to irate in seconds, the way I always have a story to tell you right as you’re walking out the door… and you’ve done all of it in the most loving manner possible. You are my rock. And while I wouldn’t be in this position without you, I couldn’t have gotten through it without you either. Last time, I went through all of it alone. And while I knew it would have been easier to have someone who loved me by my side, I didn’t realize how much of a difference it made. I can’t wait to see your face when you look into our baby’s eyes for the first time. I can’t wait for all of the firsts that we get to share together. Most of all, I can’t wait to see you just be a dad. You’ve already done it with Peanut, but this time you get to start from the beginning and learn with the baby. I can’t wait to see what a great dad you’ll be and I have no doubt you’re going to put everything you have into being just that.

I don’t know if we’ll have another baby after this one. That discussion is still on the back burner for now. But I’m grateful to have this experience and to go through it with so many loving and supportive people by my side. It’s definitely been a trip so far. And I can’t wait for the next leg of the journey.

How to Just Get Through It

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The past couple of weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. From the loss of a loved one, to the exciting potential of a future career, to the usual arguments with my 6-year old, and back up to looking at our dream home, all while being 6 months pregnant… emotional is the simplest word I can use.

A week and a half ago, my grandfather passed away. While everyone in the family knew it was coming and many of us took the opportunity to travel to see him in his final days and say our goodbyes, it didn’t make the loss sting any less. There is a hole in our family that will never be replaced. The thought of never hearing his laugh again breaks my heart. He had a great laugh. I’m just lucky that baby #2 gets to have such an amazing guardian angel looking out for him/her.

Then there were the repetitious arguments with my 6-year old about brushing her teeth correctly, finishing her homework, finishing her dinner, etc. That cycle never ends. I feel like it’s preparing us for the teenage years when we fight over much bigger issues. She’s going to be my rebel child. I just know it. Hopefully the new addition is calmer like my husband and me.

On the plus side, I had a very informative meeting with a professional blogger late last week and she gave me a step by step guide to promoting my blog and getting on the right track to start making an income from it. While my goal is to hit my current income or higher by the end of the year, maternity leave is coming up fast and any income there will be helpful. I’ve also decided to revamp the website and keep track of the process that I go through in order to get to that goal. If I can stay at home with my kids while still earning a decent living doing something I love I have to try it. I’d be crazy not to.

Finally, today we went looking at a house. Not just a house. THE house. It met both of our requirements for what our dream home should have: 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a separate family room that can be turned into a playroom, on an acre of land surrounded by farm land, with a pool and a gazebo in the backyard. It even had a tree on the edge of the property that would be perfect to build a tree house in. T, who is the least impulsive person I know, was the first to suggest we put in an offer as soon as we heard there were 2 other offers being submitted on it today. Then we crunched the numbers and it wasn’t in the cards for us. While we could make it work, there are just too many variables and too many other things we need to get done before we’ll be able to buy it. If it’s already off the market by then, it wasn’t meant to be. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Now, for the million dollar question and it’s very simple solution…

When life keeps throwing you curveballs, how do you take it in stride instead of getting overwhelmed? Well, I’m not exactly an expert, and I’ve been known to get overwhelmed quite a few times, but I’m also pretty logical when it comes to these things. In my family, we always look for the funny side of a situation. That’s just how we deal.

As far as my grandfather goes, it’s cliche to say that he’s in a better place now, but he is. His quality of life had dwindled down to nothing. By default, so had my grandmother’s. She spent every day taking care of him and going above and beyond to make sure he was comfortable. She’s incredible. Now she doesn’t have to automatically decline an invitation to go out to dinner with friends, come out to western PA for a baby shower, or even miss church because she’s unsure whether Poppop will be having a good day or not. It’s the first time in 54 years that her life doesn’t revolve around him. As a newlywed, that feels earth shattering to me. But, at the same time, it has to be a little bit liberating for her. They always loved to travel and she hasn’t been able to for the past few years because of Poppop’s health. Now she can go anywhere her heart takes her. Please don’t think I’m being callous by saying this. My grandparents equally mean the world to me. I’m blessed to have had them both for as long as I have. But if I’m going to look for a silver lining in this dark cloud, it’s going to be her and the opportunities that now stand before her. I hope she’s brave enough to take them.

As for my daughter, I’m going to remind myself that I wouldn’t have the life I have if not for her. If she had not come into my life, I never would have left New Jersey, I never would have decided that I had to set a better example for her and start dating men who were worth my time instead of just taking up my time, I never would have met my husband, and I never would have appreciated him the way I do. So, let her have her phase. We’ll get through it. Hopefully unscathed and stronger for it. I’m going to take a deep breath and remember that this is the life I always dreamed of, even if it didn’t happen exactly how I planned it to.

As far as our dream home goes, I’m gonna chalk that one up to a learning experience. We now know exactly what we have to do in order to be ready to list our current home and we have a plan in place to get it done. We also have a plan to pay down some of our debt, which, in turn, would free up some of our monthly income and allow us to afford a bigger mortgage without becoming house poor. I’d much rather wait and do things the right way than rush into buying this home only to have it all flip upside down on us at the worst possible moment. What’s the point of buying your dream home if you’re not ready and you lose it to foreclosure? Or you ruin your marriage in the process fighting over money all the time? No thanks. I’ll hold off on that one.

Basically, I’m telling you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The situation you’re in right now might not be ideal, but it may be leading you towards a better scenario. Seven years ago, when I was pregnant and alone, do you think I thought it was the best place for me to be? No. But it led me to here. And I’ve never been happier, closer to my family, or had such an amazing group of friends as I do right now in my life. And I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

Pregnancy Makes Me Crazy

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I am a pretty fair-tempered person. I swear. For most of my post-pubescent years I have been the sane one, the laid back one, the easy to get along one. Even with my first pregnancy, I rarely had mood swings, I was always smiling and quick to laugh, and I worked right up until the end of my pregnancy without complaint. Fast forward to now… Not so much.

I’ve literally become a crazy person. While I’m secretly hoping this is due to an ungodly amount of testosterone flowing through my veins (PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE… LET THIS ONE BE A BOY!!!! lol) I’m not exactly sure if that’s the reason or not. But lately, I am so quick to lose my temper, I am so quick to lose my patience with customers at work (discreetly in the wait station where the flow of insults and curse words that come out of my mouth would make a sailor blush), and I am so quick to get upset with my husband over the stupidest things. That’s the worst part. I know these things that I’m flipping out over are stupid. I know I’m acting completely irrationally. But there is nothing I can do about it!!! It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers over here.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago we had an especially exhausting week over here. Him with work, me with work and Peanut, Peanut with school, and so on. On Sunday night, my only day off from both jobs, I went to pick up my little one from my moms, came home, and we all passed out on the couch for a while. After dinner, I passed out again. I was completely useless that night. On Tuesday night, he did the same thing. I wasn’t mad. It had just happened to me. We’re good. But, when it happened again on Wednesday, I was livid. Thursday, as I was trying to clean the house and he decided to rearrange the living room, I lost it on him for no good reason. None. I was sobbing and irrational, I cried off and on for hours after, and nothing good came from the situation. I think we’ve argued more since I’ve been pregnant than we have our entire relationship. And it’s almost always because of something that I’m blowing completely out of proportion.

Now, I’m not trying to be sexist here. I’m all about feminism and women’s rights. But, if anything, I would have thought this would have happened with my first pregnancy with double the estrogen. I mean, scientifically, estrogen is linked to us being more emotional and more in touch with our feelings, isn’t it? Now double that. I would have thought that carrying a girl would make me far more susceptible to these emotional outbursts. And it’s not like I gave birth to a tomboy. She’s 100% girly girl diva. So what is going on with me???? Again, “we” want to be surprised, so I’m not sure what baby #2 is, but either way, he/she is making me lose my marbles a little bit.

I’m also cranky at work, which is not a good thing when you work in the customer service industry. An already thankless, under-appreciated job is now amplified by my pregnancy hormones and my lack of ability to control them. Things I used to be able to brush off I now spaz out about. The same customer that’s been coming in for 2 1/2 years and never tips… I hate that guy now. Before I could tolerate him. Now, I totally avoid him because screw that guy. The same customers that come in on the same days and ask for the same things over and over again… I used to find some solace in their continuity and routine. Now I’m annoyed by them. It’s out of control.

I’m definitely earning this little “vacation” from work. Hopefully by the time I go back I will be so happy to be out of the house and talking to adults again that I will have refreshed myself for both the industry and my wallet’s sakes. At the very least, I hope it gives me the opportunity to enjoy my job and appreciate my husband again. Those are kind of essential for a happy life.

Well, after a refreshing lunch with my sister-in-law and nephew, I feel a little recharged. I’m going to relax, order a pizza for tonight, and head into work optimistic for a change. We’ll see how that goes.

Until next time, have a good day!

-C

Blessed

Being the mother of a strong-willed 6-year old with whom I have entirely too much personality in common means that there are many times when I fail to appreciate the person that she’s becoming and focus more on how I want her to behave. We fight about the same things on an almost daily basis. While I love being a mother, and feel blessed to be her mom in particular, sometimes it’s hard to keep that in perspective on a daily basis.

My peanut has been off of school for the past two days and I’ve been home with her. Yesterday was a snow day; today we had doctor’s appointments at the local children’s hospital. It was also a chance for quality one on one time with her and a chance to appreciate her again. While yesterday was filled with playing in the snow and making an igloo, today I got to appreciate what a brave little girl she has become.

Peanut was born with one leg longer than the other. While we don’t exactly hide this fact, it’s also not something we talk about often either. I took her to a pediatric orthopedic in New Jersey from birth until the time she was about 2 1/2 years old… Every six months like clockwork to keep an eye on the discrepancy and make sure it didn’t get any worse. There was also a concern that she would develop tumors in her belly, which is another symptom of a potential disorder. When that doctor started talking about leg-lengthening surgery, I stopped going to him. The surgery would basically consist of breaking her left femur, separating it slightly, then pinning it in place and forcing the leg to mend itself and the space. It’s extremely painful and was something I deemed unnecessary. Please keep in mind that she was walking at 11 months, has been taking gymnastics since she was 2 1/2, plays soccer and t-ball, and runs just like any other kid. This “disorder” has not hindered her in any way, and this is her normal. To put my child through that much pain… I just couldn’t do that. Ever.

Last March, however, she started complaining about her belly hurting. This brought back concerns over tumors and the like. MedExpress diagnosed her with an ulcer and gave her medication for it. It seemed to help. In December, the pain came back. I immediately scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician, who was concerned about the previous diagnosis considering they went off a blood test rather than doing a scope. I also brought up my concerns about this being related to her leg discrepancy. This led to today’s appointments at Children’s.

As we left the house this morning and took the drive up there, we talked about what might happen at her appointments and her concerns. She was worried she would have to get another finger prick or a shot. All she wanted was stickers and a lollipop. I told her what I knew they were checking for, but I was honest about not knowing what the day had in store for us. First up, the orthopedic doctor. She had to change into a gown, which was shorter than she was comfortable with so she wrapped a towel around her waist, and went in for her x-rays. She did wonderful. The doctor was amazing – very personable and easy to understand. Spoke professionally, but did not use all medical jargon that a layperson wouldn’t understand. He was also great with her. We talked about the discrepancy, how it had stayed roughly the same over the last 4 years, and what his concerns and plans were. There was a brief discussion of surgery around age 11, but there is still plenty of time for monitoring her condition before that becomes a major discussion.

Next came the gastro doctor. We talked at great length about Peanut’s eating habits, drinking habits, defecating habits, etc. She spoke to my daughter directly and only asked me questions when she needed more clarification or my child didn’t know the answer to a question. We talked about her “ulcer” and how we’ve remedied the situation since last March. My daughter sat there so well behaved and answered so clearly and distinctly. I was very proud of her. Then came time for testing, and she had to give blood and a stool sample. She cried during the blood draw, but I can’t blame her. It’s scary for a 6-year old.

As we were sitting there, it occurred to me how brave my little one really is and what a wonderful person she’s becoming. Here she was, out the door at 7:30am, seeing doctors and running all over the hospital until after noon, and almost the entire time she was calm, barely complained, and did exactly what was asked of her even when she was scared beyond belief. I felt like it was an honor for me to be the one to hold her hand while she went through all of this.

We went to lunch after and talked about how she felt, what the doctors had said so far, what we were waiting to find out, and what we would do with the rest of our day. She took off her bandage from the blood draw by herself even though it hurt to do it. Then she finished her milkshake, and we headed home. As she napped in the car on the way home, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am that I get to be her mom and how often I forget that lately. This person changed my life 100% for the better. She welcomed my husband into our little circle with open arms and creates beautiful little cards for him that say, “To Dad.” She constantly comes home with art projects made just for me, kisses me and tells me she loves me for no reason, and gives me hugs at the exact moment I need them. While I get lost in the day to day stresses of telling her again and again to shut off her bedroom light, clean up after herself, and complete her homework, she’s floating along in her own world, singing at the top of her lungs, totally unphased by me. She is such a wonderful little person and as I tucked her in tonight after reading a chapter in her book, I made sure to tell her as much.

Right at this moment, with a daughter I appreciate more than words can express, a wonderful husband who loves and supports us, and another child growing inside of me, I am overcome with a feeling of joy. I am so lucky that my life turned out this way.

Until tomorrow when we fight about combing her hair or brushing her teeth, anyway. LOL

Have a great night.

-C

Snow Day

I spent a good 2 hours yesterday trying to free myself the rest of the way from the snow. Luckily, I have wonderful neighbors that came over to help. Even their adorable little 3-year old had his shovel. Finally, I was free and able to go pick up Peanut from my mom’s. School was canceled for today, so we’re trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. Stay inside, watch Netflix, and drink hot chocolate is not good enough for a 6-year old. However, the Dyson Hot and Cold fan that I ordered (upon recommendation from multiple friends who have kids of their own and did extensive research) and the door draft guards that I ordered to warm up our home also arrived today, so they are all set up and will hopefully get her into the “Play in your playroom” spirit. Hey, wishful thinking.

So far, the plans for today include writing, folding the laundry that I’ve been avoiding for days, getting layered up and going outside to create an igloo and possibly shovel a path to the mailbox, then coming back inside to play board games, drink hot chocolate, and take a nap. Peanut has already picked out what she wants to help make for dinner tonight, so we will be working on that later, as well as running to the store to pick up some items for the freeze ahead meals¬†I talked about the other day. Seems full enough to me.

My little girl is so excited to go out in the snow. I understand her excitement, but I honestly hate the snow more than you can imagine. I was built for an island somewhere… Some place warm and tropical, where the only things that are frozen are the drinks. I’m that girl that hates having the fan blow directly on her, or the A/C on full blast. Once I’m cold, it takes me a lifetime to get warm again. Remind me why I moved to western PA again? Lol.

Sorry for such a short post today, but we’re looking forward to getting started. I will write more later to update on how everything went and hopefully include pictures of our igloo. Wish me luck!

-C

Our Furry Kids

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About 13 months ago, a little terrier mix found his way into our home. T’s dog was out front. When he went to let her in, this little guy came running into the house, straight to the top of our stairs, and wagged his tail like he was home. He wore a black collar with no tags, but was well fed and had just had his nails groomed. It was the middle of December, so we could not, in good conscience, let him back out on the streets. We put posts on Facebook, took him to the vet to see if he was microchipped, and posted Found Dog signs in the neighborhood. No one responded.

Since he was not fixed and neither was our female dog, we had to lock him in the garage for the night to keep them separated. He whined and scratched at the door the entire night. The. Entire. Night. In the morning, I got Peanut up and off to school, let the dogs outside and back in, and went back to bed because I had slept so poorly the night before. When T and I finally woke up for good, we sat in the kitchen drinking our coffee and T looked at me and said, “I say we name him Westley.” To which I responded, “Goodnight, Westley. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” (We’re both ridiculously huge Princess Bride fans.) A few days later I woke up to our new dog with his shiny new Westley name tag. We were adopting him.

The first few months were difficult – especially until we got him fixed. Westley is a runner. If the front door is open for more than 5 seconds, he’s gone. Strangely enough, though, he comes home after about an hour or so and scratches at the front door. He doesn’t run away as often now, but it still happens every once in a while. The best story happened late that first December. Westley got out while I was driving halfway across the state to get Peanut back from her dad. It was the night we were going to celebrate our Christmas. We came home to every door downstairs being closed (which makes the front entrance feel very claustrophobic), T and his dog waiting at the door, and loud barking coming from the garage. T looked at me and held his bloody hands out to me for help cleaning himself up. It seems that his first reaction when Westley fled was to run after him. In his socks. Over the wet grass. As soon as he hit pavement, however, his now wet socks failed him and he ate it. Hard. He tore up the palms of his hands, his right elbow, and his knees. And he still chased after the dog and got him home. The dog, however, was banished to the garage for the night. That was also the night that he proposed to me and Peanut (yes, he bought her a ring too). As he knelt down on one knee and asked me to marry him, he finished by saying, “This would hurt a whole lot less if I didn’t just eat pavement 45 minutes ago.” I smiled through my tears and kissed him. I love that man and the little moments like that.

Westley has been a part of our family since. He jumps into bed with us at night and paws at the top of the sheets until we let him under, then curls up into a ball and spoons us. He greets me every day as I walk through the door, even if all I did was walk the driveway and get the mail. He even knows that the 2:50pm alarm on my phone means it’s time to walk to the bus stop to pick up Peanut. He gets so excited for it. And, he helped us through one of the toughest times in our lives and our relationship.

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When I met T, I was in competition with the other love of his life – his dog, Blue. She was a beautiful Blue Healer/Husky mix with one brown eye and one blue eye and she had the sweetest disposition. The first time I met her, I immediately scratched that spot on her back right above her tail and we were fast friends. She would cuddle with me on the couch and would jump into our bed to cuddle in the mornings after T had left for work. Even though she will always be his dog, I like to think we shared a little piece of each others’ hearts. While T had her for almost 9 years, I only got to share 2 of those. On August 21st, we woke up, but Blue didn’t. She passed away in her sleep that night, watching over my peanut. It’s the first time I ever saw T cry. Thinking of the hole she left in our family still makes me tear up. I still can’t listen to that song, ‘See You Again’ from the newest Fast and the Furious movie without sobbing.

The morning that we found Blue, Westley laid on Sophie’s bed and cried. It was both endearing and heartbreaking. He walked around the house lost and aimless the next few days. We all did. But having him there to cuddle with, going through the daily routine with him, seeing how excited he was when any of us came home… That’s what got us through that time. I am forever in his debt because of that. T latched onto him after that day. He would come home, go in our room, and just cuddle with Westley on Blue’s old dog bed for an hour or more each day. The two of them now have an inseparable bond. T still has his off days where he misses his best friend, but having Westley here definitely made the transition a little easier.

What animals have made an impact on your life? How have they helped you?

 

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5 Minutes of Peace

Job #2 let me leave a little over an hour early today because we were slow. I could have picked up Peanut from her after school program early, but I know she was looking forward to going. T won’t be home from work for another half hour or so. I decided to take this opportunity to run to Target and pick up a few things that Peanut needs for school (along with a few things that we didn’t need), stopped at Dollar General to pick up snacks for the gift basket the girls from work are putting together for our friend who is leaving, and come home to write today’s blog entry.

It’s not often that I’m wide awake, feeling productive, and have a quiet house. Usually I prefer to take that opportunity to nap. However, since Peanut pointed out last night that I was on the computer a lot yesterday (I had quite a few posts to catch up on) and one of my resolutions was to spend less time on there, I thought I’d get this done before she gets home so that I can focus my attention on her.

As moms we’re always running somewhere or busy doing something. There’s always something around the house that needs to be done, an errand to run, and the endless task of laundry for which there’s no cure. We put our families’ needs before our own and we constantly give of ourselves for their sake. It’s in the programming. But every once in a while it’s nice to just sit back and do something for ourselves. Maybe you get your nails done or go to the spa, maybe you like to take yourself out to lunch and read a book in peace, maybe you hide in the bathroom with your phone and play a game (I’m not judging). Whatever it is you do, I hope you do something for yourself when you start to get run down. I hope you realize that you are no good to your family if you are worn out. It’s okay to be a little selfish now and then and say that you need some “Mommy time.”

My mom and stepdad are so amazing that they watch my daughter on the weekends so that T and I can both work. She sleeps over there on the Friday and Saturday nights that she doesn’t spend with her dad. I drive up there to see her on those days so that I still get to spend some time with her, but honestly, she could care less if I’m there or not. They are both so attentive and amazing with her that she prefers to be there than almost anywhere else in the world. They truly look forward to her being there, however, my stepdad still goes on his hunting weekends when it’s in season. He takes off to his friend’s cabin and Mom and Peanut have a girls’ weekend. Next weekend, my mom already let her know that she is going out with the girls on Saturday night. My daughter was so offended that she couldn’t be a part of this girls’ night. I had to explain to her that even Grandma needs a girls’ night with just adults once in a while. Please keep in mind, my mom is one of those women who give and give and give endlessly. I’m glad she’s finally taking some time out for herself.

Now that I’m pregnant, I don’t really have any desire to go out with the girls. Not that I was much of a ¬†drinker before, but the whole atmosphere doesn’t really hold any glamour for me. I’d rather be home cuddled up on the couch with my family and my pets. I’d rather have our family game night. If by some miracle, T and I have a weekend night off together, I’d be perfectly content ordering takeout and binge watching Netflix for the night. But I still need some kind of respite. Sometimes I’ll take myself out to lunch with a book I’ve been meaning to read. Other times, I’ve taken myself to the movies to see something I know no one else in the house has any intention of seeing. I don’t do these things often, but it’s a welcome change when I do take that time for myself.

What do you do to relax and get your head back in the game? How do you treat yourself?

I’ll write again later!

-C

Pregnancy: Round 2

37 weeks x1

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing and I feel lucky to be blessed enough to go through it a second time. They say that each pregnancy is different and now I finally believe them. While there have been some similarities (little weight gain and no morning sickness… Please don’t hate me) there have also been many differences this time around. Some may have to do with the baby, some the difference in age since last time, some the fact that I’m not doing it alone this time around. Let’s start there.

When I became pregnant with my now 6-year old, it was a shock. I had just ended a very toxic relationship with the immortal words, “F*%k you, lose my number” when I realized three weeks later that I was pregnant with his baby. I was devastated. Not about becoming a mother. About being connected to this person for the rest of my life. I called to tell him about the baby. He tried to manipulate me into having an abortion. To be honest, I had already considered it. I was 14 weeks along. I had been going to the gym nonstop to get rid of my “gut,” going tanning, and going out drinking. I didn’t know what kind of damage I had unknowingly done before that positive test. But I would not concede. He told me he’d become an alcoholic if I kept the baby. I told him that wasn’t my fault. We ended the conversation with me telling him to tell himself whatever he needed to in order to sleep at night but I was keeping the baby. I didn’t hear from him again.

My very Catholic grandmother was beside herself. “How will you raise a baby by yourself?” I simply told her that I was not the first woman to raise a baby on her own and I wouldn’t be the last. We left it at that and she has supported me every step of the way since. The rest of my family was also very supportive. I decided to work the summer in the beachy, tourist area where I had grown up so that I could save as much money as possible, then move to western PA to be closer to my mom and go back to school. I worked 40 hours per week, road my bike to and from work, and came in every day with a smile on my face. One of my coworkers found out what the baby’s father had done and tried to confront him one drunken night. I politely asked her not to fight my battles for me; that I didn’t want anyone guilting him into being a part of the baby’s life. Nothing else was said to him by or for me for the rest of the pregnancy.

It was a very easy pregnancy, with no morning sickness, a one-time craving (salt water taffy), and very little weight gain. I basically looked like I ate a beach ball (see picture above). And for the most part I didn’t hate him for not being there. Like I said, we were toxic together. It was for the best. Then a day came when the doctor’s office called to tell me I had to go for a more in depth ultrasound because they thought there was a cyst on the baby’s brain. I googled what that meant – awful words like Trisomy 18 and stillborn were the results – and I sat in my apartment alone and cried. That night I hated him. But only because there was no one to comfort me, no one to tell me it would be okay, and no one who knew the exact heartache I felt at that very moment. I went to the ultrasound a couple months later and everything was fine, though. No need for him to be there in the first place.

My daughter was born on her due date. I had my mom, my dad, and my aunt (who is like a big sister to me) in the room with me. The delivery was relatively easy, even though there are some things I will never forget about that day (you other women are liars… LOL) and my peanut was here. Even the first few months at home with her were easy. She was the best baby ever.

That year, I sent out Christmas cards. I had told everyone that if I didn’t hear from her father by her 1st birthday, I never wanted to hear from him. Then I decided it wasn’t fair to give someone a cut off date and not tell them when it was. So I sent him a Christmas card and a letter. I explained every detail about her and I offered him the chance to know her. He had until her 1st birthday to contact me or he had to sign over his rights to her. Either decision was a lifetime decision. He chose to know her. He met her for the first time when she was four months old. A couple months later we got back together to give it a try. If she could have her nuclear family I had to at least try. We ended things for good a year later for almost all the same reasons we didn’t work the first time.

24 wks x2

Now, almost 7 years later, I find myself pregnant again. This time is completely different, though. For one, I am with a man who loves me as much as I love him – a man who loves my child as if she were his own. Also, we were trying to conceive this baby to complete our family. It happened sooner than we expected it to, but we were ecstatic about it. The day I got the positive result I couldn’t wait to tell him and emailed him at work to call me as soon as possible. He called and I blurted it out. Nothing like the way I planned to tell him, but I was just so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. That night he came home with my favorite pie to celebrate.

While I still haven’t had any morning sickness and at 24 weeks I’m only up 11 pounds, I’m tired all the time. I don’t know if that’s because of my age, because I’m trying to keep up with a 6-year old, or because I work the night shift and that has me all thrown off. Either way, I know I do not have the energy I had at 28. Part of the incentive to get this other job was just to force myself to be awake and get back on a regular schedule. It hasn’t happened so far. Now I fall asleep as soon as I come home from the other job and I’m too tired to make dinner.

This time, I have someone else who has to agree on a baby name. To make matters worse, we’re not finding out what we’re having, so we have to agree on two names. For months T wouldn’t even discuss names, now he just detests every name I throw out there. But, at the same time, I have the emotional support of someone who loves me, who changes his work schedule to be at every single doctor’s appointment, who holds my hand without fail as I hear his breath catch in his throat each time we hear our baby’s heartbeat. This time, I will not face any issues alone. This time, it is not me and my baby against the world. This time we are completing the family we have already become. And while I would not trade my peanut or our journey for anything in this world, I will take this time anytime.

-C

Family Game Night

Last week was a rough one. There was a lot of yelling and tears and feeling like an awful mother. It was less than ideal. By Wednesday, I was in need of some laughter in our house. Peanut received Pie Face from her uncle for Christmas and we had a full can of whipped cream in the fridge, so I suggested we try out the game for the first time.

First off, it was not what I was expecting, but not in a bad way. I thought whoever got hit in the face lost. Not the case. That person just doesn’t earn any points that round. This gives the game the opportunity to share the wealth and hit every single person multiple times. It seemed to “pick on” one person per round and I got to be that person the first round. Peanut got hit every single time the second round, and T was the man of honor for round 3. We even made it into more of a game by trying to position our faces in the cut out so that we caught the whipped cream in our mouths instead of getting hit on the bridge of our noses (which is what was happening when we placed our chins on the chin rest).

The desired outcome was achieved. There was laughter in our home. We all had so much fun. Even our dog enjoyed the game because we let him lick the whipped cream off of our faces each time we got hit. It was so much fun just being carefree and laughing and having fun together. And it was long overdue.

Because of that, I think we’re going to implement a family game night. No, this is not a new concept. It’s not even a new concept for us. But it’s something we’re going to definitively set time aside for. It’s too easy to all sit on the couch watching TV and count that as family time. Or to sit together for dinner, then go our separate ways and say, Well, at least we spent some time together today. Last Wednesday was good for our family in every possible way and I would like to keep that going for as long as possible.

Luckily, Peanut got a bunch of games for Christmas, in addition to the games she already has. This will keep Game Night new and exciting for a while, even after we start recycling old games into the mix again. I’m just excited for us all to be spending quality time at home together, not staring at a screen of any kind, and laughing. I could care less what we do to make that happen.

Does your family do Game Night? Did you ever? What are your thoughts on starting one in your own home?

Have a great night and I will write more later. I still have 2 more articles to write until I’m caught up.

-C