Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Trials (and Errors) of Being a Mama

This parenting business is tricky stuff. And it's no secret that I feel like I'm screwing up daily. I have this phenomenal support system that takes every opportunity they can to remind me that all parents feel that way, and that I'm actually not ruining my kids life. I am so beyond grateful for them, and I know that some days, those reminders are what get me through.

But...there are always those moments. Those decisions. That you look back on and you think, "WHAT!?". I've had a couple of those lately. And I've taken my time to feel down and awful about them, and now I'm onto the next phase. The phase of "Ok, it happened, we fixed it, I still live and breathe for Landon, and he still loves me. Let's move on."

Case study #1? A traumatic case of croup and a hospital stay. While in my deepest core of common sense I know that I didn't do anything to make him sick, there is still a very large part of me that is screaming, "But you didn't keep him healthy!!!". And that part....well she's a real bitch. I was so embarrassingly proud of the fact that we all got through the winter without really being sick. A cold was the worst of what hit us, and it was so minor, that it's almost not even worth mentioning. I somehow got my kid through the one of the worst "puking seasons" I've heard of in a loooong time, unscathed. I was amazed. I had this crap under control. Hand sanitizer, lots of wiping down surfaces, and basically being hermits.....that's the ticket. But....spring came, and brought with it warmer weather, and I got too confident. Yes, we still washed our hands and wiped down the grocery store carts. But I didn't think twice about putting him in the swing at the park, and going out to eat just didn't seem like that big of a deal anymore. And, sure enough, a rash turned into a fever, that turned into a cough, that turned into the worst 72 hours of my life.

Long story short, a couple weeks ago, we noticed a rash on Landon after playing outside all day. We figured it was either heat rash, or some random reaction to his sunscreen, and didn't think much about it. That night, he spiked a fever. He woke up the next morning with an insignificant cough, but the fever was higher and the rash was worse, so we went to urgent care. Did a strep test, came back negative. Determined he had an ear infection and a viral rash that would clear up on its own. Satisfied with that answer, we headed home. By late that evening, the fever was through the roof and the cough had become that unmistakable "seal bark". We tried everything to get him through the night so we could go and see our doctor Monday morning. Steam, cold air, snuggles, popsicles, everything. But around 1:30, his lips started turning blue, and it was a whole different ball game. Two breathing treatments, a round of steroids and several hours in the ER later, his oxygen levels were still way too low, so we were admitted to the hospital. At this point, I had to watch them hook my baby up to oxygen, load him onto a gurney, and I had to follow an ambulance down to St. John's Main. Yes, he was with his father and I knew he was ok, but still.....that had to be the worst feeling in the world. Following behind this ambulance, not knowing how he's doing at that very moment, knowing that we are about to be admitted to the pediatric floor and not knowing what would come next. Yes, most kids come out of croup fine, he did before, when he was 6 months old. But this time was different, this was serious, and every horrible thought I could possibly have was going through my mind. There is no way around it, I was a complete mess, who hadn't slept in 24 hours. We spent the next 24 hours trying to comfort a scared, miserable little boy, while nurses and doctors tried comforting us. I had to listen to countless people tell me to go home and sleep, that the baby needed me to. I had to then tell those people countless times that they were out of their damn mind if they thought I was leaving my hospital gown clad toddler and going anywhere. So I stayed awake for another 24 hours, truthfully, not even thinking about what I was doing, just watching his numbers on the monitor, and watching his chest rise and fall, and listening for any sign of him struggling to breathe. By that 48 hour mark, I don't think tired was even registering on my radar anymore. Thankfully, after one full night of monitoring, they let us go home. He was much better, but still not himself, and it would take days until he was. We came home on Tuesday, and it was Friday morning before the crazy kid I know was back. Of course, he came back right as I was being struck down with whatever insane virus had attacked him. It's now the following Thursday, and I can finally say that I feel like I can rejoin the human race today. Amen!

Moral of the story? It's going to happen, he's going to get sick. God forbid it ever gets that bad again, I will be a complete and utter disaster of a person once more. But I didn't do it to him. I couldn't stop it. At the end of the day, I listened to my mama gut, got him where he needed to be, and I did the only thing I could.....I didn't leave his side, I loved him, I let him know it was ok, and he knew he wasn't alone. Maybe I shouldn't have been sobbing uncontrollably alongside him when we were holding him down for breathing treatments, maybe seeing him in a teeny tiny hospital gown shouldn't have made my heart break into a million pieces. But....that's me. It hurt him, so it hurt me. In the end, as a mama, I did ok.

Case study #2? The damn toddler bed. We got a positive pregnancy test back at the beginning of March, and my mind went into overdrive. Oh my God....he needs to be potty trained, and out of the crib.....NOW. We only have 9 months. It needs to happen NOW. Well now I'm stepping back and doing that "What???" thing.

We nearly immediately switched his room, put him into the old office room, and put him in a toddler bed. That had been the plan all along. When baby #2 came, they would go in the green room, boy or girl, so we could avoid painting, and Landon would get the blue room. Yeah, well, I don't think the plan was to traumatize us all at once. Quite honestly, he did awesome the first week or so, he truly did. But then he got sick, and he was in the hospital, and he refused to sleep without being held. Cue the last week. He has refused to stay in bed, he doesn't fall asleep until nearly 11, and then is up at 6:30, and he's miserable. If he's not sleeping, it means we're not sleeping, and it has all just been basically awful. I have done countless hours of research on how to make this easier, and in the end, it all came down to one truth: he's just not ready. He's still a baby, let's be honest. And he's just not there yet. So what the hell was I doing? I have no idea. Trying to save us money by not having to buy a new crib for a new baby? Stupid. Needless to say, after a long talk, his crib was moved into his new room last night (and yes, he went right to sleep at 8:30, and slept through the night), and today, we'll move the rest of his "old" furniture in as well. The baby will get the green room, but it'll get new furniture, and Landon will keep HIS. And he can stay in his crib for as long as he needs to, and I can soak up the fact that my two year old isn't a COMPLETE "big boy" yet.

Moral of THAT story? I made a mistake. I pushed him too far, too soon, for no reason. And yes, I feel silly and pretty awful about it now. But, we're fixing it, and we're making it right again. That's all we can do. I can't go back in time and change everything, or I would. I could sit and sulk and cry and beat myself up over it, but what will that do? Not much. What matters is that we figured it out, and he's feeling comfortable, safe, and well rested again. That's a win.

And now we're into panic mode with his birthday party this weekend. Jeremy has had the whole week off, thank God, because I have been useless while I fought off this sickness, but we haven't gotten nearly as much done as we wanted to have done by Thursday morning. So today, after a hot shower to wash off any remnants of the "grossies", I'm off, to tackle the last minute needs of a two year olds birthday party. And, most importantly, I will make sure that he has the best damn Diego party I can give him. This ain't gonna be no "case study #3", kids.

Oh...and lastly....I felt baby's flutters for the first time yesterday. One of the upsides of being stuck in bed and not able to move. It's amazing how much you forget about that feeling when it's no longer there. But let me tell's pretty damn cool. And this bambino can flutter to its hearts content, mama is soakin' it up.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Stop and Smell the Roses....errr....Dandelions

Life with an almost two year old is a little.....hectic. Emotional. Bipolar, really. Add to it pregnancy hormones, and those around me, specifically my husband, probably deserve a medal of honor.

Although.....Tuesday marked the end of my first trimester (and I loved that it fell on my bestie's birthday....there was just a whole lot to celebrate that day), the weather has FINALLY turned beautiful, and I do actually think that the second trimester brought with it a batch of feel good hormones. I've found myself more patient, happier, and just generally lighter, the last few days.

But that doesn't change that I still live with a small monster, that wants to test me every minute of the day. This week has been a whirlwind of great moments for Landon, and really, really awful moments. I could just write about the good ones, but that would portray us as this perfect, always happy, always together little family....which we are NOT.

Wednesday night, Jeremy decided to take Landon to a soccer game. In all fairness, I feel like his expectations for Landon's behavior may have been a little too high. He should have known the wiggle worm would never sit in the stands without argument and watch high school girls kick a ball around. However, I still know that he witnessed the utter mess that Landon can know....the mess that I'm always telling him about, but he never seems to be around to see. Yes, well. They came home about an hour later, and I could hear Landon's screams before he even opened the car door. Jeremy looked like he had just run a marathon, and he was just beside himself. I listened as he told me all about how he threw himself on the ground, walked over a woman's north face jacket, screamed when Jeremy tried to pick him up. I know he wanted a lot of sympathy, but really, I couldn't help but laugh. Especially when he told me, "No, you don't understand. He was awful". Oh, I don't understand? No, but I do. This meltdown is equivalent to the ones that I have sat and cried over at the dinner table. The ones that happen in the middle of Target, or in a restaurant. The ones that my dear, sweet husband always tells me, "He's two. He doesn't know any better. It's ok. He'll get better." So I said those same words to him. Funny enough, they weren't much comfort.

He was embarrassed. And I get it, totally. The funk hung around him for the rest of the night and into the next morning, despite our sweet, loving Landon having returned. My hope is that the lesson behind this is that the next time I'm mortified and frustrated, he gets it. I'm probably asking for a lot, but my fingers are crossed.

That day was followed by yesterday, when that ugly creature didn't rear his head at all. I had a perfect toddler all day. We played outside, we went for walks, we watered our seeds, we read books, we took a three hour nap, we ate all three meals PERFECTLY, and we ended our day with a wagon ride with Daddy. He went right to sleep, never got out of bed during the night. All in all....he really did have a "perfect" day. He has those days.....where he really does seem like he might bypass the terrible twos.

But those days are always followed by days where we are reminded that no, he will not skip over them. He will land right in them, really sink into them, and who knows how long they'll last.

Today in between. There was a lot of whining about nothing this morning. But he was phenomenal in Kohl's and Michaels during our errands. He wasn't happy when I told him we had to come in to eat lunch, and he threw himself on the ground and kicked and hit. But, he ate his whole lunch, and then fell asleep on our walk afterwards. He took a short nap, but woke up with a smile on his face and a hug for me and a kiss for baby.

So we went to the park. And I made a decision. Just him and I were going to the park. Not my phone. I wasn't going to wait for the perfect moment to snap a picture that would be great on Instagram. I didn't want to follow him around waiting for a cute face to share on Facebook. No. I wanted it to just be about him and me. So we swung on the swings. We went down the slides. We climbed the huge sled hill (and ran down) three excruciating times. He stopped to smell every single dandelion in a field of dandelions. He ran the bases on the baseball field. He was thrilled. And he was....again....perfect. He listened wonderfully, he laughed, he reached up and grabbed my hand while we were walking the trail. He kissed me, he said "Mommy!" with such glee. My heart exploded at that park. And I was so grateful that I made it just about us. In 6 months, it won't be "just us 2" anymore. There'll be another little bug hanging around, so I need to savor every moment of "just us" that I can. And today I did. Until it was time to strap him in his carseat.

He walked to the car perfectly. I told him we would go home and have a popsicle, and he kept chanting "opseeecle, opseeeecle". Picked up and put him in his seat, and that happy child disappeared, and out came that monster. There was kicking, there was screaming, I was even slapped across the face. I assured him that he would not be coming back to the park if that's how he acted, and he proceeded to kick his DVD player off the seat, to what I was sure was its demise (I'm happy to report, that the monster got INCREDIBLY lucky, and didn't break it). There were crocodile tears all the way home. And I felt myself starting to get angry, but those feel good pregnancy hormones must be little heroes, because they stopped me. Instead, I was thankful for the hour we just spent together. For the laughter and the happy. And I reminded myself that these tantrums are going to come, but they are far outweighed by the good. And I somehow managed to calmly (me, not him) get him in the house and let him finish his fit, which included some books being thrown. Sure enough, once he got it all out of his system, in an instant, that happy boy was back. Crawling onto my lap, giving me hugs and saying "orry Mama".

The thing is, he knows when he's being bad. And he knows how to behave better. But, just like his mother, in the heat of the moment, it doesn't matter. He's upset, and he has to just get it out. I know how that feels.....needing to just "get it out". So I let him do it. Because it never fails, that once he's done, he appreciates having had the chance to scream and be sad, and I get the reward for it. The hugs, the kisses, the "orry"'s, and the "love ya"'s. And those are so much more important than stressing out over the screaming.

Does that mean I will gladly let him throw a fit in the middle of Target if he doesn't get his way? Hell to the no. But it means I will let him feel upset. Feel anger, and sadness. I won't just give in and give him his way to make him always be happy. It's a part of life, and he is learning that he isn't always going to get exactly what he wants. I'm praying (hard), that with time, he finds better ways to express those emotions, but in the meantime....he's two. And this is what he does. And we aren't going to change him, I wouldn't want to. So we're going to roll with it. And we're going to learn from it. And we're all going to be ok. 

By the way...the other peanut, the small one inside, is doing phenomenal. But it's already taking a hint from its older brother, and is very stubborn. It hid from the poor ultrasound tech for forever on Wednesday, and it likes to hide from me every time I try to find it with my doppler. But when we do find it, it's adorable, with a perfect heartbeat. And really.....that's what counts.