MGisms

Updates

Here are some updates on the M girls:

MG has come to embrace school a little bit more as we roll into the new year.  Capitalizing on this enthusiasm, I tried to introduce the concept of Kindergarten next year.  She immediately balked at the idea of going to school every day?? and wondered who her teacher would be.

Her favorite pastime lately has been to cut.  She cuts like her father too, her mouth opening and closing in sync with each hand squeeze. She will often come find me about 45 minutes into naptime with a stack of looseleaf and an assortment of drawing utensils.  “Ok, I really need you to draw coronation Anna first,” and then she’ll pause a moment, gauging my reaction, “and then I need you to draw Elsa in her nightgown.”  Satisfied with my acquiescence, she hastily throws in, “and Tiana in her ballgown.  But THAT’s IT….for now”.

I draw the princesses for her, one per page; she sometimes adding comments about my skills or reminding me to add shoes, “high heels, please”.  Once, I got a little hasty with Rapunzel’s eyes and they were looking a bit Heaven-ward.  “Rapnuzel looks like she has crazy eyes!”, was her assessment.   When I didn’t acknowledge my failings, she said, “oh well, ‘we’ can just turn it over and draw Belle on the back instead.”

Somehow, she understands that she is obligating me during my precious alone time, but she also seems to understand that part of my reluctance is just for show.  We smile knowingly at each other during these exchanges.  She gets me, that one.

After I draw her requested princesses, she attempts to rope me into coloring them in.  She stands over my shoulder, breathes down my neck, “Use yellow here.”  “She doesn’t have brown hair, she has BLACK hair!”  Sometimes I can convince her to help me with the coloring part too, but not always. “It won’t take you very long.” she presses.

Next she will take these drawings into her little sanctuary of a room and cut them out.  She will cut quickly but carefully around the edges, making sure to preserve the small details like fingers and hair buns.

When I go up to her room later, I will find the floppy princesses scattered around in a delicate play.

When I was just a little bit older than her, I would draw and cut out pretend hamsters to play with because I wanted a pet one really badly.  I get her too.

Bea has always loved to draw and lately has been trying really hard to hold the pencil correctly.  It warms my heart to see her draw and eat with her left hand, a small homage to her aunt and granny.

She has been cutting her final molars and has been a bit sensitive lately as a result.  This is as close to moody as she ever seems to teeter.  It still takes very little to whip her into a flurry of smiles and excitement.  I love that about her.  Even on her worst days, she’s just a tickle away from contagious giggles.

Lately, she has wanted to take the reigns from us in dressing herself, pottying, chores, anything really.  “No, I do it.” she says.  I love and greatly encourage independence in my girls, except of course, when we are running behind and she insists on putting on her socks at the speed of the elderly with arthritis.  It’s amazing the parallels between the young and the old, no?

Unlike her big sister, I don’t think she’s too thrilled about our upcoming May excitement.  This is the reaction I get every time I ask her:

 

I’m sure she’ll come around in time…right, middle children of the world?

Speaking of Mayby2, I visited the doctor yesterday for my 5 month checkup.  It was a quick and easy appointment.  Once again, it took a little while to find the heartbeat, which is becoming a common theme with this one, but I could feel her moving during the search, so I wasn’t too worried.  Heartbeat sounded good at 151 and my stomach is no longer measuring a full week ahead, just a half week now.  This still lines up with my earlier due date prediction but not quite as much as I was hoping for.  Third children are notoriously unpredictable, no?

-smk

 

The Sick and the Sad

 

**ive just been doing a little reflecting on how far we’ve come in a year.  This was in my draft folder and I decided to publish it today to remember where we were and how our circumstances have changed**

There is nothing much worse than waking up to the sound of your 3 year old retching.

There is nothing more pitiful than realizing your 3 year old knows how to throw up all by herself and is past the point of even alerting you anymore.

Up until April of this year, mg had literally never thrown up in her three years of life.  She wasn’t even a spit uppy baby.  Oh how I dreaded the day of the stomach bug and did everything natural I could to prevent it.  I’ve gotten a stomach virus every year since being pregnant with her and the thought of getting it again, in all how att, keeps me awake at night. Some people are good with vomit and bodily fluids and the like (bless your hearts, nurses)  But as for myself, I just can’t and don’t.  And pray it doesn’t come out way.  Just the mere mention of those two words together and my palms start to get a little sweaty. I start to feel nauseous (sympathy belly) and I avoid that person like…well..the plague

I hope this isn’t too gross but there is something about vomit that is just so visceral.  I like clean, calm,control (I’m working on it, yall) and the norovirus threatens to wreak havoc on all of that.
But anyway, back to the story.  Just so we’re clear that I ABHOR vomiting…

Her first bout of it literally was one episode andfeeling great the rest of the day.  I felt proud of myself for surviving that.  I felt proud of her that she wasn’t scared when it happened (that is such a weird concept to explain to kids, huh?).  And amazed that a stomach bug entered our house and we all remained relatively unscathed.

Three months later, she picked up another stomach bug.  This one was easy to trace to a source and having been exposed we figured it was only a matter of time before one of us
succumbed.  She was the first to go down but once again it only involved getting sick once and great spirits prevailed.

Forty eight hours later I was starting to relinquish a bit on my bleaching and homeopathic remedies for bug prevention.  I thought we’d once again gotten off pretty easily considering and I felt my anxiety towards stomach bugs in general, lift a little bit.  Maybe this was God’s way of showing me I don’t need to fear (I literally do fear these things) vomit in the house.  By day 3 I was sure we were all clear.

So that’s why day 4 caught me so off guard when I woke up to a revisit from the bug, and the victim was once again MG.

And it happened again on day 5, and day 12, and day 18, 19, and 20 with good and bad days in between.  Around day 6 I started to come down with it and then Bea and N both caught mild versions around day 8.  So we knew it was a contagious bug but our guts (pun unintended) told us there was something bigger going on.

We visited her doctor a few times during all of the sick days.  At first they told us that it’s normal for kids to take a while to recover from bugs like these.  But then they too, started to grow more concerned, as the sickness stretched from a week, to two, to almost a month.  We followed their advice and began to cut certain food groups out of her diet: unfermented dairy, gluten, and raw vegetables.  This seemed to help, but it obviously didn’t cure.

We fell into a predictable pattern.  MG would complain of a stomach ache upon waking up but then would be seemingly normal throughout the day.  She would have a normal appetite and act completely fine.  Then early the following morning, she would wake up, throw up mucous, and then experience stomach cramping, diarrhea, and more mucous-y vomiting for the next three days.

The lowest point for me was once again, the middle of the night, retching, after over a month of sickness.  I begged N to take her to the ER (I was still breastfeeding Bea at the time).  I was sure that a different doctor needed to see her (and was pretty convinced she had giardisis which requires antibiotic treatment)

photo(2)

He complied. And it turned out she didn’t have it. We were stuck again waiting.  Waiting for her to be healed, but knowing that until something gave, we probably wouldn’t see that.  We just didn’t know how to get treatment or answers.

All of the up and down was really grating on me and all of the sickness was really starting to make me panic.  Even N, the ever calm one, was staring to worry about our sweet girl.

Finally after yet another bout of sickness, her doctor told us to once again follow the diet (which we’d already been doing) but even more strictly.  If she gets sick again in the next four days, I will refer her to a pediatric gastroenterologist, she said.

So when MG did, the doctor immediately got us an appointment.

We didn’t have to wait very long to see this doctor and we were pleasantly surprised when she instantly diagnosed MG with “delayed stomach emptying”.  Basically after a stomach bug, your body produces a high amount of acid for some time while it regulates (can be up to six months later).  That seems to be the root of her stomach aches.  The mucousy vomitting is probably caused by her intestines which aren’t fully healed and are reacting to certain foods.  So for the next three months we were to put her on a low-acid, low-fiber, low-fat, no gluten, no dairy diet.  (so what is she supposed to eat??)  The doctor did say that processed dairy was okay, like cheese and yogurt.  This was all MG heard and immediately began asking me if she could have cheese.

OKay, why not, I thought.  If this doctor said it was okay.  So I gave her a tiny amount with her lunch that day.

Sure enough, the next day she fell ill.

Well, we strictly adhered to the diet from that moment on and she didn’t become sick anymore!  She did complain of stomach aches some mornings and we remedied those with a homeopathic heart burn medication.

I thought we were in the clear until this past week.  The symptoms starting showing up and like clockwork, she became sick in the early morning hours.  Something must have snuck into her food.  That’s all we can figure.  But it is discouraging, as now, three months later, it is another set back.  And it means she isn’t as far along as I was hoping.  The way the doctor described it, I thought it owuld be temporary condition, but now I’m starting to have my doubts.  We go back at the end of Nobemebr, so I guess we will know more then.

She had amazed me with her discipline and strength.  Said someone to her at a restaurant, “how about a grilled cheese or a cheeseburger?!”  “No I can’t eat cheese.”  She has only had one breakdown, and it was over fries.  Fries are okay in moderation but this was just a few days after an incident and we had to watch everything, including her fat intake.  She just looked at me with her hand pressed to her eyes (I suppose in a vain attempt to keep from crying) and said, “but I really want French fries”.  And then cried quietly and bitterly for about fifteen minutes.  That’s about how long she needed to grieve and then she was able to move on.

A few times she has slipped up (like in SS we were old they were going to eat a snack but someone served frosted cookes).  At home she asked if it was okay she ate one.  It broke my heart that she has to think about this things and can’t enjoy her childhood, gifted cookies and all, to the fullest.  It definitely is impactful though when she pays the consequences for getting off track.  And it helps us and others realize this isn’t something in our heads.  We really don’t know what the doctor is going to say in November.  Last time we left with good news but we’ve had a few bleak moments since then and certainly by now I thought we would be mostly in the clear. Until then, however, we forge forward and pray for the best.

I truly admire your strength and discipline, MG.  you will grow beyond your years because of this

 

,-smk

MG and Updates

First of all, I’d like to take a quick second and apologize, so to speak, for my last post.  Even don’t enjoy reading that one.  It is obvious it was written out of a place of stress.  I’m over it now.  I nearly delated it about an hour after writing it over delayed embarrassment, but then realized all of you that subscribe already have a hard copy in your inbox.  It was pointless at that moment…so….

Moving on…

Today I’m not in that place of stress anymore, I’m just feeling a bit sad for my eldest.  Eleven months ago she was struck with some kind of severe stomach bug that did a number on her body and left her with what is a hopefully temporary, but still devastating in the moment condition, called gastroparesis.  I’ve alluded to it here and there but I don’t think I ever fully wrote out my feelings on the subject because well…I wasn’t really sure what to say.

Up until mid-July of last year, MG had a completely normal and healthy relationship with food.  I, myself, have some sensitivities and so I was always careful with her and things like gluten and dairy.  It seemed like a healthy enough balance that we wouldn’t keep gluten in the house, but to allow her to have things like Cheerios in the church nursery or cupcakes at a friend’s birthday.  Yogurt and cheese were commonplace in our house but she never really took to milk, and since I don’t care for it either, I never pushed it with her.  The only thing I noticed was that if she did not have gluten for a long time and then would eat it, she would break out around her mouth.  It seemed minor enough not to warrant a change in behavior but it was something I mentally took note of.

Fast forward to late July.  Our family went on a little vacation that month and we were exposed to a stomach bug.  MG got it first, but had just a minor reaction.  A couple days passed and I thought we were through with it.  But then…she got it again.  And then one by one we each contracted it, over the course of about two weeks with MG having relapses every few days.

I took her in to see a doctor after the third day of vomiting.  She reassured me that sometimes viruses can last up to two weeks in children and possibly MG became reinfected as we were passing it around to each other.

So it was put to bed for a few days.  And then, it struck her again.  Again I called her pediatrician.  She told me not to come in but to call if she wasn’t over it in a week.

A week felt like a lifetime to watch my little frail girl suffer again.  Not to be melodramatic but this week was literally one of the worst of my life.  On the days she would be sick, we would be awoken to MG vomiting in the bathroom (she nearly always made it to the toilet and it just made me weep to think this little 3 year old already knows how to drag herself to the toilet in the darkness of the early morning without even alerting us first).  This would come around 4-5am.  Then she would lay on the floor by the bathroom and sleep for another few hours.  She would want very little to eat for the day, maybe some toast and “fizzy drink”.  She would lay in her bed and watch Sleeping Beauty on repeat (it was one of the few children’s movies we owned and we didn’t have cable.  Later we wisened up and started checking out more movies from the library).  Too tired to play, she would sleep off and on throughout the day and then fall asleep exhausted in her bed at night.

The next day she would wake up, a little off, but fine and we would grow optimistic that the terrible illness that had her in its clutches was behind us.

And then 1-2 days later she would relapse and we would start the terrible cycle over again.

At the end of the week, I called the Ped and begged her to see us again.  She seemed rather surprised to see us and a little alarmed too.  She immediately referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist and our appointment was just a few days later (I think at this point it was September).

I was very pleased when that Dr. immediately seemed to recognize the problem (we saw three other doctors over the course of that month and none of them could tell us anymore than  it was just a long-lasting virus). She diagnosed MG with “stomach-emptying syndrom” or gastroparesis and put her on a special diet.

When you have this condition, your stomach doesn’t clear food out as quickly as it does for someone in good health.  So you feel fuller more quickly, you are more prone to stomach upset and bugs, and you have to watch what you eat as high fats, high fiber, high acids, and dairy seem to set stomach aches on the mild end to vomiting and diarrhea on the more severe end.

The diet was pretty stringent and our whole family shifted to accommodate her while we adjusted to this change.  Eventually we added fiber and fat back into her diet, but in moderation or else she would get a stomach ache (still ongoing as of this month).  Dairy has been a constant issue ever since and will still set her off violently if she is exposed to it.

Unfortunately she has had two of these “violent” incidents since first meeting with that doctor back in September. The first one was because this doctor told us “processed dairy” like cheese and yogurt would be okay.  MG heard “cheese” and begged me for some for lunch (I had taken her off of it when the stomach bugs were reoccurring.  I conceded when the doctor said it was okay but we paid the price for it.)

The second time happened about a month later when I didn’t ask enough questions at a potluck and she was exposed to it again.  Both of these times brought me to my knees and after the second time especially made me strictly guard everything that went into her mouth.

We went back for a follow-up appointment in December and the Dr. seemed pleased with her progress and then dangled a little hope for us that maybe in 6 months we’d be able to reintroduce dairy, slowly.

Well here we are six months later.  MG has held onto this hope that after today she would be able to start eating cheese and yogurt again if nothing else.  It is amazing how much she picks up on as I never told her this would be a possibility nor tried to encourage it.

I’ve also been similarly pleased and a little heartbroken for her as she carefully tries to explain her “condition” to other kids.  “My doctor shut me off of dairy” she says confidently when trying to relate to other kids. Some mistake this for a sense of pride when she talks about it but I know that it is different.  There is a sense of sadness that I intone when she says this but at the same time, she is unwavering.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen her cry over it was after the very last incident.  We ratcheted down on her diet again to give her stomach time to heal.  We were out of town at the time and thankfully found a Chick-fil-a to eat lunch out (fast food places are nearly impossible on this diet).  I wouldn’t let her have ketchup to dip her grilled nuggets into because it is high in acid.  She broke down in the booth.  Not in an agressive temper tantrum, but in silent tears.  This was by far one of the lowest points for me.

Fast forward to last night.  As I was getting her ready for bed I explained that she was going  back to her doctor in the morning.  She was laying on her back and she pumped her arms and legs in the air and said, “I can’t wait to be on dairy again!”.  I tried to explain that the doctor might not give her the green light yet and even if she does, we would have to take it slow.

It was too late though, the hopeful seed was already planted.

This morning we saw the doctor and she asked the usual questions.  She seemed a bit concerned that MG hasn’t put on weight since December (and she is already on the slight side).  She asked us a lot of questions about her appetite and we addressed some concerns.  At the end, I could feel MG staring at me, waiting for me to ask the question.  I did.  The response was that dairy would not be a good idea at this point and probably not until she turns 5 or 6.

I waited until the doctor left and then looked at MG.  She asked me what that meant and I explained that we would have to stay away from dairy for a little longer.  “Like how long?”  “Until you get a little bit bigger, like 5 or 6.”

Her face fell and she got really quiet.  She said, “But that’s not fair.”

She was right, and I knew it.  And I could only agree with her.

So another year we will press forward of bringing “special” dairy free snacks to Sunday school and birthday parties, and always packing lunches for dinners out.  If I’m being honest, I’m mad that this is the way things are for her.  Four year olds should be able to eat whatever they want without having to worry about stomach aches and doctor visits and having something strange about them that sets them apart from their peers.

And she knows it too.  But that little frail one is pretty resilient (and she comes by it honestly).  And so we press on.

-smk

Updates

Bea is quickly catching up in size to MG.  They are now sharing some of the same clothes.  Today MG took Bea upstairs, changed her diaper, and dressed her in one of her Aurora nightgowns.  It was a little loose and saggy on her, but precious none the less.

Every meal is a battle with MG. “how much more do I have to eat?  I don’t really like that.  I just want noodles with no sauce.”  Bea multitasks with her spoon and fingers; stuffing gobs of runny food into her mouth with abandon.  And then firmly but politely asks, “more? more? more?”.

The girls are still sharing a room at night.  MG claims she can’t fall asleep without “telling stories” first.  The only person who is privy to these tales is Bea….but she usually falls asleep before the ending.  Every once in a while we will walk by and catch a snatch of monologue.  Stella is a brand new baby.   Isn’t she sweet? Princess Aurora gets sick a lot and has to sleep with a bucket.  Prince Phillip is coming to rescue us but we have to be quiet so Maleficent doesn’t hear us.  There are songs, there are villains, a lot of princesses and babies, but they always end well.

They say that children make sense of their world by processing them through story.  And I guess in many ways, that still makes me a child at heart.

-smk

Interview with a 4 year old

Last year’s birthday interview is here

What is your name?  N-i-e-v-a (she spelled it)

How old are you? Four

What is your favorite thing to do? get on dress-ups!  Play dress-ups!

What do you want to be when you grow up? A ballerina (to dance in ballet class!)

What is your favorite thing to eat? Pizza! and Jell-o!  And Apple juice (and orange juice).  Lemon juice? Ew, I don’t like lemon juice

Who do you like to spend time with? Eli and “Crabby Ethan” (a pet nickname she gave to her friend Ethan)!  Liesel and Moira

What do you do really well? Clean up room, put my dress ups away, clean up my artwork

What makes you laugh? When elephants take baths and when people eat seaweed (funny because those are two inside jokes at our house)!  And when Daddy and Bea make silly faces

What is the best time of day? morning, not nighttime.  Because I do NOT like nighttime because I just like to spend time downstairs and play games

What makes you afraid?  Thunder (hasn’t changed since last year)

Who is your best friend? Eli (same answer as last year)

What do you like your to do with your family?  I don’t know.  Stay up late and play games, work on my artwork, and watch tv

What do you love to learn about? Princesses and Ana and Elsa, but NOT princes

Where do you like to go? To the track and jump on the marshmallows!
(the cushions that the pole jumpers jump into have been named “marshmallows”)

What is your favorite book? Ana and Elsa and Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel’s and Cinderella…but not evil queens or princes

What is your favorite tv show? Sleeping Beauty but I’ve never seen Cinderella or Merida movie

What is your favorite animal? Pigs, little teeny pigs that I get to oink, oink (makes rocking motion)
(strikingly similar to last year’s response.  I had no idea she had a thing for pigs)

Where do you live? Where do we live?  I don’t remember

Who lives in your family? Mommy, Bea, Daddy, and Stella, and MG

When is your birthday? November 30!

-smk

 

The Introverted Mama

Every once in a while, the Myers-Briggs test weaves its way back into my life.  The results have followed me around like an old, faithful dog as well; I have never not received the same result: INFJ.

The way my personality has impacted me, however, has changed in different seasons of life.  Being an introverted, stay at home mama has its own set of unique challenges and virtues.

I’ve talked before about how important it is for me to have order and rhythm to my day and to me, it serves dual purposes. Not only does a rhythm help me feel calm and peaceful during the day but it also protects me from the one o’clock meltdown…. And I’m not talking about the girls.

Right around one o’clock each afternoon, I begin to feel myself start to unravel.

The morning itself starts off as a fat, tightly wound ball of yarn, full of promise, that naturally unwinds as the day progresses.  Through out the morning, it is a leisurely but purposeful roll, that rings of the promise of a beautiful creation. By one o’clock, it is unrolling so fast it’s as if someone has held onto the loose end while the fat ball rolls willy nilly, growing skinnier by the second.  (side note: it should come as no surprise that there’s something very unsettling I find about a wayward ball of yarn)

Right around this time I also find myself getting “touched out”.  I go through the routine of lullabies, kisses, and books before nap (for Bea) and quiet time (for MG).  But I don’t really enjoy them, not like I should, anyway.  I try to slow down and read every single word but sometimes I skip a few words, and then sentences, and sometimes even pages.

And then as soon as this duty is done, I curl myself up in a quiet corner and slowly rewind a portion of the ball.  Sometimes, if it is an especially crazy morning, I will purposely save MG’s “screen time” for the beginning of this quiet hour to ensure that I will get at least an hour of solid, uninterrupted time.  (though to her credit, she handles her quiet time very well, even when no movies are involved. and I have a theory that she needs this alone time as much as I  do)

As the minutes melt into an hour, I slowly find myself coming back into my own.  My thoughts are cohesive and I begin to relax.  Unwinding again, very slowly and purposefully.

Towards the end of Bea’s nap time (she is giving me great, 3 hour naps these days-bless!), MG and I have developed a little bit of a routine.  With my permission, she cleans up her room early and then joins me for whatever project I am working on.  She exclaims, “yes!” when she sees me working in the sewing room.  She retrieves my tiny blue embroidery scissors and pulls scraps of fabric from the trashcan.  She cuts these scraps into miniscule pieces and sometimes fashions bandages or headbands for Stella (secured with a straight pin, of course).

She turns off her princess CD’s and turns on Winnie the Pooh for us to listen to (she somehow got the impression that that one was my favorite!).  And she sings and dances for me while she busily cuts with her hands.  Often we both become engrossed in our projects and she quietly tells stories or shares secret dialogue that is only gifted when you don’t think you have an eavesdropper.

Sometimes I am still not recovered from a crazy morning and I ask her not to ask me any questions so I can fully concentrate on my project.  She obediently says, “okay, I understand.” And she tries very hard, but unknowingly and sweetly limits her questions to every fifteen minutes or so.

If I am instead working downstairs on a drawing or painting, she brings down her special notebook and fills it up with colorful notes for daddy.  Sometimes she will ask me how to spell certain words, other times she will just write in her own secret language and read it to me as the following:

“Dear Daddy, I love you and I miss you and I always miss mommy but I never miss her at Grandma’s house. And I hope Lexi {the dog} doesn’t tear my beautiful dress or Stella’s.  And I always forgive you when you lie to Mommy.  Amen.”

(you just gotta laugh at that one)

 

In the sewing room we use the space heater to keep warm on drafty days and she parks herself in front of it.  Downstairs in the kitchen, I make tea to keep us warm with extra almond milk and honey so she finds it very palatable.

Yesterday, she developed a small tear in a notebook page and asked for some tape to repair.  She spent thirty minutes carefully covering the page in masking tape, thrilled with the responsibility of using both real scissors and tape.

I have to admit, I love these late afternoons with my little buddy.  (after I’ve had my own space, of course).  It feels special and set apart and a space in which to grow our own relationship.  Plus there is something that feels very holy about creating with someone.  Of course our creations have very different end results but we both have a deep admiration for the others work.

When they told me I was having a girl, this is exactly what I envisioned.  Quiet afternoons at home, sharing ideas and secrets, materials and songs.  A little blonde friend who I adore, and a pooh bear melody between us.

-smk

A Revist and a Wait

Yesterday I visited my OB, fulfilling my health protocol of one visit per year.

Seeing as it had been a lengthy sabbatical,  the last time I saw her was at my 5-week check up following Bea’s birth.  And still a year later, that office and it’s bridge-way connection to the hospital where Bea was born is a magnet of memories.

Co-mingling are the strange feelings that overcome me when I revisit our old hometown.  The route is completely routine and strangely more familiar than my current treads.  It is a mixture of sadness, relief, joy and apprehension.  I wonder if these will eventually fade and at times I am hopeful they don’t.  It is nice, I reason, to pilgrimage when the desire strikes.

The hospital parking garage is an old, familiar friend.  I wind upwards, wondering if a lucky parking spot is awaiting me at the top.  Curiously, no matter how high you climb, the deluge of parked cars never seems to thin.  So I begin stalking the 3rd floor exit, waiting for someone to vacate.

My time spent in this wait most definitely reminds me of MG.  She faithfully accompanied me to all of my appointments, even the ones that seemed to pile on top of each other at the end of the pregnancy.  We would count the floors as we climbed the garage tower.  1….2….3…I prayed for a parking spot near the door, one that wouldn’t require me to lug my expectant belly and toddler companion through a long trek of stairs and distance.

Just like in those desperate times, an open spot suddenly appeared a very short distance from the entrance to the skyway.  Bless.

As we would walk hand-in-hand, MG would recite our routine: “first I’ll play with the baby {they have a children’s area with toys and two very ugly, but sanity-saving baby dolls}, then we will listen to the heartbeat {Bea’s}, then I’ll eat a sucker {while we wait for the doctor to finish the exam}, then I will pick out a sticker, then we will go home.”

Walking over the bridge by myself, I suddenly missed her attentive commentary.

I passed through the elevator and into the office.  Nothing has changed in my absence, at least not in the physical sense.  I wondered if MG would still think the lines on the wall looked like snakes and the window sills like benches.

I couldn’t help but notice there was another little girl in the play area with the dolls.  She had them by their plush toes and was banging their bobbly heads together.  Probably for the best MG wasn’t there.

I filled out some forms as if I were a new patient (it had been a year, afterall); carefully marking in the dates and details of my pregnancies, smiling with pride as I filled in the girls’ hefty birth weights.

Not too long after, the nurse called me back.  It had been an entire year since I had seen her but in those last days she had become a friend by sheer proximity.  I wondered if she felt towards me the gravity of emotion that I felt towards her.

The doctor came in and routinely rubbed her hands with the waterless soap hanging from a container on the wall.  The smell of it is a memory napalm to me.  I am instantly transported back to room 305, leaning over a plastic bassinet, my hospital-issued gown tented over me as it is today, my deflated belly leaning with me, just a few beats behind.

I absently press my stomach as she shakes my hand.  It is still a mystery to me that something with bones and muscle and flesh can be stretched so far and then knit itself back together.  I am proud of its accomplishments over the past four years, pushing itself to its absolute limit two separate times and then coming back down according to my pleas.  There is no little one fluttering around in there today.  It is at rest for now.

The exam is quick and she asks me about my future pregnancy plans.  It tumbles out easily.  After what we have been through together I feel I can be completely candid with her.

For the first time in five years I am not pregnant, nor do I have a baby nourishing off of me, nor do I desperately desire either of those things.  And I am pretty happy to be in that place for a while.  She gives me a knowing smile.  She has a 3 year old and a toddler of her own.  I tell people it’s because I have my hands full, as she expects, and that is part of it.  But another large part of it, that I am afraid to speak aloud, is that I am not in a hurry to usher in the end of possibly the dearest and most lucid time in my life I have ever experienced.  As long as I keep that door closed, I can relish that my days of cradling a baby are possibly not over, be that truth or not.

I leave, but somewhat reluctantly.  My heart physically hurts when I think about the last time I was here.  My happy, little toddler who had me by the hand and heart, My expectant belly full of promise fulfilled.  It was such a fleeting time in my life and surely one of the sweetest.

I don’t know when or even IF I will be back.  At some point I will most likely have to move my OB visits to my hometown.  I can’t tell if this will be a relief because I will be able to close this childbirth chapter and force my emotions to move along, or if it will come with much dread and heel-dragging, reluctant to say a final goodbye to a place rampant with memory.

My heart is a tangle of emotions.  It feels as if the good as well as the bad have encircled themselves upon it in a hard knot.  I don’t even know where to begin in order to sort them out.  For now, I think I will wait until next July, when my next appointment is due.  I am sure by then I will have a bit of clarity; when the nearness of Bea’s birth is not such a raw spot in my heart and the newness of my current home is not so strange.  Yes, I think I will give myself until then to sort it all out.

-smk

Three and a half

Another half year is behind us and six months of growth has definitely been noted.

 

For MG, 3 and a half means:

routine-oriented: MG has finally come to grasp (and embrace) the daily routine and her place in it.  She knows what day we go to the library and when we usually have friends over.  She knows that every day after lunch she has “quiet time” in her room  (because naps are no longer :()  She understands the different seasons and how they fall in the year.  She knows her birthday comes “after Daddy’s” and has a general sense of the way things work.  This makes life a lot easier for me because she knows what to expect and she trusts us to carry that out.  But it also leads to….

lots of questions: so, so many questions.  She is starting to ask questions even I don’t understand.  “Why is the oven on the other side?”  Things have gone from very concrete to very abstract.  My great aunt passed away last month and this along with lots of talk about Easter has brought about so many deep questions.  “Why do we have to die?  Where is Heaven?  But why does God want us to die?  Will you die first? Will you miss me when I die?   Why do our bodies stay buried in the ground?”  Sometimes my mind just reels at having to answer all of these (theologically) correct without confusing her (and myself) more.  The side-effect of the questions is…

strong comprehension.  I say this all the time but it amazing what she picks up on now.  Even spelling some words is taboo because she understands context clues.  A more beautiful side effect of this is her empathy.  When I am upset about something she says things (and even brings me things) to help me feel better.   I love seeing these traits being brought to the surface and pray that we can nurture them correctly

 

DSC_0009

and finally….

a big imagination: Naps may be no longer, but MG is content to have “quiet time” in her room for a few hours each day.  It didn’t start off very smoothly but we are at a great point with it now.  A large part of this is how her imagination has developed.  She has taught herself how to play independently.  It is lovely and so fun to listen to.  Dolls are still a big part of her imagination but lately she has really latched onto the story of Sleeping Beauty.  We introduced her to some of the songs a few months ago and then gave her this to listen to as an Easter gift.  She has the story and songs memorized and asks so many questions about it.  We have held off showing her the movie because I was afraid some of the darker scenes might frighten her, but I think she will be ready for it this summer.  I can’t wait to see her final reaction to it.  Here is a typical scene of her talking about the story while drawing with markers:

Can’t believe we are half way to four….just plain crazy.

-smk

MGisms

“Mommy , what do I want to be when I grow up?” she asked me this morning over breakfast.  Her hair was frizzy from the pillow and her eyes still dewy from sleep.  Some of our best conversation happen at this time.

My mind instantly connected the dots to her question.  She had been asked the same one by the dentist yesterday and thought a long time before confidently responding, “A princess.  Like Sleeping Beauty.”  I smiled to myself because this answer has moved away from the perhaps more realistic “teacher” and changed to fit her current obsession with the Disney story.

In a sweet gesture the dentist responded, “But you are already a princess!” which only seemed to confuse my little black and white girl.  There wasn’t time to explain though and the subject was changed and it didn’t come up again. . .until this morning.

“How about a mommy?  Or a teacher like Daddy?” I offered. “No, I don’t want to be a daddy!”  I caught my tongue before responding right away.  You could tell she had really been thinking about this question and had prepared something important to share with me.

I waited, and was rewarded.

“Maybe I want to be someone who watches the babies at church.  When babies come into the nursery, I will watch them.”

 

I couldn’t think of a more perfect “job” for you, MG.

From one sweet mama to the next,

-smk

Happy May Day!

Wow–my life certainly looks a lot different today than it did one year ago.

I can’t believe we are in Bea’s birth month and almost ready to celebrate her first birthday!!

Common to the theme of the year, we took a short, unexpected/expected jaunt to TN to say a final goodbye to one of my dear, great aunts at the beginning of this week.  I’m not sure if it is all of the curve balls or we just got especially blessed, but the girls are turning into some pretty great travelers.  We did 16 hours on the road over the course of three days…and at this point, I think I’ve spent about 20 days in my own bed in 2014.

The only hiccup we had in the trip was about 7 hours and 20 minutes into our 8 hour drive home yesterday evening.  The girls had both fallen asleep since it was past their bedtime.  Bea woke up suddenly and started crying.  Both MG and I attempted to calm and pacify her when all of a sudden, out spewed the contents of her dinner. . .all over her, all over her paci, all over her car seat.  We pulled over and I did my best to baby-wipe it up, but there was nothing I could do about the soaked car seat or smell (seriously, what do people do when this happens to them 3 hours into the trip??).

I’ll admit it, I am NOT cut out to be a nurse.  I hate, hate, hate bodily fluids (especially of the orange variety), and I fret and worry about my babies while feeling paralyzed with indecision over what to do.  But oh my goodness, it became clear to me last night that MG could have a nurse’s heart.  As soon as Bea lost it, MG was on high alert, giving me updated details from the back.  She held Bea’s hand the entire way home and was not phased by the goo it was covered in.  When Bea became upset again, MG began singing Jesus Loves Me to her as I stroked her hair.

“Mommy, Bea’s not sleeping!”

“I know, buddy, she just doesn’t feel well right now.”

“Should we just keep petting her?”

We made it home (shout-out to N who raced us there and then stripped and washed the car seat and pukey clothes for me at 11pm!!)  and almost immediately had another repeat incident.

But then?  We all slept well and everybody else is still standing.  Just a random fluke (puke?) I suppose….

Or a reminder to be thankful for the unique giftings of my eldest.

photo (3)

-smk

 

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