mean mama

other people’s kids
August 5, 2009, 8:08 pm
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My family and I went away for a long weekend with two old friends and their families. It was wonderful (except for a flat tire and croup – so sorry if we made you sick, guys!).  There is nothing like catching up with old friends and feeling like you didn’t miss a beat. Plus, one of the friends has a little girl, so I was able to bask in the little girl cuteness of pink clothes and sparkly shoes.

One thing that is always really nice about hanging out with other people who have children your kids’ ages or under is that you gain some insight into parenting and into your friends.  The three of us all have different ways with our children, and it was nourishing to observe successes and struggles in parent-child interactions.  Seeing others taking more risks with their child than you would with yours and knowing it turned out okay is educational and reassuring.  Watching your friends patiently – so, so patiently – chase their toddler around the house while he screams because he doesn’t want his diaper changed just makes you love and respect them with new depth.

When I first had the twins and life felt very difficult, I was not able to be around parents for whom things were going relatively well (read, parents of singletons or healthy babies). Now my twins are older, and I have this amazing baby, and my perspective is so different. Many of the things I used to fret about in regards to myself as a parent have shrunk in my mind. I worried a lot about how much (or how little) attention and focus and energy – and patience! – my children were receiving, and it got in the way of being able to ever relax and enjoy in the midst of what was basically chaos.  But now, because my own insecurity has lessened, I am freer to enjoy others’ company without worrying too much about the nuances of child-rearing.  I think some of the bumps and bruises of early motherhood might be healing.


On another note, we are going through round 2 of cry-it-out, and let me tell you something: it ain’t fun. It’s so not fun that I even called Briar this morning to tell her how not fun it is, and she graciously talked me through it even though she totally hates talking on the phone.  This baby can stand and cry for a long, long, LONG time. We are now on nap attempt #2 and about to max out our hour. Holy crap, people. If I can just keep from losing sight of why we’re doing this, I’ll get through it. Do I want to have a child who wants the boob in order to fall asleep but then rolls over my body every 30 seconds shrieking in entertained delight and pulling my hair with a look of expectation, as if my head will light up like a toy every time he does it? No. Do I want to go into another school year with suboptimal sleep.  No way.

But it still sucks.


a year+ out of the NICU
July 29, 2009, 2:15 pm
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I am a very old-fashioned blogger. I know very little about feeds or stats or… anything. Really. I just click around when I am in the mood to read blogs.

I used to check my stats every long once in a while, not really understanding much of what the data meant. But today when I looked at the stats for the first time in almost a year, I noticed something shocking: people continue to read, like every day.  Most of the people coming here seem to be sent here from a pPROM site where my info is posted. I hope my story has helped some of those people.

Because of the nature of the visits I get to this blog, I thought that I should write a little about how meanbabyboy is doing, since he’s been the star of this blog for the most part.  In short, he is fine.  I wish I could post a picture, but we just moved, and I don’t have my gear to make that possible. But I will soon- promise.

It’s been a funny year.  In many ways, MBB has been a much easier, simpler baby than either of my twins, who were less premature.  There have been a couple of hospital visits. One was just a couple of months ago for croup and the worst breathing I’ve ever heard from any of the boys- sounded like Darth Vader on a bad day.  But he got past that and was okay.

He currently has a cold, and it’s putting me on pins and needles. That’s the ongoing stress of having had a lot of not-so-great experiences with your children’s health.  At the same time, though, it’s mostly bearable and kind of just a fact of life.  Something that you get used to, even though one can never become comfortable with worrying about one’s children.

MBB is a joyous baby, cute as a button with a winning personality.  He has a quick temper, which I must admit is also kind of charming in its way. Like the typical “second child,” he has pushed his way into this family, no matter how many chaotic moments fill our days (there are a lot).  His brothers think he’s generally a pain in the bee-hind, but that doesn’t stop him.  In fact, at the ripe old age of 15 months, he just chucked a toy train across the room the other day because he was mad that he could not have the one that his brother was playing with.  He is moving from the sibling-worship stage into the sibling rivalry stage.  -A stage that never quite ends, even if some well-meaning woman did write a book called Siblings Without Rivalry.

Probably the biggest head-scratcher of the past year has had more to do with my feelings about being a mother to him than with him personally.  Processing my identidy as a working mother has been weird.  With the twins, I was home until they turned 21 months.  With this baby, I was home until he was 6 months.  What a difference. I just don’t have the same “I know what you’re doing at ALL TIMES!!!!!”  bond with MBB as I did with the boys.  That “I am you and you are me via the osmosis of always being together” kinda vibe.  Thank God for being a teacher and having summers off, because I have experienced that bond with him over the past couple months, and it is familiar and fulfilling.  I must admit, I find myself kind of down, with storm clouds of fear rolling in about going back in September. I keep telling myself just to enjoy and appreciate the present and not worry about September.

Honestly, I guess I always have to come back to the question of whether I can deal with my identidy being mostly about motherhood or not. I think the answer is probably not.  I think the answer is that the bonding that takes place in the time before and after work and on the weekends can be wonderful, too, because it is filled with energy and enthusiasm that I didn’t have when I was home with the boys 24/7.  It is also filled with the stress of trying do 1,000 things at once in order to keep things rolling while working full time.  But I would be delusional if I said there was no stress when I was home.  I was far from Pollyanna, y’all.

So that’s where we’re at more or less. It’s not very exciting, and that’s one of the reasons that I haven’t written about the general state of things.  Okay, I just reread that.  Didn’t I want life to be not-too-exciting for a while?  The quiet is easy to take for granted sometimes.

just a routine soup surgery – UPDATE: no surgery!
July 14, 2009, 5:31 pm
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M has to get tubes in his ears and his adenoid removed tomorrow. I am not happy about this, but I’ll be okay. Most of my fear is based on visions of what it was like when J, as a baby, had to be sedated and when he had to undergo surgery. Bad times. But, I keep saying to myself, “I’ll be okay.” These times are not those times, after all.

I’ll be okay (even though his ENT’s office sent home a whole information sheet about anesthesia death statistics for children. Yes they did. WTF?).

I’ll be okay (regardless of the fact that twin brother J is having screaming fits because he wants “soup in my ears!” (He meant “tubes.”)  Because if he got surgery for soup in his ears, that would apparently mean that he could have all of that pudding, jello, and ice cream in our fridge currently, a rare treat in the mean mama household.)

I’ll be okay because I’ve been okay before (but oh why oh why did they send me that anesthesia info sheet with death stats? WHY? Don’t they know that I’m a worrier?)

And I’ll be okay this time, as will M (knock on f-ing wood).

UPDATE: Oh my God! The doctor looked at M during the pre-op appointment today and said his ears looked clearer and that he was sending him right away for another hearing test… and his hearing is MUCH improved since March! That means that the doctor is holding off on surgery and is going to re-evaluate in November. What a (wonderful) shock! Did we actually get a break for once, I ask you? Why, yes we did.! Now, I must go start working on eating all of that ice cream in my freezer. Well, someone has to do it.

I’m back, for the summer at least.
July 13, 2009, 1:54 pm
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Hello to anyone who is still out there and stumbles upon me. I hope you’ve been well during my blogging hiatus.

It’s summer, and I am off from teaching, which makes the impossible- keeping up my blog while working full time and momming three very young children- a possibility.  And unlike with my previous blogs, I did not stop writing because I was found out by someone or because I got tired of hearing my own voice. I just didn’t have any time at all. So you know, everyone here is doing pretty well. MeanBabyBoy is awesome. His only issue so far has been torticollis. He receives therapy for it, and it’s minor compared to some of the things we dealt with in J’s first year.  MeanBabyBoy continues to be a miracle in our view.

But back to the state of my blog.  Coming back to blogging requires me ask a question of myself: I am still a mean mama?  Should I change blogs if I am not? The answer  is that yes, I am still a mama, and, I think, yes, still kind of mean.  But the meaning of mean might hold some different significance from before. Initially, it was more about my grouchiness and old-school parenting styles (compared to the average  Park Sloper mom, that is).  Now, I think maybe it’s more about a toughness that has come out of all the experiences I’ve had in my 4 years of motherhood/(f-ed up)pregnancies.  As in, “That is one mean mama.”  And okay, some degree of grouchiness still remains, especially in the morning. Somehow, even after 3 1/2 years, I am still not good at dealing with anyone at 6AM, much less my twins, or as I like to sometimes call them, “The I Want”s.

I guess it’s also no coincidence that I am starting this blog back up on a day that is tough for my in-laws, and especially my in-law’s in-laws. A baby was born into the family at 25 weeks, due to PPROM in part. He is in the NICU, and of course it’s a tough situation.  I am chilled to the bone that this has happened and affected my extended family once again.  I believe in God. I don’t believe there is a guiding hand, however.  And because I don’t believe in a guiding hand, I don’t believe in asking, “Why?” I’ve said this before many times in my blog: things, terrible things, wonderful things, all kinds of things, just happen.  Even so, it keeps repeating in my head today, over and over and over: Why?

formula is fine
November 12, 2008, 2:24 am
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Hey, just so everyone knows, I was joking in the last post when I said, ” Is this the end of the world as I know it?” regarding using formula. If I seem startled by the need to use it, it’s only because I am clueless about what formula to buy, how much to feed him, etc.  When the boys were newborns, I was advised against formula use because of the significantly increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (an issue with preemies).  I was lucky enough to have the supply to not need it.  But beyond that, I have nothing against formula. Why, I myself was a formula-fed baby, and look how great I turned out!

And Jane, I hate to say it but I don’t see any of my kids as future Harvard grads. They are not and have never been advanced at much of anything. Except for cuteness.  But usually that does not get you into the Ivy League… at least not as effectively as being rich does.

pumping problem
November 11, 2008, 2:35 am
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A: Baby eats 14-18 oz. of milk for the 8 hours I’m gone.

B: I pump 8-10 ounces in 2 pumping sessions in the 8 hours I’m gone.

C: I have freezer stash, but most of it is at my parents’ house, and I will not get there until this weekend.

D: I will run out of milk this week.

E: I’ve never used formula before for any of my babies.  What do I use? Is this the end of the world as I know it?

Advice needed.

November 5, 2008, 11:11 pm
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Hey guys,

You’ll be 3 soon. Just wanted to say thanks for all of the ups and downs and craziness that has brought us all to this point. What a wonderful family we have! Plus, you’ve made having a singleton seem easy as pie.