Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fools Rush In (or, Why Our Kids Will Be Born So Close In Age)

A friend online asked the following question:
Do you think it will be ok to have two very small ones? Do you worry at all about your newborn getting enough attention, etc, given there will be a very small big sister in the picture?

To preface, this answer is theoretical since the second kid is still in utero. I have, however, in my usual thorough (obsessive) style, read a great deal, talked to many friends w/ 2 kids, some with twins, to paint the most accurate picture of what we are likely going to experience. It would be interesting to hear from others with kids close in age about their experiences. (If it is really awful, don't comment, ok?)

Having 2 small kids close in age will be challenging. You skip or minimize some conflicts (initial jealousy of elder kid, kids not playing well together) and exacerbate other problems (how do you feed/ soothe/ diaper/ etc. TWO at ONE TIME?) For me, the key issues boiled down to one main and 6 sub issues.

My main concern: it took us about 4 years and around $20k out of pocket to get a live baby with Homestead Mama delivering. I am a little older now than she was when she started – if we wait until Pequita is 18 months or so before I start trying, and I have trouble… I was unwilling to let my eggs get older. I wanted lots of time to keep trying, if time is what it took.

Secondary issues:
1. How do we feel about having all our family at once? Will there be enough time for each kid separately?
2. Do we physically have room/ resources for 2 at once?
3. Can one of us be a SAHM / can we afford daycare for 2 at once?
4. How strong is the relationship between partners – can we manage high stress situations, emergencies on little to no sleep?
5. Do we have a local support system in place for the help we WILL need?
6. Is there a cute and well-designed stroller for 2 very young kids so we are excited to leave the house en famille?

Below will surely be TMI, but I have a few minutes, so here goes. For us, the answers were as follows:

1. We have always planned on each having one kid, for a total of two. (Here’s where you laugh at the concept of planning anything to do with fertility.) Since I want the option of staying home with them when they are young, clumping them together means I am out of the work force for less time. It means that home life will be crazy for a while. The house will be messy until the kids are old enough to be put to work. The pets might get a bit less attention (see post below). Saving for college would take on a different structure.
The kids would be really close developmentally, socially and emotionally (hopefully). They’d share a bedroom until they hit pre-puberty and hated each other (or a little younger, maybe, if they aren’t the same sex). We’d get through stages a bit faster. We already have a pack mentality in our house (with 3 dogs, 2 cats, 4 parrots) and fly by the seat of our pants a lot. We are comfortable with minimal scheduling & winging it a lot. Homestead Mama and I have very different strengths, and feel like we’ll balance out well for the kids. We’ll need to make sure that each kid gets regular time alone w/ each mom, and with both moms together, but have the support system to manage that.

2. We’re mostly all set w/ space & resources. We never turn down an offer of hand-me-down clothing or equipment. Anything we can’t use (or refuse to dress our kid in - there’s some UGLY stuff out there) we gave away to others who might use it or we trade it in for store credit at the local kids used clothing/supplies store.

3. I have always wanted to be a SAHM / WAHM while my kids were young. We bought a house that we could afford on one paycheck with this in mind. Homestead Mama makes more than I do, and wants to keep working = perfect. We could also afford, in our small town, to put them both in daycare if we need to. Both of our jobs allow for the other partner to be added to a family health insurance plan, no small feat in this country.

4. In our short 7 years together, Homestead Mama and I have gutted & renovated a house together, bought a rental house & found tenants, and made it through 3+ years of (in)fertility appointments, treatments and surgeries during which our lives, vacation schedules, and finances were hijacked. We use therapy as a tool when we need it, and generally just get along well & compliment each other’s personalities. We haven’t crashed yet, and one of us always manages to offer fresh hands for the baby (dog, cordless drill) when the other is ready to explode.

5. We are very lucky & live in a very gay-friendly town. While we have no family in town, we have a great couple across the street who are itching to get their hands on the kid anytime we are willing to hand her over. (They gave us the felted strawberry hat seen in earlier posts.) We have a friend* with a flexible student schedule and no kids of her own who comes over 2 – 3 times per week to love on Pequita while we clean, sleep, or have a date. We have a large enough group of friends w/ young kids who are available for playgroups, babysitting, pediatrician advice, 3am calls about odd rashes, etc. Also, my parents are retired, and want to come for a week-long visit every 6 weeks but are also able to come for emergencies (like if (when) my back goes out again and we have 2 young babies). All this has taken work to create/maintain, but is worth it on so many levels.

6. Why yes, there is! Phil & Ted’s E3 with doubles seat. And it comes in orange!
And so here we are. Pequita is 4 months old and I'm 21w1d, due June 14th. We've made our bed and are now just trying to find time to have a nap in it.

*This friend pointed out that she is much more than I described. She will heretofore be referred to as "Hottie Friend, a.k.a. Pequita's Fairy Godmother".

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Does the SPCA do interventions?

I just got the email below. We are certainly undeserving of our beloved pets, let alone babies. Moody is 14 this year, has no warm fur coat, and hates the cold. It was 15 degrees out last night. Oy. I'm going to hell.

Email from: Lovely Neighbor

Hi Homestead Mom,

Do you know where your children are?

This morning, just before 5am, our dog started barking and growling at the door. I opened the door to let her out and beheld a small jumping, very happy dog. It was Moody. He came running in, delighted, all wiggly and running around and grabbed a dog toy pumpkin. He checked out the bowl I fed him in when he stayed with us. I gave him a couple treats, and then brought him over to your house & slipped him in. We managed to be very quiet, as I heard no barking from upstairs!


If he had been out all night, he may have slept on our dog's bed which still has a blanket on it. Or maybe he saw our lights come on this morning and ran over? He was too cute when he ran in and grabbed Kira's toy and was running around.
Lovely Neighbor
He's doing ok now, but could have really struggled. We'll have to change some habits before the new baby arrives.

Cries At Desk

Privately, I used to think of myself as "Homestead Mom (Cries In Car)", since I did it so much during the 3ish years of infertility that Homestead Mama suffered, and I suffered through alongside her. She is not an emoter. I am not a 'keep it to myself/ inside' kind of girl. I was trying to be big about it, and not draw her attention to our/my misery as we tromped through the unfriendly, soul-wrenching terrain of one negative pregnancy test after another, one miscarriage after another. I did a lot of crying alone in my car, to and from work, to the store. I have been known to, on occasion, create an errand to to so I can get a little crying in.

Now, I am sitting at my desk tearing up, fighting the lump in my throat lest I get an actual business call. In my belly, deep down somewhere, I can feel fluttering and kicking and know that the fetus is alive. The crying is not just joyful, it is grateful. I can't do it without a mental nod to the past, but it is all about the future. Monito* (little Monkey), the winner of the nickname poll, seems to be here to stay.

Now we are (both) going to go fetch an ice cream sandwich to celebrate. Like we don't do this every day about this time. :)

Homestead Mom

*We called Pequita the female version of the nickname, with an A on the end, without knowing her sex ahead of time. To be fair, we are using Monito - with a masculine O on the end - still with no knowledge of the sex of the fetus. I swear!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The lion sleeps tonight

We put Pequita through the paces yesterday, with more activity and socializing than ever before. Brunch with a friend and her 3.5 year old daughter. Coffee right after with another friend who hadn't met Pequita yet. We ran into our friends from birthing class at the coffee shop. We shared a room with them after delivery - we love them, and seeing each others kids is always a treat. Then home for a nap, and back out to dinner at the house of a friend from work. She has great kids, a great husband, and sweet cats. Through all of this, Pequita was charming and well-behaved. She fell asleep in the car on the way home at 8:45 to the new cd I bought for her, Ladysmith Black Mombazo singing (among other songs) The Lion Sleeps Tonight. I had hoped that our life wouldn't stop after the baby was born, and it seems that we are managing nicely to keep up w/ most things.

She is sleeping like a champ. She falls asleep around 8pm each night, and stays with us downstairs sleeping soundly on us or near us while we clean, eat, catch up on TV. She stays soundly asleep when we carry her upstairs at 10 or 11pm, through a diaper changing & re-swaddling, and is mostly asleep until 7 or 8 am. This is punctuated with a couple of short sleepy interludes in which Homestead Mama nurses her without the baby ever really waking up. We are usually only dozing after about 4 am, as the babe begins grunting, flailing her small arms, and chirping until we reinsert the pacifier. This behavior will get her moved to a co sleeping crib very shortly - I found one on Craig's list locally. Also, I need a bit more space as my bones ache and pop in and out of joint all night, and I need more pillows to nest on. I only have enough room to lay on my back with my arms tucked in with Pequita's bed still between us on the bed, so off to the side she goes.

I am still craving broccoli & grapefruit. I served Homestead Mama a lovely big healthy plate of broccoli and rice the other day. Damn doctors said there was no scientific evidence that what a breastfeeding woman eats affects her baby. Clearly, they aren't testing properly because we told a few other women about this and they were shocked we fed her broccoli at all. Pequita had 2 of the worst days of her short existence, crying, emitting such loud gas that we were embarrassed on her behalf, writhing with discomfort. There will not be a replay of this event - I shall eat my broccoli out of the house from now on.

Pequita is a wonder. A dear. We are mooning over her increasingly each day. I didn't expect this. I love this.

Let the wild rumpus begin

I'm definitely having Braxton Hicks contractions. My ute will go from a muscle-y firm lump inside my ab cavity to a hard protruding bump which makes me HAVE TO PEE IMMEDIATELY. It's been happening at least a couple times a day. Very odd, but not painful. Dr. Google says they can be brought on by dehydration, so yay, another reason to drink more water (=more trips to the bathroom). Only one source said that drinking wine would relax them, which is too bad, since I require corroboration.

One great thing is that I haven't gained any weight yet. Frequently, women have put on 10 - 20 lbs by now, so I am happily using up my stored, um, nourishment to grow this fetus. I'm eating well, but my appetite is limited and I can't eat regular portion sizes without beaching myself on the couch for hours after (note the whale reference.)

I have also felt a distinct roundhouse kick by what ought to be a ~4" leg. No sissy fluttering like I've been feeling, but a distinct swish.

I remain mostly amazed at what my body is doing. The fat pad on my belly, which has confounded my purchasing pants my whole life, is finally meaningful, as the fetus is growing right under it. My partner keeps remarking on how round and smooth my shape is, very ripe and, well, pregnant. These BH contractions are the first thing that my body has done on its own to accommodate this fetus, and it feels impressive. While I started out focused on the whole earth-mother, pregnant, beautiful birth experience mentality, I lost track of that in the years of IF that Homestead Mama endured and then my own struggles & miscarriage. Unfortunately, most of the focus became centered first on the IVF and then on a live baby. Homestead Mama didn't talk much about what her body was experiencing in between those 2 events, as she prefers to tune out all things unnecessary. After a lifetime of anticipation of this process, then a bit of a loss of focus on the good parts, I am warming up to the concept of being pregnant.

What a wild ride I have embarked on.

Homestead Mom, 20w6d

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I had the best of intentions with this blog. If only the baby would learn to love the flashing lights of the computer. Perhaps if I painted the laptop in vibrant black and white graphic stripes she'd tolerate being held in front of it for more than 4 seconds before the wailing begins. Or installed a mobile above it. Hmm. I did get her to focus for a few moments while playing ABBA on youtube, but that was it. Anyway, not having any free time is a big factor in (not) posting.

I've just boned up on how to post from my email account, so I can maybe post from work without getting Dooced. Stay tuned...

Homestead Mom