So Many Specialists

As a parent, the most important thing really is your child’s health and wellbeing. Although we have had some serious scares (My Daughter) and (Scariest Mommy Moment), we have been so very fortunate.

Now, for the most recent scare (s).

As I mentioned in a previous blog (Family Update), our middle daughter had a blood test abnormality at birth. After getting retested though, it turned out to be a false positive. So we moved on… until our third daughter’s blood showed the same abnormality. It didn’t make any sense. I was told that this abnormality is extremely rare, but why another positive? Is this test showing that there may be issues with our girls as they get older? Does this happen to everyone else who delivers here? Is this the worst, most unreliable test ever?! Luckily, once again, it turned out to be a false positive.

Fast forward to a few months later. Our little one had been doing so well. Hitting milestones long before her sisters and one of the most engaging tiny humans we have ever met. One day, I looked at her head and thought: “What the hell is that bump?” On the side of her head, it looked like her scalp was protruding out. Was it there all along? Did she bump it, and I didn’t realize? Is it a bite? Does she have a funny shaped head? To calm my nerves, I spoke with her pediatrician. She was perplexed. What on earth was it? She said it was *probably* nothing (my favorite line), but I should go to a neurologist, just in case.

So… on we go to the neurologist. But before we see the actual doctor, I have to make an appointment to see the nurse practitioner. She will surely tell us what is going on, right? Nope. “Um.. I don’t think this is anything? But it could be that she has fluid build-up inside her brain causing swelling. So let’s bring you back to meet with the doctor.”  Perfect. So we broke our quarantine bubble another time just to be told we have to come back. Next… we wait again. An agonizing week of “WTF is wrong with this adorable human’s brain and skull?” Finally… we see the doctor. He looks at her head then says confused: “I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you here? This is her skull. How did you make it all the way to me?” I said “They said she could have fluid in her brain. Does she just have a funny shaped head?” My daughter is sitting there cooing and smiling at this masked man. And he said: “No? She has a perfect head? She is a perfect baby.” I left incredibly relieved and very frustrated.

Some people go through life never going to a specialist. We have been to like 5 for different and scary reasons. Are we alarmists? Perhaps. Are we super-observant parents? Definitely. Have we been through some experiences that make us more nervous than others? I think so.

We are so glad that in all of these circumstances, the results were that nothing was seriously wrong with any of our children. But how much time and energy have I spent going down the “what if” rabbit hole? What if something was wrong? I do have a shitty tendency to jump to worst-case scenarios rather than take things step by step. Luckily, I have a husband who is able to say “Let’s slow down and see what happens and go from there” when I am freaking out.

Will this be our last specialist? Who knows. We can only control what we can control. Until next time…

 

Giving Birth During a Pandemic

So… that was exciting!

I gave birth to my third daughter on April 1, 2020.

I felt fortunate to have my husband with me. For a while, they weren’t sure that he was even going to be allowed to be there. I also luckily didn’t have to labor while wearing a mask (side note: if women can give birth wearing masks, I’m pretty sure you can wear it to grab a coffee). Everyone working at the hospital seemed afraid of me… and I was definitely afraid of them.

A fun fact? My husband was the first person to touch the baby’s head when she was coming out. Gross? maybe. But it was his third time, so I felt that he could have watched a few YouTube videos and delivered her himself if it came down to it.

How did this happen? Well… I told every doctor and nurse that when it was time to push, I didn’t mess around. I wanted that thing out of me as quickly as possible. Ready or not… when it was time, it was happening. So when I said “it’s time”, the nurse (who had just started there a day ago) said “okay I’ll get the doctor.” No, m’am, that’s not what I said was going to happen. So instead, I told my dear husband to catch the baby. Luckily, he had just used the bathroom and washed very carefully (you know, Covid washing). So he touched her head and did his best coaching until the nurse came back in. Who needs an OB doctor when you can have your not-squeamish husband and a first time nurse?

Anyways, she is here. She is adorable. She is so loved. She has blue eyes like her sisters. And my husband takes pride that he was the first person to touch her.

Picture from Washingtonian Magazine94073907_10100438889074737_6536847285714681856_o

A Confession

Okay, so I have something to admit. A secret that NO ONE, except my husband, knows…

Back story:

Round 1:

We didn’t want to find out the gender of our first child. We had a gray and white nursery, referred to it as Baby M, and had both a boy and a girl name solidly picked out. However, at around 30 weeks during a normal visit, a midwife referred to the baby as “she”. When I quickly said, “we don’t know the gender,” she mumbled something about using the pronouns interchangeably, and that it meant nothing. Sure, lady. Then again, at the 36-week-ultrasound, the technician was flipping through slides, and I literally saw the words “It’s a Girl” written out. At this point, I was in a bind: Do I pretend I didn’t see it? Do I tell my husband who actually didn’t see it? If you know me, you know I can’t keep a secret, so obviously I told my husband. We decided not to tell anyone, but more so, not even let ourselves get excited or think about it again. When my first daughter was born, I said “It’s a Girl, right” rather than hear the exciting “IT’S A GIRL”. So… that was Round 1.

Round 2:

We were really serious this time about telling everyone we talked to that we didn’t want to know the sex of Baby 2. I had different symptoms between the two pregnancies, and I was CERTAIN that Baby 2 was a boy. I even had Mint Green furniture saved on Pottery Barn Kids, ready to check out as soon as the baby entered the world. But alas, Baby 2 was also a beautiful baby girl! And boy, was I surprised. I asked my husband to check multiple times to make sure because I simply didn’t believe it.

Round 3:

After going back and forth, we decided to find out the gender for our last baby. Mainly, it was a logistical reason. Do I really think I am going to decorate a nursery after the baby comes? Am I going to run errands with two toddlers and a newborn? We also decided it would be exciting for the girls to know if they were having a brother or sister. It would also be a totally different experience for us. So, we got a blood test at 15-ish weeks.

When the email came, I wasn’t sure what to do. Do I open it alone? Do I read it, and then pretend I didn’t? Do I wait for my husband to come home and open it with him? Do we just not read it and wait until 20 weeks and compare notes? Well… I caved…and I opened it by myself. To be honest, I didn’t quite get it or understand what it said. Sure, it said the words “Fetal Sex: Female”, but I simply didn’t believe it.  How could a blood test tell me this anyways? Couldn’t it say one thing and be incorrect? Should I get excited or not excited based on one piece of evidence rather than wait and see at 20 weeks? So, again, I told my husband. And again, we decided not to tell anyone … just in case the information was wrong.

Guess what? It wasn’t. We asked three separate people – the ultrasound technician, the specialist, and another doctor- and all three said GIRL. In case you’re wondering, apparently the blood test is pretty accurate (like 99% or something). But couldn’t we have been in that 1%? That would have been stressful.

Anyways.. phew… glad I got that off my chest!

Ultrasound Thoughts

Like I mentioned previously, I am pregnant with Baby #3. When an ultrasound is scheduled, I am always filled with both excitement and fear. I love seeing the tiny human growing inside my body and want to make sure that the baby is developing as it should be. We know the routine by now – this ain’t our first rodeo.

Yesterday, we went to our appointment at a specialist who does Nuchal Translucency; a test that could show abnormalities, especially markers for Down Syndrome. My husband, who is in education, took off a few hours from work so he could join me for the appointment. The doctor was running late, and my husband was getting nervous about having to get back to school to teach a class (teacher problems, am I right?)

The ultrasound went well with the technician explaining what she was seeing, hearing, and measuring. We both kept nervously checking the time, waiting for the doctor to come in and give us the “all clear”. Shortly after, he comes in smiling and congratulating us on our third pregnancy. He told us all looked great, and we would do a blood test soon to do more genetic testing if we wanted. He then left as my husband and I left quickly to go about our day.

Driving home, I felt guilty. I couldn’t help but think about how different that day could have gone. We were so concerned with timing and being late that we would have been completely caught off-guard if something were wrong. What if this turned into the worst conversation of our lives? What if this was one of those “before/after” moments? What if the world stopped, and they told us something may be wrong with our baby? What if the doctor came in flat-faced and fidgeting? Pregnancy hormones are a doozy, but I felt terrible. Why were we so stressed? How many couples come into that office worried about something else only to learn that there may be a serious problem with their baby?

My husband and I talked later that night about how fortunate we are that things have been “routine” with all our pregnancies thus far. Sure, I’ve fainted. I’ve gained so much weight with my girls. I’ve had such severe carpal tunnel that I couldn’t feel my fingers for months. I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve taken numerous emergency pee breaks. But overall and at this point, I have been healthy and have had healthy pregnancies and babies. And when you think about it…isn’t that really all that matters?

The Worst Questions

So surprise! I’m having a third baby. And to catch you up to speed, I already have two daughters. Since sharing my pregnancy news, here are my two least favorite questions that I keep hearing:

  • Were you trying for a third?

If you know me or have ever asked me about my family planning, I have always said I wanted three kids. My husband and I both grew up with one sibling. Not that I didn’t love my sister, but I did wonder what it would have been like to have another kid in the family. I would have been the middle child, and I think I would have loved the opportunity to be a big sister. Sure, I may have had “middle sibling issues”, but I do believe a strong reason I went into education was to channel some of my “big sister” energy into a profession. But I digress… back to the question….

Guess what? We all know (or should know by now) how babies are made. I feel like if the answer is “No, we weren’t trying. This baby was a huge mistake,” then that is a super awkward conversation starter. Who would want to hear that answer anyways? The answer is: “Duh. We have always wanted three kids. Yes, only three. No, we do not want any more than that.” Three is also not the same as 16, so some of the judgmental looks and responses also need to relax.

  • Are you trying for a son? Your poor husband if it’s another girl!

This one drives me crazy. We are incredibly fortunate to have two beautiful daughters. We adore them. They are hilarious, smart, kind, and always keep us on our toes. At this point and when this is being written, we do not know the gender of our third baby. And quite frankly, I could care less. Initially, I’ll admit, I wanted a boy for my third. I wanted to see how a little man would fit into the princess, sparkly world created by my daughters. But now, they honestly scare the hell out of me. Will they be more energetic? Will they create this new chaos in our pretty calm home? What do I do with my hoards of girl clothes? What do I do with his part when I change a diaper? After these thoughts and so many more, I know I would be happy with a third girl. We are confident as parents and are optimistic that this little hypothetical girl would just jump in with her big sisters and join the party.

And my husband? He couldn’t be more in love with his little ladies. If you ask him what he wants for Baby #3, he’ll say “a healthy baby”, which is of course true. But gender disappointment is a real thing. Maybe one day he will long for this unknown “father-son relationship”. Maybe he will feel left-out when the girls have emotional breakdowns and ask for their mother. Maybe he will wish he had a son to go to baseball games with. Maybe he will miss out on the chance to show his son how to shave or use a urinal. But then again, maybe he won’t.

Guess what? We can’t predict what our relationships will be like with our children as they grow older. My daughters may prefer to talk to my husband about boys. They may feel just as comfortable sharing intimate secrets with him. The girls may be the best athletes in their grades and continue to root hardcore for New England sports teams (one can only hope, right?). And this hypothetical son may not even like sports. Or girls. He may like fashion and rainbow unicorns as much as his big sisters.

So no… my “poor husband” and I will be just fine.

The Little One

I have written numerous articles about my older daughter (see ONE and First Born and Sh*t My Daughter Says and Sh*t my Daughter Says – Part 2 and Three and a Half). She is the one who made me a mom and completely changed my life’s path and outlook. But I realize that I haven’t written much about our littlest joy–our one-and-a-half-year-old lovebug.

All bias aside, she is a wonderful baby (minus the not sleeping thing for the first year). She came into our lives and has filled our hearts with love. Here are a few notes on this little lady:

-She is unbelievably sweet. My husband and I often talk about her genuinely kind heart. She is constantly kissing her stuffed animals, saying, “It’s okay,” when someone’s visibly upset, and is a smiley, cheerful girl. When she does cry or get upset, it means something is seriously wrong. I’m talking trip-to-the-ER wrong or hit-her-head-on-a-dresser wrong. Or, worst of all, her-sister-was-mean-to-her wrong.

-On that note…she is completely obsessed with her big sister. It is quite extraordinary to see the way a little sister worships her big sister. She has never seen anyone cooler, funnier, more talented, or more stylish in her life. When I drop the big girl off somewhere, the little sister says her name 19389 times in the car ride home. She is always mimicking her dance moves, playing dress up like her, and laughing at all her jokes.

-She is just happy to be here. From the moment she came into this world, she seemed happy to be a part of the family. She doesn’t care that she never got our full attention. She doesn’t care that she has always has shared her time. She is just happy to be a part of the crew.

-She is so affectionate. She loves her family and those she spends time with. She is constantly hugging and kissing our faces. She started saying, “Love you mommy!” with meaning at an early age. She makes my husband give her many kisses before he leaves for work and does a full body shake of happiness when he comes in after a long day.

-She is outgoing and friendly. By nature, my older daughter is definitely more timid and shy. But my younger one is always waving and smiling at everyone – even complete strangers. The other day, she hugged her music teacher about 5 times before she left class.

-She wakes up happy. This is something that I hope never changes, even when she’s a teenager. The girl wakes up from nap and sleep smiling. In fact, she usually doesn’t say anything, and we need to turn on the monitor to see if she’s awake. She quietly waits for us to come get her and reads silently to herself while hugging her stuffed animals. The minute the door opens, there she is- smiling, saying, “Hi!” and ready to continue the day.

I (like all other moms before having a new baby) was nervous I couldn’t love another as much as I love my first. It couldn’t be further from the truth. These two girls are very different, but each one has a special spot in our heart.

Three and a Half

It’s hard to believe that my big girl is three and a half. She is now a real person, putting together complete thoughts and sentences. And man, does she have a lot to say…

I know every detail about her bathroom excursions throughout the school day (and that of all her classmates): “Did you know xxxx does not look down when he pees? He gets pee all over the bathroom. He is not good at potty time.”

She speaks like a teenager: “I want to literally put the book in there and go read.” 

She has an active imagination: “I am Chase from Paw Patrol. What’s the matter over here? What’s the emergency? I can call help on my walkie talkie. I just saved the day.”

She is my mini-me and repeats everything that I say (for better or worse): “I don’t know the sport called lacrosse. But I do know Tom Brady, and I love him.”

She asks profound questions that make sense: “It’s pajama day today? The sign said Pajama Day Tomorrow. Is today tomorrow?”

There is nothing cuter than having her choose her own outfit with accessories. Unfortunately, this process now takes about 20 minutes. Her stick-on earrings have to match her hair things which must match her bows. Her socks match her pants which match her shirt (sometimes). Her unicorn necklace matches everything always.

The girl loves Disney music. It’s now all we listen to in the car which is a step up from Choo Choo TV. She knows all the lyrics to The Little Mermaid’s Part of Their World and Let It Go from Frozen. She sings with such expression, power, and enthusiasm. It’s hard to stop myself from crying from cuteness overload.

This three and a half year old is too much. She keeps me on my toes. But before long, she will be “a mommy, cleaner, astronaut who lives in her own house with her cat named Zoe.” So until that day, I will just sit back and enjoy this sweet, endearing child.

America

Another day, another mass shooting. I can’t turn on the news without seeing a parent’s agony, crying about the untimely and unjust death of his child. We have chosen to raise our children in this country, but we are living in fear every day. Suddenly, places that are supposed to bring joy, love, and support- a school, a place of worship, a nightclub, a concert, a restaurant- are battlegrounds. We hope it does not end up in our state, our town, our community, our family. It doesn’t matter what political party you associate with. It doesn’t matter if your child is 3 or 63. If you are a parent, you must be afraid of what is happening in our country. We must do better and do something for our children.

Life with Two Toddlers

Well, I think it’s safe to say I’ve been a bit busy. I haven’t written a post in months and not from lack of material. My older daughter is now technically a “kid”, and my baby is a “toddler”.  And raising two humans is no joke. Here are my new recent discoveries of mommyhood:

  • With two kids on the move, you have to pay attention to the one who is more likely to get hurt at that minute. My older daughter is sure-footed and smart, but she still sometimes makes poor choices. Like maybe don’t try to give our dog a check-up when she’s in a playful mood. My younger daughter (otherwise known as my wrecking ball) is all over the place. She runs full speed in socks, climbs on every unstable object, and puts everything that smells good into her mouth. My advice is find a baby-proofed, contained area when outnumbered by children. Playgrounds with one parent are hell.
  • With every plan you make, have an asterisk* next to it. Oh, are you excited about that playdate with friends you haven’t seen in a while? Mommy’s night out? Or, that rare date night? One kid is going to get sick. The dog is going to ingest something poisonous. Your babysitter will flake out. Don’t get too excited about an event, even if you’re in the parking lot and can see your destination.
  • There is an incredibly thin line between adorable sister hugging and full headlock take-down. My older daughter loves giving hugs to my younger one, but it usually ends in tears. That sweet hug that I captured on video (and posted online) is now a complete chokehold and my younger daughter is having trouble exhaling.
  • The little sister ADORES the big sister. She wants to be her. She wants to follow her. She wants to be next to her. She always wants to look at her. It doesn’t matter what the big sister says or wants, the little one is happy just being in her presence. Oh, you wanted some alone time? Not on little sister’s watch.
  • It is difficult when my older daughter is creating beautiful buildings with blocks and the little one thinks she is a monster who knocks down villages. It is almost too funny not to laugh when my older daughter has this look of, “Mom! Do something! She knocked down my tower that I’ve been working on for 5 minutes!” and the little one’s face says, “Woohoo! Did you see that? I knocked down a giant tower!” I haven’t quite figured out how to handle this situation that happens numerous times a day.
  • Our house is literally filled with toys. But of course, both girls want the same toy at the same time. It could be the most unloved and untouched toy, but if one is playing with it, the other MUST have it. Sharing really sucks sometimes.

My two girls have good moments together and less good moments. They will love each other and get on each other’s nerves. Pretty soon, we will be battling about sharing/stealing clothes, makeup, and boys.

Sh*t my Daughter Says – Part 2

Three year olds are little comedians, even if they aren’t trying to be. My daughter says new phrases and words daily. Here are some of her best:

Me: Does this shirt look cute?
Daughter: No, it doesn’t, it’s too small

Me: What am I looking for?
Daughter: A penis
Me: No, I’m looking for a shoe?
Daughter: A penis is from a movie. It’s a guy

Would that guy fit in a drain? I think no. He’s too big.

Daughter: I’m feeling cold
Me: Want me to get you a blanket?
Daughter: No. I just want some love.

If I eat too much, I’m going to get a belly cake

Daughter: Daddy, are you naked?
Husband: No, I am wearing shorts
Daughter: Well is your body naked?
Husband: No, I’m not wearing a shirt though. Should I put one on?
Daughter: Yes because your body is so funny.

Daughter: Mommy.. are you feeling happy?
Me: Well, usually I am, but I’m feeling frustrated because you’re jumping on the bed when I’m trying to get your pants on.
Daughter:  You should take a step back. Ask for some help. (Thanks, Daniel Tiger)

Me: Look at that mommy spider and her eggs.
Daughter: I don’t like spiders. Daddy should spray them.
Me: Well they are actually good for the world and nature.
Daughter: Well I don’t want them in my life.

Me: Can you find the guy on the bike on this page?
Daughter: It’s actually not a bike – it’s an ATV.

Me: Sometimes, when I feel like biting my nails, I cross my arms.
Daughter: Well sometimes, I bite my arms too.