Announcing the Fairy Pig!

The Fairy Pig was born June 18, 2015, weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces. She is our miracle! I’ve been posting reflections on adjusting to parenthood with three gremlins on the Momsicle Facebook page (join us!), but it’s time to make it official and put the Fairy Pig on the blog.

Here are the best shots from her ongoing newborn photo shoot, an endeavor where I use a smartphone and props such as unmade beds, laundry bins, and Duplo blocks to display beauty amidst total chaos.

Welcome to the blog, Fairy Piggie!

We haven't made this bed in 10 days. MomsicleBlog

This laundry needs to be put away but won't be. MomsicleBlog

Boy Woww presented the piggie with a gift. MomsicleBlog

This looks posed but it's her naked time in the bathroom while I take a shower. MomsicleBlog

They have been remarkably sweet to her, but they still don't make beds. MomsicleBlog

No secrets, just adorable baby slippers. MomsicleBlog

 

Hello Pregnancy Anxiety, My New Friend

Prenatal anxiety is a thing. It’s a thing that’s common and often goes undiagnosed. Many of you out there may be nodding.

It hit me around 34 weeks.

Somewhere along the gestational way I lost my confidence. This third pregnancy has been wild and jarring. But I imagined that once I settled in to the routine, my body’s institutional knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth would take over.

I mean, I’ve done this before. I got this.

Sure enough, in the second trimester I found a groove… but I couldn’t rely on it. I seemed to be trying to cross a creek, jumping from one off-balance and awkwardly shaped rock to the next. And around 34 weeks I fell in.

Prenatal anxiety can be about all kinds of things—how you’ll adjust to having a newborn, fear from previous pregnancy loss, medical complications, life stress.

My anxiety centered around actually giving birth. I’ve had two uneventful vaginal births, and somewhere deep down I know I can do it again, but I just don’t want to. I didn’t sign up for this one, and I don’t want to do it. Birth is exhausting and overwhelming and unpredictable. The technicolor feelings of fear and stress about the health of the baby from the first trimester came flooding back, but in new shades of worry: I’m not strong enough. There’s no good way out. How will I survive the weeks of waiting? How will my husband cope as I demand more and more support?

As the third trimester began, I was also diligently listening to the Hypnobabies self-study course I had ordered to prepare for this birth. Everything started out great and I drank every drop of the reassuring Hypnobabies Kool-Aid, but things started to fall apart when I was supposed to imagine my perfect birth. If you can imagine your perfect birth, your mind and body can make it happen for you.

I have spent the last four years eliminating perfect from my vocabulary. It’s a bully word. Perfect sets up high expectations that often aren’t tied to reality, and it’s not flexible. It doesn’t move and change: It just beats you up for being less than.

At the same time, I was becoming increasingly unwieldy, with eczema, heartburn, nosebleeds, and discomfort sleeping. Exhaustion was setting in and I was unable to manage the daily logistics of our life. Holding on to the crumbling façade of my Hypnobabies adventure amidst mounting physical challenges had me thinking: How in the world am I going to manage childbirth?

Then the insomnia started for real. Lack of sleep is always good fuel for anxiety.

Luckily, I kept bringing up my fears and symptoms to my midwife.

Note: If you have anxiety or worries during pregnancy that seem to take over, keep talking to your provider about them. Don’t let your provider make you feel like pregnancy is simply an emotional time. Even though your worries may be on the spectrum of normal, your concerns shouldn’t be minimized: There are so many tools out there to help you manage what you’re going through, and you should be pointed toward them instead of having them brushed aside.

I’m lucky because after the second visit of me bringing up my anxieties over the birth, things clicked with my midwife. “We have a behavioral therapist on staff. Would you like to see her?” Yes!

I have a great therapist I see on a pretty regular basis, but the behavioral therapist connected with my clinic was conveniently located and specifically oriented to tackle issues around birth. She helped my husband and I think about pacing, outside resources, and creating an action plan leading up to the birth (by the way, if you can go to a session with your partner, do it!).

My anxiety subsided by 38 weeks. I’m still dealing with insomnia and lingering worries, but life feels calm and manageable. When I wake at night I’m able to relax instead of spinning the stress wheels in my mind. Now I’m 39 weeks pregnant and in a much better mindspace—enjoying a bit of vacation from the real world as I wait for baby to arrive.

I think there are a number of factors that really helped me:

  • An action-oriented behavioral therapist who gave me tools to use specifically leading up to the birth, including a daily pacing guide and a format for my husband and I to check in with each other at the end of the day.
  • Meal delivery from friends. Normally this starts after baby, but my friend Sara put together a MealBaby registry and I requested to have it start before the birth rather than after, since I was so overwhelmed. (Thank you Sara, Hannah, and Libby for pre-birth meals!)
  • Extra babysitting hours for the boys. (Thank you, Carmen Rose!)
  • Readjusting my expectations around 1) what I can accomplish while pregnant with two young kids, and 2) what the third birth needs to be like (anything goes as long as we’re healthy).
  • Lowering my level of activity so that I wasn’t feeling defeated by all the things left undone.
  • The knowledge that outside resources such as Baby Blues Connection can help deal with prenatal anxiety, even though they’re typically thought of for postpartum depression.

I wanted to make sure to write this post, before the Fairy Pig arrives and I’m in a fog for months, for those of you who have experienced prenatal anxiety, are dealing with it now, or who may know someone who is having a tough time. You’re not alone.

Happy Birthday K-Pants, You Wild, Wonderful Thing

This guy is six.

K-Pants Six, Voodoo Doughnuts. MomsicleBlog

He’s intense. I’m exhausted by and incredibly grateful for his wild and creative personality… and his pink shoes.

For his birthday, K-Pants was adamant about the cake: It needed to be chocolate cake, with white and dark chocolate chips and Voodoo donuts baked in, white frosting on top, with a rainbow, and Star Wars figures.

Sure. I’m along for the ride.

So we got in line with the tourists behind the pink prison bars…

K-Pants Six, Voodoo Doughnuts. MomsicleBlog

And we carefully selected the sugar bombs we needed for the cake.

K-Pants Six, Voodoo Doughnuts. MomsicleBlog

And K-Pants was ready to get to work when we got home.

K-Pants Six Voodoo Doughnuts Cake. MomsicleBlog

This guy, man.

I never would have concocted a plan like this, and that’s a huge part of his gift to us. Six years ago he unlocked the box to my writing muses; he painted our rainbow in much brighter colors; and he took our lives like taffy and stretched them out.

Happy birthday, Mr. Pants.

The Third Pregnancy: Almost Done, Almost Done

You reach a point in pregnancy when you start to lose your mind and are willing to sacrifice things to the gods in order to get the damn show on the road. At least I do. It’s supposed to be that every day is joyous and filled with magic and the amazing prenatal bond of mother and baby that can never be broken.

But what really happens is that I eye the squirrels thinking, “Deities, if I sacrificed this tree rodent family for you, would you let me go into labor tonight? I’ll add in the robin on my back porch. Do we have a deal?”

There was a point in my pregnancy with Baby Woww that I was just DONE. And my friend Jamie’s preschooler grabbed my phone and took a great picture that captured it all. I love that post.

This time, our friends’ six-year-old took a wonderful shot for me. It’s more poetic, probably because he was truly tender behind the lens, wanting to capture the baby. Although I have a photo that’s more accurate–with a tampon up my nostril to stop a nosebleed and my pregnancy eczema raging–I really love this one. Thanks, Noah.

Third pregnancy. MomsicleBlog.

The Awesome Part About Having a Super-Intense First Child

K-Pants, Angry Reindeer. MomsicleBlog

If you hang out around us, I’m sure K-Pants has insulted you, refused to say goodbye to you, screamed and grimaced in a menacing Joker face at you or your kid.

I’ve dragged my five-year-old back from the park so many times while he’s yelled, “You’re a BAD MOM!” that I’ve crossed parks off my list of kid activities. If you come over, you’ll probably be tempted to “help” me parent him, coaxing him to be polite or talk to his parents or his brother in a nicer way.

It comes from a loving place. And these are issues that you’ve probably managed to work out with your child. You’re wondering why I’m not just a little bit stricter, or more consistent, or better researched with my own parenting.

I stopped to reflect on this the other day.

I would have assumed from the outside looking in that I would be developing an inferiority complex given that, for all my efforts, I haven’t turned the wildling into a compliant subject of the realm. I would guess that the incessant application of the outside judgment chisel would be hurting my mojo.

Strangely not.

Here’s what I figure: The awesome part about having a super-intense kid is that I don’t have time to notice much judgment or dwell on it. I’m too myopic about getting through the day, feeding people, and trying not to turn into a screaming banshee lady as I’m put down over and over.

Also, I have a nose like a hound dog for finding other parents whose mental energy is constantly drained by kid insults and miniscule negotiations for social acceptability, and who may have household items thrown at them with regularity.

Plenty of people have thoughts or advice for me, but I’m very good at avoiding conversations with them. I only talk about parenting with about five people who have suffered the kind of total debasement that has left them hollow and humble.

Had K-Pants succumb to my parenting strategery, I would post way more cute pictures of us pretending to drink cappuccinos at Starbucks and talk about how blessed we are. We are blessed, undeservedly so, but all the time I would spend posting these adorable, wonderful things for you to see is spent finishing up lessons including:

  • When you hide under the covers before bedtime you can’t punch me to let me know you’re there and then tell me, “I never have fun at this game.”
  • When we say prayers we don’t say “amen” in a hissing, clawing, feral cat voice.
  • This day is not “the worst day ever” because your brother won the race to the car and then you shoved him onto the concrete and got a time out—it’s just another day.

Had Boy Woww been the first child, I would have thought I was the sh*t at parenting, and you and I would have shared knowing superiority glances as we watched another parent take a beating and then drag a screaming child to the car while the kid shouted, “I HATE YOU, MOM!” We would whisper to each other, She should read 1-2-3 Magic or How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, it would save her so much energy and embarrassment!

If K-Pants would have been the second-born, he would have stolen all of my imaginary gold parenting stars that I’d plastered all over myself. And my skin would have been itchy and red, with no reward in sight.

So even though you might think, rightfully so, that K-Pants can be rude and sullen and hurt everyone’s feelings around him with reckless abandon—I have a long-term strategy to win the war. Endurance. And because endurance takes all of my energy, I’ve been generally unaware of both outside awesomeness and outside judgment for years—and I’m left thinking my kid is pretty cool.

“Evelyn, You’re A Mess.”

I’ve been getting nosebleeds for the last couple weeks. This is a first. But a lot of things this pregnancy are firsts: nausea, international flights, girl child

One morning, my husband had the kids in the car ready for me to drive them to school, and my nosebleed from the hour before started again. I grabbed a fistful of tissues, but as blood started dripping onto the garage floor it became clear that this scene from CSI really shouldn’t travel.

A nosebleed seems like a misdemeanor-level injury. You should be able to go about your business without too much interference. I mean, the nose is small, no bones are broken, a little bleeding should stop on its own.

Twenty-five minutes later, I was in bed still working on getting my nose to behave normally. You’re supposed to keep constant pressure with one hand, which makes it very easy to have a pity party, but strangely difficult to do any other activity. Like eat. Or get dressed.

At this point I went to ZoomCare.

Jenn, the physician’s assistant, stuck a light up my nose. “Your membranes look angry: Pregnancy gives you way more blood flow, you have allergies, the air’s been really dry. Apply pressure, use an icepack, buy tampons to stick up your nose… I don’t think we need to cauterize your capillaries yet, which is good news, because that’s painful.”

Great!

“Jenn, while I’m here, can you take a look at the scaly skin around my eyes and nose?”

“Sure! Exczema. Normally I would prescribe a steroid, but that’s not recommended during pregnancy. You’re a mess, huh?”

Jenn was not like the yo mama midwife. As she gamely told me what a wreck I was it felt like we were in on a little joke together. I know, I’m a disaster! And there’s no hope except to push this baby out in June. Until then we’ll watch as my body falls apart from the inside out! Ha ha ha ha ha!

As I was leaving, I picked up my purse, and Jenn saw the giant pound of strawberries sticking out in its grocery-store container. “I couldn’t eat breakfast, so I just shoved those in my purse,” I said.

“Evelyn, you’re a mess!” she laughed.

It’s nice to have an official diagnosis.

***

Epilogue:  Last night at dinner I got another nosebleed in spite of my precautionary work. It was a bad one, and I got really overwhelmed. Having blood spurt uncontrollably out of your nose and onto your clothes will do that to you.

“I should… have bought… tampons,” I sobbed to my husband, hoping he would run out to the store to brave the feminine products aisle so that his incredibly pregnant wife could shove tampons up her nose.

He would have, but we located a box at the back of my cabinet, and now we’ve stashed them around the house ready for my next nosebleed. So if you come over, that’s why three men and a pregnant lady are using tampons for home decor these days.

Tips for Long-Haul Air Travel with Young Kids Featured on Parent Hacks

Would you rather spend 24 hours on three flights with your young kids while you try not to throw up again, or…

  • replace your right hand with a monkey?
  • shower with Red Bull as the water and molasses as the soap for a week?
  • open a consignment store for slightly used feminine products?

Luckily the monkey types well, the molasses is keeping my left-hand stuck to the computer, and the consignment store doesn’t open until 11 p.m.: I can still blog!

I would choose anything over a full day’s worth of being cramped in a flying machine with young children, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get where you want to go. My husband and I were very, very grateful we sucked it up and took off for India over New Year’s 2014–2015. …and we will do it again!

It has been a pleasure to share my 10 tips for long-haul travel with young kids with Asha Dornfest over at the incredibly useful and well-written site Parent Hacks

Click over to see the full list, including how to be the boss of potty accidents and throw-up in the air, what kinds of melatonin worked for our family, and when and where to septuple check your seat assignments.

India 2015. MomsicleBlog

Want more travel tips?

Here’s a great list of guest posts and additional writing on travel with young kids here at Momsicle.

And here’s a great article on Science of Mom with more tips about international travel with kids.

Bon voyage!