Two is Enough

When my eldest daughter was the age of my youngest daughter all I could think of having another one. I saw my baby girl becoming a toddler girl; all of a sudden, she was a preschooler. I missed the days when I could hold her and she’d sleep on me. When I was her whole world, her comfort, her warmth, even her food.  She used to listen to me sing as a newborn. It was one of the most amazing things. I would hold her and rock her and sing to her, and she would just stare at me, enraptured. It always calmed her.

Yes, I missed having a baby to cuddle and snuggle with. I even missed, slightly, feeling the growth of a baby in my womb. No matter how I grouse about pregnancy, there is something magical about it that nothing will ever match. There is no feeling on this Earth like the first time you feel a child move inside of you. Even with ultrasounds and knowing that there is something in there, feeling the baby move makes it real.

Things are different this time around. It always is with a second baby. There is no way you can have the same experience as with the first simply because it’s the second.  They are a new person. A different person. And you have an older child running about who also needs you, so this new baby doesn’t get the same quality snuggles or mommy time. It’s just a sad fact. But you love this new person, just as much as the first child.

But this time, I don’t want a new baby to snuggle. I saw a woman a few weeks ago who had two boys about the age of my girls and who was VERY pregnant. I couldn’t help but stare in horror at the thought of having another baby right now. If I were to become pregnant, I think I might cry.  After almost 4 years of being completely tethered to one infant or another, I’m finally coming back into the world.  I’m no longer breastfeeding anyone, the younger one is walking and beginning to talk, and I can leave both of them with babysitters and know that they will be fine.  There is only one nap a day, instead of two, so I can take them places and have fun without worrying about one child or another missing a nap. I’m emerging and I am not looking back.

I loved my babies, but two is enough. In fact, I told my husband that if I, at some point in the future, suggest having another baby, he should just buy me a puppy, so that I remember what it’s like with a newborn.  For now though, I will hug my girls as often as they let me and keep my uterus on lock down. Two babies is enough.

It starts with Pregnancy

It does. It really really does. It’s hard enough to be a woman and judged on all the things women are ‘supposed’ to be, but then you get pregnant and the wave of unasked for judgement and advice increases exponentially. It’s insane what complete strangers feel obligated to tell you or admonish you about. Complete. Strangers. And it’s just because you’re pregnant, I can’t find any other connection. And let’s not forget about well-meaning family members and friends. They all have advice, too.

I know several women who are pregnant right now and are going through all the same shit I had to go through when I was pregnant with each of my daughters. What is that you ask?

1. Invading personal space.  Yes, that’s right. People you have never met want to touch you. Not on the shoulder or back or arm. On your damned stomach. They don’t ask they just come reaching for you and your pregnant brain starts playing the theme from ‘Psycho’ as you stare at that hand coming closer and closer. You have a split second to decide how to react. Do you bite it? Scream? Politely decline? However you react, the toucher is ALWAYS offended, as if THEY were the ones who were touched inappropriately and without permission. Get the hell away from me, lady. You touch me and you’ll lose that arm.

2.  The belly.  OMG, all the weight issues women have about themselves are infinitely worse when they are pregnant. Now, everyone has an opinion. I don’t care WHO you are, do not ever, ever, ever, ever tell a woman she looks huge when she’s pregnant. She knows this. She is the pregnant one. She knows exactly what she looks like. During my second pregnancy, I was living with my mother-in-law and then her parents who came to visit for Christmas AND THEN STAYED TO SEE THE NEW BABY.  That was two moths worth of in-laws. Every damn morning when I went into the kitchen for breakfast, my husband’s grandfather would look at me up and down and tell me that I got bigger overnight. Every. Damn. Day. Thank you, loving grandfather. THANK YOU.  In addition to this, women gain weight during pregnancy. Some gain a lot even though they’re extremely healthy in their eating habits.  Some don’t gain any. Don’t assume that if a woman is already up 40 pounds by her second trimester that she’s eating nothing but chocolate. She may be living on salads and quinoa, for all you know.

I found this on that newfangled ‘internet.’

3. Food. “Should you be eating/drinking that? I heard that [insert food/beverage here] was bad for the baby.” IS IT?! I DIDN’T KNOW THAT.  I HAVE NEVER READ ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET EVER.  Added to this advice is the fact that you are always starving when you’re pregnant. Always. I don’t care if you ate an entire quart of ice cream ten minutes ago, now you are hungry again and you want …pizza, yeah. Pizza. So you try to curb the pizza craving by eating a nice salad because of vitamins and shit, but then you throw it up as soon as you eat it.  So you try some fruit.  Nope, that’s rejected too.  Ok, pizza it is. Sometimes all you can do is eat what you physically CAN eat without barfing. Don’t judge the pregnant woman for drinking that coffee or eating that muffin.  I was on a vacation with my husbands family during the later part of my first trimester and suffering from morning sickness. Every time I puked, I got to hear “it was all that FAT you ate for breakfast!” or “you shouldn’t eat such sugary food.”  What sugary food? I had one Twinkie three hours ago. That did not make me puke, thank you. Stop judging me.

4. Birth plans. “Are you getting an epidural? You shouldn’t and here’s why.”  Thank you stranger on the bus. Yes, I LOVE discussing my personal medical choices with you. I would absolutely LOVE hearing your gruesome birth story. I’m so not terrified enough already.  You are helping me so much.

No more! Please!

5. Breastfeeding.  Breast is best! Yes, it might be, but it’s also totally fine to use formula. I breastfed each baby for a full year. A whole damn year! Let me tell you something: breastfeeding is not something that happens naturally, it tends to hurt a lot in the beginning, and it keeps you tethered to your baby as long as you are doing it. And pumping. Pumping is the worst. So, while I managed to do it for a full year, I can completely and totally understand why someone would just say “fuck this shit” and use formula. Parenting is hard enough, thank you, without having to dick around with just basic feeding.  Not to mention mothers who need medication that isn’t safe for the baby or have poor supply issues or whatever. Never ever judge a woman for not breastfeeding. And yes, this conversation happens before the baby is born. A lot.

Our culture wants to help pregnant women, I think. Most of the advice comes from a good place, but it just comes across as judgey.  And pregnant women can’t help the puking.  Or the hormonal rage that happens when you try to touch her without permission. Please do everyone a favor and commiserate with her but only offer advice when asked.  Most women are intelligent and have doctors and books and the internet to turn to for things and are more than capable of making decisions that are best for them.

It’s the snot

I can handle most of the gross stuff involved with parenting pretty well.  I had two c-sections, survived the recovery and the post-partum disgustness that comes with being post-partum.  Clots people.  Clots. (Mom’s you know what I’m talking about).  But then my kids get sick and I freaking lose it.

See, I used to work with animals, before I became a teacher.  I was in the trenches.  I would clean out cages that looked like twenty animals had diarrhea in them when it was just a tiny cute little puppy.  I cleaned those cages without flinching.  Poop apparently doesn’t bother me.  Vomit either.  Or urine.  Or the really gross stuff that pops out of anal glands.  I’m sorry if you just Googled anal glands, that stuff is pretty gross. I watched the vet I worked for perform surgeries.  Not only surgeries, but hysterectomies where he removed infected cat uteruses.  Do you know what that looks like?  It’s a big long tube thing that is full of pus.  I watched him do this and didn’t feel nauseas at all. As a kid, I always thought it would be the poop stuff that would get me, but I was wrong.

It’s snot.  I get completely and utterly grossed out by freaking snot.  I cannot stand the stuff.  Elizabeth pooped in her pants, no problem.  Wait, she just dug out a booger?  GET AWAY FROM ME.  So I dread colds.  I dread them so much.  I knew that with the start of preschool that illness would make it’s way into our house. It’s inevitable.  They go to school and touch toys and each other with their germy hands and then the house is infected.  I worked at my daughters preschool last Thursday and I got An Illness.  Oh yes, it deserves capital letters.

From me, it spread to Elizabeth and then to Josie.  Aside from feeling like I was drowning from all the snot, I was forced to wipe runny noses and watch in horror as my almost three year old wiped her runny nose on my shirt.  And I had to do it with sympathy and love because that’s what moms DO.

It’s snot guys.  I can’t stand the snot.

Introduction

I’ve never blogged before, so bear with me until I figure this out.  I guess I start with who I am?

See, this is the part about blogging I have a hard time with.  I don’t like talking about myself.  I just can’t understand why anyone would want to read about a stay-at-home mom with two kids.  But I’ll do the best I can to give you an idea about my background and why I’m writing a blog in the first place.

I’m, as stated above, am a stay-at-home mother of two.  My husband works a white collar job that fortunately allows me to stay home with my kids.  I’ve always wanted to stay home and raise my children, probably because I watched my mom work her ass off to keep us clothed and fed and as a result was forced to leave us with strangers or on our own for large amounts of time.  I never felt the lack of a stay-at-home mom, but I did see how much she hated leaving us to go work at one of her three jobs.  I didn’t want to have to do that.  And somehow, my life has turned out in such a way that I don’t have to.

I grew up in Orange County, California.  No, Orange County is not all rich white people.  There are some places where there are rich white people, but there are also large areas of horrendous poverty.  I live in a wealthy suburb, the same one I went to high school in.  After high school, I went to college in Northern California. Once done there, I went to grad school back down here and got a Masters in Teaching.

It took years of subbing before I was hired as a teacher in one of the poorest cities in Orange County:  Santa Ana.  I worked for three years with the lowest scoring students in the district.  The average reading level in my classes was first or second grade. For freshman.  The first year I went home crying about 75% of the time because it felt like everything I was doing was pointless.  The kids were mean and were so unlike the honors kids of my classes in high school or the kids I subbed for in the wealthier cities, it was like teaching aliens.  The second year I met one of the best teachers I’ve ever known and things got better.  I still had kids who didn’t want to be there and who were rowdy and could be mean, but now I was learning how to teach them.  Their scores improved.  I became a better teacher.

Then I had a baby.  I loved teaching, but once I held my baby girl, I knew I loved her more.  I gave up my career to care for her full time and have never looked back.  I am a highly educated woman who chose to stay at home with her kids.

I’m highly educated and I’m opinionated.  I’m afraid that I’ll share some opinions of mine that you won’t agree with.  I’m not sorry for that; I don’t apologize for not agreeing with everyone.  My hope for this blog is that it is a place I can share my thoughts and ideas honestly with you and you feel the same.  I hope that if I say something you disagree with that we can just agree to disagree.  So much of the internet is full of hate and anger, I would like this place to be a place of honesty, acceptance, and happiness.