Autopilot

Being a mother is hard.  Being a stay-at-home mother is hard.  Even if you plan it, you have 40 weeks (give or take) to prepare for it, becoming a mother is a rapid blaze that quickly consumes every nook of your existence.  Before you know it, the life you had no longer exists and you are hurled into a new being where you are nothing if not a mother.  I can say I am a teacher, I can say I am a pianist, I can say I am a dancer, but these are all superceded by the overarching declaration: I am a mother.

I always knew that if it was at all possible, I would stay home to raise my kids while they were young. I was blessed with a mother who stayed home until I was 8.  I have fond memories of being pulled in a wagon with my sisters to the library, of making cookies, of playing dress-up with the clothes in our tickle-trunk, and of playdates with other kids whose moms also stayed home.  I wanted to give my kids everything I had as a child, and that included having a stay-at-home mother.

I did not realize how much that would mean for me.  How much sacrifice that would entail. Before I was a mother, I used to think babies slept most of the time, that they kept themselves occupied fairly well in a playpen, that they went to sleep with a smile on their face.  I would have plenty of time to keep up with my piano, I could do my masters by correspondance, we could take mini-vacations and leave the baby with grandparents.  No problem.

Once I brought Sashimi home, I realized that form of parenting was not me.  I breastfed, I was a baby-wearer, I never left him with anyone (other than Daddy, and only between feedings). I washed diapers, I played with him, I made home-videos with him, I packed him in my arms while making supper and folding laundry.  We talked about going away for a few days once I was done nursing, but that day never came. He self-weaned at 14 months, but by then we were still co-sleeping nearly everynight and as much as he was attached to us, we were attached to him. Attachment parenting went both ways.

iBean is only 7 months old and still nursing.  She requires assistance multiple times each night to go back to sleep, always needing her mother. The boys need us everynight to help them go pee and cuddle them back to sleep.  Every night, we do the grand bed shuffle. Every morning, my husband and I wake up in separate beds. And right now, more than ever, I feel like we need to get away.  We need to just be a couple again, not Mommy and Daddy.

And more than that, I need to feel like myself. Who is this woman who starts her day emptying the dishwasher, getting breakfast for the kids, yelling at the boys to stop fighting at the train table, not fixing her hair, not putting on makeup, cleaning up poop, pee, puke, and is in her pajamas by 6:30 every night? I don’t know.  She somehow took over my body 5 years ago and pushed me out. Someday I will have the time and energy to kick her out and let myself back in.  Now is not the time. Mommy still has to run the autopilot in my body just to survive the exhaustion of raising my kids, because I don’t think Sarah could handle it alone.

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Patience is a virtue that preschoolers do not possess

Sashimi: MOMMY!  I want a microscope game on the computer!!

K-Man: MOMMY!  I want a mmmovie!!

iBean: WAAAHHHH!

Me: FUUUUUUUCCCKKK (to myself, not out loud).

I had not even showered, eaten breakfast or taken my morning pills when all 3 kids started bellowing their requests simultaneously.  I keep telling the boys that they need to be patient, learn how to be patient, be more independent, but my words totally fly over their heads. iBean is not even half a year old, so I cannot blame her for screeching when she wants to eat or sleep.  But finding a new virtual microscope game for my 4 year old on the computer while she screams?  Not a priority.  Putting her down and letting her cry while I wait for K-Man to select a movie (which takes him a good 10 minutes sometimes)?  Not happening.

So I get 2 boys who cry and whine at me while I take care of the baby.  Then when she is fed and in her crib for naptime,  I start on the easiest of the boys’ demands: movie insertion.  Sashimi is mad that I am helping his brother before him, because clearly, virtual microscopy is more important.  Although, in the grand scheme of child bran development, it probably is, it takes way more of my energy to set that up than to pop a DVD into the player.

There.  Two kids satisfied, now to find some sort of game or virtual science thing for Sacha to do online.  Ah…virtual electron microscope. Slide the petri dishes under and try to match them to their identifications.  That should appease him.  Oh wait, he cannot read.  So I start reading the information to him as he looks at the images and tries to guess what they are.  How the hell does he know what red blood cells look like??  Oh yeah, he’s Tony’s son.

Finally, 30 minutes and five virtual microscopes later, he wants to watch Scooby Doo.  K-Man still entertained with his choice of DVD.  iBean still sleeping.  Mommy can FINALLY make her coffee, pour her cereal and get in the shower (nearly two hours after initially flinging my legs over the side of the bed). I let my hair dry on its own – one of the obvious benefits of a pixie cut. I can style it later if I need to vacate the premise.

Now, can I get some of the house tidied before the dictator-club starts calling out their demands? Oh screw it.  I’m gonna sit and enjoy my coffee first.

 

 

Hypertension – the sequel, or rather, the continuing story

iBean will be 6 months next week and my blood pressure has still not returned to normal.  At its peak in the hospital is was 182/133.  Every medical professional I tell that to is simply amazed that neither iBean or I stroked out.  It was a pure miracle that she came out as well as she did and that despite my high blood pressure, no lasting physical damage to my body or organs.

But I am still living with the hypertension. I slowly weaned down from my 17 (!!) daily blood pressure pills to the last one, and went off that last medication 15 days ago.  My blood pressure has not spiked back up, but it is slightly higher than it was on the meds. My diastolic pressure is borderline hypertensive, depending on the time (and day) I take it.  I was originally told in the hospital by the myriad of specialists that if my blood pressure had not resolved within 12 weeks postpartum, that I would most likely have chronic hypertension for the rest of my life.  I guess that is what I have to now face.  I was really hoping that once I was off all of the meds (and when you are on 17 pills a day, it takes a LONG time to titrate down!) my bp would normalize.

I was also told that I was at a substantial risk for this whole preeclampsia thing to recur should I decide to get pregnant again.  The specialists kept using the words conception planning appointments, high risk, specialist appointments, bedrest, hospitalization, premature delivery, possible organ damage, fetal death, maternal death should I decide to get pregnant again, particularly if my blood pressure did not resolve itself.

Or maybe not. I could get pregnant and everything would be peachy, just like my pregnancy with K-Man.

But 3 of my 4 pregnancies have had blood pressure issues.  Not full-on wars like this last one, but chances are, the next one would just make that number 4 out of 5.

Giving me the benefit of the doubt, my doctor (the man is a saint) is putting a requisition for another halter blood pressure monitor and giving me some more time to see if my body will bring itself back to normal.  There are things I can do: exercise (WTF is that?!), eat less salt (moment of silence as I say goodbye to soya sauce) and eat more beets (there are only so many beets I can consume in a day without wanting to yarf).

Tonight, I went for a walk.  I was farking tired, but while Ivy napped and Tony was home, K-Man hopped in the jogging stroller and we went for a brisk walk, about 3 km. The first real exercise I have done in almost a year. The goal to bring my diastolic blood pressure down is to do 20-30 minutes of “exercise” 4 times a week.  Not just running around after kids and up and down the stairs doing laundry.  I’m talking above and beyond that.  It would be WAY easier if I had an iPod that could actually hold all my dance/trance/upbeat music. Right now it is mostly consumed by stuff to listen to in the car while chauffeuring the kids around (Glee features prominantly).

High blood pressure is supposed to be for old people.  Not 29-year old size-4-wearing mothers.

It’s a good thing iBean was worth it.

iBean at her maximum level of medical intervention, shortly after birth

The Bean, 5 months old, trying on her bathing suit to see if it fits. It totally does! We're hitting the pool!

Happy

There are many  little words that a mother longs to hear from her baby, growing into a toddler and now a preschooler.  Kees’s vocabulary is growing at an exponential rate lately.  Coupled with the fact that he imitates nearly every word we utter, both in French and English, he is a little vocal machine: he tells you when his food is “hot! chaud!” or when he sees a “boat! bateau!”, or that he wants to go “house, maison.”  He likes to state as many things as he can in both languages, just to be sure that both Tony and I understand exactly what he wants.

The other day, while Sacha was in preschool, Kees and I went to visit my Baba.  We were having a conversation about food (or something similar, although I am pretty sure it was about food) and Kees came crawling into my lap and kept iterating something over and over.  I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was saying, since I was still talking to Baba, so he grabbed my face in his little hands and made me look at him.

“Ma ta,’ he said, which is his approximation to “Je t’aime” which is “I love you” in French.

‘Je t’aime aussi, Kees.”

Then he hugged me and buried his face into my shoulder and said “Happy.”

And that made me the happiest I have been in a long time.

My Kid-Free Mother’s Day

I went away for Mother’s Day.  My Baba made me feel guilty about it for, oh, about 10 seconds when she told me that I should be spending Mother’s Day with MY mother (who lives about 5 blocks away).

HA!  Not only have I never had any sort of Mother’s Day pampering, I have never had any time away from being a mother since I had Sacha.  Never have I had more than 4 hours away from my kids since August 25, 2006.  And that 4 hour stint was only once, when Tony bought me a “Get Stoned” spa package when Sacha was 3 months old.  Other than that, never more than 2 hours.

This weekend, I had 56 whole hours of relaxation and bliss.  Tony had bought me tickets to Stars on Ice for my birthday, to go with whomever I chose.  I decided to go with Talia, my sister, since she is as equally dorky about figure skating as I am.  I got to drive to Edmonton, which is 500 km from home, spend the weekend shopping, eating out, drinking Starbucks, indulging in a pedicure, singing karaoke at a pub, staying out past 10 pm and drooling over Scott Moyer.  And Kurt Browning, who did an entire routine to Luck be a Lady on hockey skates.  Them’s are some skillz!

By Sunday, I was ready to come home.  I missed my kids, and I missed being a mommy.  Most days, I am trying to find some way to escape, and it feels awful.  I don’t like being a SAHM who wishes she was working, or drinking, or doing ANYTHING else, frankly, other than being a mommy, raising kids day in and day out.

56 hours away was all I needed to want to go back to mommyhood.  I felt good about seeing my kids, about waking up at 6 am the next day, about why I chose to be a SAHM.

Moms who work at least have those 8 hours a day when they get to be someone else, a professional, a contributing member or society. A stay-at-home mother does not have an alter-ego.  There is only one self, and that is MOMMY.  This weekend helped me remember that deep down, Sarah still exists, a Sarah who can sing, who likes to spend hours at Chapters with a coffee in hand, a Sarah who likes to eat out at places without colouring pages for menus.

I need to learn to get away more often.  To learn to let go and let someone else take care of the kids for a day.  To reacquaint myself with Sarah and live her sans-kid life once in a while so that she can enjoy coming home to mommyhood.

The Gender-Identity Crisis

There comes a time as a parent that your kids say things that take you off guard, and leave you wondering what could possibly be going through their heads.  As the parent of a 3 year old boy, these crises come on a regular basis.  This week, we had what I would call a Three-Year-Old Gender Identity Crisis.

Crisis Number 1

“Mommy, I wanna marry a boy.”

My first thought is: What?! Oh man, how can he be gay already?? I know he says he doesn’t like girls, but isn’t that normal for a 3 year old boy?

I then reel in the irrational-express, destination Sarah’s brain and decide to pursue a little further.

Sacha: I gonna marry Kees-man.

Me: Sacha, you can’t marry Kees.  He’s your brother.  And why do you want to marry a boy?

Sacha: Because girls don’t like aliens and I LIKE ALIENS!

My thoughts at this point: Oh thank GOD!

Then I say: Sacha, even if girls don’t like aliens, it is ok to marry one.  If you want to be a daddy someday, you’re going to have to marry a girl.

Sacha: But why?

Me: Because only girls can have babies.  If you marry a boy, a boy can’t carry a baby in its tummy.

Sacha: Hmmm…then I just gonna marry you.

Me: Sorry, Sacha.  Maman is already married.  You have to find someone who is not married yet.

Sacha: Oh.  (pause while he collects his thoughts)  Well, then Kees can marry Stef (Sacha’s former love interest) and I can marry Madison ’cause she’s so CUTE!

Crisis Number 2

Sacha: Daddy, sometimes I wish I didn’t have a penis.

Tony: WHY?

All I am thinking is “Oh crap, he figured out that he needs a vagina to have a baby.”

Sacha: Because then I could pee out of my bum.  HAHAHAHAHAHA! That is silly.  Poop and pee out of my bum!  Or, maybe I could poop and pee out of my penis!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!

So far, gender-identity crisis averted.  As long as he doesn’t decide that Sacha is a girl’s name (which it is NOT, but I digress) and that he can have a sex-change operation and not even have to change his name.

5 weeks later…and this is how it goes

I had my D&C five weeks ago, and things have not resolved themselves.  Emotionally, I am better.  I have made a sort of peace with the fact that I lost my twins.  The fact that they died at the same time makes me believe that there was something genetically wrong with both of them, and they were not meant to live outside of me.

Physically, I am annoyed beyond reason.  In the past five weeks, I have had 12 days of no bleeding.  That makes 23 days of bleeding.  The past 9 days have been light, much the way it is when you are at the end of your period. the end of my period typically does not take 9 days.  And usually proceeds a good 3 weeks of NON bleeding.  Not just 12 days.   Annoying, though, is the fact that my doctor is concerned about infection and keep testing and swabbing to find the cause of this.  So far, nothing.  Everything is negative. I am glad that he is concerned, but I have had enough stuff shoved up my bajingo  in the past month to last me a while.

I just want things to be back to normal so that we can try again (shoving something else up my bajingo, but somewhat more pleasant than a speculum and extra-long Q-tip).  I really wanted to have a baby in 2010, but if things keep up the way they have…well, that won’t be happening.