my favorite month

I think December will always be one of my favorite months. For one, Ellie was born on the 20th, and I will always remember that month in 2008 as one of anticipation, pure joy and utter chaos all at once–like being five years old on Christmas morning all over again.

But December is also the month we discovered Gwen would be joining us, which is a story I never told here because I was too busy hibernating for the first part of this year. Now is as good a time as any!

Last year at this time we were actively trying to get pregnant–something I never want to do again. Not that the process itself isn’t, uhh, fun, and not that the result isn’t worth the effort, but (in typical Caroline fashion) I can’t do something without getting obsessed and I’m the least patient person you’ll ever meet. I’m Miss “If I can’t do it right the first time I don’t want to do it at all.”

In other words: I may maintain an adult exterior but on the inside I’m still five years old.

So I’d spent the two months since I stopped taking birth control in typical obsessive fashion: Sobbing unattractively every time I peed on a stick. Buying pregnancy tests in bulk and taking them every day, even when I knew I’d get a negative result. Charting temperatures and tracking fertility signs (ladies, a litmus test: If you can utter the words “cervical mucus” and your guy or gal of choice doesn’t run screaming the other way, you’ve picked a good one.) Examining false positives under different light sources at a thousand different angles. Reading fertility message boards and learning the acronyms (TTC! DTD! BFP!) all the while convinced we’d never get pregnant, I’d never be able to have another baby, I’d have to go through all sorts of painful procedures and exams and on and on and on.

Let me reiterate: ¬†All this over the course of two months. Two months. Some people go through this for years, and I don’t know how they do it because I’d have imploded with anxiety by month four.

I’ll also remind you that Ellie was a surprise. A big surprise. We weren’t preventing, but we also weren’t expecting anything to happen for a long time. I’d convinced myself over the course of the last two years that she was a miracle, and repeating that miracle would take nothing short of, well, another miracle.

Anyway, Christmas came around and I promised myself I’d have a nice time with family and try to forget about the pregnancy nonsense for a few days. Well, mostly. I was still taking tests obsessively but I was determined not to be mopey about it, and on that front I succeeded. We visited my parents, spoiled Ellie rotten for her birthday and all was well.

On Christmas Eve I got the stomach bug that had been circulating and spent most of the day in bed feeling feverish and trying not to puke. I took a pregnancy test just for the hell of it and thought maybe I’d seen the faintest of faint pink lines (if I held the test upside down while jumping around in a counterclockwise circle three and a half turns), but I’d been seeing false positives for weeks. In keeping with my “No Stressing on Christmas” mantra, I didn’t get my hopes up.

Ellie woke up at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, refusing to sleep, wanting to cuddle. So in a bleary state of exhaustion I thought, “What the hell, I’m up” and decided to take another test. This time the faint pink line was not so faint… hmm. So I tried another brand of test (see the part about me being obsessive) and the second line was blatantly obvious. I did a happy dance in the bathroom, then crawled back into bed and tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep for the next three hours.

Before Tim woke up that morning, I put the test back in its foil sheath and wrapped it in green tissue paper. I stuck a bow on top and snuck downstairs before the rest of the family, placing the test in Tim’s stocking so it would be the first “gift” he opened–and when he did, his absolutely perplexed look was priceless. His first words to me were, “You mean… it’s over???? Thank god!!!”

Oh, no, my dear. It’s just beginning! Proof:

Guinevere

(Hard to believe someone so laid-back came from someone so insane, isn’t it?)

a gwen update

Someone turned two months old a few days ago, and wow, where did the time go? I thought it moved fast with Ellie, but with Gwen we appear to have created a full-fledged rip in the space/time continuum. Sorry if anyone’s stuff got sucked into a black hole as a result–but just look at this face! Totally worth it, right?!?

Happy baby

Seriously, I would have ten more kids if I didn’t have to carry them for nine months and if it was guaranteed they’d be as easy-going as our Guinevere. We’ve been lucky with both our girls (good sleepers!) but Gwen’s temperament reaches a whole new level of cool.

She’s growing like a weed. At her last appointment she measured 25 inches long–in case you’re not familiar with average infant measurements, that translates to really freakin’ long. This explains why her 3-6 month sleepers are getting snug at the feet. Obviously it’s too early to tell if this will have any impact on her full-grown height, but I think someone has a future in basketball.

Many people say she’s starting to look like me, but I don’t see it. What I do see is Ellie–lots and lots of her. It’s almost like we have twins, but three years apart:

Ellie, two months oldGwen, two months

What they share in similarity they make up for in different personalities–Gwen is more mellow, Ellie, more active; Gwen is talkative, Ellie, cuddly; Ellie hammed it up for the camera (even as a baby!) but Gwen doesn’t quite know what to make of it. I have to remind myself not to compare them too much, because doing so serves no useful purpose (and could get me in trouble when they’re old enough to call me out on it.)

Ellie adores “her baby” (as she calls her) and it’s becoming apparent that Gwen adores her “big sissa” just as much. She watches Ellie dance and sing and bounce around, taking it all in with rapt attention, rewarding Ellie’s antics with big grins and coos. I can only imagine the trouble we’ll be in when Gwen can keep up with her…

… yeah, we’re screwed. But at least she’s cute. ;)

who let me have children, anyway?

I didn’t write about it at the time, but Tim returned from a business trip to Hungary a couple weeks ago and at the risk of sounding incredibly un-feminist–I’m not entirely sure how I survived that week and a half without my husband.

Let me preface this by saying, I am not single parent material. Period. Tim and I make a great team and he’s an exceptional and involved father. For that I am very grateful, but when he leaves life gets… difficult. Like I’m suddenly missing a large and very valuable limb.

Case in point: Tim went to Montreal for a weekend WordCamp this summer, leaving Ellie and me (a very pregnant me, I might add) to our own devices. My mom came to help for part of the time, but mostly it was just the two of us, hanging out. I thought I was prepared for the chaos. I even dug out my giant childhood sticker collection and let Ellie have at it, thinking that would keep her busy for a while (and obviously forgetting most two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat on crack.)

Sticker fun lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of peace–that summed up my weekend. Ellie refused to nap, so by the time Sunday evening rolled around she was alternately bouncing off the walls with giddy happiness and throwing herself on the floor in a fantastic tantrum–all in the span of maybe two minutes. At one point Tim Skyped us to see how things were going and, upon answering the video chat, was greeted with two sobbing females–one child, one adult, both at the end of their proverbial ropes. Let’s just say it was intense. I’m surprised he didn’t decide to stay in Canada permanently after that.

So that gives you an idea of how I fare when I parent alone–I’m basically on autopilot, and a pretty crappy autopilot at that. I’m less hormonal these days, sure, but now I have two children to think about–twice the chaos! Half the sleep! Continue reading

halloween with dr. seuss

One of the biggest benefits to being on maternity leave right now: I actually had time to make Halloween costumes this year! And by “make” I mean “cobble together from random stuff.” This mama doesn’t sew, but give me a glue gun and a bunch of felt and I’ll figure it out. Ellie came up with the idea for her costume this year; guess who she’s currently obsessed with:

Dr. Seuss Halloween costumes

"You stuck WHAT on my head?!?"

Yes, I can practically recite The Cat in the Hat Comes Back from memory. Once we’d decided on Ellie’s costume, I couldn’t resist dressing Gwen in a compatible outfit–she’s Thing 2, of course, because Thing 1 was technically Ellie.

This was also Ellie’s first real year of trick-or-treating and when she realized that meant FREE CANDY, it took her no time to catch on. Although we need to work on her selection process–she turned down way too many fun-size chocolate bars in favor of the cheap stuff. Cardinal rule of trick-or-treating: ALWAYS GO FOR THE CHOCOLATE FIRST. Those orange-wrapped nut things barely count as candy.

Mama and Daddy also had a Halloween treat of sorts–we spent the afternoon buying a car! Actually a 2008 Honda Odyssey–a *gulp* minivan. I would have scoffed at the idea two years ago but after riding practically on top of our Sentra’s dashboard for a couple weeks, I was more than happy to climb into something a little roomier. Totally worth the loss of cool!

attack of the stupid gallbladder

Apparently Gwen’s pregnancy did more than just wreak havoc on my bladder, pelvis, stomach and the usual postpartum fare–it brought my stupid gallbladder* out of hiding, and boy is it pissed! Yes, pregnancy and an admittedly rich diet seems to have triggered gallbladder attacks, something I’d never experienced before, something I definitely never wanted to experience for sure. Ow. Thankfully I’ve only had two short episodes in the last week–I hope that means we caught this early.

You’d think having to push a baby out of my vagina and the subsequent sleep deprivation that goes along with having a newborn would have been punishment enough for one maternity leave, but no. Let’s throw a random medical issue into the mix for good fun. And here I was, feeling all smug for having successfully dodged two c-sections.

I’m seeing a surgeon on Friday to go over the ultrasound and (most likely) schedule a cholecystectomy. Of course, I’ve consulted with Dr. Google enough to have some anxiety about the process. Many people say they’ve had easy recoveries but there are enough horror stories out there to make me worry.

(Truth be told, I’m also worried about how this will impact my future ability to eat pizza without gastrointestinal discomfort. Hey, priorities. And I wonder how I got into this mess!)

Tim will also be out of the country (and by that I mean temporarily not on this continent–not just in Canada!) for a week very soon, so I’m already a little (read: a lot) anxious about that. I’m just a giant ball of freak-out these days, really. Thankfully I’ll have help from my parents (love you guys!) and hopefully I can put off the surgery until after Tim gets back so I have his support if the recovery is rough.

Sucky silver lining: I now have something to hold over Gwen’s head when she’s a teenager and driving me batty. With Ellie, I had a 30-something hour labor–easy guilt fodder there. But Gwen’s labor was only 8 hours–not effective for guilt purposes. Instead, I’ll be able to say, “You gave me gallstones–the least you can do is clean your room!”

It's a good thing I'm cute!

It's a good thing I'm cute!

As if to make up for my pain and suffering (cue overly dramatic sigh) Miss Gwen recently decided to sleep through the night, three nights in a row! Seven hours at a stretch! It’s pure sleepytime bliss up in here. I don’t know whether to celebrate or knock on wood to avoid jinxing it, so I’m just going to shut up about that now.

She’s also started smiling! And this is the part where I say it’s hard to believe she’s already a month old, I lament how fast she’s growing up, yadda yadda yadda. *sniffle*

* From here on out, I’m just going to refer to it as “my stupid gallbladder” because that’s exactly what it is. Stupid, stupid gallbladder.