The Story of E

Little E at one week.

Little E at one week.

“At least you witnessed the birth of the placenta,” I offered, smiling sheepishly at my husband, Chad.

“Yeah, thank goodness,” he responded.

One of my biggest fears leading up to E’s birth was that I wouldn’t know I was in labor, and give birth at home, in the car, or by the side of the road on the way to the hospital.

The doctors and midwives at my OB practice brushed off my concerns. “You will absolutely know when you’re in labor,” they insisted. My mother and friends said the same.

Although this was my second pregnancy, I was induced with my first, so I had no idea what to expect in terms of going into labor naturally.

At 40 weeks and four days pregnant, I went to my obstetrician’s office for my weekly appointment. Weight, blood pressure, cervical check- it was “old hat” for me at this point. As I lay in all my glory on the examination table, I begged the doctor to “get the baby out of me.” She offered a sympathetic smile and suggested a “membrane sweep” instead. I’d had an unsuccessful membrane sweep the week before, but thought it couldn’t hurt to try again.

“Go for it,” I urged.

The doctor explained that the membrane sweep would leave me feeling uncomfortable.

“You will experience cramps,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean you’re having contractions. You may even experience contractions, but they could subside after a short time, so, time the contractions if you get them.”

The doctor then explained that if I didn’t go into labor by the following week, I would be induced.

I left the appointment feeling defeated. I was sore, tired, and anxious to see my feet again. I firmly believed I would be pregnant for another week. To drown my sorrows, I did what any other almost-41-week pregnant woman would do- I went to Friendly’s with my family and ordered a double bacon cheeseburger and fries.

While chowing down, my lower back began to ache. As the meal went on, the pain intensified, but it wasn’t anything unbearable. After we’d paid for the meal, and I dropped Chad off at work, my daughter (P) and I headed home.

While driving, I began experiencing sharp pains in my abdomen- lasting for a short time, then going away (It was 12:30 p.m. at this time). I called my mom and husband and told them I thought I could be having contractions. When P and I got home, I turned the television on to distract her, and began timing the contractions. According to my “Mother’s Journal” (a little booklet issued by my OB practice), I should time contractions for at least an hour before determining labor has started.

This is the sheet I used to log my contractions.

Contractions

Immediately, they were two to three minutes apart. After playing phone tag with my mom and husband for about 20 minutes, I decided to call my obstetrician’s office. Even though the pain was worsening, I didn’t want to be that woman who “cried labor” before it was actually happening. The nurse on the other end of the line urged me to line up care for P (my mom), call Chad home from work, and head to the hospital.

While I waited, I gathered the hospital bags, wrote down directions for operating the television and DVD player (for my mom), and tried to stay calm. After what felt like the interminable pregnancy, I had a difficult time believing this could actually be the end.

The contractions became more intense as I waited for my mom and husband; as I leaned over one of our dining room chairs, gritting my teeth, I began to question my initial plan of having an unmedicated, natural birth. I believe I have a high tolerance for physical pain, but I’ll freely admit, that shit hurt. I hoped there would be time to get the Epidural.

Thirty minutes after calling my mom and husband, they arrived at the house. Chad loaded the bags into the car, I kissed my mom and daughter goodbye, and we were off. The contractions were coming every two minutes, and they were powerful. I tried not to cry or scream; instead, I pushed my head firmly against the seat, and winced. Ten minutes into the 45-minute car ride, my water broke (I hadn’t thought to bring a towel along- oops). It was at this point I accepted what was happening: Chad and I were going to have our second child- today.

After we exited the highway, I began to feel intense pressure, and the urge to push. It was also at this point that we hit a “Road Closed” sign. Forced to turn right, my husband tried to find a way around the construction; we were a mere two miles from the hospital. Half a mile down the road, we hit another “Road Closed” sign.

There was no way to get to the hospital.

Chad muttered a few profanities, unbuckled his seatbelt, and got out of the car. He approached a construction worker standing near the sign, yelled something about me being in labor, and then huffed back to the car. Thankfully, we were allowed to pass.

Less than five minutes later, we arrived at the hospital. The contractions were coming continuously at this point; I couldn’t walk, so Chad quickly secured a wheelchair for me. I was wheeled in and taken into a room immediately. Chad returned to the lobby to sign me in and park the car. I leaned against the hospital bed, intermittently wincing and groaning, as a nurse tried to get me into a hospital gown. My body had taken over, and I was pushing.

“Don’t push,” the nurse said.

“I can’t help it,” I managed, “It burns.” (The “Ring of Fire” is real, ladies and gentlemen.)

“She’s pushing,” the nurse yelled.

The nurse rubbed my lower back. “Is that helping?,” she asked.

“No,” I answered. (I later apologized, telling her I’m sure she gives fantastic back rubs, I was just in so much pain, I don’t think anything but drugs would have eased the pain.)

Two nurses then helped me onto the bed, and a midwife entered the room. After taking a look down below, she informed me that “We were going to have a baby. Now.”

I began to panic. The pain was real. I wanted that Epidural, but there was no time.

Someone once told me that natural childbirth feels a lot like pushing a flaming watermelon out of your body. That person was oddly accurate.

I was instructed to push. I remember letting out a groan, looking down, and seeing my child’s head. Two pushes and a scream later, his shoulders were out. One more push, and his warm, slippery body was laid on my chest. I remember rubbing his back, and I remember the silence: he wasn’t crying.

My baby was removed from my chest and laid on a warming table. One of the nurses said something about “thick meconium,” and began suctioning his mouth and nose. After what felt like minutes, but was probably more like seconds, he began to cry.

“Is he okay?,” I asked.

“There’s a lot of meconium,” the nurse said, “But otherwise, he looks good.”

About a minute later, Chad entered the room, just as I was giving one last push to deliver the placenta. It hadn’t even occurred to me until then that he’d missed the birth; it had all happened so quickly. I entered the hospital room at 2:41 p.m., and our son was born at 2:48 p.m.

Thankfully our son, E, was/is healthy as can be, in spite of his fast and furious birth. My recovery has also been amazing; I was up and walking around 45 minutes after E was born. There was very little swelling, and only one stitch involved- the total opposite of the birth of my first (which required many, many stitches and prescription pain medication).

As exciting as his entrance into the world was, E is one of the sweetest, calmest babies I think I’ve ever encountered. At two weeks old, his favorite thing to do is stare, wide-eyed, at the things and people around him. He requires very little to be happy: warmth (especially by way of cuddles) and nourishment. My family and I couldn’t ask for a more perfect addition to our family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter To My Husband, Before the Birth of Our Second

Life is about to get crazy. 38 Weeks Here!

Life is about to get crazy. 38 Weeks Here!

Dear Husband,

With our second child due in two weeks (or less, or more, God help us), I wanted to take a moment to commit my thoughts and feelings to paper Word document.

First, I would like to thank you in advance for your contribution toward this child. Although we have yet to meet, I suspect I’ll like him very much.

Also, know that I love you. Please don’t take whatever I say/do while birthing our child personally. Since I’ll be attempting a natural birth this time, I recommend you stand at least an arm’s/leg’s reach away from the hospital bed. It’ll be for your own good.

Similarly, please don’t take my sighs, angry noises, cover-throwing, and eye-rolls personally when I wake up at night to feed our baby. I think it’s BS that only one of us was engineered to be our child’s food source- so, I apologize for resenting you for being the one without boobs.

Now, let’s talk personal hygiene/grooming habits. It’s no secret mine took a hit after the birth of our first. It has improved drastically over the last year, though, wouldn’t you say? I regret to inform you that there’s about to be another sudden decline in my personal grooming habits. So long, shiny, straightened hair, un-stained clothes, and sweet smelling body lotion. If this time is anything like the last, I’m about to be a leaking, sweaty, hormone-fueled mess. Attractive, eh?

A note about food: since I’ve been home the last few months, you’ve become accustomed to fairly regular homemade meals (sometimes tasty ones, if I may say so) and baked goods. Unfortunately, your palette will have to re-adjust to store-bought, frozen pizza and peanut butter and jelly sammiches. I don’t see there being a whole lot of time to prepare meals in the coming months. Sorry, B.

I was surprised after the birth of our first at how much our relationship changed, not for the worse, but for the better. Only you and I know how difficult that first year was, and it bonded us, by forcing us to work together as a team. My fear is that this time, with a child already at home, bringing home number two will drive us apart (e.g. “You take this kid, I’ll take that kid.”).

There’s no way to predict what kind of baby we’ll end up with this time, but I promise I will do my best to be patient and kind to you, remembering that even though our responsibilities when it comes to baby differ, that ultimately, we’re in this together. I will try to find the positive in each day, even if it’s just a smidge, and see the humor in what I imagine will be a crazy life with two young children.

I can think of no one I’d rather be on this ride with. Thank you for loving me, even after I say things like, “I really want to rip your face off right now,” and for running to Taco Bell at 10:00 p.m. when I’m craving “beef” supreme tacos. And, of course, thank you for the beautiful babies.

I’m about as ready as I can be for this. How about you?

Love,

Your Wife

 

Six Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wish Your Pregnancy Away

Title pic

At over 32 weeks pregnant, I find myself wanting this pregnancy to be over, at least several times a day. From the insane acid reflux, to the daily back aches, one thing is certain: pregnancy ain’t all marshmallow fluff and unicorns.

Yes, it is a gift to be able to bring life.

Yes, being a parent is a privilege not afforded to all who desire it.

However, that doesn’t take away from the real discomforts that accompany pregnancy.

Because this isn’t my first rodeo, and because these “I can’t wait for this little miracle to check-out of Hotel Uterus” thoughts keep coming, I decided to put together a list of all the reasons why I should suck it up and relish these last few weeks of this pregnancy.

1. Because you can’t hear your baby crying inside the womb.

Crying I didn’t know this until after my first was born, but apparently, babies do cry in the womb. If I’d known the effect my daughter’s colicky screams would have on me after she was born, there’s no way I would have voluntarily gone in for induction at 39.5 weeks. The point: enjoy the quiet while it lasts.

2. Because pretty soon, you’re going to be so tired you think you might die.

TiredIf this isn’t your first time, you know what I’m talking about. Those days are coming back, and you’re trying to rush that? Craziness. While your size, baby’s position and movements, etc. may keep you from sleeping soundly now, you have one thing going for you now: the ability to lay down and take a breather when you feel like it. So, put your feet up and soak it in, mama. Your days are numbered.

3. Because in a few weeks, none of your clothes will fit.

Pants dont fitUnless you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re going to be in that awkward “too small for maternity clothes, too big for pre-pregnancy clothes” stage. Being that I had to return to work shortly after my first was born, I found this stage incredibly frustrating. The point: milk those maternity yoga pants for all their worth, ladies.

4. Because pretty soon, you’re going to be wearing undies fashioned out of cotton and gauze.

Sexy underwearIf you’re a first-time mom, don’t think you’ll walk out of that hospital/birthing clinic wearing a cute, comfy pair of cotton undies. Birthing that precious angel will leave you battered, and possibly unable to wear anything close to your skin down there. After having her first child, a friend of mine referred to her nether region as the “meat locker.” Yep.

5. Because if you already have a child, these are his/her last weeks as an “only.”

This one probably resonates with me the most. Most days, it takes all my energy to provide my daughter with all the love, support, and encouragement I feel she needs. In a mere eight weeks or so, I will have to divide my time and attention between two children. I have no idea how I will manage it, or how my daughter will, so I’m savoring our princess ninja fights (she insists we battle, sword-fight style, with wands…and crowns on, of course) and long mid-afternoon walks, now.

6. Because the responsibilities that come with parenthood never end.

ResponsibilityYou are going to be this child’s parent forever. Once he/she is here, your job isn’t going to end until you do. Sure, you have responsibilities as a pregnant mama: to coordinate/plan for adequate prenatal care, avoid margaritas and spicy tuna rolls, etc., but your responsibilities will grow exponentially upon your child’s arrival. Try to enjoy the relatively few responsibilities you have while you can.

Please bear in mind, this list isn’t meant to instill fear in new parents, or make becoming a parent seem like “the end.” Rather, it is a way to remind myself that “the grass isn’t always greener,” a reminder not to wish time away, and to enjoy all the positive aspects of pregnancy.

That being said, what did I miss, mamas?

 

Toddlers, Organized Activities, and Fancy Outings: My Take

Playing in the yard

P. Having some good old fashioned fun, playing in the yard.

At times, I’ve fallen victim to this kind of thinking, and maybe you have too- thinking your young child requires organized activities and expensive outings to stimulate his/her social/emotional and physical development.

From infant music and dance classes to theme parks designed specifically for our beloved tater tots, there is no shortage of organized activities or exclusive destinations for young children.

Maybe it’s because my family’s financial situation has recently changed, and we’ve had to scale back, or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading one too many summer vacation posts on the online “mom boards” I frequent, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the necessity of activities and trips for young children lately.

But first, a short story. A few weeks ago, my parents graciously purchased (what I thought were overpriced) tickets for “A Day Out with Thomas” on the Strasburg Railroad. My daughter, P, loves trains, and the outdoors, so we thought it would make for a fun morning out. The tickets included a ride on a train fashioned to look like Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as access to a variety of other small rides and activities. The trip ended up being a flop- it was hot, crowded, and P couldn’t have cared less about the train (I’m kicking myself now for deleting the pictures of my screaming child in front of Thomas the train). Just the day before, I’d seen her have more fun playing with a piece of string and lemon (no joke).

Several weeks later, my family and I traveled to a sleepy little town in Northwestern Pennsylvania to visit my in-laws. There, P picked berries with her grandparents, doted on their family dog, Annie, watched from the front porch as horse drawn buggies drove by, and oddly enough, had the best time playing in a bucket of water. The belly laughs and delighted squeals I heard from P that weekend will stay with me forever; she had the most wonderful time doing the simplest things.

What I’ve learned since becoming a parent, and what I already knew from my graduate training in child development, is that young children are minimalists; they don’t need baby French class, or a weekend trip to Sesame Place to be stimulated. Children simply need love, stability, structure, and novelty, which is easy to come by, since almost everything is new to young children.

Remember when we were kids? I don’t know about you, but it was a rare occasion when my parents took me on a weekend trip, or enrolled me in a class. I don’t think I was part of an organized activity until I was seven (T-ball. I played third base. And rocked it). I don’t recall my friends going away on fancy trips or moving from one scheduled activity to another, either. The jury is still out, but I think I turned out okay without all that stuff.

So, what is the driving force behind all this “stuff” for young children? I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it’s a combination of the factors below, and probably many others.

1) Increased awareness/understanding that the early years of children’s lives are an important time in terms of social/emotional and physical development.

2) Consumer culture. Naturally, parents want to do right by their children, and companies/organizations are well aware of this. Activities and destinations for young children are often marketed in such a way to make them seem important and/or essential to children’s happiness and/or development.

3) Keeping up with the Joneses/Comparison. A brief look at your Facebook Newsfeed shows that your BFF has taken her children to Dutch Wonderland this weekend. “Aw, look how happy little Jimmy looks on the bumper cars,” you think to yourself. Of course you want your children to be that happy, so you consider taking your kiddos to Dutch Wonderland, too.

Please understand, I am in no way bashing organized activities or destinations designed for children. Undoubtedly, children are intellectually, emotionally, and physically stimulated by these things. Full disclosure: I’m sure my daughter would adore a toddler dance class, and if my family and I were in a position to enroll her in one, we probably would. The rationale for this post is simply to reassure parents that their children will be fine, happy even, without these things.

Whether it’s time or money that keeps you from a weekend at Disney, or enrolling your child in a “Mommy and Me” class, there are tons of activities you can do in your home and around your community to stimulate your child’s development. A full list of ideas/activities would make this post rather lengthy, and honestly, I think I have about 20 minutes until P wakes up from her nap, so to keep it short, I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

The local library
Each city/town’s resources vary, but I’ve found that our local library is a gem. From free puppet shows to “Touch a Truck” Mondays (A truck comes to the library each week, the children are given a short lesson about it, and are then able to touch/get in the truck), there is always something entertaining happening at the library. It’s an added bonus that if P throws a horrendous tantrum during one of these activities, I don’t have to agonize over having spent money on it if we leave early.

Nature Trails
Again, each area is different, but my family and I are fortunate enough to live near a beautiful rail-trail. P loves nothing more than to take a walk/run on the trail. There are bicyclists, dog-walkers, berries to pick, and cute little creatures (squirrels, chipmunks, etc.) to look at.

P and my hubs, having a blast on the rail-trail.

P and my hubs, having a blast on the rail-trail.

Local Playgrounds
Finding new playgrounds is a favorite for P and I- she gets to play and explore new equipment, and I get the pleasure of watching.

Cooking/Baking
P has a pretend kitchen set, and has zero interest in it. It’s all about the real thing for my kid. As messy, and time consuming as it can be, I let her help me cook at least a few times a week. I pre-measure all ingredients and put them in small bowls, and then let her pour everything in and stir. She. Loves. It.

Playdates
Okay, so I’m new to the whole playdate thing. Hanging out with other moms gives me a little anxiety, but I’ve bitten the bullet, and met a few really nice ones. Who needs a “Mommy and Me” class when you can go meet other moms and their kids for free?

Most recently, P and I met up with two moms from library story time. We went to a local coffee shop, which has a section for kids (with toys). How cool is that? I did spend $1.65 on a cup of coffee, but P had a great time playing with the children and exploring the coffee shop’s toys, and I had fun having an adult conversation during daylight hours.

So, what’s your take? Do your children participate in organized activities? Do you take regular, weekend trips to kid-friendly destinations? Or, do you keep it simple? I’d love to hear from you.

Adult Lessons

Is this not completely accurate?

Is this not completely accurate?

As a kid, I dreamed of being an adult. I imagined staying up late, eating bowls of chocolate ice cream (with rainbow sprinkles) in my beanie baby infested room, and watching television until the sun came up. I suppose most kids have these thoughts about adulthood- blissfully ignorant of what it means to make a living for yourself, pay bills, and handle personal and household responsibilities.

While I’ve technically been an adult for nine years, I often feel like my journey into adulthood is just beginning. Simply put, this stuff is hard. It seems there’s a new hurdle around every corner, and while I pride myself on being able to clear many of them, it’s not without a few spills.

Most recently, my adult struggles involve making peace with past financial decisions. Family and friends, please forgive me for telling this story for the thousandth time, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you the abridged version.

I was the first in my family to go to a four-year-college. Because my family was unable to finance my education, and we did not qualify for much financial aid, I took out several hefty private educational loans to cover the cost of my private, undergraduate education. At the tender, ignorant age of 18, I had no idea what signing those loan forms meant. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I immediately went on to earn my master’s degree (this time, I did qualify for some financial aid, but still managed to rack up some student loan debt). When it was all said and done, my student loan debt equaled the amount of a middle-class house in the ‘burbs.

I went on to snag a job, one that paid well, but not great (those in the “helping” field usually aren’t the most generously compensated). Soon after, my husband and I went on to have a child, and buy a few vehicles we probably shouldn’t have. At the time, our thinking was, “We work hard, so we deserve it!” Oh, to be young…and dumb.

Fast forward to the present. My family and I relocated to our home state, and are expecting our second child. We moved with only one of us having secured a job (my husband). Things are extremely tight, but we’re doing okay, thankfully.

Since the move, I’ve questioned and beaten myself up about countless things, for example:

“Why did you take out all those educational loans?”

“You should have gone to community college. Why didn’t you?”

“Why didn’t you buy a car you could afford? Financing that car was such a mistake.”

“If you’d budgeted over the last few years, you’d probably own a home now.”

“Why didn’t you do more math before you decided to have children? They are expensive, you know!”

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

It is incredibly easy for me to sink into that angsty, “nobody understands me,” “I can’t do anything right,” mindset.

My natural tendency is to become somewhat “woe is me” about the sticky situations I find myself in, but for the first time, I’m acknowledging that I put myself there…, or here. I took out those educational loans, I bought that car, I decided to have children. Nobody held me down and forced me to do any of those things. It’s not my parent’s fault. It’s not my husband’s fault. It’s my fault.

At times, I’ve thought, “Well, you didn’t know what it would be like to pay back all those loans,” so it’s okay to feel the way you do. What I’ve learned, though, is that when you’re an adult, ignorance doesn’t excuse you from the fall-out of your actions.

I know this post isn’t “mom-related,” per se, but it’s human related, and I think, relevant. We have all made decisions, or acted in ways we wished we hadn’t. Some of you may beat yourself up about these things; maybe some of you don’t. It seems the adult thing to do in these situations is acknowledge our culpability, do whatever we can to ameliorate the situation, and move on (having learned something, hopefully).

Some may question why I choose to be so open about my challenges. To this, all I can say is- it makes me feel better. Putting my thoughts and struggles on paper, or Word document, rather, gives me relief I can’t get anywhere else..not to mention the fact that had I spoken the words of this post, it wouldn’t have sounded nearly as put together.

So, this is me, trying to do the adult thing, owning up, and letting go of my past mistakes.

Fifty-Three Minutes, Emotions, Milk, and an Ikea Crib: Toddler Bedtime Woes

Ending-Toddler-Bedtime-Battles-article

She didn’t sleep well last night, and woke from her afternoon nap today in a particularly foul mood; I guess I shouldn’t have expected bedtime tonight to be smooth sailing.

After Chad took P up to bed, I sat down with my computer to list a few things on Ebay (How did I accumulate so much stuff I don’t need, anyway?).

A few minutes later, I heard the familiar “thump, thump thump” of my husband’s footsteps coming down the stairs. The thumps were immediately followed by crying, P’s crying.

Usually, Chad or I take her up to bed awake, lay her in her crib (awake), and she puts herself to sleep. Not tonight.

“I’ll handle it,” I say.

I sit outside P’s door for about a minute. She is full-on wailing.

“Yep, way past the ‘ability to soothe herself’ threshold,” I say to myself.

Upon entering her room, I find P standing in her crib, tears streaming down her cheeks, bleary eyed. She begins cralking (cry talking), but I can’t understand a word between the sobs and the binky.

After about a minute, I manage to make out “daddy,” “downstairs,” and “all done.”

“Honey, it’s time for bed,” I say. “We aren’t going downstairs.”

P throws her leg over the side of the crib, and makes an impressive attempt to climb out.

I walk to the crib, gently remove her, sit her down on her beanbag chair (next to the crib), and plop down beside her. For ten minutes I attempt to soothe P; I sing, I stroke her hair, and I tickle her arms (she loves that). Eventually, she pushes me away, and stands up.

“Night, night,” she says.

“You want to go to sleep in your crib?,” I ask, skeptically.

“Yes.”

I do as instructed. I place P in her crib, kiss her goodnight, and walk out the door.

Not ten seconds later, she’s screaming. Like, banshee, “I’m being beaten and tortured” screaming.

I slump down next to P’s closed door and hope maybe she’ll calm down in a minute or two.

Seconds pass, and then a full minute. She’s still screaming.

“Mama, Mama, Mama, Maaaaaamaaaaa,” she wails.

My child wants me; my child is crying out for me. How can I ignore that?

Then, there’s silence.

“Maybe she’s finished. Maybe she’s going to go to sleep,” I think.

Approximately eight seconds pass, and the shrieks begin again.

I breathe in deeply, and breathe out.

“I wish she knew how much I hate this, too,” I think.

I re-enter P’s room, walk over to her crib, and climb in. I should probably mention to those who may not know that I’m about six months pregnant.

Why get in the crib, you ask? Well, experience, mostly. I’ve only had to do it a handful of times, maybe five or six, but drastic times call for drastic measures.

You see, P does not do well in our bed; moving to our room would require leaving her room, which would mean catching a glimpse of the stairs, which would give her false hope that she was going to escape the evils of bedtime and venture to the great living room below (with toys and television, and all sorts of un-bedtimey things). Also, since our bed isn’t enclosed, it would be a constant battle to keep her on the bed. I knew P was tired, and for me, when it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime.

I awkwardly lay down in the crib, knees slightly bent, arms behind my head. I am immediately reminded how satisfied I am with P’s inexpensive, no-frills Ikea crib; the thing holds weight like a pro.

P is not calmed by my presence. She continues to shriek for at least two minutes.

“Daddy. Downstairs. All done!!,” P cralks.

It takes all my restraint not to shriek back, “Just go the **** to sleep!” (this day has seriously been one tantrum after another.. more like this whole week, really). Instead, I take a slow, deep breath, and manage a gentle “It’s bedtime, sweetheart.”

I pull P down to the mattress, lay her head down on her Minnie Mouse pillow, and hold her- firmly, but not too tightly. I begin singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and tickling her arm. She whines, but lays still.

After a few off-key, breathless rounds of “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “ABCs,” “Days of the Week,” and tickles, P appears calm- she’s awake, but quietly cuddling her crocheted blanket. Now it’s time for step two: pretending to be asleep.

Step two is usually the longest. I close my eyes, and wonder how long I’ll be in the crib. If I go before she’s asleep, she’ll start wailing, and the process will start all over again (I’ve learned from experience, trust me.).

“Never give up,” I tell myself. “You are stronger than this tot.”

P lays for a few minutes, then sits up. She moves to the other end of the crib, rubs her face against the plush sheet, and then moves back toward me. She lays back down on the pillow and begins cuddling her blanket. At this time, a loud, obnoxious car can be heard racing down the street through P’s open window. I crack my right eye and see P startle, and sit up.

“Mama, loud car,” she says.

“Yes, it was loud. Now it’s time for bed,” I say.

People who interfere with my child’s sleep (like Mr. Nascar) are on my sh** list. Seriously, don’t mess with bedtime.

For the next twenty minutes, P rolls around, repositions herself, covers her face with her blanket, uncovers it, and mumbles to herself.

At one point, P lays her head next to my stomach, and her little brother begins doing fetus gymnastics.  

“I wonder if she can feel that?” I think to myself.

P then sits up and pokes my cheek with her finger.

“Mama, mama,” she says.

I lay like a stone. After ten agonizing seconds, she lays back down.

I’m now mentally screaming “Go to bed, kid!” “Your sleep is regulated by nothing but circadian rhythms and your own desires. Sleep while you can!”

But it isn’t long before my thoughts shift.

“I could really use a nice, tall glass of milk. I’ve been drinking it a lot lately. Has milk always been so delicious?,” I wonder.

I then remember the mountain of things still left to do tonight: clean the kitchen, list the items on Ebay, study for a ridiculous math exam (long story, folks), work on our budget, get a shower, etc., etc.

“Man, I’m thirsty,” I think. “Maybe before the milk, I’ll drink some water.”

P sits up, moves to the other end of the crib, and lays her head down on my knee.

“Please, please don’t fall asleep there,” I silently beg. “Anywhere but there.”

It’s hard enough to move to a sitting position and creep out of the crib undetected when P’s not sleeping on me. The pregnant belly thing also makes the process a little more complicated.

I want so badly for P to move, but she looks so incredibly peaceful, eyes closed, nestled up to my leg.

“I really love her,” I think to myself. In spite of the tantrums, the whacks to the face, and the lack of sleep since her little butt entered the world, the love I have for her cannot be articulated with words.

I lay still for another ten minutes, or however long it is until my leg begins cramping.

“I think it’s safe, now,” I tell myself.

I look around the crib and try to piece together an escape plan. P’s head is still propped up on my leg, but if I move to a sitting position, I may be able to ease her head up, and sneak out. I stretch my arm toward the end of crib, grab the back railing, and lift myself up. The crib creaks, and P stirs.

“Like a statue,” I tell myself. “Just. Stay. Still.”

A few seconds pass, and I begin to ease P’s head off my leg. I look around for something to prop her head on in place of me, but she’s laying on both blankets.

“It’s now or never,” I tell myself.

I stealthily jerk my knee from beneath P’s head, stand up, and ease myself out of the crib (as well as any pregnant humpty-dumpy can).

“Success!”

I glance back at the crib; P is still peacefully sleeping. Without another second’s hesitation, I slip out the door.

Sixty-five minutes were spent trying to get P to go to sleep, 53 of those minutes were spent in her crib.

The household tasks can wait until tomorrow. On to that glass of milk..

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So Much Richer Than We Realize

RICH-WOMAN

I grew up in a home where we routinely talked about all the things we wanted- a bigger house, a nicer car, beach vacations, “to win the lottery,” etc. I don’t think it’s uncommon to want for things; I mean, where would we be if we were consistently content with the status quo?

As birthdays passed, and I transitioned from crusty-nosed kid to angsty adolescent, I began to look at the things others had, and feel sorry for myself.

“It’s so unfair,” I’d think.

“I want to go to the Bahamas like Megan and her family.”

“I want a new car like Eric.”

“I want, I want, I want.”

I’m not sure if it’s maturity, my background in psychology, or a combination of factors, but my tune has changed in recent years.

We are all so much richer than we realize. Think about it. Do you lay awake at night wondering where you’ll find clean water to drink? Is there a constant threat of being forced from your home, or attacked? Are you able to freely walk the streets of your hometown? Do you want so badly to learn to read, but have no means of doing so? If I had to guess, I’d say most of you answered “no” to all four questions. Unfortunately, for many people across the globe, these are legitimate worries/fears.

When you put it into perspective, a Caribbean vacation and a new car seem pretty trivial, don’t they?

As stated in the opening lines, I don’t think it’s bad, or wrong to want things; it’s part of being human. But, for those of us who aren’t likely to take that beach vacay or get that new car anytime soon, it helps to think about all of the things/experiences we do have. I can walk into any grocery store and choose from over 100 breakfast cereals. I can take my daughter to the local lake and watch her frolic in the sand. I can learn about almost anything just by checking a book out from my local library. Pretty amazing, I think.

On paper, I don’t have much (well, unless you count educational debt), but in my mind and heart, I’m rich as rich can be. I have a beautiful family, my health, and of course, unlimited breakfast cereal choices. It took me some time to get to this point, but it feels good.