Pregnancy Week 20 recap! I’m a day late, as today technically marks the beginning of Week 21, but it’s been a busy weekend. I hope no one was holding their breath.
The Internet says my baby at 20 weeks is about the size of a banana, a stapler, an endive, or 6.5 inches head to butt and about 10 and a half ounces. I say it’s big enough to kick me pretty good. We had our anatomy scan ultrasound on Thursday, and got to see fingers and toes and profile and fluttering heart chambers, but no genitalia — like last time, we’re keeping the baby’s sex a surprise.
While I was very comfortable with this choice the first time around, I had really mixed feelings–it seemed silly and artificial to shut our eyes for that part when we were literally seeing everything else, including parts of Baby 2 we’ll likely never see again. But The Husband was certain he didn’t want to know, and I waffled, and in the end didn’t request a sealed envelope with the news.
Symptoms-wise, the broken record of tolerable heartburn remains. Additionally, my chin has blossomed with pregnancy acne and the on-again, off-again relationship I’ve endured with eczema throughout my adult life is decidedly on again, in the form of a persistently itchy, red, peely, burning right pinky and ring fingers, which makes the 175 daily hand-washings all the more fun.
My bump is getting bigger, and my twice-weekly 3-mile stroller walks seem to be wearing me down more than they have been in the previous month or so.
Some people (those who encounter me on a regular basis) might also tell you I’ve been especially irritable lately.
Those people can go to hell. (Kidding! Sorry!)
This week also marks the beginning of, what I recall from my pregnancy with The Toddler, a long running theme of childbirth-related dreams. The weirdly comforting part of this is that I at least have an idea of what to expect, and so even though they’re still stressful, there isn’t quite the daunting element of mystery I remember the first time around.
I had two pregnancy dreams this past week, and the theme of both centered around not having enough time: In one, I was afraid we wouldn’t make it to the birthing center on time, and the other, I was afraid my husband wouldn’t make it home from work in time. In the second one, though, I also had what felt like a rapidly progressing, intense labor, but when I got to the hospital I was dilated zero centimeters. Either way, I have at least another 18 weeks to subconsciously build the dread and anticipation of the big day, and I suspect my dreams will be rife with more of these scenarios as time goes on.
In terms of my day-to-day toddler mom life, pregnancy Week 20 went a little better than Week 19, in that none of my pets died. It still wasn’t great, as The Toddler is fighting naps like his very life depends on it, and nothing breaks me like a missed nap.
It’s been seven days, so I think I can say officially that he is weaned. (Hallelujah/*sob*) On Monday, when he fidgeted through his usual pre-nap nursing session and then very much did not go to sleep, I decided I was done.
I had been reluctantly hanging on to that last nursing session, as it had been a nearly surefire guarantee that he would nap (and, conversely, a withheld nursing session promised a wide awake, cranky and endless afternoon).
Now that this doesn’t hold true, we’re stumbling our way toward a new nap routine, with varying success. He did nap each week day after a protracted rocking-to-sleep-while-begging-to-nurse routine that I hope to fade out, but he staunchly refused to nap all weekend. I’m hoping that as long as we don’t compensate by letting him go to bed early, he’ll eventually rack up enough of a deficit to surrender to a recovery nap the next day.
Just in case he doesn’t, though, I have finally (and, very possibly, temporarily, as my most notable personal attribute is inconsistency) found some routine to inject into our afternoons through my local library’s T.O.T. boxes: They’re file boxes filled with specially themed books, games and activities. I have reserved a different theme for the next five weeks and plan to spend a chunk of time each day reading stories, having messy play, doing a craft project, or taking a field trip related to the theme. Tomorrow kicks off Gardening Week at TLMB house. I’m looking forward to it! (But looking forward to a nap even more!)
It’s been a heck of a week already (more on that later), so I am *super* glad I reached out to an old friend from high school, who just launchedher own blog to help people coping with eating disorders (and, oh yeah, NBD, had her second baby) to help me out with a guest post, Q&A style. As the reality of being a mom of two sets in, I am grateful to have her share some wisdom on motherhood.
Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce Erin.
My family and I recently moved to St. Louis from Georgia for my husband’s job when I was about halfway through my second pregnancy. The Second Kid, a baby boy, is now 4 months old and The First Kid, a girl, turned 2 years old at the end of May.
In Georgia, I owned a private practice as a dietitian specializing in eating disorders and related issues. Right now, I’m staying home with the kids until we’re ready for me to go back to work part-time. Until then, I’ve been enjoying writing my blog atRecoveringWithGod.com.
How were your two pregnancies different? In general, do you like being pregnant or is more of a necessary but miserable means to an end?
I thought I liked being pregnant until The Second Kid! I had more nausea, fatigue, and discomfort with the second pregnancy. I think moving out of state and chasing around a toddler made the experience much different.
What were some things you learned in your first pregnancy, childbirth experience or early parenting days that you wanted to be sure you did differently the second time around? What were some important consistencies you wanted to maintain between the two?
This is a BIG question. The short answer is: get less tests and be choosy about health care professionals. The explanation is long and intense, but worth sharing with you and other parents.
We almost lost my first child based on a diagnosis that was made in utero. We were told by a specialist doctor that our baby would likely not survive to term and if she did there was a 0% chance that we’d have a healthy, normal baby. The doctor insinuated that terminating the pregnancy was the way to go based on a growth he spotted on the back of the baby’s head at 11 weeks. He said that it was an encepholocele, a type of neural tube defect in which brain matter protrudes through an opening of the skull. He left us with very little hope, no follow-up appointments, and no recommendations for other consultations or specialists.
It was the absolute worst day of my life. But our friends and family prayed. After I made the initial call to the abortion clinic (please no judgments), I felt God nudging me to get a second opinion. More prayers.
The second-opinion-doctor made us feel like we were in this together and gave us options. We waited. With every visit thereafter, the growth miraculously shrunk or stayed the same size. By the third trimester, the malformation was no longer detectable and the issue was considered resolved.
Against the odds, our baby was born as healthy as can be.
SOOOOO, how did all this change the second pregnancy? Well, the reason we went in for that 11-week ultrasound with The First Kid was because we were going to test for a genetic disorder that runs in my family that has the potential to be fatal. With The Second Kid, we decided NOT to get that test. We learned that (1) test results don’t always predict outcomes, (2) the test results wouldn’t change our actions during pregnancy—we wouldn’t terminate, and (3) God can heal.
I’m not really sure how to segue from that, but there are plenty of other things I did differently as well. I chose a birthing center instead of the typical hospital setting to give birth. Reasons include the following experiences that I had at the hospital with The First Kid: (1) getting my membranes stripped without consent, (2) my birthing plan was not followed or even saved in my chart to refer to, (3) I had to wait for the doctor to arrive before I could push, even though my body was screaming at me to PUSH! (4) Oh yea, I had to go through the transition stage of labor in the crowded waiting room, like WITH THE FAMILIES (who were staring at me because I was apparently making scary noises). In contrast, I loved the birthing center. Their practices were in line with everything I wanted, so I didn’t have to constantly worry or double check what they were doing. They listened. They didn’t rush. Gosh, I loved them so much. If you don’t like your healthcare team, look for someone else. I say that as a healthcare professional and I would say it to my clients too.
How were your two labor experiences?
I was told the second labor is typically half the length of time as the first. This made me quite nervous because I barely made it to the delivery room with The First Kid, but it was true! I was in labor from about 6pm-midnight for The First Kid and 9pm-midnight for The Second Kid. (To the women who have long labors, I am sorry and you are all amazing warriors).
There were no false alarms with The First Kid—once contractions started, they were regular and the real deal. With The Second Kid, I experienced contractions that didn’t turn into labor, which drove my anticipatory anxiety out the roof!
I labored at home longer for The First Kid because I was only 1 cm earlier that afternoon. With my second labor, the midwives never checked dilation at any appointments, but I knew I had to leave ASAP once contractions were at regular intervals.
Both babies arrived the day after their due date.
Both labors were medication-free. I used some Hypnobabies concepts with both labors even though I personally think it’s a bit cheesy. I really enjoyed the practices in Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke and highly recommend that book. It’s more evidence-based, less judgmental, and the skills can be used throughout the parenting experience. I need to go back and reread some sections!
I keep being reminded to expect my two children to be very different from each other, though it’s hard to imagine my second baby beyond what I know from my first. How are your two babies different so far?
The First Kid came out small and dainty and always falling asleep. The Second Kid came out sturdy and big and eager to eat. The First Kid was laid-back and The Second Kid is usually tense, but both happy. The First Kid was very observant and could entertain herself easily, interested in the smallest of details. The Second Kid (at least in this stage) seems to need a lot more stimulation. Thankfully, he loves watching his older sister as she runs around, dances, and gives him toys.
How did you prepare your first child for the arrival of your second? How has she adjusted to being a big sister? Are there any specific books/philosophies/etc. you relied on to help guide you through getting her prepared?
We talked about baby brother while I was pregnant and read the book “I Am a Big Sister” by Caroline Jayne Church, which I highly recommend. I’m not sure how much she understood, but she does mimic the girl in the book by helping. I also instituted “special time” with her while I was pregnant. We sing a song about special time, set a timer, and I spend 10 devoted and undivided minutes with her. Quality (attentive time) is over quantity (distracted time).
She’s loved and adored her baby brother since she met him. It was an adjustment (aka Tantrum City), of course, but she took her frustrations out on her dad and me for not giving her enough attention. She never acted resentful toward her baby brother. I’d say it took about 3 months for her to adjust. Now that she’s adjusted, she can truly be a big help to me at times even though she’s only two.
Talk about the first few days/weeks of being a mom of two, in general. What was the hardest part? Was there anything that went easier than expected?
The hardest part was definitely not having the ability to be there for my little girl. There are moments when you have to choose which child to attend to first, and the crying baby usually takes priority. Thankfully, The First Kid encourages me to go help The Second Kid when he cries, but she forgets that means she can’t get what she wants right away!
Taking care of a baby in general has been easier this time because I knew what to expect. I’m no longer trying to follow every rule or sift through all the conflicting baby advice on the internet…there’s no time for that!
I had a really rough time getting started with breastfeeding the first time around. If you nursed both times (and are willing to share), what was it like starting again?
It was a cinch! I had some insecurities the first time around, which I think most women do, and a naturally petite baby, which our first pediatrician freaked me out. However, a year’s worth of practice with the first child makes a huge difference for the second. Now the real challenge is breastfeeding while doing other tasks, such as reading a book with The First Kid in my lap, pouring a glass of milk, or putting on a shoe!
How did you and your husband adjust to having two?
In general, my husband watches the The First Kid and I’m in charge of The Second Kid, especially in the beginning when I was nursing non-stop. We had visitors the first several weeks who we could hand either kid off to, which was loads of help! Then we were forced to figure out how to handle both at the same time when my husband returned to work and I had occasional appointments I needed to attend. We’re still figuring it out!
In general, what advice that I may not have covered that you’d offer to parents expecting their second child?
Go easy on yourself. You won’t be able to do it perfectly, if there is such a thing. It’s okay to plop your toddler down in front of the TV to attend to the baby, or *gasp* get a moment to yourself. (My husband is constantly reminding me of this). Are they smelling a little ripe because you haven’t bathed them in awhile? They won’t remember! Did you just yell at your toddler for a stupid reason? Genuinely tell him you’re sorry and that you feel sad/mad right now, and hey it turns into a teaching moment! Even if you don’t muster up the apology, life goes on and you are a good mom. Some mood swings and bending the rules won’t change that.
Do what’s easiest. Opt for grocery delivery, Amazon Prime, carryout meals, a cleaning service, and any other convenience you can find. If you’re thrifty like me, tell yourself it’s just for this season. You’re in survival mode the first couple months, so only expend energy on the priorities.
And finally, picking your nutritionist/disordered eating expert brain, I wondered if you had any wisdom regarding self acceptance/body positivity for new moms and/or setting a good example of this for your kids.
It’s important for postpartum women to give themselves space to grieve their old bodies. We have constant messages thrown at us to “lose the baby weight fast”, and then we’re also told to “appreciate our stretch marks and mommy tummy” because it’s “so worth it.” We feel guilty if we can’t get back to our pre-baby bodies AND we also feel guilty if we aren’t “positive” about this new body.
It’s okay to feel sad about your body sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you’re vain or shallow. It doesn’t mean that you lack gratitude. Avoiding feelings and pretending you’re fine never ends well. Journal or talk to a trusted fellow mom. Give yourself grace—your body just went through a traumatic experience, you’re healing, your hormones are crazy, you’re tired. Look the way you look and feel the way you feel.
Try to accept both your body and your feelings, and don’t beat yourself up if acceptance is a tough concept right now.
As for setting a good example for your kids, be nice to yourself. Even when we think they may not be looking, kids notice those under-the-breath remarks in the fitting room or self-deprecating comments over second helpings of ice cream. Then they mimic us. Give yourself the love and respect that you give to your kids.
There you have it! Aren’t I lucky to know her? She shared such an incredible story — I’m stunned at her strength through the terrifying diagnosis in her first pregnancy and utterly appalled at her hospital experience with her first childbirth!!! — and so many good ideas — the “Special Time” idea is getting implemented STAT in our house, and I’ve got some new reading to tackle. (As usual, nothing on this site is sponsored, so the Amazon links are just for your convenience.)
I really needed some encouragement today and was so happy to find Erin’s words in my inbox. I hope you enjoyed it, too.
While her blog is a faith-based resource for people struggling with disordered eating, and not a mom blog, I know that there certainly is overlap between those two groups of people. In addition to selfishly picking Erin’s brain to prepare myself for parenting two, I also hoped that connecting with her would help connect any of my readers who might be struggling. If you are (or know someone who is) dealing with an eating disorder, visit RecoveringwithGod.com for words of encouragement. (And, as Erin points out in her bio, you should also seek treatment with a health care professional.) Take care of yourself, Mama.
P.S. I can’t figure out how to get someone a draft for review on WordPress without it going live, so sorry if you got a blank/password protected email post!
This morning, The Toddler and I drove up to the Rocky River Nature Center (highly recommend if you’re in Northeast Ohio!) for a quick hike and playtime at the center itself, which is free and houses a small animal exhibit, an awesome tree-themed playhouse, and a few really big, climbable animal models, plus a bird-and-bee viewing area and a big deck over the river where you can watch wildlife. God love the Cleveland Metroparks.
We had a great time, slowly scaling the 150 or so steps of the Fort Hill Stairs (The Toddler repeating, “Step. Step. Step.” and flatly ignoring several high-five invitations from fellow climbers) before doing a few laps through the nature center to admire the taxidermy and live animals on display.
On our way back to the car afterward to fulfill The Toddler’s three-string-cheese snack quota (Every. Day. I realize this probably isn’t good, but he also eats his weight in fruit and it seems to be the only thing keeping him from exploding from all that fiber. But I digress and overshare.) Anyway, on our walk back through the parking lot, we came across two school buses parked and vacant of children, with their drivers hanging out.
The Toddler is obsessed with school buses (and tractors, and bulldozers, etc.), so I walked him toward the buses for a closer look. I pointed out the wheels, the stop sign, etc., and we were standing close enough that the drivers took notice. One of them asked us if we wanted to climb aboard to see the inside of the bus.
In a voice that I hoped communicated surprise (feigned) and gratitude (sincere), I said, “Really?! Oh, [Toddler], do you want to get on the bus? Thank you!”
So we climbed aboard and The Toddler spent a few delighted minutes walking up and down the aisles, sitting on the seats and pointing at the steering wheel. It made his day.
Which is great.
And which is also the second time this exact scenario has played out in the past week.
Last week, we were at a closer-to-home park where two buses were waiting for a middle school cross country team to finish its practice. A kindly bus driver who was waiting for her infant grandson to come visit with her daughter invited us aboard.
Both times, the drivers were really gracious and seemed genuinely excited to have a toddler on board. The first was emphatic that she encourages young kids to hop on the bus whenever they show interest because it helps alleviate eventual first day of school jitters.
And it makes The Toddler’s day when we get to do this. I’m just going to have to figure out how to keep up this new hobby of ours without becoming the creep who loiters outside of every parked bus I find.
I’m going to try to keep this brief, because this post is the only thing standing between me and bedtime. Today wraps up Week 15 of my second pregnancy, and it finally feels like I have my feet back underneath me (though my view of them is beginning to be obstructed.)
I still feel tired from time to time, and I think I eked out a nap once this week, but I have gotten into a groove of cleaning my house again… something I didn’t realize how badly I was neglecting until I picked up the habit again this week. It’s still far from spotless, but the past two months it would have been a rare treat to find my dining room table not littered with splats of yogurt and desiccated peas. The Toddler actual has clean laundry on most days, and I have even run the vacuum a few times this week.
I have a vague memory of this feeling of coming back to life from my first first trimester, having settled into a routine of falling soundly asleep after dinner and waking in the morning feeling like I had been asleep for just a few minutes; feeling almost lonely in my exhaustion because The Husband was up for hours without me and we hardly had time to talk, let alone sit around and watch our favorite shows together or do any of the other things we enjoyed; and then suddenly, I was better. I still couldn’t necessarily swing a late night movie, but I could manage to cook dinner without crying in front of the refrigerator or falling asleep at my plate.
So here I am again: That sweet, sweet second trimester.
I woke up this morning feeling like my belly had finally “popped.” While I’ve already gained about 7-8 pounds by my estimation, I have just felt chubby up to this point, but I put on a maternity skirt to go to the farmer’s market this morning and thought I looked obviously pregnant instead of just lumpy.
New this pregnancy is periodic, agonizing foot pain that feels like a deep, throbbing bruise in one or another part of either of my feet. It seems to be brought on by wearing unsupportive shoes (like flip-flops) for any length of time, so it looks like I’ll be rocking athletic shoes with every outfit for the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t have this problem the last time around, and I walked four miles a day most days. I guess I can chalk this up to starting off a couple pounds heavier and a couple years older than the last time I did this. *Yay.*
Finally, Week 15 has marked the introduction of extra pillows into my sleep space. Right now I’m fairly comfortable with one pillow between my knees (or folded in half under my feet on those days when the weird bruise-swelling makes it impossible to fall asleep unless I elevate my feet). This begins the slow descent into the inevitable reintroduction of The Snoogle.
I developed a love-hate relationship with this enormous, G-shaped pillow the first time around. Love, because it afforded me a modicum of comfort when I was big and round and achy; hate, because it took up the entire bed and required me to completely strip all my covers every time I wanted to roll over, and took up so much space that my husband seriously considered a permanent move to the guest bed. The Snoogle is currently balled up in a trash bag hanging in The Toddler’s closet… it won’t be long now, old friend.
Well, in true me form I’ve cranked out 600 words for a “short” blog post. Week 15 has been pretty good to me, even if it has included a sad loss of a farm friend (more on that in a separate post) and the inexplicable shortening of naps to an hour and a half, paired with daily wakings between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m for The Toddler. I can’t have it all, but I’ll take what I’ve got.
This week, The Husband was off work, which was wonderful in most respects but had some unfortunate…side effects. More on that in a minute.
First things first, The Toddler has been repeating the same phrase over and over again, in every setting and situation. He’s picking up words left and right, and guessing at what he’s saying always feels like a big victory.
We CANNOT figure this one out, though. In the bathtub, in the car, wandering around in the yard, pushing his trains around the track, sitting at the table… there are zero context clues. What he’s been saying is, as close as we can discern, “Hobby dobby.”
“Hobby dobby, hobby dobby, hobby dobby.”
Sometimes it sound a little like, “Hoppy doppy,” and sometimes he starts with “Dobby.”
Anyone who can tell me what this translates to, I will mail you a gently used grocery cart cover for a baby.
Okay, so onto the week we had.
I haven’t been as tired as I was, but it was still a tremendous relief to have The Husband home the past week to help chase The Toddler around. I got to sneak in a nap or two and to finish a big, boring cleaning-the-basement project that’s been looming over my head for awhile.
The problem with The Dad being home is that it threw us all into a little bit of a vicious cycle: I’ve been too tired to consistently engage in fun mom time lately. If this isn’t a contributing factor, it certainly hasn’t helped the fact that The Toddler is OBSESSED with his dad. Which is great. I love watching them play, I love that they got to spend lots of time together, and I loved getting to kick back and put my feet up a little bit.
What I haven’t loved, what has gotten awfully old this week, is that The Toddler straight up loathes me. Every time his dad leaves the room, he says, “Dad? Dad!” Putting him down for a nap or for bed has been like wrestling a wolverine who is holding a serious grudge against me. Today The Dad took a shower and the only way we could keep The Toddler from going nuclear was to let him in the bathroom so he could run back and forth choosing shirts for his dad to wear and throwing them in the shower.
So, yeah, some of it’s hormones, and some of it’s hurt feelings that my son thinks I’m lame, and the rest of it is guilt that I am a lame mom lately. I had myself a good cry today on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by half folded laundry.
We did have a little overnight trip to The Husband’s and my alma mater. It was fun except that, while we packed every conceivable item The Toddler could ever need, we forgot our own clothes and toiletries.
In summary, Week 14 has been primarily dominated by lingering fatigue, heaps of Mom guilt, forgetfulness and occasional naps. Oh, and heartburn. The heartburn has started again.
I also put on my first legit maternity shirt this week. This bump is still mostly ice cream, I think, but it’s definitely there.
I’ve been doing a lot of walking around a very hilly trail with The Toddler in his stroller. This is the route I used to run in high school cross country practice. Though I was never a very fast runner, retracing my steps behind a stroller (especially on the uphills), has been a pretty apt metaphor for my life as a mom compared to my pre-baby days: Kids are wonderful, but there’s no denying they slow you down.
I love being a mom, and I love my kid. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten back in line to jump on this roller coaster a second time. Even though I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything, I have been finding myself wishing for more time.
Yes, it would be cool to be able to go out to brunch with friends more or to catch up on a little self care. (The great thing about my horrifying overgrown hair style is how my long, long bangs cover up my unruly, unpruned eyebrows.) It’s not even the indulgences I’m really missing right now, though. What I really want is more time to get shit done.
I want to be a better blogger–write more often, more relevant and helpful information for pregnant and new moms, and give this site the serious facelift it sorely needs. I want to spend more time socializing the goats (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. They’re still a bit skittish, and I know they’d keep warming up if I could spend more time raking their pen and scratching their heads.) I want to learn how to code, cultivate more freelancing opportunities, log my business expenses. I want to finish clearing shit out of my garage that is destined for Goodwill and/or the trash sometime before winter hits so one or both of us could park our cars in it. I want to revamp my Etsy shop and add more items. I want to be a better friend and reach out to people I’m thinking of more often.
I have a list 100 miles long of all the things I wish I could be doing, and sure, I had a list before I was a mom, too, but there is an undeniable slowdown built into parenting very young children that I can’t find my way around, and it’s hard not to feel a little defeated.
Theoretically, I could surrender some sleep to tackle more of my list, but it’s really not feasible with pregnancy fatigue and would only make the days harder to get through.
It would just be nice to go to bed every once in awhile with the satisfaction of having accomplished anything beyond emptying the dishwasher that day.
I know the solution is to prioritize what’s really important to me and learn to accept the fact that my goals must either be bite-sized or very long-term for the foreseeable future.
One way or another, I have to make peace with the pace of life as a parent of young children. While the basement bathroom remains unrenovated and my desire to take a creative writing class languishes, I am taking immeasurable joy from holding my son’s hand as we walk around our pond looking for frogs. I don’t want to let go of my list forever, or let my own identity diminish to nothing but motherhood. But stressing out about what I’m not doing is only going to cloud my view of the really wonderful and fleeting moments I am getting to experience. The good news is the same as the bad news: These deliciously, agonizingly intense years of early parenthood won’t last forever.
The knowledge that it’s probably going to get harder–that I will look back on the days of having just one child with fondness as I slowly drown in dirty laundry–is pressing on me today.
Fellow parents, how do you cope with the limitations on your time and energy as they relate to your goals as human beings?
Also, approximately how much harder is life with two children than one? (Please lie.)
Today wraps up the last day of my first trimester (I think… it’s not always clear when one ends and the next begins, but I’m counting it.) The theme this week has been the breakneck pace at which life moves.
I’ve already mentioned how much quicker it feels like this pregnancy is going. In some ways I’m much, much busier, but in other ways I have fewer distractions because I’m alone with my thoughts so much more than I used to be when I was surrounded by colleagues and projects all day. Or maybe it feels like it’s going quicker because I already have someone on the outside reminding me daily just how fleeting babyhood is.
I woke whimpering from a dream one night this week. I know it’s usually boring to hear about other people’s dreams, but I think this one pretty perfectly sums up how I’m feeling right now:
In the dream, I was standing and holding The Toddler in my arms, telling him how big he was getting.
I whispered in his ear, “Someday, you’re going to be so tall you’ll be able to hug me like this with your feet on the ground.” He giggled with the delight, that heart-shatteringly sweet giggle that toddlers have.
With this, I released him to put him down, only to find that in that moment he had grown tall enough to hug me with his feet on the ground. In an instant he had become a full grown man, and I looked down at my hands, wrinkled and older, and up into his face. I had somehow missed all the moments in between.
He was beautiful and smiling but I began to cry in confusion and sadness and woke up gasping for breath.
Blame it on pregnancy hormones, but this dream has stuck with me all week, feeling like a lump in my throat. It’s been a trying week in many ways (I’ll spare you the detailed complaints about sleep for the thousandth time, but it’s making me wonder 18-month sleep regression? and Google “Dealing with breastfeeding aversion in pregnancy” and throw silent tantrums), but that dream has been reminding me to take a breath and try to, if not remember forever, at least be fully present for the sweet moments we have.
The Toddler is picking up new words every day and wearing them around like a new pair of shoes: Mama, Dada, Lou (our dog), big, bye, hello, nest, car, truck, bubbles, bottle, cheese. (Along with a slew of animal- and vehicle-related onomatopoeia.)
He is climbing into our rocking chair and looking at books by himself, helping put kitchen towels and clean spoons away. Choosing (and lifting!) big bags of cat food and putting them in our basket at the pet store. Watching frogs in the pond and offering clover to the chickens. Listening for distant planes and seeking them out in the sky. Turning everything into a train and lining it up on invisible tracks. Watching the pair of house finches outside our kitchen door feed their babies and pointing, “A nest!” He is curious and exuberant and nurturing and wild and so, so big.
I know I will love our second baby with my whole heart just like I love him, and I cannot wait for them to meet each other, but I also feel like I need to hold onto every second I have in the next six months while it’s just us. I don’t want to lose focus and find when I step back that I’ve somehow missed out on this short, precious time.
Today is also my seventh wedding anniversary. I won’t get too mushy here (I think I’ve probably used up my weekly allotment above), but I must say I feel pretty damned lucky to have found the person who wraps me in his arms when I wake up from a nightmare, jumps into every new adventure with both feet, is absolutely worthy of his son’s hero worship, and lets me talk him into scrapping our semi-fancy anniversary dinner plans to get burritos in our old neighborhood because it’s all I can think about eating.