Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Not too much to write about at the moment. Normally, I'm bubbling over with topics, but lately, not so much. Anyone have any questions? Any ideas? Feel free to comment or send me an e-mail with topics - I could obviously use some inspiration.

Status updates...

Marc is doing well, not liking his job lately, but then again, he hasn't liked it for a while now, but still keeps showing up :-) His diabetes is basically under control, he's on a new work out schedule, he's going to the gym every other day, and while I still hate it, I have to reluctantly admit that it's definitely working. He's losing weight and seems to be happier. Not that he's ever miserable, my husband is an uncommonly cheerful man, but it does help to keep him that way.

Jessica is in the middle of her first day of camp. And in classic Jessie style - is alternately hating and loving it. She's getting so grown up, all long legs and big eyes, and I'm fascinated, watching her mature and grow into herself.

Samuel is also growing so fast. He's starting preschool in the fall, and can't wait. I worry that it'll be hard for him, going without me. He's been my buddy for so long, and I'm wistful and sad, just a little bit, that he's growing up so fast.

Miss Julianna is so big. So literally big. She's grown so fast and is so gorgeous. Heartbreakingly beautiful, I love her little face when she's asleep, I could watch it for hours. She's cooing and smiling and awake for longer and longer every day. I can't remember life without her, it feels like she's been here forever.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I love summer

We had the loveliest weekend. Which I so needed after Friday. Let me back up a bit.

Jessie got out of school on Tuesday. Wednesday, she had a playdate in the afternoon, and then my mother picked her up. She spent the night at my sister's house (staying up far too late watching - ironically - Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen) and then spent the whole day at the lake with my mother and three of her cousins. I picked her up that night at my mother's house, along with two of my nieces and by the time we got home and them settled into bed, it was really late again. Friday, I had several thousand extra children here - and Jessie had just reached the limit of how much she could handle. Over stimulated, over tired, whatever applicable excuse I could come up with - she was beyond epically miserable. She cried, almost non-stop, for three hours in the middle of the day. (She finally pulled it together around two, just in time for Sam to start sobbing). She was just wrecked. At one point, I was outside with all the other kids and she was inside, crying. We live on a dead end street on a second floor apartment, and she was standing at the window, sobbing and gazing down at us. I went in to get freeze pops for the kids, and tried to coax her into joining us. She looked up at me, with tears streaming down her face, eyes all swollen, and told me that she knew I didn't love her, I used to say she was one of my favorite children, but I'd been faking it for seven years and she knew the truth now. She was so earnest and so devastated, but on the same hand, so unnecessarily dramatic that I just had to laugh. I gave her a hug and lugged her down and she snuggled with me for a while. Friday was Marc's gym day, and by the time he got home, I was so tired and the house was not pretty. Jessie had cried herself to sleep, and I hate having to do that do her, but really, she was so exhausted that there was nothing else I could do but send her to bed and let her sob until her eyes finally shut. Julie was doing the non-stop nursing and Sam, God love Sam, he needed a bit of attention too. It's hard when I'm home alone with three kids, especially when one (or two) are demanding 100% of me. Someone always gets the shaft, and then I'm overwhelmed and guilty.

But Saturday was delightful. We stayed home in the morning and cleaned, and then picked up Lilli and Sarah and headed down to the State Pool in Clinton. Julie needs to stay out of the sun, so for the most part, Marc took the kids into the pool and I sat in the shade with the baby. This may be the best year ever for the pool, because Jess is old enough to swim without being held, and Sam would much rather be in the big pool with Marc than playing in the baby pool. Every other year, we've had at least one kid who wasn't big enough for the big pool, and kids who are too big for the baby pool. After we left the pool, we went out for dinner, and then home. Sunday, we did pretty much the same thing - only instead of going to the pool, we went to my mother's house. We hung out, had a cookout, sat in front of a little bonfire - it was wonderful.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Woo Hoo - staph infection :-)

I've never been so delighted to get a diagnosis. An actual diagnosis, and a nice rx to fix it. I started out with just one crack on my nipple three weeks ago, and it's been awful. And every time I talked to a doctor, nurse, ob/gyn, any sort of actual medical professional, they just said to suck it up -it's part of breastfeeding. But I KNEW it wasn't. Nursing isn't supposed to hurt. And by the time I went into the urgent care clinic last night, I had "multiple fissures" and a staph infection.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


- Two days ago, I actually went to the Honey Farms up the street in my pajamas. The worst part of it was that I didn't even realize it until after I'd walked back home.

- I worry sometimes that Jess has this incredibly stressful, complicated life, filled with pitfalls and potential disasters - because she spends so much of her time trying to convince me of the fact. I think most of the time that she's having a happy, healthy childhood but if I'm wrong and she's right... man, it's wicked hard to be her.

- I fantasize about cutting off all my hair, because I've been wearing it in a messy bun for the past two months and really, is it worth it to have long hair when it's just constantly bundled up on top of my head? The only reason I don't do it is because it would be too embarrassing to explain to the hairdresser that I need a cut that's not just low maintenance, but actually requires no more maintenance that to be washed and brushed out semi-occasionally.

- I used to start my day with a hot shower. Every. Single. Day. Could NOT imagine going without a shower daily. Sadly, am now at the point where I routinely go two days without a shower. Sometimes, even (gasp with horror inserted here) three. I don't like leaving Julie without an adult to watch her, she screams the entire time I'm in the shower, and Marc's just not home all that often.

- Every afternoon, right around this time, I get really bitchy and unhappy. Sometimes, most of the time, I connect it to the fact that I need my afternoon cup of coffee, but it's not unusual for me to get really grumpy for a period of time before I remember.

- Sam spends a lot of his time naked. And on my list of priorities, making sure he's got underwear on is way lower than a lot of things. Plus he's developed the habit of taking the underwear off entirely every time he pees, so even if I wrestle a pair on him in the morning, it's off by lunchtime. Which leads me to my next confession...

- I have rules that sound foolish but are totally dead on necessary in this house. For example, no going outside unless you're wearing underwear. You can't put cheerios in your underwear for storage. No, your genitalia does not require fresh air.

- I've been trying to read the fourth Harry Potter book to my poor girl child for three months now, and we're still only about three quarters of the way thru it. Every time I see the book on the floor, I feel guilty. Why can't I carve out a half hour every night to read to her? I don't seem to be able to pull it off more than once or twice a week, and that's awful.

- I'm not keeping track of anything with Julie. I exist simply on a "needs being met" sort of schedule. I feed her when she seems hungry on whichever breast hurts less at that particular time. I change her after every nap. I have no clue when she naps, she's not on any sort of predictable routine. My mother in law asked the other day what her normal nap time was - and I drew an absolute blank. Sometimes, mostly, she'll take a good morning nap, but not today. The whole rest of the day, she just nurses, naps, chills, nurses, naps, chills, over and over again. And any one of those things can last anywhere between five and fifty minutes.


I'm going back to the doctor tonight, the skin around the nipple is getting flaky - and the whole thing just doesn't look healthy. I'm nursing on that side occasionally, sometimes, she just won't nurse on the shield, and sometimes I can't get anything out with my manual pump and just have to nurse. But mostly, I've been either pumping or using the shield, and letting it air dry, then coating it with lansinoh lanolin. The cuts are not healing, the one cut that's been there for almost three weeks is still there and another one has formed. Luckily, Julianna does nurse with no problems on the other side, and is definitely still getting all the breastmilk she could ever want. I don't want to wean, I hate the thought of formula, but am still seriously considering weaning on the right side and sticking with just the left one. The only reason I haven't done so is because I'm not positive that the left one won't develop the same problem - when I had thrush, it was the opposite, the left side was crap and the right side was the functional breast. Not weaning on one side keeps my options open. I just can't figure out why breastfeeding Julie is so challenging - I've nursed over four years, if you combine Jess and Sam, and went thru clogged ducts and mastitis, and it never felt like it was this hard.

Jess spent the night at my sister's house last night, she's going to the beach today with my mother and my niece. She's practicing for Hermit Island - our summer vacation. I'm not a girl who loves camping and my daughter is - so my sister is taking her up for a few extra days. She'll go up to Maine on the Sunday after July 4th, and I'll be up on Wednesday, with my cousin and the other two kids. Sam doesn't like camping either, strangely enough (because you'd think he'd like the dirt and bugs and general grubbiness that goes along with camping), and with a two and a half month old baby, camping isn't sounding all that appealing to me. Luckily, my stepsister lives up in Maine, not too far from the campground and we'll be able to sleep at her house :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tell me again

It's worth it, right? Breastfeeding is what's best for this girl. Because not only am I going on two and a half weeks with an unhealed crack, it's better but by no means gone, I just discovered ANOTHER one, a little higher up on the same nipple. Am eyeing that sample of formula that I got in the mail last week...

I'm not going to use it, but I am pretty irritated right now. Both physically and mentally :-). I'm seriously considering stopping nursing entirely on the left side and feeding exclusively on the right. Julie won't use the shield all the time, and pumping seems to make the cracks worse, they bleed after pumping.

Could REALLY use a pep talk right about now...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

First - kudos to Marc - who, hands down, is the best dad. He's smart, funny, loves his kids more than anything. I'm forever grateful that my children have him. In so many ways, he heals things for me, simply by loving his children the way that he does, he shows me over and over again how important a father's love is, and I'll never be able to fully express how much I enjoy knowing that my children have him in their lives.

And next... kudos to my mother.

Marc took the three middle kids (how odd that I've got so many children I can now call Sarah, Jessica and Sam my middle kids) to Walking with Dinosaurs tonight. It's down at the DCU Center, and it's got this ginormous animatronic dinosaurs trudging around, from what I understand. So I'm at home with Julianna. And since we got home, three hours ago, I've nursed her three times, snuggled and sang to her and held her while she slept. And earlier, she was dozing on my lap, I was sitting with the boppy on my legs and her little butt on my lap, her head on the boppy. She looked so peaceful and content, her little belly was fully, she had a fresh diaper and she was just so... loved and cherished. I thought to myself that in my next life, I'd like to come back as Julie. To be that beloved. And then I realized that I had that - I had that love and devotion and utter maternal adoration. My mother loved me from the very beginning - never once have I ever doubted that me and my brothers and my sister are at the very center of her life. Never once did my utter faith that she'd be there, no matter what, ever waver.

Father's Day is a complicated holiday for me, in a lot of ways. I've got a tangled up, messy, tentative sort of connection to my dad. I never know quite how to feel on Father's Day. But today - today, I'm just grateful for my mom. Because when you've got a mom as cool as mine, sometime you have celebrate her on Father's Day as well as Mother's Day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Looking for a new baby carrier - any suggestions?

Julie is a girl who likes being held. I've got two carriers, a Nojo sling that I LOVE and a homemade mei tei (?? is that what it's called?). The problem with the sling is that it's kind of hit or miss, it's either super comfortable or totally not, and I can't figure out how to make it one way or the other, it's just luck. And with the other one, I can really only hold her facing in, and I think she'd like to look out sometimes. I've also got an ultimate baby wrap, but I can't figure out how to make that work, the fabric seems to be too stretchy to hold her. I don't know many other moms who really wear their babies, so I'm hoping that someone who does it consistently will have some recommendations :-)

In other news... all is well here. Julianna has developed a hard core case of baby acne and I'm not happy about it. Her poor skin looks so ANGRY, all covered in little red bumps. It started out on just one cheek, moved over to the other, and is now covering her entire head. My other two never had it - and I'm wishing that I could just make it all go away. But from what google and the pediatrician tell me, it'll probably be sticking around for a few more months... she's still heartbreakingly beautiful to me, I just wish her skin was clear.

Jessica's last day of school is on Tuesday. I love having her home, and am looking forward to the summer. I know that I'll lose my patience, and be thinking longingly of the days when she was at school, but right now the thought of having my girl home with me sounds FABULOUS. I just hope that she and Sam don't spend all summer squabbling. They're either best friends or bitter enemies, it seems, and I'm hoping for a good summer.

Sam's all signed up for preschool in the fall. I can't quite believe that he's actually old enough for school, and am sad to report that it's not any easier to ship the second child off to school. I'm just as freaked out about it as I was when it was time to send Jess off. He's all excited about it - he can't wait to have his own backpack and have to pack a lunch, just like his big sister. I don't know that it's fully occured to him that I'm not going along to preschool with him - he's never been to anything like this before, without me, and I hope it's going to be a lot harder on me than it is on him. I want him to love it.

Saw my OB today for my check up. My OB is super quick, very nice guy, but fast and efficient. I saw the midwife thru the pregnancy, and she's great too, but a lot more into chit chat. There's no chatting with my OB :-). We're still waiting to see if the IUD that I want is covered under our insurance, otherwise I'll be going with the mini-pill. I don't want to take any chances, even though I'm breastfeeding and the chances of me being fertile are next to zero. I'm fairly certain that Julianna is my last little baby... I'm 36 and Marc is 41. I like at least three years between babies, which means that I'd be 38 or 39 the next time, if there is a next time. Three kids seems perfect to me right now - but the thought of NEVER having another baby? I'm not ready to say that. After Jess, I knew I wanted at least two more, and after Sam, I knew that I wanted at least one more. And my family feels complete now. Especially when you factor in two stepdaughters - that's five children that are tearing around my house every weekend. Yeah, we're probably done - so why don't I want to get my tubes tied? Why aren't I pushing Marc to get a vasectomy? Because it just feels too final - I'm not ready to say absolutely no more babies ever. Probably. Most likely. But never? I'm not ready to say it yet.

Sammy the boxer

Marc was a Golden Gloves boxer in his early twenties, and last night, there was a ceremonial passing of the torch. Or at least that's how it felt, because Marc gave Sam a pair of his boxing gloves and let him beat him with them. We've got a game in our family called (oh so creatively) "Fight on the Bed." The game originated between Marc and a two year old Jessica. And in that incarnation, Jess would stand on the bed, in all her two year old prettiness and scream "You wanna piece of me?" and launch herself at him, and he'd slug her with the pillow and knock her down, demanding to see her "war face." Jessie would pop back up, roar at him and attack again. It was their bedtime routine (I preferred reading stories and lullabies, but whatever...).

Once Sam got bigger, though, the game took on a new life. It's now become a ritual, every night that Marc is here to put him to bed, first they go into my bedroom, pile all of the pillows and blankets up by the headboard and fight. Sam kicks, punches, wrestles and does it all with such enthusiasm it's at times alarming to me. Jess will occasionally join in, but she'd rather curl up with me and Harry Potter instead these days, and it's much more a boys thing for them. This is their primary bonding activity. Marc is really into the mixed martial arts these days, and is apparently grooming Sam for the cage. But last night, he broke out the boxing gloves and Sam was so incredibly thrilled by it. He was in there throwing punches, doing what he called "tumbleweeds" (aka somersaults) so that he could kick at Daddy, and then head butting him.

I don't like violence, really, but I understand that Marc does. And more importantly, Sam does. And I think that Marc has the right/responsibility to teach Sam to be a man, however he defines it. And it's not just random violence, it's about "fighting the bad guys" and protecting those weaker than himself. And I'm totally in favor of that. Because Marc's a big guy, and Sam really is just a mini-Marc, and showing him how to use that to it's fullest potential seems like a good thing. Does that make sense? Marc's a jock, but he's also a jock with a strong sense of helping those who need it - he's the best example of manhood that I can think of, and however he chooses to pass that along to my son, I'm completely in favor of.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In response to crazy vaccine lady at the park

I was walking earlier today with my many, many children to the neighborhood park. I had my baby girl in her pram, sleeping soundly (she sleeps better there, I think, than anywhere else), and three preschoolers roaming ahead of me. I was obviously a good target for the anti-vaccine zealot.

Anyway, I'm wandering along, pushing the baby and watching the three older kids, when I hear someone hollering at me. "Excuse me, excuse me!" I turn around to see a sweet little old lady chasing me down. I pause, and she catches up to me and peers in at Julianna and asks how old she is. I figured she's probably just someone who really likes babies, and smile, tell her that Julie is almost seven weeks old. She looks at me sympathetically and asks softly "How are you?" I'm puzzled a bit, but still thinking that she's just a sweet little lady, maybe she had kids and it was really stressful and difficult. But I'm good - really. So I tell her that. And she tells me that Julie is beautiful (which she totally is - she looks like a sleeping angel), and my other children (because she's assuming that they're all mine) are very nice too. So I nod, nicely, but start edging away from her, because I DO have three little kids that I'm trying to keep track of... and then she pops out with "Have you heard about the vaccines?"

I'm baffled by this - did this little old lady really run up to me just to lecture me about vaccines? But yes, she did. She's been reading studies by a doctor out of NY, and feels honor bound to tell mothers of small children about it, I guess. Apparently, the doctor that she's quoting feels as though we shouldn't be vaccinating our children, that it's "natural" for the body to be getting these diseases and it's wrong to supress them. I was dumbfounded - for a whole bunch of reasons - but mainly I'm thinking to myself that I'm sure it's perfectly natural to get these diseases, but it's also perfectly natural to DIE of them. And thank God I live in a time and a place where I can protect my children from getting them.

For what it's worth - I think that for the most part, people should do whatever they want with their children. If you don't want to vaccinate your children, that's up to you. I'm not going to yell at you about it, and I'm not going to tell you that I think you're crazy for not taking simple steps to prevent your child from contracting a deathly illness. I've done my research, plus, I don't want to brag, but my husband is a certifiable genius and has actually read all of the studies associated with vaccines. We're very comfortable with our decisions to vaccinate our children. I trust my doctor, for a reason, and rely on her advice. I vaccinate my kids. And I'd really rather not have to defend that to crazy little old ladies at the park.

Puddle up!

I know that one day, someone will correct him, and Sam'll start saying "Let's huddle up" instead, but until then, I'm going to just let him believe that the expression is "puddle up" as in "Let's all get together like we're in a giant puddle." It's so cute. He's in there playing with his buddies, Harrison and Jordyn, and he's very much the orchestrator of the game they're playing right now. It's sort of a combo superhero/Star Wars/Scooby game, involving chasing each other around the house with little figurines.

Julianna is sound asleep on the couch, and I'm supposed to be folding laundry. I'm not, obviously, because it occured to me that someday I might forget "Puddle Up!" if I didn't write it down somewhere. That's really why I blog. I'm always a little amused and thrown off when I remember that other people actually read it, I love it, but I do it mainly because I want to be able to go back and remember what these days were like. I love the thought of my kids reading it one day, about their adventures and what it was like, raising them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I expected better things of a Tuesday

Tuesdays are generally my favorite day of the week, so thus far, this one has not measured up. Had a fight with Jess over which dress she was going to wear (not that I really care what dress she wears, but she wanted me to pick it out, and then insisted that the dress I was describing didn't exist in her closet - it did, she's wearing it now) and then Marc randomly decided to draw a line in the sand and was about to head off to Walmart to buy a lock box for his tools to keep Sam from going thru them. I pointed out that telling him to stay out of them would work out as well, and involved less time and money. Everyone is grumpy today and unpleasant, with the exception of Sam, who's perfectly content playing with his little Star Wars guys, and Julianna - and she's got every reason to be cheerful, she's nursing on demand (which for her means about three minutes of nursing every half hour or so). My nipple is KILLING me - I know it's getting better because I can at least bear it when she's nursing on it without the shield. But it's sore before, majorly sore during the latch on, and then drops back down to just painful during the nursing and afterwards.

I'm not sure what to do with Julie. She's really a VERY frequent nurser. If she starts fussing and I pick her up, she immediately starts rooting around to nurse. She won't take the pacifier from me, and because she's nursing so often, she's not drinking very much at all, she latches on and off and on and off again. Which is a problem on the right side, as the latch on is the worst part. Marc came home early last night, and I actually showered. I had nursed three times in the hour before he got home, so I knew she wasn't hungry and I handed her over and dashed to the shower. She screamed herself to sleep in his arms, and then slept for at least hour. She startled herself awake and each time, he gave her pacifier and soothed her back to sleep. So when I nursed her that next time, she nursed, really nursed, for a long time and then fell asleep for five hours.

I don't want to let her cry, and I'm a big believer in nursing on demand, but I don't know that letting her nurse as frequently as I do is good for her. Or for me, for that matter - because it hurts. So I'm trying to let her go longer, fussing a little more, and not just relying on nursing to calm her down. Carrying her facing out, going for more walks (she naps really well in the carriage). I'm not planning on depriving her if she really does want to nurse, but going to really work on distraction occasionally. Just occasionally.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brilliant girl and mean mommy is back...

Jessica's school conference was this morning. Marc went to it, as I was home with millions of children, and just reported in. We didn't really have any concerns going in, but wanted to touch base because she had missed so much school this year. Between strep throat twice, a week long bout of H1N1, all the Jewish holidays seemed to fall mid-week, plus some major drama around getting her there sometimes... she had missed more than she should have. She's doing wonderfully! Her math skills are right at grade level, not behind, but if we're going to work on anything over the summer, it would be that. Her reading is way above grade level. On the end-of-the-year reading test, the 1st grade standard is looking for a reading speed of 45 to 50 words per minute with an 80% comprehension level, and Jessie read 90 words per minute with a 94% comprehension level. I'm thrilled by this - I have been such a bookworm since I was little, in fact, I distinctly remember learning to read and being just so thrilled and amazed at all the BOOKS that were out there that I could look forward to reading. I'm really happy that she'll get to have similiar experiences. Plus, I've always felt like if you like to read, everything is easier. History is a much easier class, even science is more interesting because you enjoy reading the texts. And she'll pick up so much more info - I know all kinds of stuff about all kinds of things, not because I've got a great education - I only made it thru one year of college before I ran out of money, but because I LOVE reading. Her teacher (who I adore) recommended that we continue reading more adult books to her, because at this point, she's working on building her vocabulary and that's the best way to do it.

In other news... I'm cracking down. I've become a super pushover mom, and my kids are really starting to suffer as a result. Bedtime is one area where I need to be a lot stricter. Jess fights sleep, and I've been letting her doze off in the living room and lugging her into bed after she falls asleep. As a result, she's not getting enough sleep and suffering because of it. She cried this morning because all her clothes made her look stupid - and you know it was just that she was so tired, she was completely irrational. I need to get her back on a routine with a regular bedtime so that she gets the sleep she needs. Even though it's going to be a lot harder in the beginning, she's going to hate it, but this isn't good for her or for me.

Sam and I had a forty five minute battle of wills this morning - he was just screaming and mean. Jordyn was over, and he didn't want her to watch the television with him. It was his show and he didn't want her in the living room, let alone watching his television. And I put him in his bedroom until he could calm down and be nice. Over and over and over again, because he kept coming out, screaming. I was ready to kill him. Or myself. But eventually, he calmed down and stopped. And honestly, he's been angelic all morning, because once he understands that he can't get away with it, he stops. Clear rules, consequences they understand and follow thru. I know how to do it, it's just easier to be the nice mommy who indulges and makes her children happy. I don't like making miserable, but by letting them get away with crappy behavior, I'm not doing them any favors. Short term gain, long term loss.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Can you go back?

Is it worth it? I wonder... my father recently got in touch with me. And I don't know quite what to do with it. Him. The whole situation, I guess. My parents divorced so long ago, and he hasn't been a part of my life in such a long time, I'm not sure where to put him now. I'm not sure if I have room, but how do I say no to someone who wants to love me? Someone who's last name I shared for a long time, someone who's skin tone I've inherited, someone who's DNA I've inherited? Do I pretend the last twenty years didn't exist, do I dredge up old memories and hurts that I've managed to push down far enough that I don' t think of them anymore? Do I owe loyalty to the parent who was there, the one who loved me and supported me and did her best every day to make up for the fact that he wasn't there? Is loyalty even required in this instance? How is it loyalty to turn away from a parent? Can you still call him a parent when he wasn't there? But if he isn't a parent, what is he? Because he's not a stranger... I'm perplexed and on the edge of some serious emotional baggage that I really, probably, would have preferred not to be reviewing at this point in my life.

How do I explain this to my kids? Do I explain it? Do they need to know that there's a grandfather out there that hasn't met them? That - and this is the cold hard truth that I'm trying to avoid, didn't care enough to know that they existed. That missed their babyhood and toddlerhood and early childhood. Because in the end, there's no way to whitewash that - he wasn't there. Not just for them, because you know when I'm talking about them, I'm really talking about me. Only he was there for the babyhood, etc for me - it was the tween years, the adolescence, the whole rest of my life that he missed.

But he's here now. Vaguely. If by here, I mean, halfway across the country, asking to call once and a while to see how I am. And I'm ... just confused. Confused and feeling like, really, I'm just on the edge of digging up some major emotional issues that I didn't know how to handle when I was a kid and haven't gotten any better at figuring them out. He loves me. Or the idea of me, because he doesn't have a clue who I am now. But I think he'd like to - and he's sorry and sad and regretting a lot of what happened. He wants to go back, or go forward with things being different. I just am not sure how I feel about it. I don't know how to go forward with a father, I've done so much of it without him. I don't NOT want to have him in my life, I just... I guess, in the end, I've got to acknowledge some anger and some hurt, and figure out if I want to move on beyond that. Or just say, sorry, you had your shot. I'm thirty six years old, I needed a dad when I was a kid, I needed a dad when I was in my early twenties, when I was trying to figure out my life. Now that I've got it pretty much arranged the way I like it, healthy marriage, three great kids - I don't need a dad. But then I think, is that really what I want to say? Really? Do I want to shut him down the way I feel as though he did to me? Do I want to be the sort of person who can turn away from someone who honestly regrets the way he behaved in the past and wants to have some sort of relationship with me? Don't I want to see what happens? I'm not sure - there's a part of me that feels like I've been down this road before and it didn't lead anywhere good.

Singing in the rain

Sometimes, I'm just not up for the weekend. I try, really I do, but I have extra kids here all week long and sometimes on Saturday, I just hit my limit. Today, I lasted about ten minutes after my stepdaughters arrived, I also had my friend's daughter Glennys here. Julianna had fallen asleep on the chair with Jessica, and it was peaceful and lovely... then the other four kids came slamming in and immediately, a little circle formed around the baby. They all love her so much, and suddenly she was getting stroked and kissed and loved and the poor kid was sleeping. I tried to coax them to let her be, let her sleep, and then a bunch of them started wrestling and jumping around... and I gave up. I picked up Julie, stormed into my bedroom, and spent the next hour and a half dozing and nursing. Julie had the best afternoon - because she was right up against me, nursing whenever she felt like it, and in the end, the kids were actually pretty happy about it too, because after I took the baby and disappeared, they all went out and ran around in the rain. They were grubby but blissfully happy. There's little more fun than playing outside in the rain on a hot day.

I'm pumping again - the cut is still not all the way healed and Julie is refusing to nurse on the shield anymore. I don't blame her, but it does make it a bit more challenging. Especially because she won't take a bottle from me, so I have to nurse her during the day. But now that Marc's here, I'm taking advantage of the weekend and hoping that it'll heal faster if I give it a break with pumping.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Falling in love

I have three children, so you'd think I'd have been expecting this, but it caught me by surprise this time. I think I expected to just roll Julianna into my family and love her just like I love the other two. I remember this stage now with both the other two. There's a period of infatuation, I think, with a new baby and Julie and I are head over heels these days. She's reached the point where contentment is mostly found in my arms, it's her favorite place to be. And I'm lost in her big blue eyes, fascinated by the expressions on her face, and awed by the personality that's peeping out at me more and more.

We've moved out of the newborn baby stage. The stage where there are only really four needs, she cried only when she needed a diaper change, a burp, or to nurse to sleep. And she was always either crying, actively getting one of those needs met, or sleeping. She'd have brief stages of alertness, but mostly, that was about it. But now - now she likes to be chatted with. She likes to sit on my lap and gaze contemplatively at me. She likes laying on the floor, in the center of the living room, with all the action going on around her. She likes lullabies and her ducks on the swing. She's so gorgeous, just so incredibly, drop dead beautiful, that it takes my breath away.

Sam's really grown into himself lately as well. Suddenly, he's this big huge boy, with these little pools of tenderness and sweetness hidden among all the superheros and shooting the bad guys and wrestling with Daddy. He's still endlessly interested in his sister, and wants so badly to be a big helper like Jessie. He's desperate to change her diaper all by himself, and loves announcing "I think her wants me" when she starts crying. He loves being her big brother. He's very focused on the boy next door these days, Brian is seven and Sam's developed such a boy crush on him. Brian is his hero these days, he's got super cool shoot guns and runs and plays and fights the bad guys and Sam can't get enough of him.

Jessica is such an amazing help to me. She's totally going to morph into being this child's second mother, because she just assumes that it's her job to step in when I don't do it fast enough. If Julie starts fussing in the swing, Jess picks her up automatically and calms her down. She's perfectly capable of changing a diaper, really, she does a great job. I have to remind myself that she's only seven. She's still capable of a full blown temper tantrum, but more and more, she's growing up. She's smart and sweet and funny and I am still surprised by how much she's capable of.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just some of the reasons I love my husband...

- he can always tell me the names of the people who's photos flash up on the show Lie to Me.

- he knows that dogs have four toes on their front legs and five on the back. And knows why.

- he never complains about the state of the house, if it's messy and cluttered, it makes me nuts, but he's never once come home from working all day at a job he hates and bitched about the messy living room.

- he's never hinted in any way, shape, or form, that he's even the slightest bit not completely attracted to me all of the time. First thing in the morning, hair everywhere, grubby clothes, smelling of breastmilk and still pudgy from pregnancy, he always makes me feel beautiful.

- he can sit with a crabby, crying seven year old girl child, and talk patiently with her until she smiles again.

- when I'm sobbing hysterically over nursing problems with Julie, he's very calm, very rational, and never points out that I'm overreacting. Even when I clearly am.

- he's delighted whenever anyone comes by, I never hesitate to make plans because he's always thrilled to betsy to do just about anything - the more people I include, the better.

- he really, really is my little boy's best friend.

- he looks at my little baby girl and tells her all the time how much she looks like her mother.

- he's never really lost. Even when he is, he won't admit it, and just keeps driving until he figures out how to get to where we need to be.

- he makes me coffee every morning, never thinks to make me do the trash or clean the bathroom.

- he loves me, loves our children, and if I wanted to have seventeen more kids, he'd be more than willing.

- he's my best friend, my reality check, my first call whenever anything happens.

Did it again

I've created a little Mommy's Girl. It didn't take that long, about six weeks. (which is ironically, six weeks longer than it took for me to create a Mommy's Boy, as Sam came out of the womb with separation anxiety). Julianna was very much a "pass the baby" kind of girl. She liked being held by pretty much anyone for the first several weeks, but now that's she's almost six weeks, she's developed a hard core Mommy preference. Poor Marc said to me this morning, "She really doesn't have much use for me." And I felt so sad for him, because mornings used to be his special time with Julie, he'd take her from me when he first got up and hang with her until I managed to choke down the first cup of coffee. And now she just fusses thru that time, or screams hysterically until I take her back.

Not sure if it's the kids or if it's me. There's a part of me that loves being the end all, be all for my babies. I love that I can quiet them with just a touch of my hand, or my voice is enough to make them feel safe and relaxed. With Jessie and especially with Sam, I had this incredibly tight bond with them from the very beginning. Sam, in fact, was only calm when he was latched on. And for as much as I panicked at the thought of Julie not having that connection with me, on that day that she wouldn't latch on, she's as fully attached as the other two. Today's a rough day for Julie, she's been alternately crying, nursing or spitting up all morning. She has dozed off a few times, but never for long. Right now, she's laying face down on my lap, bouncing. It's one of her favorite positions, and when I know that she can't possibly be hungry, and my breasts are so sore from nursing for hours, it's the best way to hold her and not have her up against my chest. If she's near the boobs, she wants them :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I love Tuesdays...

I live in the moment. Literally - no sense of perception. Especially about nursing. If we have one bad session, then I'm devastated, assuming that it's a constant battle and I get really upset. But then a day or two passes and I realize that we're fine and all the stress and aggravation was pretty useless in the end. I nursed without the shield earlier, and didn't cry. I used it this last time though, there's still a noticable crack and even though it's better, it's not gone yet. Last night, she was screaming when I wasn't holding her. From about four thirty on, until Marc got home around ten. If I wasn't holding her, she was hysterical. No middle ground, no sleeping, either. She was either in my arms, sleeping or nursing or just hanging out, or she was screaming. I was stressed and frustrated, because the house was a mess, I couldn't DO anything, like make dinner or take care of the other kids, and there's stuff I NEED to do. Jessie needed a shower, the kids had to eat, and it was just hard. But today - she's back to peaceful and relaxed. We snuggle and hang out, and she sleeps in her swing or in the carriage. No stress, I got to eat breakfast and lunch, and even got to clean Jessica's bedroom. Did three loads of laundry (can't find the time to fold them, but that's another story). It's a good day.

On the way to the park earlier, we ran across a tree that had been chopped down. My little druid was devastated, he couldn't understand why someone had chopped down one of his favorite trees. I had to pick him up and let him cry for a minute or two, and we put a rock on top of it, just like we did at the cemetary to let the tree know that we loved it and missed it. He's drawing a picture right now to commemorate it. He's got a major tree thing and has since he was tiny. He worries about them out in the elements, and grieves every fall when the leaves fall. And trees getting cut down are just hard for him to understand...

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's primal

The desire to nurse your child. For me, at least. I'm pumping on one side and bottle feeding the breastmilk to Julie, and I hate it with a completely irrational passion. It just feels so completely wrong to me. Rationally, I get it - I need to give the wound time to heal, and I shouldn't have to cry and scream in agony nursing her. Pumping isn't completely pain free, but it's agony free, if that makes sense. And she's still 100% getting breastmilk, no formula supplements, and I'm thrilled about that. The crack looks marginally better, although maybe I'm just fooling myself. I'm keeping it slathered in lansinoh and trying to expose it to air when I can (although it's so incredibly sensitive I can't do it for long) and hoping it heals fast.

But I still hate pumping. I hate her having a bottle. Last night, I let her nurse using the breast sheild and felt so much better. Just the physical act of nursing her directly made such a difference in my mental state, I felt so much better, so much closer to her. After she nursed, I held her for the longest time, sleeping on my chest. The other kids and Marc were sound asleep and it was this wonderful little island in time, just me and my baby girl.

In other news - we got Jess her first pair of high heeled sandals. What's up with heels for little girls these days? It's lunacy, and I've delayed getting them as long as I could, but she was so sad about not having any, claimed every other little girl in the world has them and she's the only one who doesn't. And I have to let her make her own choices sometimes. Marc wasn't thrilled about it either, but we decided they would be her "dress up" shoes only for special occasions. And hopefully she won't break her ankle.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I hate cleaning

Okay - there. I've said it. I freaking hate cleaning. I hate doing dishes, hate folding laundry, hate constantly having to sweep and mop and vacuum and pick up toys and toys and more toys. I love my children, love being home with them, but hate having trash everywhere, cups all over the place and so much laundry I can't ever catch up.

I'm hot, sweaty, sticky, my kids hate each other, and my nipple hurts so badly all I want to do is cry. And I would, but really, who does that help? Because I've still got five loads of laundry to fold, two beds that have been destroyed because the kids discovered that stripping them is wicked fun, Jessie's room is covered in so much crap because she collects things like there's no tomorrow and everyone is miserable.
It's not a pleasant day here.

I just need more painkiller (tylenol doesn't seem to do anything to alleviate the pain, but I keep taking it every four to six hours). I'm lucky, because Julie is napping really well, she's missed her normal morning nap because there was so much chaos, but she's been snoozing on the couch with a fan blowing near her, so she's cool and comfortable. I'm pumping now on the right side, I've tried to nurse her a new times, but honestly, it hurts so much I can't make myself do it anymore. There's literally a little ring of blood around my nipple. It's awful. The other side is still pain free, thank goodness, so I'm nursing on that side, giving her the breastmilk I pump in a bottle and hoping that it doesn't end up giving me mastitis because I know the pump doesn't work as effectively as her nursing would. Also praying that she doesn't quit nursing on me again - I've got such a visceral hatred and fear now of her taking a bottle.

Did I mention that it's not pleasant here today?

If it would just RAIN already, I think I'd be better. But it's a combination of everything, the breast soreness, the kids being so cranky because they're hot and sticky, the house being a mess because we had everyone here yesterday, and my lingering resentment that I'm home here, dealing with cranky miserable children, incredible pain in my breast and cleaning.

I keep reminding myself that I'll miss this time. That I'm so lucky to be able to have this time with my kids, and that there are little pockets of bliss that make it all worthwhile. Then I see the laundry all piled up, clean, but still waiting for me to fold it and put it away, and the toys that Sam's dumped out for the fourteenth time today, or Jess will take offense at some imagined slight and storm off to her bedroom in a flood of tears, and it seems like so much more work and unhappiness than I'd like. But there's joy here, and love and fun and sunshine and lollipops. I just need to work harder at finding it on a day like today, I guess.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yet another breast update

Turns out that it's not thrush, and not mastitis either. It's a teeny, tiny cut on my nipple, and engorgement because I'm avoiding nursing on that side because it's so monumentally painful. As you can imagine, I'm distinctly ill amused with this, had really hoped that I could just take a little pill or something to make it better instead of hearing "suck it up, that's part of breastfeeding." I'm paraphrasing a little, but not much.

I'm going to keep going - because breastfeeding really is better than formula, and Julianna is THRIVING, but I can totally understand why women throw in the towel on nursing, because it's been a battle from the beginning with Julie. But it is worth it - and it's so much better for her, it's cheaper, I'd have to suffer thru days of engorgement if I quit, and she really, really does love it. So I'm going to suck it up - but send me healing thoughts, okay? Because this really hurts.

Friday, June 4, 2010

nursing troubles - again

More nursing problems... my breast is really sore. The whole damn thing, nursing isn't too painful yet, but it hurts just walking around and God forbid anyone happen to brush up against my chest (and with three kids - this happens a lot more often than you might think). I have no idea what the problem is - it's not thrush, I don't think it's a blocked duct, it's not mastitis. It just hurts like hell. I'm speculating that my poor breasts are just worn out. I nursed Sam for so long and he only weaned when I was pregnant, so these poor babies have been working hard for over four years now, between the pregnancy with Sam, nursing him for three plus years and then the pregnancy with Julianna. Maybe they just don't work as well anymore. They're tired :-). I'll keep trekking along, hoping that it'll work itself out. I nursed her for a while on it earlier, and it wasn't fun, but wasn't as bad as it was when the thrush was at it's worst.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Updates on cherubs - take two

Sam spent the afternoon in the back of my mother's car, eating mocha chip ice cream, and then went outside to play shoot guns with his buddy Brian (the older boy - he's Jessie's age - who lives next door). He came inside covered in sweat and grime and we mutually decided that a bath was in order. I put him in the tub with a huge assortment of superhero guys and he was in there playing. I was sitting in the living room, nursing Julie, when suddenly, screams erupt. Since that's never what you want when your three year old is in the tub, I put down the baby and run for the bathroom. Midway there, I yell "Sammy - did you try to wash your eye again?" and I hear this sad little voice say softly and miserably "Yeah." He literally attempts to wash his eye. He was trying to wash his face and got a little carried away, I guess. He's done it before, and he's the only kid (and I've bathed a LOT over the years) who's ever taken the soap, applied to his eye and rubbed it around there.

Jess is on the phone with her friend. She's in her room with the door shut, she's been chatting away for the past twenty minutes, and I'm thinking this is the first time in a very long line of times when she'll answer the phone and disappear behind closed doors... She's so very serious about it and so funny. I had put this foam thing on her door to prevent her from slamming it (she loves to slam it when she's having a temper tantrum) and she came out all perturbed because she needed her privacy for the conversation. The best part was that at one point, Julie started to cry and Jessie tucked the phone under her ear and tried to pick her sister up to calm her down. Multi-tasking at seven... I came in and told her that I'd handle the baby, go ahead and talk :-). She thinks nothing of assuming total control of Julie, and if I don't jump immediately when the baby fusses (and really, it's not like I ever let the child cry for any length of time), she'll get her first.

Julie's appt was today - her one month check up (don't think it's a good sign that at five weeks, I'm already off the schedule, but it's really part of a trend, I scheduled Sam's four year physical (his birthday is in early July) for late in September because I'm just constantly behind where I should be with those). She's a paragon of health, she weighs ten pounds, two ounces, and is twenty two inches long. She's gained a LOT and the doctor told me not to be at all concerned that she hasn't pooped since Monday. She's apparently just using everything from the breastmilk, because her stomach was soft and it wasn't like she was constipated - she just doesn't have anything left over to poop. Which makes me feel smug - and grateful that she's nursing so well. Because there's something awesome about looking at your baby and knowing that you, and only you, are totally responsible for the growth. Not only did you grow this child inside you, but then you are able to magically produce enough milk to make the baby thrive and grow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I dream of a shower

It's a small dream, in the overall scheme of things. I used to dream for world peace, an end to global warming, a peaceful resolution to the whole Middle East conflict. Now, I dream of cloning myself, one to walk with Julie, devoting myself to soothing her when she's fussy and won't sleep, one to do the dishes, one to read Harry Potter to my poor Jess because we've been in the middle of that stupid book for two months now, and one to take a long, glorious shower all by myself. Washing my hair. Twice. Conditioning with reckless abandon. Shaving all of my legs and my armpits. Just showering until the hot water runs out.

And in the end, it's all just a dream. Because Marc just called, at ten o'clock, from the gym, and he's still not leaving to come home. And I can't disappear into the shower or the kitchen to do the stupid dishes, because then I can't hear the kids if/when they wake up. By the time he gets home, I'm going to be way too tired to do anything other than croak out a goodnight at him, and will wake up tomorrow morning, grubby, hot, sticky and with a sinkful of dishes. I'd hate being a single parent, and the reason that I'm absolutely certain of that is because two nights a week, I AM one and I don't really like it.

Jessie literally cried herself to sleep tonight. I don't remember why, exactly, because I was busy trying to bounce Julie to sleep and arguing with Sam about him not getting more food (as he's already asked for/received/not eaten a turkey pot pie, fish sticks, broccoli and a cup of cheerios), but I think Jessie was mad that I told her I didn't care when she complained that she couldn't sleep. It may have also been that I refused to take her to the hospital right this very minute for x-rays on her arm (that she banged last Friday and hasn't complained about since), or because we're sending her to JCC Summer Camp for four weeks (scattered throughout the summer) (after she swore that she wanted to go). Turns out that, upon reflection, she feels as though camp is so boring and we've condemned her to a summer of utter misery. She stormed into her bedroom, slamming the door. Which woke her sister from the tenuous nap I had managed to coax her into, I made her come back out and apologize, and then she stormed back into her bedroom (closing the door quietly) and commenced sobbing. But I couldn't go fix it, because I was still dealing with Sam and Julie. So I listened to her cry for twenty minutes, while Sam argued with me and Julie cried and fussed and bounced her way back to sleep. It was a wretched night.

I hate gym nights. I always feel crappy on them, because there's no way for me to do everything well, and without another pair of hands here, at least one kid is miserable, the dishes don't get done, the floor is still mostly cluttered, and I'm still dreaming about a shower.

I try to tell myself to enjoy this time - really. Because I love my kids and they're all so beautiful and sweet. And twenty years from now, I'm going to miss this. A lot. There were so many moments tonight when it was wonderful. I did try to do the dishes at one point and heard Julie start to cry again. I kept going, because dammit, I HATE waking up to dirty dishes, but she was really crying and I knew that Jess would pick her up. And a crying baby is stressful, and I didn't want to leave Jess in that situation. But when I came into the living room, Jessie had picked her up and was laying on the couch making funny faces at her, and Julie had stopped crying to gaze at her quizzically. Sam picked out a special spot for me on the comfy chair and was desperate for me to come sit beside him, and when I finally did (I didn't want to because it's so hot and sticky and getting out of it is hard with a sleeping baby), he curled up against me and was asleep in minutes. Julie's eyes are just starting to turn from that dark indigo to greyish. And she's so sweet and adorable and just flat out lovely... I will miss this time. I've got the rest of my life to be clean, right? When they're older, I'll always have the dishes done, but I won't have a snuggly three year old sleeping next to me, or a big girl who isn't scared of a crying baby but makes faces to calm her down. I won't have a tiny baby who's whole happiness is simply me. I'll try to remember that when I wake up tomorrow morning.