Tag Archives: parenting

Here We Go

In honor of my baby turning 1 (how do I have a 1-year-old?), I’m re-sharing my first blog post.

the-delivery-room

I cried when I found out I was pregnant. Not an “I’m so overcome with joy” cry. More like an “Oh dear God, what have we done” cry.

My husband was alarmed by my initial reaction.

“You know this is what we were trying to do, right?” he asked, hugging me.

Of course I knew. I just wasn’t prepared. So not prepared, that I had poured myself a glass of red wine just before sneaking off to take the test. Ha! Who does that? A girl in denial, that’s who. (Mental note for future post: Address notion that 30-something-year-old mom still refers to herself as a girl).

Of course, deep down, I kind of knew it would be positive, otherwise, why take the test to begin with, right? But as they say (and by “they” I mean everyone on the planet with kids), you’re never really ready.

That night, (after pouring my untouched glass of wine down the kitchen sink) we watched A Nightmare on Elm Street (did I mention it was Halloween?), but I barely paid attention to the movie that used to scare the daylights out of me as a kid. Freddy Krueger seemed like a sweet little purring kitty cat compared to the idea of a little human that would be solely reliant on us.

Thankfully, the panic subsided fairly quickly and gave way to an insomnia-inducing combination of nervous excitement and neurotic nesting.

By 12 weeks, I was bursting at the seams to share the news.

At 14 weeks, we found out we were having a boy (to which my husband responded with a fist pump, a la The Breakfast Club.

By 20 weeks, I was gone; utterly and completely head over heels for this little creature practicing somersaults in my belly.

Our due date was July 10, but C.J. was born two weeks early, coaxed out by 9 hours of pitocin, followed by 53 minutes of twitchy, anxious encouragement from a very stressed-out father-to-be.

Up until that point, I had been nervous about holding him. I’d never held a newborn before and was terrified I’d drop him. But the second they handed me that 5-pound, 6-ounce bundle, I finally understood what everyone meant when they said, “It’ll come naturally.” The three of us sat in that hospital bed, our new little family unit, blissfully happy. In that moment, everything felt insanely right in the world, and all my fear and anxiety was drowned out by this fierce, new crazy kind of love.

We’ve got this, we thought as they settled us into our cozy little Mother Room. We’ve soooo got this.

Then the nurses left. And we were all alone. Just the three of us. Our new little family unit. C.J. cried. Jonathan and I looked at each other. Then we looked at C.J.

Ummm  … nurse?

Advertisements

The Forgotten Children

Artie and C.J., Seeing Eye to Eye

The crying little bundle in my arms was making Artie anxious.

“It’s OK, buddy,” I said, as he frantically whimpered and jumped up to see what it was.

“Down,” I scolded, gently, but firmly. He followed me throughout the house, stopping when I stopped and rearing up on his little hind legs to try and catch a glimpse. Clyde, though nearly deaf, was curious as to what I was holding and stayed close behind.

“Try sitting on the couch,” Jonathan said.

I settled into the sofa and immediately, both dogs put their paws up on it, begging to be let up and sneak a peek at this mysterious little thing I was carrying around and handling with such care.

“Be sweet,” we said. “This is your baby brother,” we informed them.

Artie was the one we were worried about. We were certain that Clyde would, for the most part, ignore C.J. But Artie? There was no telling how his curiosity and jealousy would manifest themselves.

“Ok,” I said, tired. “I think that’s good for today.”

I turned off the crying baby app, unwrapped the bundle and removed the stuffed lion from inside the blue blanket, setting it down on the coffee table.

“Don’t let them see that it’s a stuffed animal,” Jonathan scolded, grabbing the lion and hiding it.

“They don’t know the difference,” I said, 30-something weeks pregnant and exhausted.

“Of course they do,” he said. “They’ve seen a stuffed animal before,” he said, pointing at their stuffed squeaking duck on the living room floor.

Oh, right. Guess he had a point.

If you’re wondering what the meaning of this absurdity is, let me enlighten you. This was our carefully concocted strategy for getting our beloved furry children used to A) The sound and presence of a crying baby, and B) The loss of our undivided attention.

We were determined to make this an easy, painless transition for them.

You see, I used to be obsessed with my dogs. Like really obsessed with them.

I never even wanted an engagement ring; instead, I wanted Jonathan to propose to me by offering me a puppy. (I ended up getting both — yep, he pretty much wins the Best Husband Ever award.)

When we left them behind for vacations, I’d request photo updates from the sitter several times a day and leave behind typed, detailed notes with emergency phone numbers and instructions to fill their water bowl with filtered water and ice cubes.

I was head over heels for Artie. Every night, we cuddled on the couch and stared deeply into each other’s eyes. True story. It creeped Jonathan out.

At dinner, friends would go on about their kids. “He gets so upset when I’m on the phone, not paying attention to him,” they might say. “He just starts acting out.”

I’d nod. “Oh my god, I know!” I would tell them, totally identifying. “Artie does the SAME thing!”

On the way home, Jonathan would tell me that I should probably stop comparing our dogs to other people’s kids.

“Whatever, they ARE our kids,” I’d say. We even had little steps leading up to our bed.

People warned us things would change when the baby came. “No way,” we thought. How could it? No one loved their dogs more than we did.

CJ and Clyde

Enter C.J.

Dog barks.

“I swear to God, if that dog barks one more time, I’m going to look into getting his voice box removed.”

Yeah. I’d say things have changed, alright.

It sort of happens without you even realizing it. This tiny human demands your body and your attention 24/7 and you don’t even realize there’s a sweet little Yorkie begging for your attention, or a sleepy little peekapoo who’s too old and grumpy to ask, but would love a pat on the head. When I was on maternity leave, there were days I forgot the dogs even existed unless they barked, in which case I became infuriated. There just didn’t seem to be enough energy or love inside me for all of them. Thank God Jonathan still loved them. And fed them. And took them outside.

Now that C.J. is 9 months old, we’ve come out of the fog a bit, and I make more of an effort to show both dogs a little love each night.

But every now and then, there are moments when we can’t believe how things have changed. Just the other night, Jonathan awoke to Clyde whimpering, laying beside his food bowl.

“Oh my god,” Jonathan said. “We are the Worst. Dog Owners. Ever.”

Turned out, we hadn’t filled their food bowls in about 24 hours. I thought he might cry from the guilt. Clyde was his baby, long before I even came along.

Things are slowly working toward Back To Normal. Artie and Clyde are getting used to C.J. We think they may even be starting to love him (either that, or they’re tasting him to see if he would make a good meal).

We hope that soon, when C.J. is running around, playing with them, his unconditional love and energy will make up for the changes they’ve experienced this past year. That they’ll grow to see him as part of our family, rather than a disruption to it.

 

Related Content: Welcoming Furry Friends To Your Home

 

Pajama Thursday

Every Friday, our daycare sends home a peppy little newsletter informing us of next week’s theme and activities. For example, March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so Read Across America with Dr. Seuss kicked off that Monday, and Wednesday, Cat in the Hat paid the classroom a special visit. (According to C.J.’s daily infant report, he REALLY enjoyed Cat’s visit — I only wish I could have been there to see it).

I keep this newsletter on our fridge. Sometimes I read it, sometimes I don’t. One evening, while perusing the fridge for an after-work snack, I happened to take a peek at it and noticed that the following day was Pajama Day. I immediately got excited because A) Dressing a baby doesn’t get much easier than P.J.’s and B) Honestly — is there anything cuter than baby in a footed onesie? (Sidebar: Two years ago, I would have said, “why, yes” and pointed at my dogs.)

I had just the jams for this occasion: a brand-spankin’ new, bright blue number with lime green buttons, footsies and an adorable little turtle on the front. I de-tagged it, washed it and the next morning, we were ready to roll.

“I wish I could wear pajamas today, too,” I whispered to C.J. as I carried him from the car to his school. He flapped his arms and responded with his happy pterodactyl shriek. Seeing other kids amble up to the building with their parents, I deduced that Pajama Day was not a school-wide initiative. Lucky infants! I thought.

There were only two other kids in C.J.’s class so far. L, who was, as usual, red-faced and screaming, and J, who as usual crawled right up to C.J. and swatted his face. Neither of them was in pajamas.

Guess their parents didn’t read the newsletter, I thought smugly. I was impressed with myself; it’s not every day I’m so on top of my game. I got to work and IM’d Jonathan to give him my usual unsolicited report of how drop-off went.

 Me:  That little stinker was so cute in his little turtle jammies.

Jonathan:  I know.

Me:  L and J were in there, but neither of them was wearing jammie jams. Oh well.

Jonathan:  You definitely got the day right?

Me:  Yeah, it was today. I don’t really care either way. Rainy Friday. He’s cozy. Still stylin.’

Jonathan:  Yeah, except it’s Thursday.

Me:  OH [word I can’t say on my blog or I’ll get fired]!

Jonathan:  Oh well—he still looks cute—but you are losing it.

I felt like a complete moron as several realizations hit me all at once.

I wasn’t sure which was more troubling: the fact that my child was likely the only one in the entire school wearing his pajamas, the fact that it wasn’t Friday or the fact that now his teachers — not just my husband — know I’ve lost my mind.

I had tried so hard to keep the crazy confined to my house. No one has to know that sometimes I absentmindedly toss dirty clothes into the trash can instead of the hamper. Or that once in a while, I run around the house frantically searching for my cell phone only to realize minutes later that I’m on it. Or that just a few weeks ago, I unloaded groceries and stored a box of trash bags in the fridge. Or that every so often, I yell at my husband for moving my phone charger, then later on, I find it in my laptop bag.

I contemplated calling the school and explaining myself, but I thought that might make me seem even more crazy.

So I did what any normal, sane human being would do. I laughed so hard I cried.

Overheard in Our House

– A conversation between me and Jonathan hours before leaving C.J. with a sitter for the first time.

Me: I feel weird having a pizza delivery person go to the house with just the sitter there. What if he’s a psycho?

Jonathan: Dial it back, cuckoo.

Me: I don’t think that’s that crazy. Cute girl, all alone, babysitting, ordering pizza. That is a perfect recipe for a scary movie.

 Jonathan: Erika — would you not order pizza if you were by yourself?

 Me: Yeah, I would.  

Jonathan: What’s the difference? That’s nutty. I don’t think this is a, “Hello, Sydney” situation.

Me: The difference is, I’m a mama bear, and she is not.

Jonathan: This kid is going to need therapy. Should I just go to the movies with the babysitter and let you watch C.J.?

My Achy Breaky Heart

I opened the door. The sound of babies crying flooded my ears.

Crap, I thought.

My heart sank an inch. I had been fine until this moment.

Babies cry, I thought to myself. It’s practically their job.

I propelled myself further into the large, cheerful-looking room. For a moment, I stood quietly on the Kelly green rug, looking around, clutching C.J., keeping his face close enough to mine that I could feel his breath against my cheek.

Scanning the room, I recognized two other children from C.J.’s old classroom. They must have just moved up too, I thought. Both of them were crying, tears streaming down their little red faces.

My heart inched its way down a little deeper.

Babies in not-so-high chairs were lined up in a row along the front of the class. In front of them, Teacher #1 walked around with a bag of sandwich bread, placing torn-up little pieces on trays in front of them. It reminded me of someone feeding ducks in a pond. Off to the right, Teacher #2 was attempting to feed one of C.J.’s old classmates pureed baby food that looked like pears. I don’t remember what Teacher #3 was doing. Changing a diaper? Looking at papers on a clipboard?

I stood there expectantly. Am I supposed to say something first, or are they? I wondered.

“Hi,” I said, weakly. “This is C.J.”

“Oh,” they all said, sort of in unison.

“Hi, C.J.,” someone said.

“Look at those eyes,” Teacher #2 said, looking at C.J.

I stood there, waiting. For what, I don’t know.

In his old classroom, one or both teachers would rush to greet us, scooping C.J. up in their arms and talking sweetly to him. But this was not his old classroom, and no one was rushing to my baby’s side.

“When did he eat last?” Teacher #2 asked.

“7 a.m.,” I told her.

Teacher #3 came over. I think she introduced herself to me, but I can’t remember. She was not smiling as she reached for the diaper bag slung over my shoulder and put his bottles in the fridge. I asked a few more questions about naps and told them he’s been having a hard time sleeping during the day at school.

“That’s common,” they assured me.

I was still standing in the same spot, still waiting for the warmth his previous teachers had shown us. But they didn’t ask me a single question about my son. And not one of these women — these women I was leaving my child with almost every day for the next five months — made any move to come greet my child, make him smile, make me think they cared, make me feel at ease.

I felt a little bit silly. “Should I put him down somewhere,” I finally asked.

Teacher #2 sort of shrugged. “You can put him on the mat there,” she said.

The floor?  I thought to myself.

It’s not that I’m anti-floor — he spends plenty of time there at home. But to bring him in on his first day in a new class and set him down on the floor and leave? It just didn’t feel right. Unsure of what to do, I put him down, hesitantly. He propped himself up on his little hands and looked up. His lower lip puckered out, quivered.

C.J. began to cry. And still, no one came to hold my baby.

This. This was when my heart hit rock bottom.

I tried to play it cool and gave him a minute. When he didn’t calm down, I knelt down beside him and rubbed his back. I scooped him back up, gave him a kiss and set him back down, this time propped up against some soft, colorful blocks. He looked around, no longer crying. I let the teachers know I was going to grab his pacifier from the car, an excuse to distance myself from the situation for a moment.

I fought back tears on my way out. This wasn’t C.J.’s first day at daycare — only his first day in a new classroom. I hadn’t expected it to be difficult. Was it supposed to be? Was I expecting too much of these teachers? Had his previous teachers set the bar too high? Was I experiencing Mommy-melodrama? More than likely, it was a combination of all four. But I couldn’t help but think that on his first day in a new class, C.J. should have been welcomed a bit differently.

I gathered myself, grabbed a pacifier and walked back in, relieved to find Teacher #2 sitting in a chair, holding C.J.

My heart crept back up a quarter of an inch. As I washed off his pacifier, the school’s director walked in to see how it was going for the new kids in the classroom. Another quarter inch up it went.

I knew I had to leave. And I knew he’d be OK. I got in my car and let myself cry for a minute, hoping that when I picked him up later that afternoon, I’d find him smiling or in someone’s arms so that my heart might make its way back up to its rightful spot.