Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Putting on the Brakes

I find myself savoring the smallness that Claire is right now. And it's wonderful. She's already doubled her birth weight and looks like a full-on baby right now. No newborn. She's rolling over, alert, cooing and just insanely beautiful. I'm not going to lie... I thought having two beautiful babies prior to her meant I would birth only a face a mother could love, but we didn't. She's stunning. And maybe it's a mother's bias. I'll wear those blinders any day.

I am guilty of not savoring it all with Benjamin. I spent the majority of his babyhood being terrified something would happen to him. The other half was spent trying to speed things up to what Andrew would've been like and things he would've been doing. Not intentionally, but grief does that sort of thing. I was eager to get him out of his bucket seat and into a convertible carseat. I was eager for him to eat table food. I was eager to be done with breastfeeding and eager for him to crawl and walk and be independent because those were all things I knew Andrew would've well mastered by then.

It's not that I wanted Benjamin to be Andrew (though thankful I was able to experience another boy at all), it's just that my mind never fully reset the idea of not having a child who should be three-and-a-half-years old now. I just always internally expected to be a part of that other group of moms who I see at the parks with their preschoolers now and have full conversations about what they are making for dinner and what they learned in school that day. I think it's finally starting to settle and we're seeing Benjamin as a two-year old who is amazing and learning and saying new things everyday. The person he is.

Just today I asked him if he wanted to go to the playhouse after dropping Dad's car at the shop and he said, "Yes I do." He speaks so well now. He also told his Dad the other day when asked if he wanted to potty-train yet, "No Daddy, No(t) yet."

I feel saddened that I wanted so badly to speed things up and be ahead where we belonged with Andrew. I feel like I missed some of the wonder and excitement. Just last night we were looking back at old pictures and videos from Benjamin's first year in Elliot's phone. I was absolutely amazed that he looked the way he did in some photos. Yes, I remember. It wasn't all that long ago, but time is a thief. Well, so is grief. It robs you of so much if you're not careful to take it all in. And even then, it's easy to forget with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Claire is giving us another shot at this babyhood business. And it's awesome. Well, the 2:30 a.m. wakeup call this morning and the 4:30 one and the 5:45 one and the 7:15 one... well those aren't wonderful. But to have the chance to see her beautiful face and to know she is all ours and needs us? It's beyond the most glorious thing we've ever experienced. I just wish we weren't so terrified with Benjamin and confused in our grief timeline that we let some of that slip right through our fingers like quicksand.

She can stay in that bucket seat a little while longer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thermostat Love

I follow a bunch of blogs. Some friend blogs. Some babyloss blogs. Some decor blogs. Some deal blogs.

Every one once in awhile one of these blogs has a giveaway. I've been known to enter and also win such giveaways. Hey! It's fun receiving mail, especially when I'm getting cool, new, free stuff!

I saw that one of the bloggers I was following had a giveaway for a thermostat. Ours is as old as our home (older than me!), so I figured I would enter because it would be nice to update the ol' thing. This specific thermostat by Honeywell is Wifi enabled and can be programmed from your phone. That would mean no more nights coming home to a 50-degree house or having to trudge downstairs to turn on the heat in the winter. I can just reach over on my nightstand and grab my iPhone. Well, another one of the bloggers I follow posted a giveaway for the same thermostat. And then another! I entered a handful of these and guess what? I won!


I didn't need two of course, so I asked the giveaway host if she wouldn't mind sending it to my friend for her to have. I knew she'd love it and would find it valuable since she works in the city and is quite busy.

We both received our thermostats on the same day and were excited to get them installed. I'd say my husband was more eager than me, since I've been totally sleep-deprived lately. He headed downstairs to the basement when the kids went down to bed last week to work on the electrical wiring for the thermostat. And there it was.


The sound of a failed sump pump. With thunderstorms imminent that evening. At this point, it was 9:53 p.m. and hardware stores closed in 7 minutes. We had a backup sump pump waiting to be installed just sitting there. But unfortunately, we were missing about $10 in pipe fittings and could not change it without those pieces. It was either a flooded basement (honestly, I'm so over basements that's I just assume fill it with concrete) or a 24-hr plumber (cha-ching).

The plumber got a phonecall and came over within the hour. We've used him once before and curse his name when he leaves. He's just not very nice. The husband got to work removing the old sump pump and saving us a little extra cash for doing some of the dirty work that would have cost us more. The plumber was here exactly 56 minutes, including the time he tried to sell us a different sump pump from his truck. It was a piece of cake and $390. Plumbers make bank. Not ideal to pay that much for a simple task, but imagine what it would've cost if our basement flooded?

And we have that freebie thermostat to thank for the savings of further damage. Not a drop of water in the basement.

Fits in my hand and clearly smaller than the former beast. Just a wee bit of sanding, filling & painting necessary
*Wasn't paid by Honeywell to write this, but they sent me a free, AMAZING thermostat and the story was good enough to share!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Free Chicago Pregnancy & Infant Loss Couple's Retreat

One of my fellow babyloss mamas  (thanks, RyAnne!) sent over this flyer about a special couple's retreat located in Chicago for families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.

It's a one-day retreat, free of charge and open to all faith backgrounds. For those who are local and haven't personally connected with other couples (or even those who have!), this is a great opportunity to develop a community of support. I know firsthand, having that tangible support and getting a hug from someone who understands the piercing pain of loss can be a huge salve for the heart.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Fancy Bed Saga

Awhile back, I posted about this C&B Outlet sale we went to and bought two beds + a rug for Claire's room. The guest bed had a few scuffs on the headboard. I worked my magic with a little gel stain and then added a coat of polycrylic and it looks quite fancy again. The rug happily lives in Claire's room... she just doesn't.

But the dreamy master bed I bought on a whim because it was gorgeous and cheaper than the cost of wood itself? We got a call the bed was available and to come pick it up. They gave us a brand new King bed. A $2700 bed for $250 and the $30 cost to rent a truck for transport. Scored our dream bed for 90% off. Solid walnut wood. Amazing.

We got it home, excitedly brought it upstairs (woah doggy, that was heavy) and put it together. We looked and pondered and ultimately decided it wasn't going to work. It was beautiful and we loved it. For city dwellers with a super cool loft apartment overlooking the lake? Amazing. But, we live in the 'burbs in a Georgian-style home (read: White House). It just wasn't working.

Not to mention, we have a toddler who is apparently interested in destroying everything in his path, even if he isn't intentionally trying. I caught him with scissors on the front footboard bookcase (the showpiece!) one day. His toys and books found a home there on many days and one day this week, he threw one of those hard Carmex lip balms at it because I wouldn't open it for him. #angerissues

We needed to make a choice. We either keep it (and not love it in our home) and subject it to the wrath of Benjamin and be okay with that, or we sell it.

The thing is, it was a brand new bed. Like, straight out of the manufacturer's packaging and perfect. It retails for big bucks. We sort of wanted to get big bucks for selling it. We certainly weren't going to sell it for pennies so some furniture salesman could take it into a warehouse and sell it for tons more. We wanted to make the profit on our luck!

Listed on Eb.ay. Four watchers, no bidders. Listed on CL. We received a low-ball offer of $1000 and wouldn't take it. Waited a week longer. Nada.

Meanwhile, the toddler kept at his ways and was trying his darndest to make sure it was a seasoned piece. Must. get. it. out. of. the. house. We ultimately decided to sell it for $1,000 because making a $700 profit was better than it being ruined and making nothing. We sent an invoice to the guy who offered and he seemed excited. Didn't pay at the deadline we gave him. In the meantime, had two more offers come in for a bit more cash. We took the second offer yesterday for $1350. We made a cool $1k on the bed we didn't intend to get new or sell at all. Not bad.

We received the money (from a guy who hadn't seen the bed at all... how's that for having faith in mankind!) and as soon as E came home, we got to work on disassembling and moving it downstairs. Yup, still heavy. It made it to our garage and no more than 5 minutes later, someone shows up at the door to pick it up. It was a guy who was hired by the assistant to the guy who purchased it (like woah) through Task.Rabbit.

He was apparently being offered "so much he couldn't refuse" to pack up the bed, drive it downtown to its new home (in a probably awesomely swanky high rise apartment in the Loop), move it upstairs and set it up for the new owners. He showed up with no blankets or padding of any kind. We gifted him with one of our blankets and luckily still had most of the packaging and a stroller box (because I'm a stroller hoarder). Only one man to pick up a seriously solid and very heavy bed. Somehow he would manage it... but once it left our house, we can only speculate how it went down.

But us? We're happy living back with the humble and apparently indestructible (or acceptable to destroy) headboard we love with a cool $1k in our pockets that will definitely go toward paying for a nice new bedskirt (any recommendations? I'm listening!). We sort of felt like we were sleeping on a borrowed bed anyway. Fancy as it was, it just didn't fit our traditional home and current lifestyle of raising a {toddler} barbarian. The baby is none to blame...yet.

bye. bye.
Stay tuned for the saga of the free thermostat that ultimately saved us way more than its $250 pricetag.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9, 2014

This might be the most challenging day I've ever had as a mom. And so I'll document it.

4:00 a.m. - Husband's alarm goes off. Wakes me, too. He gets ready and leaves for Midway Airport to Minneapolis for a day trip.
5:00 a.m. - Still not back to sleep. Hear Claire start to stir. Benjamin starts to scream out from his room. He had a temperature yesterday. He must still be feeling horrible. Decide to get up and feed Claire even though she would probably sleep well past 6:00 just in case I need to tend to Benjamin's needs. While feeding Claire, the screaming stops. He's asleep again.
5:20 a.m. - Back in bed and breathing easier.
5:30 a.m. - Benjamin is screaming again. Get up and go in his room. He's burning up. I strip his clothes. He requests "hugs" and that I get in bed with him. Eventually he falls asleep with me spooning him.
6:00 a.m. - I attempt to leave, but he wakes. He's not going back to sleep. Wants "stairs" and so I figure I might as well check his temp, get him some water and maybe some Tylenol to treat the intense heat I'm feeling his body is emitting. Requests I "ear, kiss it" while pointing at his left ear. I kiss his left ear at least a dozen times over the course of the next few hours as it's apparently in pain. First sign this might not be the flu. He's never had an ear infection before in 26 months of life. I was just telling my mom that the other day. Eating my words.
6:17 a.m. - Downstairs, first diaper change, temp of 102 read, juice/water and pretzels given. He sits in his high chair like it's a normal time of day for such a thing (he usually wakes between 8-8:30). There are books read, cuddles, A/C cranked up and eventually he finds the iPad. Fine. Whatever. I'm tired. Texting with the husband about how fun this is.
7:30 a.m. - Escape to get dressed for the day since apparently it's inevitable that I must perform my mom duties no matter what. Might as well get out of the pajamas. Claire is stirring. Feed her and change her.
8:00 a.m. - We're downstairs now and my day started 4 hours ago. Exhausted. Make myself some oatmeal and hold the baby while eating. Diaper change #3 of the day goes to Benjamin.
8:30 a.m. - Get ahold of doctor and schedule a 9:30 appointment. Make sure not to schedule appt. with the doctor who gave me sad eyes when talking about Claire being a small fry. Don't need to deal with any more punk doctors.
9:00 a.m. - Feed Claire and get her in the carseat. Do the 428 other things moms have to do in order to get out the door, including putting clothes on my toddler who was previously only sporting a diaper. Speaking of diapers... diaper change #4 also goes to Benjamin. He's 3:1 against Claire so far.
9:30 a.m. - Doctor visit determines he has an ear infection in his left ear. Doctor says 3/10 on the scale, so not terrible. Prescribes Amoxicillin for the next 10 days along with Tylenol and nebulizer if necessary. Benjamin gets a "treat" lollipop and he's happy. Manage to get out of the there without a fight about the elevator.
10:00 a.m. - Head to the grocery store to pick up some things. Claire is asleep and Benjamin is still on a candy high. After, drive through the drug store pharmacy pick-up window (genius) to get his meds. At this time, the toddler requests french fries.
10:15 a.m. - Drive through McDonald's line and realize it's still breakfast. Decline. Drive down the street to Wendy's and pick up french fries for the sick one. Demands fries immediately. I tell him they are so hot that I can barely pick them up. The demanding toddler tells me to "blow" on them. Instead, I drive home holding single french fries out the window to cool them faster and hand them back to him one-by-one.
10:30 a.m. - Arrive home and Claire remains sleeping in the car. Benjamin goes inside and eats fries... but only a total of about 10. Give him a banana of which he takes one bite, says "trash" and walks over and puts the whole thing in the trash.
10:45 a.m. - Wake Claire so she'll sleep at normal naptime of 1 p.m. and she's pretty angry about the whole idea.
11:00 a.m. - Turn on Daniel Tiger for Benjamin (followed by Super Why, bonus!) and feed Claire, hoping and praying she doesn't get sick everytime I hear Benjamin cough.
11:20 a.m. - I'm starving. Hold baby in one hand while making myself a sandwich. Eat while holding baby.
11:35 a.m. - Decide I need some fresh air, so I put the baby in the double BOB and head outside to pick some weeds. Benjamin is happily watching his show and I'll be gone only 15 minutes or so.
11:45 a.m. - Claire is starting to fuss and figured that was all she would allow ... head back inside to Benjamin crying and pacing the upstairs looking for me. Calm him and he looks tired. Attempt to get him down for a nap. Until I realize he's burning up again. Back downstairs for meds & water while intermittently wiping snot like I've done all morning. Claire claims diaper change #5 of the day. Now 3:2, in favor of Benjamin.
12:00 p.m. - Still playing in his room. We read lots of books.
12:10 p.m. - Claire poops. Diaper change #6 goes to Claire. 3:3, tie.
12:15 p.m. - Go back downstairs and feed Claire again. She's fussy and clearly still tired. Maybe they will both nap at the same time. Fingers crossed. Write a text to the husband about this insane day that is only half over.
12:30 p.m. - Put Claire down for a nap in the bouncer and turn the vibrate on. Today is not the day to put her in the crib for potentially crappy sleep. I need a break. Take the easy road. Diaper change #7 goes to Benjamin. Benjamin inches Claire out at 4:3 for the total at half-past-noon. Tell Benjamin it is naptime (though it's really in 30 minutes) but figure that him waking three hours early was definitely calls for an early nap.
12:40 p.m. - Back downstairs and typing this. Someone send me a cocktail. Stat. Nothing like a billion reminders that I'm a mom just before Mother's Day. Though really... why on the day the husband is out of town?
1:21 p.m. - Just finished this blog post. Claire is awake now. I'm opening a beer. Gonna be a long afternoon.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Easier Child

I wanted to say my easiest child, but let's be frank. He's also the one who has been reduced to ashes.

Among my living, Claire feels like the easier of the two. But I don't know that she is.

It's just, she's assuming the role of a subsequent child... whether she is number two or number three, it wouldn't matter I don't think. She must maintain a level of chill when it comes to being thrown into a family that's already addressing the needs and catering to the interests of at least another child.

She naps as we go. She won't get a formal morning nap ever, I don't think. With Benjamin, we were very strict about maintaining his schedule of a morning and afternoon nap. The afternoon nap, I'm hoping, will somehow synchronize with Benjamin's (go ahead, laugh) so I can have a few minutes to myself each day. Today, it is. She's been sleeping 1.5 glorious hours in her crib as I type. She even falls asleep on the playmat on the kitchen floor as I cook dinner--something that would've never happened with Benjamin.

When Benjamin was her age, he was napping on our laps often. Claire has done this fewer times than I can count on one hand. There's just no time. I'm only one person and the level of guilt I feel when my son has requested me to "chase" him for the twelfth time that day and I had been tending to her needs of frequent feedings and newborn business... well. It's just not fair to him. She gets me for feedings and when he is occupied otherwise.

He was essentially our first "go" at parenting and we were definitely rookies. We catered to his every whimper (sort of). She's not so lucky. We tolerate more crying and overall chaos with her. If I need to shower, I do. Even if it means she has to cry for a bit while I'm doing it. I don't feel guilty about that. A girl's gotta get the stale spit-up and yellow poop stains off her skin somehow.

He's also great entertainment for her. She could be more agreeable just because she has someone who is literally running circles around her on a daily basis. Benjamin just had us; the boring adults who were hardly entertaining and full of life like a rambunctious toddler.

It's an interesting dynamic. While some moments are overwhelming, having the two of them in some ways is easier. Except the feeding part. There is nothing easy about feeding babies so frequently. Otherwise, the two of them love on one another and entertain one another more than I anticipated at the ages of nearly 4 months and 26 months.

I wonder what three would look like and how the dynamic would've shifted. This I'll never know.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pregnancy Revisited: Closed Uterus Edition

This might not be a post for the relatives. But they're gonna read anyway (and hopefully not comment), so here goes nothing.

We're done with growing our family. I've already mentioned this in previous posts, even when I was pregnant with Claire. It's just, I never imagined having three pregnancies, let alone three children. And I especially never could've dreamed (nightmared?) over the thought of having one of those children precede me in death.

My OB told me at my 6-month checkup not to do anything drastic if I wasn't sure we were done having children. By the end of our visit, she was handing me the card for the urologist.

I told her I was ready for the most drastic measure. Because even if something tragic were to happen to my living children, I'm not sure I could personally face another pregnancy again in my life. I can't replace the people they are anyway. There can be no accidents for me. I just spent the last three years fearing the loss of my children in utero and continue to fear loss. Granted, I'm thankful for the conception part being easy for me when I needed it-- we all have our battles and mine was the pregnancy itself. For me, pregnancy stress was slowly taking the life out of me.

We've contemplated this being a job for the husband... since really... haven't I been through enough? Similar to my beautiful friends who have fought infertility, I just feel like this part of our lives (the whole conceiving and birthing children part) was already so invasive. I seriously clocked a ton of hours in doctor waiting rooms, in chairs, triage rooms, the OR, sterile surgical environments... you name it. I was ready for him to have a turn.

But then there's this whole financial side of it all that has me being a disgruntled cheapskate. The lovely Affordable Care Act states that all contraceptives for women are covered. For men? Not at all. Well, unless the deductible and all that jazz, but that's irrelevant right now. Doesn't that bother any other women out there who have birthed babies at all? We have the finances to do whatever we want, but I like to weigh the pros and cons for all options... and the list does include finances. Of course it's our decision on how to handle things, but I feel like the ball is slowly rolling back into my court. Again.

I likely won't be making any drastic decisions for a long time (because honestly, my anxiety level of going back into the doctor's office for anything is through the roof), but really. I feel like delivering three children (one of which never saw daylight), having a D&C, enduring three long and painful pregnancies and having my abdomen cut open unexpectedly and nearly suffering the loss of another baby should have earned me a free pass to no more invasive procedures.

In other news, I said goodbye to all of my maternity wear in a local resale this past week. It felt cathartic to pass them on.

Lest you get the impression that I am ungrateful... I'm not. I cherish my children and would've birthed them all just how it happened in a heartbeat all over again. Of course, I don't wish our history, or the loss of Andrew, were so muddled with grief and fear. Really, I just wish this all worked "naturally" like I expected in my naive, newly-married world. Now I'm 31, sprouting hoards of gray hair and have probably shaved off years of my life to anxiety. I'm spent.